Friday, March 03, 2006

DI Continues to Give the Gray Lady "The Business"

Reasonable journalist Ken Chang apparently wrote an apologetics for material neo-darwinism disguised as a science feature. Not a good idea. The Discovery Institute's Christ West is all over Mr. Chang in this Evolution News & Views post.

A view of the carnage:
Although published on the science page, last week's New York Time's article about the 500+ doctoral scientists skeptical of neo-Darwinism could have run on the religion page. Misleadingly titled "Few Biologists but Many Evangelicals Sign Anti-Evolution Petition," the story focused much more on the supposed spiritual beliefs of scientific critics of Darwin than their scientific views. While reporter Ken Chang conceded in his article that "of the signers who are evangelical Christians, most defend their doubts on scientific grounds," you couldn't tell that from the rest of his article, which repeatedly implied that those on the list were motivated by religion, not science. The article stressed how "several said that their doubts began when they increased their involvement with Christian churches," and again that "some said they read the Bible literally and doubt not only evolution but also findings of geology and cosmology that show the universe and the earth to be billions of years old." Of the five signers of the statement quoted by Chang, four were presented in terms of their Christian religious beliefs. Two of the four (half) were depicted as Biblical creationists who read the Bible literally, while a third signer was quoted as finding encouragement from "scientific evidence that points to God." Only one of the Christian scientists quoted (James Tour) was presented more in terms of his scientific views. The obvious impression conveyed by Chang's story was that a majority of the signers based their objections to Darwin on religion.

But is that an accurate summary of what Chang actually found in his investigation? You be the judge.

In an interview with Discovery Institute's Rob Crowther last Friday, a clearly uncomfortable Chang admitted that the overwhelming majority of those he interviewed were not Biblical literalists whose skepticism of evolution grew out of their religious beliefs.

In fact, when pressed as to just how many signers actually told him that "their doubts [about Darwin] began when they increased their involvement with Christian churches," he admitted that it was only "up to a quarter or five" of the twenty scientists he interviewed. Hence, by his own admission, 75% or more of the scientists he interviewed did not say this.

Similarly, when asked how many scientists he interviewed were Biblical literalists who rejected the standard geological age of the earth, he admitted that only a "few" fit this description, which presumably would be even less than the five he cited previously.

Why, then, didn't Chang clearly communicate in his article that the overwhelming majority of scientists he interviewed were neither Biblical literalists nor inspired to doubt Darwin through increased religious involvement? Presumably because that admission would have undermined the stereotype being pushed by the Times that scientists doubt Darwin only for religious reasons. It's pretty obvious that Chang was assigned to write this story by editors who hoped to "expose" the supposed religious motivations of Darwin's scientific critics. But when the Times' investigation did not produce the results Times' staffers clearly anticipated, they were faced with an embarrassing problem. If they reported the true results of their investigation they would add to the credibility of the many scientists who dissent from Darwin--something they definitely didn't want to do. So they decided instead to present only those facts that fit their stereotype.

When grilled about the fairness of his story by Crowther, Chang insisted that his article was fair and accurate. He also backpedaled on the article's insinuations that scientists critical of Darwin should be dismissed because of their religious beliefs. Referring to the scientists he interviewed, Chang conceded to Crowther that "fundamentally their doubts [about Darwinism] are scientifically based." He further said that he did not mean to imply that the scientific views of scientists who are evangelical Christians should be dismissed because of their religious beliefs. Too bad he didn't make these points plain in his article.
I'm open on both sides of the darwin debate--from a scientific point of view. I have no patience for the metaphysical material neo-darwinists that seek an orthodoxy for their atheism. That's because they're breaching the time-honored processes of science in order to cover their erroneous philosophy. I'll leave that spinning to the Reasonable.

The Gray lady gets caught with her skirt flying again. Ken Chang admits that he represented 25% of doubting Darwin scientists, who happen to be religious, as the majority? There's the story. The Times once again tries to force the story to support the Agenda. Every day, the Paper of Record becomes the prime choice in bathroom hygiene material.

I'm laughing out of my chair! Join me, Fools! Join me!