Discovery Institute Propaganda Ruins AP Report on Wallace

PhysOrg.Com has an interesting article by AP environmental reporter Michael Casey. The article, ostensibly about George Beccaloni’s quest to “return Wallace to what he sees as his rightful place in history.” The article recounts Beccaloni’s project to retrace Wallace’s trip through southeast Asia. An interesting moment in the article comes at the beginning when Beccaloni discovers the hut Wallace was staying in when he discovered natural selection. Unfortunately, almost from the beginning, the article credulously accepts creationist and Discovery Institute propaganda:

Now, in the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, a growing number of academics and amateur historians are rediscovering Wallace. Their efforts are raising debate over exactly what Wallace contributed to the theory of evolution, and what role, if any, the spiritual world plays in certain aspects of natural selection.

Unexplained is exactly what aspects of natural selection are being impacted by the spiritual world. Now, you may, naturally, be curious as to what this debate is about and who, exactly, is doing the debating. Pardon me while I giggle hysterically. Bwahahahahahahaha! It’s…it’s…it’s:

Roy Davies, the author of the “The Darwin Conspiracy,” even accuses Darwin of stealing his ideas from Wallace – an allegation dismissed by other Wallace supporters as unsubstantiated.

Davies claims were proven incorrect some time ago and one has to wonder why this schlock was even mentioned. It’s gets better though:

That has turned Wallace into an unlikely hero among some Christian conservatives opposed to the teaching of evolution. He is also used to support intelligent design, the theory that certain features of life forms are so complex that they must have originated from a higher power.

Michael Flannery, the author of the new book “Alfred Russel Wallace’s Theory of Intelligent Evolution,” argues that Wallace was in many ways “the seminal figure in what we consider the intelligent design movement.” The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, the main supporter of the theory, cites Wallace in its promotional material.

This also is incorrect. Flannery did not write a book. He took Wallace’s The world of life : a manifestation of creative power, directive mind and ultimate purpose – which is in the public domain, you can download a free copy at the link above – and repackaged it with an introduction by himself and a forward by William Dembski.

Edited to fix a few typos
None of which is mentioned by Casey and I have to wonder why an otherwise interesting piece was ruined by including this kind of disingenuous nonsense.

3 Responses

  1. Beccaloni is one of the good guys (his recent co-edited volume with Charles H.Smith on Wallace is excellent), Flannery? Not so much. I’ve seen some interviews where he claims to be the “author” of the book despite – as you note – only providing an introduction. (If that were through, I would have authored many books!). He also isn’t a member of the community that regularly works on the history of Victorian science. In short, he’s the historical equivalent of the signatories of the DI’s denialist list.

  2. I’m not familiar with him but that was my take on Beccaloni. I guess I should have made that clearer in my post. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of his project – the article calls it an audiovisual project and I’m assuming that means a documentary. I liked his response to the DI crap:

    Beccaloni groans when the talk turns to Wallace’s spiritualism, noting that he wasn’t even a Christian. Christian groups are “grasping at straws,” he said, and other academics are using spiritualism to diminish his scientific importance. Beccaloni is trying to keep the focus on his earlier scientific discoveries.

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