One of the great things about working for Genome, a Plano-based national medical science magazine, was getting to know science writers around the country. Because said writers know I live in Dallas, I got several WTF emails after the Dallas Morning News last week published this gee-whiz profile of the Institute for Creation Research, which tries to marry biblical tales with science. (As Dallas Observer writer Amy Silverstein notes, the institute is trying to gild the lily, because the Internet is already full of awesome papers that claim to prove biblical factuals.) The questions these science writers asked can be summarized thusly: Why would a reputable paper suggest that the institute’s members, who are essentially writing King James fan fiction, are in any way practicing science?
Now, the folks at MIT’s Knight Science Journalism Program are asking the same question. In this blog post, Paul Raeburn, past president of the National Association of Science Writers, takes several swipes at the story, suggesting this is what happens when even excellent feature writers are allowed to write about science. You should read the whole thing, but here’s the money graph:
Farwell is sadly wrong on the details and wrong on the big picture. He’s unfair to the scientists who should have been asked to respond to the claims the Institute for Creation Research made, and he is unfair to his readers, who will come away from the story with a blinkered and inaccurate view of “creation research.”