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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

How to get moderated for making a polite request at Fox News

A friend tells a familiar story:
I see in today's FOX science/tech section, there's a blurb about how creationism is still being advocated in H.S. biology classes. Predictably, the author has equivocated creationism with ID. I sent the author of the article this very brief message, and also posted it on the comments section, but somebody flagged my message and all future attempts to post were thwarted by a moderation notice. [emphasis added]

Here’s the offending notice:

Ms/Mrs Jennifer Welsh, if you will kindly look at the definition of Intelligent Design put forth by its main proponents ( is a good place to start), you will see that ID does not depend on any religious narrative (as found in the Bible) and thus has no religious premise. In contrast, creationism is a creation account that depends on some religious creation narrative (like in the Bible) and begins with a religious premise (God created). As you can see, ID is distinct from creationism, and is thus not religious or creationism.

Please, stand up for intellectual and journalistic integrity. Please correct your article to reflect the actual definition of Intelligent Design.
My friend misunderstands the nature of popular media. Ms. Welsh and colleagues have zero interest in knowing that design no more means creation, than painting a picture means creating the paint and canvas from thin air before one begins. Evidence of design is not evidence of creation, but it is real and detectible because it adds high levels of information.

But a whole generation was raised on elephant art, chimpanzee trample art, food fight art, “whatever he did is art”. No wonder they wouldn’t understand that design is not creation, just as art is about design, not making a “creative” mess.

Common sense distinctions that seem evident to my friend are way above the pop science media IQ grade.

For example, here’s a generic story: "Origin of life scientist says final answer expected in next decade" (= recycle the story from 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 ..., same schtick, new white coats)

Success in the pop science business depends critically on either not being smart enough to ask the obvious question or - as I suspect - being smart enough not to ask.

Just go elsewhere for your news.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Social changes that may impact the intelligent design community: Media

American scholar Victor Davis Hanson recently pointed out that the university as a standard setter of any kind is coming under well-deserved scrutiny, along with its instruments, such as peer review and tenure.

But he also mentions the obvious,
Americans no longer count on their news to be filtered and shaped by the Associated Press or the New York Times. Nor do millions have it read to them in the evening by CBS, ABC or NBC anchorpersons -- not with the Internet, cable news and talk radio. Matt Drudge's website, "The Drudge Report," reaches far more Americans than does CBS anchor star Katie Couric.
That’s true, but a broader way of looking at it is, today the news audience decides what is news. When I was young, there were only a few established news sources other than rumour. Now there are hundreds. If CBS anchor star Katie Couric isn’t today’s Huntley-and-Brinkley, it’s because her audience is limited to those who agree with her interpretation of news. Those who don’t can find the basic facts, but differently interpreted, elsewhere.

There was a time when, if you wondered whether the multiverse or the Big Bazooms theory of human evolution or “you’re nothing but a pack of neurons” view of the mind make any sense, you would not have had access to the scholarly literature that provides another look. Or only with considerable effort. So it just sunk in. Now, alternative viewpoints are easy to find.

Put simply, the mere fact that pop science rags are smitten with ultra-Darwinists, cosmology cranks, and mind-is-mud zealots no longer means you can’t find an informed alternative perspective on these issues.
There was never a better time for constructive takedowns of nonsense.

But Hanson warns,
... we also are seeing the waning of an old established order. And the resulting furor suggests that the old beneficiaries are not going quietly into that good night.
No indeed. True to form, they want the government to fund and protect them. Which amounts to saying that old media want the people who pointedly don’t watch , listen, or read them to pay for the right to ignore them.

Wordle: Old mediaWordle: New media

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