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Legacy mainstream media: The ID guys’ best friends?


Courtesy of the McLaurin Institute, I gave a talk last Thursday night at the Murphy Building of the University of Minnesota’s journalism school, on how North American media cover the intelligent design controversy and why the media are really the ID guys’ most useful unintentional ally – second only to Richard Dawkins, in my view. (Yes, yes, I know, this is a controversial viewpoint, but the Internet is a free country.)

Anyway, I wrote up my notes, and posted them, in case others were interested.

On “bottom up” materialism:

“Atheists who insist that the evidence for bottom up is “overwhelming” are overwhelmed by the force of their own convictions. They mistake rock-like conviction for rock-solid evidence.”

from Part 1: First, how and why did intelligent design get started and why did it grow so quickly?

“One way that journalists save time is to develop a template to fit stories into so as to turn them out quickly – the good guys, the bad guys, the implicit assumptions and the predictions about how it will all turn out.”

“But now, back to the legacy media for a moment: One outcome of the good-guys/bad-guys template, based on the situation described above, is that legacy media figures are often astonishingly naive about developments in the ID controversy.”

from Part 2: How do US media interpret the controversy over ID?


“Journalists are extraordinarily deferential to science boffins, in a way that is quite different from the way we usually treat subjects. Whatever science boffins say tends to be treated as true, no matter that it may fly in the face of evidence. You don’t need to venture into the intelligent design controversy to discover that. The latest craze about broccoli or salmon is treated with the utmost seriousness, even though most of it will be disowned a decade from now. Maybe half a decade. We know that, but we seldom act as if we do.”

from Part 3: Why are ID ideas such as specified complexity assumed to be religion rather than science?


“Another skew that develops is a curious obsession with the motives and intentions of those who promote top down ideas accompanied by a complete disinterest in the motives and intentions of those who promote bottom up ideas.”

from Part 4: What assumptions to journalists make about public education?


“The intelligent design controversy is already being exported to many venues where it did not previously exist. You can see this by looking at the blogroll of the Post-Darwinist (“Never a dull moment”), featuring blogs in a variety of languages.”

from Part 5: What predictions would I make about how the controversy will develop over the next few years

I think that journalists' interest for ID has been one of the main reason for the diffusion of ID theses during the last years. As a matter of fact what NDE (ideological) supporters suffer most is that the basic ID concepts be known by the (actually) uninformed people. PT crew can try to discredit ID ideas and supporters but common sense tells that ID is right. In this context also newspapers reports against ID do really help ID ideas to spread. kairos
Denyse, I very much appreciate your posts and your advice and insights from the perspective of a journalist. I am hoping that channels like the blogs will motivate legacy media to get their act together. In the mean time, I really hope you are right and that they are now an unintentional ally. They have certainly generated a lot of attention for us. Had they ignored us, I don't think the ID movement would have progressed so quickly. scordova

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