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"Willful Ignorance"? Lee McIntyre Misrepresents Our Position on Intelligent Design in Public Schools


Many critics have falsely claimed that Discovery Institute tries to push intelligent design into public schools. But Lee McIntyre, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, is no ordinary critic. A research fellow at Boston University’s Center for Philosophy and History of Science, he claims to be nothing less than an authority on the defense of truth. His new book is Respecting Truth: Willful Ignorance in the Internet Age. Yet McIntyre did not take the time to check the accuracy of what he says about us.

In his article, “The Attack on Truth,” he laments the “willful ignorance” of those who dispute the Darwinian account of evolution, an offense he defines as “simple ignorance coupled with the decision to remain ignorant.” However, he shows his own ignorance by misrepresenting Discovery Institute’s positions. McIntyre calls us “the Seattle organization advocating that ‘intelligent-design theory’ be taught in the public schools as balance for the ‘holes’ in evolutionary theory.”

Wrong. Discovery Institute has consistently opposed mandating intelligent design in public schools. Our Science Education Policy is easily accessible on the Internet. It clearly states:

As a matter of public policy, Discovery Institute opposes any effort to require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education. Attempts to mandate teaching about intelligent design only politicize the theory and will hinder fair and open discussion of the merits of the theory among scholars and within the scientific community.

As far back as 2006, Discovery Institute attorneys David DeWolf and Seth Cooper expressed our position:

Recognizing the potential for sharp conflict in this area, Discovery Institute believes that a curriculum that aims to provide students with an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of neo-Darwinian and chemical evolutionary theories (rather than teaching an alternative theory, such as intelligent design) represents a common ground approach that all reasonable citizens can agree on.

The same policy is stated on the website of our curriculum, Discovering Intelligent Design:

The Discovering Intelligent Design curriculum is designed for educational use by home schools and private schools rather than public schools. When this subject of intelligent design is forced into public schools, it tends to generate polarization, transforming the topic from a scientific investigation into an emotional, politicized debate.

McIntyre concludes by noting that “Respecting truth is a choice.” Yes, and getting your facts straight before sharing your views with the public is also choice. I commend it to Dr. McIntyre.

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