There’s a website in Florida parroting the Discovery Institute’s faux concern for “academic freedom”, the Florida Coalition for Academic Freedom. So far, the “coalition” appears to mainly be the person of David Gornoski, Bartow High’s 2006 valedictorian. Gornoski’s evolution in antievolution is apparent, starting from his 2006 address at the Bartow High School graduation ceremony (he openly advocated teaching “intelligent design” creationism as science in public schools, and said of “anti-religious groups” to “Bring it on”), through a late 2006 effort to place a nativity scene on public grounds, and now to the DI-approved “academic freedom” for teaching “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution.
From Gornoski’s 2006 press release concerning his speech supporting IDC:
The student went on to address the hotly debated issue of Intelligent Design in public schools: The majority of our country believes in an intelligent designer with a plan for our lives yet public schools teach children that we are but accidents with no real purpose. I feel sorry for any student convinced through evolution science that mating and protecting territory is their highest purpose in life. It is no surprise then that since the decades when creation was replaced by survival of the fittest violent crime has surged over 330% according to Specialty Research Associates. Gornoski went on to provide a personal experience of the supposed violence increase. When you’sve seen students laugh as they stomp on a person’ss head, you’sve seen this statistic.
It seems obvious that being a valedictorian at Bartow High School does not necessarily indicate competence in logical argument. In the above, one finds the summary to be comprised of fallacies one after the other: argumentum ad populum, strawmen, and post hoc ergo propter hoc. (The repeated references to general audience approval indicates that this is a lacuna that affects more than just those at the top of the class.)
I wonder why obviously sincere, if somewhat over-zealous folks like David Gornoski never seem to tumble to the fact that they are participating in a con job. Gornoski’s original stance was a pleasantly honest, revealing advocacy of unconstitutional acts. In the nativity scene caper, Gornoski slid toward deceit with the statement that no, his nativity scene wasn’t about religion, but rather the historical relevance of Jesus. That sort of fibbing was just a warming-up period, though. This latest manifestation of Gornoski’s evolution follows the DI-approved tactics for getting the same old, tired, bogus antievolution arguments fed to students as if they were science, and a set of more mendacious tactics would be difficult to find. It includes the DI talking point about not mandating the teaching of “intelligent design” creationism. It parrots the DI-speak about wanting to teach “more” evolution, when what they mean is that they want equal time for evolution and antievolution. And an antievolution site without a quote-mine of Darwin would be incomplete, so obviously Gornoski’s site dishes it up in the header of his theme. Darwin’s message was that his book was too short to collect all of the opposing arguments, too, not that he would be seeking that fair result. In our modern situation, the clear message is that science classes have too little time to spend on teaching students both science and anti-science as if they were the same thing. Evolutionary science has passed muster through rigorous test and scrutiny; the “weaknesses” that the DI promotes are just the same old discredited tosh that has been seen from religiously motivated antievolutionists for decades and centuries. Evolutionary science is accountable through the record of hard work of scientists seen in the scientific literature, and antievolutionary drivel is not.
Instead of the forthright, honest, though misguided advocacy Gornoski started out with when he plumped for IDC back in 2006, the current website seeks to obscure those things that clearly speak to Gornoski’s obvious religious motivations in pursuing his goals. Probably the clearest sign of this lies in Gornoski’s misuse of the Darwin quote about achieving a fair result; if Gornoski really believed in his misinterpretation, one should find that his own list of external links would include both IDC and other antievolution advocacy, and sites explaining evolutionary science and criticism of antievolution. Instead, Gornoski’s blogroll is this:
* Dissent from Darwin
* Evolution News
* Explore Evolution
* Florida Science Standards Review
* Icons of Evolution
It only contains links to DI-sponsored websites and one link to the public commentary page for the new Florida science standards. I guess we can add “hypocrisy” to the moral decay that DI-style antievolution induces in its advocates.