“Intelligent Design Research” Means Listening to Elton John

“Intelligent Design Research” Means Listening to Elton John August 19, 2014

Jerry Coyne has shared a close look at the details of a Discovery Institute promotional video. They have made backgrounds that are supposed to look scientific. But if you take a screenshot and look at the details, you find things like whiteboards filled with nonsense – and the words “Rocket Man.”

What else do you see?

Ted Herrlich notes that the Discovery Institute also blames Darwin for the Civil War and pretty much everything else they can think of. I don't get that from what I see on the board above, and it obviously is at odds with the historical research of others.

Is there something in Elton John's song lyrics that I have missed?


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  • Sven2547

    Scientific research is about testing and falsifying hypotheses and seeking out the facts.
    Pseudoscientific research is about marketing, messaging, and rhetoric.

  • The text to the right of “Rocket Man” says “Model Rocket Display” which would seem to say this this is about something other than Elton John.

    • Any idea what that “something other than Elton John” might be? 🙂

      • I have now spent far too long staring at that stupid white board.

    • Gary

      “Model Rocket Display”. In the Navy, we’d call it “Pocket Rocket”.

  • A slight correction, James: Institute of Creation Research is a different organization from the Discovery Institute.

    • You’re right, this time it was ICR. DI was the one that previously had a green screen and stock footage of a lab in a video. When their tactics are the same, it is so easy to get them confused!

      • As David Klinghoffer points out here


        green-screening is a common practice for everyone, creationist and non-creationist alike. But as the photo of Ann Gauger demonstrates, they do have a lab.

        • Apparently one that they do not use for actual scientific research, but we didn’t need to see photos or video to know that, did we?

          • And you know that they don’t use it for scientific research…how?

          • Lack of publications is the big indicator, but the lab doesn’t even look used.

        • arcseconds

          I don’t think I’d want to hang too much on the green-screening, but Klinghoffer isn’t making the right comparisons.

          As he says, probably most people, if they think about it at all, do not think that backdrops for tele-interviews represent reality, but are just symbolic for ‘this guy’s actually in London’ or whatever. But that’s not true for scientific documentaries. There’s a much greater expectation of veridical footage. Look at the outcry caused a couple of years ago when it turned out that nature documentaries presenting a single family of polar bears (for example) generally use footage of multiple families that they splice together, and other forms of manipulation! And at least in these cases they were still footage of real polar bears, and not grizzlies or CGI bears made by weta.

          So what would be more interesting is whether the level of ‘deceit’ is comparable in documentaries or features of mainstream biologists. And to what extent it’s reasonable to expect web journalists like Ars Technica writers to know about what goes on in documentary-making.

          It might well be comparable, of course, in which case maybe we all need to learn something about documentaries — or alternatively maybe documentary-makers should do a better job. Perhaps it isn’t really feasible to interview scientists in their laboratories… in which case, don’t do it! Present footage of their actual laboratories with a voiceover, and interview them either in their office, or in a studio.

  • Also, the DI does put part of the blame for WWI on Social Darwinism:


    But I haven’t heard of them blaming Darwin for the Civil War. Citation?

  • Psycho Gecko

    Dino’s what? Dino’s what? What are they trying to tell me? What belonged to the dinosaurs?

    And if they have a lab, why don’t they ever have experiments? Probably too busy going “Nope, here is my ignorant attempt to disprove evolution. And if evolution is wrong, that automatically proves our pseudoscience.”

  • Didn’t Ann Gauger, from the DI’s in-house ‘Lab’ get busted doing a video presentation in front of a green screen and having a stock photo of a lab digitally entered in a couple of years back? Yea, quick Google found this link: http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2012/12/the-disco-tutes-1.html. Why should Jason do any better.

    As for the Civil War reference, please read the post. I said:

    “So, if you haven’t heard by now, the Discovery Institute seems to blame
    Charles Darwin for the Civil War, WWI, WWII, disease, racism, poverty,
    crime, infidelity, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, divorce, the sub-prime
    mortgage debacle, the assassinations of Lincoln, both Kennedy’s, and
    King, the lack of Congressional term limits, Nancy Pelosi, Barack
    Obama, Rush Limbaugh, and the failure of the Chicago Cubs, to name a

    It was an attempt at a little tongue-in-cheek comment about the Discovery Institute ease at re-writing history to try and support their ideas. They have a habit of blaming Darwin and re-baptizing people as Creationists/Intelligent Design proponents. Of course they safely re-baptize folks who are safely deceased so they can’t come back and re-butt it. The last time they tried to do it with living people it bit them in an appropriate place (http://ncse.com/creationism/general/analysis-discovery-institutes-bibliography) when they presented a bibliography to the Ohio State School Board to try and convince them there was contention over the status of Evolution as a scientific theory. The NCSE determined that they lied! After the NCSE posted their findings, the DI added a disclaimer to their bibliography 🙂

  • Jonathan Bernier

    Clearly the Discovery Institute advocates a variant upon the ancient astronaut theory. A Rocket Man, Captain Yah Weh, came to Earth and made humanity in the image of his people, the Elohim. Actually, at first we were walking chrome toasters but then came the day that we decided to kill our masters….

    • histrogeek

      As if we have ever had a plan.

  • histrogeek

    I think it’s gonna be a long, long time before anything on that white board makes sense.

    • flippertie

      It’s not the lab they think it is at home, oh no….