But there is an interview Q&A of the article's author, Margaret Talbot, available online. One of the questions I think has direct relevance for us here in Utah:
Intelligent-design proponents also tout another approach to the issue, which is the “teach the controversy” movement. Can you talk about that a bit?It’s this “teach the controversy” approach that we here in Utah will no doubt have to deal with.
The Discovery Institute has been a big proponent of that language, which is subtler and perhaps constitutionally safer. The idea is not to say anything as blunt as, “Intelligent design is a good alternative,” but, rather, to emphasize criticisms of evolutionary theory. It’s funny, because a lot of people associate “teaching the controversy” with the left-wing academy, but now it’s rhetoric associated mainly with trying to introduce doubts about evolution. It sounds kind of appealing—the free marketplace of ideas, let a thousand schools of thought bloom, that sort of thing. But most scientists don’t like it, because they say there is no real debate over the fundamental validity of evolutionary theory, though there are certainly unanswered questions and debate about the relative importance of various mechanisms of evolution. As Steven Gey, a law professor who has written about the intelligent-design movement, said to me, “It’s like saying we want to be able to teach that the earth is round, but also that it’s flat, that it revolves around the sun, but also that the sun revolves around the earth. Science doesn’t work that way. We know these things are wrong.”
Intelligent-design advocates often present themselves as revolutionary thinkers who are going up against the scientific establishment, and they like to point out that a lot of people thought the big bang was a crazy idea, too. But as evolutionary scientists counter, Well, maybe you do have a revolutionary idea, but, if so, then do the experimental work to prove it, and publish that work in peer-reviewed journals, which the intelligent-design people have not done. Don’t try to get it taught in high schools—even as part of a “teach the conflicts” approach—before you’ve done the science. “The interesting question is not whether revolutionary ideas occasionally win out in science” is how Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown, put it at a forum recently. “The interesting question is, How do revolutionary ideas win out? And the big bang won out because of scientific research, because Arno Penzias [and Robert Wilson] found the background radiation to the big bang. They completed the theory. They stitched it together. It is a predictive theory that said you ought to go out and find this in nature. Now, the curious thing is that the advocates of that theory did not try to get this injected into the curriculum. They did not produce pamphlets on how you could get the big bang taught in your school and avoid the constitutional questions. They did research. They won the scientific battle.”