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Author Topic:   Media coverage of the evolution controversy
Aximili23
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 31 (181736)
01-29-2005 11:19 PM


Seeing as to how the issue of evolution, creation, and intelligent design is catching attention in the United States, it is probably important to pay attention to how the media is portraying the issue. At the Discovery Institute website, the following accusation is made:
quote:
A Blog about the Media and Evolution

The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this new blog. The newsmedia in the U.S. seem to have rediscovered the evolution controversy recently. Unfortunately, much of the news coverage has been sloppy, inaccurate, and in several cases, overtly biased.


A more thorough criticism of media portrayal is presented here:


NEW BLOG: Media Coverage of Evolution Focus of New CSC Blog

This blog continually cites and criticizes a number of media articles, often available on the internet, that negatively portray intelligent design. An example is a criticism of this article in the highly respected TIME magazine, as discussed in this post, and in greater detail in this post.

My question to all of you is, would you agree that the issue has been portrayed unfairly by the media? Specifically, would any of you agree that there is bias in favor of evolution defenders/ID attackers?


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AdminJar
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 31 (181740)
01-29-2005 11:26 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 3 of 31 (181742)
01-29-2005 11:33 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Aximili23
01-29-2005 11:19 PM


No, not at all. In fact, it appears that ID is treated far more gently than it should be. Hopefully, the media as they learn more about Evolution and the TOE will start pointing out just how silly the whole concept of ID really is.

We have allowed farces such as Creationism and ID to get by without standing up to rigorous standards for far too long. It's about time that the intrinsic falacies of both are exposed as the frauds and absurdities they really are.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Aximili23, posted 01-29-2005 11:19 PM Aximili23 has responded

Replies to this message:
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Aximili23
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 31 (181744)
01-29-2005 11:45 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by jar
01-29-2005 11:33 PM


That's fair (in fact I generally agree), but I was hoping that some of the points raised in the CSC blog would be addressed. The blog raises many criticisms of media portrayal, which on the surface at least, sound valid.

This message has been edited by Aximili23, 01-29-2005 23:46 AM


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jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 5 of 31 (181749)
01-30-2005 12:04 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Aximili23
01-29-2005 11:45 PM


Well pick one and let's discuss it.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 6 of 31 (181756)
01-30-2005 1:09 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Aximili23
01-29-2005 11:19 PM


Like Jar I think that if the media errs in their portrayal of the "controversy", their error is in understating the vast disadvantage in evidence that ID is burdened by. It seems like the media is so obsessed with presenting "balance" that they'll artificially inflate one side to provide a balance that isn't actually there.
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Aximili23
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 31 (181773)
01-30-2005 4:05 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by jar
01-30-2005 12:04 AM


All right. For starters:

Based on the TIME article that I mentioned earlier, and from the post in the CSC blog:

quote:

1. Although a major focus of the story is whether intelligent design is science, Time doesn't bother to quote any scientists who support the theory. It's not because Time didn't interview any of them. Jeffrey Ressner told me that he had interviewed biochemist Michael Behe. But Time didn't quote him. Why not? Perhaps Behe didn't fit the preconceived stereotypes of Time's reporters? Or were they afraid that citing a professor of biological sciences at an American university might undermine their effort to stereotype design as a religious crusade?

2. According to Time:

quote:
The intellectual underpinnings of the latest assault on Darwin's theory come not from Bible-wielding Fundamentalists but from well-funded think tanks promoting a theory they call intelligent design, or I.D. for short.

Actually, "the intellectual underpinnings" of intelligent design come not from any think tank, but from the biologists, biochemists, physicists, astronomers, mathematicians, philosophers, and other scholars who have developed design theory. When Discovery Institute started its program on intelligent design in 1996, many of the leading scholars supportive of design were already writing and researching in this area. The theory of design predates any involvement by a think tank. Time does its best to obscure the fact that the chief proponents of ID have been academics from a variety of scientific fields.


Any thoughts?


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PaulK
Member
Posts: 14715
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 8 of 31 (181777)
01-30-2005 4:24 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Aximili23
01-30-2005 4:05 AM


Well for a start look at who the Time article DOES quote

Ken Bingman a teacher. Eugenie Scott of the NCSE and John West of the Discovery Institute.

How is that unbalanced ?

It's not as if the Time article quoted a lot of scientists opposed to ID and none of the tiny number for it. Scientific authority is not an issue. So on this complaint the DI is complaining that the article was not biased in their favour.

As for the other complaint there is no doubt that the ID movement has so far failed to come up with a valid alternative theory - or even any real scientific controversy. But there is no doubt that they spend a lot more on PR than research - nor is there any doubt that leading lights of the movement (like Johnson, Dembski and Wells) are religiously motivated.


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Aximili23
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 31 (181794)
01-30-2005 7:58 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by jar
01-30-2005 12:04 AM


And this complaint, though more trivial, perhaps more strongly suggests bias?

quote:

7. Time's slanted reporting continues by distorting what I said...

quote:
Putting God in the classroom is clearly illegal, but Discovery Institute strategists believe that even a push for I.D. might run afoul of zealous judges--as it has in Georgia. So the institute advocates that schools should continue teaching evolution but also present what West calls "some of the scientific criticism of major parts of the theory."

The wording here is biased and misleading. Time claims that a concern about "zealous judges" is behind Discovery Institute's opposition to requiring the teaching of intelligent design. This is a serious distortion of what I told Time's reporter. The primary reason we oppose requiring the teaching of intelligent design is because it is a relatively new theory, and we think the focus right now should be on promoting the debate and discussion of ID in the academic community among scientists and other scholars. I made this point very clearly to Mr. Ressner. But Time does not quote it. Instead, it focuses on a minior comment I made responding to a point brought up by Ressner himself. It was Ressner, not me, who suggested that Discovery's position was somehow motivated by a concern about judges. It now appears that Mr. Ressner wanted to get me to provide him with a soundbyte that would confirm what he already planned to have me say. Even so, I did not say that a concern for zealous judges was the reason we didn't want to require the teaching of design. I did say (in response to his question) that although we think intelligent design is perfectly constitutional, who knows how certain judges would rule on the issue. But, again, my main point--which Time ignored and refused to print--was that we think the focus should be on promoting a vigorous debate about design in the academic community.



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Percy
Member
Posts: 18249
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 10 of 31 (181802)
01-30-2005 9:08 AM


I think the key point has already been summed up by Crash. The Creationism movement puts its efforts into PR instead of research, and this new blog is just one more item of PR. With the failure of traditional Creationism to make inroads in either the education or science arenas, the focus has changed to ID. But instead of complaining that scientists do not take ID seriously they should instead be funding ID research to produce the evidence necessary to force the mainstream scientific community to take them seriously.

But they don't and won't, and that's because there are sufficient numbers of Creationists, whether they say so publicly or not, who understand that the scientific support just isn't there, and never will be. Without any possibility of genuine scientific support they understand that their only chance is PR, directed both internally at the faithful, who will apparently believe anything, and externally at the public in order to persuade as many as possibility that there's a genuine debate taking place within the halls of science.

If there were a true scientific debate taking place then we would find it in the technical journals and in the popular science periodicals. The only group claiming there's a debate is evangelical Christians. If it were truly a case of conflicting scientific theories then the complaints would be coming from scientific rather than religious organizations. In other words, not only is this new blog wrong in claiming media bias, Creationists in general are wrong (lying is a more accurate characterization) in claiming there's a scientific debate taking place. Anyone who doubts this is a religious issue need only spend a little time here watching the less experienced Creationists talk about God and the Bible in threads that are strictly about science.

It took a long time for the evangelical community to recognize that backing ridiculous claims like the shrinking sun or the vapor canopy had done irreparable harm to faith among a new generation of Christians excited by science, and so they've shifted horses to ID. But though ID doesn't propose theories that ignore evidence or are blatantly contradicted by it, it is nonetheless just as impoverished scientifically. I suspect ID will run its course much more quickly than traditional Creationism and that within a decade there will be a new favorite theory of Creationists.

This is not a battle that will ever be won by either side. Anyone who lives in the southern US understands the strength and staying power of the evangelical community. They're not going away. And science isn't going away, either. Genuine inroads into science aren't possible, but evangelicals can't give up because of the perceived threat to faith. As long as they can convince a sizable portion of the public that they're right (and they're pretty successful at that - polls indicate that many in the US believe the earth is young and evolution is wrong) then they can consider themselves successful.

Science has a much tougher row to hoe than Creationism. To recruit a new Creationist needs only ignorance, while science requires a willingness to work and study for years.

--Percy


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jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 11 of 31 (181817)
01-30-2005 11:22 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Aximili23
01-30-2005 4:05 AM


Any thoughts?

Sure.

Fairness has no meaning when it comes to science.

The real issue is that in every case where the ID proponents have stepped into the scientific arena then have been show to be totally wrong.

The problem is not media bias, it's that there is no science in ID.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
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jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 12 of 31 (181820)
01-30-2005 11:30 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Aximili23
01-30-2005 7:58 AM


This is yet another attempt to demand legitimacy without earning it. Science is not a matter of debating theories and the better debater wins. It's fine to discuss and even debate scientific issues but the result and conclusion is not based on the debate but rather external evidence. That is the area where the ID supporters are the most vulnerable. ALL of the available external evidence shows that there are only two possible conclusion...
  1. there was no designer.
  2. the designer is totally incompetent and learning on the job.

Discovery Institute does not want a fair and balanced debate. They want ligitimacy. They whine and cry like the immature children they are because anyone who actually bothers to look at the evidence simply laughs at them.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
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Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5375
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 13 of 31 (181822)
01-30-2005 11:36 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Aximili23
01-30-2005 4:05 AM


When Discovery Institute started its program on intelligent design in 1996, many of the leading scholars supportive of design were already writing and researching in this area.

Writing and researching? I know some books came out, yeah, but where was the research? Where did it get published?
These guys whine as constantly as Rush Limbaugh about "the media" treating them badly, while they spin everything they report to look favorable to themselves.
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Nic Tamzek
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 31 (181892)
01-30-2005 4:53 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Coragyps
01-30-2005 11:36 AM


The DI blog said,

quote:
Actually, "the intellectual underpinnings" of intelligent design come not from any think tank, but from the biologists, biochemists, physicists, astronomers, mathematicians, philosophers, and other scholars who have developed design theory. When Discovery Institute started its program on intelligent design in 1996, many of the leading scholars supportive of design were already writing and researching in this area. The theory of design predates any involvement by a think tank. Time does its best to obscure the fact that the chief proponents of ID have been academics from a variety of scientific fields.

In actual actuality, "the intellectual underpinning" of intelligent design was the more sophisticated end of the creationist movement in the 1980's. After the 1987 Supreme Court decision against creationism, they got together and produced the first book that widely mentions "intelligent design", Of Pandas and People, in 1989. Pandas was clearly a direct response to the 1987 Edwards ruling, and it reads like a roadmap for the "research" of the ID movement in the 1990's. All of the key players in Pandas -- Dean Kenyon, Percival Davis, Charles Thaxton, etc. -- were well-known creationists with many creationist publications in the 1980's.


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JustinC
Member (Idle past 2888 days)
Posts: 624
From: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Joined: 07-21-2003


Message 15 of 31 (181895)
01-30-2005 5:03 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Aximili23
01-29-2005 11:19 PM


Not at all, especially if you watch the punditry shows during Prime Time. Bill O'Reilly, who acts like an authority on a wide variety of subjects of which he knows nothing, compared people not wanting ID in Highschool Biology as the Taliban. Tony Snow said something to the affect of, "Since all science is just a rough guess, why not teach it?" On Scarborough Country, Joe frequently talks about this subject. The panel is always stacked in ID's favor, but luckily he has on David Silverman from American Atheists who actually knows something about evolution.

I think the reason ID is treated with kid gloves is because a majority of Americans believe in God and don't understand science.

They think science is an absolute authority, or is at least passing itself off as that, and by not including ID in the classroom they are teaching atheism. Of course, the argument is ludicrous if you understand the scientific endeavor, but sadly most people don't.


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