While Michael Egnor is accusing the scientific community of censorship, the Institut Discotheque is advertising a summer seminar on Intelligent Design, and there’s something very interesting about the advertisement. Applicants for the seminar are required to provide various information about their grades and their interests, as well as “a letter of recommendation from a professor who knows your work and is friendly toward ID, or a phone interview with Dr. Bruce Gordon, CSC Research Director.” Now that’s interesting—a letter from someone who is “friendly toward ID”? What is this if not a litmus test—a gatekeeper device to prevent critics or doubters from attending their seminar?
Can you imagine if an organization devoted to evolutionary science required applicants to provide such bona fides? If the AAAS required applicants to provide them with a letter from someone “friendly” toward evolution, before you could attend one of their seminars? Real scientific seminars are open to anyone who is respectful and willing to listen to the evidence and weigh ideas, even if they don’t actually believe in those ideas. Anyone can attend U.C. Berkeley’s seminar on evolution tomorrow without providing any evidence about your beliefs; even creationists are welcome. Some years ago, Professor Michael Dini at Texas Tech got in a lot of trouble because he refused to write letters of recommendation for students unless they attested that they believed in evolution. But the DI requires that you fly the right colors before they’ll let you in—while they have the gall to accuse the scientific community of censorship and closed-mindedness!
I’ve been to many seminars, but never one with a loyalty test before. Even the Institute for Humane Studies, a libertarian organization that runs seminars for college and graduate students, does not require that applicants provide any sort of ideological credentials. You’re welcome to come to their seminars even if you’re a communist and show up intending to disagree with everything the speakers say. A litmus test of this sort makes sense if you’re running a religious retreat, and you only want Christians to come—but I thought ID was supposed to be science. If it’s science, why require a stamp of approval from someone “friendly” to ID? Why not allow doubters and detractors to attend the seminar (so long as they are respectful and non-disruptive)? Of course, we’re used to ID creationists silencing their detractors, shutting them out of blogs, and doing other things directly contrary to their purported concerns for “openness.” But I thought this was a particularly amusing example of their hypocrisy.