Saturday, November 19, 2005

Dead give aways

[I started drafting this post a few weeks ago. Got busy traveling for business and just now polished it off.]

After probably hundreds of hours during the past year sifting through news stories about “evolution+creationism+school” and “evolution+intelligent design,” I’ve picked up a few shortcuts for figuring out where the writer is coming from. Certain words and phrases quickly reveal that a journalist hasn’t done his homework or a letter writer is parroting misinformation. Here are a few of them.

“Origin of life”
Many articles and letters start right off with “evolution” and “origin of life” in the first paragraph. Evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life. Any article or letter to the editor that suggests otherwise is bogus from the get-go.

“Both sides” (or “the other side”)
Writers who use this phrase are implying that there are only two alternatives: evolution or intelligent design/creationism. If evolution can be undercut, ta-da! intelligent design creationism wins by default. This is the “teach the controversy” strategy.

DarwinISM or evolutionIST
Evolution critics have a real thing about “isms.” If they want to disparage an idea, they label it: secular humanism, relativism, humanist, and the ever-popular atheist. Maybe it’s supposed to remind you of the dreaded communist label. I went to an ID-sympathetic lecture the other day and one of the speakers referred to evolution as a form of “scientism.”

“believe in evolution”
People who talk about belief in evolution just don’t get it. [See my June 13 and July 9 posts.]

References to Hitler, Stalin and other scary people
Anti-evolution screeds often point to notorious historical figures, claim they were Darwinists and … ‘nuf said.

BONUS! For a fun way to kill some time, go to Google News or Technorati and execute a search on combinations of the words and phrases listed above. Odds are good that you’ll be rewarded [or punished?] with a selection of articles, posts, and letters to the editor that reflect the ID version of “critical thinking,” i.e., copy/pasting or regurgitation of the same ol’ tried and tired arguments. [If you play this game, some other words and phrases you may want to try are thermodynamics, competing theories, missing link, and transitional fossils.]


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