Proponents of Intelligent Design Fight Back Against Media Inaccuracy

Calling it a misrepresentation of Kansas curriculum standards, a senior fellow at the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute criticized the reporting in a recent story that appeared in Sunday’s New York Times.

John G. West, a political scientist and Associate Director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture pointed out that an article titled “Intelligent Design Might Soon Meet Its Maker” by Laurie Goodstein erroneously reported that that recent changes in the Kansas science standards required the use of intelligent design, even after he says he provided her with the relevant documents to the contrary.

“This isn't merely a case of sloppy reporting,” wrote West in Evolution News & Views, a website dedicated to analysis of media coverage about the evolution debate. “When Ms. Goodstein interviewed me, I emphasized that the Kansas standards do not include intelligent design.”

West has previously written about similar incidents involving the Kansas standards by other major media outlets including the Washington Post and Bloomberg news.

Following the Kansas announcement on Nov. 8, a Washington Post headline read "Kansas Education Board First to Back 'Intelligent Design,'" although the article’s text noted that Kansas had only approved that students study doubts about modern Darwinian Theory.

West also noted that Bloomberg news agency had reported incorrectly that same day.

"The Kansas State Board of Education approved a proposal to teach intelligent design along with evolution as a scientific explanation of how life began,” read the opening paragraph of the Bloomberg article.

In a summary of changes adopted by the Kansas State Board on Nov. 8 and posted to kansasscience2005.com, however, the board does not include intelligent design in the modified curriculum.

"We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion,” reads the introduction to the standards. “While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement."

"Which part of this statement that the Kansas science standards ‘do not include Intelligent Design’ is so hard for reporters to understand? Or can't they read?" wrote West on Nov. 9.

The Evolution News & Views website (evolutionnews.com), which launched in January of this year is maintained by the Discovery Institute. At the time, West said that many reporters who write about the evolution debate "continue to simplify this as a battle between stick-figure fundamentalists on one side and the enlightened champions of science on the other."

He explained that misreporting is the “one key reason” for the new site, adding that much of the news coverage to that point had been “sloppy, inaccurate, and in some cases overtly biased.”

“We not only plan to offer critiques and corrections to major news stories,” he wrote. “We will also offer behind-the-scenes glimpses at journalists and how they operate when they report on this issue.”