Re: Tom Bethell’s Darwinism at AEI:
Some e-correspondents have alerted me to Tom Bethell’s remarks in your July/August issue, relating to my appearance at the AEI event “Darwin and Conservatism.”
Though it is not very nice to be called a liar in the public prints, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Creationists themselves are not nice, in either the modern sense (pleasant to be around) or the older one (painstakingly accurate). If memory serves, the judge in the Kitzmiller v. Dover School Districtcase made some astringent observations on that latter point. Much more evidence on that point can be found in Creationism’s Trojan Horse, by Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross — essential reading for anyone who wants to know what the “Intelligent Design” road show is really all about.
What it is not about is scientific research. At the National Review meeting Bethell referred to, I asked Bruce Chapman if he could give me a sample of the research undertaken by the Discovery Institute — an instance of something the institute had discovered, perhaps? Chapman at once whipped out a paper and gave it to me. The paper can be read here. I invite competent readers of The American Spectator to offer opinions as to its value as research. This, please note, is not any old paper. It is one that the Director of the Discovery Institute carries around with him to show off to people who inquire about the institute’s research results. It is, to put it another way, the crowning glory of a quarter-century of well-funded activity over at the Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture. There is really nothing else you need to know about the “research” Chapman boasts of.
So far as my exchange with Michael Behe is concerned, I reported it as I recall it. I distinctly recall his answering “No” to my question, as the answer startled me. I had not expected him to be so blunt. It is possible, I suppose, that he mis-apprehended my question — there was some crosstalk going on at the time. I know what I asked, though, and I know what he answered. If anything got lost there, I don’t feel at fault, though I should be sorry to think that anyone — even a creationist — believed himself traduced by something I said in good faith. I should be especially sorry in the case of Professor Behe, who strikes me as the least shifty of a very shifty bunch. At least he had the guts to show up and give evidence at Kitzmiller.
— John Derbyshire
Huntington, New York