Working the Refs

WORKING THE REFS….You want to talk about bias in the press? Let’s talk about bias in the press.

The LA Times reports today that the Texas Board of Education is about to decide on textbook adoptions for the coming year, and needless to say the big battle is over the biology texts. The creationist crowd is doing its usual best to undermine the teaching of evolution, and the Times starts out its article like this:

William Dembski pulled a book from a pile in the basement of his country home and flipped to a page containing drawings of embryos. A gilded painting of the crucifixion hung on the wall behind him. He was in a bind, or so it would seem.

He is a scientist by trade, a Baylor University research professor, and knows that the theory of evolution is considered a cornerstone of modern science. But he is an evangelical Christian at heart, convinced that some biological mechanisms are too complex to have been created without divine guidance. The two schools ? science and religion ? have long been difficult to reconcile. But those days, he believes, are over.

A scientist by trade! A research professor! A guy who struggles mightily to reconcile his faith and his science!

Hogwash. William Dembski has PhDs in mathematics and philosphy. He is not a research scientist and has no professional expertise in biology. Until recently he was a well known member of the Discovery Institute, the largest and best funded opponent of evolution in the country. He was head of a center at Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning until a controversy in 2000 which he mistakenly hailed as “the triumph of Intelligent Design.” Even Southern Baptist Baylor couldn’t stomach that and he was fired two days later.

In other words, he’s a longtime foe of evolution with no professional standing whatsoever in biology. So why is the Times bending over backwards to pretend otherwise? And why do they oh-so-carefully describe him as having a degree in “science,” a description not usually applied to mathematics, and just as carefully refrain from telling us that his degrees are entirely unrelated to biology?

This is the worst kind of he-said-she-said journalism. Some guys say evolution is true and some other guys say it isn’t. Hey, whatever, we’re just reporters.

And in further depressing news, it turns out that it’s not just evolution these guys want to gut from the textbooks. Check this out:

A reference to the Ice Age was changed recently from “millions of years ago” to “in the distant past” in a nod to people who read Scripture literally and believe the Earth is just thousands of years old.

What’s next? Geology texts that vaguely suggest the earth is, um, really, really old?