Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

Courtesy of geologist Callan Bentley

Incl. intelligent design, belief in divine creation

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Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

#1  Postby Shrunk » Feb 16, 2013 4:01 pm

Dear Mr. Bentley,

My boss Dr. Stephen C. Meyer at the Discovery Institute is finishing up a book that discusses various attempts to explain the Cambrian Explosion. It is called Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosion of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design.

I am in the process of looking for photos for his book and came across your set detailing a trip to the Burgess Shale. I am writing to see if you are open to giving him permission to use one of your photos, a picture of Emerald Lake and the Burgess Shale landscape....

Image

I’d like to offer you $100 and a complimentary copy of the book in return for permission to use the photo.....

Our deadline for submitting photos and art is this coming Thursday, Feb. 14th. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours,

Andrew McDiarmid
Media Relations Specialist
Assistant to Dr. Stephen Meyer
Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture


The reply:

Hello Andrew,

Thanks for your interest.

I hold the Discovery Institute in the lowest regard, and it sounds like the new book will be a further perversion of reason in the name of pseudoscience. As a science educator, I could never support such an effort! I will not grant reproduction rights to any of my photos or drawings to any creationist effort such as the one you describe here.

Best wishes for your good health, and the speedy demise of the sham institution that employs you.

Callan Bentley


Bentley's blog post goes on to reprint McDiarmid's reponse, which quickly drops the polite and respectful veneer of the initial inquiry. I have to say, my favourite part of of the exchange is the offer of a complementary copy of the book as compensation. If Bentley had felt inclined to allow them to use the photo, he could have replied "But, please, just pay me $50 instead of $100, and keep the book."
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Re: Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

#2  Postby Calilasseia » Feb 16, 2013 6:02 pm

This part of his blog post should be saved for posterity. Certainly, it should be saved here, and waved in the face of every duplicitous practitioner of apologetics who attempts to erect the usual tiresome canards about peer review, or purported "ideological" biases of scientists, whilst hoping no one will notice the far more egregious creationist biases:

So, for the record: I’m open to the idea of an Intelligent Designer, but such an extraordinary claim would require some extraordinary, incontrovertible evidence. Here are a few ideas:


  • “Hey there; it’s me, the Invisible Space Teapot. I made this.” written in nucelotide base pairs of ever nucleic acid ever examined.
  • Embossed letters reading (in Aramaic, Esperanto, and Elvish) “Intelligently Designed by Yours Truly” embossed on the side of mitochondria, or for that matter, elephants.
  • The heavens opening, and Goorialla appearing, and saying “Hey – stop arguing about this. In spite of nature having every appearance of having evolved, I mischievously made it look that way when I intelligently designed it, so you all didn’t know whether to trust your minds or your faith. Heh! Good one, eh?”
  • Fossil rabbit blueprints (showing the design process, natch) in the Precambrian.

It would have to be something bold, unambiguous, and not capable of being faked by True Believers with an ideological axe to grind. Simply looking at the world through ID-colored glasses and interpreting everything you see to be the Designer’s handiwork is insufficient. Those who are sympathetic to the impetus for Intelligent Design research should ask themselves: Why is this so difficult to show unambiguously? Why can’t we convince people who are the toughest to convince? Where’s the really compelling evidence we seek?

The Discovery Institute has faith in their cherished conclusion: that the physical world reveals in its obscure details the signature of the Creator. That conclusion is steadfast and absolute. As long as the Discovery Institute exists, they will advocate for greater acceptance of that idea. In contrast, I trust science as a process for sorting through potential explanations of the natural world, and rejecting those lacking evidence or logical coherence. Put in language Mr. McDiarmid might appreciate, science is a way of checking if we have scales on our eyes. True institutions of science do not advocate for any particular conclusion, but only tentatively for the most coherent explanations that science has been able to reveal thus far. Scientists are ever conscious of the fact that today’s conclusions can morph rapidly into yesterday’s moldy antecedents. And what does it take to make that transformation? Just add data! The right facts can overturn a paradigm, and any real scientist welcomes that new insight. But it’s a sad spectacle to watch the Discovery Institute thrashing against our best current understanding with the wet noodles of yesteryear’s fairy tales.

Pseudoscience like Intelligent Design puts the conclusion first, and that’s the easiest way you can tell Intelligent Design creationists apart from scientists.


Needless to say, I'll be preserving the entire blog post for my files, so that it can be wheeled out whenever the usual suspects peddle the usual apologetics.
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Re: Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

#3  Postby hackenslash » Feb 16, 2013 7:36 pm

Worthy of an honorary Orson, methinks.

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Re: Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

#4  Postby DarthHelmet86 » Feb 17, 2013 3:54 am

hackenslash wrote:Worthy of an honorary Orson, methinks.

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A very well done blog post, I give him the smiley face clapping.
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Re: Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

#5  Postby tolman » Feb 20, 2013 5:02 pm

Maybe Bentley should have offered to sell them pictures of other things they'd be unlikely to be able to take their own pictures of, such as a real laboratory, a respected scientist, an honest public relations worker, and some credible research.
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Re: Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

#6  Postby tsninjapirate » Feb 21, 2013 10:12 pm

Not that Cambrian Explosion bullshit a-fucking-gain! Didn't Thunderfoot already pound that 6-million-year "boom" into the ground several times in really old episodes of WDPLAC?
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Re: Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

#7  Postby kennyc » Feb 21, 2013 10:24 pm

Excellent! I love it!
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Re: Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

#8  Postby Rumraket » Feb 22, 2013 8:51 am

tsninjapirate wrote:Not that Cambrian Explosion bullshit a-fucking-gain! Didn't Thunderfoot already pound that 6-million-year "boom" into the ground several times in really old episodes of WDPLAC?

What's worse, some estimates put it at 15-25 million years depending on how you define it. Not much of an "abrupt appearance" mehinks.
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Re: Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

#9  Postby Calilasseia » Feb 22, 2013 12:37 pm

One of the papers in my collection, contains a statement estimating the duration of the Cambrian Pop to be between 18 and 23 million years. Once again, hardly overnight. :)
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Re: Another eloquent smackdown of the Disco Institute

#10  Postby Shrunk » Feb 23, 2013 1:01 pm

The comedy extravaganza continues! The DI's David Klinghoffer has issued a response.

I'll just quote this section:

Notice that Andrew properly contacted Bentley in the first place to seek permission to use Bentley's work for publication. Fully within his rights, Bentley said no. But he then published Andrew's own work, private emails, without seeking or receiving permission on the American Geophysical Union website. Not too classy.


and then point out this post from Klinghoffer:

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/01/mo ... 68381.html

Hey, what's that, about 2/3 the way down? It looks suspiciously like a quoted email message. But, I can't seem to find where they say that permission was obtained to reprint it....
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