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Letters to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Toledo Blade

It appears the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Toledo Blade have both joined the ranks of Ohio papers in need of correction, like the Akron Beacon Journal. Both the Plain Dealer and the Blade ran stories misrepresenting intelligent design and Discovery Institute, and neither chose to publish my letters to the editor, which follow.

Dear Editor,

In his September 7 article, Scott Stephens wrote that the Discovery Institute "promotes the teaching of intelligent design." In fact, as our website clearly states, Discovery Institute opposes any effort to require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education. Instead, we think students should learn more about evolution, and that evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned.

In contrast, Campaign to Defend the Constitution wants to insure that evolution is taught as an incontrovertible truth, something that students should accept without further thought or consideration. Censorship is a poor way to teach students science, where the controversy over Darwin's theory is very real and, more important for engaging young minds, very exciting.

Here's a suggestion for Lawrence Krauss and his friends at Campaign to Defend the Constitution. Since they are fighting so hard to silence critical analysis in the classroom, perhaps they should try a new name: the Campaign to Protect Fragile Ideas by Censoring Challenging Ones.

Anika Smith
Discovery Institute

While the Plain Dealer misrepresented Discovery Institute's education policy, the Blade misdefined intelligent design in the familiar tradition of straw-man characterizations.

Dear Editor,

In Ignazio Messina's September 7 article, he writes that "[i]ntelligent design generally holds that the creation of life on Earth was too complex to have occurred by happenstance." This may be how our opponents misconstrue our arguments, but that doesn't excuse Messina from doing his homework. As we have clearly stated on our website, intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

Unfortunately for your readers, while critics of ID were quoted time and again, filling the page with inaccurate mischaracterizations of intelligent design theory and attacking the straw-man argument which slopping reporting helps them perpetuate, Messina didn't seem to care what supporters of ID might have to say on the subject.

Intelligent design is not creationism, but that isn't even the issue in Ohio. The Ohio School Board is asking students to critically analyze the evidence they are presented. And for allowing students to learn by engaging them in scientific arguments, Patricia Princehouse calls the Board members "extremists."

What is perhaps more accurate to label extreme is the group that calls itself the Campaign to Defend the Constitution. Instead standing up for scientific inquiry and students' freedom to think for themselves, the Campaign is working to silence debate and stifle scientific inquiry. Maybe Patricia Princehouse and her friends should try a new name: the Campaign to Protect Fragile Ideas by Censoring Challenging Ones.

Anika Smith
Discovery Institute