Monday, October 16, 2006

The Black Shadow.

I had been aware of this organisation for quite some time but did not think that their website justified them being taken seriously. They have now taken the rather grand title of the "British Centre for Science Education" and are collaborating with their US friends from The NCSE. To be honest I would have thought that the NCSE would have wanted a rather drastic overhall of the whole set up before there was any public acknowledgement of a link.

MP Graham Stringer apparently has no concerns about the nature of this organisation or the contents of its website and has tabled the following early day motion:

"That this House shares the concerns of the British Centre for Science
Education that the literature being sent to every school in the United Kingdom
by the creationist religious group Truth in Science is full of scientific
mistakes and fails to disclose the group's creationist beliefs and objectives;
and urges all schools to treat this literature with extreme caution."

This motion it seems was tabled before the BCSE had actually seen the literature sent to the schools which is rather a back to front way of going about things in my view.

A new Blog has been established with the purpose of finding out a little more about the "Black Shadow"!

10 Comments:

Anonymous Hrafn said...

The BCSE has a link to this page containing "21 factual errors, misrepresentations, and flawed arguments in the DVDs sent by Truth in Science to teachers in September 2006".

For a bunch supposedly dedicated to "Truth in Science," they don't appear to give a damn about getting their science right.

Their Who's Who page also provides a good rundown on the extremist religious prejudices of the senior membership of TiS.

"A new Blog has been established with the purpose of finding out a little more about the "Black Shadow"!"

Another religiously motivated (he's an evangelical minister) anti-evolutionist with an ambiguous connection to science:
"I have a Masters degree [1] in a science subject from Oxford University (first class)"

I would assume that if his "science subject" had any relevance whatsoever to evolution, he wouldn't be hiding it.

2:12 am  
Blogger David Anderson said...

Hello "hrafn",

I am the proprietor of the BCSE Revealed blog (and came to this site of Andrew's because I found that people were following the link to me.

I won't answer for Truth in Science, as they seem to have plenty of articles on their own site answering for their science by authors with plenty of credentials, and that's not what my blog is about. (My blog is about exposing the lack of credibility or credentials of the "BCSE").

However, if you have read my first post ('Introduction to this blog') then you'll see that the second sentence says "In particular you should listen to the 2-minute audio clip."

The fact that you say that I am "hiding" my degree tells me that:

* You haven't actually listened to the audio clip that I say, in a very prominent place, "you should listen to". (In case you missed it there, it's also on my profile page, which I would have assumed you would have read if you were really interested in my identity).

* My blog also contains an e-mail address, and an invitation to contact me if you have any questions. My e-mail inbox contains no question from you asking for the information you haven't got - and yet you have gone ahead and posted a comment damaging to my reputation on a public blog (i.e. this one)!

Frankly it's hard not to conclude that you're someone who is very eager to jump to conclusions, who is so sure that his prejudices are correct that he doesn't consider it necessary to look at the available (or even, recommended) material before doing so.

I also notice that, in contrast to my blog, you're apparently not willing to put your own name and reputation next to your comments.

If we're to have any meaningful interaction in future (and I am very happy to consider any questions I consider relevant), I hope you will address what I have said above (including having the courage to put your own reputation behind your comments instead of publishing them anonymously).

Kind regards,
David Anderson

8:31 am  
Blogger Paul (probably - maybe Liz) said...

David: Welcome to the debate. I'm afraid that failing to inform yourself about one side or the other is pretty much par for the course.

10:34 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Hello "David Anderson"

"...as they seem to have plenty of articles on their own site answering for their science by authors with plenty of credentials..."

No. It has a large amount of disinformation and misrepresentation, from a bunch of people whose qualifications range from tangental to evolutionary biology, to wholly irrelevant, to outright fallacious, and whose common denominator is a religious commitment to Young Earth Creationism. As I said in an earlier thread, a more accurately descriptive title would be "Religion in Science."

"The fact that you say that I am "hiding" my degree tells me that:..."

I have just listened to your annoying audio-clip. Your degree is in mathematics, a field with no immediate relevance to Evolution (and you apparently have come no closer to Evolutionary Biology than Biostatistics), which further is not normally considered a science. Finally, I would point out that "mathematics" is shorter than "a science subject" -- so if you weren't misrepresenting yourself, then why didn't you just say mathematics and have done with it?

"My blog also contains an e-mail address, and an invitation to contact me if you have any questions."

I didn't have any questions, I had a conjecture (which has since been proven accurate).

"Frankly it's hard not to conclude that you're someone who is very eager to jump to conclusions..."

Okay, since I'm being accused of it anyway, here's the following conjecture:
You're a Young Earth Creationist, with little or no knowledge of Evolutionary Biology.

"I also notice that, in contrast to my blog, you're apparently not willing to put your own name and reputation next to your comments."

Why should I? Anonymity is the rule rather than the exception on the Blogosphere, so I generally only use my real name when I'm conversing with people who know me IRL. Further, I have been "Hrafn" online for over a decade, and see no reason to change.

"If we're to have any meaningful interaction in future..."

That seems unlikely. You give no appearance of any significant knowledge of Evolutionary Biology or Philosophy of Science. Obscure, smug, self-satisifed, ignorant evangelical YECs are two a penny. I generally ignore them unless they're drawn to my attention or make specific obvious errors or misrepresentations.

"including having the courage to put your own reputation behind your comments instead of publishing them anonymously"

Blow it out your ear you complete pillock! I will call myself "Hrafn", "Queen of Sheba", "Nosredna Divad" or anything else I damn well choose!

I have no intention whasoever of allowing some obscure cleric from the lunatic fringe of Christianity with delusions of grandeur (or anybody else for that matter) dictate to me what I call myself online.

You have said nothing whatsoever of the slightest significance, relevance or interest, so it is no skin off my nose if you decide to ignore me and go back to "preaching to the choir" (which is all that YECs ever seem to have any competence at in any case).

11:49 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"This motion it seems was tabled before the BCSE had actually seen the literature sent to the schools which is rather a back to front way of going about things in my view."

Appearances can be deceptive. The BCSE admited to not having reviewed the literature on September 26. On 17 October they removed this admission. Presumably at some time in between these two dates they were able to get their hands on a copy to review. Given that the www.justscience.org.uk page (to which the BCSE links to) was first written on the 11 October (the same day as the Early Day Motion), it seems highly likely that somebody with ties to the BCSE had access to the materials before this date.

Of course it is entirely likely that the BCSE would consider getting their message out to the press and parliament more important than keeping their webpage perfectly up to date, so it would be unsurprising if some pages (or parts of pages) reflected information that was (by only a week or two remember) out of date.

I think people are obsessing way too much over exact timings of things, when the process of webpage updates necessarily distorts the timing information that we have.

6:00 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"Black Shadow" apparently started, in February 2005, as a Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BlackShadow/

The Yahoo Group presumably eventually spawned a website (as a number of them do) and eventually a descision (apparently made in August 2006) to formalise as the BCSE.

TiS on the other hand appears to be a front, put together by members of pre-existing Creationist groups (such as Answers in Genesis and the Biblical Creation Society) to channel materials created by an offshoot of the Discovery Institute into British schools.

6:14 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,

re order of events for Blackshadow.

I hope that you are right. Your explanation seems plausible.

10:16 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

hrafn,

It looks as if Roger Stanyard was doing things rather back to front and accusing TiS material of being full of errors before he had a proper review of the material. See evidence here. Do you agree that he was doing things back to front?

10:49 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

Irrespective of what's going on with BCSE, the information on the TiS website is sufficient to make it objectionable material to be sent to schools. It's junk trying to masquerade as science.

5:44 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Andrew:

Anderson's "evidence" is obscured beneath a pile of cluttered writing (and the occasional linking error), so it took a bit of time to work out what he's claiming.

He appears to be correct that Chris Hyland received the DVDs on the 29th, not the 21st September. However, his claim that Hyland was still in the middle of his review as of 1st October should be taken in the context of the following:

"Im in the middle of writing a review of the TiS DVDs. I think it would be better for the purposes of putting on the website to do it as a list of chronological bogus claims with respones ala TalkOrigins, and then a soundbyte style conclusion and introduction. Does this sound like a good idea?"

This appears to be discussing a more detailed review for their webpage. Whether this means that he has completed a brief initial review for the letters or not is ambiguous.

Additionally, on September 24 Stanyard makes this post linking to this post from a teacher who had received the DVDs:

"I haven't posted on here for quite some time, but I got some mail this morning that has really got me going.
I am head of science in a comprehensive school in north-east England. My post this morning contained a Jiffy bag with two free DVDs in it from an organisation called Truth in Science, which you may have heard of before, but I haven't, though as it's based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, I wouldn't be surprised if there were links to the notorious creationists at Emmanuelle College.
To cut a long story short, they have sent these DVDs to every secondary school and college in the UK, trying to push the Intelligent Design side of things, even including such 'Learning Outcomes' as "Understand that irreducibly complex structures cannot evolve by slight, successive, advantageous variations, because at certain points in their evolution they will lose function altogether". This is only one of many gems.
I haven't yet decided whether to send them back with a letter of protest, bin them or use them to keep the birds off my vegetables (handy use of an unwanted CD or DVD disc, for you novice gardeners)."


This, in combination with what they could glean from TiS's website, gives at least some cover for their claims (even assuming that they hadn't heard anything from Hyland by this stage).

Would I do things this way myself? Probably not. However the BCSE had at least some substantiation for the claims they would have made in their letter to MPs. So although I would call their way of doing things "hasty", I wouldn't go quite so far as to call it "doing things back to front", based on available information.

7:22 pm  

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