If Young Earth Creationists like opals, they dislike Discovery News just as much. And every other reputable science news outlet as well, but I get the idea that DN is particularly reviled. Christine Dao, the ‘Assistant Editor at the Institute for Creation Research’ is the author of the latest article to arrive in the Daily (pseudo)Science Updates page. It’s titled Evolution Controversy’s Outdated, One-sided Exposure and is a reaction to Evolution Controversies: A History in Photos from Discovery News. Dao says:
[It] includes photographs from the Scopes “Monkey” trial of 1925, a cartoon of British naturalist Charles Darwin with the body of an ape, and a photograph of an exhibit in the Institute for Creation Research’s former Museum of Creation and Earth History in Santee, California. Of the ten photographs, two portray what the author says are claims used by creationists as “scientific proof of young Earth creationism”: the dinosaur footprints in Glen Rose, Texas, and a petroglyph in Utah that resembles a dinosaur.
I should add that the first three are from the scopes trail, image four is related to a famous debate in 1860, number five is the cartoon, number six is a court house, number seven through to nine are mentioned in the above paragraph and number ten is of various copies of On the Origin of Species. Nevertheless, Dao is claiming that the piece is biased, on the grounds that a) the two pieces of ‘evidence’ for creationism are falling out of favour and b) it doesn’t contain any of the current pet pieces of evidence that creationists have.
For starters, the sideshow is showing a historical perspective, showing some of the claims Creationists have used in the past. They do not care about the current goings-on in the ‘debate’, and include current arguments from neither side. They even give the creationists the last word on one of the historical claims – the petroglyph which I covered the other day – adding that “at least one creationist has taken issue with the method the scientists used to examine the petroglyph.”
Dao accuses Discovery News of appealing to emotion. This is an interesting point. I shouldn’t need to point out that Creationists appeal to the emotion all the time – it’s all they’ve got, when it boils down to it. As a general rule, science is unemotional to the extreme – ever read an honest-to-goodness scientific paper? Science marches on, largely ignoring creationism as a fringe group. Nevertheless, a staggering 40% of Americans still believe in young earth creationism, raising the issue of why we trust them with nukes. Thus, it seems that an appeal to emotion may have to be done…
Ms Dao adds that “appealing to public emotions” can “skew or omit facts”. Take a look over my archives. I have uncountable examples of the ICR skewing and/or omitting facts from last last couple of months alone. I will admit to missing out things here and there myself – I am not omniscient, after all. However, I do search facts that support the creationist opinion, so that I can be sure to have debunked everything. On the other hand, extraneous facts that support my own side I am much more likely to miss out – there are simply too many things to include, often enough. For example, in my recent opals post, I failed to mention that the report I was talking about could draw no conclusions on the subject of the formation of the more valuable kinds of opal, as they couldn’t find much bacteria on the better stuff. I didn’t mention it because I didn’t even need that to be true to make the point that I made – it was irrelevant at the time. Brian Thomas didn’t mention it either, probably because either a) he didn’t notice it (which is understandable – it was buried in the report to some degree – but he really should read the things he cites) or b) because it complicates his point and makes it less solid.
And apparently the presentation is ‘anti-science’. This is ironic, coming from the ICR. These are people who seem to think that we shouldn’t be basing our ideas on materialistic science but on the supernatural and scripture, for goodness sake…