Thursday, October 15, 2009

Censorship by Evolutionists or Coincidence?

Darwin’s Dilemma: Evolutionary Elite Choose Censorship over Scientific Debate

by Casey Luskin

When a conservative group, the American Freedom Alliance (AFA), recently contracted to premiere a new documentary titled “Darwin’s Dilemma” at the Smithsonian-affiliated California Science Center, they couldn’t imagine the brouhaha that would ensue.

As soon as word of the screening went public, the Darwinian thought police started complaining about a government-supported science center renting its facilities to a group showing a film that challenges Darwinian evolution.

Why the outrage? Isn’t there academic freedom to express scientific viewpoints that dissent from the evolutionary “consensus”?

To give some background on the controversy, the fossil record shows that about 530 million years ago, nearly all major animal groups (called “phyla”) abruptly appeared on earth. Dubbed the “Cambrian explosion,” this dramatic burst of biodiversity without clear evolutionary precursors has created headaches for evolutionists ever since Darwin’s time.

There are two ways that modern evolutionists approach the Cambrian explosion, or what has been called “Darwin’s dilemma”:

A. Some freely acknowledge that the Cambrian fossil evidence essentially shows the opposite of what was expected under neo-Darwinian evolution.

B. Others deal with the Cambrian explosion by sweeping its problems under the rug and trying to change the subject.

Succumbing to pressure from Darwinian elites, the California Science Center chose option B.

The AFA had contracted with the Science Center, a department of the California state government, to show “Darwin’s Dilemma” on Sept. 25th at the center’s IMAX Theatre. The film explores the eponymous problem of how the Cambrian explosion challenges Darwinian theory and features scientists arguing that the best explanation is intelligent design (ID).

Apparently this was too much for the California Science Center, which abruptly cancelled the AFA’s contract just a couple weeks before the screening. The center claims it cancelled the event “because of issues related to the contract” but refuses to identify the issues.

Contract “issues” always make a nice pretext for censorship, but a little digging into history uncovers what likely took place.

The California Science Center is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, which has a long history of opposing academic freedom for ID.

In 2004, a pro-ID peer-reviewed scientific article authored by Stephen Meyer was published in a Smithsonian-affiliated biology journal. Once the Biological Society of Washington (BSW) realized it had published a pro-ID paper, it repudiated Meyer’s article, alleging the paper “does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings.”

Of course the BSW cited no factual errors in the paper; they just didn’t like Meyer’s conclusions.

Then in 2005, a critical New York Times story inspired anti-ID censors to pressure the Smithsonian to cancel the screening of a pro-ID film, “The Privileged Planet.”

To its credit, the Smithsonian honored its contract to show the film but publicly disclaimed the event, stating “the content of the film is not consistent with the mission of the Smithsonian Institution.” Smithsonian spokesman Randall Kremer said the institution objected to the documentary’s “philosophical conclusion.”

(Of course, when the Smithsonian featured Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” documentary in 1997, it volunteered no objections to the film’s bold opening statement that “The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”)

The story picks up in 2006, when a congressional staff investigation found that "Smithsonian's top officials permit[ted] the demotion and harassment of [a] scientist skeptical of Darwinian evolution.”

The persecuted scientist was Smithsonian research biologist Richard Sternberg, who experienced retaliation for overseeing the publication of Meyer’s paper.

The Smithsonian Institution seems willing to go to great lengths to oppose ID and send the message that scientists who sympathize with ID will face consequences, but how does this relate to the current debacle with the California Science Center?

For one, Drs. Sternberg and Meyer are featured in the “Darwin’s Dilemma” documentary advocating ID. And second, Smithsonian spokesman Randal Kremer has reappeared, stating that he “spoke” with the California Science Center after becoming “concerned by the inference … there was a showing of the film at a Smithsonian branch.”

Though Kremer officially denies it, all appearances indicate pressure was applied from on high at the Smithsonian, and the California Science Center caved in and cancelled the event. Once we move past the customary pretexts, this is an open and shut case of censorship and the banning of free speech that dissents from evolution.

Darwin’s dilemma isn’t just about a lack of transitional fossils in ancient rocks. It’s about how the guards of evolutionary orthodoxy will treat contrary scientific viewpoints.

Will they silence minority views, or will they grant dissenting scientists freedom of speech and scientific inquiry to make their case?

That is the real question posed by Darwin’s dilemma. Let’s hope the California Science Center reverses its decision to cancel the contracted screening of “Darwin’s Dilemma” and chooses freedom of speech over evolutionary dogmatism.


(ht: Evolution News and Views)


Rey Discomfort said...

And that's why Casey Luskin is better known as Casey lying for Jesus Luskin

There are two ways that modern evolutionists approach the Cambrian explosion, or what has been called “Darwin’s dilemma”:

A. Some freely acknowledge that the Cambrian fossil evidence essentially shows the opposite of what was expected under neo-Darwinian evolution.

B. Others deal with the Cambrian explosion by sweeping its problems under the rug and trying to change the subject.

There is no such thing as an "evolutionist".

A. What about the Cambrian Explosion shows the opposite of what is to be expected from evolution?

B. Who are these others?

The fossil known as bangiomorpha pubescens which is a multicellular eukaryote organism predates the cambrian explosion by 700 million years.

These fossils of Bangiomorpha pubescens are 1.2 billion years old.

Here is more information on the Cambrian Explosion

The emergence of complex patterns of organization close to the Cambrian boundary is known to have happened over a (geologically) short period of time. It involved the rapid diversification of body plans and stands as one of the major transitions in evolution. How it took place is a controversial issue. Here we explore this problem by considering a simple model of pattern formation in multicellular organisms. By modeling gene network-based morphogenesis and its evolution through adaptive walks, we explore the question of how combinatorial explosions might have been actually involved in the Cambrian event. Here we show that a small amount of genetic complexity including both gene regulation and cell-cell signaling allows one to generate an extraordinary repertoire of stable spatial patterns of gene expression compatible with observed anteroposterior patterns in early development of metazoans. The consequences for the understanding of the tempo and mode of the Cambrian event are outlined.

Also note that the Cambrian Explosion took place over the course of 80 million years, God sure did take his sweet time.

This isn't even touching the surface, there is no debate amongst intelligent design and evolution, let me rephrase that. There is no SCIENTIFIC debate about it, pro-ID'rs can't even get a paper peer reviewed without breaking the rules .. I'll cover that next.

Rey Discomfort said...

In 2004, a pro-ID peer-reviewed scientific article authored by Stephen Meyer was published in a Smithsonian-affiliated biology journal. Once the Biological Society of Washington (BSW) realized it had published a pro-ID paper, it repudiated Meyer’s article, alleging the paper “does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings.”

Expelled claims that Sternberg was “terrorized” and that “his life was nearly ruined” when, in 2004, as editor of Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, he published a pro-intelligent design article by Stephen C. Meyer. However, there is no evidence of either terrorism or ruination. Before publishing the paper, Sternberg worked for the National Institutes of Health at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (GenBank) and was an unpaid Research Associate – not an employee – at the Smithsonian. He was the voluntary, unpaid editor of PBSW (small academic journals rarely pay editors), and had given notice of his resignation as editor six months before the Meyer article was published. After the Meyer incident, he remained an employee of NIH and his unpaid position at the Smithsonian was extended in 2006, although he has not shown up there in years. At no time was any aspect of his pay or working conditions at NIH affected. It is difficult to see how his life “was nearly ruined” when nothing serious happened to him. He was never even disciplined for legitimate violations of policy of PBSW or Smithsonian policy.


A review of Meyers paper :
The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories

Sternberg failed to follow proper procedure in publishing the paper: “Contrary to typical editorial practices, the paper was published without review by any associate editor; Sternberg handled the entire review process. The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings because the subject matter represents such a significant departure from the nearly purely systematic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 122-year history.”

Luskin must've over looked that eh? Doubtful.

Rey Discomfort said...


Systematics (the study of taxonomy) is the subject of the PBSW and it is the subject of Sternberg’s expertise, but it is not the subject of Meyer’s paper. The primary subject of the paper is the Cambrian explosion and, ostensibly, bioinformatics as it pertains to the origin of the higher phyla. This is not the focus of Sternberg’s research, nor does it have much of anything to do with systematics other than an obligatory discussion of how many phyla and sub-phyla originated during the Cambrian. The most appropriate reviewers, then, would be paleontologists. Among the associate editors at the time (and still today) was Gale Bishop, an expert in invertebrate paleontology. There were three other specialists on invertebrates among the associate editors as well, including current PBSW editor Stephen Gardiner, Christopher Boyko and Janet Reid, all specialists in invertebrate zoology (the Cambrian fauna was almost entirely made up of invertebrates). Yet Sternberg felt no need to let any of those people, all more qualified than him on the subject, even look at the paper, or even make them aware of its existence. He may not have been under any formal obligation to send the article to someone with a specialty in Cambrian paleontology, but that is both the professional and the ethical thing to do.

source: Ed Brayton

Should I continue?

Do I need to point out the fallacies in Behe's argument as well? It was decimated at the Dover Trial, and the rest of of his ID goons fled.

I'd say your either ignorant to the actions of the people involved, or choosing to ignore them and continue this deceitful "ID is being censored by the neo-darwinians" conspiracy.

Which is it?

Rey Discomfort said...

And I'd have easily left comments on Casey's forum, but mister anti-censorship loves to do just that, censor. At least Ray Comfort has the cojones (sp?) to allow dissenting opinions, as seen from the majority of feedback pwning his every argument.

Mike Felker said...

Thanks for posting your comments. I'm not necessarily agreeing with everything Luskin said, but questioning the "censorship" of the video. I didn't really see anything in your comment which directly dealt with that, so i'm assuming from this silence that you are agreeing that the censorship was fully intentional in not allowing the public to see the film at this forum?

That seemed to be the thrust of Luskin's paper, not so much the details pertaining to the scientific issues, though they were mentioned.

Anonymous said...

What is to be discussed? That luskin has a history of being dishonest?

Creationist have put forth nohing of scientific value, they lie, cheat and break the rules.

And by he way, the film is being screened on the 25th of this month. Areyou aware of caseys false dmcas on YouTube? Now that's censorship for you.

Rey discomfort

Mike Felker said...

The thing to be discussed is whether the film is being censored by evolutionists in order to avoid the public viewing.

Honestly, i've never even heard of Luskin before this. He may be a liar or he may not. I have no opinion on that.

As for the merits of creationist and ID claims, that's not the issue here.

My opinion is that the public should be able to hear both sides of the issue and come to their own conclusion. And it seems that the censorship of the film is a pretty good indication that some evolutionists aren't interested in that.

What do you think? Do you think that the public should be given opportunities to hear the arguments for and against evolution?

Anonymous said...

There's really nothing to indicate that the film was being censored, in my opinion it shouldn't be, so long as it's presented as a work of fiction, behe and meyers have failed to bring forth a valid scientific arguement supporting their stance, their agenda is pretty clear. I have no doubts that this film is the same tripe that Ben Steins no intelligence allowed was, and that was also a very dishonest film both in premise and execution. I'm all for good science and I'm not a dogmatic atheist, if there is ever good sound proof for intelligent design I won't have a problem. That's obviously not the case though.

Rey discomfort

Samantha said...

I'm kind of disappointed in Rey.... I thought for sure he would get it after your reply Mike, but his last post was still totting on the content of the movie, rather the issue of censorship.

For arguments sake, let's say that Rey is right. The movie is full of half truths, lies, rule breaking, and has absolutely no scientific evidence what so ever.

The Science Center still doesn't have the right to go back and pull a contract after it's already a done deal. The content of the movie has nothing to do with renting a venue. Michael Moore has had screenings there, and he openly admits to skewing facts and lying to make his point... who cares? It's a business deal, and by falling under the pressure of those who were appalled by the movie to cancel said deal, is censorship.

Now, Im not saying that it was canceled due to those at the venue personally being "neo-darwinians" but I do believe it was canceled over the outrage of those, thus causing the censorship.

It makes me sad that the Science Center succumbed to pressure and didn't take a stand on good business practices. What makes me even more sad, is that California and venues like the Science Center, are swimming in debt, and could have used the money. ha.

Anonymous said...

Samantha didn't get the memo, this movie is playing later this week. Luskin has a habit of opening his mouth before thinking.

I'm all for the right to an open forum, but
luskin continues to cry wolf while he himself censors dissenting opinions.

Again, I could be wrong but I saw nothing that lede
to believe Luskin was telling the truth.

A question, how many Christian schools teach evolution hand in hand with genesis?

Mike Felker said...

To answer your question Rey, I don't know. Personally, i'd be opposed to any school teaching creation at all. I'm perfectly fine with schools teaching evolution, as long as they allow the evidence for and against to be critically examined. So this is where I would strongly disagree with ID advocates who insist that intelligent design should be taught in schools.