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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Spin Cycle: Did the Kansas Witnesses Read the Documents They Are Commenting On?

There’s a story going the rounds, according to which the witnesses at the Kansas evolution vs. intelligent design hearings have not read the science standards they were proposing to change. Apparently, the document they did read and were asked to comment on contains all the standards under discussion.

Here’s John West from the Discovery Institute on that point :

Who has read the Kansas Science Standards? How Knight-Ridder was Bamboozled by the Darwinists in Kansas.

by John West, Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute
Knight-Ridder Newspapers is circulating a false news report after apparently being bamboozled by the Darwinist spin-machine in Kansas. The article claims that the expert witnesses in the Kansas evolution hearings have not read the science standards they are seeking to change. But the charge is false, and the fact that a major news organization would promote such a bogus story makes one wonder about how many reporters have actually read the science standards in question. The article begins:

Those seeking change on evolution haven't read science standards TOPEKA, Kan. - (KRT) - None of the eight intelligent design proponents who testified at the Kansas State Board of Education's evolution hearings Friday have read the science standards they want changed.

Under cross-examination, all eight admitted they simply read the 28-page minority report and not the full 107-page draft of proposed science standards, most of which is not controversial.

What this story fails to disclose is that the minority report of the science standards committee reprints verbatim the relevant science standards relating to evolution from the majority draft. In other words, anyone who has read the minority report has read the majority draft of the science standards relating to evolution!

Thus, the headline and the first sentence of this article are absolutely false. It is false to claim that "None of the eight intelligent design proponents... have read the science standards they want changed." In fact, it's precisely the standards they want changed that they DID read! Again, the minority report reprints verbatim the proposed standards from the majority draft and notes the insertions and changes wanted by the minority.

Any reporter who has read both the majority draft and the minority report ought to know this, which raises an interesting question: Did the reporter and editors who handled this story actually read both of these documents?

In the future, journalists might want to be a little more skeptical before repackaging Darwinist spin as a news story without first verifying the facts.

Um, yes. The Internet is making life increasingly hard for those folks who just want to run with a “story.” I have seen the minority report document myself, or an earlier draft thereof. I cannot see that there should be any difficulty understanding the issues and the changes wanted. Most of the Kansas science standards are not relevant to the Darwinism vs. ID issue; reading them all would not be of use, a fact that the reporter more or less admits when he adds, "most of which is not controversial".

West also notes privately that, “When Rob Crowther [a Discovery employee] confronted the reporter about this story face-to-face earlier today, the reporter basically admitted that HE hadn't read the two documents in question. In other words, he printed these charges without even bothering to independently verify them.”

Sheesh, no wonder legacy media are losing circulation. Save your pennies for e-Bay.


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