For the last few weeks I have been privately following the extended demise of the ICR’s K-12 “educational” blog, Science Essentials. The TL;DR of this post is that science-essentials.org now redirects to a page on the main ICR website, but there is more to the story than that.
Science Essentials recently turned a year old, but nobody bothered to celebrate. The blog was launched sometime between August and October of 2011 (I don’t know the exact date), with content authored by the ICR’s “new Education Specialist,” Rhonda Forlow (Ed.D.). The blog was designed to provide creationism-based resources for school students, and not just homeschoolers either. It had open comments, which provided much hilarity in the early months with spam, censorship, and parody being evident. In the period leading up to Christmas of 2011 a commenting competition was run, with prizes (such as books) offered to commentors. In the first few days hundreds of comments appeared, but over time interest waned. Notably, Stuart Robbins won a copy of Dragons: Legends and Lore of Dinosaurs, Brian Thomas’ “men and dinosaurs co-existed” book.
In the new year the rate of posting increased, from three days a week to five. Around this time I also lost interest in the site: it was just more of the same every week, and there was no need to inflict it on you on any regular basis. Of course, there were a few occasions where Forlow came up with some funny posts, and I wasn’t the only one amused.
Posting rates fell during the American summer holidays of this year, but as August and September came around things picked up again. An email – which was basically a cut and paste job of one of the posts that had appeared on the site at about that time – was sent to the ICR’s mailing list. It gave no indication that there was to be anything other than a full return to normal service:
Science Essentials is here to help you this year! Allow us to be your place to receive practical tips for teaching creation-based science.
What creation science topics would you like us to address this year? Visit Science Essentials and click the email button at the top of the screen to send me your request!
However, it was not to be.
From the start of this month (October) post numbers declined again, giving the impression that a limited amount of content was being stretched as far as it could go. In the second week the RSS feed revealed that the posts went from being published by “rforlow” to “swindsor” – presumably Susan Windsor, whose job seems to lie mostly behind the scenes at the ICR. This was worth investigating, though the only real change I could find at that time was that the twitter link at the top of the page now no longer led to Rhonda’s @RForlow account – which upon investigation turned out to have been deleted – but to the almost moribund @ICRMedia account.
By the weekend of the 13th there had been a major change. Dr Forlow’s picture and info had been removed from the sidebar, and the main page of the site was now the about page. There have also been no posts since.
The solution to this mystery is revealed in a tweet from Brad Forlow, who noted that “Rhonda no longer works there FT so her twitter acct was closed.” Indeed, it seems that the entire Forlow family are uprooting themselves from Texas and going church planting (a missionary activity, and nothing to do with gardening). We are unlikely to encounter them again on this site in the near future.
Finally, as I said at the beginning of this post, the science-essentials.org website now redirects back to the main ICR website. This very much suggests that there are no plans to resurrect the blog any time soon. This is a good thing indeed. While her actual effectiveness remains unknown, Dr Forlow was at very least in the position to provide a small cadre of homeschool teachers with what were quite frankly some pretty shitty educational materials. The end of this experiment, should it be permanent, is no loss.
[Edit: I forgot to mention that, at time of writing (22 October now), there remains a link to the blog in the menu on the ICR website. We’ll see how long it stays there.]
In related news, it seems that Lawrence Ford has also left the ICR some time in the last few months. I have no way of knowing the circumstances surrounding either departure, and speculation is pointless. This means that most of the remaining ICR-related twitter accounts are now more-or-less dead, and due to both this and a change in the twitter api you should have noticed by now that the ICR twitter feed to the right now only contains Your Origins Matter tweets. Admittedly, they had long become the only remotely interesting ones there.
Interesting stuff. Do I remember right that Brad Farlow also worked at ICR or is my memory bad. ICR makes it very difficult now to see who works there. Without that blog ICR is down to only a few things they regularly publish. It seems the move to Texas from CA hasn’t been the big boon they had hoped.
I know Brad at least did work for them – he was on the speakers list and he has written a couple of pamphlets/books – but I don’t know exactly what has changed there. The book that was due to come out in the next few months is still going to, but I couldn’t tell you if he has plans to write any more. I don’t know if I’ve ever written anything on an article he has written, so I didn’t really bother talking about him above.
They certainly seem to have had a bad year, with only YOM coming close to bucking the trend.