Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What's the National Curriculum?

In this article, we're going to shine some more light to help us to answer the question: "Who are the BCSE, and how should we respond to them?"

Our Purpose

Let us once again remind ourselves of this blog's purpose. It is not here to refute arguments on the BCSE's website. It is not here to correct untruths and errors in its database. It is simply to answer the question above. When we can see whether the BCSE can give straight and honest answers about their own identities, qualifications and agenda, then we'll know whether we should even bother reading the rest of their material. Put more simply: If we find they can't tell us the truth about straightforward facts about themselves - then why should we listen to any of their opinions about other matters? This question has become all the more relevant now that the BCSE has been making representations in national media and to MPs.

Today's Research

Today's article focuses on the question of the British Centre for Science Education's qualifications to talk about education. What is their knowledge, and what is their experience?

However, we're not going to give a full answer to this question. Instead, we're going to simply focus upon one issue that arose prior to the BCSE's launch. This issue shines rather a lot of light upon our question.

The BCSE's great pre-occupation, as seen from its website, is to prevent criticisms of Darwinisms or presentations of alternative creationist or "intelligent design" models from being made in schools. At all costs, schoolchildren must not be allowed to think critically about origins - the conclusions may not be welcome! Now personally, I would be very happy for a full presentation of Darwinism to be made to schoolchildren. A full presentation means honesty about the theory's problems, the swathes of missing evidence for it, and the enormous philosophical problems it poses. A full investigation of Darwinism, I am convinced, will only persuade more people to abandon it. The BCSE, however, don't feel this way about intelligent design or creationism. They feel that a full, open, candid investigation is bad. That's not really the rational or scientific approach, is it?

Anyway, I am wandering from the point, and becoming controversial. The point is that the BCSE's main focus is schools. They present themselves as science educators, and so we may expect them to be well qualified to do so. The question is: Are they?

The National Curriculum

In August 2006, the BCSE was preparing to launch itself upon the world. As its core members readied themselves, they realised that they were going to have to know the answer to a question. They needed to know what was actually in the National Curriculum. Interrupting a discussion of exactly what counted as "science", and as "arts", Michael Brass piped up[1]:

This is *precisely* why I mentioned the necessity of obtaining copies of the national curriculum, for various age groups.

Roger Stanyard, BCSE leader, agreed[2]:

So, does anyone want to take on the job of obtaining and looking at the national curriculum* for us. I simply don't have the time to do everything (as it is, I'm spending on average 3 hours a day before nine o'clock, plus part of my lunch time plus an hour or so in the evening plus weekends trying to pull everything together).

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Now, remember that the BCSE are presenting themselves to politicians and public as an authoritative group of educators - with several dozen experienced members. Given that, what would you expect would happen next in the discussion?

Well, I don't know about you... but I'd expect that one of the many experienced teachers within the BCSE group would chime in. One of those heads of science who is implementing the national curriculum week in, week out, would provide an authoritative answer. Or, one of those old hands who has now retired from a lifetime in education will tell us what the score is. After all, this is the core competency of the BCSE, isn't it?

Or failing that, at least some teacher will just give us the answer?


The shocking (unless you've read this blog before, that is) truth, though, is that the BCSE didn't have any teachers, ex-teachers, or other science educators within its membership. Not one. Nobody interjected. Nobody supplied the answer. Because nobody knew.

In fact, the kind of thing that then had to be discussed was not "What are the fine points of the National Curriculum?", but "What is the National Curriculum, anyway?" That's why, in the quote above, Stanyard is saying - "where can we get a copy?"

Here's Stanyard again - and remember, this is just 2 months ago[3]:

My understanding (and I could be dead wrong on this, so please correct me if I am) is that the National curriculum defines what is studied and is common to all schools in England and Wales where the examination boards interpret it for the purpose of setting exams.

Now, notice just what Roger says. He "could be dead wrong". He's not sure what the national curriculum is, but he has an idea. Is this par for the course for the leader of an educational lobbying group?

Well, we'll give him 7 out of 10 for his attempt. Actually there are separate national curriculums in England and Wales - and Scotland and Northern Ireland too. It defines a common core and targets. But still, he wasn't to know that, was he - after all, it's not as if he's the leader of a group claiming to be educators, is it? Oh, hang on...

However, later posts reduce Roger's mark down from that 7. He suggests the idea that the National Curriculum can ban certain things from being taught in schools. But it can't - it's merely a common core, a minimum standard; it is purely inclusive. What else is taught, or not taught, is up to individual schools. Now, I'm rather grateful that there is no governmentally banned knowledge - aren't you? Aren't unmentionable ideas a feature of repressive regimes and police states? However, Roger's posts show that it's something he'd rather like. (Those pesky problems of Darwinism again)[4].

What Next?

What happens next is even more revealing. Here's core BCSE member Ian Lowe (he of the Scottish Atheist Council) a few days later[5]:

We need someone to read through the National Curriculum, the guidelines to headteachers and the DFES rules about applying that curriculum with a critical eye to figure out what we need to actually be campaigning to change.

Despite the 50 or so members on this list, precisely four people have responded: Marco is up to his elbows in the notoacademies campaign, I'm busy with the Scottish campaign, Mikey is busy with his research, and Roger can't be expected to spend any more time on this than he already is.

Hell, I spent time *at work* going through the DFES site to find the documents, in the hope that someone with a bit more time would read them through.

Then Michael Brass replies. Of course, there's interesting data in both these quotes for the question of whether or not the BCSE are being honest in their claims to be more than a tiny group of activists, though that's not our point[6]:

I will be able to do so after the end of the first week of October. Until then, I have just submitted a journal paper for review, will be doing revisions to a second paper for review and writing about 5 articles for two encyclopedias. Plus time to earn money and my personal life.

I am planning on reading through the curriculum during the course of October. Of course that is two months away.

Some days later, an outsider called "Andy" joined in, commenting on a page on the BCSE's nascent website. He'd spotted a problem[7]:

"Our analysis of the National Curriculum" would lead to huge embarrassment if any journalist asked about the detail of same. Black Shadow records clearly the difficulty in finding someone who has the time to read it (let alone analyse it) and this is obviously a work in progress not a completed task. Identifying creationists as liars and then failing to be factually accurate is not wisdom."

Some days later, Ian Lowe again. Do you agree with him?[8]

I have been away on business, and it's pretty sobering to see that we are not one step further forward on the important stuff. Seriously, nobody else came forward to have a look at the National Curriculum? But we have lots of edits being done on the website?

Sorry guys, but I'm just shaking my head in disbelief at this. Doesn't this strike anyone else as a bit "fur coat, no knickers"?

Later on the same day, Ian puts it to Roger: "You are taking time off work, and there's not even a volunteer to read the damn national curriculum?" and "you can't even get someone to help leaf through the NC to figure out what needs fixing".[9]

Well, that was a bit close to the bone, and Roger didn't appreciate it too well[10]:

Let me ask you a simple question. What has you contribution been to this group this week? Have you offered to edit the web site? Have you offered to draft out a constitution or whatever for the organisation. Have you offered to sent us copies of the national curriculum?

I'm sorry even that I didn't agree with you beforehand what days I took of and what days I should be working on your pet beef. If you want a constitution this week you write it. I've found time, why haven't you?

You trouble is Ian from day one you have walked in with fists flying everytime you disagree with some one.

Let's put it tactfully. You do not get voluteers by bullying. And that includes both me and Alan in this case.

Well, it goes on from there. We're not so interested in the squabbling (though it does show us things about the group's professionalism). We just want to know if anyone actually did discover anything about the curriculum that they wanted to present themselves as experts upon. After some more infighting, eventually, Brian Jordan, with a burst of unprintable profanity, decided to have a go. This was at 1:13 a.m. on Saturday the 19th of August. He managed to find a few documents on the Department of Education's website. Between 15:00 and 16:28 on the same day he provided a few quotes from here and there. Here's a sample of how detailed and thorough the analysis got[11]:

I've searched for key words, and got:

Darwin 0

Controversy 0

Origin 3 - all satisfactory

Evolution 1 - too weak:

5b "variation within species can lead to evolutionary changes and similarities and differences between species can be measured and classified."

Even in doing so, Brian got a few things wrong. He culled the above from the new National Curriculum published for this year, under the assumption that the old one was obsolete. However, that was mistaken - the old one is still in effect for this year. Brian, though, misunderstood this, and didn't complete reading the old one. Still, that's excusable - he's not claiming to be an expert... is he?


And that's it. Yes, really. That was all the investigation or analysis of the National Curriculum that the BCSE undertook. Discussion on the subject ended. If you search the archives, then you'll only find 3 more mentions of the phrase "national curriculum". Two are irrelevant asides; the other is Michael Brass, on September 5th, asking a question to Andy[12]:

would you have the time and/or the inclination to become more organisationally involved (such as assisting with and editing the Wicki [sic] and reading certain sections of the national curriculum, for example) ?

Did you catch that? That pesky curriculum still needs someone to actually find out something about it... And as I say, that's the last mention of the topic.

It's from this platform, this deep personal knowledge, years of experience, and thorough research, that the BCSE began lobbying MPs and public, and asking for a say in the British education system. Oh yes.

What to make of this?

Now I invite the open-minded reader to ask a few critical questions. I've given you the BCSE in their own words. There are the facts. How should we interpret them?

  • Firstly, an aside. Notice who are the names taking part in the discussion above. Are they not just the people who we have identified previously as the BCSE's essential membership? Do our findings here tie in with our previous investigation? Is the BCSE telling the truth when it claims to have large numbers of qualified members, as opposed to just a religiously-motivated hard core?

  • Secondly, let's be more to the main point. How much educational experience would you expect a public lobbying body to have, before it qualifies as a credible voice that should be allowed a say in the debate? Does the BCSE have that much experience? Is it close?

  • More specifically... is the evidence above in keeping with the BCSE having any experience whatsoever? Let's be blunt. Do they have such a low level of experience, that the only accurate labels for them "fraudsters", "deceivers" and "conmen"?

  • What do you think of the BCSE's eventual "investigation" into the national curriculum? Did it impress you with its thoroughness and carefulness? Or not? Did it strike you as the group of a fair, balanced and open-minded body - or as a hatchet job? What does this say about the leadership of the BCSE?

  • Almost finally, what does all of this say about the BCSE, its credibility, and its agenda, in general? If the BCSE is not in this because they really are experienced and informed science educators - then why are they in this?

And finally, I want to apply this in a wider way. The BCSE want to talk about certain subjects. They want to tell you things about Darwinism, creationism, and politics. From what you've seen about how they handle much more simple and straightforward matters - is there any reason to trust them? Can you rely on their word? Do they have a track record in dealing with facts honestly?

Or not?

David Anderson
bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk

The BlackShadow Yahoo group archives are at http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/BlackShadow/messages. The BCSE have since removed public access to the archive, but I am able to supply a copy to any researcher wishing to verify the accuracy of the above.

[1] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2153
[2] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2165
[3] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2172
[4] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2173
[5] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2188
[6] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2192
[7] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2262
[8] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2289
[9] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2295
[10] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2298
[11] BlackShadow Yahoo group, messages 2307, 2310, 2312, 2314, 2315, 2319
[12] BlackShadow Yahoo group, message 2544

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Back Next Week; A Few Choice Quotes

It's been a busy week for the "BCSE Revealed" - traffic was 3 times as much as the previous week, with over 1,000 article views via the web.

We hope to be be back next week, but for the meantime, I have first a plea, and then some choice quotes.

A Request

You will remember that last week we saw where the BCSE's core group is coming from. Recent research indicates that the BCSE are now trying their best to sign up a few more credible names to endorse them.

But readers of this blog will now be wise to this. It doesn't matter how many PhDs or what-nots they manage to get an endorsement from - readers of "BCSE: Revealed" now know who the core group of real workers are, and where they're coming from. We ask again our sympathetic readers to link this blog from as many places as they can. If you've seen the facts published on this blog, then I hope you'll agree that they expose the BCSE as a basically fraudulent group that is seeking to mislead the British public about its lack of credibility. If so, then I hope that you'll be concerned that this group is seeking to influence lawmakers and opinion formers. You can do something to prevent that influence - publicise this blog. Get it linked from everywhere you can.

Revealing Quotes

Before we leave you for the weekend, here are some choice quotes. Have a little look, and ask yourself what they tell you about what's really going on. The names behind them are Roger Stanyard and Ian Lowe - the core two members who have had letters published in the national press in the UK in the name of the "British Centre for Science Education".

Here's Roger on the 5th of August, complaining about a little problem that the BCSE's internal discussions keep bringing up:

The slight problem we have is that many group members have robust views which are basically anti-religion.
And here's Ian's response...
So, why are you continuing to pound the pulpit on this issue? We get the damn point mate. Don't say anything which might offend the overly sensitive believers.

Have you lost sight of the fact that the actual enemy here is the fundmanetalists, and not in fact the big mouthed atheists?
Later in the month, in a different context, Ian says something that's just too true...
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. I would have suggested that the website was developed in private, then placed live in a formal launch event (which, of course, gives a perfect reason to contact the press with a release and maybe get some column inches)
Why do you think Ian might be keen to hide their internal discussions? Is it because if too much light is shone on the BCSE, then people might not take them seriously?

That's what we're here for. See you next week.

David Anderson
bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk

The above quotes are from posts 2090, 2093 and 2289 of the BlackShadow Yahoo group - http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/BlackShadow/messages. Later on, the group took Ian's advice and took the archive off-line. However, I am able to supply anybody wishing to ascertain the accuracy of the above quotes with a copy.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Take Me To Your Leader!

(Part two is here; further relevant information is here).

In previous articles, we have made some progress in answering the question "Who are the BCSE?". By announcing themselves to the press and legislators in the way they have, you'd expect some pretty impressive credentials. Our research has turned up a rather different picture. Here's where we've been so far:

  • "Who are the BCSE?"
    Their highly misleading name and self-description.

  • "Who are the Members? (Part 1)"
    The BCSE's reluctance to give you information about itself.

  • "Who are the Members? (Part 2)"
    The fraudulent method the BCSE uses to claim for itself a membership seven to nine times larger than the reality, and the evidence that the BCSE knows its own claims to be fraudulent.

  • "Who are the Members? (Part 3)" - The details of only ten with a claim to substantial real involvement at the launch unmasked, their motives, and lack of credentials.

  • "Fact Check" - One of the figures heavily involved in launching the BCSE publically distances himself from them - describing them as religiously motivated fraudsters.
On more than one occasion, I have described Mr. Roger Stanyard as the de facto leader of the BCSE. This article will examine the evidence for saying this.

First of all, we must notice that the BCSE itself does not wish to describe Stanyard in this way. Officially, it presents Stanyard as being its spokesman. This was how Stanyard announced himself in the BCSE's letter to "The Times"[1]:

When Stanyard was interviewed on BBC Radio Manchester on behalf of the BCSE, he quickly afterwards edited the BCSE's website, seeking to make it clear that the BCSE was not a one man band, and that he was its spokesman, not its all[2]. (Notice the initials "RJS" for the editor):

Roger Stanyard was acting as one of the two spokesman for BCSE in the above interview. We point out that of the 83 members of BCSE many are qualified scientists and include people with post-graduate qualifications...
BCSE is not a one-man band. It has 83 members.

Well, we've already seen what the "83 members" assertion boils down to. But note for now that Stanyard here identifies himself as a spokesman.

Now, just take a step back for a moment. If Stanyard is the spokesman, then there's another question you'll want to ask, isn't there? Don't you want to know...

Just who is the leader?

Which scientific and educational mastermind is behind such an august-sounding institution as the "British Centre for Science Education" - that noble body that seeks the ear of our MPs? Well, as we've already seen, the BCSE don't want to tell you that. Now, how does that reflect on their credibility? An organisation that won't tell you who runs it? But I digress...

But, as we'll see, in fact Stanyard is in charge. Let's look at the facts.

1. He writes twice as much in internal discussions as anybody else

We've already seen that the BCSE is a re-launch of the "BlackShadow" activist group. It was planned during the year leading up to September 2006 on the corresponding Yahoo group.

During that year, there were 2566 e-mails posted to that group. Stanyard posted 524 - that's 20.4%, or over 1 in every 5. The next most active member was Michael Brass, who posted 261 - or just under half as many[3]. Did you get that? Nobody else said even half as much as Stanyard.

2. The original founder says so

We've seen before that Alan Bellis was the original founder of "BlackShadow". But in July 2006, Alan announced that he had too much on his plate. Who did he hand over the reins to?

3. He calls the shots

In early August 2006, Roger laid down the following roadmap for the BCSE:[4]

I hope that we are now pulling all the strings together.

My proposal is that during this month (August) that we should aim to:

1. Complete the discussions and reach final agreement on our objectibes and broad tactics.

2. That a draft charter be drawn up.

3. We open up our web site.

4. We have in hand some opening moves.

That's normally the kind of thing the leader does - isn't it?

4. He wrote the charter

"Spokesman" Roger didn't only suggest that the BCSE have a charter. He wrote it too.

You can find the full message at http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/BlackShadow/messages/2108 - if you can't get access to that, then it's substantially the same as the front page of the BCSE's website.

5. He owns the website

Well, who owns the BCSE's domain name (bcseweb.org.uk)? You guessed it.[5]

6. He wrote the website

Take a look at the list of "Recent Changes" on the website. You'll find one name comes up rather a lot, especially for an organisation that isn't a "one man band"[6]:

7. He represents them in public

And of course, as we've seen, it's Stanyard who wrote to The Times, drafted and sent letters to lobby MPs, and appeared on BBC radio (Manchester).

8. He's the contact

Do you want to contact the BCSE? Well, it's hard to find out any solid details about where to find them, but on their "Contact" page you will find an e-mail address. Guess whose?[7]


Well, there's more evidence that could be shown. But that's enough, isn't it?

Pulling It Together

So where does this leave us?

I take it that the man who...
  • writes twice as many internal communications as anyone else,
  • is recognised internally as the leader,
  • calls the shots,
  • writes the charter,
  • owns the website,
  • writes the website,
  • represents them in public,
  • and is the primary contact...
...is the leader. Yes?

Clearly Roger is something of a phenomenon when it comes to his zeal for supressing criticisms of Darwinism. He's obviously not keen on them. I wonder where he gets the energy? I wonder if he ever wakes up screaming because there's still no scientific evidence that non-life could ever give rise to life? But I digress...

So, this all leaves us with four questions.

  • Was Roger protesting too much when he asked the public to believe that the BCSE wasn't really a "one-man band"? How much would he have to do to qualify for this description?

  • If Roger really is the leader whilst describing himself as the "spokesman", then does this help us to trust the BCSE, or does it throw a question-mark over its honesty?

  • If Roger is really the leader, then what is his motivation for passing himself off to the public and MPs as a "spokesperson"? Surely the answer is to be found in the question...

  • What are Roger's qualifications to speak in the areas of science and education, and to seek to gain influence in parliament in these areas?

Well, I'm sure you've seen enough of the BCSE to guess what the answer to that question might be...

... but that's another story. (Part two is here; further relevant information is here).

David Anderson

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

All links as at 26th October 2006.
[1] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-2385220.html
[2] http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/PressCoverage?action=diff and http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/PressCoverage
[3] http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/BlackShadow/messages. The BCSE have made this archive private, but I can supply any researcher with a copy.
[4] http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/BlackShadow/messages/2168
[5] http://webwhois.nic.uk/cgi-bin/whois.cgi?query=bcseweb.org.uk
[6] http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/RecentChanges
[7] http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/Contacts

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fact Check

I have had correspondence from Mr. Marc Draco asking me to correct some facts in my investigation into the "membership" of the "BCSE" (part 3). You may remember that I identified Marc as the seventh most active "member" in the lead-up to the BCSE's public launch.

To save you scrolling, here's what I had said about Marc:

A hard-line atheist activist, who runs a website claiming that Jesus Christ never existed! Well, it's a relief to know that the BCSE aren't yet campaigning to have a say in the teaching of history. Marc states that the law should require anyone who suggests a religious idea in a school to be sacked immediately.
Marc took me to task on four counts.


1) Most importantly, whilst Marc admits that he was involved in the early planning leading up to the launch of the BCSE, he wants it to be known that he is definitely not a member. In Marc's own words, "Finally, and let's be 100% clear about this, I am not now and have never been a member of the BSCE", and "I am against fighting alongside other members of BSCE who are, themselves, religiously motivated" and "One of the reasons I distanced myself from the BSCE is for the very reason you have pinned that they are ... a small number of individuals claiming to be something bigger than they are."

I am more than happy to make this clear. I can well understand that someone would want to distance themselves from the BCSE, and particularly appreciate Marc's reasons.

I point out that in defining who were the "members" of the BCSE, I was using the BCSE's own definition of its membership, so I can hardly be blamed for it. (We have looked at the problems of this definition in a previous article).


2) Marc wishes to point out in connection with the general theme of my post that he has never claimed to have "scientific credentials" or "any connection with education".

My response to this would have been that by lobbying our law-makers and newspapers in the name of a group with such a grand title as the "British Centre for Science Education", a very clear claim to have credentials has been made.

However, given that Marc wishes to dissociate himself from the BCSE, this point is moot, and I am happy to clear it up.


3) Marc disagreed that he ran such a website as I mentioned. He points out that he only links to such a website.

However, in this complaint I think Marc has misunderstood me. The website I was referring to (as can be seen in my footnotes) was Marc's own website, and the claim is in the line "Did Jesus Ever Live? Oh... Er... No." (with which he links to another website which he doesn't run, and I've never believed he ran).

Marc continues to dispute that my statement is accurate and whilst I disagree, I'm happy to point Marc's position out and let my readers be the judge.

A New Law?

4) Marc believes that I quoted his desire to see a new law out of context, and that he offered it as an idea for discussion, not as his own definite opinion.

I cannot agree with Marc here. Here is the fuller context of the quote from which I wrote the original line, so that you can make your own mind up:
I want to see universal legislation that

a) (snip)

b) Disavows anyone found promoting ID/Creationism from any and all
degree qualifications they may have earned in specialist subjects
directly related to a science.

c) Allows for the immediate sacking of anyone promoting religious ideas
in a school - even as an ECA. (Let's face it, no one in their right mind
would let Abu Bakri or Abu Hamza into schools, now would they? Amounts
to the same thing.)

(http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/BlackShadow/messages/1479 - request a full copy from me if you cannot get access through Yahoo).
I am unable to see any substantial difference between what Marc said in c) and how I reported it. However, from what Marc has written to me, it is clear that this is not an opinion that he now wishes to defend. Again, I am happy to make this clear.

David Anderson : bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When you're in a hole ...

To set the context for this post, I want to remind you of the previous investigation into the BCSE's lobbying of MPs. There we saw seemingly irrefutable evidence that the BCSE deliberately mislead MPs, by asking them to condemn certain materials as being "full of errors" even though it had never seen them.

In The Beginning

The first post on this subject noted that another group had spotted two facts:

  1. The BCSE had lobbied MPs in this way.
  2. The BCSE's own website, weeks later, said that they had not seen the materials.
Shortly afterwards, Roger Stanyard, BCSE leader, added a new note to their website, explaining that in fact someone called Chris Hyland (apparently a 23-year old student and member of a similar group to the BCSE) had received the material on the 21st of September[1]:
"For the record, Chris Hyland received the Truth in Science material on 21st September and provided a preliminary outline before we, and Science Just Science members, wrote to our MPs and the national press"
Conclusive Proof

We picked up from there in our second post. There, we documented from Mr. Stanyard and Mr. Hyland's own statements, published (and still available to see) on the Internet, that Hyland did not even receive the material until the 29th (not the 21st) of September - by which time Stanyard had already posted his condemnation of it to at least 10 MPs.

What Now?

In this post, I will examine further information that has come to light since then.

Now, I know that the BCSE read this blog. I have also received information that it is a topic on their password-protected "Special Research" page[2]. 55 minutes after I posted the second article, Roger Stanyard added another clarifying note immediately after the one quoted above. Though purportedly addressed towards the group "Truth in Science", the timing and content point towards it being a message for readers of my research. It reads as follows[3]:
Chris Hyland found that he had already seen the DVD material as far back as March 2006. It is therefore palpably dishonest of Truth in Science to suggest that the nature of the content of the DVDs sent to teachers was not understood by us before either SJS or BCSE members followed up with letters to the national press and MPs.
(If comparing timings, note that the BCSE's website runs on GMT-3).

Taking a step back...

Now, let me ask you to do something. Cast your mind back to your childhood. Remember getting caught by your mum in a tricky situation. You've made a real hash of something! Your mum would ask you for an explanation. Let's suppose that what you told your mother wasn't the truth - but you thought she wouldn't know anyway. But, don't mothers just have some way of knowing things you didn't think they could! So, your mother asks you a really tricky question. This makes you stop and think. You realise that your story isn't holding up. So you tell her a different one - this time, a really watertight one! That'll fix it!

If you ever tried doing that then you'll know that far from making things easier, in fact things would now get more difficult. Not only did your mother want to question you about new holes she'd seen in the new story - she also wanted to know why you hadn't told the new story the first time!

Now we want to know this too...

You'll see from the above that Stanyard is trying to provide a reason why it was not dishonest for him to write to MPs condemning material when he didn't yet know the contents. His reason is "actually, we saw those contents in March". But, just like your mum, any critical investigator of the BCSE's credibility is now going to have a new load of questions:
  • If Stanyard knew what was in the material in March, then why did he first claim that they received it on the 21st of September?

  • If Hylands and/or Stanyard knew what was in the material in March, then why do we find them running around trying to find what is in it still on the 26th of September?

  • How could Stanyard and/or Hylands have known what material Truth in Science would send out when it launched in September, 6 months before it launched? Did they burgle the offices?

  • If Stanyard knew what Truth in Science would be sending to schools back in March, then why does his own blog host an article from June in which he announces that he has just discovered that the organisation called "Truth in Science" exists?[4]

  • And just why, in any case, did Stanyard say the 21st of September instead of the real date of the 29th? One possible answer is that Stanyard deliberately told an untruth because the 21st is before he wrote the letters to the MPs, whereas the 29th is afterwards. Is there another explanation?

Looking more carefully...

However, if you read Stanyard's statement more carefully, you'll see that actually it's a "switcheroo". It's a statement of a fact, but not a relevant fact - not a fact that answers the question at hand. Rather, it diverts your attention away from that. What Stanyard is actually saying is that "When, in late September, Chris Hyland received the material, he discovered that contained a lot in common with material he'd previously seen in March."

Did you spot that? Stanyard is throwing in "March" to try to make it sound as if his knowledge of the material goes back to March. But it's a distraction. The truth is that they had no knowledge until the 29th of September - but when the 29th of September came (and the letters to MPs were already sent), they began to discover that the material was like something they'd already seen back in March.

Chris Hyland

How about Chris Hyland? How does he feel about Stanyard involving him in this deception? (Is there another word to describe it?). Is he offended? Chris Hyland appears to be a real student (a PhD candidate) at Leeds University. Is he disturbed that he's going to have his own future reputation as a scientist brought down by the BCSE's activities? Is he concerned that anything he says in the origins debate in the future is going to be tainted by the suspicion that he has difficulties with straightforward honesty?

Well, it seems not, because our research has found another website. Here, Chris himself is being questioned about the facts picked up in my report - and pushing the same line[5]:

Do you notice the same features as in Stanyard's comment? Namely:
  1. Hyland asserts that he'd seen the material in March.

  2. But he carefully avoids saying that he knew before the 29th of September that Truth in Science's material was this same material. Were he to do so, he would be making it hard for himself to provide any credible explanation as to why, on the 26th of September, he was still stating on the Internet that he hadn't yet seen the material.

  3. In other words, he avoids explicitly saying that he knew what was in the material at the time that the MPs were being asked to condemn it. Instead, he draws attention away from the issue with a non-relevant fact. Hyland answers the question "had you seen this material before the lobbying of MPs?" rather than the really relevant question "did you know that you'd already seen the material before the lobbying of MPs?"

Now, let's take a step back from all this, and get some perspective.

Let us consider two different science/education/lobbying organisations. One is serious, qualified, and credible. The second isn't - it is a bunch of unqualified activists who want to mislead you. Now let us imagine that some serious happening comes to light which shows that one or more important members of these organisations have been misleading the public and the legislators.

Let us imagine two different kinds of response to such a situation. One organisation's leadership is horrified about what its members have been doing. It takes appropriate action against them, puts procedures in place to make sure it never happens again, and makes a full public apology. The other organisation, though, has an internal conversation and says "Ooops - we've been caught red-handed! What kind of story can we tell to try to cover our tracks and hope that nobody notices that we've been hoodwinking them?".

Now, let me ask you. Which kind of organisation, will make which kind of response?

And now let us see where that leads us. The point of this website is, after all, to shine the spotlight on the question of credibility. You are the jury...

  • Which kind of response has the "British Centre for Science Education" made?

  • What kind of organisation, then, do you conclude that the "British Centre for Science Education" is?

David Anderson : Please send any correspondence about factual errors to: bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk. (For the record, no such correspondence on this story has been received).

Comments are moderated - please read my comments policy.

All links as at 24th October 2006.

[1] http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/TruthInScienceMaterial
[2] http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/SpecialResearch
[3] http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/TruthInScienceMaterial?action=diff - see the change marked as 06:09 (site time is 3 hours off GMT).
[4] http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-679QwMkib6enGIsUE2Z09ARZQczZ?p=50
[5] http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1734

Monday, October 23, 2006

Who Are The Members? (Part 3)

(For an update on the BCSE's membership written two months after this article, go here. It is worth noting that I presented the article below a couple of months before the BCSE revealed the names of their leadership - and when they did, all 7 of their committee turned out to be individuals who I had already named in this article, demonstrating my accuracy).

In our previous posts (part 1, part 2), we have noted firstly that the BCSE are very reluctant to let you know who they are, and secondly that they are making vastly inflated claims about their membership.

We have seen most recently that (contrary to claims of "83 members") if we take a very generous approach, there cannot be said to be have been more than twelve members up to the time before the BCSE began presenting itself in national newspapers and in lobbying to MPs as if it were a credible group of science educators.

As well as these twelve, there was one further person who was so active that he deserves to be included amongst the list of genuine members, and for whom, with further research, it was possible to unearth his full name. So that makes thirteen.

Just who are they? And why are they so keen to prevent schoolchildren from learning about criticisms of Darwinism? Let's have a look. You won't find any list on their website, but we have them. Here, first, are their names, together with the number of times times that they posted to the "BlackShadow" group where the BCSE's planning was co-ordinated: (http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/BlackShadow)

  1. Roger Stanyard (524)

  2. Michael Brass (264)

  3. Brian Jordan (208)

  4. Alan Wilson (204)

  5. Marc Draco (188)

  6. Lenny Flank (184)

  7. Alan Bellis (169)

  8. Timothy Chase (141)

  9. Ian Lowe (84)

  10. John Germain (62)

  11. Dean Morrison (31)

  12. Rudy Vonk (29)

  13. Peter Hearty (29)
In my opinion, it's only worth considering the top ten - those beyond that have not managed to average even three e-mails a month.

What, then is driving these people? Well, it's not long before we spot a common factor shared by eight (updated) nine of these ten:

Roger Stanyard: As Roger is the de facto leader of the BCSE, and from the figures above twice as active as any other member, we hope to consider his credentials in a dedicated article. However, for now we just note that Roger holds an atheistic worldview and finds it hard to hide a great hatred of evangelical Christianity. (See here: one, two and here: one, two, three, four).

Brian Jordan: Hard-line atheist. Describes any non-atheists as follows: "Theists are the deluded victims of centuries of conspiracy" and says there is no reason to even debate any theory contrary to atheism. [BlackShadow 1766 and 2377].

Update from January 2007: In this month, I documented evidence of Jordan's own political activity, petitioning the prime minister to make it illegal for parents to raise their child in any way except that of secularism. See here. Dr. Jordan is the only member of the BCSE's leadership with a doctoral degree - in chemical engineering - but he is apparently not a practicising scientist, as he is retired.

Alan Wilson: Hard-line secularist and an atheist. Taking part in a pre-launch discussion about what the BCSE's aims should be, he suggests as follows: "Perhaps our primary aim should be to make the UK a properly secular state?". Says "NI, Scotland and probably Wales are in my opinion 17th Century religious backwaters". [BlackShadow posts 1530, 1849 and 1858].

Marc Draco: A hard-line atheist activist, who runs a website claiming that Jesus Christ never existed! Well, it's a relief to know that the BCSE aren't yet campaigning to have a say in the teaching of history. Marc states that the law should require anyone who suggests a religious idea in a school to be sacked immediately. See http://www.marcdraco.co.uk and BlackShadow post 1479. (Update: Draco later distanced himself from the BCSE, branding it as "religiously motivated" and "a small number of individuals claiming to be something bigger than they are" - read about that here).

Lenny Flank: An American atheist, who is also an ordained Buddhist minister. (These are not incompatible - the Buddha himself was an atheist). In his own words: "I am a Buddhist/Taoist. No gods needed or necessary." Boasts that he uses the following (with the full expletive) as a standard e-mail response: "I don't give a flying **** about your religious opinions. They are no better than anyone else's." [BlackShadow posts 901 and 2517].

Alan Bellis: Founder of the original "BlackShadow" group that re-branded itself as the BCSE. Atheist and member of the National Secular Society. Goes under username "ukantic", maybe a contraction of "UK Anti-Christ". Commends the work of atheist Sam Harris with the words "Atheism is not a philosophy; it is not even a view of the world; it is simply a refusal to deny the obvious." [BlackShadow post 1521 and http://www.furl.net/item.jsp?id=6905917]

Ian Lowe: His own self-description is "I consider myself a fairly virulent atheist. I have little or no time for religion of any kind". Ian is the founding member of the "Scottish Atheist Council". He uses the username "freefromchrist" and says that his goal is to make people think of "fundamentalist Christians" (apparently his description of evangelicals) as they do of paedophiles. "I am, pretty much unashamedly, anti-religious. [See BlackShadow posts 1029, 1476 and 1855 and http://www.scottishatheistcouncil.org.uk]

Update January 2007: Like Brian Jordan, I documented how Ian Lowe petitioned the prime minister to make it illegal for parents to instruct their own children in religion: see here.

John Germain: John lives in Jersey, and is a militant atheist. In his own words: "I despise any person who even admits to worshipping- something". [BlackShadow post 1651]

Update 20th November 2006: A later article uncovered that Timothy Chase, too, is an atheist.

Now that you have those facts in your hand, some things will become more obvious. Such as, why the BCSE's website is so full of religious content. And, why the same website has such a famine of scientific argumentation and rebuttal of anti-Darwinist arguments, but instead gives so much attention to finding out whether or not certain scientists go to church, and if so which church. It will explain why they insist on using the label "fundamentalist" to describe Christians whom they disagree with (even though this label is only in widespread use amongst religionists in the US, not in the UK, and describes a movement whose doctrinal distinctives are not replicated in any major UK grouping).

Are any of these people practising scientists? Do any of them have experience in the world of education, especially science education? Apparently not. Their credentials and experience as promoters of atheism and secularism could be tracked down - but not any credentials in the area in which they've taken it uponthemselves to lobby newspapers and MPs.

For those for whom I could find what their credentials were, they were in other fields - management and the professions. Only one has a doctoral degree - in chemical engineering, not any field related to evolution.

Does the BCSE realise this? Yes. Here, we find Roger Stanyard, on the 15th of October admitting that most of his fellow activists are professionals and managers, rather than scientists or educators. (Note, though, that he actually considers that an asset rather than a problem!):

"We also need to show to the word [sic] just what our expertise is. As far as I can make out just about everyone in the group has been through higher education of some sort and/or have[sic] jobs that would be described as professional or managerial (in the broadest sense). The members have a vast and impressive range of skills and knowledge between them" - http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=81.

Did you catch the date of that? The 15th of October? That's some weeks after they were writing letters to the Times newspaper and lobbying MPs in their grand-sounding name. And yet they know that they themselves don't have the expertise to do what they're doing.

Here's another one. Here we find Michael Brass, the second most active member, discussing a suggestion from Ian Lowe about sending a letter to the education and skills committee in the UK parliament. What does Michael have to say in response?

In case that's too small to read, you'll see that Ian was concerned that they have nobody reputable "onboard". Michael's response is that he knows that there is a PhD student who's interested in joining, and that they should try hard to persuade him. Not a PhD holder, mind you. A PhD student. Just the one - hopefully that should make the BCSE seem credible!

It doesn't seem to occur to any of the BCSE members in the above list or discussion that credibility is not just something that you can buy from Tesco to boost your lobbying credentials. If you haven't got credibility, then you just haven't got it - no matter how many "names" you sign up to use on your publicity.

So, where is the evidence pointing? Is real scientific knowledge and concern driving the BCSE - or is it something else? Are they really a credible group, or one that knows it's not, but wants to hoodwink the public into thinking that it is?

(For an update on the BCSE's membership written two months after this article, go here).

David Anderson

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

All links as at 23rd October 2006. Note that the BCSE decided to make the BlackShadow group's archives private around the time of their public launch, so there are no links. (Why do you think they did that?) Nevertheless, I have a copy of this archive from before it went private and am willing to e-mail it to any researcher.

Friday, October 20, 2006

From The Mailbag

If you're new here, you'll probably want to skip over this and read some of the research articles, before you read about what kind of reception I've been getting.

Well, in the first week of posting I've had about 200 different visitors (excluding anyone reading via an aggregator). The great majority are from the UK, which we might expect, but just under 10% are from the US. My hope is that it has helped open-minded people to discern what kind of group the BCSE is. I hope that you have become concerned about the way it is presenting itself to the public. If so, will you publicise and link this blog - so that people who have responsibilities in the area of science education won't end up being duped? If you have been persuaded - then please, will you link me? I'm not doing this for money - I just have no desire for British children to have their education affected by the output of the "BCSE".

And with all those visitors there's plenty in the mailbag. As I said in the first post, unless you're writing to correct some error of fact (and have provided some verification), don't be disappointed if I don't respond personally. Life's busy!

The great majority of the mailbag has been sympathetic.

  1. One man had seen the BCSE's letter in "The Times", and had contacted the BCSE to try to more accurately establish their position. He had received a most unnecessarily insulting response, and so was writing to me to relate his experience and express support.

  2. A number of correspondents bemoaned the lack of engagement you'll find with the scientific issues on the BCSE's website. One said, "... their approach reminds me of the Dawkins / National Secular Society strategy which is simply to pour scorn on Creationists and Christians. No reasoned debate or engagement with issues, just mockery". That's very insightful, and we hope to come back to it later.

  3. I've had a few e-mails from people, previously personally unknown to me, who have pages named after them in the BCSE's "database". Their general comment was that their pages were full of factual errors, bare assertions without any evidence, and "2+2=5" type deductions. This tallies with what I have seen on the pages of the few people in this database that I have some personal knowledge of. Here's one such correspondent's comment:
    The BCSE website contains numerous errors and gives every impression of having been put together in a hurry without adequate checking of the facts. For example, the BCSE consistently refers to me as (snip - correspondent mentions his job title), which I'm not!
    Another correspondent, along similar lines, notes that his page accuses him of lacking experience of experimental science, when in fact he has done 8 years post-doctoral research.
Reassuringly, of those who wrote in unsympathetically, none made mention of any errors of fact in any of my articles that needed correcting - so there's little to say about that.

Well, you'll notice that I haven't provided you with verifiable documentation of what's in this post today. You'll understand that I must protect my correspondents' privacy, and that they have no desire to do the BCSE's research for them. They are quite happy for the BCSE's research pages to be chock-a-block of easily demonstrable errors - because it gives the unbiased outsider all the more opportunity to see what's really going on.

David Anderson : bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Who Are The Members? (Part 2)

[ "Who Are The Members" Series: Part one, part two, part three, later note ]

Turning our attention for a moment from our report on the BCSE's knowingly supplying false information to MPs, we continue shining a light on the BCSE's membership. (See Part 1). Let us remind ourselves of our purpose. Are the BCSE a legitimate body of scientific educators - or not? What are the facts?

It seems that the BCSE are sensitive about criticisms of their claim to be a legitimate scientific body with real members. On the 16th of October, leader Roger Stanyard added a new note to their website. Read it for yourself. Do you think it has something of the "surely he protests too much" flavour about it?

BCSE comments: Roger Stanyard was acting as one of the two spokesman for BCSE in the above interview. We point out that of the 83 members of BCSE many are qualified scientists and include people with post-graduate qualifications, including PhDs from leading universities such as Leeds. ... The position that BCSE takes on science is determined by the considerable scentific and other expertise or its members.


We'll be looking at those claims about the "qualifications" of its members later. But just where does the figure of "83 members" come from? The intrigue increases when you run a search on the site for the phrases "join the BCSE", "join us" and "become a member". They all turn up a blank (the last search bringing up an unrelated comment). There is no page about membership, no schedule of membership fees, no list of qualifications required for membership, and no details of a membership secretary. How, then, has it managed to rack up 83 members?

The answer is simple. The BCSE's definition of a member is, "anyone who says anything - even one word - in our discussion forum". See this paragraph from the front page:

And sure enough, on the day that the above claim to 83 members went up, we find that the discussion forum had 83 members:

But there are a number of obvious problems with claiming that the membership of your organisation is equal to the number of people who have posted messages in your discussion group.

Firstly, it seems highly unlikely that the people posting messages in this forum realise that from thenceforward, the BCSE will publically claim them as its members. The page with the conditions for signing up certainly never explains this (http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/forum/profile.php?mode=register). (It's a nice way of counting though. When someone loses interest, or changes their mind, they'll normally just stop visiting the forum. But their username will remain registered - and the BCSE will continue to use them to inflate its claims about its membership).

It is clear, too, that many of the people signing up have not in fact realised that this is how it works, and are actually opposed to the BCSE, having joined the discussion forum in order to express disagreement with it. Here is an example quotation from Nick Cowan, a head of science from Liverpool Blue Coats' school, who has objections from the field of biochemistry against Darwinsim. Does he know that the BCSE are claiming him as one of their members?[4]

(In case that's too small to read, it says: "There is no mechanism for the abiogenesis of the complex macromolecules of living organisms. Protein synthesis, for example, is irreducibly complex, requiring DNA, a suitable transcription mechanism to form m-RNA, up to 20 different t-RNA molecules stereospecifically designed to select only the L-enantiometers of the optically active amino acids (19 of them!) plus a medium in which to carry this out. But DNA itself requires proteins for its own synthesis!")

And Nick is no one off. Here's "Jack", who has a tricky philosophical question for evolutionists.

What do you think? Is it philosophically plausible to argue that the universe appeared from nothing? Has that been demonstrated in a laboratory somewhere? Must we insist that only this position is science, and that alternative possibilities must never be discussed with schoolchildren? But I digress...

Further research shows that the BCSE were well aware of their lack of true members. Back in July (at which time the BCSE had a Yahoo group instead of their present forum), we find BCSE member Ian Lowe complaining about it (http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/BlackShadow/message/1545: (In the same post, Ian also suggested removing the public archive of their previous discussions - which the BCSE later did. Why do you think they might have felt the need to do that?).

Had Ian done a count, he would have found that over 20% of the group's membership at the time had never posted a message.

But there's more. A very sizable proportion of those signing up on the forum are unwilling to give their real names. Do you think they might be unwilling to be publically identified with the BCSE? Some give one name; some give a single initial; some won't give anything at all. Just how seriously should we take an organisation that lists as its members such esteemed scientists and educators as "Wankle Rotary Pyjamas", "Bonytrux" and the "Taoist Hermit"? What's my point, then? That there's something wrong with people communicating anonymously? No - but there's something wrong with the knowingly BCSE making a false representation of itself to the British public and law-makers.

But do they really know that they only have a fraction of their claimed number of members? Are they misleading us deliberately? Let's hear from Ian Lowe again, on the 11th of August:

Despite the 50 or so members on this list, precisely four people have responded:


So, where the hell is everyone? Cat got your tongues all of a sudden? Lurking on the group because you don't want to post is one thing - sitting idly by whilst we ask for help with getting a campaign going is another.



In reply to which we have a "vulcannuk" replying:

I think Ian is correct. There is a hardcore centre within this group, where are the rest?


Finally, Roger Stanyard, the de facto leader of the BCSE, and the author of the claim that the BCSE has 83 members, adds his assessment (http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/BlackShadow/message/2198):

That's the same Roger Stanyard who took exception to the description of the BCSE as a small and insignificant group. That's the same Roger Stanyard who wanted to clarify for the public that the BCSE really had at least 83 members. Note the initials "RJS" in the record of who changed the website:

Did you catch that? In private, when Roger thinks he's just talking to insiders, he says that there are about 10 members. In public, when Roger thinks he's speaking to the public (or MPs, or newspapers), he wants you to know that there are over 8 times as many.

Well, we don't have to just be left with Roger and Ian's estimates. We have produced our own statistics. In early September, not too long after the time when the BCSE publically launched its website, we crunched the numbers. We decided to be very generous. Though they're a group of "science educators", we won't require them to have any qualifications. Though they're "British", we won't require them to even live in this continent. We will count as a "real" or "active" member, anyone who had, over the previous year, used his real name at least once, is not an anti-Darwinist, and has managed to send more than 2 e-mails a month. How many members does the BCSE now have?

You ready?

It's twelve. Just twelve.

If we up that to 3 e-mails a month, then it's down to nine.

In future research, we'll be looking more closely at the credentials of the BCSE's leadership to set themselves up as leaders in science education. What will happen to that figure of nine when we apply any such tests? Whilst those articles are on their way, ask yourself a question.

Have the facts presented in this article shown that the BCSE is a reliable organisation, or are they looking like a body of people who just can't be trusted? Are they the kind of people that you would be happy for MPs and other legislators to take notice of?

Or is the evidence pointing somewhere else?

[ "Who Are The Members" Series: Part one, part two, part three, later note ]

David Anderson

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

All links as at 19th October 2006. The BCSE have, since this article was published, removed all "BlackShadow" messages from the Internet - if you wish to see copies for research purposes, please contact me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Red Handed : BCSE Caught Lying to MPs

Stop The Press

I was about to publish part 2 of my investigation of the BCSE's "membership", but my research has turned up a much bigger story. The BCSE has been caught telling bare-faced, documentable lies to MPs. It's game over as far as the credibility of this organisation goes.


Let me remind you of an earlier story, in which I drew attention to some evidence that the "British Centre for Science Education" may have lobbied MPs, asking them to condemn material that they had not themselves seen.

What's The Story?

Well here's the scoop: We've now got conclusive proof.

But before I show you that proof, let's follow up the earlier story.

The BCSE became aware of suggestion (from Truth in Science's news blog - http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/site/content/view/198/63/) that they had asked MPs to condemn materials that they hadn't seen. Roger Stanyard copied the Truth in Science article to the BCSE's forum (http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=71). (Mr. Stanyard styles himself a "spokesman", but according to our research (to be presented later) is the most active member and de facto leader of the BCSE):

The first response on the forum was from a man called Michael "Mikey" Brass. Our statistics show that Mikey is the second most active member of the BCSE. As such, you'd expect him to be pretty well informed. His suggested response is very curious. Read it carefully. Notice that Mikey implicitly concedes the allegation. Instead of contradicting it, he suggests a general response:

My reply would be simple: "Everything put forward in the public domain to date in the US concerning ID has been comprehensively shown to be unscientific. If TiS has access to information unavailable to their US counterparts, they should be making this information available first to the scientific community for evaluation through peer-review publication. (snip) If you wish to use this statement, attributed to me, on the BCSE site, you are welcome to. I would suggest including my credentials.


However, the actual statement that Roger Stanyard put up, on the 15th of October, was this:

For the record, Chris Hyland received the material on 21st September and provided a preliminary outline before we, and Science Just Science members, wrote to our MPs and the national press complaining about TiS's escapade. http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/TruthInScienceMaterial

Are you following? On the 15th of October, in response to Truth in Science's earlier claims, the BCSE's "spokesman" specifically stated that they had seen the materials before writing to MPs. (Chris Hyland appears to be a 23-year old student at Leeds University who has begun work as a PhD candidate - http://justscience.1.forumer.com/index.php?showuser=8).

More Context : The Early Day Motion

Here is the text of Early Day Motion 2708, sponsored by Graham Stringer, MP:

That this House shares the concerns of the British Centre for Science Education that the literature being sent to every school in the United Kingdom by the creationist religious group Truth in Science is full of scientific mistakes and fails to disclose the group's creationist beliefs and objectives; and urges all schools to treat this literature with extreme caution.


Where did Graham Stringer's information come from? Let Roger Stanyard explain:

A motion was tabled today, I understand, in Parliament requesting the government to keep creationism out of eduction. The question was directly taken, basically word for word, from the information we sent to MPs last week and the week before. The BCSE is named in the motion.

So, what's the scoop?

If you've followed all that, then here's the killer:

Fact 1: Chris Hyland received the material on Friday the 29th of September 2006, and began reviewing it over the weekend (not on the 21st, as the BCSE states).

Fact 2: Roger Stanyard drafted the letter to MPs, with the above phrases, three days before. Moreover, by the 29th of September, Mr. Stanyard had already sent the letters to at least ten MPs.

Here's the evidence. Here's Chris Hyland, on Friday the 29th, announcing that he has received the material and will review it on Saturday and Sunday:

Here's Chris Hyland on the 24th, mentioning that he's requested the material - three days after he's already, according to the BCSE, reviewed it!

And here's Roger Stanyard, 3 days earlier than the date Chris receives the material, introducing his letter to MPs:

Scroll further down that page (http://justscience.1.forumer.com/index.php?f=2&t=612&view=findpost&p=5691), and you will find the letter in full. And here's an extract:

Did you get that? The material is "full of scientific errors". This is the central phrase reproduced in the Early Day Motion. This is the phrase which Truth in Science picked up on. This is the phrase which, on the 15th of October, the BCSE on their website affirmed was backed up by Chris Hyland having already seen the evidence. This is one of the phrases which Roger Stanyard is referring to as being "word for word" picked up from the BCSE's lobbying material. Yet Chris Hyland didn't actually receive the material for another 3 days, and didn't begin reviewing it until the following weekend. (If you have time to read the whole of Mr. Stanyard's letter, you'll see where all the other components of the Early Day Motion come from too).

My research strongly suggests that the results of Chris Hyland's analysis became known to others on the 2nd of October. (This is the date at which he first gives others access to a draft; on the 1st of October, he told people that he was "in the middle" of the review) (http://justscience.1.forumer.com/index.php?act=ST&f=2&t=596&view=findpost&p=5618). Yet on the 29th of September, Roger Stanyard was telling people that he'd already posted letters to ten MPs:

That's It, Isn't It?

What more now needs to be said about the "British Centre for Science Education"? Once you're caught lying openly to MPs (and to the public), the game is over. It's time to pack up and go home. You have no credibility. You can't be trusted. You are not fit to have any say in the educating of British children.

David Anderson

All links as at 17th October 2006.

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