John G. West Political Scientist and Cultural Critic

Mort Needs a New Research Assistant

Published at Evolution News

WANTED: A new research assistant for Morton Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call and political commentator extraordinaire. An ability to read original documents and separate fact from fiction preferred. Please reply ASAP in order to spare Mort further embarrassment.

OK, so the ad hasn’t appeared yet, but it should. Morton Kondracke, the usually sensible pundit and Fox-News regular, has written an unusually ill-informed article (requires subscription) on intelligent design. The article is so riddled with errors that Mr. Kondracke really should think about hiring a new researcher. The piece starts out with an urban legend:

In about 20 states — most notably, right now, before the Kansas Board of Education — conservative Christians are trying to demand “equal time” for ID and evolution as the explanation for how life developed on earth.

As I’ve pointed out before, this claim is patently false. Proposals to require ID have been made in only small handful of states, not twenty. These proposals are typically dreamed up by politicians with little or no input from supporters of intelligent design (indeed, leading proponents of ID oppose attempts to require it). What is happening in most places is not an effort to require ID, but an effort to ensure that students hear about the scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory as well as the evidence favoring the theory.

This is the real issue being debated in Kansas right now. Of course, Kondracke (or his research assistant) thinks otherwise, asserting that

Kansas’ conservative-dominated Board of Education seems to be on the verge of changing its state standards for science education by removing evolution as the preferred concept for students to learn in biology and creating a toss-up with ID.

Advice to Mort: Make sure your researcher reads the relevant documents before you make factual claims in print. If your researcher had done this, he/she would have known that Kansas is NOT considering removing evolution from its science standards, nor is it considering including intelligent design. In fact, under the proposed revisions in Kansas, students actually would learn MORE about biological and chemical evolution, not less. And the current draft of the standards contain the following statement about intelligent design:

the Science Curriculum Standards do not include the theory of Intelligent Design. While the testimony presented at the science hearings included both advocates and critics of the theory of Intelligent Design, we do not include it in these curriculum standards. The Board does not take a position on this topic.

Which part of the above statement is too hard to understand? Of course, it is rather difficult to understand a document you have never read. That’s the problem with articles like this one. Based on sloppy research and third-hand accounts, it simply perpetuates misinformation and distortions already in circulation.

There are many more howlers in this article (including a claim that Charles Darwin knew about genetic mutations), but I don’t have the time to list them all.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.
Discovery Institute