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New York Times’ Cornelia Dean: Wrong on Evolution, Intelligent Design and Expelled

The New York Times periodically exhibits a questionable nose for news. What rises to the level of news for the science writers at the Times aren’t instances of scientific censorship or persecution of scientists. Today, complaints by Darwinists allegedly featured in a forthcoming (and as of yet unfinished, according to the filmmakers themselves) film, Expelled, that documents the persecution of scientists who question Darwin, is considered news by the Times’ science staff.

What about real news related to the debate over evolution and intelligent design? The Times has a snobbishly selective olfactory sense, it seems.

Has the Times reported on the attacks on the academic freedom of distinguished professor Robert Marks, who had his research website on intelligent design shut down by Baylor University?
Did the Times ever report on Dr. Richard Sternberg’s persecution at the hands of the Smithsonian Institution? Even though a report by the US Office of Special Counsel and a Congressional investigation definitively concluded that Sternberg had been harassed, persecuted and demoted. (The observant reader will not that the Times did editorialize about Sternberg’s situation, admitting: “E-mail notes show that several scientists and managers at the Smithsonian were extremely embarrassed and eager to push Mr. Sternberg out of his research niche, and that some dug around for material to discredit him.” That isn’t worth reporting in a news article, but it is worth mentioning in a vulgar attempt to humiliate and discredit Sternberg over his tenure as editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.)

Did the Times report on the denial of tenure to noted ISU astronomer Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, solely on ideological grounds?

The answer is a resounding no in every instance.

Yet today the paper has a front page story about how certain Darwinists are upset that they are to be featured in Expelled. Richard Dawkins, among others, might even be angered, if the Times is to be believed. (Can you imagine Dawkins being angry?)

The article is written by Times science writer Cornelia Dean, and, as she often does, Dean makes assertions of fact without backing them up.

According to Dean:

There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth.

Dean merely asserts this as a fact, without saying who is making the claim other than herself. Worse, she doesn’t acknowledge that the claim is disputed by scientists — over 700 at last count.

Dean used to acknowledge that there were those who disagree with her statement.

“There is no credible scientific challenge to the idea that evolution explains the diversity of life on earth, but advocates for intelligent design posit that biological life is so complex that it must have been designed by an intelligent source.” (In ‘Design’ vs. Darwinism, Darwin Wins Point in Rome)

Now, however, the assertion of evolution as a fact (note that we don’t really know what Dean means by evolution — is it change over time? Common ancestry? The Darwinian mechanism? She never says) is left to stand as if it were a natural law.

The article is wrong on many other counts as well.
Dean misrepresents the thesis of Dr. Gonzalez’s book The Privileged Planet, stating:

The book asserts that earth’s ability to support complex life is a result of supernatural intervention.

The book does not assert that.
According to Gonzalez and his co-author, Dr. Jay Richards:

In The Privileged Planet, we argue, on the basis of a wide range of empirical evidence, that the places in the universe most habitable to complex life, such as Earth’s surface, are also the best places, overall, to make a wide range of scientific discoveries, in areas as diverse as geology, astronomy, and cosmology.

Dean conflates intelligent design with creationism, revealing her own biases: “intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism.” And “intelligent design, a creationist idea…”

Here is a film that shows how extreme the reaction is from Darwinists to challenges to their theory, including persecution, censorship, and attempting to suppress the debate. This film has apparently hit a nerve. I’m betting you haven’t heard the last of this.

Robert Crowther, II

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.