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Thursday, November 02, 2006

News media and the ID controversy: Links to better news coverage?

When I blogged recently on the media coverage of the intelligent design controversy, I remarked, "Then the big challenge is to find a publication that actually wants the real story. That means readers who want the real story. Only those readers can help you."

An Australian commenter wrote to ask,
Do you have any ideas on where we will find such readers? Should we be concentrating on informing believers? Will this be resisted by interested parties? Will we then divide our house? Should we concentrate on convincing religious and political power brokers?
ID is often accused of being a media beat up rather than a scientific controversy. Will we reinforce that view if we concentrate on media?

These are challenging questions, so let me take them in turn:

- Do you have any ideas on where we will find such readers? Anywhere there are Internet-linked terminals. There is no shortage of people who question the worldview of the ''Darwinoids", as a journalist friend calls them. The difficulty is that we are in a transitional phase between reliance on print/broadcast media and reliance on the Internet. The latter operates fundamentally differently from the former because it does not empower the big over the small. Don't believe me? Look what the Swift Vets did to John Kerry, or the pajamaheddin did to Dan Rather. The swifts and the pajamas were nobodies - apart from the fact that both groups knew something that the public would be very interested to discover.* In the legacy media, both groups would be promptly stifled because they did not fit the story template that had already been hammered out. (Everyone who mattered knew that Kerry was a good officer, you see, and Bush was a bad airman.)

Only on the Internet could these nobodies have succeeded because anyone who can use a search engine could find out what they had to say. Currently, some want to reduce the Internet to the state of the current print/broadcast media, controlled by a few key opinion-shapers. That is more orderly, you understand. The government of China apparently does it now.

The whole point of the Internet is to circumvent that very thing! The world does not need another medium, it needs a different kind of medium - one that allows both user control and user input.

So use the Internet to find the people who doubt materialism/Darwinism and forget the legacy media.

* For the record, I will not enter into any controversy on anyone's military record. I am concerned only with whether viewpoints that contradict a pre-existing template can easily reach a broad public while they still make a difference.

(Note: A word to people whose comments I have not published or have deleted. Why depend on me? Start your own blog. In the West, the Internet is still the last free country in the world. Stake out a virtual land claim while you can.)

- Should we be concentrating on informing believers? Believers in what, exactly? If you mean evangelical Christians, no. Most of them are educated way, way beyond their obedience now. And you do not want to get dragged into useless disputes about the age of the Earth. Reach people who do not want to hear a long jaw about God and religion but realize, for example, that the materialist dogma that the mind is merely an illusion or a chance buzz in the brain is simply not true. The materialist must believe it, of course. But his belief does not make it true, even if he is a professor somewhere. Start from there and work back to just how and why our pundits came to know that people are nothing but animals with a big brain. You'll find plenty of people interested in hearing alternatives.

- Will this be resisted by interested parties? No, they will shower us all with tickertape and pink champagne! Okay, no, they won't like it a bit. But so? That's the beauty of the Internet. You don't depend on them.

- Will we then divide our house? Hmmm. Are you asking whether people who believe that the universe shows evidence of purpose and design will split up over the age of the Earth? Not if they have any sense, they won't. And if they don't, let the gods punish them. I certainly don't have the time or the inclination, nor should you.

- Should we concentrate on convincing religious and political power brokers? I wouldn't recommend that. See, power brokers usually come with a fixed set of opinions, the ones that brought them to power. In some cases, they can help you. In others, they must oppose you. But conviction rarely plays as strong a role as you'd like. People who don't seek power can afford convictions. Take advantage of whatever comes your way, but don't rely on power brokers. Build your own networks.

- ID is often accused of being a media beat up rather than a scientific controversy. Will we reinforce that view if we concentrate on media? No, what I am trying to say is that on the Internet, you are the media. When you open a site or blog, it is like starting a newspaper or magazine. If you have something to say that is worth hearing and know how to reach your public, your detractors are only helping you by broadcasting far and wide, "— is a dangerous liar who is planning to take over the planet and impose public prayer in US inner city schools, where once drug lords and security guards prowled."

Hope this helps., cheers, Denyse
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

My U of Toronto talk on why there is an intelligent design controversy, or my talk on media coverage of the controversy att he University of Minnesota.

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove’s critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being granted tenure at Baylor after a long struggle - even after helping in a small way to destroy the Baylor Bears' ancient glory - in the opinion of a hyper sportswriter.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
Blog policy note:Comments are permitted on this blog, but they are moderated. Fully anonymous posts and URLs posted without comment are rarely accepted. To Mr. Anonymous: I'm not psychic, so if you won't tell me who you are, I can't guess and don't care. To Mr. Nude World (URL): If you can't be bothered telling site visitors why they should go on to your fave site next, why should I post your comment? They're all busy people, like you. To Mr. Rudeby International and Mr. Pottymouth: I also have a tendency to delete comments that are merely offensive. Go be offensive to someone who can smack you a good one upside the head. That may provide you with a needed incentive to stop and think about what you are trying to accomplish. To Mr. Righteous but Wrong: I don't publish comments that contain known or probable factual errors. There's already enough widely repeated misinformation out there, and if you don't have the time to do your homework, I don't either. To those who write to announce that at death I will either 1) disintegrate into nothingness or 2) go to Hell by a fast post, please pester someone else. I am a Catholic in communion with the Church and haven't the time for either village atheism or aimless Jesus-hollering.

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