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Responses to Wikipedia's Error-Filled Article on the IDEA Center

Updated July 17, 2007


In 2003, Barbara Forrest and Paul Gross managed to write in their book Creationism's Trojan Horse three paragraphs about the IDEA Center that contained about nine factual errors. Wikipedia is now trying to beat out Creationism's Trojan Horse in a a contest of "factual errors per word-count about the IDEA Center" in that its short entry on the IDEA Center contains numerous errors.

Wikipedia is a notoriously inaccurate and biased source, especially when it comes to information about controversial debates like the one over intelligent design and evolution. Wikipedia's bias leans heavily towards Darwinism, and Wikipedia users often refuse to permit edits that would give balance or objectivity to their articles dealing with intelligent design.

Below are listed some of the factual errors on Wikipedia's page about the IDEA Center, juxtaposed with the correct facts and commentary. If Wikipedia's editors are interested in the facts, we've also done the courtesy of providing sample language which would correct the errors. We'll just have to wait and see if Wikipedia's editors are really interested in removing the anti-ID point of view and promoting factually correct information about the IDEA Center. We'll try to keep this page updated as we can, and this list of errors is not intended to be exhaustive:

Error-Filled Quote from Wikipedia's Entry on IDEA CenterThe FactsSample Correct Language Suggested as a Courtesy
1. "IDEA was first formed in May of 1999 by Steve Renner, Eddie Colanter, and Casey Luskin after the "father" of the intelligent design movement Phillip Johnson lectured at UCSD."This statement has various errors.

First, Eddie Colanter did not get involved with IDEA until 2001, and thus he was not part of the original team that IDEA at UCSD.

Second, this quote is vague because it does not identify that IDEA started as a student-club at UC San Diego in 1999, and the IDEA Center was not founded as an independent non-profit until 2001.

Third, this statement cites to a page on the IDEA Club at UCSD's website, and the statement puts the word "father" in quotes, implying the UCSD IDEA Club page calls Phillip Johnson the "father" of the intelligent design movement. In fact the UCSD IDEA Club page has never called intelligent design the "father" of the ID movement, nor does it even use the word "father." This is an example of poor scholarship as it is a blatant misquote, as it implies that a source uses particular words, when it doesn't use that word.
"IDEA was first formed as a student-club at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), in May of 1999 by Steve Renner and Casey Luskin after Phillip Johnson lectured at UCSD."
2. "The IDEA Center board of directors has an unusual concentration of members from the same families serving; of the three founders, two have family members serving as directors"Like many Darwinists, "Odd nature" seems intent on finding a conspiracy in everything that ID proponents do. Why is this point relevant? In fact, there is no citation given for why the makeup of the IDEA Center's Board of Directors should be "unusual," thus this comment represents inappropriately inserting an editorialized "point of view" into the article. Such editorialized "Points of View" are supposed to be disallowed on Wikipedia, but in fact they are prevalent throughout Wikipedia's pages on intelligent design. Coincidentally, the "Points of View" are always pro-evolution.

In fact, Brit Colanter and Lynnette Renner are both qualified academics or scientists who use intelligent design in their scientific and scholarly work. They are both keenly interested in intelligent design and are fully qualified to be on the IDEA Center's board. Sadly, the Wikipedia's editor seems keenly intent on making irrelevant complaints about some of the women who have made important contributions to the IDEA Center.
Delete this sentence from the IDEA Center entry. It stems from a conspiracy-theorist mindset and it even borders on being sexist. It is both uninteresting and irrelevant.
3. "The [Discovery] Institute has been the primary source of support to the IDEA Center for its entire history."The fact that this statement appears on Wikipedia shows just how easy it is to promote misinformation on Wikipedia. In fact, THIS STATEMENT IS 100% FALSE.

THE IDEA CENTER IS A DISTINCT ORGANIZATION AND WAS FOUNDED BY STUDENTS AND FACULTY WITH NO AFFILIATION WHATSOEVER WITH THE DISCOVERY INSTITUTE. MOREOVER, DISCOVERY INSTITUTE HAS NEVER GIVEN A DIME TO THE IDEA CENTER. THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE IDEA CENTER'S SUPPORT HAS BEEN THE HARD WORK OF PRIVATE VOLUNTEERS AND THE DONATIONS OF PRIVATE INDVIDUALS GIVING THEIR OWN PRIVATE MONEY, NOT DISCOVERY INSTITUTE'S MONEY. As Casey Luskin wrote correcting similar misinformation in the May / June, 2006 issue of Cornell Magazine stating, "The IDEA Center is a small organization with no physical office and a budget of about $10,000. It receives no funding from any other I.D. organization and survives by the volunteer work of less than ten staff members who have other full-time jobs that actually pay."

Again, this false statement shows the ease with which one can incorporate flatly false information into Wikipedia. Regardless, there is no citation given for this statement, because it cannot be justified from any factually correct source.
"The IDEA Center's primary source of support is the volunteer work and donations of private individuals. It is distinct from all other ID organizations and does not receive funding from the Discovery Institute."
4. "In 2004, in response to the rejections of the scientific community and educators to the inclusion of disclaimers discounting evolution in Selman v. Cobb County School District, the IDEA Center published a "Darwinist Disclaimer" on its website in several file formats suitable for printing.[3] A number ended up in public school science textbooks."Again, this statement shows the ease with which one can promote false information on Wikipedia. There are a few errors here that can be discussed:

First, the page states that "A number ended up in public school science textbooks" but gives no citations to back up that claim. In fact, we have never heard of a single one of our mock disclaimers being put into "public school science textbooks." Since this statement has no citation, it appears to be the invention of the Wikipedia editor's mind, and not something grounded in reality.

Second, the page tries to imply that we intended the disclaimers to be used in public school science textbooks by making the disclaimers appear serious. It says that the disclaimers are called a "Darwinist Disclaimer" that are "suitable for printing." In fact, the page has always called them "Mock Darwinist Disclaimers" (emphasis added) and says "These are officially for fun." In fact, the printable sticker page itself states "Below are mock disclaimers for textbooks teaching evolution. They are officially for fun." Indeed, the stickers are clearly NOT "suitable for printing" as real stickers: The stickers have highly variable sizes and there is not a single standardized printable-label in existence that could be used to individually print the stickers on the page!

The IDEA Center's page gives every indication that these "mock" disclaimers are not serious and that these are a joke, but Wikipedia tries to imply they are part of a serious campaign to get stickers put into textbooks in schools. It even then claims they have been put in schools. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our "Mock Darwinist Disclaimers" that are "just for fun" can be read here.
"In 2004, in response to the Selman v. Cobb County School District lawsuit, the IDEA Center published "Mock Darwinist Disclaimers" on its website which they state were intended to show that the "arguments used by Darwinists to advocate teaching only evidence for evolution in science classrooms are weak."[3] The organization claims the stickers are "just for fun" and there is no indication that they were actually intended for use in schools."