Saturday, September 16, 2006


Richard Weikart's Intellectual Dishonesty

You've just got to love Denyse "Buy My Book" O'Leary. She's the intelligent design movement's overeager cub reporter who has established quite a record of spilling the beans on subjects her ID elders wisely prefer to keep quiet.

Famously, O'Leary let the cat out of the bag about the Discovery Institute's plan to hold a screening of "The Privileged Planet" at the Smithsonian. Discovery hoped the implied endorsement of that institution would make up for in appearance what the film so badly lacked in substance: the imprimatur of science.

O'Leary's incautious post on the subject on her Post-Darwinist blog gave science supporters the advance notice they needed to alert leaders at the Smithsonian. Wisely, the Smithsonian allowed the screening to go forward, but issued a statement withdrawing the institution's endorsement from the event.

Oh, did they howl in Seattle.

Not having learned the lesson that loose lips sink ships, Denyse is at it again.

Today, she's calling attention to an egregious violation of intellectual integrity by Richard Weikart -- a Discovery Institute fellow who seemingly has never met a quote he couldn't distort.

Prof. Weikart's claim to fame, he's now been embraced for his so-called scholarship by Ann Coulter, is writing books and giving speeches that claim Charles Darwin's theory of evolution "played a key role in the rise of eugenics, euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination, all ultimately embraced by the Nazis."

In her post, Denyse is amazed that "it should matter so much to some people whether Hitler was a Darwinist, a creationist, or something else."

RSR supposes that to people who make a living distorting the words of others for propaganda purposes, it would come as a bit of a surprise that others take history, facts, and intellectual honesty seriously. Those people -- fools that they are -- actually think you can learn from history. but that in order to learn, you must first try to understand.

Denyse might have left the damning evidence of Weikart's methods buried in the comments where few would have seen it, but in true Denyse fashion, she's pulled it out where everyone can see.

The comment Denyse, in her wisdom, decides to call everyone's attention to is by Mitchell Coffey, who provides evidence of a "straight-out lie" by Weikart in distorting a quote from an H. G. Wells novel to assert that Wells "believed in killing off 'inferior' races. The lines quoted by Weikart are spoken by a character in the novel and meant to be ironic. In other words, Weikart has turned them on their head.

But in true Coulter fashion, Weikart must obscure the real source of the quote.

Here's Weikart's huffy defense of being caught with his hand in the cookie jar:
I did cite my source for the quote by Wells. The superscript number 5 appears immediately after the quotation. The note states: “Quoted in Diane B. Paul, _Controlling Human Heredity_ (Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 1995), 75.” If one looks at p. 75 of Diane Paul’s book, one will readily see that I did not misconstrue her position.

In other words, Weikart tried to throw his readers off the scent by citing a secondary source rather than Well's novel, the original source. He did that because providing the original source would have provided the context that could expose his distortion.

Now, my MLA Handbook advises students, whenever possible, to use an original source, not a secondhand one.

Why? Well, isn't the answer obvious?


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