Discovery Institute’s vanity press style promotion of Stephen Meyer’s latest

Tuesday saw the launch of Stephen Meyer’s latest book, Darwin’s Doubt. I doubt if I will be reading it, but here’s a little of what the blurb on says about it:

In Darwin’s Doubt, Stephen C. Meyer tells the story of the mystery surrounding this [the Cambrian] explosion of animal life—a mystery that has intensified, not only because the expected ancestors of these animals have not been found, but because scientists have learned more about what it takes to construct an animal. During the last half century, biologists have come to appreciate the central importance of biological information—stored in DNA and elsewhere in cells—to building animal forms.

Expanding on the compelling case he presented in his last book, Signature in the Cell, Meyer argues that the origin of this information, as well as other mysterious features of the Cambrian event, are best explained by intelligent design, rather than purely undirected evolutionary processes.

So there you have it. Stephen Meyer is unaware of the roots, stretching back into the Ediacaran and beyond, of what he lumps in together with the Cambrian explosion. And he still doesn’t understand how evolving systems accumulate complexity, and thinks that saying an intelligence (or even an Intelligence) put it in there from the outside by unspecified means counts as an explanation. And of course, he uses the old old trick, which I have written about before, of bypassing our present-day understanding by linking the discussion back to Darwin.

The Discovery Institute also uses another old trick, which The Sensuous Curmugeon, much as I admire him, seems to have missed. Passing the hat round to buy publicity. The Curmudgeon writes:

Whenever a creationist’s book is trumpeted in a press release, we immediately consider it to be a candidate for our series on Self-Published Geniuses. That’s where we write about creationists and others who pay for press releases to promote vanity-published books about their imaginary discoveries and pseudo-science ravings.

But Meyer’s book doesn’t qualify for that list.

The Curmugeon is much too kind. Let me draw his attention to this, sent out by the Discovery Institute to its supporters (don’t ask me how I got hold of it, but I promise you it’s genuine, including emphasis and bullets):

As you know, we are hard at work, preparing the way for the release of Darwin’s Doubt with media projects, online and print advertising, radio interview campaigns, and more. Many have come alongside of us in supporting this project, and believe me, every bit helps in our goal of raising $50,000 to help promote this book.

All types of participation in this coordinated effort are vital to its success. Here are a few ways you can help:

Pre-order the book at [link in original], if you have not already done so.

Tell your friends and family about the book and encourage them to pre-order a copy.

Donate [link in original] to support the many ways we will be bringing attention to the book:

  • $35 will send the book to an opinion maker.
  • $100 will purchase an online advertising spot.
  • $150 will pay to set-up one radio interview for Stephen Meyer.
  • $400 will pay for the production of a podcast.
  • $2,000 will pay for the production of a promotional video short.

Thanks to a generous donor, every $2 we raise through this campaign will be matched by another $1. And, because of the donations already made and several offline donations, we now only need to raise about $27,500 to make our goal by the end of this month.

Please consider helping to pave the way for the release of Darwin’s Doubt by DONATING NOW [link in original].  With your help, this book will change the course of the origins debate for generations to come.

So now you know.

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on June 18, 2013, in Creationism and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Isn’t about time we write a “Darwin’s Vision” and put these unintelligent critters to shame? And we could even best them in promotion… it is that easy… I almost feel sorry for them…
    Good perspective on a piece of ID propaganda that should be ignored if it wasn’t so damaging to the education of our youth…


  2. The latest piffle I have heard from creationists is that evolution is “historical science” and therefore neither empirical nor reliable.

    Idiots! 🙂


  3. These guys never give up no matter how many times they’ve been proven wrong. The truth is, no matter how hard they try, they simply aren’t allowed to re-define Science to include supernatural phenomena. Science requires measurement. When they can tell me how tall God is then we’ll talk.


    • You are too kind. The very complexity and repeat of motifs that they present as evidence for the designer’s foresightful intelligence is itself eloquent testimony to the evolutionary process of random tinkering followed by a posteriori selection.


  1. Pingback: Stephen Meyer strikes again! | Wonderful Life

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