Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Amazing Disappearing Evidence!

Now, the premise of this blog is pretty simple. It goes as follows:

"If people know the truth about the British Centre for Science Education, then they'll not take them seriously".

Or put another way:

"For their own success, British Centre for Science Education are relying on people being kept in the dark as to what they're really like".

Over the past couple of weeks, we have looked at the available facts to back up this thesis. Let's remember the stories we've covered. If you're new here, these are the best place to start:

What Are They Really Up To?

Now, if you've read all those, then I think you'll agree that the evidence looks pretty damning. Time and again, we've seen that this "Centre for Science Education" is not made up of people from the worlds of science or education - or even with basic background in them. We have remarked that the BCSE's website is desparately thin on scientific or educational content. What's really going on? Well, as Ian Lowe, one of the BCSE core said to BCSE leader Roger Stanyard[1]:
"Have you lost sight of the fact that the actual enemy here is the fundmanetalists [sic]"
That's not difficult to work out. I went to the BCSE's public website, and did a search for "fundies", "fundamentalist" or "fundamentalists". Over 25% of the articles on that public website contain one of those words. One of those words is used 400 times in only 298 articles on the BCSE website[2]. Somewhat higher than your average science website, don't you think?

There are many other synonyms the BCSE uses; "nutters" and "loons" also turn up positive matches. "Cretin" seems to be another favourite term, turning up 101 times in the archive of the old "BlackShadow" Yahoo group[3].

An Aside - Fundamentalists?

In the UK, use of the word "fundamentalist" to describe Christians is a classic hallmark of militant atheism. There is no significant Christian movement in the UK which uses or has used that word to describe itself. Neither is it commonly used by outsiders to describe Christians. The American movement which describes itself thus has important distinctives not really reflected in the UK (and certainly not amongst the targets of the BCSE's ire). The only people using it are angry anti-theists such as Richard Dawkins and his ilk.

The people who bare the brunt of the BCSE's assaults on its website would mostly be designated "Evangelicals", some as "Pentecostals" and some as "Anglicans" - and some otherwise. There's a range. But the point is that the only people using the label "fundamentalist" are campaigning anti-Christians. So to find the BCSE not only using it, but using it everywhere, is plenty revealing.

It is a classic hallmark of unthinking activism when you re-designate those whom you disagree with under a deliberately chosen pejorative label. Normally it is not done by those who feel they have the stronger side of the argument - it's a tactic chosen by those who are on the defensive.

Now, I'm not saying and I've not said that promotion of atheism is the motivation for 100% of BCSE members. We saw beforehand rather that it is the core motivation - 8 out of 10 of the core BCSE activists can be identified in this way, but there are others around who have their own personal scores to settle, and are using the BCSE's war on behalf of Darwinism as their proxy. Maybe I'll write more on that another time.

Coming Now To The Point...

OK. Let's get back to where we started. My premise is that when light is shone on the BCSE, they'll end up looking bad. My premise is that the BCSE won't want that light to be shone upon them.

So, let's ask ourselves a question. Let's assume you've read the articles above. You've seen the BCSE speaking in their own words, when they thought nobody was listening. You've looked at the facts on the public website. What do you think the BCSE will think of all of this? A quick look around their website's forum will show you that they've read it. I suppose there are three possibilities:
  1. My interpretations of the facts are all so badly wrong, that they'll take up my offer to hear from them immediately, and contact me officially - lest I damage their hard-earned reputation. After all, I'm getting plenty of hits lately, so people know what I'm saying.

  2. My interpretations of the facts are all so obviously wrong, that anyone who reads them will see the wrongness of them. By leaving me alone, allowing people to look at the evidence and then look at the facts, it will become clear to any impartial reader that I'm an idiot. This blog will then become a testimony to the fact that the only way to oppose the BCSE is by being completely irrational.

  3. My interpretations of the facts are so obviously right, and the BCSE is so clearly a fraudulent group, that it's embarassing. Rather than deal with the elephant in the room, the BCSE will just begin trying to silently delete the evidence, and hope nobody notices. The fringe of reasonable people who had been becoming interested will silently drift away, leaving them with only a hard-core of increasingly extreme activists.
What I am saying, is look at what happens with the evidence that you can find on the Internet of all that the BCSE have said about themselves. Are the BCSE happy to leave it there, because they have nothing to hide? Or are they going to go on a manic deleting spree, and hope that everybody's looking the other way? What do you think?

Of Course, You Know Where This Is Going...

Well, let's have a look. A great deal of our early material was drawn from the Yahoo group which the BCSE used in its pre-launch planning. That material is very valuable for showing where the BCSE's founders were coming from, and what they were aiming at. Do you think that that's something they want us to see? Here's Ian Lowe on the 18th of August to tell us[4]:
I don't know if you guys are aware, but large sections of the web get archived, and these older versions of websites can be highly embarrasing when dragged out at just the wrong moment in the future.
All I can say to Ian on that subject is, "you bet!" And as long as Ian and his unqualified friends are going to carry on masquerading before the public as science educators, "BCSE Revealed" is going to keep on highly embarrassing them with quotes like this one.

Well, as it was, Ian's advice was eventually taken. From the 6th of September onwards, if you weren't a member, you couldn't look in. All you would get to see is the Yahoo login box, asking you for a valid BlackShadow ID:

However, this didn't deal with all the concerns Ian had. He was also troubled that there were some members with usernames and passwords who couldn't be trusted. There might be some of those feared "Fundies" lurking and listening! Here he is on the 12th of July[5]:
Righty, I don't think that Fundies should be allowed in.

Further, I think the current membership list should be culled to remove anyone who has never posted - we probably have a large number of "lurkers" with unknown allegiences.
Now, take a step back. That's interesting, isn't it? If the BCSE is a real group of science educators - then why would they have such a religious test for their membership? Whoever "fundies" are precisely in Ian's mind, presumably they are defined religiously. If the BCSE is not really a religiously motivated group (as opposed to a scientific group), then why should there be a rule excluding certain religious people...? What's going on here?

Well, even with the group closed, I was publicising its content here. Moreover, there was information that was available even to non-members. Everybody was able to read off the group's self-description, which demonstrated that the BCSE was a re-launch of the "Black Shadow" activist group - as cited by me on 16th October. And so it came to pass, that just a few days ago, anyone trying to visit those pages got this[6]:

Group Not Found: There is no group called BlackShadow. Please make sure you typed the web address correctly. If you have done so, the group may no longer exist.
What Happened to The Self-Description?

Maybe you remember that in this and this post, we began studying the BCSE's description of itself - from the first two paragraphs of its website. We found them to contain both damning admissions and clear falsehoods. What happened to those paragraphs shortly afterwards? The BCSE pulled them. Now, you can read this:
The British Centre for Science Education (BCSE) is a newly formed organisation with the primary purpose of stopping the teaching of Creationism in UK state schools. Our main role is to act as a coordinating group, providing support to other groups and individuals who share our purpose, and to develop and implement activist tactics to achieve our purpose.

The BCSE is fully supported by its members throughout the UK, and draws on the experience and expertise of like minded professional people resident in North America, Australia, South Africa and continental Europe. Our members come from a broad variety of fields...
What's changed? The three points which "BCSE Revealed" critiqued:
  • The revealing statement that the British Centre for Science Education was in fact an international group: gone. Replaced with some double-speak which asserts that there are UK members but avoids telling you what proportion.

  • The claim to be a "new group": Gone. Now they're not claiming that the group behind it is new - it's just the organisation that they launched which is new.

  • The claim to have 80 members: Gone. Now there's no claim about how many members there are. There are just "members"!
Website Changes

Another fertile source of information for us was looking at when things changed on the BCSE website. Do you remember when we pointed out that Roger Stanyard (initials: RJS) was hurriedly (and not very convincingly) altering the BCSE's story just hours after we revealed that they had lied to MPs?

Well, do you know what the BCSE did to their website a few days after I posted that story? Did they:
  1. Deal with the real issue, and start asking how they could have sunk to such depths? Or...

  2. Did they move swiftly to re-program their website so that this log of page changes was no longer available?
Well, try to go and see that log of changes, and you'll find out...[7]

It wasn't only the log of changes to individual pages that was interesting. There was also a log of site-wide changes. We found this relevant when we were investigating the suggestion that Roger Stanyard performs the majority of the activity of the BCSE. The log of overall website changes was most helpful in that regard:

It seems that the BCSE want to make sure nobody sees that in future either. Go there now, and you'll get this sight again[8]:
Summing up

Let's draw this all together.

Firstly, I have been arguing that if people find out too much about the BCSE, then the BCSE will have to say goodbye to the idea of any serious credibility. If this thesis is correct, then the BCSE will move to hide facts when they come to light - instead of seriously responding to them.

Secondly, we have asked ourselves how a credible organisation would respond to the criticism received from a blog like my one - and how a fraudulent one would respond. A credible one would deal with the issue, or do nothing because there was no case to answer. A fraudulent one would start running around in an attempt to hide the evidence, hoping that nobody notices.

Thirdly, we have seen that the BCSE have been running around in an attempt to hide the evidence, hoping that nobody notices.

The conclusion is again all too clear.

David Anderson
bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk - non-anonymous factual corrections welcomed.

Links below gathered 4th - 6th October 2006. If you wish to obtain a copy of links since deleted by the BCSE for your own research purposes, e-mail me. They may have deleted it from the public Internet - my computer still has it.

[1] - now deleted from the web by the BCSE.
[2] Search carried out using the search box at, and by running a customised search over a mirror of the same site.
[3] - now deleted from the web by the BCSE.
[4] - now deleted from the web by the BCSE.
[5] - now deleted from the web by the BCSE.

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