Hey, residents of the North Mason School District on Hood Canal in Washington state! Don’t put John Campbell on your school board!
You may be wondering who he is and why we should care. John Campbell is better known by his full name, John Angus Campbell, and he’s a professional stealth creationist. He has long been a fellow of the Discovery Institute, and his specialty is something now called “framing” — he tries to weasel himself into positions where he praises Darwin fulsomely, calling him a master rhetorician, gushing over the guy to such a degree that you begin to wonder what’s wrong with Campbell … and then he pulls the con. Darwin was a master of logic who, in The Origin, directly addressed the controversies of his day, so in order to better teach evolution, he oozes smarmily, we should now also teach the controversy in our public school classrooms.
Of course, what Campbell thinks are equivalent controversies are not; what were valid concerns in the 19th century have been repeatedly dismissed now that we’re in the 21st. We gain nothing by resurrecting the rotting corpse of Paley and asking it to trundle about the classroom anymore.
If you ever get to listen to him, you’ll discover that he’s friendly and charming, and he really tries to cozen up to you by flattering your side of the issues: you’ll get to experience what it’s like to be on the receiving side of a framing effort. And let me tell you, I don’t like it one bit. I find Campbell utterly repellent — it’s not quite at the Sal Cordova level of repugnance, but it’s close. My impression is of profound dishonesty and untrustworthiness, that he’s a kind of Wormtongue of the creationist movement.
Wesley has much more, and points out that Campbell’s school board campaign makes no mention of Intelligent Design or the Discovery Institute, and that he seems to be distancing himself from the kiss of death of being tied to ID. I’m afraid I don’t see that as very significant in his case — Campbell has always tried to do exactly that, presenting himself as the middle-of-the-road voice of reason who loves Darwin as a pretext for smuggling design into the classroom.
I’m sure that he’ll avoid the issue while campaigning, and if pressed, will reassure everyone that it’s very important for students to understand evolution. Then, if he gets in, expect him to suggest to the board that he has some suggestions for more effective teaching of biology…and presto, North Mason schools will suddenly find themselves offering Explore Evolution to the students. Don’t trust him!
It’s worse than I thought. Campbell even calls himself a “Darwinist”. Talk about tone-deaf and dishonest!
Say, do you think it would work if I ran for the Morris school board by saying I wanted to strengthen our students’ faith by exposing them to the arguments against atheism, and by the way, I too have recently found Jebus and am a Christianist, too?