Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mea culpa

A couple of Sudays ago I had a letter published in the Sunday Dallas Morning News:

Apes' rights reinforce human rights

Re: "When human rights extend to nonhumans – Granting apes rights will only devalue human life, says Wesley J. Smith," last Sunday Points.

Mr. Smith's criticism of acknowledging apes' basic rights is easy to understand. His organizations, the Discovery Institute and its daughter organization, the Center for Bioethics and Culture, exist primarily to fight against teaching evolution in the schools and to push their anti-science agenda.

These organizations are spin-offs of the Ayn Rand cult's vision of a social hierarchy that turns the American ideal of equality on its head.

Scientific evidence makes it clear that apes' and humans' emotional and cognitive responses to our world are of a like kind. Establishing their basic rights under the law reinforces human rights because it acknowledges that our similarities to each other are more important than our differences.

Rick Bogle, Madison, Wis.
A few days later I was taken to task by the Center for Bioethics and Culture's founder:
CBC misrepresented in letter

Re: “Apes’ rights reinforce human rights,” by Rick Bogle, Sunday Letters.

The Center for Bioethics and Culture is not a “daughter organization” of the Discovery Institute. Perhaps I would have been less irritated if Mr. Bogle associated the Discovery Institute as a “daughter organization” of the CBC? But, in either case, his association would have been grossly inaccurate.

Also, the CBC has never been involved in the evolution debate or had any position on the teaching of evolution. Nor was Wesley Smith’s article about evolution. In an era of Google transparency, it is utter tripe that Mr. Bogle didn’t do his homework. For that matter, did he think that this glaring misrepresentation of the CBC would go unnoticed?

Regarding his beliefs that the CBC pushes an anti-science agenda: more nonsense. More than half of our directors are doctors, nurses, scientists or public health professionals. Hardly an organization to brand as anti-science since our livelihood depends on the science professions.

Jennifer Lahl, founder and national director, The Center for Bioethics and Culture, San Ramon, Calif.
Ms Lahl is correct; I was mistaken. I confused the Center for Bioethics and Culture with The Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

It's hard to keep it all straight. Ms. Lahl's organization notes that Wesley J. Smith is a special consultant. And here, they mention only Smith:
Our Directors include physicians, nurses, public health experts, marketing and finance businessmen, 5 staffers including consultant—Wesley J. Smith, J.D. all share a commitment to a truly human future. The CBC team has had an impact in major news publications, national radio, network TV, national and international speeches, and boasts a portfolio of leading national experts on hand to promptly address key bioethic issues. We are regularly asked for feedback and background by media, individuals and major organizations as well as bodies outside of the U.S. as well as provide speakers for national events.
And you can't read many of these articles or these and not pick up on the common themes.

But, in spite of Smith's clear involvement in Center for Bioethics and Culture and his stardom at the Discovery Institute, I was wrong in my characterization of her organization being a Discovery Institute, anti-science, creationist, Ayn Rand cult spin-off.

It's just a bed fellow.

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