Friday, July 22, 2005

Richard Posner Reveals His Ignorance

Richard Posner has an article that will appear in the July 31, 2005 New York Times but is available online now. The article is on the state of the conventional news media, and he comments on mainstream media coverage of intelligent design. He throws in his opinion on its nature and merits for free:

Journalists minimize offense, preserve an aura of objectivity and cater to the popular taste for conflict and contests by - in the name of ''balance'' - reporting both sides of an issue, even when there aren't two sides. So ''intelligent design,'' formerly called by the oxymoron ''creation science,'' though it is religious dogma thinly disguised, gets almost equal billing with the theory of evolution.

The irony is that he thinks that ID gets too much media attention, but his obvious ignorance demonstrates that there has apparently not been enough for him to have an informed opinion. The equation of intelligent design with creation science is a noxious misrepresentation, and I am surprised that he did not use an example that he knows something significant about. He probably thinks that he does know enough about it, since he is one of those who takes the time to read “serious” publications like The New York Times (his words, later in the article). We all know how serious the Times is in certain instances.

However, he goes on to praise blogs for their ability to get a hearing for unconventional ideas:

Some critics worry that ''unfiltered'' media like blogs exacerbate social tensions by handing a powerful electronic platform to extremists at no charge. . . .

The argument for filtering is an argument for censorship. (That it is made by liberals is evidence that everyone secretly favors censorship of the opinions he fears.) But probably there is little harm and some good in unfiltered media. They enable unorthodox views to get a hearing. They get 12 million people to write rather than just stare passively at a screen. In an age of specialization and professionalism, they give amateurs a platform.

Let’s hope that Posner and others like him will use blogs, and the web generally, to gain a meaningful understanding of intelligent design and the serious challenges to macroevolutionary theory.


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