Order, Design, Whatever

I heard a classic example of the journalistic habit of translation that I have pointed out a few times in the past, earlier today on the BBC World Service. It was a discussion of creationism and the pressure to get it taught in US schools, between Peter Atkins and creationist Donald DeYoung. At one point DeYoung (or else the journalist) mentioned ‘design’ and Atkins said ‘There is no design in nature.’ DeYoung didn’t hear, and Atkins repeated with great distinctness and emphasis, ‘There. is. no. design. in. nature.’ DeYoung, a physicist, disagreed and talked about the weight of the proton: if it had been just a tiny amount heavier, etc (the anthropic principle, in short). The journalist cut that off, as being too far afield, and said ‘You [meaning Atkins] say there is no order in nature – ‘ ‘That’s not what he said,’ I shouted at the radio. ‘That’s not what I said,’ Atkins said without shouting (well he was nearby). ‘I said there is no design in nature.’ ‘Same thing,’ said the journalist. ‘It’s not the same thing!!’ I shouted even louder. ‘It’s not the same thing,’ said Atkins.

I mean. Come on. The guy thinks order and design are the same thing?! And all [I mean many – not all – I haven’t checked them all, have I!] journalists, apparently, think ‘no evidence that’ is the same thing as ‘proof that not,’ and so they use the two interchangeably with gay abandon. It’s an outrage.

Really. Journalists ought to be licensed, or something. And they ought to learn some basic vocabulary and concepts before they get that license. I mean that literally – well except of course that if they did, Julian would run out of Bad Moves. As it is the supply seems to be infinite.

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