Friday, January 19, 2007

Creationism and the Grand Canyon

There's an environmental group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), that claimed the Bush Administration has pressured Grand Canyon National Park to refuse to take a position about the age of the features in the park to avoid offending the young Earth Creationists. The website eSkeptic--which initially bought into their claims--has now done some digging, and concluded that this claim wasn't even an honest mistake. After attemping to track down some of the claims made by PEER--and having them keep changing their story--eSkeptic concludes:
PEER is an anti-Bush, anti-religion liberal activist watchdog group in search of demons to exorcise and dragons to slay. On one level, that’s how the system works in a free society, and there are plenty of pro-Bush, pro-religion conservative activist watchdog groups who do the same thing on the other side. Maybe in a Hegelian process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis we find truth that way; at least at the level of talk radio. But journalistic standards and scholarly ethics still hold sway at all levels of discourse that matter, and to that end I believe we were duped by an activist group who at the very least exaggerated a claim and published it in order to gain notoriety for itself, or worse, simply made it up.

To that end I apologize to all of our readers for not fact checking this story before publishing it on eSkeptic and Shame on us. But shame on you too, Mr. Ruch, and shame on PEER, for this egregious display of poor judgment and unethical behavior.
It turns out that while the Grand Canyon NPS book store does carry a Creationist book, it is in the "inspiration" section, along with books about Native American myths about the origins of the Canyon. As one of the commenters over at Volokh Conspiracy pointed out:
Growing up in a fundamentalist family, I always found it kind of odd that National Geographic would often include fairly strident anti-creationist remarks in their articles while practically fawning over the creation myths from other religious traditions. I mean, it's not as though the adherents of those traditions don't often believe their own myths as strongly as our fundamentalists believe theirs, often with far more deleterious social effects. It always struck me as a little condescending, perhaps with a tinge of racism: "It's cute for those ignorant third-worlders (or Native Americans) to have their myths, but we won't tolerate it among our own kind."

Even though I've outgrown fundamentalism, this brouhaha strikes me as no different: As Eugene notes, "this book is sold in the 'inspiration' section of the bookstore, along with Native American creation myths." Where, I ask, is the outrage?
UPDATE: Apparently Garry Trudeau, the cartoonist who used to be funny, also got taken in by this non-fact, as did one of Australia's fierce Bush-haters.

You know, it doesn't surprise me that leftist Bush-haters bought into the story without bothering to check it. It was, you know, just too good a story to not be true! In this respect, the left isn't any different from anyone else. Most people don't question stories that they really, really want to believe. It is just that the left is so arrogant about their superior intellects!

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