Wednesday, November 14, 2007

PBS Embarrassment: NOVA Misleadingly Tells Half the Story

I only had time to watch the beginning of the NOVA show "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design." That was enough to get the one-sided flavor. I hope to post on this again once I have seen the whole thing.

I did want to comment on one aspect that I found noteworthy. I am no fan of the Dover school board or its unwise policy. But in the first 30 to 40 minutes of the show, I was struck by how many personal attacks were made against individuals on the board. Locals supporting the plaintiffs were repeatedly shown on camera making ad hominem attacks on individuals. The Dover school board members who were interviewed on camera generally did not do likewise. Was this an editing choice? The locals sympathetic to the plaintiffs seem to be taking a page right out of the Panda's Thumb blog, with logic something like: Intelligent Design is not science, because the Dover school board members are bad people. This will not convince anyone except the Darwinian true faithful.

In one particularly strange interview segment, a local reporter named Laurie Lebo ridicules certain board members because they stated that they thought that reading the brief statement about ID was a reasonable compromise policy. I found that rather bizarre. After hearing people bemoan the culture war going on in Dover, why is seeking a compromise position a bad thing?

Well, we know the result: a single judge ruled decisively for one side, using insulting stereotypes, and insisting that no mention of ID be breathed in Dover schools, and that Darwinism shall never be questioned. And we all know that such a decision will never resolve the fundamental issues.


At November 15, 2007 2:17 AM, Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

I was astonished that the Dover plaintiffs had the chutzpah to choose a theistic evolutionist, Ken Miller, as their lead expert witness in an establishment clause lawsuit. Logically, the plaintiffs' expert witnesses should have been godless blasphemous satan-worshiping atheists. Ken Miller wrote a book titled, "Finding Darwin's God." The defense attorneys should have tried to portray him as a bible-pounding holy rolling fundy.

At November 16, 2007 7:16 AM, Anonymous Ron said...

Perhaps one reason why they only told half the story is because most of the leading lights at the Disovery Institute declined to participate in the filming, despite repeated requests?

I'm sure you were going to get around to mentioning that, eventually. You know, in the interests of fairness.

At November 17, 2007 1:58 AM, Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Ron said...

>>>>>> Perhaps one reason why they only told half the story is because most of the leading lights at the Disovery Institute declined to participate in the filming, despite repeated requests? <<<<<<

Yes, and that is not the first time the DI did that -- the DI's Casey Luskin did not grant a full interview for the book "Monkey Girl." They should just participate and then complain later if they feel that their views were not adequately presented. When they refuse to participate, they assure that their views won't be heard at all.

At November 17, 2007 1:47 PM, Anonymous Lawrence said...


Glad you asked. You can find the answer here

Which says in part:

Initially, when we agreed to sit for interviews, as long as we could monitor and record the interviews, NOVA agreed. Not surprising. We've had this policy for almost four years and in that time we've recorded interviews with Newsweek, The New York Times, ABC News, CBS News, BBC, CBC and a number of other media outlets. This is not an unusual request.

In an e-mail Apsell wrote:

If DI believes it needs to make its own recordings of the interviews being conducted, that is acceptable as well provided that these recording activities do not interfere with NOVA's technical or journalistic needs in setting up and conducting its own recordings.

Perhaps it was after this was presented to us that Apsell heard about how we had held Nightline accountable and exposed their manipulative and biased editing of Dr. Meyer’s interview.
Ultimately, Apsell refused to let us record the interviews, writing to us just a few weeks later.

Upon reflection, I've decided that NOVA cannot set such a precedent, although we would be happy to provide a transcript or even a tape of our interview footage should you decide to participate.

The offer of a transcript or taped footage came with strings attached, however.

DI agrees that any use of such recordings will be limited to DI's commenting upon or reviewing the NOVA program or other related internal DI uses, and shall not be used for purposes unrelated to commenting upon the specific NOVA program, such as but not limited to, fundraising, lobbying, general advocacy, or in any publicly exhibited media.

Clearly, NOVA didn’t want to be held accountable. If they weren’t planning to slice and dice the interviews, then why not let us record them? If you've nothing to hide, why refuse to allow complete transcripts to be made available?
In the end NOVA wanted to sit pro-intelligent design scientists down in isolation and interrogate them about the Dover case and intelligent design. They wanted to be able to do as they please with the interviews, much like Nightline, and edit them to fit their biased, anti-ID agenda. And they weren’t about to give anyone permission to expose their manipulation of the interviews, so we would be denied the ability to ever expose the complete, unedited interviews “In any publicly exhibited media.”


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