Dover Preview: Will the Media Cover the Real Issues?
This week the newsmedia converge on Harrisburg, PA for the opening of the Dover School District intelligent design trial. As readers of this blog know already, the ACLU has sued the Dover School District for notifying students about the existence of the theory of intelligent design (ID). Although Discovery Institute doesn't favor Dover's policy (see here for why), we strongly oppose the ACLU's heavy-handed effort to shut down even voluntary classroom discussions of ID through government censorship. We hope to provide daily coverage and analysis of the trial on this blog, and we've dispatched Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Jonathan Witt to Harrisburg this week to file eyetwitness reports. (For complete background information about the Dover case, check the informational web page we've set up here.)
What remains to be seen is how accurately--or not--the major media will cover the trial. As you read the newsmedia reports this week, watch carefully to see how frequently the following myths about intelligent design and the critics of Darwinism are reported as "facts":
1. "ID proponents are trying to require the teaching of ID." In fact, most leading proponents of ID don't want ID required in classrooms. They merely want teachers to be free to discuss it voluntarily free from government censorship. For a good explanation of Discovery Institute's position on science education policy--which calls for teaching the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinism, not alternative theories--see these FAQs.
2. "20 [or more!] states have tried to mandate the teaching of ID." Even staff members of the National Center for Science Education don't make this preposterous claim. I wish reporters would verify their figures before printing them. In reality, there have been only a handful of proposals to require ID (and Discovery Institute has opposed them). Rather than trying to impose ID, states like Ohio and Kansas are merely want students to learn about scientific criticisms of Darwin's theory as well as the evidence supporting the theory.
3. "There is no science behind ID." For a great non-technical summary of the scientific evidence behind ID, check out Dan Peterson's terrific article a few months ago in The American Spectator. For more a more technical version of some of the evidence for ID read Stephen Meyer's peer-reviewed journal article on the Cambrian explosion.
5. "ID scholars don't publish peer-reviewed scholarship." Not so. Check out the following bibliography.
6. "ID doesn't make testable or falsifiable claims." Wrong again. See "Intelligent Design is Falsifiable."
7. "There are no scientists who doubt neo-Darwinism." More than 400 doctoral scientists, including science professors at many American universities, say otherwise.