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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Intelligent design controversy and media: While I'm here, ...

The recent USA Today op-ed fantasy that Britain does not suffer from controversies over intelligent design (because "theistic evolution" has brought such harmony to Brit land) is an instructive example of just what’s wrong with legacy mainstream media in general. The problem for Mark I. Pinsky's "Science and Faith the British Way" was its timing: The puff piece ran just as the Michael Reiss affair was blowing through the independent blogs.

Synopsis: The Royal Society attracted attention across the globe by firing education director Michael Reiss. As of October 4, 9:00 am EST, the Google search "Michael Reiss" "Royal Society" turned up 71, 500 hits, and blogging on the subject abounds. And the people who drove Reiss from his job (the sinner in the hands of an angry god affair), have earned condemnation on both sides of the controversy over evolution and intelligent design. (Reiss, a Church of England clergyman, is a convinced Darwinist, and his sin was suggesting that terms like "creationism" and :"intelligent design" be spoken aloud in class in order to tell students that they are wrong and that Darwin is right. But the fact that he is a clergyman caused prominent scientists to question his right to hold the education director's post anyway, making their anti-traditional religion agenda pretty clear.)
Many Americans and Canadians found out about Reiss's sacking through blogs, and many lively public discussions ensued. But along come the editors and author at USA Today and make clear their assumption that North Americans know nothing about the world that’s not on prime time Boob Tube. So they publish a blog column that – in the context – would be outrageous if it were not so obviously and ridiculously false to the true situation in Britain.

Just being on the Internet does not transform legacy media into new media. The basic legacy media principle is that you have no access to information apart from what they tell you.

It is a three-stage process: 1. They talk. 2. You listen. 3. You believe.

Only one problem: It does snot work any more. This is not the early 19th century. North Americans do not wait six weeks to find out what is happening in London; we know as soon as Brits do. And we now have lots of independent sources of information. So legacy media - online or not - are spinning tales for a shrinking population, as their plummeting circulations show.

Those circulations are never coming back. And this little vignette is a window into one reason why.

The following stories address some recent developments in the intelligent design controversy in Britain:

How angry is the Brit God of Science? Pretty angry, it seems ...

So they actually need to explain this? Britain's Royal Society is considering casting out God ...

Intelligent design and popular culture: The BBC spin on British creationism

Will Brit “faith and science” heavyweights speak up after education director’s firing?

Failed Brit Darwinist Michael Reiss: "A Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God": Synopsis of a Play in Three Acts

Intelligent design and high culture: Philosopher says teaching students about intelligent design should be okay - with qualifications (Here in evil, backward North America, this atheist philosopher was not driven from the campus for his views.)

Darwinism and popular culture: The Anglican Church's non-apology to Darwin

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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