In science education, the year 2005, 100 years after Einstein’s “Annus Mirabilis,” had its own miracles, and that was the decision rendered by the Federal Judge, John Jones in the case brought to his court by parents in the Dover, PA school district challenging the school board’s decision to insist that science teachers read a 4-paragraph statement suggesting that intelligent design be lofted into the science curriculum. The design of the board members didn’t work very well; firstly all 8 board members that supported the idea were tossed out of office in the November 2005 election (miracle #1). And then to make matters worse, the judge in his decision in December 2005 called several of the board members liars and declared that intelligent design was not science, and had no place in the science curriculum (miracle #2).
One of the leading advocates of the intelligent desgin is the Discovery Institute, based in Seattle, Washington . The day after the decision was made public by Jones’ court, newspapers around the country carried the story. The USA Today newspaper’s editorial page ran a piece called “Ruling on ‘intelligent design’ one for the history books.” Most newspapers around the country had pieces of similar content. On some of the pages of these newspapers where the paper gave “equal time” to opposing views appeared pieces written by a John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute. I found his piece in two of the papers I read (USA Today and the Atlanta Journal), and also found a letter to the editor in the New York Times written by Robert L. Crowther II, director of communications at the Discovery Institute. These three pieces read more like “press releases” rather than specific reactions to an editorial. This caught my attention, and I decided to look into the nature of the Discovery Institute.
The Discovery Institute is not a leading center of scientific discovery. It exists primarilly to propagandize intelligent design. It does no research, although it claims to do so. It is not comprised of the leading scientists of the day. In fact, it is a men’s organization (of the 75 names at its web site, only two are women. Of the 75, only 9 are listed in the field of science, but there are 12 in law, 13 in philosophy, 5 in theology, and representatives medicine (1), economics, publishing , foreign policy. There is no one on the staff, in residence, with a degree in one of the fields of science. No one in biology. In fact the only science-related person is Stephen Meyer, director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. The Center “supports research by scientists and other scholars developing the scientific theory known as intelligent design;” however there has not been ONE paper published in a scientific and refeered journal relating to intelligent design. Not one!
The Discovery Insitute links visitors to a paper published by Meyer that was published in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. However, the COUNCIL OF THE BIOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON has a statement on its website that says that Meyer’s paper was published without review by any associate editor; while the editor Richard V. Sternberg handled the entire review process. At the website, it further states that “The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings because the subject matter represents such a significant departure from the nearly purely systematic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 122-year history.” In fact, The Council endorses a resolution on ID published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (), which observes that there is no credible scientific evidence supporting ID as a testable hypothesis to explain the origin of organic diversity.
The letters to the editor, and editorials written by representatives of the Discovery Institute consititute nothing more than blatant propaganda about their claim that I.D. is a scientific concept. Not only has the Discovery Institute not discovered anything in the field of science, it has nothing to offer students, teachers or administrators who are truly interested in improving science education.