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Der Spiegel on ID

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On the Trail of Intelligent Design
By Michael Scott Moore

… UCSD in [2001] had the only student club in America devoted to intelligent design. It was called the IDEA Club — “Intelligent Design Evolution Awareness” — and its website invited atheists and believers, evolutionist professors and young-Earth creationists, Phys.-Ed. majors and Hindus — absolutely anyone — to come in and wrangle over Darwin. Their openness impressed me. Disagreement and debate were part of the fun, at least in their online manifesto. They just wanted to talk. Sites like “The San Diego Humanist,” by contrast, published mean-minded, antireligious sarcasm. “We atheists and humanists and freethinkers have all been made to feel pretty much apart from the rest of the world around us, haven’t we?” a woman called Lucia K. B. Hall had said in a speech posted on the Humanist site in late 2000. Religious people see humanists as, “Aliens,” she declared. “Sci-fi horrors. Bug-eyed monsters. Multi-tentacled nightmares dripping green slime that want to rape their wives and husbands and eat their children.” …

Dear Michael, After reading your article, and your blog post here, I feel like it was indeed quite appropriate for me to have been nervous about you on the day we met. However, I would like to thank you for making a few honest concessions. Thank you for conceding that we don’t hate to be interviewed. I do not understand how you can claim that a dislike of bad press is a sign of an agenda. You’re the one who came to us to interview us—it’s not like we sought you out looking for “press”—it’s more like you sought us out seeking to give us bad press. And besides, even if we had been seeking “Press,” who does like bad press? Why should a distaste for bad press be a sign of an “agenda?” Given that nobody anywhere likes bad press (which you seem more than willing to twist facts in order to dish out to us), I’m not sure how a dislike for bad press is a sign that something is wrong. Furthermore, I’m not sure what that this bizarre and vague “agenda” is because you never identified it. It can’t be that Dembski is secretly promoting YEC, because Dembski has stated many times that he’s not a YEC, and even sees common descent as a viable option for ID theory. Even Eugenie Scott admits in her book (Evolution vs. Creationism) that ID proponents advocate something a very different from YEC. So what is this vague agenda you speak of? I’m not sure. The Heizenberg Uncertainty Principle says that when it comes to quantum physics, you can’t study an object without effecting it. I think in this case, your study of us greatly affected our behavior. Perhaps our only fear was that a reporter might twist Dembski’s invited speaking engagement at ICR into something it wasn’t. Perhaps the only "agenda" was to avoid being misconstrued by a reporter. All you observed was nervousness, and you assumed therefore we had an agenda. Given the nature of your article, it appears our fears and nervousness about your journalistic integrity were completely justified. I would like to genuinely thank you also for conceding that Dr. Woodruff should have spoken before the club, and that we made an appropriate final move in the situation with Dr. Woodruff by sending him a kind and courteous e-mail inviting him to speak. Thank you for thus implicitly conceding that we are indeed interested in dialogue and that your article was wrong to imply that I had something intolerant to hide when I chose not to disclose details of the Woodruff situation. I thus consider your concession to be a retraction of your previous implications that IDEA is not interested in dialogue. However, something still puzzles me. In my letter in post #16, I provided a very good reason for not wanting to disclose those details and this clearly shows that this had nothing to do with an “agenda.” Sometimes lack of volubility is a sign of prudence and respect for one’s superiors, not an agenda. The reason I plainly gave was that I was a graduate student at the time and did not want to speak badly about the behavior of a professor of mine to a reporter who, quite frankly, didn’t seem quite trustworthy. Given that you have now twisted the facts of this situation to make us appear intolerant, it appears that I was indeed prudent to refrain from divulging to you details about this situation, especially given my status as a graduate student at the time. I feel you’re your article has only validated my prudence about choosing to not talk freely to you about this situation. If you observed nervousness, then it was due to the Heizenberg Uncertainty Principle of reporting: when a reporter starts to pry into things which could affect the personal lives of graduate students, the grad student is going to act “nervous”—-any nervousness you observed was caused by me sensing a potential malicious intent on your part during our conversations. Finally, thank you for conceding that we showed you hospitality, and that we drove you all around and tried to accommodate your desire to do an interview. I now respectfully request that you retract your false claim that we “dumped” you or that IDEA mistreated you in any way. As you concede in your remarks above, we went well out of our way to try to get you an interview. However, when person A treats person B with nothing but kindness, and person B responds by writing an article which denigrates the religious viewpoint, scientific viewpoint, and moral integrity of person A, then perhaps person A had good reasons initially to be nervous and suspicious about talking “freely” to person B. I feel that your article validates my “nervousness” by doing exactly what I was afraid you might do: write an article which twisted facts to make us appear unkind and intolerant. You can blame our nervousness on an “agenda”—but every fact you have used to condemn us is not based upon reality. The observation of nervousness is easily explained by the Heizenberg Principle of Reporting. Given the malicious nature of your article, I’d say there is a very strong case that you had a strong influence upon your subjects during your interview. Sincerely, Casey Luskin Casey Luskin
Casey -- In San Diego you were hospitable, that's true, but remember that all we needed to do was meet Dembski at UCSD. We drove the 75 km to Santee and back only when that fell through. And then we got snubbed by Dembski, I mean really stiffly treated, as if he hadn't skipped out on the planned interview and as if you had done something quite wrong. Personal snubs are nothing; but Dembski's odd defensiveness and unwillingness to talk in a spontaneous situation is what first roused my skepticism. I don't accept the idea that Intelligent Design gets mistreated in the press so often "it's no wonder" its defenders tread carefully. So far Intelligent Design has no scientific reputation to lose; so why go grim and silent and calculating when a journalist pops up in an unexpected place, especially when he's accompanied by a friendly guide? Why not be easy and voluble and free? I give both you and Dembski more credit than to think you just have delicate egos. We all know public debate is rough-and-tumble. So what could there possibly be to lose? I gave this a lot of thought, and did a lot of research, and the answer seems to be: A public agenda. I hope that comes through in the piece. Truth is indifferent to bad press, but an agenda needs careful stewardship, which is the reason you got so nervous after the visit to ICR. The interview had gone badly wrong. Woodruff should probably talk to you guys now and then, that's true. But I never said IDEA hated to be interviewed. It's awfully clear to everyone that you like to be interviewed -- as long as it results in good press. That was almost the whole point of my piece. mikesmoore
Sorry it took me a few days to post this as I've been out of town. here is an editor I sent to Der Spiegel about the article which lays out more of the facts which Moore left out. Additionally, see this page for a scan of the e-mail we sent to Dr. Woodruff: http://www-acs.ucsd.edu/~idea/email2woodruff_sm_16.GIF Dear Editor, I backpacked through Europe this past summer and had a wonderful time meeting many Germans. Thus I want readers to know that I do not take the false accusations of Michael Scott Moore as a reflection of your wonderful country. Mr. Moore’s article omits 3 facts which undermine his supposed attack upon Christians, via the IDEA Club: 1) IDEA doesn’t “hate” being interviewed. This past April, the IDEA Club was featured in the cover story of largest science journal in the world, Nature. I underwent an extensive interview for the story. Just this week I’ve been interviewed by a few dozen reporters, and was quoted in the New York Times regarding intelligent design. 2) The IDEA Club IS interested in dialogue. Mr. Moore neglected to report that immediately after Dr. Woodruff responded to the IDEA Club’s fliers, IDEA sent him a friendly e-mail welcoming him to come to the club to present his viewpoint and have open dialogue. Dr. Woodruff never responded to our e-mail. Nevertheless, less timid evolutionist scientists have accepted IDEA’s invitations to speak, including UCSD Anthropology Professor, Dr. James Moore. The reason I was hesitant to elaborate to Mr. Moore about the “Woodruff situation” was not because I was trying to hide intolerance, but because at the time I was a science graduate student, and did not want to speak badly about the behavior of my former professor to a reporter. 3) Mr. Moore’s allegation that we “dumped” him is an invention. Quite the opposite, IDEA Club leaders showed Mr. Moore kind hospitality by driving him nearly 75 km and taking time out of our very busy day so he could have his interview with us. The fact that we did not invite Mr. Moore to dinner was not intended as an offense. Our guest speaker, Dr. William Dembski, simply needed a restful, private dinner—away from reporters—before Dr. Dembski’s campuswide lecture that evening. IDEA showed Mr. Moore much kindness and hospitality, and I am astonished by his current twisting and omitting of “facts” to slander our organization. I am concerned about Mr. Moore’s article because it attempts to paint a false picture of the people who promote the scientific theory of intelligent design. Sincerely, Casey Luskin Co-founder, IDEA Club at UC San Diego Casey Luskin
Is that the same Michael Moore who is a filmmaker? He's a wacko leftist wacko. a modest experiment Bob Davis
"William Dembski turns out to be the mild face of a movement that wants to change American schools for scriptural reasons; and I had caught him in flagrante with Creationists." Gee, this sounds familiar? Oh, yeah, now I remember: "The Pharisees came up to the disciples and asked them: 'Why does your Master eat with sinners and publicans?'" PaV
Hi Dan and Benji, The meetings went fine, especially at GMU with Jonathan Wells present. The exchange between Jonathan Wells and Origin of Life researcher Robert Hazen was unforgettable. The UVa meeting was a bit challenging as we had a 50% hostile but respectful crowd. It was me talking and 40 students and faculty with their gunsights trained on me. Apparently news of the UVa meeting travelled 800 miles to Indiana, as disinguished professor Michael Lynch informed me he was not pleased with my quotations of him! I spent half the evening dealing with misrepresentations, but I survived. When the evolutionary biology post docs slammed me by saying I didn't understand evolution, and then suggested to the audience to learn evolutionary information theory from the writings of Richard Dawkins, I got a little irritated. I mentioned Bill's displacement theorem, but my discussion of the theorem sailed over everyone's head. Oh well! The campus atheists brought their entire contingent that night (September 22), and the very next week (September 28), devoted their atheist study to discussing my talk at UVa. 30 engineering students showed up to the meeting. The UVa IDEA president is a senior in biology, by the way.... We had one of our smaller meetings covered by the press on September 6, 2005. When the press comes to cover our events, we record the meetings to be sure we get reported accurately. Here is a 3 minutes from one such meeting: http://tinyurl.com/7brav (You can either left-click or right-click, if you right click, you should be able to save the audio clip). Details of another of our smaller meetings covered by the press in March 2005 can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/7snvl See: Michael Lynch's response to these developments, and a sample of the uproar in wake of IDEA appearing in the Nature cover story: http://tinyurl.com/dgoaf Apparently the IDEA activities and the Caroline Crocker affair at GMU have caused concern. GMU is paying Eugenie Scott to come to GMU December 1 to set everyone straight on why ID and the IDEA clubs ideas should be ignored. But the opposite effect has resulted. GMU could not have done a better job of putting our club in the spotlight yet again. Our club has recieved 7 querries from reporters and the US Senatorial Staff in the last 3 weeks! enjoy! Salvador scordova
ID is getting mucho press, check out http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=&q=intelligent+design&ie=UTF-8 vpr
"all a hotshot PhD professor who is hostile to ID has to do to “crush” the ID position is throw out a bunch of extremely complicated and/or unanswerable questions, add some logical fallacies, and point to the diplomas on his/her wall, and the debate is over. " There is risk a fallacy succeeds and a student is crushed, that is true, but there is far more risk for a Darwinist professor if a student prevails in such an exchange. When that happens, it's like David slaying Goliath and inspiring the armies of Israel. :-) Casey Luskin prevailed, and that's why his IDEA clubs are popping up on campuses around the US today! scordova
From Michael Scott Moore's blog regarding the Der Spiegel piece: "I've got a feature on Intelligent Design up on the Spiegel site. An entirely true story, in which the slick and well-spoken William Dembski winds up in unusual company. I wrote the piece years ago, sat on it, made it part of a book (temporarily), then missed this year's sudden swell of interest in the U.S. and offered it to American papers only after everyone knew what Intelligent Design was and wanted to hear mainly about the latest carnage from the front in Dover, Pennsylvania, or wherever "Design" enthusiasts wanted to change the curriculum. People, seriously: Don't let them change the curriculum." lep lpadron
This is a strange article, indeed. He seems to stray off-topic and can't make a solid point in the end except that a series of awkward incounters with people involved with the Intelligent Design movement have lead him to the conclusion, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that ID=Supernatural Creationism. One single sentence near the end of the article gives this away quite succinctly: "William Dembski turns out to be the mild face of a movement that wants to change American schools for scriptural reasons; and I had caught him in flagrante with Creationists." Well, that does it. I'm convinced. Mr. Moore's brilliant expose' has fully convinced me that allowing students to be exposed to ID can only inevitably lead to them being taught that the earth is only 6,000 years old, that the Judeo-Christian God created Adam and Eve, and that a man named Noah survived a global flood on a big boat along with his family and a bunch of animals. Oh, yeah and that the dinosaurs somehow didn't make it on board. I mean, hey, it's the only logical outcome, right? On a more serious note, just because that's the way HE perceived the events that transpired doesn't mean that it's the way others perceived them. I'd be curious to here Bill's version of the story. As for Casey, I can understand why he would be nervous. Anti-ID sentiments can be vicious, and I'd bet he could sense the bad vibes comming from Moore. Moreover, I must express my concern over Intelligent Design debate and discussion clubs on college campuses. Science is the modern religion, and scientists are it's priests. They are the enlightened few who hold the immense power of knowledge of the mysteries of nature over the ignorant masses, hence their power cannot be challenged except by their peers. This power can be used properly, or it can be used improperly. In the case of these clubs, all a hotshot PhD professor who is hostile to ID has to do to "crush" the ID position is throw out a bunch of extremely complicated and/or unanswerable questions, add some logical fallacies, and point to the diplomas on his/her wall, and the debate is over. The students who dared to challenge this demigod are left humiliated. I suspect something like that happened in the case of Casey Luskin. Anyway, those who wish to have such a club (And don't get me wrong; I support ID discussion and debate clubs on campuses.) need to be prepared both intellectually and emotionally for the challenges they will be most likely to encounter. David crandaddy
Dear UncommonDescent.com friends, Hello all from the Dover trial. For the past 3 days I have been in Dover, Pennsylvania, observing the big ID trial here, blogging, and talking to reporters. Now it's 3 am and during that stretch I've had about 10 hours of sleep. I was just alerted to this article this evening, and so I need to sleep currently and will draft a response to Michael Scott Moore's article by Thursday, which I hope to post here as a comment to Dr. Dembski's blog. I'm sure on a blog like this I don't have to convince you all that sometimes Darwinists twist facts, or invent them to make ID proponents appear morally evil. Moore goes further writes his article as an attack on an entire religious group. I'm not even sure precisely what the word "fundamentalist Christian" means, but there is no doubt that they encompass one of the only social groups--indeed the only religious group--against which the mainstream press rarely discourages stereotyping and outright denigration. I can't write much currently because I need to sleep. But to give you a taste of the forthcoming response, consider a bizarre self-refuting assertion which opens Michael Scott Moore's article: "One rule of fundamentalists is that they hate to be interviewed." Firstly, apparently by his "rule" I am not a fundamentalist. See a google news search for Casey Luskin where you can see the 8 news articles I've been quoted in during the past 2 days. I've also done well over 2 dozen interviews with reporters since this past Monday morning (Sept 26). Perhaps Michael Scott Moore just picked an untimely occasion to publish his article. Secondly, I find it amusing how an article with such an opening was made possible because a few of Christians showed kindness and friendship to a person who presented himself as a friendly and unbiased reporter. These busy students took hours out of their day, just before a massiave campus-lecture event they were hosting that evening, and also chauffeured this reporter around all afternoon, driving him over 50 miles, so so the reporter could conduct his interview. I guess this article is how they say thank you in Berlinese. To give you a taste of this incident, this whole incident took place over 4 years ago, and lacking a reporter's notes, it's very difficult to remember precisely what happened. Regardless, I look forward to filling you all in on many of the other details which Mike left out, including these two important facts: 1) As for claims that we left him "stranded," I have no idea what he is talking about. We took hours out of our day to accomodate Michael Scott Moore, driving him over 50 miles, and never expected or requested anything in return. 2) IDEA did quietly pass out flyers outside of Dr. Woodruff's BIEB 150 course after one single lecture, and Dr. Woodruff did write a response (some interesting facts in this regard will be discussed later). Thinking this is the end of the story, somehow Michael Scott Moore makes a bizarre argument that this shows we're really just closed minded fundamentalists. I'm not sure exactly how that argument is supposed to work, but the final chapter conclusively demonstrates that it doesn't: After Dr. Woodruff wrote his response, I hoped he might be interested in friendly and open dialogue about his views. Thus, I subsequently e-mailed Dr. Woodruff inviting him to come and present his views to the IDEA Club. I explained that he would find a friendly audience with students of many viewpoints who would love to hear an evolutionary biologist. He never replied to my e-mail. So much for the claim that we're not intersted in dialogue... Stay tuned, you'll find the truth is much more interesting than Michael Scott Moore's fiction. Until Thursday when I return home and will have time to write more, Auf Wiedersehen! Casey Luskin
What a strange article. I kept looking for the button to hit to get the next page, until I realized I'd reached the end. It's well written enough, but it reads like and introdcution to a longer piece. jimbo
“The San Diego Humanist,” by contrast, published mean-minded, antireligious sarcasm. “We atheists and humanists and freethinkers have all been made to feel pretty much apart from the rest of the world around us, haven’t we?” a woman called Lucia K. B. Hall had said in a speech posted on the Humanist site in late 2000. Religious people see humanists as, “Aliens,” she declared. “Sci-fi horrors. Bug-eyed monsters. Multi-tentacled nightmares dripping green slime that want to rape their wives and husbands and eat their children.” I wonder if this woman has been to college. Christian students are absolutely bombarded from all sides at universities all across the country (including at mine). mechanicalbirds
Salvador, were these people open to intelligent design? Benjii
Well im surprised that Lucia didn't say that religious people also see humanist as " aliens " who do the MOST SEVIERE kind of ANAL / RECTAL probing to date as of yet. i mean are these aliens the illegal kind or the permanent resident type ? i bet they are the ones who ran across the border no less and not the ones from space either... gimme a break, why cant these people offer a serious criticism ? im glad ID is taking off so well, hope the growth continues :) 30 IDEA chapters and the mention in Nature is pretty impressive in my small world. Charlie Charliecrs
Hi Salvador, I am curious how it went. Did you get into any respectful and indepth topics or was it just a mud fest? Dan Dan
Not sure what to make of the article. It starts interestingly enough -- the guy sounds honest, and he's got the new-journalism, first-person thing happening. Ok so far. But the piece doesn't go anywhere. He seems to be hinting that ID and/or Bill has something to hide, but he's not sure what: a creationist agenda? embarassing political episodes? Intriguing, but not concrete enough to anchor the whole essay. Then he seems to have given up on the story right as it starts to get interesting. So he got dumped for dinner. Big deal. This is a "gotcha"? I wouldn't want some reporter guy I didn't know tagging along for a dinner with my buddies, either -- that's expecting too much. I'm sure Bill and company just wanted to be able to speak freely. His editor should have made him finish it. But it sounds like he went into it with an open mind, even if the piece itself has nothing to say. dave
Dear Bill, Thank you for this article. Now there are 30 IDEA chapters, and 2 were even featured in the prestigious journal, Nature. Last Thursday 80 students and faculty at IDEA UVa (Paul Gross's school) including several evolutionary biology post-docs and some professors of astronomy and engineering. And the night before, we had 60 students and faculty at IDEA GMU with Johnathan Wells and Caroline Crocker present, distinguished Origin of Life researcher Robert Hazen making an appearance as well as a NIST physicist who is a co-worker and friend of Nobel Laureate Bill Phillips. Yeah we have a lot of fun. :-) regards, Salvador Cordova scordova

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