Joshua Rosenau of the Darwin-lobbying National Center for Science Education read my article here on a documentary the NCSE has been promoting, No Dinosaurs in Heaven, and wrote me a series of overheated letters of protest. He wanted to let me know that my “libelous screed,” “defamatory claims” and “baseless accusations” about the film and NCSE’s relationship to it were “demonstrably false” requiring prompt withdrawal. Josh went on to quote Virgil’s Aeneid that rumors of the kind I am spreading are “nimble as quicksilver among evils.”
I asked Josh, NCSE’s Programs and Policy Director, if I could quote his emails to me. He consented on the condition that I specify that he was writing “from my private email address, on my own time and not on behalf of NCSE.” OK, whatever. Anyone with a little common sense knows that when you represent an organization in a contentious intellectual debate and you speak out on that organization’s subject and about its work, there’s no easy disentangling of yourself from your colleagues and the cause you all stand for. If Josh were writing about gluten-free cooking tips, that would be different.
Then this morning I got another hopping-mad email from him about how I’m treading a “dishonorable path,” this time from the official NCSE email account so you know he means business. This guy is really hocking me a chainik.
Why all the hyperventilating, anyway, from Josh of the NCSE/not of the NCSE? Because I wrote that the NCSE has been “promoting” this documentary, the trailer of which I viewed the other day, and the thing is an embarrassment. In fact I detect a hint of embarrassment in Josh’s own emails — otherwise why rush to disassociate your organization, however disingenuously, from the documentary?
An attack on creationism and intelligent design — which the NCSE dishonestly conflates as “‘Intelligent Design’ creationism” or IDC — the trailer by Gretta Schiller of Jezebel Productions appeals to viewers’ vanity, ignoring the substantive scientific debate in favor of appeals to snooty self-satisfied insinuations that Darwin-believers are just plain smarter than those primitive creationists. To illustrate, it picks on a black man, unidentified in the trailer, who tries to express a pro-ID “Teach the Controversy” view. The gentleman can’t communicate effectively in English, however, so much so that Ms. Schiller subtitles his comments.
I and other people who have seen the trailer winced at the racial contrast — all these smug white people congratulating themselves contrasted with the lone black man who tries to but can’t articulate an effective argument for ID. If you don’t believe me, just watch it for yourself. I don’t think NCSE or Jezebel Productions is knowingly promoting racism — I assume this is mere incompetence on the part of Ms. Schiller and the standard reluctance among Darwin promoters to confront effective spokesmen for scientific skepticism on evolution.
Josh, meanwhile, berates me for saying the black man is “unidentified” when in fact — he has an identity! He is
a professor in Ms. Schiller’s science education class at City College of New York, the teacher whose creationist lessons inspired the film and its narrative. He speaks in a thick African accent because he in fact grew up in Africa, with degrees from South Africa. I don’t know how he lost his teeth, but am confident that this lies beyond the filmmaker’s control.
That’s nice, but it still doesn’t explain why the Darwin crowd consistently picks on the weakest proponents of views they don’t like. It is sheer intellectual bullying. How different from ID proponents who make a point of going after the most articulate and forceful representatives, the top men and women, on the other side. Compare No Dinos to Expelled!, which got interviews with Richard Dawkins (highly amusing), Oxford’s Peter Atkins, and NCSE’s Eugenie Scott, among others.
So where’s the libelous, baseless defamatory falsehood in my article, worthy of condemnation by the poet Virgil himself? Is it that I say NCSE is promoting No Dinosaurs in Heaven? Well let me offer this correction. If anything, I understated. The group is heavily promoting this film. The day I wrote my initial article, Eugenie Scott traveled across the country to speak at the Queens College screening. From the press kit it appears that not only is the main “cast” member Eugenie Scott, but half of those in the film who receive “cast biographies” are current or past NCSE officials. The FAQ section directs readers to the NCSE for help in getting rid of pesky Darwin doubters. On the film’s home page, what greets you is a homey picture of the filmmaker next to Dr. Scott.
According to the NCSE’s website, NCSE officials have participated in or acted as hosts for at least eight screenings of the film around the world. The NCSE even offered the DVD of the film as an award in their bumper sticker contest. So, yes, the NCSE has its fingerprints all over this project. Why deny it if you’re not embarrassed?
But enough of this. You may recall that I wrote here earlier about NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch and his work with a vile 9/11 Truth conspiracy theorist and anti-Semite, Jim Fetzer. There too Josh Rosenau denounced me for pointing it out, writing on his blog and meanwhile claiming that he spoke only for himself not for the NCSE. Oh, for goodness sake. These folks really need to do a better job of taking responsibility for what they say and do in a debate they chose to enter of their own accord.