Friday, February 16, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance

"Cognitive dissonance" is when you believe or proclaim two mutually exclusive things at once.

I suffer from cognitive dissonance when I arrange to do two different things on Tuesday evening, and don't spot the clash until too late. All through the day, I'm looking forward to one or the other... and never quite twig until the evening comes that I can't do both.

There is a high degree of cognitive dissonance in the BCSE's proclamations. Let's take a look.

Science - Nothing Else!

Sometimes, the BCSE is especially keen to make sure we know that it is absolutely, definitely not anything other than a purely scientific organisation.

This line gets trotted out when the suspicion is thought to be entertained that they are motivated by religion. Take a look at what it says on the BCSE front page (emphasis mine):

"What BCSE is not

BSCE has no other agenda that the single issue stated above ["The British Centre for Science Education is a single issue pressure group dedicated solely to keeping creationism and intelligent design out of the science classroom in publicly-funded schools in the United Kingdom."]. There is no hidden agenda. We are not here to back any one political movement or any one view on religion. It is not part or [sic] any larger organisation or movement pushing specific religious or any-religious positions or any political party or any broad political movement or outlook.

We do not object to or support religion or atheism. We do not object to the teaching of creationism or intelligent design outside of the science lesson or as non-scientific subjects.

We do not promote any religious or atheistic viewpoint."

Note that carefully. The BCSE:

  • Is concerned with science, not politics. It is "not part or (of) any ... broad political movement or outlook."

  • It has no opinions either way on things religious - either positive or negative. They have no objections to what the religious teach about origins outside of school science.

  • Wish you to know that that's all there is to it - "no other agenda ... no hidden agenda"

  • And the most sweeping statement of all: "We do not promote any religious or atheistic viewpoint."

But on the other hand...

Or sometimes, if they're suffering from a bit of cognitive dissonance...

"the [creationist] movement includes extreme political objectives, one of which is the replacement of democracy with a theocracy based on its extreme religious opinions." - Roger Stanyard, BCSE committee member and de facto leader, writing on the same BCSE homepage, a little further down.

"It is a political fight. The fundies want a theocracy, and are trying very hard to get it. So this is a fight between everyone who wants a fundamentalist theocracy and everyone who doesn't." - Lenny Flank, discussing the setting up of the BCSE, 25th June 2006. [BlackShadow 1024]

"I agree with everything you say Lenny" - Alan Belliss, BCSE founder and committee member, replying to the above, 25th June 2006. [BlackShadow 1030]

"we are defending education against the threat posed by creationism and creationist ideology, and both the UK and democracy against the threat of theocracy." - Timothy Chase, BCSE committee member, 11th July 2006. [BlackShadow 1506]

"This fight really isn't about science -- it's about political power." - Lenny Flank, 11th July 2006. [BlackShadow 1498]

"My advice? Don't focus on the "science". No one cares about it, and no one understands it anyway. And it's not what this fight is about. This is a POLITICAL fight, not a scientific one." - Lenny Flank, quoted approvingly by BCSE committee member Roger Stanyard, 30th October 2006 (

"... one could easily argue that the science isn't our primary objective, either, that since what we are trying to stop is an extremist ideology which threatens society we should just focus on their political objectives." - Timothy Chase, BCSE committee member, 6th November 2006 (

So, let me see if I've got this straight...

The BCSE is a purely scientific organisation. Whose primary aim is political.

It has no political or religious aims. Its reason for existing is to save Britain from the threat of theocracy.

They have no interest at all in what dissenters from Darwinism do outside of school science lessons. Their aim is to protect society at large from religious dictators.

I'm glad that's clear! Do you think even they really know what they mean?

David Anderson

BlackShadow posts have been removed by the BCSE from the Internet. You may obtain a copy of the posts above by verification from me on request.

Non-anonymous factual corrections welcomed by e-mail. Comments are moderated - please read my comments policy.

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