Intelligent Design

The CSC Case and Evolution: More Than Just Bad Science

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When Darwin’s Dilemma, a film that examines evolution in light of the scientific evidence, was booked at the California Science Center’s IMAX theater two years ago, evolutionists from around the country were furious. They made sure the booking was cancelled. So while the CSC censored the film, their censorship was by no means an independent action. The CSC was at the tip of the spear, but evolutionists near and far drove that spear home. And those evolutionists were by no means limited to life scientists. For evolutionary thought is about much more than merely the origin of species. Consider, for example, Hilary Schor, Professor of English, Comparative Literature, Gender Studies and Law at the University of Southern California.  Read more

12 Replies to “The CSC Case and Evolution: More Than Just Bad Science

  1. 1
    Neil Rickert says:

    So while the CSC censored the film, their censorship was by no means an independent action.

    I am seeing different claims about this case from the different sides. One thing that is clear, however, is that CSC did not censor the film. They apparently decided that it was not to be shown at their facilities. But that is different from censorship. As far as I know, they did nothing that would prevent the film from being shown at other facilities, so it was not censorship.

  2. 2
    William J Murray says:

    Neil Rickert,

    Could you provide a definition (and a source thereof) of the term “censorship” that indicates it is necessary to attempt to suppress information in other venues besides the one the office in question was responsible for before it is a case of “censorship”?

  3. 3
    Neil Rickert says:

    A quick google search for “censorship” turned up the Wikipedia entry as the first item. And that entry begins “Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication.” There was no suppression of speech here, there was only a restriction on the use of a particular facility for presenting that speech.

  4. 4
    William J Murray says:

    The full entry says:

    Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the general body of people as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.

    Since we can consider the facility a “media outlet”, since it is in the business of such screenings and other similar media venues, and since after contracting out to host the media event it later decided to suppress that communication based upon the idea content, it is fair to say that censorship took place.

    Your definition doesn’t require or even assert that an attempt has to be made to suppress the information elsewhere, as per your original contention, and since an already-contracted media event was in fact suppressed, censorship took place by your secondary contention.

  5. 5
    William J Murray says:

    Furthermore, from your own source:

    Corporate censorship is the process by which editors in corporate media outlets intervene to disrupt the publishing of information that portrays their business or business partners in a negative light,[3][4] or intervene to prevent alternate offers from reaching public exposure.[5]

    I’d say that’s right on target for this very case.

  6. 6
    ScottAndrews says:

    The MW definition of censor is

    to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable (censor the news); also : to suppress or delete as objectionable (censor out indecent passages)

    The example it provides is especially helpful:

    The station censored her speech before broadcasting it.

    Surely if one’s speech was censored on a specific radio station, other mediums would be available. Censorship does not require an attempt to eradicate speech. Although if done in collusion with other stations, a seemingly small act could help form a larger pattern of censorship.

    Censorship isn’t always bad. Most of us don’t mind if certain words or sights are edited from a television movie. But what if we learned that what was censored was not inappropriate by most standards, but included speech that only the censor disagreed with? And then he lies about it? And it’s a taxpayer-funded station?

  7. 7

    I lived in Saudi Arabia for two summers back in the late 1970s. One Saudi government practice I became familiar with was in blocking out certain undesirable passages from Western newsmagazines such as Time and Newsweek using magic markers. Yes, the Saudi government in an effort to show that they were not sensors by allowing Time and Newsweek to be sold to the many Westerners who lived and worked there, actually did the opposite by hiring hundreds of sensors to block out what they found objectionable.

    But to my knowledge they made no effort to go to the publishers of these magazines in the US and do so there. So I guess they really weren’t censoring anything.

    The CSC actually DID actually sensor, and your effort to state that they did not only opens up absurd notions of just what censorship is.

  8. 8

    The Discovery Institute press release said (a web search on the following quoted sentence finds multiple pages with it): “The debate over Darwin will come to California on October 25th, when the Smithsonian Institution’s west coast affiliate premieres Darwin’s Dilemma.” It appears that whoever wrote that statement was deliberately trying to give the very misleading impression that the Smithsonian was endorsing the event. I can see why they were upset. I’m an ID supporter, but I am very opposed to this kind of tactics.

  9. 9
    Robert Byers says:

    Well if this woman doesn’t want her tax dollars spent on religious criticisms of evolution then why should taxpayers spend on Gender studies which always mean saying men are bad or men did not have the right to dominance in whatever they want or generally programs existing only to raise people up in society based on being the female gender.
    Gender studies are immoral and illegal in a free nation of citizens with no right of institutions to target people beyond being citizens.

    Its only religious criticisms is the criticism is religious in its nature of investigation.
    They are trying to say religious presumptions behind or after normal investigative processes MEANS its religious.
    Nope. Poor analysis.
    They need a quota for ability in these law places.

  10. 10


    I too found a reason for the Smithsonian to be upset with that press release. However, I have doubts that the statement was deliberate. It may have been an unfortunate mistake on the DI’s part. Why? Because later on in the same press release they state that the showing was being sponsored by the AFA. It would seem like a contradiction if the film was being sponsored by two separate entities. If it was being so co-sponsored, I would expect that such an announcement would have combined the two entities in the same sentence, or in list format, together. It is a rather awkward way of making that connection if that’s what was their intent.

    But regardless of intent, it appears as though the Smithsonian had a legitimate complaint. It’s the sort of situation where I wish that all parties involved had decided to be civil. Unfortunately mistakes were made all around by all parties. It could have been handled much better.

    Here’s what I would have done if I were the head of the CSC:

    Offer an opportunity for the DI and the AFA to redeem themselves from the contract breach by retracting the contentious statement from the press release, and submit an updated press release for the CSC’s approval. I think if they had done that, the two parties would have complied and they would have avoided the lawsuit.

    The fact that they didn’t do that, but apparently used the error (perhaps not seen by them as an error) to their advantage in denying the showing of a film whose content they obviously disagreed with. That’s where the censorship comes in. I think government institutions need to be extra careful to be fair to all non-government contractors (and the AFA was a contractor). Their (the CSC’s) actions were the most egregious in this case. It’s their legalism and their hypocrisy that got them in trouble.

    Here’s another issue that I think needs clarification:

    While the CSC is an “affiliate” of the Smithsonian, it is a loose affiliation. The Smithsonian does not oversee the CSC according to the CSC’s own website. What happens is that certain institutions can apply for “affiliate” status from the Smithsonian, which allows them to exhibit items from the Smithsonian’s museums, and they can receive other recognition from the larger institution. They are really a separate entity. The CSC acquired their affiliate status in 2000.

    This is why I think it would be wise for commenters to leave the Smithsonian out of this particular case and focus on the actions of the CSC, even if it could be shown that the Smithsonian partnered with the CSC in the apparent conspiracy. The first steps were taken by the science center based on the Smithsonian’s legitimate complaint.

    Frankly, I’m glad that at least one government institution respected the relationship between themselves and the public in emphasizing that they cannot endorse one view over another; which is why they were correct in the complaint. That kind of stance can and should go in many different directions though, and I wish they were equally as cautious with endorsing Darwinian views. So the double standard does exist.

    I agree that ID supporters need to sharpen up a bit on tactics and I gather that many on all sides are taking this as a lesson learned.

  11. 11
    William J Murray says:

    It appears that whoever wrote that statement was deliberately trying to give the very misleading impression that the Smithsonian was endorsing the event. I can see why they were upset. I’m an ID supporter, but I am very opposed to this kind of tactics.

    Except, that is not why they were upset, if by “upset” you mean “what motivated them to cancel the contract”. That is the excuse they looked for and used (read the emails in the other thread) because they wanted to cancel the contract.

    IOW, they were upset and wanted to cancel the contract because of the subject material itself, not because someone implied that the event was sponsored or supported by the Smithsonian.

  12. 12


    I think if the upsetting material had been corrected, (given that they were granted an opportunity to correct it), they would still have sought out other ways to deny the film’s presentation. It was a convenient excuse.

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