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Another shady intelligent design website

April 8, 2013

While searching for the Twitter account of Cornelia Dean (of yesterday’s post), I came across this little gem, which is now included in the Coping with Creationism page: http://www.evolutionnews.org/. This website is run by the Discovery Institute, although you have to do a bit of digging to find out that this blog is not actually about evolution but about intelligent design from your friends at the Discovery Institute (arbiters of all things pseudoscience).

They wrote a scathing account of Dean’s chapter, “The Problem of Objectivity,” which emphasized the fact that journalists have wrongly been giving complete tow-heads equal time in debates over false controversies. The author instead focused on distorting quotes from the chapter. I wonder why? The non-existent controversies that Dean decried include the vaccine-autism debacle, global climate change, and — of course — evolution “versus” intelligent design.

Their website prominently features a link titled “intelligent design,” but cleverly links directly to an outside site… as if “the following link may or may not reflect the views of this alleged evolution website.” Right. That link contains lovely nuggets such as, “Intelligent design begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI).” Really? That’s a hell of a preliminary assumption. Of course, like many ID proponents, these folks have created a straw man argument. Although “intelligent agents” can produce complex information (do you watch Game of Thrones? So many subplots!), complexity can also arrive de novo – that is, on its own. This simply means that proteins formed in the Earth’s primitive days despite the presence or absence of any “intelligent agents.”

So, fellow profs and TAs, if you spot this bogie in your students’ references section, Just Say No. Although hopefully you already told them that websites are not peer-reviewed.

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