2006-09-26

Here comes the wedge...

First off, an apology. Normally I'd have placed a post such as this in my personal weblog but given the subject in question, and given how we've seen in the US that astronomy can be one of the next targets for this sort of thing, and given that one or two readers of this weblog are involved in science outreach in the UK, I thought it worth a mention — if only so I know that they're aware of this happening.

It would appear that the wedge strategy has finally found a firm foothold here in the UK. Yesterday Tim Haynes was kind enough to alert me to this article:

Creationists and anti-evolutionists in the United Kingdom have established a new website, called ‘Truth in Science’, to try to persuade school parents to lobby for their ideas within the British education system.

The move is the latest attempt by opponents of Darwinian theory to ‘teach the controversy’ by claiming equivalence for non-scientific theories of origins often derived from fundamentalist interpretations of Christian scripture.

[Read More]
The site in question can be found over here.

I've not had the chance to have a proper read of it yet but the little I've seen so far bothers me and bothers me a lot — one reason being that my son just started school the other week. It's bad enough that he's only been there a couple of weeks and, already, he's been press-ganged into one religious performance. Given the current laws about education in the UK that's almost excusable (in regard to the school), but I fear for his education in general when I see that the "intelligent design" brigade are now pushing hard to have their nonsense presented as an equal scientific theory in UK schools.

All that said, I'm glad that the website exists — this way it should be easier to keep tabs on what they're attempting to do.

Was there ever a better time for Richard Dawkins to launch a foundation and an associated website? Not to mention release a new book.

File Under: Truth in Science, Intelligent Design, Creationism, Education.

6 comments:

Rich said...

Did you notice they use a quote from Dawkins to reinforce their view on the front page?

Yeeurgh, this kind of stuff makes me quite upset. But until sites like this are actually debated in the House of Commons we don't really have anything to worry about.

As for your son, if he is brought up in a household that doesn't give any credibility to fundamentalist "theories" then I'm sure anything the school says about the controversy is unlikely to persuade him. The only people who see creationism as valid are people who were brought up by their parents to believe in it, no matter what the schools say.

Stuart said...

The rise of the "it is just one side of the debate" argument has been growing in recent years (think of the climate change "debate"). This is a great way to ignore (or misrepresent) the overwhelming observable evidence and try to make any viewpoint as valid as any other. After all, why base education and society on such annoyingly inconvenient things as evidence, logic and facts?

Recently, I noticed that an issue of a Jehovah's Witnesses magazine (possibly Watchtower) had an entire section dedicated to Evolution. You can probably imagine their stance. In fact, the tactics used in their articles seemed to heavily borrow arguments from groups such as the Discovery Institute. I was getting quite annoyed by their misleading and inaccurate nature.

Dave Pearson said...

Rich said:
As for your son, if he is brought up in a household that doesn't give any credibility to fundamentalist "theories" then I'm sure anything the school says about the controversy is unlikely to persuade him. The only people who see creationism as valid are people who were brought up by their parents to believe in it, no matter what the schools say.

It sounds like a nice idea but I don't buy it. You don't have to be exposed to people who have a fundamentalist approach to this to accept the idea that teaching the so-called controversy is a form of "fair play". That's the point of the wedge, that's the whole idea behind intelligent design: don't talk about who or what the designer is, don't make predictions, simply baffle people with stuff about probability, simply boo at a working theory, disingenuously play with people's understanding of the word "theory" and then appeal to their sense of "fair play".

This isn't about the dangers of teaching Abrahamic creation myths in school, it's much worse than that. It's about adults carefully and systematically trying to abuse children's understanding of critical thinking.

That's the wedge: wear the cloak of science and hope that most people don't see that it's just a cloak.

The attempt at directly teaching creationism will come later.

Still not convinced? Consider how you must have noticed the irony of them using that Dawkins quote on their front page.

Tim said...

Gosh, davep quoting ekklesia, I shall remember this ;)

Otherwise, it does worry me that this is lurking so close on the UK. And the site itself is too ruddy sneaky by far. If you've got a viable theory to be presenting, find a reputable scientific publication ;)

Dave Pearson said...

It's like someone pointed out in a post elsewhere: it's curious that they've got a menu item called Evidence for Evolution when the item Evidence for a Designer is notable by its absence.

As for me quoting from ekklesia, you now have to bring balance to the Force by quoting Dawkins on your blog. ;)

Tim said...

There seems to have been some favourable followup as well:

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/news_syndication/article_060929create.shtml