October 11, 2003

An examination of the marketing tactics employed by the "Intelligent Design" movement

It has long been my focus in commenting upon "Intelligent Design" to consider the movement in light of their infamous "Wedge" document. While the established goals of Phase I of the Wedge include scientific research and publication it is well known that ID "theorists" and proponents have virtually ignored this aspect of their own manifesto and jumped wholeheartedly into pursuit of Phase II - "Publicity and Opinion-Making."

The promulgation of ID strategy can best be evaluated from a marketing perspective. Consideration of their tactics reveals an emphasis on repetition of particular talking points and a collective identification of areas of evolutionary science considered weak enough to be vulnerable to the sharp end of the wedge.

Anyone who has followed the issues will be familiar with quite a few of these talking points. "Teach the controversy," "academic freedom," and others receive mention just about any time an ID proponent speaks to the media. It has been my goal, with the series of papers listed below, to expose these examples of specious sloganeering as little more than intentionally deceptive rhetoric.

The "Grill the ID Guys" Event at Biola - An account of an evening spent with some of ID's top "theorists," in which the promise to answer "the toughest questions" is all but forgotten in favor of talking points and p.r. strategies. (Offsite at NCSE)

Can Intelligent Design be considered scientific in the same way SETI is? - This is another attempt to deal with the use of scientific disciplines like SETI as epistemological cover for ID ideology. (Offsite at eSkeptic)

Turn out the lights, the "Teach the controversy" party's over - An attempt to put the weight of numbers behind that which most have known all along - that there is, in fact, no scientific controversy regarding "Intelligent design." (Offsite at Creation and Intelligent Design Watch)

Very Like a...Machine? - An evaluation of the inept and inapt argument from analogy with human design used by nearly every ID "theorist." (Offsite at Creation and Intelligent Design Watch)

It's not easy being ID - "Intelligent design's" persecution complex - This paper considers the legitimacy of the oft-heard complaint that ID is merely suffering the same unfair treatment that all innovative scientific ideas have had to endure.

That's not a list. THIS is a list! (apologies to Paul Hogan) - A list of scientific organizations, and their statements, which oppose "Intelligent Design." A specific response to the Discovery Institute's suggestion that "more and more" scientists are beginning to doubt Darwinian evolution.

The Search for Scientific Cover – "Intelligent design's" use of the SETI analogy - A favorite tactic employed by ID proponents is to compare ID to scientific disciplines which investigate intelligent cause. This paper discusses the flaws in that argument.

"Follow the evidence..." - One of the most popular complaints heard from ID adherents is the plea for scientists to be willing to just follow the evidence wherever it may lead. Despite the familiar wail for fairness, the argument is fatally flawed.

"Teach the Controversy," An Intelligently Designed Ruse - Perhaps their quintessential marketing ploy, the deceptive "teach the controversy" argument, like many other ID slogans, is meant to appeal to egalitarian impulses.