Monday, May 14, 2007

Chad's New and Hot, Week 7: Hoax of Dodos?

In response to the cable network Showtime’s plans to air the documentary by Randy Olson on intelligent design called Flock of Dodos, Bruce Chapman, president of the Discovery Institute, wrote a letter to Showtime’s CEO claiming that numerous points presented in the film are “wildly inaccurate.” In fact, the Discovery Institute has set up an entire website, called Hoax of Dodos, dedicated to shining light on what the Discovery Institute claims are falsehoods with Olson’s film. Among other points, both the article and corresponding website focus on two main points of contention.

The first is the claim made by Olson that modern biology textbooks do not contain Ernst Haeckel’s 19th century illustrations of various species of embryos as evidence in favor of evolution. The Discovery Institute responded to this by producing examples of textbooks that contain similar drawings of embryos and calling Olson an outright liar for not publicly acknowledging this fact now. Next, the Discovery Institute also argues that Olson greatly inflated the amount of the Discovery Institute’s annual budget for intelligent design. In his film, Olson claims that the Discovery Institute spends about 5 million dollars a year on researching and promoting intelligent design. The Discovery Institute claimed in response that their spending on intelligent design comes nowhere near this total and averages only about 1 million dollars annually. They went on to say that Olson got near this figure by including all of the Institutes revenues, which include grants from private sources that are intended to be spent over a longer period of time.

Though the Institute tries to back up its claims with graphs and photos and repeatedly calls both Olson and his film fraudulent hoaxes, their website really does nothing to definitively convince its readers. Instead, the entire thing just comes across as a petulant backlash to all of the criticisms made in Olson’s documentary.

Check out both the article and the Institute’s website, Hoax of Dodos.

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