Decades ago, when I was a live-in counselor at a group home for teen boys, I used to be amused at the way they'd "nark themselves off." Far from being the street-smart kids you might see on TV or the movies, some of these kids were virtually clueless.
On my very first day on the job, I walked into one of the bedrooms where a couple of they guys were hunched over working on something. I didn't think anything of it until one of the kids looked up, saw me, and shouted, "B-u-u-u-sted!"
The other shot back, "Shut up, man! He didn't know what we were doing!"
He was right, I didn't. Turns out they were assembling a home-made bong in anticipation of scoring some good weed. I confiscated the bong, and they didn't have access to the outside world for awhile.
But over the years I've found that it's not just clueless boy's-home teens that bust themselves. Sometimes it's people whom you'd think would have every reason to keep their mouths shut. But a wagging tongue can be tough to still.
For example, back in 1989 or thereabouts, California approved an extremely controversial set of science standards that were calculated to silence criticism of evolution in public school classrooms. This was evident if you happened to know anything about biology and the philosophy of science. But the writer of some of the most controversial sections, Kevin Padian a Berkeley paleontologist and NCSE activist, couldn't help but boast of his and proudly proclaimed, in print no less: "As for the religious right, the new Science Framework leaves them totally disenfranchised from the public educational system in California."1
More recently, as I noted in my blog, "The Stricture of Scientific Resolutions," the Council that governs the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington provided another classic when it posted a statement regarding its publication of a major pro-ID paper by the Discovery Institute's Steve Meyer.
A brief passage from the statement is a marvel of self-indictment--all the more so when you consider that it's the result of serious deliberation among the Council's thoroughly self-conscious members. The passage reads: "The Council endorses a resolution on ID published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which observes that there is no credible scientific evidence supporting ID as a testable hypothesis to explain the origin of organic diversity. Accordingly, the Meyer paper does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings."
In other words, because the AAAS says ID is untestable and without support, Meyer's peer-approved paper does not meet the journal's standards--a breath-taking display of devotion to scientific ideals, and as blatant an admission as you could ask for that ID-friendly articles will not even be accepted for review, let alone publication. Is it any wonder then, as the anti-ID community constantly laments, that critics "simply doesn't understand how science how science works"?
All together now: B-u-u-u-sted.
The most recent gaffe, however, is a real kicker. In a post on the Website of the anti-ID Kansas Citizens for Science (KCFS), Liz Craig, an officer and media contact for the group blurted out the following regarding the conservative members of the Kansas State Board of Education:
My strategy at this point is the same as it was in 1999: notify the national and local media about what's going on and portray them in the harshest light possible, as political opportunists, evangelical activists, ignoramuses, breakers of rules, unprincipled bullies, etc.
There may no way to head off another science standards debacle, but we can sure make them look like asses as they do what they do.
Our target is the moderates who are not that well educated about the issues, most of whom probably are theistic evolutionists. There is no way to convert the creationists.
Much has been made by ID foes--almost to the point of hysteria--of the Discovery Institute's "Wedge Document," a funding proposal that allegedly reveals a sinister religious agenda. Moreover, the same Web site where Craig posted her comment has a thread in its discussion forums called, "Damning Quotes," the purpose of which is to "to keep track of, and maintain, various 'damning quotes' that have been made in regards to ID, and it's religious nature."
But the "Wedge Document" and all the quotes that KCFS have scraped together simply don't compare to the sheer malice revealed by the above statements. What kind of person can express delight at having disenfranchised an entire segment of the population? What does it take to profess devotion to scientific principles, yet devise policies that amount to laughable non sequiturs and enforce profoundly irrational and anti-scientific behavior? And although smears, slanders and slurs are a disheartingly common element of politics, they somehow seem all the worse coming from an organization that purports to defend the integrity of science--sort of like a cop gone bad.
Which brings me to one final remark: Bu-u-u-sted.
1 Kevin Padian, "The California Science Framework: A Victory for
Scientific Integrity," National Center for Science Education Reports, Vol 9, No. 6, Nov-Dec 1989, pp 1, 10-11.
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