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David Klinghoffer

I’ve never quite understood what serious purpose political bumper stickers are intended to serve. Do drivers really think they’re influencing anyone? You put “VOTE FOR SMITH” on your bumper and then the guy in the car behind you who was all set to vote for Jones slaps his forehead and says “Oh, it says ‘VOTE FOR SMITH.’ That sounds pretty emphatic. I guess poor old Jones will have to do without my support this year!”
Only among Darwinists do bumper-sticker type slogans really seem to aid in generating a climate of opinion. I don’t mean slogans literally that appear on actual automobile bumpers but a variety of old chestnuts and hoary bugaboos that, however easily falsified, propagate throughout the writings of Darwinists on the Internet and elsewhere. Endlessly repeated and believed, they serve as a pervasively influential substitute for thought.
Here are some examples.
Take that last one. You’ve heard it a million times, often in the same language: No legitimate, peer-reviewed scientific research supports intelligent design. Listen to what our friend Lauri Lebo, self-identified as a “reporter,” had to say the other day. Ms. Lebo writes on the website Religion Dispatches, which sounds like it ought to be a serious enterprise. It’s supported by Emory University and directed by Professor Gary Laderman, chairperson of Emory’s Department of Religion. The website says that, because of the link with Emory, donations are even tax-deducible.
Under the headline “Record Number of Stealth Creationism Bills Introduced in 2011,” Ms. Lebo decries a bill in the Texas legislature intended to protect intelligent-design researchers in universities from discrimination. With the title of her post, she’s making an implicit nod to the fraudulent INTELLIGENT DESIGN = CREATIONISM bumper sticker.
She goes on to say: “But as we all know, there is no such thing as ID research, which has not yet produced one single legitimate peer reviewed paper.” In other words, NO PEER-REVIEWED I.D. RESEARCH.
Like the other bumper-sticker slogans, this one is a brazen falsehood, or it would be brazen if Ms. Lebo had done enough reporting to know the difference between true and false on this point. But she hasn’t and she can’t.
Evolution News & Views does a fine job of covering the literature of peer-reviewed research supporting intelligent design as it comes out. If Ms. Lebo had followed ENV just over the past few months, she would have found numerous recent instances of what she says doesn’t exist, as here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
But Lauri Lebo is a sloppy writer who if she really meant what she seems to mean would also be on record, in the same post, as saying that “intelligent design was ruled unconstitutional in Kitzmiller v. Dover.” Yeah, so it would seem, the whole concept of ID — believing it, supporting it, whatever — is now unconstitutional. President Eisenhower enforced Brown v. Board of Ed by sending the 101st Airborne into Little Rock. It’s got to be just a matter of time before federal troops occupy the Discovery Institute.
Ms. Lebo goes on to say that the idea of “teaching the controversy” about evolution in high school biology class goes back only as far as Kitzmiller in 2005. Since Judge Jones ruled ID unconstitutional, as we all know, ID advocates tried to skirt around this through the use of “such creationist code words as ‘teaching the controversy,’ ‘academic freedom,’ or ‘critical analysis.'”
That’s another bogus claim, of course, as Ms. Lebo would have realized if she’d spent a moment researching it. Discovery Institute had been talking about the “teach the controversy” approach for years before the Dover case. For instance, see here. We’ve also argued consistently against teaching intelligent design in schools, which she confusedly mixes up with the critical analysis of Darwinian evolution. Teaching the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian theory is not the same as teaching ID.
Oh well, it hardly seems worth spending a lot of time protesting. If dear Lauri Lebo stopped “reporting” on this subject, the identical bumper-sticker style slogans would go on as before, circulating among professors, journalists and bloggers. Like the selfish genes of the Richard Dawkins mythos, they have a life of their own.