CJR: Undoing journalism?

05 05coverThe current issue of the Columbia Journalism Review contains an essay that is must reading for anyone who cares about the future of American newspapers and the classic “American model of the press,” which is (or was) built on the concept that newspapers promised readers fair and accurate coverage of both sides in heated debates.

The piece is called “Undoing Darwin” and the authors, Chris Mooney and Matthew C. Nisbet, argue that American journalists must stop acting as if there is any kind of scientific argument left to cover related to Darwinism. Thus, “fairness” does not apply, since there are no critics of Darwinian orthodoxy worthy of being treated fairly. Thus, all the critics are religious nuts and there is no need to take their claims seriously or present their arguments accurately. It is a lengthy and highly detailed piece, and I urge readers to take the authors seriously and read what they have to say.

Here is the lead:

On March 14, 2005, The Washington Post‘s Peter Slevin wrote a front-page story on the battle that is “intensifying across the nation” over the teaching of evolution in public-school science classes. Slevin’s lengthy piece took a detailed look at the lobbying, fund-raising, and communications tactics being deployed at the state and local level to undermine evolution. The article placed a particular emphasis on the burgeoning “intelligent design” movement, centered at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, whose proponents claim that living things, in all their organized complexity, simply could not have arisen from a mindless and directionless process such as the one so famously described in 1859 by Charles Darwin in his classic, The Origin of Species.

If you read on, you will note that Mooney and Nisbet are arguing that the position newspapers should advocate goes even further than the language now being used and defended by the National Association of Biology Teachers.

There was a time then this group officially defined evolution as an “unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable, and natural process . . . that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.” However, in 1997 the association’s board — amid fierce argument and controversy — removed the words “unsupervised” and “impersonal,” saying that this kind of language could not be proven in a lab and, thus, was a kind of faith language for agnostics and atheists. Here is a quick overview by Dr. Eugenie Scott, who is hardly a leader of the Religious Right.

There continue to be echoes of this controversy in the CJR piece and in the wider public debate about Intelligent Design.

Note again the words of Mooney and Nisbet — “mindless and directionless.” How does one prove the lack of a mind? How does one document that a process is “directionless”?

You can, by logic, argue for such a position, and many scientists do. Many openly argue that Darwinism supports atheism or some form of deism. People on the other side — the Intelligent Design crowd — are trying to use the same sequence, arguing by data and logic for a philosophical position (that evidence points to a Creator) that cannot be proven in a lab. Once again, we see this science/ logic/philosophy sequence.

However, it seems that CJR is saying that newspapers must protect the public from this debate over philosophy and science.

Personally, I think journalism is a good idea. This is not to say newspapers cannot show that the overwhelming majority of scientists in this nation back Darwinism. But it would also help if these same newspapers demonstrated that many of the Darwinian authorities cannot agree on what the word “Darwinism” means and to what degree Darwinism does or does not “prove” that humanity is the result of a random and meaningless process that did not have humanity in mind.

I would also love to see editors justify to readers — from sea to shining sea — their decision to embrace advocacy journalism on such an important and controversial issue. It seems, to me, like a quick and easy way to further weaken the newspaper industry. I do not think this is what most editors want to do.

A note to those who wish to comment: Let’s try really hard not to turn this into another row over science and religion. Please try to focus on the journalism issues involved. Thanks.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Here’s what I’m wondering: How do you practise fairness and accuracy when reporting on a dispute in which one side is truthful and the other is lying?

    If you’re fair to both sides by reporting as if they were both arguing in good faith, then you’re not being accurate. If you accurately describe the liar, you’re not being fair.

    What if there’s a dispute on a technical matter (so you personally can’t evaluate the merits of the claims, and have to rely on experts), and 99% of the experts in the field support one side, while 1% support the other? Is that how you allocate your coverage — 99% to the majority side, 1% to the minority? If you grant both sides equal coverage, aren’t you lending the minority side more attention than they deserve?

  • http://www.bluffton.edu/~bergerd Dan Berger

    To a certain extent, the approach advocated in CJR should have been used some years past in the area of “cold fusion.” I submit that there’s some similarity there.

    With cold fusion, journalists behaved as though the idea that one could have deuterium fusion at room temperature inside a precious-metal electrode was scientifically reasonable. Instead, they should have made clear to readers immediately that it was the cold fusion advocates who had the burden of proof, and it was justifiable to dismiss the idea until and unless it was reproduced by other labs, since it flew in the face of quite a lot of what we thought we knew about particle physics.

    With ID the problems are more subtle, but a large majority of biologists (like the large majority of physicists r.e. cold fusion) are extremely skeptical, not to say dismissive, because ID severely messes with their paradigm. Since they’re the ones with the most right to an opinion, I’m inclined (as a scientist with a different specialty) to let them sort it out.

    ID scientists have only begun to publish peer-reviewed science articles in which ID plays a central role, and it remains to be seen whether their research programme will be a fruitful one. ID’s in about the same position as cold fusion when Fleischman and Pons published their initial paper–one that calls for rather more skepticism on the part of the public and the press than is currently being shown.

    Journalists should defer to the expert consensus. There is currently very little controversy in biology about whether ID can be detected or refuted scientifically, just as there was (and is) very little controversy in physics about whether it’s possible to fuse deuterium using electricity passed through room-temperature deuterium oxide.

    Either of those “facts on the ground” may change. But it’s not the way to bet. Should journalists be picking horse races, especially picking winners at a hundred to one? Not in the news columns.

    (It’s true that CJR went too far. Journalists, as tmatt points out, shouldn’t be calling the race the other way either. Evolution is not, contra Dawkins, disproof of any sort of theism; see Ruse’s “Can a Darwinian be a Christian?”)

    I believe that God guided the development of life on this planet. But, for theological reasons as well as scientific ones, I don’t think His guidance is going to be possible of proof.

  • http://onlinefaith.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    As it happens, I’ve been trying to read Steven Jay Gould’s Rock of Ages over the last few weeks. I say “trying” because, though it is short, it’s requiring more concentration than I can give it right now. This short book– essentially an amplified essay written about three years before his death– also attacks the pseudo-religious air that has always surrounded Darwinism, including a visit back to Dayton and thence forward through, in particular, the further career of William Jennings Bryan.

    I’ve always understood for myself the degree to which people donning the mantle of Science have misrepresented it as an opponent to religion in general. I can’t see intelligent design in the classroom, but the loaded language of random, directionless change has to go. But at the same time I am finding the ID debate puzzling, because it’s clearly not about science. The controversy is real, and Terry has it dead center in his journalistic cross-hairs, but somehow MSM representation of it is all wrong.

  • Michael

    I think the writers raise an interesting dilemma facing journalists: how seriously do we take advocates who are far, far, far outside the mainstream. It pits our belief that journalism should reflect minority views and opinions with our own crediblity when we give undo attention to sideshow people and issues.

    By pretending there is an equal debate on evolution and ID, we are elevating a view that is far, far, far outside the mainstream and giving it legitimacy. Undoubtedly, there are times when this is a good thing. But how we do explain to readers that views are considered marginal, at best, without overlegitimizing them.

    We see this in other areas where science and religion collide. A good example would be the “ex-gay movement” where some people far outside the mainstream argue that gays can “become straight” or at least, “less gay.” It is another are where these is almost no scientific evidence backing it. I recently saw such approaches as being the “Laetrile of psychology” because it is dubious.

    Yet, we see journalists–working hard not to be seen as liberal and “biased”–giving such questionable approaches legitimacy by suggesting there is an actual debate within psychology on the issue.

  • http://sanskritboy.net Ryan Richard Overbey

    Forgive the asymmetrical analogy– this doesn’t overlap perfectly. But what do you do as a journalist when you are asked to devote column space to marginal viewpoints and frame it as a legitimate debate between both sides?

    What if I were to demand that every time a religion reporter covers a theological issue important to Baptists, they give equal time to Fred Phelps?

    If you said that Fred Phelps hasn’t the standing to speak for American Baptists, that he is repudiated by a vast majority of Baptists, and that there really is no controversy here, you would be right.

    This is not much different than the anti-evolutionists vs. science “debate”, with one very important exception: most Americans are well-informed enough about religion to know that Fred Phelps does not represent Baptists. But sadly, most Americans are so poorly educated in science and the philosophy of science that they have no real qualifications to judge the relative worth of the two sides in this “debate.”

    So does it count as advocacy journalism to downplay or ignore extremist, marginal viewpoints not held by the vast majority of qualified experts? Must every article on psychology feature a Scientologist for the sake of journalistic balance? Must every article on Baptists feature Fred Phelps? Must every article on evangelicals feature Pat Robertson?

  • tmatt

    Various:

    One of the crucial tenets of journalistic “transparency” these days (did I spell that right?) is that the people you are covering are supposed to affirm that you are covering their points of view with some degree of accuracy. In this case, people on one side believe that the press is consistently misquoting them. For me, this is a bad thing.

    And are you putting the likes of Pope John Paul II, W Bush, the leaders of Orthodox Judaism, the leaders of all of the nation’s largest religious denominations, etc., automatically into this pack of people who do not deserve fair coverage simply because they are theists who say creation is not random?

    One other issue: When the story is ABOUT what Scientologists believe about psychology, then, yes, you had better quote their point of view accurately. Then let the debates begin. Put them on the record.

    And you are assuming that 95 percent of the nation holds one of several “marginal” viewpoints? On the PHILOSOPHY — not the lab — issues involved? By all means, let’s have newspapers make a case for that openly and on the record.

  • tmatt

    Michael:

    We see this in other areas where science and religion collide. A good example would be the “ex-gay movement” where some people far outside the mainstream argue that gays can “become straight” or at least, “less gay.” It is another are where these is almost no scientific evidence backing it.

    ***

    That is another excellent case. It is also another case where people fiercely disagree with your point of view. The basic perspective of the ex-gay movement is that human sexuality is, with a nod to Kinsey, a spectrum of behaviors and that people often move up and down that scale between the two extremes. Thus, bevavior often changes. They believe they can show evidence that change is possible. The debates can be lively, in forums in which people are not shouted down and/or threatened.

  • Michael

    The debates can be lively, in forums in which people are not shouted down and/or threatened.

    I assume you mean in non-scientific settings, since there is little credible scientific support for the practice which has been denounced by every mainstream psychological, psychiatric, and pediatric group???

    If “shouting down” means pointing out there is no peer-reviewed research and that the practitioners of the therapy have been sanctioned for unethical practice.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Terry, you didn’t answer my question. As a journalist, how do you cover debates where you’ve become convinced that one side is lying?

    Here’s another question: What constitutes credentials? Is there any particular reason to give GW Bush’s opinion on evolution any more weight than that of a randomly-chosen American?

    How about for other topics? Should Pope Benedict be asked for his opinion on computer security issues? Should food writers ask Orthodox rabbis to chime in on whether New York’s pizza is better than Chicago’s?

  • Tom Harmon

    Avram: So, which study are you referring to? I’ve never seen those numbers…

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Which study of what, Tom? Do you mean the 99%/1% in my first comment? Those were hypothetical numbers. I want to know Terry’s opinion on how journalists should handle cases where one side is lying, or where one side is a fringe trying to bootstrap itself into respectability via journalistic coverage. Even if he doesn’t agree that the ID people are doing these things, I want to know, in the abstract, how he thinks such cases should be handled.

  • Mark

    Avram:
    I’m not sure your first question applies here. Even if you don’t buy a word of what the IDers are saying, that puts them in the category of “asserting an opinion that’s wrong,” not “lying.” There’s a huge difference between the two. Lying would only apply if the IDers didn’t actually believe a word they were saying.

    And even if ID isn’t Bush’s area of expertise, he has just a tad more power to enact his opinions than the average American. And that’s reason enough to give his opinion a little more weight than a randomly chosen American.

  • http://www.bluffton.edu/~bergerd Dan Berger

    Terry,


    this pack of people who do not deserve fair coverage simply because they are theists who say creation is not random

    You’re putting words in my mouth. I said that I don’t believe ID can be proven, largely because the vast majority of those who work in the field are intensely skeptical. And neither journalists nor I know enough about that field to gainsay the opinion of the majority of workers in that field.

    Something on the order of “cold fusion, though some researchers claim it works, is considered impossible and wrong by the vast majority of working physicists” should be present whenever ID is discussed by amateurs.

    I don’t believe God plays dice, either. That says nothing about whether I think that a research programmed based on the idea that God carefully places the dice in the desired configurations can be fruitful. Or, more to the point, whether journalists should give “equal time” to fringe science.

    Some fringe science becomes mainstream. But that’s not the way to bet.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Mark, first, as far as I can tell, the ID people really are lying. They say one thing in press releases, and another when speaking to their funders.

    But that’s beside the point. Here’s my point: Should journalists grant known liars and con artists the same benefits of the doubt that they grant to honest people. If you don’t agree with me that the ID people are liars, fine, make up your own example, or answer the question in the abstract.

    I’m talking about known liars here. Obviously anybody can be deceived; I’m interested in what happens when a journalist has evidence that one side in a dispute is lying.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Hey, I was just checking out the Wikipedia entry on journalistic objectivity, and it says that the fairness-and-accuracy standard exists as an alternative to the objectivity standard: “Some argue that a more appropriate standard should be fairness and accuracy (as enshrined in the names of groups like Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting). Under this standard, taking sides on an issue would be permitted as long as the side taken was accurate and the other side was given a fair chance to respond. Many professionals believe that true objectivity in journalism is not possible and reporters must seek balance in their stories (giving all sides their respective points of view), which fosters fairness.”

    So what’s up with that?

  • Mark

    Avram:

    I’d say that if you’ve found a situation where you can catch someone in a lie, then present the facts that show their dishonesty in a fair, accurate way, giving the accused a chance to respond. I think the press can (and should) point out dishonesty without playing gotcha journalism. Now if you just *think* that someone’s lying or that people are being deceived without any hard evidence, I say leave it to the columnists.

  • Bruce Geerdes

    I’m wondering if there is a disagreement on what “IDers” believe. Wanting the words “unsupervised” and “impersonal” removed from the evolutionary creed is not a fringe belief. Many more than 1% of scientists believe in God and I imagine a fair number of them would grant the possibility that he was involved in creation (if I can use that word) somehow.

    Can ID be proven? No. But neither can it be disproven. If evolutionists think priests should stay out of the evolution discussion and leave it to “the experts” perhaps the evolutionists should stay out of the discussion of whether God exists or not.

  • jayman

    I think there is a failure to properly parse the issues here. The issue of ID’s scientific legitimacy is one issue. Whether the molecules-to-man narrative of “mainstream” evolutionary biology is the lock-down-airtight science that Eugenie Scott et al. would have us believe is another. It’s quite possible to be skeptical or unsure of ID while being also skeptical of Darwinian evolution. Advocates on both sides of this front of the culture war have fused these two questions and honest discussion of both of them suffers as a result.

    Hopefully not OT, but I think the ex-gay discussion suffers from a similar problem. The “ex” and celibate gay men I’ve been friends with over the years don’t tend to look at things in the same black-and-white terms advocates on both sides of that fight would like either, but I think there’s even less of a chance of nuance in the MSM coverage of this question than of ID/evolution.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Dan, that statement about God not playing dice, you might want to read up on its origin.

  • tmatt

    Avram:

    The answer to your question is journalism, not silence.

    A question: Are you a journalist? Have you ever covered meetings in which people on both sides made strong truth claims that clashed?

    Many of your claims would be strongly challenged. I would hope, should you be in a situation where your claims are challenged, journalists would allow you a fair hearing. That is what journalists do.

    And I am with Mark on that issue. Publications should prove their claims, not just shout at people.

  • tmatt

    One more thing. I have covered many a meeting in which I honestly believed one side was lying. I did my best to accurately report their positions. I also tried to prove they were wrong with evidence. In some cases I and others were able to do so. In other cases, not.

    This is a high stakes public debate. We must err on the side of free speech. It also does not help when attempts to publish material on one side the the debate — read media accounts of the Smithsonian case — can get people fired simply because the allowed a peer process to produce a provocative article.

    And, yes, I consider the pope’s science views interesting and relevant. So did the Darwinian camp, until they realized he did not agree with their entire package of doctrines.

  • tmatt

    Dan:

    I was not putting words in the mouths of the CJR authors. Read their piece.

  • Michael

    While everyone may deserve to have a fair hearing, not every viewpoint deserves the same level of attention. There is a local candidate in DC who literally “blows her own horn” by walking around with a trumpet and wearing revealing clothes at the age of 65 or so. While we should hear her viewpoint, we don’t have to give her the same level of attention we give legitimate candidates.

    The same applies on policy issues. We can suggest there is general consensus on a scientific question and offer there are voices “blowing their own horns” that may deserve some attention for the sake of a fear hearing, but don’t need to be treated as a serious scientific voice, for instance.

    Not every voice is equal. Journalists must make some credibility determinations if we are offering viewpoints as legitimate and serious.

    I cover some policy areas where the Traditional Values Coalition believes it is a player. While I may toss in a quote from them, I owe it to readers not to present them as serious policy players or that their viewpoints are credible, even among other conservatives.

  • tmatt

    Michael:

    But you are covering a story built on a debate that is already in the courts and, to an increasing degree, in academia.

    The ID leaders will not convince courts to allow the philosophy they advocate based on their reading of data in public schools. Of course, many of the top ID leaders do not want that to happen anyway.

    But the ID leaders may win, when it comes to limiting the degree to which Darwinian PHILOSOPHY is taught in tax-funded institutions. I refer to the Church of Sagan-style “all there is, or was, or ever shall be” doctrine.

    Church-State separation may yet apply on both sides. Free speech may yet, in the public square, apply to both sides. Let newspapers do their best to cover the debates and let the sparks fly. You can even cover the cases in which — like the “random” and “impersonal” guidelines — the Darwinists argue with each other.

  • ceemac

    A little venting

    A problem I see is that journalists are letting anyone who wants to be a player in this game be a player.

    This is a scientific debate. I don’t want to see another quote in an article from someone who is not a practicing scientist in an appropriatete discipline.

    Politicians, pundits, preachers, philosophers, popes, presidents and anyone else who does not have the credentials should not be players in this game.

    Come to think of it there are probabaly not that many journalists who are actually qualified to report on the game either. How many have degrees in both science and journalism and the skills to explain complex topics in accessible terms?

  • http://blog.kevinbasil.com/ Basil

    Kneejerk reaction:
    “People on the other side — the Intelligent Design crowd — are trying to use the same sequence, arguing by data and logic for a philosophical position (that evidence points to a Creator) that cannot be proven in a lab.”

    There are more than two sides here, and not everyone who believes in a Creator is a believer in Intelligent Design® — though they are probably believers in intelligent design. Wasn’t that the point of a recent GR article, ostensibly by the same author (tmatt)?

  • http://onlinefaith.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    “Politicians, pundits, preachers, philosophers, popes, presidents and anyone else who does not have the credentials should not be players in this game.”

    Well, politicians and pundits are one thing. Philosophers– particularly those who who have a handle on both science and religion– might be considered the definitive experts in the field. It’s not just an issue of science, but in particular about the legitimacy of scientists expressing opinions in other fields. Carl Sagan, in defining the “cosmos”, was way out of the bounds of science. It would be supremely arrogant of scientists to think that they can make philosophical and religious statements and presumptions without being challenged by the actual experts in either field.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    But the ID leaders may win, when it comes to limiting the degree to which Darwinian PHILOSOPHY is taught in tax-funded institutions. I refer to the Church of Sagan-style “all there is, or was, or ever shall be” doctrine.

    Terry, could you go into a little more detail about this “doctrine”? I went to a science-oriented public high school, and was never indoctrinated about this alleged doctrine. All I saw or read of Carl Sagan was outside of class, on television or his books that I watched and read on my own.

    The ID leaders will not convince courts to allow the philosophy they advocate based on their reading of data in public schools. Of course, many of the top ID leaders do not want that to happen anyway.

    I notice you’ve qualified this claim since the last time you made it. Back then it was “They do not want their theory taught in public schools”, which I refuted by referring to the Discovery Institute’s own fund-raising documents. Now it’s the much vaguer, and therefore much harder to refute, “many of the top ID leaders”. Is including ID theory in school science curricula no longer a goal of the Discovery Institute?

  • Todd

    In my opinion it appears that those who so vehemently oppose ID are missing the point. The mainstream ID’ers (e.g., Behe, Demski) do not take issue with any of the current science, and in fact vigorously support it. They strongly disagree with some of the interpretation; in particular, the notion that random and unguided evolution can produce life. This is in essence a philosophical debate, and not a scientific debate. Neither side can prove their case in any meaningful scientific way.

    I believe that the MSM is really dropping the ball here by missing this crucial distinction. Most of the reporting that I have seen on this issue is quite weak. The reporter has already come to the desired conclusion, and then simply finds a few choice quotes to back up his position. In general, one has that the neo-Darwinist attacks the ID position as unscientific religious nonsense, but rarely explains what he actually believes. The ID’er is generally and incorrectly portrayed, either implicitly or explicitly, as a youg Earth creationist. I rarely see either side honestly represented in the MSM, unfortunately.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Oh, and does anyone have any more recent examples than Cosmos to complain about? It’s a quarter of a century old!

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Todd, Behe wrote a book claming that there are biological mechanisms whose origins are beyond the ability of science to explain, and actually denies the existence or validity of research that refutes his claims; how that constitutes “vigorously support[ing]” the current science is a bit beyond me.

  • ceemac

    Sagan’s name has been tossed around a bit here. I am not sure he is a good example of a scientist.

    There is a sense that he ceased being what I called a “practicing scientist in an approprate discipline.” He became more of a media personality than a scientist.

    I don’t know this for certain but I would hunch that he was critiqued by more than a few scientists for claiming expertise beyond his own discipline. I’d also hunch that his work had very little influence on the work of other scientists.

  • ceemac

    In case my last post wasn’t clear I don’t think that journalists should use Sagan as an authority in stories on related to Darwin & ID. He’s not an eligible player in that game and not just becuase he’s dead. The only folks eligible to play the game are practicing scientists. Sagan lost his eligibility to play when he exchanged science for media celebrity.

  • http://www.christianengineer.org Joe

    Gegrapha is an association of Christian journalists . Terry Mattingly is a member. Gegrapha’s vision statement is, “Our vision is to transform journalism into a profession that is regularly associated with the qualities of high integrity, character and skill in truth telling.”

    I do not perceive how Gegrapha can “transform” journalism without Gegrapha members, collectively and intentionally, seeking to influence the journalism profession in a transformative way. But that would require intentional and collective effort – by journalists, theologians, and possibly others in Body of Christ – to ascertain God’s will, at least to some degree, for journalism profession, to document a theology of journalism (or lack thereof) in a rigorous way, and take it from there. There is no evidence, based on Gegrapha’s website that Gegrapha intends to seek God’s will for the journalism profession or to collectively and intentionally influence the journalism profession to better align it with God’s will. “On earth as in heaven,” does not seem to apply to Gegrapha.

    I suggest the debate about coverage of darwin/ID in MSM is largely about professional standards of conduct for journalists. I think Gegrapha and is members are “AWOL” in being a “salt, light, and leaven” influence in this debate and in other issues relevant to the place of journalism profession in God’s economy. Christ’s cultural commission to his followers – to be a salt, light, and leaven influence in their spheres of influence – presupposes that elements of human society would benefit from such a redeeming, preservative, corrective, influence and that Christians, acting collectively and intentionally, could be effective in providing it.

    I think the lack of collective and intentional Christian influence in the journalism profession is is a conscious choice, because of the real/perceived risks to career standing Gegrapha members would face if they intentionally and collectively, in an open, transparent way, per the rules of the journalism profession, tried to influence their chosen profession – to uplift it and its service to society, for the greater glory of God.

    So I am beginning to think Gegrapha’s “vision statement” is just so much self-serving spin, like so much of the rest of what passes for “journalism.” “Get Religion” regularly decries the state of the journalism profession but fails, in making its observations, to note how the lack of an intentional and collective Christian effort, contributes to the problems it describes. “Journalist, heal thyself” seems apt.

    Respectfully,

    Joe Carson, P.E.
    President, Affiliation of Christian Engineers

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com Peter T Chattaway

    tmatt wrote:

    And are you putting the likes of Pope John Paul II, W Bush, the leaders of Orthodox Judaism, the leaders of all of the nation’s largest religious denominations, etc., automatically into this pack of people who do not deserve fair coverage simply because they are theists who say creation is not random?

    I don’t think anyone was saying they don’t deserve fair coverage; rather, I think people were saying they don’t deserve coverage, period, because almost all of them simply are not scientists and thus have not done the homework that would enable them to make informed statements about this subject from the scientific point of view.

    Obviously, because these people are politically influential, and because the things they say and do have consequences, their publicly expressed opinions on this subject must be reported — just as the weight-throwing of certain religious leaders must be reported when they condemn movies that they have never seen. But like all other sources, these sources must be recognized both for what they are, and for what they are not.

    Would you go to a non-journalist for an analysis of issues in journalism? :) How “fair” should the coverage be when a politician who knows nothing about how newspapers work starts dictating new methods for ensuring fairness and accuracy?

    On the PHILOSOPHY — not the lab — issues involved?

    I still don’t think this is a helpful dichotomy. Theories may be influenced by philosophies, but they are fundamentally rooted in objective evidence — the sort of evidence that is sometimes, but not always, found in a lab.

  • tmatt

    It would be supremely arrogant of scientists to think that they can make philosophical and religious statements and presumptions without being challenged by the actual experts in either field.

    ***

    Amen.

    And to say that one’s interpretation of data is infallible is, well, fundamentalist. To say that this interpretation should not be debated openly and fairly is, well, beyond fundamentalist. Again, study the recent Smithsonian case. There was some interesting journalism done on that one.

    As for Sagan, study the 1997 debate WITHIN the Darwinian camp on whether to drop language that was clearly theological or anti-theological (depending on one’s point of view).

    I also totally agree with those who say there are multiple camps here. I have written about that several times. But in the journalism world there are only two camps — science and religion — and that is a false division. There is religion on both sides, for starters. There is faith and doctrine on both sides.

  • tmatt

    Would you go to a non-journalist for an analysis of issues in journalism? How “fair” should the coverage be when a politician who knows nothing about how newspapers work starts dictating new methods for ensuring fairness and accuracy?

    ***

    Happens all the time and journalists often call in outsiders to consult on these kinds of issues. This also helps when you have a product to sell to the public. It helps to know if the public believes that its views and beliefs are being fairly treated. Many of our best newspapers hire someone to work, full time, dissecting the newspaper from the point of view of the public.

  • Phil Blackburn

    What bugs me about the ‘fairness means telling both sides’ approach is that often the ‘two sides’ are minority views. The mainstream view is somewhere else, not necessarily the midpoint, and often complex enough that a journalist would have to do some work to present it.

    An interesting use of the ‘f-word’ in this context is from Steven Rose, http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/darwin/leghist/rose.htm:

    “What we might call fundamentalist Darwinism, in the hands of its popular exponents, has become a sort of all purpose explanation for every aspect of our lives … If we seek certainty in the world, the choices seem to lie between fundamentalist religions like Christianity and Islam, and the seemingly scientific fundamentalism of this version of Darwinism. Indeed there is something of the religious in the way fundamentalist Darwinians cling to their certainties.”

    “How can I as a biologist possibly sound so hostile? It is because I want to rescue both Darwin and the ideas about evolutionary and developmental change, the nature of living processes, from the arms of the fundamentalists who in my view abuse them.”

    You don’t need to say that words like ‘impersonal’ and ‘undirected’ in descriptions of natural selection in school science syllabuses (syllabi?) should be balanced by a presentation of a ‘god of the gaps’ version of ID. Just say that neither ‘personal’ nor ‘impersonal’, ‘directed’ nor ‘undirected’, ‘designed’ nor ‘not designed’ have any place on a science syllabus. Put them in RE where they belong. You can have a perfectly good scientific description of natural selection without such terms (indeed Steven Rose gives one in the article linked above, or there is a school-oriented one at http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/education/bitesize/higher/biology/genetics_adaptation/natural_selection1_rev.shtml).

    Is the job of a journalist to report truth or conflict? Or, to put it another way, if most scientists agree, broadly, about something then is that news?

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    And to say that one’s interpretation of data is infallible is, well, fundamentalist.

    Coould you maybe tell us who’s been saying that, Terry? I mean exactly who — the name of a person, or a formal group with a statement you can quote from that has the word “infallible” in it, not some vague, unverifiable party like “scientists” or “doctrinaire Darwinians”. I’ve got a feeling you’re not talking about the Vatican.

  • ceemac

    Blackburn quotes Rose:
    “What we might call fundamentalist Darwinism, in the hands of its popular exponents, has become a sort of all purpose explanation for every aspect of our lives”

    I have questions.

    Who are these FD’s? Why are they given so much attention by journalists? Why do they worry tmatt so much?

    I would bet FD’s are a small percentage of practicing scientists. (another hunch, they are more media hound than scientist)

    I ask these questions because I don’t think I have ever encountered an FD. It has been more than 20 years but I was an advanced chemistry major with a bio minor at a southern regional state university. I must have had at least 20 different science professors and I don’t recall a one that could be classified as a FD.

    I don’t recall any of them making global explanations about philosophical questions. Most seemed pretty apolitical and were focused on teaching and fairly narrow research. Molds, enzymes, etc.

    In fact as a lot the scientists I encountered were much more modest about their ability to speak authoritatively than the theologian types I encountered when I went seminary and grad school.

    So again who are these FD’s? Why to they get so much media attention? And why do they bug you tmatt?

  • tmatt

    ceemac:

    You have read, then, the recent Smithsonian case coverage?

    Are you also familiar with the famous academic freedom case involving Dean Kenyon, author of the “Biochemical Predestination” textbook? This is the case in which a scientist was removed from the classroom for criticizing a textbook that HE WROTE? He merely believed his work and research now pointed in a different direction.

    And you have read the background materials on both sides in the 1997 debate within the National Association of Biology Teachers?

    Oh, the FDs, as you put it, have received almost no MSM attention at all. And, according to the CJR piece, they do not exist. That was the point of my original post. I have a graduate degree in Church-State Studies and I would like to see the sword of separation cut both ways.

  • Michael

    I have a graduate degree in Church-State Studies and I would like to see the sword of separation cut both ways.

    What does this mean?

  • keypusher

    ***

    Posted by tmatt at 4:04 pm on September 12, 2005

    What does peer-reviewed research mean in this context? If a man has sex with other men, undergoes this therapy and stops having sex with men, is that evidence? Why would the therapy be unethical, provided the patients underwent it knowingly and willingly?

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Terry, I’ve only read a little about Kenyon, but surely the nature of his criticisms of his earlier work should be more important than the fact of the criticisms, shouldn’t it?

    According to one source, Kenyon was not forbidden from teaching to advanced students, he was just removed from his position teaching to freshmen in an intoductory biology class for non-science majors.

    According to another source, Kenyon’s textbook taught a model of abiogenesis that dates back to the 1960s, and is considered obsolete nowadays. If he’s presenting obsolete science as current, then he’s got problems beyond just being a creationist. Phillip Johnson wrote about this in 1994, saying Kenyon co-authored his book “26 years ago”, which would put it in 1968. I’d hope a science techer wouldn’t try to present 1968 molecular biology as current in 1994.

  • Todd

    Tmatt,

    I work at a research university, and consequently would be very interested to learn more about the case of Prof. Kenyon. Can you provide some links to where I could read more about it? In particular, I am interested in how those who opposed his “different direction” framed the debate. Thanks.

  • http://www.physicsgeekjesusfreak.blogspot.com Matthew M.

    Michael – I think tmatt means that the components of evolutionary thought that are philosophical/religious rather than scientific (i.e., statements like “undirected”, “mindless”, “purposeless”) have no more place in a public-school biology class than has the Genesis account of creation. He’s also irritated that journalists rarely separate the philosophy from the science, while as ceemac pointed out many professional scientists actually do. But ceemac should know that there are many places where professional scientists are rigidly dogmatic about even raising questions about some aspects of evolutionary theory, such as von Sternberg’s unconscionable treatment by his Smithsonian colleagues which tmatt just referenced. As one who works at a research university myself, I found von Sternberg’s treatment particularly incensing.

  • http://filmchatblog.blogspot.com Peter T Chattaway

    I wrote:

    Would you go to a non-journalist for an analysis of issues in journalism? How “fair” should the coverage be when a politician who knows nothing about how newspapers work starts dictating new methods for ensuring fairness and accuracy?

    tmatt wrote:

    Happens all the time and journalists often call in outsiders to consult on these kinds of issues. This also helps when you have a product to sell to the public. It helps to know if the public believes that its views and beliefs are being fairly treated. Many of our best newspapers hire someone to work, full time, dissecting the newspaper from the point of view of the public.

    But would you necessarily quote that “public” in the story itself?

    It seems to me that my question was more concerned with what reporters actually write about, and your answer is more concerned with how publishers sell their papers to their readerships. I was asking more about “sources” than “consultants”, as it were (and I admit I might not have been as clear as I could have been, on that point).

    And as far as the science itself is concerned, the public is more or less irrelevant — the lab results, the field work, and the theories based on them are what they are, and the opinions of anyone who has had little or no exposure to these things don’t count for much. Their opinions would only count when, as you put it, scientists have to “sell” their work to the public. But if I want to find a source that refutes a biologist’s claims, I’d go looking for another biologist.

  • tmatt

    Matthew:

    What you said. Amen.

    As for Kenyon, a quick Google gets you all kinds of advocacy pieces from the ID side. But the information is solid.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ned=&q=Dean+Kenyon&btnmeta%3Dsearch%3Dsearch=Search+the+Web

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Matthew, why do those statements have no place in a science classroom? One of the foundational assumptions of science is that the universe operates in a consistent, understandable manner. No scientific endeavor could succeed if scientists had to stop and prove that their evidence wasn’t being mucked about with by an undetectable spirit.

    The reason scientists don’t bother to emphasize that, say, gravity operates without intelligent intervention from magical gravity elves is that there’s no large lobby of people trying to get Gravity Elf Theory into the schools. If there were well-funded think-tanks using public relations techniques to try to get people to take Intelligent Falling or the Babel Theory of Linguistics seriously, you’d get a lot more defensive behavior, and shorter tempers, from physicists and linguists.

  • tmatt

    Avram:

    But the involvement or lack thereof cannot be proven under the rules of laboratory science. That is why Sagan’s creed is A CREED, not a statement of science.

    In other words, your interpretation of the data — base on logic and faith — is infallible. Your position is, ultimately, far more aggressively faith-based than what the mainstream ID want to see in tax-supported venues. Congrats!

  • Ray from Minn

    I don’t have time to read 49 comments and I would expect that this comment has already been made, but I would like to know just where has it been decided that “”the classic “American model of the press,” which is (or was) built on the concept that newspapers promised readers fair and accurate coverage of both sides in heated debates.””

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Terry, I’m not talking about Sagan’s statement, which I’ll agree is non-scientific. (Historians also had complaints about some of Sagan’s claims about historical events in Cosmos. Nobody’s perfect.) I’m talking about the ordinary assumptions that every reasonable scientist in the world makes when evaluating their data.

    I can’t prove that you aren’t really Satan in disguise, can I? But I pretty much have to assume that you aren’t, because otherwise I’d wind up acting like a crazy person.

    What you’re doing here (and you’re not the only one) is conflating the philosophical materialism that many — but not all — scientists subscribe to with the methodological materialism that any scientist needs to follow just to make sense of the world.

  • Phil Blackburn

    ceemac (going back several posts):

    Steve Jones is having a general pop at a range of scientists who claim Darwinism as an explanation for everything, from economics to marital status. He specifically targets Richard Dawkins, quoting him as saying that genes ‘created us, body and mind’. Dawkins is famous for books about selfish genes; these days I think he is more infamous, in the scientific community, for extreme reductionism, but he is still a well-known voice on this side of the Atlantic, and probably our best known evangelical atheist. His views may not be fully mainstream scientifically, but he speaks loudly and clearly and with a controversial edge, which is much more interesting to journalists, it seems to me.

    Incidentally, I see that my previous link to Steven Rose’s article was killed by a trailing colon, so here it is again: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/darwin/leghist/rose.htm

    Rose’s article has links to further articles on Darwin & evolution by Dawkins himself and by a Revd. Michael Jackson.

  • http://www.physicsgeekjesusfreak.blogspot.com Matthew M.

    Avram – Actually, exactly the opposite is true. Tmatt and I are trying to get everyone, particularly journalists, to separate the philosophical materialism from the operational materialism inherent to science, so that everyone can see that the philosophical part is just that — philosophical (that is, not scientific). Our assumptions do not fall within the realm of science. Your (quite correct) assumption about Satan in disguise is not scientific, however reasonable it may be. The fact that a particular statement is rational does not make it scientific.

    Anyway, “consistent” and “understandable” are a far cry from “purposeless” and “undesigned”, and of all people, someone so attached to the Discovery Institute’s “wedge strategy” should understand our reaction to the NABT statement.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    Matthew, you’ve just jumped a couple of steps without taking me along. Could you slow down a bit and explain:

    - Where “‘purposeless’ and ‘undesigned’” came from? Who are you quoting? (Not the NABT statement, which said “unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural”.)
    - What I’m supposed to know about what you mean from having read the Wedge Strategy document? (As far as I’m concerned, the Wedge Document demonstrates that the Discovery Institute is trying to — let me put it in Terry’s language — do Philosophy->Logic->Science instead of Science->Logic->Philosophy.)

  • http://myroblyte.blogspot.com NBR

    Listen, I’m kind of new to all of this stuff, and maybe my reaction to this debate has to do with my experience as a professor leading discussion-based classes, but bear with me, please. This is a request for clarification.

    Seems to me that there are several distinct issues being discussed, not to say conflated, here. As I see it, these issues are:

    1.) The merits of ID theory as opposed to evolutionary theory (or neo-Darwinism — though it’s not obvious to me that this is appropriate nomenclature in this case).

    2.) The proper way for journalists to frame the ID-versus-evolution debate in their work (two alternative philosophies squaring off against one another; science on one side versus religion on the other; tyrannical atheists censoring well-meaning dissidents; well-funded cadres of intellectual insurgents attempting to derail long-standing scholarly consensus; etc. etc…. as should be obvious, each of these pictures can be supported with some evidence from somewhere)

    3.) The question, finally, of what ought to be taught in public-school biology classrooms, which if I’m not mistaken is the real-world outcome that’s most directly at stake in this argument.

    Am I wrong about this? And if I’m right, then which one of these issues is actually most relevant for this forum?

  • Carl

    As to the journalism question, if journalists do just dismiss ID out of hand, it will only serve to give more grist to the mill of the “Liberal Media” decriers on Fox News, AM radio, etc. When it comes to the Copenhagen interpretation v. the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum physics, journalists are fine to just ask physicists, since most people don’t know or care about the issue. But to talk about evolution while ignoring that probably a strong majority of your audience doesn’t quite believe in it is foolishness that will only help errode the audience for news faster.

  • http://www.nhreligion.com Stephen A.

    An interesting side note about Sagan (which many of those here may already know) is that he favored the evolution – so to speak – of religion into a “Religion of Science” for our age.

    I find this notion interesting, though not personally spiritually transformative (i.e. I wasn’t converted) in that it tries to bridge the gap between science and religion, understanding that both are valid social constructs (see quote, below.) He also isn’t hostile to religion as many scientists seem to be, though what he may want it to evolve into may be quite different from what we know as “religion.”

    Interestingly, some folks on the Internet have obliged their now dead prophet’s vision and have created “Scientism.” I wonder if they’ll be debating whether THAT will be taught in the classroom in 100 years?

    As for Sagan’s credibility in the ID debate, obviously he’s not here to discuss the nuances of the debate as it’s evolved (again excuse the pun) over the years. But I do see him as a scientist, and he surely can be cited in the press as opponents cite him, just as Darwin can be, even if they have both assumed room temperature.
    ============================

    “Sagan has arrived at a particularly interesting view of science’s traditional companion, religion. He reinterprets the meaning and role of religion from the viewpoint of science. One would think that Sagan would prefer to tear down religion as an obsolete social construct; on the contrary, Sagan respects religion for its roles both past and present in our society. He explicitly states that his discussions are intended as “constructive” criticism for the refinement of the institution to twentieth-century standards.

    Sagan considers religion to be sociological in origin; it is a construct created to bridge the gaps in our understanding of our world and ourselves. Religion has three dimensions in which it bridges gaps…”

    More: http://www.detwiler.us/sagan.html

  • tmatt

    NBR:

    2.) The proper way for journalists to frame the ID-versus-evolution debate in their work (two alternative philosophies squaring off against one another; science on one side versus religion on the other; tyrannical atheists censoring well-meaning dissidents; well-funded cadres of intellectual insurgents attempting to derail long-standing scholarly consensus; etc. etc…. as should be obvious, each of these pictures can be supported with some evidence from somewhere)

    3.) The question, finally, of what ought to be taught in public-school biology classrooms, which if I’m not mistaken is the real-world outcome that’s most directly at stake in this argument.

    ***

    Excellent comments. The MSM will not be able to avoid this story or quoting the people involved in this story. It is basically a story about two priesthoods fighting it out for space in the public square. One side is labeled religious, while the other is not — even though at the level of philosophy it is also (with tax dollars) teaching material that goes way beyond the lab and what most people think of as the scientific method.

    So the goal is free speech and, in PUBLIC classrooms, letting teachers and students study the results of the scientific method without someone on either side doing the religious interpretation for them.

    So there are a number of newsworthy angles to this. Headlines will be made.

    I also raised the question: What will newspapers gain by ignoring, warping or trashing the beliefs of millions and millions of readers?

  • Michael

    What will newspapers gain by ignoring, warping or trashing the beliefs of millions and millions of readers?

    The will do what this demographic has done in the past: they will opt-out. They will only read newspapers that agree with them, listen to talk-radio, read conservative blogs, tune into the 700 Club.

    Religious conservatives–who are the most likely to react to having their views not reflected in mainstream newspapers–are the same folks who homeschool when their views aren’t reflected in the schools, join African archdioceses or independent megachurches when their views are reflected in their denominations, move to exurban and rural areas where they aren’t asked to be around people with conflicting values.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    It is basically a story about two priesthoods fighting it out for space in the public square.

    Terry, we’re clearly talking past each other. I don’t see either side as a priesthood. What you see as one priesthood, I see as a group of (mostly) honest scientists, and teachers who want to teach science. Where you see the other priesthood, I see a group of people who want to remake science (and law) over from a right-wing Christian perspective, and a larger group of people who are being duped into thinking that there’s an honest debate going on.

  • ceemac

    tmatt:

    The MSM will not be able to avoid this story or quoting the people involved in this story. It is basically a story about two priesthoods fighting it out for space in the public square.

    ***

    I’d suggest that it might have been good for the MSM (and all non scientists) to avoid this story.

    This is a story that was not ready for the public square. It should still be in the science building. (Yes the science building is public space but I hope I make my point.). If ID is good science it will win out in the long run. It might take many DECADES but it will win and darwinism will be history. If ID is bad science it will disappear.

    These sort of debates happen all of the time in the science world. Minds do get changed. Ideas that were once thought correct get tossed aside.

    By the way I am aware that science politics is a form of academic politics and so can exhibit all the pettiness and such that implies. But in the long run good science will trump bad.

    And yes I am aware I am taking something of an elitist position here. What the public thinks does not matter. I really don’t care if ID or darwinism wins. But I want the “decision” to be in the hands of the scientists.

  • Phil Blackburn

    I’m a little puzzled by Terry’s article here. I have read Moody & Nesbitt’s article, and I see no evidence for:

    “If you read on, you will note that Mooney and Nisbet are arguing that the position newspapers should advocate goes even further than the language now being used and defended by the National Association of Biology Teachers.”

    As I read it they are arguing that reporters need to distinguish clearly between scientific arguments and philosophical/religious arguments (which sounds similar to Terry’s position in some of these comments). They give examples where scientific statements about evolution were ‘balanced’ by scientific-sounding (but actually scientifically gobbledygook) statements from creationists. One impressively sneaky example they give is “Intelligent design theory attributes the origin of life to an intelligent being. It counters the theory of evolution, which says that people evolved from less complex beings.”

    Terry seems to be saying that Mooney and Nisbet are promoting a view that evolution is “mindless and directionless.” The only place Mooney and Nisbet use these terms is in the context of arguments given by IDers. How is this saying that newspapers should promote such views?

    Similarly, Terry seems to to be knocking the NABT (National Association of Biology Teachers) – note the “even further …” in the quote above. For a brief period (from 1995-1997) they included the terms “unsupervised” and “impersonal” in their statement on evolution. This statement was originally put out because of the intense pressure biology teachers were under from anti-evolutionists, and basically went too far in trying to counter anti-scientific arguments. When the NABT recognised that these terms were inappropriate they dropped them. Their current statement makes a clear case for the scientific basis for evolution and natural selection; also why discussion of non-scientific issues – such as whether it is God or Nature who is in charge – does not belong in the biology classroom: http://www.kcfs.org/Fliers_articles/nabtstatement.html. See also: http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/391_science_and_religion_methodol_5_1_1998.asp and http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/scottreply.htm.

    It seems to me that what CJR are saying is not “that newspapers must protect the public from this debate over philosophy and science”, but that newspapers must ensure that coverage of such a debate should be clear and accurate, distinguishing what is scientific from what is philosophical, and from what is psuedo-scientific nonsense. Amen to that, I say.

  • http://www.God-101.com Allan W Janssen

    What we have here is failure to communicate!
    It may not be an original quote, but as far as the Evolution / Creation debate goes, perhaps a very appropriate one!
    The constant war of words between Darwinists and Creationists has been ongoing for many years and has not been resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. Perhaps we should go right back to the very basics and start to build from there; just to see what happens!
    First of all we have to take a position that there is either a God, or there is not!
    If there is no God then the Darwinists are absolutely right and everything was created by dumb luck and there is no purpose to anything!
    I can see why evolutionists have been so adamant that natural selection and the progression of lower life forms into higher ones, without outside help, seem to be the natural order of things. They have a compelling argument and the term; “Just the facts, Ma’am” bear them out.
    However, the supposition that life, and by correlation intelligence, is the result of blind chance with no interference from a God, is the same as saying that by default there is no God! In other words, to accept evolution from a scientific point of view without taking into account the theological implications of the Atheists being right, does a great disservice to anyone who has any feelings at all of a religious/spiritual nature.
    I personally cannot imagine a world where there is no God at all. That this whole kit-and-caboodle we call the Universe is just a random organization of the basic elements with no ultimate purpose! This extremist’s view is no better than those of religious fanatics who try and tell me that the world is no more than seven thousand years old. Both are the result of people polarized in their own views and beliefs. After all, a belief that there is no God is in no way any different than the view that there is a God; both depend on a personal belief system, since neither can be scientifically proven!
    This is not to say that we should teach the biblical version of the creation of the universe as literal truth since any rational, semi-educated person realizes that Holy Scripture is a compilation of parables, prophesy, folk-lore, metaphor’s and common sense in a first century context! Nor should we refer to the bible as a historical work since it is more concerned with the mind-set and morality of people than an account of their achievements!
    If we can learn to distinguish between the metaphorical and the historical aspects of the scriptures then it makes it all the easier to differentiate between the divergent aims of scientific and theological schools of thought. Just as the far right claims biblical truth and rejects scientific evidence, the Darwinists are at a loss to explain how the Universe (The Big Bang) came into being from absolutely nothing.
    It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Both are different and have a different purpose. To attempt a comparison is the same as looking for common ground when talking about two totally different things.
    With this in mind there is no real conflict between religion and science. God is by God’s very nature unknowable. What I object to is the human trait of forming special interest groups whose sole job is giving only their explanation of God and even making proclamations and laws in God’s name. This to me is the height of human arrogance and self-deception.
    We do not know how God interacts with our universe and should not use one philosophy (religion or science) to try and explain the other. “Render therefore to Cesar the things which are Cesar’s, and to God the things which are God’s.” In other words, I am all for teaching Creationism in school; as soon as they start teaching evolution in church!
    I have a theory, and it’s called Evolution!
    I have a belief, and it’s called Intelligent Design!

    Allan W Janssen
    1371 Commissioners Rd. W
    London, ON, N6K 4H8
    519-657-3526 / F 519-657-3548
    (Excerpts from my book “God-101, what the church doesn’t want you to know!”)

  • http://www.lightondarkwater.com Daniel Nichols

    Getting back to tmatt’s original point: I can certainly say, as a non-journalist and a pretty open-minded non-scientist, that every time I read something which takes the point of view advocated by the CJR, I’m a bit less likely ever to read that publication again.

    It should be mentioned that one of the article’s co-authors, Chris Mooney, is very decidedly a partisan on this question. Bit of a crank, in fact, I’d say.


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