Friday 6 May 2011

A secret summer of intelligent design

In July of this year the Centre for Intelligent Design is holding a week-long summer school, to "...clarify the various strands of the design argument, its basis in science, its distinct stance with respect to religious faith, and its wider implications." Fancy going along? You might find the £300 price-tag a bit much, though for four days of full board accommodation plus lectures and networking it appears good value. That price, by the way, is half what was originally advertised, so I wonder if perhaps the event has not proved as irresistible a prospect as the organisers first hoped. If you're a student you might even get in for a mere £100.

I say "might". There appear to be some other obstacles to admission to this exclusive (maximum 50 attendees) event:
"Applicants should be able to demonstrate an interest in and commitment to the design argument."
"You must be able to demonstrate an interest in and commitment to the design argument. Required application materials include (1) a résumé or C.V. (2) a short statement of your interest in intelligent design and its perceived relationship to your area of work and life and (3) a letter of recommendation from a person of standing who knows your work and is friendly towards ID."
Then there's the application process itself:
"Application to join the Summer School is a two-part process: 1: a preliminary application involving no cost; 2: final application with full agreed payment being made at the time of application."
As if to emphasise the organisers' apparent paranoia there's also a bit of cloak-and-dagger:
"Because of professional sensitivities, participation in the conference will be handled in strict confidence and with anonymity."
Naturally the C4ID are maintaining their charade that intelligent design isn't a religious idea, though the founders are religious believers (and, incidentally, the conference is being held in a centre operated by Pentecostalists).

How much of a threat to science education is this "summer school"? With only 50 (anonymous) people attending I wonder about the possible extent of its influence. It depends, of course, on precisely who those anonymous people are.