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Discovery Institute Fellow runs for school board as “Darwinist”?

Nina Shapiro of Seattle Weekly reports that a retired college professor by the name of John Campbell is running for a school in North Mason County. Shapiro reports that:

A retired communications professor, Campbell says he has the skills to foster a more civilized dialogue, “restore trust,” and “establish transparency.”

Although campaigning on “trust” and “transparency”, she notes that he fails to disclose that he is John Angus Campbell, a Fellow of the Center for Science and Culture (formerly Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture), the creationist arm of the right-wing “think tank”, the Discovery Institute.

According to the biography posted on this website “Campbell4Kids” (now doesn’t that have a creepy feel to it, especially posted next to his broadly smiling face), John Campbell born in Portland, educated at Portland State University and the University of Pittsburgh, and taught communications at the University of Washington (1968-1995) and the University of Memphis (1995-2005). Among his publications he notes that he was co-author of an edited book published by the Michigan State University Press, but declines to mention that it was a strongly pro-intelligent design book entitled Darwinism, Design and Public Education. [Barbara Forrest’s scathing review; pay site.] While “brush whackin” for the Forest Service in 1960 and selling magazines and knives door-to-door make it into his biography, he is oddly silent about his activism to reform high school curricula while working as part of “the Wedge“, the campaign by the Discovery Institute for “theistic science”

The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Institute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Institute manifesto known as the Wedge Document,[1] which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to “defeat [scientific] materialism” represented by evolution, “reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions”[2] and to “affirm the reality of God.”[3] Its goal is to “renew” American culture by shaping public policy to reflect conservative Christian values.[4]

[from the Wikipedia article]

So why is Campbell running as John Campbell when he is far better known as John Angus Campbell? Why no mention of his being a CSC Fellow? Shapiro quotes Eugenie Scott:

“Notice how he’s running as John Campbell, not John Angus Campbell,” says Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, an Oakland,Calif.–based nonprofit opposed to the teaching of intelligent design. Campbell uses the latter name at the Discovery Institute and in his writings on intelligent design. “Is he trying to hide that he’s running for school board, or that he is who he is?” Scott wonders.

When asked about it by Shapiro, Campbell identified himself as a “Darwinist”:

He also says that, despite his advocacy for bringing intelligent design into the classroom, he himself is a “Darwinist.” He says he sees debating Darwin as a way of engaging students’ interest and sharpening their critical thinking skills. “Rather than demonizing people that believe in ID, I think there are ways people could use their ideas to study Darwinism more closely,” he explains.

By describing himself as a “Darwinist”, Campbell has tipped his hand. Darwinism is a 150-year old precursor to the modern synthesis. It is primarily used as a pejorative term for evolutionary biologists by creationists. Either Campbell is so wrapped up in the in-house language of the creationists that he uses that term, or he uses it as coded language, signally to those “in the know” that he is actually one of them, while appearing to communicate something very different to his fellow creationists.

Original story: Rural School Board Candidate Hasn’t Been Forthcoming About His “Intelligent Design” Agenda, Nina Shapiro, Seattle Weekly.

A copy of Campbell’s c.v. was filed for the Kitzmiller trial, where Campbell was supposed to be a witness for the school board, although like Dembski and Meyer he later backed out of testifying.

Update: This story has been picked up at Darwin Central: original thread (“Discovery Institute “fellow” lies in school board race”) and newer thread on Wells’ spinning of the issue (“Discovery Institute: Wells Spins Campbell Deception”)

Update II: Ok, it’s also up on talk.origins…since Wednesday, actually.

Update III: Strange post on Darwiniana – they appear to be quoting the Shapiro article, but there are words in the quote that aren’t in the page they linked to. Weird. Surprisingly, ARN, (the “Access Research Network”, a pro-ID site), has also linked to the Shapiro story.

Of course, the real challenge is finding the right search tool…and for some reason, I forgot about Technorati. They gave me one more hit on the story – John Pieret’s blog post on the subject – which was a good one, as usual. Actually searching for links to the Shapiro story was a little more fruitful. I forgot about Jonathan Wells’ post, which attacks the Seattle Daily, attacks NCSE and Eugenie Scott, attacks criticism of the word “Darwinist”…but never mentions the actual gist of the matter, the fact that John Campbell seems to be trying to hide his DI affiliation. Brian Switek of Laeleps effectively takes apart Well’s nonsense.

Update IV: Both Abbie at ERV and Wesley at Austringer have added their perspectives to this discussion (but then, since almost everyone reading this probably came via one of those links, they probably know that already).

Update V: Wow, a link from Pharyngula! I am so honoured. But far more importantly, I think this story will now get the coverage it deserves.


Since I started keeping a Blake Stacey-style list of posts related to this issue (see his lists of Behe and Pivar-related posts), I should keep it up.

  • Greg Laden’s post “How not to make a Trojan Horse” adds a lot of insight to the issue, including the juicy tidbit that: [t]he Center for Science and Culture was formerly directed by John Angus Campbell, who remains at this time as a Fellow of the Center.  That, and he has a really funny YouTube clip about the utility of Trojan Horses (the “great big wooden” kind) in the modern world.
  • John Pieret comments on PZ and Wesley’s posts…but if I commented about comments…that would just be going a bit too far.  But I did get a “Day after the day after Blog Day” recommendation from John, for which I am most grateful.  He also recommended a blog called Beautiful Biology by Ms SuperScience.  Assuming anyone actually made it this far down the page, I would highly recommend reading that blog.

8 Responses

  1. […] Ian Ramjohn brought my attention to the fact that Discovery Insitute Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture Senior Fellow John Angus Campbell is running for a school board post. He is not, however, running as John Angus Campbell. For the election, he is “John Campbell” (See his website, Campbell 4 Kids). […]

  2. Thank you for the link! This is a great summary, and I hope that this post proves as a useful resource in preventing Campbell from getting on the board.

  3. yikes….this is a pretty diabolical move on their part

  4. Please someone help me to make sure he does not win. I live in this district and am trying to get real information to stop him.
    my email is ourbelfair@yahoo.com
    Thank you

  5. […] Lucy in HoustonThe Nobel Peace Prize and the CaribbeanCreationists, earmarks and David VitterDiscovery Institute Fellow runs for school board as “Darwinist”?Gore and IPCC win […]

  6. zhhpgkiddeigrpgwwell, hi admin adn people nice forum indeed. how’s life? hope it’s introduce branch 😉

  7. Was ist das?

  8. Hi Guys,

    I’m new on ianramjohn.wordpress.com thought i would say Hi 🙂 we are having a heat wave at the minute i am sweating tons! does any one have any tips? heheh


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