Florida: Luskin Lets Cat Out of Bag

Marc Caputo at the Miami Herald noticed something in a press conference featuring actor Ben Stein and Discovery Institute spokesperson Casey Luskin. It had to do with what, precisely, could be taught as protected speech under bills currently filed in the Florida legislature if they became law.

The religiously tinged evolution-questioning theory of Intelligent Design could more easily be brought up in public-school science classrooms under a proposed ”academic freedom” legislation being pushed by conservative lawmakers.

And it’s not just the ACLU saying it anymore.

A leading voice for the Intelligent Design movement acknowledged as much Wednesday by saying that the theory constitutes ”scientific information,” which the bill expressly and repeatedly says teachers should present in questioning and criticizing evolution without fear of persecution.

The remarks by Casey Luskin, an attorney with the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, were made during a press conference with actor-columnist-speechwriter-gameshow host Ben Stein, who’s exhibiting a documentary in support of the legislation.

The bill was drafted after the state Board of Education voted last month to include repeated mention of evolution and natural selection in state science standards for the first time in state history. The bill expressly bans the teaching of religious theories — which a federal court has ruled Intelligent Design is.

The Discovery Institute doesn’t want, it says, mandated teaching of “intelligent design”. They do want teachers and students to have complete immunity for bringing “intelligent design” creationism into science classrooms, either as “scientific information” or as simple disruptive tactics to distract from the curriculum that will express the recently adopted standards.

The only reason the Discovery Institute makes a big deal about not “mandating” instruction in “intelligent design” creationism (IDC) is that a law doing so could be challenged immediately without waiting for it to actually affect a classroom. By relying upon the known demographic that 30% or so of science teachers would be totally on board with slipping in bogus old religiously-motivated antievolution arguments, like the content of “intelligent design” creationism, the Discovery Institute is able to recruit a substantial proportion of science teachers into providing lawsuit fodder at some later time. Add on to that the fact that in many cases even if a teacher is blatantly proselytizing in a classroom, it is often difficult to find someone with standing that wants to go through the process of becoming a plaintiff. By not “mandating” IDC, they get a chunk of science teachers purposely passing their anti-science drivel on to children, most of whom will never be challenged as they should be.

The falsely so-called “academic freedom” bills aim to maximize the proportion of teachers that will participate in the Discovery Institute miseducation scheme and to extend the strategy to also recruit children into being as disruptive as possible whenever evolutionary science is a topic in a classroom. There’s already evidence that this is exactly what the DI wants in the PDFs they offer of what they think of as poser questions to be printed on labels and stuck in school biology textbooks. This, by the way, is also standard operating procedure for young-earth creationist advocacy groups, who urge parents to prepare their children to loudly challenge their teachers whenever evolution is mentioned in class.

The bills should be termed more accurately “academic irresponsibility” bills. The only purpose served is to spread confusion about the content and nature of science and to inculcate a distrust of science — and scientists — within students.

While Caputo is to be commended for the catch on Luskin letting slip the fact that the Discovery Institute believes that “intelligent design” creationism will be protected under either of the “academic irresponsibility” bills being considered, he did give them a pass on being the original source of the draft bill that two legislators filed versions of. That’s right, this entire kerfluffle is being engineered and orchestrated from Seattle, Washington. The various actions that we’ve seen of antievolution advocates spouting off about “academic freedom” during the science standards revision process has the DI fingerprints all over it. They have obvious “plants” in place, including “intelligent design” creationist advocate Fred Cutting, who acted as the conduit for an alternative draft of the science standards that would have incorporated the DI’s academic irresponsibility notions. It’s not like this information is going to go undiscovered if any such case goes to court. The contacts with the Discovery Institute will be a primary item for the legal discovery process to uncover at that time. At that point, we’ll be seeing Barbara Forrest or another expert witness who will testify as to the DI’s long plans for their governing goal:

To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

11 thoughts on “Florida: Luskin Lets Cat Out of Bag

  • 2008/03/13 at 10:32 am

    By relying upon the known demographic that 30% or so of science teachers would be totally on board with slipping in bogus old religiously-motivated antievolution arguments, like the content of “intelligent design” creationism, the Discovery Institute is able to recruit a substantial proportion of science teachers into providing lawsuit fodder at some later time.

    In Ohio in 2006 we called that a “Dover trap” set by the State Board of Education.

  • 2008/03/13 at 9:42 pm

    Marc Caputo really DID do an excellant job !
    I spoke with him on the phone approx. 1 month ago (before he did his first story on this subject) and at that time, he had zero knowledge about this conflict!
    Kudos to Marc :-)

  • 2008/03/14 at 4:35 am

    Now John West is out saying that Luskin’s wrods were misrepresented. He also admits that ID is not yet science:

    “If and when ID supporters are able to win the debate over whether ID science, then by definition any scientific information about it that pertains to biological or chemical evolution would be protected—just like any other scientific information relevant to those topics.”


    Of course, he also shows what the strategy is:

    “So who would decide what is scientific under the bill? … [S]cience teachers themselves in consultation with their science curriculum staff and their school boards. And if they happen to promote something that isn’t science, we can be sure that groups like the ACLU will be ready to police their activities—just like they do now.”

    In other words, go chase after individual teachers.

  • 2008/03/14 at 9:51 am

    Yes, West confirms exactly what my analysis above said. The only reason the DI doesn’t want to “mandate” IDC is to make it so that one has to wait for a teacher to make an establishment clause violation by teaching religiously-motivated antievolution.

    I think that deserves another post.

  • 2008/03/14 at 11:20 am

    “…one has to wait for a teacher to make an establishment clause violation by teaching religiously-motivated antievolution”

    And let’s not forget, it’ll be the teacher’s job on the line, and the DI will be nowhere to be seen when the courts start flinging thunderbolts.

    Or maybe someone in the DI could correct me on that, and give a formal undertaking to stand up for those who follow their party line? Perhaps a few of their Fellows might even agree to take the stand in support of their position?

    It’s OK guys, I’m only kidding.

  • 2008/03/14 at 1:45 pm

    “Ironically, the only reason Florida Darwinists would have to fear that this bill might protect intelligent design somewhere down the road is if they already have concluded they cannot win the debate over whether ID is science.”

    You have to admit, this is a pretty good PR campaign they are running here.

    Of course, you also have to admit that running a PR campaign is still about as far removed from doing any actual science as you can get.

  • 2008/03/14 at 2:18 pm

    As a resident of the greater Seattle area, can I vote the Discovery Institute out of the state? It drive’s me nuts when it’s always referred to as the “Seattle-based” DI, or the DI of Seattle, etc. because I’ve only met a few people in my years of teaching who have questioned evolution during our coursework. I know lots of woo can be found around here, but the DI does not speak for this great city. Maybe we can package them with the Sonics when the team leaves for Oklahoma City. If the Sonics have to go, take something with them and help out the city they’re abandoning.

  • 2008/03/14 at 2:30 pm

    Good PR campaign?

    I dunno ’bout that.

    It sounds more to me like what the legislation does at its core is to promote professional suicide on the part of the science teachers who fall into this trap. And they’ll likely be replaced by science teachers who will stick to teaching real science and totally avoid IDC, rather than risk the same fate.

    Its almost as if the DI’s strategy is to sacrifice their soldiers in the field, their covert science teacher operatives. Maybe the real objective is generate some martyrs, persecuted christians, hoping to whip up an anti-academic frenzy among their rank and file.

    If so, it would be a hoot if this was all somehow inspired by Expelled, or if Expelled was somehow part of a larger campaign of this sort of lunacy.

    Expelled as a centerpiece of some delusional PR campaign?

  • 2008/03/15 at 2:18 pm

    Its always the strategy of these kinds of people to sacrifice those that can’t turn around and sue them for being stupid enough to follow the party line, while they sit at the top and spin that its all for the good of the people. You see it with anti-abortion types, who don’t give a crap about any child once born, especially if the child was born with some disease or condition that will leave the parents (and who ever inherits) in debt until their grandkids are 90. You see it in pretty much every case of businesses run by them, where kissing the ass of the customer is priority number one, but, since they can’t make children work in the factories any more, they are damn sure going to make sure the people working for them are starving on a wage that couldn’t feed the child. And so on. Their entire world view seems to be based on confirmation bias. The thousands of people that fail to succeed, don’t matter, because a) its somehow not their fault, since they are doing well, and anyone that treated the world as they do should to, and b) those people have dropped from the radar, so all of them could be buried in pine boxes some place and the people that put them there wouldn’t have the slightest fracking clue that even one of them died, never mind all of them.

    You honestly expect people that are that disconnected from the consequences of their own actions to act any different when its some school teacher’s job on the line, so long as they can have the **appearance** that they are winning something? Where have you been, under a rock?

  • 2008/03/20 at 1:14 pm

    I posted something on my blog today that you may find interesting, about honest and ID. Mainstream scientists, even if they turned out to be wrong about evolution (which is extremely unlikely), would have nothing to be ashamed of for following the evidence where it leads and drawing the best conclusions possible based on the evidence currently available. The cdesign proponentsists, on the other hand, have reason to be ashamed even if they turned out to be right, since even were that (as is again extremely improbable) to happen, it would be by accident, since they engage in sleight of hand and obfuscation.


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