Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Do you like our new deck-chair arrangement? (Part 2)

In the previous article, I commented on the fact that the BCSE's deckchairs have changed colour, and they sport a re-written front page of their website. In that piece, I pointed out a number of the claims which the BCSE no longer make - because they were exposed. Don't expect to find any link on the BCSE website where they explain or apologise for any of the misleading half-truths or downright falsehoods, though - that's not their way of doing business.

Let us now examine what the present BCSE front page (as of 10th January 2008) actually does say.

The British Centre for Science Education (BCSE) is a group dedicated to promoting and defending science education in the UK.

This statement is misleadingly general. In fact, the BCSE has no other agenda that to silence criticism of Darwinism. As documented many times, its leaders have no experience or credentials in science education, and none of them are currently practising scientists or educators. The thing about the Darwinism debate though is that so much of it depends on philosophy rather than science, that the BCSE feel able to talk to that specific area.

It is run as a cooperative organisation by part-time volunteers with paid membership and a public forum where the general public can debate the key issues involved.

I exposed last year that the BCSE had had to change its policy of asking members to pay for their membership, apparently because hardly anyone was willing to join under such conditions. In fact, the membership page of the new BCSE website also still says that no payment is necessary, so here is a contradiction. I'll refrain from commenting much on the level of co-operation that actually exists within the BCSE! (A majority of its committee resigning within one year of opening...).

We have become deeply worried about attacks on science education, particularly from creationists funded from the USA, and our campaign is dedicated to keeping all forms of creationism including Intelligent Design out of the science classroom in the UK.

This statement is also misleading. Creationism and intelligent design are in fact the BCSE's sole actual interests in the realm of science education. The impression is given by the above statement that the BCSE have long been involved in science education, and that here is one particular present issue. In fact, the BCSE has never done anything about any other issue at all other than creationism and ID. The BCSE's activities have also gone far beyond the science classroom, and for the last year they have been involved in various campaigns of slander and intimidation against religious individuals (ministers, seminary teachers and the like) who have not had any kind of involvement in school science. The BCSE is simply an organisation which exists to silence any criticism of materialism's creation myth not with reasoned argument but simply with insults and smears, whether it occurs within 100 miles of a classroom or not.

Notice too the BCSE's description of intelligent design as a form of creationism. Such rhetoric is just a way of advertising your own ignorance. The concepts of intelligent design have been held and discussed by a wide variety of scientists and philosophers down history, by such names as Plato and Aristotle amongst others. It is supported by people who are neither creationist nor even Christians. To seek to write off the whole concept as merely being a form of creationism is simply to reveal your own ignorance and bigotry. In that regard, I don't really have a problem with the BCSE advertising it on the front page of its website - it's a fair warning sign to those without the BCSE's non-too-subtle agenda.

The membership is open to all who support our aims. Members, in practice, are professional and managerial people from all walks of life who have been through the education system, understand it and have benefited from it.

It is interesting to compare this statement about the BCSE's membership with the one that their website used to make. It is one of the areas in which the pressure from "BCSE Revealed" has paid off - though, as always, there is no recognition nor apology. The BCSE's front page used to say, "Our members come from a broad variety of fields - science, business, theology, education, academia, engineering, IT and research." The mention of a "broad variety of fields", with science put first, gave a completely inaccurate impression. In fact, the BCSE has only a tiny membership, and its leadership is overwhelmingly dominated by IT workers and businessmen. The BCSE now acknowledges this on its website - but is it likely to do so in its lobbying of MPs and newspapers? Though the BCSE now acknowledges that its members are generally not scientists or educators, its practice has always been to send letters with such authoritative-sounding sign-offs as "Chairman, British Centre for Science Education", with no explanation that the signer was, when this letter was written, a 30 year-old IT worker!

We wonder though, what is meant by "professional and managerial people from all walks of life"? Are not "professional and managerial people" from the "professional and managerial" "walk of life"? Obviously the desire is to give the impression of variety and largeness - of which in reality the BCSE has a very short supply, being overwhelmingly dominated by non-science educators who are campaigning atheists.

We are aware of the key issues involved in education both as beneficiaries of it and also because our own children are currently benefiting from it.

This paragraph is obviously intended to explain the reason why the BCSE, though lacking credentials in science education, are lobbying the public as if they were experts. It is meant to explain what their qualifications actually are. Let's take a look. The qualifications are apparently two:

  1. They have been to school.

  2. They have children who go to school.

Yes, that really is it! Apparently, not getting expelled and being able to procreate are now sufficient qualifications for masquerading as experts. Reality, this ain't. In fact, were I a betting man I'd wager that the majority of the past and present BCSE committee don't even have children. I have very little evidence to go here, but from the little asides I've picked up, from noticing who has enough time to be on the Internet on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's, and my knowledge of the ages of several of them, I'd say that probably only five of the eleven of them at most have children. I don't know how many of those children would actually be at school.

Whilst there is no evidence to hand concerning children, there is, on the other hand, plenty of evidence of these same individuals doing plenty to promote secularism and atheism. Websites, involvement in the National Secular Society, the British Humanist Association, RichardDawkins.Net, signing petitions to make various manifestations of religion illegal, etcetera.

You don't have to be a genius to sum up the balance of probabilities. Lots of evidence of anti-Christian activism; varying from little to no evidence of involvement in children's activities... which is the more likely to be the real motivation, Sherlock?

"It's for the children" is a favourite refuge of many activists. It's also one which the general public see through the shallowness of pretty quickly.

As such, the BCSE holds a robust position on endeavours without any scientific merit and whose proponents attempt to negatively influence scientific and educational activities.

Again, this is just bluster. The BCSE's leaders generally have neither professional knowledge nor experience in judging what ideas have scientific merit. Some of them do, but this is rather tangential to their work in the BCSE. The BCSE's sole interest is in silencing criticism of Darwinism.

Our public forum allows proponents of creationism and Intelligent Design to put their case forward and debate it.

Indeed it does. Such proponents though, have with only the very tiniest number of exceptions, surveyed the BCSE forum, adjudged it to be a sewer of atheistic ignorance and prejudice, and concluded that to even bother beginning participating would be a monumental waste of time. Who wants to "debate" when that means receiving several insult-laden replies for every responsible one?

Members and participants in our forum include teachers, academics, scientists, members of the clergy, engineers, archaeologists, scientists, students, management consultants, professional managers and businessmen, as well as people of a wide variety of political and religious persuasions.

As we saw in a recent post, in fact over the last 3 months there have been only 23 participants of any kind in the BCSE forum. Dropping those who only posted once, we're down to 19. If you make the mark of being an actual, active participant to have posted 10 times in a 3-month period, then in fact the BCSE forum only has 12 participants. In the most recent complete month, December 2007, there were in fact only 9 people who people who managed 5 posts in the month.

"[T]eachers, academics, scientists, members of the clergy, engineers, archaeologists, scientists, students, management consultants, professional managers and businessmen" is a description which contains 11 different types of people, and they are all in the plural. We are then told that in addition to this ("as well"), there are "people" (note plural again) with a "wide variety of political and religious persuasions." That's quite a lot to fit into only 9, 12 or however-you-want-to-slice-it people, isn't it?

If each of those plurals in fact only means two people, and if the "wide variety" means only three then we'd have a minimum of 25 people. Even on that most generous score, two of the participants completely forgot to ever actually participate.

The BCSE is open to all, irrespective of religious or political affiliations, who wish to oppose the tide of creationism in the United Kingdom.
Well, at least that's accurate. If however your religious affiliations aren't overtly atheistic, you'll probably find you don't want to stay long.

We are then treated to a list of the BCSE's present committee. There's not much need to comment on that, as we know most of them well enough already.

The BCSE believes in the tools for everyone to think for themselves - Science, Education and Reason

You will of course note the conspicuous absence of philosophy or theology as being a useful tool in thinking for yourself; the BCSE are generally followers of the Richard Dawkins-style positivism and empiricism which believes that science is the ultimate arbiter of reality, and that any other field of philosophy or theology must either give way to or preferably be completely replaced by it. Science is the sole source of human knowledge, and all the other fields can go hang.

- and the outcome – Democracy, Pluralism and Liberty.

We've seen before that the actual beliefs of the BCSE leaders are that democracy, pluralism and liberty should be not be extended to those parents or educators who question Darwinism, whether at home or school. The majority of the presentg BCSE committee has at some point voiced support for the position that the state should take active steps to prevent even parents from telling their children that Darwinism can be questionned. The BCSE's "pluralism" is a pluralism of people like themselves - disagreements are permissible are over whether religious people should be hated but tolerated, or hated and exiled from any public life, but not much more than that!


So, what do we learn from this? The BCSE continue to spin, and to present themselves as something they're not. They continue to puff their own credentials to make themselves sound big and authorative, but in the small print we have plenty of hints that the truth is the opposite - and "BCSE Revealed" has documented just what lies behind those little caveats.

The BCSE has relaunched its website, but it's nothing more than the deckchairs being moved around. Same old, same old.

David Anderson

Non-anonymous factual corrections welcomed by e-mail (bcse-blog at dw-perspective dot org dot uk). Comments are moderated - please read my comments policy.

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