Monday, December 22, 2008

The "Intelligent Design" Movement on College and University Campuses is Dead


AUTHOR: Allen MacNeill

SOURCE: Original essay

COMMENTARY: That's up to you...

On 22 December 2005, I posted a critical analysis of a press release on the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision, written by Dr. William Dembski, one of the founders of the "intelligent design" movement (Dr. Dembski's press release is apparently no longer available online). My analysis of Dembski's press release was hosted by Ed Brayton at his blog, Dispatches from the Culture Wars (you can find it here). In my analysis, I noted that Dr. Dembski had made a series of statements that were so divergent from the actual facts that they could be interpreted as symptoms of delusional thinking on the part of Dr. Dembski, if not deliberate falsehoods.

Here's the claim by Dr. Dembski that I would like to re-examine in this post:
Three years ago, there was one Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center at the University of California-San Diego. Now there are thirty such centers at American colleges and universities, including UC Berkeley and Cornell. These centers are fiercely pro-ID. [emphasis added]

Dr. Dembski strongly implied in his press release that these IDEA Centers were essentially research centers, such as those commonly found at college and university campuses.

Well, they aren't...or, rather, weren't. They weren't "research centers" or anything like it. They were clubs, similar to the kinds of student-centered special interest clubs that abound on most college and university campuses. Such clubs have several characteristics in common:
1) they are founded, supported, and run by students (sometimes with support from affiliated national organizations),

2) they often have to have permission from the administration to use classrooms or other facilities for meetings, and

3) they sometimes receive funding from students, derived from student activities fees.

To do these things, campus organizations typically have to show that they have no political or religious requirements or ties, as this could jeopardize the academic institution's not-for-profit educational status. This was a problem for IDEA Clubs, for several reasons:
1) they were usually founded, supported, and run by students who received encouragement and training to do so from the national IDEA Center, a spinoff of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington, the political "nerve center" of the "intelligent design movement";

2) the IDEA Clubs often met in campus classrooms or other facilities; and

3) some IDEA clubs did in fact receive funding derived from student activities fees.

This was problematic for two simple reasons:

1) the Discovery Institute receives much of its funding from religious organizations, especially those supported by Christian "reconstructionist" Howard Ahmanson (that this is the case can be easily verified by reading the so-called "wedge document", formulated by the Discovery Institute as a fund-raising tool);

2) the IDEA Center required that the founders and officers of the IDEA Clubs they helped organize and support be Christians.

This was the case for the IDEA Club chapter founded at Cornell University, with whom I had several debates and public meetings. The requirement that the Cornell IDEA Club's officers be Christians was withheld from its membership by its founders until it was made public by their opponents. This caused dissension within the club and eventually led to the modification of this policy by the national IDEA Center administration.

And so, to the purpose for this post: it appears from all indications that the IDEA Club "movement" (and, by extension, the "intelligent design movement" as a whole) is dead. You can verify this by going to the website of the national IDEA Center and clicking through the various links located there. I did that this morning, and found it very enlightening. To save you time, here is what I found (the links are listed first, followed by what they lead to):

Upcoming Events
: empty (no events listed)

Press Releases:
: except for a press release on "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" (the movie) and the online publication of the Spring, 2008 Light Bulb Newsletter (see below), the most recent press release is dated 11/11/06

Classes & Seminars: last updated spring 2004

IDEA Conferences: none

ORIGINS News Updates: last updated 2005

The Light Bulb Newsletter: started publication online (.pdf format) in 2002; listed as quarterly, but only eight out of twenty-six issues have been posted; most recent issue (Summer 2008) consisted almost entirely of a review of the movie "Expelled" (see link, above)

Listserves & Discussion Boards: none

Events Archive: last updated 05/24/07, previously updated on 07/26/03

Student Training Conferences: (for students interested in forming an IDEA Club) last conference held on 09/27-28/02

Ah, but this only indicates that the national IDEA Center is now moribund. Surely something is happening in the 35 international chapters, located at high schools, community colleges, colleges, and universities around the world? Well, here's the list, followed by what you find when you click on the link:
Armstrong Atlantic State University (GA): last updated 01/09/06; virtually no content

Baraboo IDEA Club (academic affiliation not listed) (WI): 404:File Not Found

Braeside High School, Nairobi, Kenya: IDEA Center press release, dated 09/15/03; when link to actual site clicked, received 404:File Not Found

California State University, Sacramento (CA): no events, no content, last updated 11/14/02

Cornell University (NY): when link to actual site clicked, received 404:File Not Found; blog last updated on 03/11/07

Fork Union Military Academy (VA): IDEA Center press release, dated 08/14/04; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Franciscan University of Steubenville (OH): IDEA Center press release, dated 03/12/04; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

George Mason University (VA): IDEA Center press release, dated 04/06/05; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Hillsdale College (MI): IDEA Center press release, dated 09/20/03; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

James Madison University (VA): IDEA Center press release, dated 04/06/05; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Midwestern State University (TX): IDEA Center press release, dated 04/13/04; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Myers Park High School (NC): when link to actual site clicked, received 404:File Not Found

Poway High School (CA): no content or events listed (no date listed for last update)

Pulaski Academy (AR): IDEA Center press release, dated 09/15/03; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Scripps Ranch High School (CA): IDEA Center main website homepage; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Seattle Central Community College (WA): when link to actual site clicked, received 404:File Not Found

South Mecklenburg High School (NC): IDEA Center press release, dated 08/14/04; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Stanford University (CA): IDEA Center main website homepage; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Tri-Cities IDEA Club (WA): no events listed; last updated on 05/08/08

University of California, Berkeley (CA): 403:Access Forbidden

University of California, San Diego (CA): when link to actual site clicked, received 404:File Not Found

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (IL): IDEA Center press release, dated 04/06/05; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

University of Mississippi ("Ole' Miss") (MS): IDEA Center main website homepage; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

University of Missouri (MO): IDEA Center main website homepage; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

University of Nebraska, Lincoln (NE): when link to actual site clicked, received 404:File Not Found

University of Oklahoma (OK): when link to actual site clicked, received 404:File Not Found

University of the Phillipines: IDEA Center press release, dated 07/11/04; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

University of Texas, Dallas (TX): no events listed; last updated on 06/14/05

University of Victoria (BC): no events listed; last updated May, 1999

University of Virginia (VA): IDEA Center press release, dated 08/14/04; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Vanderbilt University (TN): IDEA Center main website homepage; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Wake Forest University (NC): IDEA Center press release, dated 04/06/05; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Western Baptist College (OR): IDEA Center press release, dated 04/06/05; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution

Westminster College (MO): IDEA Center press release, dated 04/06/05; no actual website or content linked or listed at associated institution


And there you have it: not one of the IDEA Clubs affiliated with an academic institution is still functioning. Indeed, only one of the clubs listed has even updated its website during the past year (the Tri-Cities IDEA Club).

UPDATE (01/04/09): The Tri-Cities IDEA Club website has now descended into "Under Construction/Placeholder" Hell, and so all of the current links to IDEA Clubs at the national IDEA Club website are currently non-functional.

Furthermore, a quick statistical analysis is also illuminating:
1) there are 39 IDEA Clubs listed, not 35 (as stated at the IDEA Club main website);

2) of the 39 listed IDEA Clubs, eight (21%) are located at high schools or community colleges;

3) four (17%) are located at religious institutions;

4) nine (23%) simply do not exist (i.e. have 404: File Not Found at their link); and

5) 18 (46%) have links that simply redirect to either a national IDEA Center press release or main website homepage.

These are the "intelligent design research centers" about which Dr. Dembski spoke so glowingly in his analysis of the effects of the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board decision.

What can one conclude from this analysis? I conclude five things:
1) that the national IDEA Club website is essentially what is known online as a "shell site" (that is, a place-holder with no real content);

2) that the "movement" represented by the IDEA Club organization peaked in late 2005 or early 2006 (around the time of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial);

3) since then (i.e. since Judge Jones issued his now-famous decision) it has died almost everywhere;

4) the majority of the output of the "intelligent design movement" consisted of press releases (and produced no empirical science of any kind); and

5) my conclusion in my critical review of Dr. Dembski's analysis of the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board decision was essentially correct: he was (and probably still is) either delusional or a bald-faced liar.

So, why did I illustrate this post with a picture of a dodo? Because, like the "intelligent design" movement, the dodo was notorious for its stupidity and that fact that it is extinct.

UPDATE (09/01/09): All of the current links to IDEA Clubs at the national IDEA Club website are currently non-functional; if this keeps up, they may fossilize.

As always, comments, criticisms, and suggestions are warmly welcomed!

--Allen

Labels: , , , , , , ,

43 Comments:

At 12/22/2008 07:05:00 PM, Anonymous James F said...

ID publishing (defined as what the Discovery Institute claims to be books and articles supporting ID) seems to have essentially ended after 2005 as well.

Thanks for going through these sites!

 
At 12/22/2008 07:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the birds may have been eaten by the Dutch sailors who discovered them. However, the primary causes of their extinction were the destruction of the forest (which cut off the Dodo's food supply), and the animals that the sailors brought with them, including cats, rats, and pigs, which destroyed Dodo nests.
....
When an ancestor of the Dodo landed on Mauritius, it found a habitat with plenty of food and no predators. It therefore did not need to fly, and, as flying takes a great deal of energy, it was more efficient for the bird to remain on the ground. Eventually, the flightless Dodo evolved.
http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/expeditions/treasure_fossil/Treasures/Dodo/dodo.html?dinos

The dodo was as smart as it needed to be to survive in its natural environment. People changed the environment at a rate greater than the dodo's evolution could keep up with, and consequently, the dodo went extinct. Same thing could happen to us.

 
At 12/22/2008 10:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Archive.org rules!!!

http://web.archive.org/web/20060928010211/http://www.stnews.org/News-2539.htm

Dembski: Life after Dover

William Dembski says the Dover verdict is not ID's Waterloo, but merely one battle in a long culture war

By William A. Dembski
(January 2, 2006)

Judge John E. Jones III has ruled in the Dover ID case, not only striking down the Dover school board policy advocating intelligent design but also identifying intelligent design as nonscientific and fundamentally religious.

To what degree does this ruling constitute a setback for ID? Let’s turn the question around. If the judge had ruled in favor of the Dover policy, it would have emboldened school boards, legislators and grass roots organizations to push for intelligent design in the public school science curricula across the nation. As a consequence, this case really would have been a Waterloo for the supporters of neo-Darwinian evolution (the form of evolution taught in all the textbooks).

Conversely, the actual ruling is not a Waterloo for the intelligent design side. Certainly it will put a damper on school boards interested in promoting intelligent design. But this is not a Supreme Court decision. Nor is it likely this decision will be appealed since the Dover school board that caused all the trouble was voted out and replaced this November. Thus we can expect agitation for ID and against evolution to continue. School boards and state legislators may tread more cautiously, but tread on evolution they will — the culture war demands it!

It is therefore naive to think that this case spells the end of ID, which is rapidly going international and crossing metaphysical and theological boundaries. I now correspond with ID proponents on every continent (save Antarctica). Moreover, I’ve seen ID embraced by Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics and even atheists. The idea that ID is purely an “American thing” or an “evangelical Christian thing” can therefore no longer be maintained.

Even if ID is stifled among high school students (and with the Internet this is impossible), ID is of growing interest to college and graduate students. Three years ago, there was one Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center at the University of California-San Diego. Now there are thirty such centers at American colleges and universities, including UC Berkeley and Cornell. These centers are fiercely pro-ID.

Ultimately, the significance of a court case like this depends not on a judge’s decision but on the cultural forces that serve as the backdrop against which the decision is made. Take the Scopes Trial. In the minds of most, it was a decisive victory for evolution. Yet, in the actual trial, the decision went against Scopes (he was convicted of violating a Tennessee statute against teaching evolution).

Judge Jones’s decision may make life in the short-term more difficult for ID proponents, and it certainly will not be pleasant to endure the inevitable gloating by the victors. But the work of ID will continue. In fact, it may continue more effectively than if the judge had ruled in favor of ID, which might have convinced people that ID had already won the day when in fact ID still has much to accomplish in developing its scientific and intellectual program.

Judge Jones’s decision may well prove best for fostering ID’s intellectual vitality and ultimate success.

William A. Dembski is the Carl F. H. Henry Professor of Theology and Science at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he heads its Center for Science and Theology. He is also a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture in Seattle.

 
At 12/22/2008 11:09:00 PM, Blogger Mona Albano said...

Hi, Allen! Thanks for doing the work. I think that after Kitzmiller vs. Dover, the rhetoric of creationism evolved to re-defining Science to include supernatural events, with a heavy dose of "teach the controversy."

 
At 12/22/2008 11:40:00 PM, Anonymous James Dalton said...

Its ALMOST CHRISTMAS and this is what you do? THIS is what you do? Are you so afraid of ID that you need to waste the time of Jesus to bash and attack something you are so afraid Evolutionist?

Its sad.

Happy CHRISTMAS!!! Lets hope your thoughts go to Jesus Christ, our saviour, God Bless America.

 
At 12/23/2008 12:59:00 AM, Blogger SPARC said...

3) four (17%) are located at religious institutions

I guess this number should rather read 10%

 
At 12/23/2008 02:51:00 AM, Blogger Mark Frank said...

Nice bit of research - thanks.

Am I right in thinking that just one of the "international chapters" (if/when they existed) was outside the USA?

 
At 12/23/2008 03:40:00 AM, Blogger Dracil said...

Are you sure the religious ties really was a problem for most of the universities?

How can all the Christian fellowships and other religious groups exist if that were the case?

 
At 12/23/2008 04:08:00 AM, Anonymous JM Inc. said...

Technically, you can't draw conclusions four or five from the analysis presented, true though they may be.

 
At 12/23/2008 04:24:00 AM, Anonymous pvm said...

Excellent research. Seems the IDEA clubs have gone missing. How embarrassing...

 
At 12/23/2008 05:23:00 AM, Anonymous SP said...

To attract Dodos all you had to do was kill one noisily and others would come to take a look. Just because it didn't need to be clever doesn't mean it wasn't stupid.

You're right that extinction doesn't necessarily make a species stupid, but Dodos definitely were.

 
At 12/23/2008 05:49:00 AM, Anonymous oldmanintheskydidntdoit said...

In these two posts here and here I note how another false front was constructed by Dr Dembski (back in 2006) and what was made out to be student activism was in fact Samuel Chen pretending.

So much for "More student activism to unmask evolutionary pretensions"

 
At 12/23/2008 05:50:00 AM, Blogger Pat K said...

Er, I'm not going to point out to Anonymous that the metaphor is apt regardless, and not to lecture evolution to an educator in college...

I am interested in how the middle-of-the-road unobjectionable idea died once it proved nonviable. It looks like it was tolerated by Creationist just so long as it was able to keep up the mask of secularism and provide a possible opening into education. Once that died with Dover, Creationists spat out the foul tasting compromise as it was no longer useful.

The lack of a thriving middle kind of reaffirms that there was no middle in the first place.

 
At 12/23/2008 06:17:00 AM, Anonymous Casey Luskin said...

Hi Allen,

I was told very nice things about you by some of my friends from the former the Cornell IDEA Club, but I'm reticent to post on your blog because your behavior here betrays their kinds words about you; it seems that your purpose is to engage in typical Darwinian name-calling and demonization (e.g. your punchline is to call Dembski "either delusional or a bald-faced liar"). So I'll make this my one comment here.

At the time Dembski issued his statement, he was correct that there were a few dozen IDEA Clubs that had formed on U.S. campuses. I don't know the exact number at the time, but 30, give or take a few, sounds right to me.

I'd like to clear up a few of your mis-statements and inaccurate "conclusions" in your blog post:

(1) IDEA never was and never has been a "spin off" of Discovery Institute. The first IDEA Club was founded by students in 1999 who had no affiliation with Discovery Institute. The IDEA Center was founded in 2001 by students and others with no affiliation with Discovery as a grass-roots organization responding to the demand from students to start IDEA Clubs on college campuses. Contrary to Wikipedia's notoriously inaccurate statements on this issue, IDEA has never received any funding from Discovery Institute. The two have always been distinct and separate organizations. (The closest link between the two organizations is that I co-founded IDEA in 2001, and then in 2005 took a job working at Discovery Institute as a staff member.) Discovery did not create or "spin off" IDEA in any way, shape, or form. Your statement is just wrong.

(2) You wrote: "since then (i.e. since Judge Jones issued his now-famous decision) [IDEA] has died almost everywhere;"

Wrong. IDEA Is certainly not dead. Since IDEA hired its first full-time staff member in 2008, it is now re-able to keep up with the demand that exists for starting IDEA Clubs. If IDEA went through any waning periods, it had far more to do with a lack of staffing to keep up with the demand from students than a lack of demand from students. This week alone the IDEA Center received requests to start about 3 new IDEA Clubs.

Additionally, students who start IDEA Clubs in the post-Dover era face new challenges that students didn't used to face: Students I talk to feel the scientific evidence for ID is stronger than ever, but they see the persecution of ID proponents in the academy (persecution which has dramatically increased in the wake of Dover). Many pro-ID students are afraid; they are intimidated by Darwinist intolerance and fear that if they come out of the closet about being pro-ID, they might be ending their careers before they even begin.

You should not be rejoicing in the false death of IDEA, but rather you should be mourning the REAL death of academic freedom in the academy when it comes to evolution. In the end, that real death affects everyone negatively, whether pro-ID or anti-ID.

(3) You wrote: "the national IDEA Club website is essentially what is known online as a 'shell site' (that is, a place-holder with no real content);"

Huh? Wrong again. There's a lot of content (including relatively new content) on the IDEA Center’s website--you're just ignoring it. But then again, that's precisely what you did with regards to ID research...

(4) You wrote: "the majority of the output of the 'intelligent design movement' consisted of press releases (and produced no empirical science of any kind);"

Wrong again. You may wish to check out the Biologic Institute's website which discusses much of the research being conducted in the ID movement, both inside and outside of Biologic. See http://biologicinstitute.org/research

(5) You wrote: "my conclusion in my critical review of Dr. Dembski's analysis of the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board decision was essentially correct: he was (and probably still is) either delusional or a bald-faced liar."

I hope that this clears up some of the facts about IDEA, and I hope that future postings and comments on your site engage in less name-calling than you did in this post.

I posted this one comment here because I heard nice things about you Allen, and I still hope they are true. I’m not going to post here any further, so if you’d like to contact me, feel free to do so at casey@ideacenter.org

Happy holidays.

Sincerely,

Casey Luskin

 
At 12/23/2008 08:22:00 AM, Blogger Allen MacNeill said...

SPARC:

Thanks for the correction. I had intended to calculate the percentage of colleges and universities that had direct religious affiliations (such as Western Baptist College), but lost track of the denominator. Happens all the time...

 
At 12/23/2008 08:37:00 AM, Blogger Allen MacNeill said...

James Dalton:

There were two reasons I posted this when I did (i.e. three days before Christmas):

1) the semester at Cornell is finally over, I've turned in my final grades, and therefore had time to do some blogging

2) the date marked three years to the day since my first post on the subject (thanks, Anonymous, for posting Dr. Dembski's original post in the comments).

As to your assertion that I would moderate your comments, as you can see, it's not true. Your comment came in after I went to bed, and I never leave this blog open to unmoderated posting (a result of long and sad experience).

Now, as to the propinquity with Christmas, that's an interesting one. My wife, who happens to be an expert in ancient Mediterranean religions (she can read five "dead" languages, including Aramaic and Biblical Hebrew), pointed out that Jesus (if he existed) couldn't have been born in December. For one thing, shepherds don't "watch their flocks by night" in the mountains of Judea in December. For this reason (and for many other reasons), most Biblical scholars assume that Jesus (or Jeshua, if one is inclined to use the correct name) was probably born in June or July, assuming of course that the story about the shepherds is accurate.

 
At 12/23/2008 08:52:00 AM, Blogger Allen MacNeill said...

Mark Frank:

The "international" appellation was for three of the listed IDEA Clubs:

Braeside High School, in Nairobi, Kenya (one of the clubs now AWOL: you get a 404:File Not Found message when you click on their link),

University of the Phillipines (no linked website, only a press release from the IDEA Center under their link), and

University of Victoria, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

We have an airport here in Ithaca. It is served by two airlines, and has about five flights a day (weather permitting). One of those flights goes to Montreal; does that make our little airport "Ithaca International Airport"? If you're the IDEA Center, I guess it does.

 
At 12/23/2008 09:01:00 AM, Blogger Allen MacNeill said...

Dracil:

I didn't necessarily mean to imply that religious affiliations were either a negative or positive aspect of the academic institution where an IDEA Club had been located.

However, it is telling that even the four IDEA Clubs at institutions with religious affiliations (Fork Union Military Academyin Virginia, Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, Hillsdale College in Michigan, and Western Baptist College in Oregon) have apparently gone extinct. To me, this says that ID no longer appeals to even a religious audience (if it ever did).

 
At 12/23/2008 09:16:00 AM, Blogger Allen MacNeill said...

JM Inc.:

Actually, #4 is easily verified by analyzing the links posted. None of the IDEA Clubs have posted any links to research, and the majority are linked to press releases to the national IDEA Center. If one pays attention to the output of the Discovery Institute, all they ever do is issue press releases. Indeed, there is only one quasi-academic/scientific institution in the world that has ever published any original research into ID: the Biologic Institute in Redmond and Seattle, WA. A quick examination of their research output (available at http://biologicinstitute.org/research/) shows that, of the 28 research papers listed, only 12 (i.e. less than half) report the results of original empirical research. The majority of the papers listed (16 out of 28) are theoretical models or computer simulations.

Don't get me wrong: if ID is to have any legitimacy as a "science", it will only happen after its supporters have published a significant body of empirical research findings which unambiguously point to the conclusion that their is some form of PRE-EXISTING design in nature (i.e. design that results from natural selection doesn't count). Given the current rate of output of the half dozen researchers at the Biologic Institute, this should happen sometime in the middle of this century. This means that ID as a science can begin to be legitimately represented as a science (in the public schools, for example) in about fifty years.

However, if there is no way to unambiguously distinguish between pre-existing design and design that emerges as a result of natural processes, then ID will remain a political, but not a scientific, endeavor.

 
At 12/23/2008 09:44:00 AM, Anonymous ivy privy said...

"The requirement that the Cornell IDEA Club's officers be Christians was withheld from its membership by its founders until it was made public by their opponents. This caused dissension within the club and eventually led to the modification of this policy by the national IDEA Center administration."

I guess I qualify as one of "their opponents." Although the national IDEA Center did have such a rule, I don't think the Cornell club was in compliance; one of their officers was reportedly a Muslim. In public debate, the Cornell IDEA Club president refused to acknowledge that she was aware of the rule. That moment really detracted from the notion that a debate is both parties searching for truth. I didn't attend any club functions, so am unaware of whether the club leadership discussed this rule with the membership or not. But it was hella fun when the national center bungled the rule change.

 
At 12/23/2008 09:53:00 AM, Blogger Allen MacNeill said...

Casey Luskin:

I assume that the person from the Cornell IDEA Club who told you "nice things about me" was Hannah Maxson. And indeed, Hannah and I got along very well, after an initial period of misunderstanding. Our growing respect for each other arose out of something that you apparently have not yet learned: we focused on the science, and learned to agree on those conclusions that could be supported by empirical findings. We also agreed to disagree whenever our interpretations of those findings diverged. That's how you do science, Casey: not by press release or via innuendo, but by focusing on empirical findings and what they allow one to logically infer about the nature of reality.

As to the founding of the IDEA Center, I stand corrected.

Your assertion that the IDEA Club movement is still viable is contradicted by the evidence available to anyone who has computer access to the IDEA center main website. That was the whole point of my post: I tested each and every link at that site, and found the results that I posted in this blog entry. If the IDEA Club movement is, in fact, still viable, it must exist somewhere entirely offline, as all but one of the linked IDEA Clubs at the IDEA center main website either don't exist, or haven't done anything worth posting for an average of three years.

As to your assertion that I am "rejoicing in the death of IDEA", two points:

1) I wasn't "rejoicing" about anything: I was simply pointing out what I had found as the result of an empirical investigation into the status of the IDEA Club movement as reflected in the information available to the public at the IDEA center main website.

2) I was personally quite disappointed when the Cornell IDEA Club flickered out of existence following Hannah Maxson's graduation from Cornell. As even a cursory review of the links posted in Google under my name (use the correct spelling: Allen MacNeill), I found my participation with the Cornell IDEA Club to be very enlightening. Because Hannah and most of her associates in the Cornell IDEA Club (there were about a dozen active members at its peak) were willing to "follow the rules" of academic debate, we had a series of stimulating and enlightening debates at Cornell, all of which helped us clarify where we stood on many of the relevant issues.

Indeed, I have continued to correspond with Hannah, who has spent the past year and a half in Mongolia caring for orphans in Ulaan Baator. We have done close readings of several books, including Angus Menuge's "Agents Under Fire", Jablonka and Lamb's "Evolution in Four Dimensions", and Gregory Bateson's "Mind in Nature". I have found our correspondence to be extremely valuable; indeed, it has led to my intention to write a scholarly book on the origin of design (i.e. "purpose") in nature as the result of natural selection.

As to your assertion that the "death" of IDEA means the "death of academic freedom", this is pure propaganda. No one has been sanctioned at Cornell for participating in the now-defunct IDEA Club. On the contrary, the Cornell IDEA Club "died" because no one at Cornell had the committment or the energy to keep it going. That's how natural selection works, Casey...

Your assertion that the IDEA center main website isn't a "shell site" can be judged by anyone who goes there: the link is http://www.ideacenter.org/. Click on all of the links there (I did yesterday morning). What you will find is that all of the links to IDEA Clubs are either dead (404: File Not Found) or lead back to the IDEA center main website. Yes, there are links to articles, press releases, etc., but virtually none of these are to items that originated at the IDEA center main website. Rather, they point to materials available at other websites (especially the Discovery Institute). That is, there is almost no new content generated by the IDEA Center, and none from the associated IDEA Clubs.

As to your assertion that there is no empirical research in ID, there is only one institution doing ID research: the Biologic Institute in Remond and Seattle, WA. As I pointed out in another comment, there have been about a dozen research reports from the Biologic Institute on original empirical research since the institute's founding. That's approximately 1/100th of the output of the various departments and research institutes for ecology and evolution during the month of November, 2008. Furthermore, none of the research papers from the Biologic Institute support the conclusion that "intelligent design" is entailed by the research findings. They are only consistent with an assumption of design, but as many evolutionary biologists from Ernst Mayr on down have pointed out, design is clearly an emergent property of evolution by natural selection. Until an unambiguous example of an empirical finding of design that couldn't be the result of purely natural processes is published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, asserting that "intelligent design" is a legitimate explanation for natural processes is merely that: an assertion, without supporting evidence. Ergo, it is not science, it is politics, pure and simple.

Finally, as to my characterization of Dr. Dembski's assertions about the vitality of the IDEA "centers" (given the empirical evidence available at the IDEA Center main website), if you can think of another interpretation of his attitude, I'm ready to hear it, and I'm sure the other readers at this blog are as well.

Casey, please note that I have been as polite with you here as I have always been with the members of the Cornell IDEA Club. I hope you will take their values to heart yourself: to always distinguish between what is an empirical observation and what is an interpretation, and to characterize the former as science and the latter as something else.

And you are, of course, free to post here at any time, so long as you adhere to the "rules of engagement" that Hannah and I worked out for the Evolution and Design website:

• Ad hominem attacks, blasphemy, profanity, rudeness, and vulgarity will not be tolerated (although heresy will always be encouraged). However, vigorous attacks against a member's position are expected and those who cannot handle such should think twice before they post.

• Long-running debates that are of interest only to a small number of individuals should be taken elsewhere, preferably via private email (i.e. if the moderator gets tired of reading posts concerning the population density [N] of terpsichorean demigods inhabiting ferrous microalpine environments, the posters will be encouraged to "settle it outside").

• Pseudonyms are permitted but real names are preferred. However, if the moderator suspects that someone is posting under multiple aliases or pretending to be someone else, they will be permanently banned from the blog.

• Mutual respect and sensitivity towards those with opposing views is essential. In particular, posts containing what the moderator feels is "creation-bashing" by evolutionists or "evolution-bashing" by creationists, will not be tolerated.

Both statements of fact and statements of opinion are welcomed, in both posts and comments, with the following provisos:

• Statements of opinion should be clearly indicated as such, perhaps with “IMO” in parenthesis.

• Both statements of fact and statements of opinion may be challenged by anyone, so long as the challenge takes place within a reasonable length of time (and please remember, time online passes much more swiftly than time in the real world; three days is a virtual eternity).

• If a statement of fact is challenged, the person challenged should make a good faith effort to either provide supporting evidence or make a logical argument as to why such supporting evidence is unnecessary.

• NO statement may be challenged or attacked by ad hominem arguments or by changing the topic of the thread (i.e. "hijacking"). In particular, anyone directly or indirectly referring to another commentator as either a "liar" or "having lied" (including semantic equivalents, such as "dissembling" or "mendacity") may result in the perpetrator of such an accusation being banned from further participation.

• Rather than accusing a poster or commentator of lying when they have made a particular assertion, one should post a rebuttal that documents that there is evidence that the assertion is false and/or misleading.

• Speculation about motives, either directly or indirectly, by anyone commenting on any topic is never allowed and will be immediately deleted, as this clearly constitutes "hijacking" the thread by changing the topic (unless the thread began as a discussion of motives). In other words, if you want to talk about motives, start another thread to that effect (and if people can't remain civil in that thread, I reserve the right to delete it).

• Please be aware that any infraction of these rules will result in limitation or rescinding of your commenting and/or posting privileges. A brief untoward statement in a long and otherwise reasonable comment fully justifies its deletion and may result in the deletion of all your future comments, reasonable or not (so keep backup copies if you want to try again with a more "civil" version).

• If a post or comment has been deleted by the moderator, please don't repeatedly try to repost them. They won't ever be allowed, it wastes bandwidth and the moderator's time, and simply reinforces the decision on the part of the moderator to delete the post (and maybe ban you).

• Appeals of moderation or complaints about the behavior of your fellow commentators are NOT appropriate on any thread and, even in cases where they are not ad hominem attacks, they still qualify as "hijacking the discussion". Any such appeal or complaint may be emailed to adm6@cornell.edu.

 
At 12/23/2008 10:26:00 AM, Anonymous Divalent said...

Casey Luskin: "Students I talk to feel the scientific evidence for ID is stronger than ever, ..."

If only the feelings of students had a basis in reality ...

 
At 12/23/2008 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Mytho said...

I'm still waiting to see some of the advances in "ID science", their research and how it is conducted. But all I've seen seems to be weak attacks agains evolution. Since ID cproponentist wrok so hard in that way, I think it wouldn't be too farfetched to think that they try so hard to disprove evolution and hence, enhance our understanding in that matter. In a dumb silly way, but Hey! we can't ask for everything we like, right?

 
At 12/23/2008 02:02:00 PM, Blogger Glen Davidson said...

but I'm reticent to post on your blog

Yes, Casey, we've noticed that you're reticent to post anywhere that your claims can be freely questioned.

As to "persecution" of IDists, the only persecution that is likely is that, unlike at the DI's blog, actual questions are posed to IDists at colleges. It's called "academic freedom," something I haven't seen from IDists thus far.

Of course the supporters of pseudoscience are scared, unlike anyone who really might have an actual new science. They know that ID can't back up its claims, therefore they wither before the scientific strength of evolutionary theory.

Now go back to your protected little forum, before you feel "persecuted" by critical questioning of your claims.

Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

 
At 12/23/2008 02:07:00 PM, Blogger Allen MacNeill said...

One more set of data to consider:

In the list of now-defunct IDEA Clubs, there were only 18 states represented (36%). Of those, only six states (12%)had more than one IDEA Club chapter: California (6), Missouri (2), North Carolina (3), Virginia (4), Texas (s), and Washington (2).

In this context, it is interesting to note that the only ID Club to update its website in the last calendar year is located in the same urban area as the Discovery Institute and the headquarters of the IDEA Club.

Finally, it is also interesting to note that there were no (i.e. zero) ID Clubs from the New England states, which have the highest per capital concentration of academic institutions in the world. By contrast, of the states that had more than one IDEA Club, all except California and Washington were located in the "red state" south: North Carolina, Missouri, Virginia, and Texas.

I leave the interpretation of these correlations as an exercise for the reader.

 
At 12/23/2008 04:17:00 PM, Anonymous Michael Tuite said...

Hello Allen,
The IDEA center at the University of Virginia sponsored a number of events in 2004 and 2005. Interestingly, all of the ones I attended featured touring young earth creationists who made little or no mention of intelligent design. The organization appears to have gone underground sometime in early 2006.

Michael Tuite

 
At 12/23/2008 05:42:00 PM, Blogger caheidelberger said...

At peril of embarassing my beloved home state, a self-publishing Christian author named Donald Parker just started an IDEA chapter here in Madison, SD. The club has no academic affiliation and, after four weeks, three other online members: another IDEA club director from Washington, one supporter, and one debunker. Not exactly a vital movement tapping into a groundswell of support.

 
At 12/23/2008 09:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it amusing that the IDEA-rep who appeared to defend IDEA against the charge of being a "spin off" of Discovery Institute, is himself a DI employee.

 
At 12/23/2008 10:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Google Timeline search suggests that Internet interest in ID reached a maximum in 2005 and has changed little since.
http://tinyurl.com/IDTimeLine

 
At 12/24/2008 01:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done, Allen!

Bravo!

The IDEA clubs idea did result in Casey Luskin getting a job at the Disco 'tute, and a brief bit of glory for Sal Cordova. Ohter than that they were without consequence.

Gary Hurd

 
At 12/24/2008 01:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Casey Luskin wrote, "This week alone the IDEA Center received requests to start about 3 new IDEA Clubs."

"About?" What the hell, cCasey, can't you count to three? You need to use a qualifier for "Three?" Was it two? Was It Four? Was it three?

Or, are you just making this all up?

Just wondering.

Gary Hurd

 
At 12/24/2008 08:26:00 AM, Blogger John Farrell said...

I hope Mr. Luskin does respond. Allen has written a very thoughtful post--and even more thoughtful response.

 
At 12/24/2008 09:49:00 AM, Blogger Allen MacNeill said...

There has been some discussion of an article about the "growth" of the IDEA movement that appeared at the news website for Virginia Wesleyan College (see http://www.vwc.edu/academics/csrf/issues/inteldesigncampus.php
As a puff piece, this article was mildly interesting. I’d read it before (when it first came out), and one item jumped out at me (and not just because it was the first sentence):

"When Hannah Maxson started an intelligent design club at Cornell University last fall, a handful of science majors showed up for the first meeting. Today, the high-profile club boasts more than 80 members."

I was at most of the meetings of the Cornell IDEA Club (along with several graduate students from the department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology). I don’t remember a single meeting in which the attendance topped two dozen. Most meetings consisted of Hannah Maxson, her brother Seth, a female Muslim IDEA Club member, four graduate students from E & EB, and me. Even when they co-hosted a debate on ID with the Cornell student chapter of the ACLU, the turnout was decidedly less than 100 people.

So, if the experience at Cornell was any indication, here’s what actually happened during the brief heyday of the IDEA Club movement:

• A tiny (usually less than six) core group of very committed (and very religious) undergraduates started to meet in a dorm room or lounge to talk about founding a campus chapter of IDEA;

• after contacting the national IDEA Center, the Christians in the group “officially” founded their campus chapter (and, following instructions from the national IDEA Center, they only elected Christians as their officers);

• they then contacted a committed Christian among the faculty (usually engineering or a related discipline) to become their “official” faculty adviser (usually a requirement for a campus organization funded with student activity fees and meeting in university facilities);

• using materials (graphics, text, weblinks, etc.) from the national IDEA Center, they produced a press release, touting the “growing interest in ID” at their campus and announcing their first public meeting;

• if they had some computer expertise among their membership, they setup a website for the local IDEA Club chapter, with a nav bar that included “About Us”, “News & Events”, “ID Resources”, “Links”, and “Contact Us”; typically, the “About Us” section contained boilerplate PR material about ID from the national IDEA Center and/or Discovery Institute (which was conspicuous in that it contained no direct reference to its Christian roots or requirements); the “News & Events” link either listed the next meeting, the next showing of an ID propaganda video, or (most often) was simply blank; the “ID Resources” were downloadable pdfs of articles from Discovery Institute fellows such as Michael Behe, William Dembski, Gugliermo Gonzales, and/or Stephen Meyer, and the “Links” was the standard list of links to the national IDEA Center, the Discovery Institute, Access Research News, ISCID, etc.; and the “Contact Us” was either an email link to one of the founders or the national IDEA Center;

• only one IDEA Club (Cornell’s) actually setup a separate blog, staffed by the core officers of the local chapter;

• the first public meeting was attended by greater than a dozen (and less than a hundred) students (and a handful of faculty), of whom about half were there to oppose them and slightly less than half were simply curious about what all the fuss was about;

• they arranged for a public showing of a video about ID (usually “Privileged Planet” or the equivalent), attended by a couple of dozen students, of whom about half were IDEA Club members;

• they then settled down to a relatively regular schedule (usually monthly) of club meetings in a campus facility (usually a dining hall), which were attended by less than a dozen people;

• after one or more of the original founders graduated, the club stopped meeting and eventually stopped maintaining their main website and blog;

• some final bug/feature caused their local website to devolve into 404 Hell, and no more was heard from them.

This is what has apparently happened to all but one of the IDEA Clubs linked at the national IDEA Club center. In other words (and contrary to the assertions in the article from Virginia Wesleyan College), there were never more than about a dozen committed (and mostly highly religious) individuals active in any local IDEA club, which means that the grand total active membership “worldwide” (remember those high schools in Kenya, et al) was less than 500 people, virtually all of them undergraduates (and virtually all of them NOT in biology or related disciplines).

By comparison, the Libertarian Party is a world power…

 
At 12/24/2008 11:10:00 AM, Anonymous ivy privy said...

Even when they co-hosted a debate on ID with the Cornell student chapter of the ACLU, the turnout was decidedly less than 100 people.

That must have been the first debate, in 2005. There was a second IDEA Club | ACLU debate in November 2006. Attendance was lower, I estimate fewer than 30 people in the room, including paticipants. Other than myself, I didn't notice anyone above student age. After seeing Hannah Maxson claim that there is "positive evidence" for ID, and touting a list of 30 or 40 peer-reviewed scientific publications for ID (presumably the Discovery Institute's list), I cannot maintain the same positive attitude about Maxson's integrity which you seem to hold.

 
At 12/24/2008 11:38:00 AM, Blogger John Farrell said...

Allen, this part is Priceless:
...they then contacted a committed Christian among the faculty (usually engineering or a related discipline) to become their “official” faculty adviser (usually a requirement for a campus organization funded with student activity fees and meeting in university facilities)...

It is interesting that opposition to evolution among PhDs does seem predominantly to come from engineering or a related discipline. As does, by the way, opposition to Einstein's relativity.

Superb post.

 
At 12/24/2008 03:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also worth noting that the last IDEA conference was in 2003. And if you follow the link to the "events archive, the last recorded event was in May 2007 (a film showing at a local High School).

And it appears that the last IDEA Course was taught in 2004.

And the "upcoming events" link just shows blank placeholders for Dec, Jan, Feb.

I could go on...but clearly this is not an active movement. Care to comment CaseY?

 
At 12/25/2008 03:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember sometime around 2005/2006 on The Panda's Thumb I think, Casey was claiming that the IDEA clubs had nothing to do with religion, while the clubs required you to be christian. I think it's a race between Dembski and Luskin to see who can be the most delusional.

 
At 12/26/2008 11:38:00 AM, Blogger NP said...

It's quite telling that once again Casey Luskin invokes the tired old marketing slogans of "academic freedom" and "scientific evidence for ID". As with a lot of marketing, his claims are pure BS.

The ID research powerhouse that is the Biologic Institute has published just a single paper this year - and not a groundbreaking one either. ID simply has never been a science - it hasn't even been born yet. As a political movement and personal ego-trip for Casey Luskin and Billy Dembski, it does seem to be floundering, but even if were to be revitalized with renewed bouts of widespread ignorance and fear-mongering about the ills of "Darwinian fear-mongering", it won't change the fact that it has little scientific merit. The bald-face lies about academic suppression aim to mask the fact that since it farted into existence a few decades ago, the Intelligent Design movement has failed to do any substantial empirical research to support its claims.

 
At 1/02/2009 02:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Indeed, only one of the clubs listed has even updated its website during the past year (the Tri-State IDEA Club)."

That's Tri-Cities (in SE Washington state), not Tri-State. Totally different places.

 
At 2/19/2009 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Rhology said...

I know this is a while late, but here is the link to the Univ of Oklahoma's IDEA club.

Google is your friend.

 
At 11/05/2009 11:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great informative article,
I hope Mr. Luskin thinks about this issue and do something about this,He should respond. Allen has written a very thoughtful, and detailed post...
Good keep going man...

Term papers

 
At 1/17/2011 02:36:00 PM, Blogger Allen MacNeill said...

Just clicked through all of the links at the IDEA Center home page, and none of them link to an actively updated website.

Conclusion: the intelligent design movement on college and university campuses is not only merely dead, it's really most sincerely dead.

 
At 3/24/2011 04:00:00 AM, Anonymous Apron said...

If you give the idea that there are two schools of thought within science, one that says the earth is round and one that says the earth is flat, you are misleading children.

 

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