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Letter to the Editor


Posted: 5/4/07

It's disheartening (though revealing) when people demonize their opponents in order to argue against them. Anika Smith and Sarah Levy wrote a serious article defending intelligent design (ID).

Unfortunately, SMU biology professor John Wise has chosen this demonization approach, opening his rebuttal (published on 4/25/07) to Ms. Smith and Ms. Levy by stating, "Deceptive tactics seem to be a recurring theme at the Discovery Institute," and continuing for the entirety of his response to supply nothing more than a string of misdirected or misinformed ad hominem attacks. For someone who claims that he "personally do[es]n't care how [Anika] refers to herself," Wise certainly devotes an awful lot of time and energy to impugning her integrity on how she refers to herself (five of his six paragraphs, to be exact, deal with this issue).

Wise suggests that Discovery's Anika Smith was deceptive because she co-authored an article in The Daily Campus which identified her as a "recent graduate of Seattle Pacific University." He suggests that perhaps she "purposefully meant to hide" and intentionally "omi[t]" her "relevant affiliation" with Discovery. This ad hominem charge is baseless.

In fact, it was the SMU The Daily Campus that wrote Smith's byline on her article, and the DC wrote it using the information they requested from Ms. Smith. The Daily Campus was very specific in its request for author information. According to what Ms. Smith told me, "They asked for my name, head shot, e-mail address, and university affiliation. That's what I sent them. If they had asked for my employer, political affiliation, ethnicity, or income level, I'd have given them that as well, but they didn't. They wanted my university affiliation, and because I have no reason to hide the fact that I graduated from Seattle Pacific University (go Falcons!), I gave it."

Providing straightforward answers to straightforward questions is not deceptive, and Dr. Wise's ad hominem attacks distract from the real issues in the debate. Moreover, it's not like Ms. Smith tries to hide her affiliations: she writes regularly for Discovery's widely read blog, Evolution News & Views, and is listed on our staff page. It obviously wasn't too hard for Dr. Wise to discover and verify her affiliations. Dr. Wise has reached out to defend his viewpoint by attacking others (but conspicuously not rebutting their viewpoint), and he failed.

Not content to simply make baseless character attacks against Anika Smith and the Discovery Institute, Wise turns to a nearly graduated law student at SMU, Sarah Levy, wondering "if there are any important ethical questions to be asked of … a third year law student here at SMU?" It is most disturbing that a professor would publicly question the integrity of one of his university's own students simply because she co-authored an article supporting Intelligent Design.

Anyone interested in more detailed responses to Wise can visit Discovery's Web site at discovery.org/csc and also our daily blog Evolution News & Views at evolutionnews.org. But be careful if you're a student defending ID at SMU. Dr. Wise is watching you.


Casey Luskin, Esq.

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