Thursday, February 08, 2007


Of Hothouse Flowers and Suspicious Minds

Intelligent design, it seems, is such a delicate little hothouse flower that its proponents at the Discovery Institute will only talk about it to journalists, authors, and filmmakers who will certify in advance that they'll paint a sympathetic portrait of ID in their work.

Inquiries about ID from those who don't know the secret handshake, we know now, are routinely rebuffed by its Discovery handlers.

Discovery refused to talk to filmmaker Randy Olson when he was making his film on ID, "Flock of Dodos." They also brushed off Ed Humes, the author of the newly released book on the Dover trial, Monkey Girl.

"Due to my suspicions last year," writes Casey Luskin in a post on Evolution News and Views, "I only granted Humes a short phone interview where we discussed the nature of intelligent design (ID)."

Now that "Flock of Dodos" has hit the big time -- it's being shown in 30 science centers across the country on Feb. 12 -- and Ed Humes Monkey Girl is getting rave reviews and selling briskly, Discovery has gone into full damage control mode.

They've published three posts labeling "Flock of Dodos" a hoax because, they say, "Randy Olson... portrays biologist Jonathan Wells as a fraud for claiming in the book Icons of Evolution (2000) that modern biology textbooks continued to reprint Haeckel-based drawings."

Actually, Olson does nothing of the sort. Anyone who's seen the film will know that he merely asks John Calvert to find Haeckel's drawings in any of the biology textbooks in his personal library. Amusingly, Calvert, who had maintained the presence of the drawings in almost all biology textbooks couldn't find a single example in biology textbooks in his own library.

(Note too, the weasel-worded phrase "Haeckel-based drawings" in Luskin's accusation. In other words, any drawing of embryos will do.)

The problem for Luskin and Discovery is that they can write what they want now, but the film has been widely seen and reviewed. One thing that everyone who has seen the film has noted is its balance and fairness to both sides of the debate.

When RSR viewed the film, both John Calvert and Kathy Martin were part of a panel discussion that followed the screening. Neither made any accusation that there were any factual errors -- much less a hoax as charged by Discovery -- of that they'd been treated unfairly in Olson's film.

The same is true of Humes' book. Here's an excerpt from the Booklist review:

"Humes' clear reportorial style and sympathy for all the principals in Kitzmiller (except, perhaps, for the school board's hired-gun lead attorney) ensure the high interest of both aspects of the book."

In an Amazon review, Peter Irons writes:

"Having recently visited Dover and talked with people on both sides of the cases, I can attest that Humes has given Dover's residents a chance to express their divergent views without bias."


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