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Let’s Grade Mr. Than’s Journalism Project

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I would be interested in how you would grade Mr. Than’s article (see a couple of posts down)  if it were a project in a journalism class you were teaching.  I am not a journalist, but from my lay perspective he gets points off for:

1.  Value laden language.  Depending on one’s perspective, “near the bottom” could just as easily be “near the top” for independence of thought, and “low ranking” could be “high ranking” for a wholesome skeptical scientific attitude.

2.  Stating opinions as facts.  His wholesale adoption of ID’s opponent’s characterization of ID as factual statements, instead of statements of their opinion, is a mistake.

On the positive side, he at least gave someone with an ID point of view an opportunity to respond.  On the negative side of this same issue, the Darwinist to ID ratio was four to one, and it was easy to lose the lone ID comment in the clutter near the bottom of the article.

In my admittedly unprofessional opinion, I would give him a C-.

By the way, this is not intended to be a strictly academic exercise.  I will gather all of your responses and email them to Mr. Than.  Hopefully he will consider it constructive criticism.  Maybe he will even favor us with a response.

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The analysis found that Americans with fundamentalist religious beliefs — defined as belief in substantial divine control of the universe and the efficacy of frequent prayer — were more likely to reject evolution than Europeans with similar beliefs.
One obvious factor the researchers and reporters failed to consider is that the United States of America was founded with explicit appeals to the Supreme Being. The Declaration of Independence (1776) specifically appeals to unalienable rights endowed by the Creator, and entitlement by the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Most Americans have at least heard some of these phrases, and do not eagerly advocate macroevolution based on excluding the Creator and rejecting the foundation for their unalienable rights. Mr. Than and many other reporters and scientists fail to recognize that their articles and evolutionary advocacy are strongly anti-American. They particularly violate the principles for "equal standing" mutually required by all States, that include the principles of the Declaration of Independence. In effect they are also seek to have judges and government officers violate their oaths to uphold the State Constutitions which must not be repugnant to these principles. DLH
Courtesy Mike Gene of TelicThoughts:
Than: Although the mean score on the Index of Genetic Literacy was slightly higher in the United States than the nine European countries combined, results from another 2005 U.S. study show that substantial numbers of American adults are confused about some of the core ideas related to 20th- and 21stcentury biology.
Mike Gene: Did you see that? The mean score on the Index of Genetic Literacy was slightly higher in the United States than the nine European countries combined! Miller obscures this fact by then arguing that Americans really aren't that smart about biology, while refraining to make such comments about the very European countries that scored worse. But the fact remains that Americans scored the best on the Index of Genetic Literacy yet their score is singled out to argue "the poor grasp of biological concepts, especially genetics, by American adults as an important contributor to the country's low confidence in evolution."
Miller's actual article: As disgracefully low as the rate of adult scientific literacy in the United States may be, Miller found even lower rates in Canada, Europe, and Japan—a result he attributes primarily to lower university enrollments.
Mike Gene: I guess since this little fact also didn't quite fit into the theme of Than’s article, there was no room for it scordova
Loverly, just loverly. BarryA
Barry insists that I grade Mr. Than. That\'s a problem because at least three quarters of his inability to ask obvious questions is a job security issue. How about this: If questioning Darwinism were safe, I would send his story to rerite, and insist that he do a little more work on it. GIven that questioning Darwinism is not safe, his story sounds so much like all the others, how do I know it isn\'t pinched? So I can\'t give him very high marks even under the circumstances. I will give him a D plus and some advice to learn how to bark the party line in a somewhat more unique way. Howzzat? O\'Leary
Well, Barry, one of my Canadian colleagues recently wrote an article for our professional science journalists' newsletter in which he complained of the tendency of sci jos to "cheerlead" for science. In that vein, I would say that most sci jos think it is their JOB to cheerlead for Darwinism. It is NOT their job to question. Statements by leading Darwinists are accepted without reservation as facts. All the rest unfolds easily and naturally. Both what is brought out and what is suppressed fall into a predictable pattern. For example, the fact that the United States is way ahead of most countries in science and science research does NOT cause such sci jos to wonder whether there might be some value in giving people the right to disagree with elites. That's not a permissible thought. For what it is worth, the controversy over Darwinism is not the only area in which this occurs. I am currently working on a story in an unrelated health sci area where exactly the same pattern is unfolding: The statements of identified authorities are accepted without question even though they are clearly incorrect and in conflict with both evidence and the public interest. That's no way to do journalism. It does create an important role for the blogosphere though. Onward, pajamaheddin! You have nothing to lose but your illusions! O'Leary

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