Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Intelligent Design textbook sent to UK schools

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A few days ago we received an email from a concerned reader, who just so happens to be the librarian at a school in Wales. Here's what he had to say:
This morning I received through the post a "review copy" of a "textbook" titled Explore Evolution: The Arguments For and Against Neo-Darwinism, from Hill House Publishers. The publicity sheet accompanying it states the book "promotes enquiry-based based learning, encouraging students to participate in the process of discovery, deliberation and argument that scientists use to form their theories... The textbook is ideally suited for use in the classroom and for teachers who wish to increase their understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of modern evolutionary theory."

The publicity sheet is produced by an organisation called "Truth in Science", based in Cambridge, UK. Intrigued, and suspicious, I Googled them along with the title of the book, to be directed to a website accompanying the book hosted as part of a "program" called The Centre for Science and Culture, hosted by the Discovery Institute. According to the website, the CSC, amongst other things, "supports research by scientists and other scholars challenging various aspects of neo-Darwinian theory" and "supports research by scientists and other scholars developing the scientific theory known as intelligent design". The Discovery Institute describes itself as a "nonpartisan public policy think tank", but in fact promotes a heavily right-wing libertarian agenda with Christian fundamentalist leanings.

Immediately all became clear. The "textbook" is in essence a vehicle for smuggling in the idea of intelligent design by the back door. The claim that it ‘increase[s] ... understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of modern evolutionary theory’ is, to put it politely, verging on the disingenuous.

As both a school librarian entrusted with helping teachers shape the minds of young citizens and promote critical enquiry, and as a citizen concerned with the quality of public education in this county, I am worried that this book, which will have undoubtedly been sent to other schools, might be taken at face value and find its way into libraries and classrooms.

I’d therefore be grateful if you could help spread the truth about this book, both to illustrate one of the underhand ways in which proponents of intelligence design – who include, it appears from the publicity sheet, some scientists holding senior posts in respectable academic institutions – seek to propagate their beliefs, and to assist librarians, teachers and others interested in promoting a proper understanding of science and society.
So, it seems that the American creationists at the notorious Discovery Institute, in association with their British disciples at "Truth in Science" (you really need the inverted commas when you write their name), have adopted what we might call the "Adnan Oktar method" of sending your material to as many educational establishments as possible in the hope that a few of them might be gullible enough to place it in the libraries. Of course, it's to be hoped that most school librarians are as vigilant as the reader who emailed us, but as he says, it's still possible that some copies might slip through and this pseudoscience will end up in school libraries. So, let's make sure it's widely known that "Truth in Science" are using these tactics, so that schools know how to spot this kind of nonsense when it crashes through their letterbox – the British Centre for Science Education are aware of the matter, and are asking people to let them know if their local schools have been receiving the book.

23 comments:

cedgray said...

I think it's important to retain these copies - somewhere, if not in public libraries - so that everyone can see them, and learn to spot the lies that are contained inside.

Perhaps some sort of guide could be attached to it explaining what it really is, how and why it was produced, and where the fallacies are located within.

Simply destroying it, or hiding it from public view, might prevent mistakes, but displaying it with all its faults (made clearly visible) might help educate people about the dangers inside.

Tricky choice.

Psiloiordinary said...

Hi cedgray,

The NCSE have already done an (almost) page by page analysis.

We link to it from our blog posting here here.

Thanks for the link,

BCSE

cedgray said...

It's a sad truth that organised religions have a lot of money and very good distribution networks, so we need to make sure that the debunking material is at least as widely distributed and public as their is.

Perhaps it might be an idea to develop a bright sticker that you could apply to such pamphlets, and which includes a URL that a reader can check to see how the claims can be dismissed. The glossier their pamphlets, the more people will pick them up, and ultimately be led to a proper elucidation of the facts.

Think of it as an inoculation jab that comes free with the disease...

eveningperson said...

My partner, a head of biology and A-level teacher until her retirement last year, had a couple of (US-sourced) DVDs from these people a few years ago. They've been active for some time.

brianjordan said...

It's important to note that whilst this organisation hides behind the mask of "intelligent design", the people behind it are out-and-out Young Earth creationists - who, in other circumstances, make no bones about it. This entails believing that the whole universe is no more than 6000 years old, Noah's flood actually occurred- around 4,500 years ago, the Grand Canyon was gouged out by that flood "probably in a matter of hours" and all the other anti-scientific nonsense that their views imply.

Eiskrystal said...

I would ask why an unauthorized textbook would need to be used in the classroom. Especially one that attacks "Neo-Darwinism"...whatever that is supposed to be.

Tacky american propaganda trying to undermine one of Englands greatest scientists.

Its insulting to us. Nothing more. Burn them.

Anonymous said...

The basic underlying conflict between neo-Darwin evolution on one hand, and ID Intelligent Design on the other is merely a resurfaced ancient feud between atheism and monotheism.

95% of academic biologists are atheists who must subscribe to neo-Darwinism to survive in the halls of academia.

What is atheism? This is a modern term for one of many types of primitive religions, such as paganism, polytheism, the worship of objects in nature, worship of idols (idolatry) etc.

The word atheism is a post War modern construct. If God existed, then that God would never have allowed the horrors, the evil, and scale of human suffering of WWII, therefore there is no God. Hence atheism.

The reality is that there is no such thing as atheism, as the atheist who negates the monotheistic God merely adopts a paganism, idolatry or polytheism in its place.

In modern terms, this translates into the pursuit of one of many replacements for God, such as pleasure, money, social status, power, worship of self, various objects, electronic idols that absorb attention span, drugs etc.

Hence, modern day atheism is merely a modern form of idol worship, which was the cultural norm in ancient times. In site of this opposing culture of idol worship in ancient times, the story goes that one courageous Man saw the truth that idols cannot speak. This story of Abraham heralded the emergence of Abrahamic monotheism in ancient times. This was the idea that there was one God, one creator, one designer of the universe.

After thousands of years of civilization, we know that monotheism has won this ideological battle against idolatry. So why the resurgence and strength of atheism, idolatry and neo-Darwinism in our modern day science culture?

The answer to this is socio-econonomc and political. Neo-Darwinism is a necessary justification for unethical and predatory behavior of corporate entities which now control the mass media, government, science funding, university funding and economies of most Western countries of the world. This is the overwhelming basic fact which overrides all others, and is the basis for the current conflict played out between neoDawinism and Intelligent Design.

At the end of the day, Intelligent Design as a metaphysical argument against neoDarwinism is really a plea for help by the individual human drowning in a totalitarian world of mental and physical enslavement.

This is the world of evil corporate conglomerates the grow larger and stronger with each passing year, and must be opposed by all free men.

Darth Robo said...

>>>"The basic underlying conflict between neo-Darwin evolution on one hand, and ID Intelligent Design on the other is merely a resurfaced ancient feud between atheism and monotheism."

Why is this, when many many religious people (including scientists) accept evolution also? Why is ID monotheistic instead of polytheistic? And what does religion have to do with science?

>>>"95% of academic biologists are atheists who must subscribe to neo-Darwinism to survive in the halls of academia."

Is there evidence of this (apparently global) conspiracy?

>>>"The reality is that there is no such thing as atheism, as the atheist who negates the monotheistic God merely adopts a paganism, idolatry or polytheism in its place. In modern terms, this translates into the pursuit of one of many replacements for God, such as pleasure, money, social status, power, worship of self, various objects, electronic idols that absorb attention span, drugs etc."

Why would atheists need a 'replacement' for an entity for which they have no evidence of existing in the first place? Or put another way, are you claiming they feel the need to pursue your proposed goals because atheists negates the Invisible Pink Unicorn? And if so, why are your proposed pursuits not exclusive to atheists but in fact all human beings? And since when does monotheism automatically exclude one from the sin of idolatry? After all, Jews may think of Christians as idolaters, and fundamentalists tend to worship their favourite sacred religious books rather than worship their actual deity.

>>>"The answer to this is socio-econonomc and political. Neo-Darwinism is a necessary justification for unethical and predatory behavior of corporate entities which now control the mass media, government, science funding, university funding and economies of most Western countries of the world. This is the overwhelming basic fact which overrides all others, and is the basis for the current conflict played out between neoDawinism and Intelligent Design."

Is there evidence of this (apparently global) conspiracy? Also are you aware that the social application of scientific fields has no bearing on their scientific validity? For example, physics is used in the creation of nuclear power station and nuclear weapons. But physics itself neither advocates or condemns either. I do hope you're not about to invoke Godwin's are you?

>>>"At the end of the day, Intelligent Design as a metaphysical argument against neoDarwinism is really a plea for help by the individual human drowning in a totalitarian world of mental and physical enslavement."

I see. So ID really IS just anti-evolution apologetics and not an actual "scientific theory" as the IDer's claim?

>>>"This is the world of evil corporate conglomerates the grow larger and stronger with each passing year, and must be opposed by all free men."

And are men (and presumably women too) free only if they are monotheists?

Anonymous said...

Reply to Darth Robo who said >>>...

>>>"Why is this, when many many religious people (including scientists) accept evolution also?

95% of academic biologists are atheists in order to survive in the group think of academia. Yes you are rightnthey subscribe to a a religion of neo-Darwnism a defunct 19th Century theory overturned by 20th century molecular biology.


>>>"Why is ID monotheistic instead of polytheistic?"

Because ID represents the Abrahamic monotheism side of the ancient battle against idolatry which is modern day atheism.

>>>And what does religion have to do with science?"

as little as possible.


>>>Why would atheists need a 'replacement' for an entity for which they have no evidence of existing in the first place? Or put another way, are you claiming they feel the need to pursue your proposed goals because atheists negates the Invisible Pink Unicorn? And if so, why are your proposed pursuits not exclusive to atheists but in fact all human beings? And since when does monotheism automatically exclude one from the sin of idolatry? After all, Jews may think of Christians as idolaters, and fundamentalists tend to worship their favourite sacred religious books rather than worship their actual deity.

This is human nature. If there is no God, then Man will invent one, and the easiest invention is an idol and idol worship.

>>>I see. So ID really IS just anti-evolution apologetics and not an actual "scientific theory" as the IDer's claim?

No you dont see. You are blabbering gibberish.

>>>"And are men (and presumably women too) free only if they are monotheists?

Read Thomas Jefferson and the Bill of Rights. Inalienable Human Rights are given to Man by the Creator, hence monotheism creates human dignity and freedom. If there is no God the Creator, there are no human rights, and enslavement follows sure as daybreak. That's the way its always been and always will be. You want totalitarian dictatorship? Make atheism your state religion.

Darth Robo said...

>>>"95% of academic biologists are atheists in order to survive in the group think of academia. Yes you are rightnthey subscribe to a a religion of neo-Darwnism a defunct 19th Century theory overturned by 20th century molecular biology."

Funny, the rest of the world seems to be unaware of it. Along with all those who accept evolution and also believe in God. That includes scientists.

>>>"Because ID represents the Abrahamic monotheism side of the ancient battle against idolatry which is modern day atheism."

I see. If there was another Dover-like trial, would you be willing to say this in court?

>>>"This is human nature. If there is no God, then Man will invent one, and the easiest invention is an idol and idol worship."

And they did, both mono and polytheistic ones. However, you are missing the point that atheism rejects the existence of such idols due to lack of evidence.

>>>"No you dont see. You are blabbering gibberish."

Projection on your part. See, the creationists who invented ID have claimed for years that it is a "scientific theory". And yet here you are saying it represents Abrahamic monotheism and is a "metaphysical argument against neo-Darwinism". Given this information, and combining that with the fact that the IDer's have yet to present a "scientific theory of ID", the only rational conclusion can be that ID is in fact just anti-evolution apologetics and not a scientific theory.

>>>"Read Thomas Jefferson and the Bill of Rights.

Jefferson's views were not typical of monotheists, and he has been described by many as a Deist, though he preferred to think of himself as an individual. One of his quotes that I like is this: "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear."

Continued

Darth Robo said...

Continued from above

>>>"Inalienable Human Rights are given to Man by the Creator, hence monotheism creates human dignity and freedom. If there is no God the Creator, there are no human rights, and enslavement follows sure as daybreak. That's the way its always been and always will be. You want totalitarian dictatorship? Make atheism your state religion."

The Bill of Rights makes no mention of a creator. It is the Declaration of Independance which **claims** that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Of course, claiming the existence of a 'creator', and that it is this creator itself which is responsible for the invention of human rights is a far cry from this actually being confirmed as fact. There is no reason that the concept of human rights could not have been a human invention. Although I certainly won't deny that people's beliefs in a creator may have (and very likely) been what inspired them. It is interesting to note however, that the wording of the Declaration is ambiguous enough that it does not advocate any one particular creator over any others. Hypothetically anyone, including monotheists, polytheists and atheists can be considered under that wording. After all, they were all created by something. It is also interesting to note that Jefferson took the Bible and wrote his own version, in which he threw out all the parts he didn't like and kept the parts which were consistent with his philosophical views. And it is worth mentioning that slavery and totalitarian dictatorship were invented a long long time ago, utilized by both monotheists and polytheists alike.

However I will agree with you on one thing: I don't think atheism, or any other worldview (including polytheism and monotheism) should be forced upon anyone. Which is why I am quite partial to the US Constitution, including the First Amendment which states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Andrew King said...

Somebody needs to make this into a book:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

It answers every argument against evolution in a clear and understandabale way. It also sources every answer, so you can go ahead and read every Scientific Paper, every document, etc.

I think Mr Annonymous may need to read through it to.

Anonymous said...

>>>Andrew King said... I think Mr Annonymous may need to read through it to0.

Talk Origins is an atheist fascist web site which promotes atheism and neo-Darwinism as a religious belief. These people are devoted to the repulsive propanganda of corporate fascism whose goal is enslamvent of free men. Dont be fooled by these people. They are evil.

Anonymous said...

>>>See, the creationists who invented ID have claimed for years that it is a "scientific theory". And yet here you are saying it represents Abrahamic monotheism and is a "metaphysical argument against neo-Darwinism". Given this information, and combining that with the fact that the IDer's have yet to present a "scientific theory of ID", the only rational conclusion can be that ID is in fact just anti-evolution apologetics and not a scientific theory.

No you are missing the point. neo-Darwinism is NOT a valid scientific theory based on SCIENCE. Not based on metaphysics. Neo-Darwinsm was concocted in the 19th century and guess what? 21st century molecular biology shows Darwin was wrong on many things. Current day Darwinism is nonsense and outdated by new science. Academic biologists cling to neo-Darwinism as a belief system required for advancement.

Atheists reject idols? No I don't think so. Saying so doesn't make it so. Idols can be anything that replaces Man's search for meaning in the Universe. If there is no meaning ie GOD, then man will invent something else to take its place. This is human nature.

Your idol may not be a small wooden statue. It may be money, a new car, social status, power, pleasure, etc.

Try to understand before you write garbage that discloses a babboon at the keyboard.

Andrew King said...

Aha, I finally get it.

You're quite a good troll to fool me so easily.

Wasn't expecting that.

Anonymous said...

>>>Aha, I finally get it. You're quite a good troll to fool me so easily. Wasn't expecting that.

Weren't you? Dont fall for the atheist fascist propaganda on the Talk.origins web site. These guys are pure evil and represent corporate fascism.

Darth Robo said...

Okay, so while you're ignoring my points, can I just ask - what scientific alternative do you propose that does a better job of explaining the evidence than evolution?

Glagow Andy said...

Wow, this i a dull rehashing of cliched old rubbish.
There is no debate in the scientific community about evolution. While Darwin was wrong on a number of issues, as the evidence has been gathered, the theory has been updated. That's what science is. Draw conclusions based on evidence. Evolution was initially a sound theory. It has now been validated, updated and backed up by 100 years of research.

Molecular biology has disproved it? Any chance of a link to that research because it seems to have escaped the notice of a great number of scientists.

If i have the option of believing a theory which elegantly explains the development of species and is corroberated by masses of mutually supporting evidence from a number of fields. I'll go with it. Well, i'll go with it over "God done it!". That has no predictive or explanatory power and is, in my opinion, the antithesis of what makes humans great.

Bugger, i can't believe i was drawn into that...

Anonymous said...

>>>Darth Robo said... Okay, so while you're ignoring my points, can I just ask - what scientific alternative do you propose that does a better job of explaining the evidence than evolution?

Neo-Darwinism does a very poor job of explaining the evidence or making predictions. One prediction was that 98% of the genome was junk DNA. This was proven wrong. IN fact there are pages and pages of failed predictions for neo Darwinism which has become like the epicycles of geocentrism which is what science beieved before Copernicus and Gallileo.

Neo Darwinism has become the last vestiges of an athetis creed, a form of religion required by our fascist totalitarian society. As such it represents the of evil of human enslavement. Free men everywhere must rise to oppose this evil monster.

The scientific alternative is in the science literature. Its called genetic engineering and is being done at placed like University of Chicago.

Darth Robo said...

And what does genetic engineering have to say about explaining the diversity of life on Earth?

Darth Robo said...

And a little research leads me to suggest that you might want to make your way to the University of Chicago and stop them from engaging in and promoting the evil monster of totalitarian fascism...

Doug Muder said...

Does anybody know what level of endorsement is implied by having a book in a British school library?

I would have no objection to the book being in my local American public library, which doesn't imply much in the way of endorsement -- our library contains all kinds of nonsense in addition to a lot of very valuable books.

I'm happy to let the Discovery Institute have the same right to spread its views as I have to spread mine. But I object when they want some kind of official endorsement from a government that is supposed to represent me too.

Doug Muder said...

I hate to feed trolls, but one of anonymous' points deserves a response: The Discovery Institute is part of the Religious Right, which is ALLIED with the "evil corporate conglomerates the grow larger and stronger with each passing year." Those were the two pillars that supported the Bush administration: the Religious Right and the corporations.