Recently, the Darwin lobby added a climate change desk, to much pop science fanfare.
Some of us figure that the lobby wants in on the money that is currently poured into climate change activism and that the climate change advocates, for their part, want the Darwin lobby’s court-ordered access to schools.
Be careful what you wish for.
In “National Center for Science Education, Darwin/Climate Enforcers, Humiliated by Forged Document Scandal” (Evolution News & Views, February 21, 2012), David Klinghoffer comments on the ensuing debacle,
The NCSE sought to ramp up its efforts on the climate front by enlarging its board of directors. Yet now our Darwin-lobbying friends have serious egg on their faces after making (not their first) unwise choice of associates. The group invited climate activist Peter H. Gleick of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, an ideological compatriot and neighbor in Oakland, CA, to join its board. Bad move. Gleick has just suffered a major ethical embarrassment, leading to a break with the NCSE and leaving the Darwin enforcers under a cloud.
Well, we already knew that the NCSE, which has never disavowed its link with anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist James Fetzer, has poor judgment in its choice of allies.
You’ve heard Gleick’s name if you’ve followed the recent Heartland Institute dustup. Last week, news media picked up a story of purloined internal documents detailing Heartland’s efforts to raise funds for its efforts to advance an idea — climate skepticism — that many liberals find abhorrent. The documents were mostly authentic and uninteresting, with a single exception: an incendiary memo that I could have told you was a fake.
The “incendiary memo” is that now-famous “fake but accurate” memo that Gleick now accepts responsibility for (he has offered an apology, blaming his critics).
We can understand NCSE wanting money and ink (that’s their job), but doesn’t this “fake but accurate” schtick focus attention on the exact reason people doubt Darwinism?: It sounds plausible to many but isn’t true.
Imagine if “fake but accurate” standards were applied to the finds from the Large Hadron Collider? Instead of an injunction to find the Higgs boson or quit taking up valuable research time, we could have a whole faked physics going in no time at all.
“Fake but accurate” has a place – in historical dramas and reenactments, where everyone knows it’s fake and the standard is accuracy in fakery.
But then a friend wrote to remind us that Darwin lobbyist Eugenie Scott defended the use of Haeckel’s faked up embryos (one of the most famous fakes in biology) at a Texas schools hearing a few years ago.
After all, the fakes demonstrated Darwinian evolution. (And it’s pretty hard to find anything that isn’t fake that demonstrates Darwinian evolution.)
Perhaps the problem isn’t just with one man but with a whole mindset. The Darwin lobby’s work is all about a culture war and not really about science in the usual sense.
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