Letter to the Editor, York Dispatch
To the Editor,
In an opinion published December 19th in the Dispatch, Casey Luskin, spokesman for the Discovery Institute (an intelligent design creationism propaganda house), complained the media misrepresent and misunderstand the Institute's recent smear campaign against Judge John E. Jones III, who decided against proponents of teaching intelligent design in Kitzmiller v. Dover one year ago.
The Discovery Institute's charge of plagiarism has been refuted in detail (see, for example, http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/12/dis_plagiarism.html and http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/12/answering_luskin_again.php among many). What Judge Jones did is recognized as common and accepted judicial practice; Luskin attempted to show this practice meets with disapproval by citing cases that differed significantly from Kitzmiller v. Dover.
But what Luskin did not say is equally as significant as what he did say. In his opinion piece, Luskin cited testimony of Discovery Institute Fellow Scott Minnich as evidence that peer-reviewed articles supporting intelligent design have appeared in the scientific literature, pointing to a particular article. But he failed to mention that that article appeared in an esoteric journal that covers the field of taxonomy (classification), not evolution or the causes of biodiversity. Luskin also neglected to mention that the article was shepherded covertly through the review process (or lack thereof) by an avowed Creationist editor. And tellingly, Luskin decided not to mention that once the rest of the editorial board discovered the paper had been published, they retracted it.
Luskin engaged in common practices of the Discovery Institute--he commits factual errors and selectively quotes sources out of context, and relies on most readers not being sufficiently informed to realize what he is doing or motivated enough to check sources. Fortunately, I noticed in several reports of the Discovery Institute's press release that the reporters sought out other, real, expert opinion. It appears that the media do indeed understand the Discovery Institute's tactics.
UPDATE: My letter was printed 29 December 2006, here. The URLs linking to refutations were edited out (probably because I misread the LTE requirements and exceeded 300 words).