The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Morality, by any means necessary

Here's an article that brings together a lot of the stuff I've been writing about lately. Science, authoritarianism, and useless journalists who consider he-said/she-said to be objective reporting. Except when they're trying to come up with zingers and gotchas to further their careers.

In watching the [Nova documentary on the Dover intelligent design case], I was struck by the parallels between the Dover story and movement conservatism generally. The selling of “intelligent design,” and the idea itself, has much in common with Social Security privatization, supply-side economics, the invasion of Iraq, school vouchers, and other half-baked causes that the right has relentlessly been pushing in recent decades. (. . .)

[The Discovery Institute] developed an internal game plan called the “Wedge Strategy,” which states as an overarching goal the replacement of science as currently practiced with “theistic and Christian science.” What the center was most effective at was developing a soft-sell marketing pitch intended to minimize the opposition that would arise against a creationism hard-sell. So, for example, it advocated that biology classes “teach the controversy” as a means of incorporating its attacks on Darwinism into lesson plans, rather than insisting that intelligent design replace evolution. (. . .)

Now think about the role played by the Cato Institution and the Heritage Foundation in selling Social Security privatization. Akin to the “Wedge Document,” they developed the 1983 game plan “Achieving a 'Leninist' Strategy.” For years they honed a pitch aimed at reassuring everyone that, far from phasing out Social Security, they actually wanted to bolster it. They even softened the lingo from “privatization” to “private accounts.” When confronted with fundamental flaws with the concept, such as the massive additional federal debt it would create while imposing added risks on Americans, the think tanks came up with lame excuses while steaming full speed ahead with the same ill-conceived idea that would advance their broader agenda. Just as some intelligent design advocates outright lied in saying religion had nothing to do with their motivations, many privatization advocates lied in saying they wanted to strengthen Social Security.

As a commentor notes, these groups have to lie about their actual beliefs and motivation-- because the "wisdom of crowds" (is that just another term for common sense?) would consign them to the booby hatch otherwise.

Oh, and the documentary is supposed to be available online starting tomorrow.