Friday, October 24, 2008

Exposing ExpelledExposed: Part III. The Case Of Pamela Winnick

Most of those profiled on Expelled, most of those expelledexposed has sought to discredit, are scientists. Not Pamela Winnick. Winnick was a full-time reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette when she wrote a series of articles covering the controversy over teaching ID in Pennsylvania public schools. Winnick, who states that she is not a Christian Biblical Creationist, claims that her objective treatment of ID hurt her journalistic career. Expelledexposed denies this. Its section on Winnick reveals the mindset of its sponsor, the NCSE: if one does not wholeheartedly condemn ID, if one seeks to give ID a fair public hearing, then that person is an advocate of ID.

Expelledexposed links to three articles written by Winnick on the ID controversy in Pennsylvania. The web site's comments on them reveal a paranoia concerning ID. The website charges Winnick with both describing evolution in terms of ID talking points and concluding that Pennsylvania's children suffered because ID was not taught to them. (The website cites no example.) This is a truly laughable charge to anyone who actually reads the articles with an unbiased mind, an activity expelledexposed probably expects readers not to engage in.

Throughout two of the articles, both sides of the issue are given their chance to give their perspective. There is no editorializing against Evolution by Winnick. In one article she explains how the Pennsylvania scholastic reputation was on the line within the scientific community for authorizing the teaching of Creationism. She even quoted the misgivings of an editor for the NCSE. While Winnick writes that many scientists claim to believe in both God and Evolution, she points out that Evolution is a direct challenge to "Fundamentalists' " views of life's origin. Perhaps Winnick's sin, in the eyes of the NCSE, was her portrayal of the diversity of Evolution's critics. She portrayed them as reasonable, willing for Evolution to be taught alongside competing explanations of the origin of life. Proponents of ID denied they were trying to force religion on school children. And as portrayed by Winnick, not all proponents of ID belong to the "Christian Right." Michael Behe, a Catholic, is a ID proponent who believes ID could be separated from adherence to Protestant Biblical Creationism.

Winnock quotes Behe as claiming that Evolution cannot be verified in the laboratory. Perhaps the NCSE thinks this is proof-positive that Winnick is a right-wing Christian Creationist. Yet the same article quotes an evolutionist dismissing Behe as a "screwball." Maybe the fact Winnick ended one article with a quote from Phillip Johnson, a creationist, is evidence enough for the NCSE that she and all ID advocates are soul mates. The Johnson quote stated that Darwinian Evolution is a brand of religion that evolutionists are pushing in schools while trying to ban all other explanations of life's origins. Yet just prior to the Johnson quote, Winnick quoted an evolutionist labeling ID a cult.

In another article (linked to by expelledexposed) written after the teaching of ID was rejected in Pennsylvania, Winnick covered the reactions of both side equally. She concluded by quoting then Governor Tom Ridge, praising what he considered the right outcome. A third article quotes only those who favor ID, but still, Winnick presented the evolutionist's side of the controversy objectively. I challenge anyone reading these articles to direct me to any language of Winnick's endorsing ID.

The NCSE mindset labels anyone who gives ID a fair hearing an ID advocate. Expelledexposed cites an interview of Michael Behe by Winnick, as well as a review she wrote concerning a PBS documentary on Evolution, as evidence. The website links to both. In the Behe interview, she acknowledges in objective terms that Evolution is the view explaining life's origins held by the vast majority of scientists and that ID is the theory of choice for a small minority. Behe even stated that Evolution must be taught in public schools. He even acknowledges that his scientific career has not been jeopardized by his work on ID. With these acknowledgements, what could have irked the evolutionists at the NCSE? Was it Behe's assertion that one does not have to be a Biblical creationist to believe in ID? That certainly goes against the NCSE template that ID is just a Trojan Horse to inject Protestant Christianity down every ones throats. Or could it have been Behe's claim that he and others who write books on ID have their work more scrutinized than those who get published in journals of evolutionary persuasion. Maybe it was Winnick's defense of Behe against the charge of being a crackpot?

Expelledexposed charges Winnick with asking Behe "softball questions." It is interesting that while the website should demand that Winnick challenge Behe on his views, or be charged with advocating ID, the website then criticizes Winnick for taking a PBS documentary to task for not including interviews with proponents of ID. There is a word for this. Hypocrisy. Not to challenge Behe aggressively suggests that Winnick is an ID advocate and creationist. To insist that a program on Darwin include criticisms of Evolution, well, that nails it! She must be a right-wing creationist ID zealot. After all, objectivity demands that ID proponets be challenged, while Darwinism is not to be questioned. This is the way the NCSE wants us to think. I find it interesting that evolutionists label ID as an attempt to force Christianity on the public, while at the same time believe evolution should not be challenged on a PBS program partly funded by public tax dollars.

What about Winnick's contention that her professional career in journalism suffered because of the articles she wrote for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette? She continues to publish articles in that paper and in other venues. She has written one book: "A Jealous God." So where is the evidence that her career has suffered. This is a debate I engaged in with the blogger Ben Franklin. My response to him (see the comment section for the May 14th post), with some editing, is as follows:

"As to Winnick's professional career suffering...She was a full-time employee of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, now they only publish her occasionally. Yes, she has written one book. Anyone can write a book. Even in the most repressed countries, enemies of the state can write books. The fact that they can do so does not mean they are not suffering. Do the names Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Salman Rushdie ring a bell? The fact is Winnick can write 50 books criticizing Evolution, but her books will not appear in most book stores. In some bookstores, if her books did appear, evolutionists would complain to the management. Neither could she receive speaking engagements or interviews at most public venues. If authorities in their academic fields were to endorse her writings, or merely compliment them, their professional standing would be threatened. Her views are welcomed in conservative circles, but I am sure she would rather be heard by a wider audience, the general public. So yes, she has suffered professionally. You say you don't buy that? Your only sources of information are those that promote evolution and debunk ID. Again, the assertions on expelledexposed that her claims are false are not accompanied by objective source citations. The criticism of her and others profiled in Expelled come from the Darwinist camp. To rely on their word without objective source material is not seeking the truth, it is seeking validation of one's biases...As to the negative review of her (Winnick's) book by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the paper did not pan the book, one of its writers did. If you were careful to read the review, you would see that the writer writes for Mother Jones, not exactly a creationist magazine. The paper did not endorse the review by publishing it any more than they endorsed Winnick when they published her pieces. So Winnik's work is criticized. So what. Does the fact that evolutionists criticize her on their blogs mean the criticism is valid? You seem to think that citing these critics is evidence. You assume that evolutionists are objective, while critics of Evolution are dishonest. What I read about Winnick on expelledexposed does not square with her published work, even expelledexposed's own links to her work. The website's designers are probably counting on a lazy reading public not to examine their website in detail."

Having exposed expelledexposed's attempt to discredit through a selective presentation of the evidence, we need to cover other subjects. Expelled profiled others who claimed they suffered professionally for their connection to ID. However, I have no access to evidence concerning their claims. Also, I saw the movie only once, last May, and my memory of their cases are not as good. Expelledexposed has sections covering these people. These sections are not any less flattering as the ones on Sternberg, Gonzalez and Winnick. Should we accept what expelledexposed says about them without question? Based on the track record we have already documented, what do you say?

Part IV will appear in a few days.

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