Do We Need An Anti-Creationist Think-Tank?

Do We Need An Anti-Creationist Think-Tank?Two years (January 28, 2005) have passed, but I am still not sure what the correct answer to this question is:

( Image: Sexism and Creationism , thanks All-Knowing Orac)
Previously, I have made a comparison between the challenges facing the reality-based community in politics and the challenges facing the reality-based community in science (some of it perhaps related to the underlying idea of the image above). Not everyone appeared to have liked it, as this guy who is “a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan” wrote this in response. I still do not understand from that post if he likes or hates what I wrote – it’s pretty ambiguous – and I wonder why he picked that short paragraph (in which I paraphrase Matt Cartmill’s thesis as Matt’s, not mine) on Christian theology as so important to highlight out of such a very long post.
The Election 2004 brought a new awareness of the way Republicans invested billions of dollars into think-tanks in which the only thinking that is going on is thinking up the deceptive language for swindling the electorate to buy into the Reverse Robin Hood economics and Medieval ideology. The response on the Left is that liberal think-tanks are needed to counter this effort (with an added bonus that the language need to reflect the actual truth), for instance the Rockridge Institute.
Now, Mike the Mad Biologist writes:

What we need to do is get some private money and fund an institute, “The Institute for the Study of Evolution”, whose purpose is to publicize evolution and attack creationism and ID. With luck, there would also be national and state lobbying arms, as well as educational outreach and ‘rapid reaction teams.’

I agree, but most scientists want to do the science and not waste time on fighting the old tired meaningless ideological battles all over again. For instance, a new Center is opening this Monday: NESCENT (National Evolutionary Synthesis Center). If you look around the website, or read the Editorial, you will see that the main effort at the Center will be doing research (particularly meta-research, e.g., comparative genomics) and getting people with different backgrounds together hoping for a cross-fertilization of ideas and approaches.
Perhaps the last four years of head-on assaults on science by the Right Wing, led by the Bush Administration, will get more scientists to feel a need to devote more time and resources to counter the current anti-intellectual sentiment. An important element of NESCENT appears to be Outreach and Education. The language is not explicit, but it appears to be driven in part by the revolt against the anti-science nonsense, and leaves enough ambiguity to let people associated with the Center, if they are so inclined, pursue anti-Creationist activities.
Is this what needs to be done?

7 responses to “Do We Need An Anti-Creationist Think-Tank?

  1. Bush and the Right wing Rethuglicans don’t really have “think tanks” anyway. They have “faith-tanks”. I say stick to the science, and continue to characterize groups like the Discovery Institute as a “faith tank”, until the electorate gets it.

  2. Liars can get quite creative, as I think you now understand.
    You can’t get creative with the truth, so why not try rhetoric? Label them as mythmakers, scam tanks, flimflammers, con artists, snake oil peddlers, sellers of chump fiction, and so on? Openly call them liars. Demand that they be deposed so they can be prosecuted for perjury. Advise people that they have a right to be protected by fraud, and how to contact the local bunco squad.
    Your enemies are vile. Quit being polite to them.

  3. What we need to do is get some private money and fund an institute, “The Institute for the Study of Evolution”, whose purpose is to publicize evolution and attack creationism and ID.

    Wrong name. “The Institute for Biology Education” maybe? The last thing we need is more confusion between the study of something, and merely being in favour of something. Which is not to say that that many of the members won’t be practising scientists.

  4. Strategic decisions, such the creation of anti-creationist think tank, are informed by theories on the psychology of ideology . On the authors cited in the post linked to:
    Lakoff’s work is interesting, though perhaps overreaching. I have not read ‘Superpatriotism,’ so I can’t evaluate that particular work. However, I would approach Parenti’s writings with caution; defending Milosevic would not seem to be the hallmark of a reality-based mind.
    “In my opinion, Milosevic’s real sin was that he resisted the dismemberment of Yugoslavia and opposed a U.S. imposed hegemony. He also attempted to spare Yugoslavia the worst of the merciless privatizations and rollbacks that have afflicted other former communist countries. …
    The media-hyped story of how the Serbs allegedly killed 7,000 Muslims in Srebrenica is uncritically accepted by Sell, even though the most thorough investigations have uncovered not more than 2,000 bodies of undetermined nationality.”
    Paul Wellstone, 6/14/99:
    “But I do believe that we can feel, I think, good as a nation and NATO can feel good that we did not let Milosevic do this with impunity. … I’m so glad at the end of the century that he was not able to do this and the world just turned its gaze away and didn’t respond.”

  5. I agree with J-Dog. Science is decentralized and most Americans are inclined to have a decentralized preference. It amazes me that Americans have bought into big-gum’nt/bureaucracy with regard to the Bush Administration and those anti-science conglomerates, but let them get too big for their britches. ID is already a house divided and it is up to the citizens to fight these battles on behalf of science education so that scientists can do the science. I think these Citizens for Science groups and the National Center for Science Education are who need to fight the battles. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  6. Kristine is right that ID is a house divided. A big tent that includes both six day creationists and researchers who accept that the universe is billions of years old, and those who believe in the instantaneous creation of “kinds” of life forms as well as those who accept the common descent of all life, cannot be very stable. Those of us who support science education would be wise to exploit those rifts.

  7. Don’t we already have anti-creationist think-tanks? Aren’t they called universities?