John Templeton Foundation censorship

update added at the end of this post

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  1. Honorable people doesn’t practice censorship and/or heavily truncate comments left on their website.
  2. John Templeton Foundation’s people practice censorship and/or text truncation
  3. John Templeton Foundation’s people aren’t honorable

A couple of days ago I posted a commentary to JTF’s website, at the "Does science make belief in God obsolete?" page. The commentaries are moderated before publishing and mine was published almost 24 h later. It was slightly modified, the title (which I hadn’t provided) being added: RE: Kenneth Miller. OK, I had Ken Miller’s answer in mind, but I gave my comment a more general take.

That isn’t a problem. But latter, they edited my text, taking out what they didn’t like, leaving a reconstructed paragraph that I never wrote!

Quite the same kind of censorship one could expect from DaveScot at Uncommon Descent. Now, on your screens from John Templeton Foundation people. Enjoy.

Out of context! Truncated to their convenience. Not even the warning one could expect from an editor when editing is necessary, and they do have my e-mail address, you know, just the usual "required field".

Can one trust that kind of people? I think not.

I was wondering, how comes the JTF is supporting local (French) neo-creationists censoring negative comments. Now I know, same kind of people.

Do I need to say that I’m pissed-off?

For before/after screen captures go here

Just sent this mail :

To: Webmaster Templeton.org

Cc : Pamela P. Thompson (as Vice President for Communications), Clio A. Mallin (as Communications Coordinator), Charles Harper (hoping that this will not be considered as a minor mistake) and Kenneth Miller (my comment being labeled by JTFs staff as RE: Kenneth Miller)

Sir,

A recently posted comment at the "http://www.templeton.org/belief/" page of JTF’s website, a "Templeton Conversation" about "Does science make belief in God obsolete?" was heavily edited.
I didn’t received any notification about the changes of the content of my message (and yes, I did checked the spam folder of my e-mailer, just in case).
The result is quite afar from my argument. You can check Before/After screen capture at http://oldcola.googlepages.com/johntempletonfoundation%27seditingcapacity

The behavior is unacceptable. A conversation isn’t possible if you reserve the right to edit comments as you like to make them soft and hide critics. The name of such behavior is censorship. Worse than censorship. It would be just censorship if you just had deleted the comment. There is also manipulation of my phrases out of context.

There are two alternatives:
1 – You restore my comment at it’s initial content, and in this case there is a possible conversation.
2 – You delete the reconstructed comment as it does not correspond to my opinion. ASAP.

Whatever your decision, the case was posted at the Web already, and I’ll take care to publicize the way the JTF conceives the term "Conversation". [http://coffeeandsci.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/john-templeton-foundation-censorship/]

Please, keep me informed,

Antoine Vekris

PS copy will be included at http://coffeeandsci.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/john-templeton-foundation-censorship/


Update 23 april 2008, 20:00 CEST

Charles Harper replied to my message and he forwarded it to the competent persons. Thank you Dr Harper.
Gary, from the JTF, contacted be to explain the situation he created by editing my comment. He is the one guilty and he apologies for. He deleted the comment (option 2). I would like to thank him publicly for doing so. Below the fold my reply to his message.

Dear Garry,

Thank you for explanation concerning the censored comment.

As far as I can see, other comments may be also edited and/or non accepted. Your movement with mine make the presumption plausible.

I don’t see what is the erroneous information you mention. I clearly say that "JTF’s activity seems to fit the definition of scienligion, a softer than the ID creationism, denying the characterization of creationism, say as Miller, a roman catholic christian, who’s credo is a God creator of the universe". Nothing her to suggest that JTF supports ID. But clearly suggesting support for creationism, as per definition the credo to a god creator of the universe.
And you made my suggestion of denial from your part of the characterization ‘creationist’ a little bit stronger with your action. For this, and just for this point, I would like to thank you.

Usually, in a conversation, when something looks fuzzy, people ask for clarification, they do not just remodel the sayings of other people as they like it to be.

I do understand that you wouldn’t like being considered as YECs or ID creationists, but the JTF movement is creationist, promoting the idea of a creator. Ken Miller, for example, is an evolutionary creationist (theistic evolutionist).
But I don’t like people thinking at my place and mixing my phrases as they think adequate. So, now you personally, fall in this category of people I don’t like.

Your new "version" is unacceptable. I do prefer clear censorship rather than reinterpretations. So, no need to put your point of view under my name. The original or nothing.

Please, keep me, and maybe Charles Harper, informed about your decision.


The new version being:

"Revealed" knowledge fails to fit with real knowledge and has been transformed progressively into myths. Some organized religions even acknowledge that their own "revelations" are mythical, and yet they still make claims about truth.

Science has contributed to exposing the self-contradictions and flawed logic of religion, but the inconsistencies were always there, so I don’t think that science deserves praise or blame for this.

An irritating novelty in this regard is the effort to justify faith using science. I call this approach "scienligious." The activity of the Templeton Foundation seems to fit this definition, and Kenneth Miller, who is a Roman Catholic, states its credo: there is a God Creator of the universe.

Being "scientific" is a more praised label than being "religious," but for a believer like Miller to prefer to be scientific rather than religious makes it seem that gods (and religions) are obsolete, doesn’t it?


New message by Garry, and my response (23 april 2008, 22:27 CEST) below:

Dear Garry,

I exchanged a few words with Dr Miller and it appears he doesn’t like the term "theistic evolutionist". Avoid to call him so in the future. I will keep "evolutionary creationist": evolutionary to clearly remind his combat against anti-evolutionists (e.g. the Discovery Institute), creationist to remind his credo, mentioning a God Creator.
I would find insulting for him, for anybody declaring to be a catholic christian actually, to doubt his professed credo [We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is, seen and unseen... http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/credo.htm]
And I don’t like much people who declaim this credo in church and try to hide their creationism once outside. In fact I don’t like hypocrisy.

I’m not in the public relations business, so the confusion made by people about "creationist" and "anti-evolutionist" (where evolution is the actual scientific theory of evolution) is not relevant for me. I do understand that JTF work hard to counter anti-evolutionists, and had the opportunity to read a lot about that. But the JTF is promoting creationism anyway.
The distinction must be clear between the creationism JTF promotes and the one promoted by Creation Science or the Discovery Institute; your burden, to make it clear. Personally, I always make the distinction, using either "soft creationism" or "neo-creationism" to describe it, like in: "JTF’s activity seems to fit the definition of scienligion, a softer than the ID creationism, denying the characterization of creationism…"

I’m going with the dictionary, you are going with the public opinion.
I’m trying to educate my few readers that there is a continuum of creationist approaches, you are afraid to face the fact that you promote some kind of creationism.
I’m insisting in accuracy, you seem to adopt the public’s by ignorance issued opinion.

I wouldn’t be happy to work with you on my comment.

Let’s consider the discussion closed. I think it would be a waste of time for both of us.
You may use it to clearly state on the "Templeton Conversation" web pages that comments that don’t fit your (the JTF’s) opinions and/or strategy will be banned.
I will use it to discuss your censorship policy. And my understanding of the word "conversation".

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