News

How Many Errors Can The Huffington Post Pack Into One Article?

Spread the love

The Huffington Post carries an article concerning a recent academic freedom bill in Colorado. It opens by asserting that,

A Republican bill that would have paved the way for creationism to be taught in Colorado schools as well as encouraged teachers to deny the science of climate change was killed in committee on Monday, as expected.

As anyone who knows anything about this academic freedom bill knows full well, however, it explicitly does NOT protect the teaching of creationism (which is unconstitutional). Nor for that matter does the bill protect the teaching of intelligent design. The bill only covers those subjects which are already part of the science curriculum. In the case of creationism, the Colorado bill states that “This bill only protects the teaching of scientific information, and this article must not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or non-beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion.” In the case of intelligent design, the bill explicitly only covers “existing scientific theories covered in a given course.” Since intelligent design isn’t currently covered in any public school science curriculum, it isn’t protected under the bill.

The Huffington Post further erroneously asserts that,

Creationism, sometimes called “creation science” or “intelligent design,” is a religious belief that all life in the universe and the entire universe itself was created by a supernatural being.

But intelligent design is emphatically NOT synonymous with “creationism” or “creation science”. Creationism is an attempt to understand and interpret the natural world through the lens of a particular interpretation of the Bible. Intelligent Design, on the other hand, is based entirely on scientific evidence, arguing that there are patterns in nature that are best explained by an intelligent cause (whether that be theistic or non-theistic) rather than unguided natural processes. As such, intelligent design is not a religious belief like creationism (although it may have religious implications). Furthermore, intelligent design does NOT assert that “all life in the universe and the entire universe itself was created by a supernatural being.” Intelligent Design says nothing about whether life was created by a supernatural being, and an intelligent design theorist is not committed to belief that the universe was created by a transcendent deity.

The article goes on:

It’s tenets vary, but with feet planted firmly in the texts of the Bible creationists often believe that the stories of the Bible are of factual account rather than parable, that the Earth is only several thousand years old, that human evolution from primates did not occur and instead a supernatural being intervened and created humankind (the “intelligent design” hypothesis). However, in the scientific community, creationism is frequently thought of as antiscience.

Most intelligent design theorists I know do not believe that the Earth is only several thousand years old. I certainly don’t. Moreover, many proponents of intelligent design have no difficulty with our shared ancestry with other primates. My own opinion is that there are defensible arguments on either side of the controversy. No substantive justification is ever given for the claim that ID is “antiscience”.

The Huffington Post continues,

Intelligent design, the teaching of which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2005, has been pushed by proponents as a “scientific” alternative to evolution that includes a Creator. Critics however, claim that there is simply no scientific evidence to back this theory, and that attempts to get it in the classroom are moves by the religious community to legitimize creationism as a substitute for evolution.

Sorry, but questions pertinent to the philosophy of science (e.g. the demarcation problem) are not decided by judicial fiat. Further, I don’t consider it to be a defensible position to assert that “there is simply no scientific evidence to back this theory.” One may argue that there is inadequate evidence, but that is another debate.

Another important point to bear in mind is that the Discovery Institute, the primary think-tank behind the ID movement, opposes the mandating of the teaching of ID in public school science classrooms, due to its tendency to politicize the theory and, in doing so, hinder its development and growth as a scientific program.

How many errors can the Huffington Post pack into one article? A lot, apparently.

13 Replies to “How Many Errors Can The Huffington Post Pack Into One Article?

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Plainly, as many as it thinks it can get away with — cf my remarks on Wiki here — in the ruthless pursuit of an agenda that (per Plato’s warning in The Laws Bk X; 2,350 years ago) implicitly believes that might and manipulation make ‘right.’ All, in pursuit of a radical progressivist agenda that imagines it is overturning centres of reaction and obstruction against the advance of “science,” “”equality,” “choice/freedom” and the fashionable agenda of asserted “rights” pushed by fellow “progressives,” all energised by the poisonous tactics pioneered by Saul Alinsky and learned so assiduously by disciples in the academy, the media, the political and chattering classes. The very same ruthlessly nihilistic faction tactics we now see all around us. Not understanding that utopian dreams, by their very nature as utterly unrealistic and by erecting an idolatrous political messianism, are doomed to fail catastrophically and destructively. KF

  2. 2
    Mapou says:

    Unfortunately, the Huffington Post has a lot more coverage than Uncommon Descent. And that’s what they are counting on. Know thine enemy. Honesty and truth are not on their agenda. Powers and principalities in high places and all that.

  3. 3
    tjguy says:

    This is an example of the ethical standards of these people. Lying is permissible any time. It is not the means that matters; just the result.

  4. 4
    Granville Sewell says:

    Wow. Anyone who can look at eyes and ears and brains and say “there is simply NO scientific evidence to back [intelligent design]” is so unconnected to reality that it boggles the mind. Has our education system so badly failed us that it produces people this unable to think for themselves? Even Richard Dawkins admits that living things “give the appearance of having been designed.”

  5. 5
    Upright BiPed says:

    Huffington Post: “Creationism, sometimes called “creation science” or “intelligent design,” is a religious belief that all life in the universe and the entire universe itself was created by a supernatural being.”

    – – – – – – – –

    IFJ, International Federation of Journalists: Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists

    “This international Declaration is proclaimed as a standard of professional conduct for journalists engaged in gathering, transmitting, disseminating and commenting on news and information in describing events.”

    1. Respect for truth and for the right of the public to truth is the first duty of the journalist.

    ASNE: American Society of Newspaper Editors: Statement of Principles:

    ARTICLE IV – Truth and Accuracy. Good faith with the reader is the foundation of good journalism. Every effort must be made to assure that the news content is accurate, free from bias and in context, and that all sides are presented fairly. Editorials, analytical articles and commentary should be held to the same standards of accuracy with respect to facts as news reports. Significant errors of fact, as well as errors of omission, should be corrected promptly and prominently.

    APME: Associated Press Managing Editors: Statement of Ethical Principles:

    Responsibility: The good newspaper is fair, accurate, honest, responsible, independent and decent. Truth is its guiding principle…

    Accuracy: The newspaper should guard against inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortion through emphasis, omission or technological manipulation…

    Integrity: The newspaper should strive for impartial treatment of issues and dispassionate handling of controversial subjects…

    SPJ: Society of Professional Journalist: Code of Ethics:

    Journalists should:

    — Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

    — Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting.

    — Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.

    — Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.

    — Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.

    — Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

  6. 6
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    I very much doubt that the Huffington Post maintains such standards of professional integrity. It’s not The New York Times or a fancy outfit like that.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    KN: The duty of care to truth and fairness is a global one, journalistic ethics as here formulated, simply express this for a profession that is focussed on communication. KF

  8. 8
    Optimus says:

    That Huffington Post article is simply disgraceful jounalism. Having said that, it’s hardly unusual to see this sort of willfully ignorant misinformation when the subject of ID comes up. It is unfortunately all too common.
    KN @ 6
    I don’t think the New York Times would do any better.

  9. 9
    SteveGoss says:

    “in the scientific community, creationism is frequently thought of as antiscience”

    Looks like the Huffington Post got one thing right.

    Whether those who think this way are correct in their belief is another matter entirely.

  10. 10
    Robert Byers says:

    CREATIONISM IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!
    No.
    The founding Yankee and southern Protestants did NOT say teach God/Genesis was unconstitutional. its an absurdity.

    If these subjects are about teaching the truth on sundry matters touching on origins and then the most ancient, famous, popular ideas are censored then, I say then, it can be charged the state is breaking constituonal law about not interfering with religion.

    The equation is simple.
    If the state bans something in subjects dedicated to the truth then the state has either said the banned thing is NOT true or despite its truth/or not it is still banned.
    The state saying its not true is a religious opinion.
    The state banning it regardless of its truth is an absurdity in a institution of learning and surely was not a intent of the very Protestant revolutionaries.
    Creationists have some good lawyers bit need some more.
    it should not be such a problem to overthrow the one thing censored in America.

  11. 11
    Axel says:

    Huffington Post reminds me of Churchill’s ‘bon mot’ in reference to Labour MP, Tom Driberg, who occasionally worked for MI6 and the KGB, but double-crossed both: ‘Is he not the man who has brought the fair name of sodomy into disrepute?’

  12. 12
    Axel says:

    I think it was on the occasion of the extraordinary accession to the presidency of George W Bush, by grace and favour of the Supreme Court, after surely the most fraudulent presidential election ever, that Huffington Post published an article defending its probity!

  13. 13
    Phinehas says:

    KN: The sarcasm and humor seemed obvious to me, but I suppose Poe’s law is never far away. 🙂

Leave a Reply