Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute
Formation 1994
Legal status Non-profit
Headquarters Seattle, Washington, USA
President Bruce Chapman
Budget $4,334,124 in FYE 2007.[1]

The Discovery Institute is a non-profit public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of intelligent design. Founded in 1990, the institute describes its purpose as promoting "ideas in the common sense tradition of representative government, the free market and individual liberty."[2] Its Teach the Controversy campaign aims to teach creationist anti-evolution beliefs in United States public high school science courses alongside accepted scientific theories, positing a scientific controversy exists over these subjects.[3][4][5][6][7]

A federal court, along with the majority of scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, say the Institute has manufactured the controversy they want to teach by promoting a false perception that evolution is "a theory in crisis",[8] through incorrectly claiming that it is the subject of wide controversy and debate within the scientific community.[9][10][11] In 2005, a federal court ruled that the Discovery Institute pursues "demonstrably religious, cultural, and legal missions",[8][10][12] and the institute's manifesto, the Wedge strategy,[13] describes a religious goal: to "reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions".[14][15]



The institute was founded in 1990[16] as a non-profit educational foundation and think tank. It was founded as a branch of the Hudson Institute, an Indianapolis-based conservative think tank, and is named after the Royal Navy ship HMS Discovery in which George Vancouver explored Puget Sound in 1792.

In 1966, the institute's founder and president, Bruce Chapman, and Harvard roommate George Gilder, participated in the Ripon Society, a group for Republican liberals, and collaborated on Advance, dubbed "the unofficial Republican magazine," which criticized the party from within for catering to segregationists, John Birchers, and other "extremists". Following their graduation, Chapman and Gilder advanced their "progressive" Republican campaign in their 1966 polemic book The Party That Lost Its Head. The book critiqued Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential candidacy and dismissed the GOP’s embrace of rising star Ronald Reagan as the party's hope to "usurp reality with the fading world of the class-B movie." The Party That Lost Its Head denounced Goldwater’s conservative backers for their "rampant" and "paranoid distrust" of intellectuals. The book labeled the Goldwater campaign a "brute assault on the entire intellectual world," and places the blame for this development on what they viewed as a wrong political tactic; "In recent years the Republicans as a party have been alienating intellectuals deliberately, as a matter of taste and strategy." Chapman moved to the right in the Reagan administration,[17] where he served as director of the Census Bureau. Chapman left the Census Bureau to work in the White House under Reagan adviser Edwin Meese III and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna.

Co-founder and Senior Fellow George Gilder wrote several books addressing culture, technology, and poverty, including, Visible Man, (1978) which criticised American culture for its failure to promote the ideals of the traditional nuclear family.[18] His next work, Wealth and Poverty, (1981), was cited by President Ronald Reagan.[19][20] Gilder’s later books have dealt more with developments in technology, such as Microcosm (1990) and Life After Television (1994).

Chapman had built a political platform, but lacked funding and a defining issue.[21] In December 1993, Chapman noticed an essay in the Wall Street Journal by Stephen C. Meyer about a dispute when biology lecturer Dean H. Kenyon taught intelligent design creationism in introductory classes.[22] Kenyon had co-authored Of Pandas and People, and in 1993 Meyer had contributed to the teacher's notes for the second edition of Pandas. Meyer was an old friend of George Gilder, and over dinner about a year later they formed the idea of a think tank opposed to materialism. In the summer of 1995 Chapman and Meyer met a representative of Howard Ahmanson, Jr.. Meyer, who had previously tutored Ahmanson's son in science, recalls being asked "What could you do if you had some financial backing?" In 1996 the promise of $750,000 over three years from the Ahmansons and a smaller grant from the conservative Christian MacLellan Foundation was used to fund the institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture which went on to form the motive force behind the intelligent design movement.[22] In 2002 the name was changed to the Center for Science and Culture.[23]


Discovery Institute officers, directors and fellows

Vice Presidents
  • Steven J. Buri
Board of Directors
  • Howard Ahmanson, Jr.
  • Tom Alberg
  • Charles K Barbo
  • Bruce Chapman
  • Robert J. Cihak
  • Skip Gilliland
  • Slade Gorton
  • Richard R. Greiling
  • Patricia Herbold
  • Bob Kelly
  • Byron Nutley
  • James Spady
  • Michael K. Vaska
  • Raymond J. Waldmann
Program Advisor (CSC)
Senior Fellows
Adjunct Fellows
  • Howard L. Chapman
  • Frank Dillow
  • Edwin Meese
  • Robert Spitzer
Former Fellows

Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture

The Center for Science and Culture (CSC), formerly known as the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC), is a subsidiary of the Discovery Institute. It was established in 1996 with the assistance of Phillip E. Johnson to advance the Wedge strategy. Chapman calls the CSC "our No. 1 project."[25]

The CSC offers fellowships of up to $60,000 a year for "support of significant and original research in the natural sciences, the history and philosophy of science, cognitive science and related fields." Since its founding in 1996, the institute's CSC has spent 39 percent of its $9.3 million on research according to Meyer, underwriting books or papers, or often just paying universities to release professors from some teaching responsibilities so that they can work on intelligent design related scholarship. Over those nine years, $792,585 financed laboratory or field research in biology, paleontology or biophysics, while $93,828 helped graduate students in paleontology, linguistics, history and philosophy. The CSC lobbies aggressively to policymakers for wider acceptance of intelligent design and against the theory of evolution and what it terms "scientific materialism". To that end the CSC works to advance a policy it terms the Wedge strategy, of which the "Teach the Controversy" campaign is a major component. The "Teach the Controversy" strategy was announced by Meyer in 2002.[26] It seeks to portray evolution as a "theory in crisis"[27][28] and leave the scientific community looking closed-minded,[29] opening the public school science curriculum to creation-based alternatives to evolution such as intelligent design,[30] and thereby undermining "scientific materialism."[31]

Biologic Institute

In 2005, the Discovery Institute provided the funding to set up the Biologic Institute in Redmond and the Fremont district of Seattle, Washington, headed by Douglas Axe. The Biologic Institute claims to conduct research into intelligent design in response to one of the primary criticisms of intelligent design that there is no valid research conducted by the scientific community on the topic. According to Axe, the lab's main objective "is to show that the design perspective can lead to better science", and will "contribute substantially to the scientific case for intelligent design".[32] Biologic's staff consists of "at least three researchers" (Axe, the senior researcher; Zoology PhD Ann Gauger, who like Axe is a signatory to the Discovery Institute's "petition" expressing skepticism towards "Darwinian theory" entitled A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism; Brendan Dixon, a software developer).[32] In keeping with the Discovery Institute's October 2006 statement that intelligent design research is being conducted by the institute in secret to avoid the scrutiny of the scientific community,[33] both Axe and Discovery Institute spokesperson Rob Crowther portray it as a "separate entity" despite being funded by the Discovery Institute.[32]

Previously serving as a director of the institute was George Weber, who is also a member of the local chapter of the creationist group Reasons to Believe. In an interview he stated that the lab is a wing of the Discovery Institute and that their goal is to "challenge the scientific community on naturalism" and "What we are doing is necessary to move ID along" which led to his dismissal from the board of the institute.[32][34]

PZ Myers likens the Biologic Institute's design research program to cargo cults, with "Intelligent Design creationists pretend[ing] that they're doing science."[35]

Discovery Institute programs

The Discovery Institute through the Center for Science and Culture has been involved in the intelligent design movement; transportation in the American and Canadian northwest (Cascadia); a bioethics program opposed to assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human genetic manipulation, human cloning, and the animal rights movement. Its economics and legal programs advocate tort reform, lower taxation, and reduced economic regulation of individuals and groups as the best economic policy. The Discovery Institute also maintains a foreign policy program currently focused on Russia and East Asia.

The Institute's primary thrust in terms of funding and resources dedicated are those political and cultural campaigns centering around intelligent design. These include the:

Intelligent design and Teach the Controversy

The Discovery Institute's main thrust has been to promote intelligent design politically to the public, education officials and public policymakers, and to portray evolution as a "theory in crisis" and advocating teachers to "Teach the Controversy" through the CSC. It has employed a number of specific political strategies and tactics in the furtherance of its goals. These range from attempts at the state level to undermine or remove altogether the presence of evolutionary theory from the public school classroom, to having the federal government mandate the teaching of intelligent design, to 'stacking' municipal, county and state school boards with ID proponents. The Discovery Institute has been a significant player in many of these cases, through the CSC providing a range of support from material assistance to federal, state and regional elected representatives in the drafting of bills to supporting and advising individual parents confronting their school boards.

Some of the political battles which have involved the Discovery Institute include:

In 2004, the institute opened an office in Washington, D.C., and in 2005 the Discovery Institute hired Creative Response Concepts, the same public relations firm to promote its intelligent design campaign that promoted the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign, the Republican National Committee, the Christian Coalition, and the Contract With America. Creative Response Concepts scored an early victory for the institute in getting the New York Times to publish an essay by Roman Catholic Cardinal Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, condemning neo-Darwinism and positivism. The essay, Finding Design in Nature,[36] submitted directly to The Times by Creative Response Concepts, was prompted by the institute's vice president Mark Ryland.[37]

Campaign-related websites operated by the Discovery Institute

The Discovery Institute has registered over two hundred website domain names. More than a dozen are related to the institute's campaigns promoting intelligent design. The use of these sites is often in conjunction other intelligent design-related sites registered and operated by Discovery Institute Fellows and associates. William Dembski, for example, registered and operates,, and while the institute's Casey Luskin set up; all link to each other.

Cascadia Center

Discovery Institute's Cascadia Center for Regional Development (former Cascadia project) focuses on regional transportation.[38] The Cascadia Project started in 1992 with Bruce Agnew, former Chief of Staff for U.S. Representative John Miller, serving as the director. In 2003, Thomas Till was brought in as Managing Director, after leaving his post as Executive Director of the Amtrak Reform Council.

Cascadia attempts to forge alliances between local governments to ease traffic congestion in the Pacific Northwest, utilizing focus groups[39] as well as forming citizen panels and public forums.[40] In conjunction with Microsoft, Cascadia sponsored a session involving elected officials, entrepreneurs and public policy experts including Washington State Representative Dave Reichert and former CIA director James Woolsey to discuss varying proposals for securing U.S. ports and diversifying America's energy portfolio.[41]

The Cascadia project is funded in part by a large grant from the Gates Foundation.[42]

Technology & Democracy

The Technology and Democracy Project (TDP), has been a part of the Discovery Institute since the beginning; founded by Senior Fellow George Gilder. The project supports technology as a force for economic growth and advocates freeing technological advancement from government regulation. It utilizes national publications, speeches, conferences and public testimony to lobby for pro-technology and pro-free enterprise policies. The Technology and Democracy Project supports pushing deregulation to the forefront of the national debate and maintains a blog,, where senior fellows comment on a wide range of issues.[43]

The Real Russia Project

The Real Russia Project provides analysis and commentary on the future of democracy in Russia through its internet portal, 'RussiaBlog.'[44] In addition to maintaining the weblog, the program organizes conferences and events to address current events and daily public life in Russia.[45]

C. S. Lewis & Public Life

The C. S. Lewis & Public Life program is part of the Discovery Institute's Religion, Liberty & Public Life program, which seeks to define and promote the role of religion in society.

The program provides analysis and commentary on the writings and thinking of C. S. Lewis and how they can influence public policy. The program publishes The Lewis Legacy Online,[46] a quarterly journal and the online archive, C. S. Lewis Writings in the Public Domain.[47]


Religious agenda

Although it often describes itself as a secular organization, critics, members of the press and former institute fellows consider the Discovery Institute to be an explicitly Christian conservative organization,[22][48][49] and point to the institute's own publications and the statements of its members that endorse a religious ideology. Americans United for Separation of Church and State notes, "Though the Discovery Institute describes itself as a think tank 'specializing in national and international affairs,' the group's real purpose is to undercut church-state separation and turn public schools into religious indoctrination centers." The 2005 judge in the "Dover Trial", Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, came to a similar conclusion about the Institute in his ruling: "CSRC expressly announces, in the Wedge Document, a program of Christian apologetics to promote ID. A careful review of the Wedge Document's goals and language throughout the document reveals cultural and religious goals, as opposed to scientific ones."[50]

As evidence of the institute's organized campaign to mask or downplay its religious origins and agenda, critics point to the Discovery Institute's renaming of its Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture to Center for Science and Culture in 2002 to avoid religious overtones implied with trying to "renew" society. They claim the name change "followed hard on the heels of accusations that the center's real interest was not science but reforming culture along lines favored by Christian conservatives".[23] As further evidence that the institute is promoting a Christian agenda, observers of the institute also point to the fact that the Discovery Institute' members are largely outspoken Christians,[22] who are promoting an explicitly Christian agenda,[51] funded largely by Christian conservatives, catering to an almost exclusively Christian constituency.[51][52][53] Nevertheless, the Discovery Institute also has members who espouse Judaism[54] and agnosticism.[55]

Nina Shapiro in the Seattle Weekly article, The New Creationists, cites Bruce Chapman when she wrote that behind all Discovery Institute programs there is an underlying hidden religious agenda:

"Yet the Discovery Institute as an organization didn't get involved in the issue in order to solve the mysteries of the universe. Chapman is up front about having a social and political agenda. He sees design intelligence as a way to combat the growing reliance on genetic explanations for human behavior and what he sees as an undermining of personal responsibility. As an example of this phenomenon, Chapman cites the infamous 'Twinkie defense' used by a murder defendant claiming his sugar high made him do it. Others associated with the institute take a bigger leap of logic to argue that welfare, as currently dispensed, is a misguided consequence of the Darwinian outlook. 'If you see human beings as nothing but matter and motion, than [sic] all you do is treat them like mouths to feed,' says Jay Richards, program director for the institutes Center for Science and Culture. 'If they're more than that, you treat the whole person,' he argues, which would mean looking at such things as family structure and the role of moral and religious values in their lives. Do you really have to attack a whole branch of science in order to counter liberal views on welfare? The Discovery Institute folk think they do. 'Unless you get the science right,' Chapman says, 'it's very hard to contend with the other arguments.'"[56] --Nina Shapiro, The New Creationists

Several Discovery Institute fellows have left the institute over its religious positions and campaigns, such as political scientist Donald Hellmann, described by the Seattle Metropolitan as a "disillusioned former Discovery Fellow."[57] Another former senior fellow, Philip Gold, resigned his post as a defense analyst with the institute in 2002, saying the institute had grown increasingly religious: "It evolved from a policy institute that had a religious focus to an organization whose primary mission is Christian conservatism."[22] One controversy erupted when it was made public in the online journal Salon that, in the summer of 2000, Discovery Institute President Chapman advised a breakaway faction of Episcopalians opposed to the ordination of gays on how to fund their desired schism from the mainline denomination, and suggested that funds from multi-millionaire and institute board member Howard Ahmanson, who was also a fellow Episcopalian, might be available for this task. In a memo Chapman sent to fellow dissident Episcopalians, he stated that for their campaign to succeed fund-raising was critical, but "is going to be affected greatly by whether we have a clear, compelling forward strategy" and "the Ahmansons are only going to be available to us if we have such a strategy and I think it would be wise to involve them directly in settling on it...."[58] In 2000 and 2001, Chapman was successful in securing more than $1 million from Ahmanson for the Anglican Council, but is no longer personally involved in the schism in the American Episcopal community; Chapman converted to Catholicism in 2002.

Creation Science, Intelligent Design, and the Missing Link

The PR catastrophe for Discovery Institute of the Kitzmiller trial concerned in large part revised editions the Of Pandas and People[59] promoted at trial by various DI-sponsored experts, particularly DI Fellow Michael Behe. The issue began when some proponents of intelligent design associated with Pandas found a need to distinguish it from creation science, whose teaching in public science class had been negated as a violation of the Establishment Clause by the Supreme Court in Louisiana "Balanced Treatment Act" case — Edwards v. Aguillard.

An early contributor to Pandas, Charles Thaxton, proposed a term replace creation science, which he "picked up from a NASA scientist – intelligent design".[60] In a new draft of Pandas, approximately 150 uses of the root word "creation", such as "creationism" and "creationist", were systematically changed to refer to "intelligent design."[61] Panda editors also deleted more than 250 references to "creationism" and the "creator" and replaced them in the final version with "intelligent design" and "intelligent designer".

Following pattern, the term "creationists" was quietly changed to "design proponents", but in one telling case, the beginning and end of the original word "creationists" were accidentally retained, so that "creationists" became "cdesign proponentsists".[62]

"The basic metabolic pathways (reaction chains) of nearly all organisms are the same. Is this because of descent from a common ancestor, or because only these pathways (and their variations) can sustain life? Evolutionists think the former is correct, cdesign proponentsists accept the latter view."[59]

The proof that intelligent design was creationism re-labeled played a significant part in the Kitzmiller trial, and cdesign proponentsists has been described as "the missing link between creationism and intelligent design."[63]

Misrepresentation of agenda

At the foundation of most criticism of the Discovery Institute is the charge that the institute and its Center for Science and Culture intentionally misrepresent or omit many important facts in promoting their agenda. Intellectual dishonesty, in the form of misleading impressions created by the use of rhetoric, intentional ambiguity, and misrepresented evidence, form the foundation of most of the criticisms of the institute.[64][65] It is alleged that its goal is to lead an unwary public to reach certain conclusions, and that many have been deceived as a result. Its critics, such as Eugenie Scott, Robert Pennock, Richard Dawkins and Barbara Forrest, claim that the Discovery Institute knowingly misquotes scientists and other experts, deceptively omits contextual text through ellipsis, and makes unsupported amplifications of relationships and credentials, and are often said to claim support from scientists when no such support exists.[66] A wide spectrum of critics level this charge; from educators, scientists, and the Smithsonian Institution, to individuals who oppose the teaching of creationism alongside science on ideological grounds. Specific objections with examples are listed at the Center for Science and Culture article.

This criticism is not limited to those in the scientific community that oppose the teaching of intelligent design and the suppression of evolution, but also includes former Discovery Institute donors. The Bullitt Foundation, which gave $10,000 in 2001 for transportation causes, withdrew all funding of the institute; its director, Denis Hayes, called the institute "the institutional love child of Ayn Rand and Jerry Falwell," and said, "I can think of no circumstances in which the Bullitt Foundation would fund anything at Discovery today."[67]

The Wedge document, a widely circulated 1998 fund-raising document, laid out Discovery's original, ambitious plan to "drive a wedge" into the heart of "scientific materialism," "thereby divorcing science from its purely observational and naturalistic methodology and reversing the deleterious effects of evolution on Western culture." The two governing goals of the Wedge document are:

  • To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies
  • To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God
  • To reverse the materialistic worldview and replace it with a science connosant with Christian and Theistic convictions

Meyer says that the Wedge document "was stolen from our offices and placed on the Web without permission."[68] The central item of this agenda - establishing intelligent design as legitimate science through conducting actual scientific research - has not been achieved.[69]

Michelle Goldberg has said "... the Center for Science and Culture takes creationism and tries to legitimize it in scientific terms, and make it sound as if it’s really just a kind of competing scientific theory. It hires people with a lot of impressive degrees, although, in many cases, they got the degrees specifically with the idea of using them to discredit Darwinism for religious reasons. It’ll put someone forward like Jonathan Wells, who has a Ph.D. from Berkeley, and yet here he is, defending intelligent design. So they’ve given a lot of thought to packaging intelligent design to make it seem like legitimate science. And they’ve given a lot of thought to how to try to infiltrate their ideas into the culture."[70]

Templeton Foundation

According to a New York Times article, The Templeton Foundation, who provided grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, later asked intelligent design proponents to submit proposals for actual research. Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, was quoted as saying "They never came in." He also said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned. "From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don't come out very well in our world of scientific review," he said.[71] The Templeton Foundation has since rejected the Discovery Institute's entreaties for more funding, Harper states. "They're political - that for us is problematic," and that while Discovery has "always claimed to be focused on the science," "what I see is much more focused on public policy, on public persuasion, on educational advocacy and so forth."[22][72]

In 2007 in the LA Times Pamela Thompson, Vice President for Communications of the Templeton Foundation wrote "We do not believe that the science underpinning the intelligent-design movement is sound, we do not support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge, and the foundation is a nonpolitical entity and does not engage in or support political movements."[73] The same day the Wall Street Journal also included a letter from the same Pamela Thompson making much the same point: "The foundation doesn't support the political movement known as 'Intelligent Design.' This is for three reasons: We don't believe the science underpinning the 'Intelligent Design' movement is sound, we don't support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge and the foundation is a non-political entity and does not engage in, or support, political movements." [74]

In February 2007 the Discovery Institute began a campaign to counter the unfavorable statements of Harper and Thompson citing a "report" published on the intelligent design wiki, ResearchID.[75] This campaign quoted clarifications from Charles Harper of the Templeton Foundation denouncing intelligent design and distancing the Templeton Foundation from the intelligent design movement, notably a clarification by Harper that a Wall Street Journal article published "false information" that "mention[ed] the John Templeton Foundation in a way suggesting that the Foundation has been a concerted patron and sponsor of the so-called Intelligent Design ("ID") position,"[76] ResearchID and Discovery Institute claimed that this was indicative of larger errors and bias: "The media has misrepresented the record of the intelligent design research community."[77] Critics of intelligent design responded by noting that though Harper appears to have "confirmed that while the first statement about a formal call for applications was false, the real point of the article, that ID advocates don't do very well in terms of actual research and scientific review, remains true and valid" a point the Discovery Institute glosses over.[78] The Templeton Foundation posted a response to the Discovery Institute's campaign, saying:

In response to errors and misrepresentations stated in the February 28, 2007 blog post: 1. The John Templeton Foundation has never made a call-for-proposals to the ID Community. 2. The Henry Schaefer grant was from the Origins of Biological Complexity program. Schaefer is a world's leading chemist, and his research has nothing whatsoever to do with ID. 3. Bill Dembski's grant was not for the book 'No Free Lunch.' Dembski was given funds to write another book on Orthodox Theology, which was not on ID, however he has never written the book. From our FAQ... Does the Foundation support I.D.? No. We do not support the political movement known as "Intelligent Design." This is for three reasons 1) we do not believe the science underpinning the "Intelligent Design" movement is sound, 2) we do not support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge, and 3) the Foundation is a non-political entity and does not engage in, or support, political movements. It is important to note that in the past we have given grants to scientists who have gone on to identify themselves as members of the Intelligent Design community. We understand that this could be misconstrued by some to suggest that we implicitly support the Intelligent Design movement, but, as outlined above, this was not our intention at the time nor is it today. -- Templeton Foundation[79]

Judge Jones

Controversy was stirred up again in December 2006 by the Discovery Institute and its fellows publishing several articles describing a "study" performed by the Discovery Institute criticizing the judge in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial. It claims that "90.9% of Judge Jones’ [opinion] on intelligent design as science was taken virtually verbatim from the ACLU’s proposed 'Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law' submitted to Judge Jones nearly a month before his ruling."[80] The study, though making no specific allegations of wrongdoing, implies that Judge Jones relied upon the plaintiff's submissions in writing his own conclusions of law.

Within a day, the president of the York County Bar Association had pointed out that parties are required by the courts to submit findings of fact and "a judge can adopt some, all or none of the proposed findings." She added that in the final ruling, a judge's decision "is the judge's findings and it doesn't matter who submitted them". A partner in a York law firm said that "Any attempt to make a stink out of it is absurd."[81]

Several commentators pointed out that Jones' use of the plaintiff's submissions were limited to his opinion, not his conclusion of law, and that "Vice President for Legal Affairs John West is not a lawyer, so he may not be familiar with the fact that this is exactly what proposed findings of fact are for. They are proposed findings which a judge, if he or she agrees, then incorporates as his or her own findings. ... The press release suggests that Judge Jones did something improper in adopting the plaintiffs’ proposed findings as his own—but that is just what a judge does when he finds that the party has proven its case."[82] Others noted that the institute's reliance on MS Word's "Word Count" function to conduct their study was flawed and resulted in inflated numbers, and that the bulk of the document Discovery studied was written by the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP, not the ACLU.[83] Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the ACLU's lead attorney on the case called the Institute's report a stunt: "They're getting no traction in the scientific world so they're trying to do something ... as a PR stunt to get attention, ... That's not how scientists work, ... Discovery Institute is trying to litigate a year-old case in the media." He also said the Discovery Institute staff is not, as it claims, interested in finding scientific truths; it is more interested in a "cultural war," pushing for intelligent design and publicly criticizing a judge.[84]

A subsequent study was performed by Wesley Elsberry, author of the text comparison program that was partly responsible for the decision in the case, indicated that only 38% of the complete ruling by Judge Jones actually incorporated the findings of fact and conclusions of law that the plaintiffs proposed that he incorporate, and only 66% of the section (on whether intelligent design was science) incorporated the proposals, not the 90.9% the Discovery Institute claimed was copied in that section. Significantly, Judge Jones adopted only 48% of the plaintiffs’s proposed findings of fact for that section, and rejected 52%, clearly showing that he did not accept the section verbatim.[85][86]

Intelligent design-related websites

The Discovery Institute has registered over two hundred website domain names.

The use of these sites is often in conjunction other intelligent design-related sites registered and operated by Discovery Institute Fellows and associates. William Dembski, for example, registered and operates,, and while the institute's Casey Luskin set up



The institute is a non-profit educational foundation funded by philanthropic foundation grants, corporate and individual contributions and the dues of Institute members. Contributions made to it are tax deductible, as provided by law.

The institute does not provide details about its backers, out of "harassment" fears according to Chapman.[22]

In 2001, the Baptist Press reported, "Discovery Institute ... with its $4 million annual budget ($1.2 million of which is for the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture) is heavily funded by Christian conservatives. Maclellan Foundation of Chattanooga, Tenn., for example, awarded $350,000 to the institute with the hope researchers would be able to prove evolution to be a false theory. Fieldstead & Co., owned by Howard and Robert Ahmanson of Irvine, Calif., pledged $2.8 million through 2003 to support the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture."[87]

In 2003, a review of tax documents on GuideStar showed grants and gifts totalling $1.4 million in 1997. Included in the supporters were 22 foundations. At least two-thirds of these foundations stated explicitly religious missions.[88]

Most Discovery Institute donors have also contributed significantly to the Bush campaign.[22][58]

In 2005, the Washington Post reported, 'Meyer said the institute accepts money from such wealthy conservatives as Howard Ahmanson Jr., who once said his goal is "the total integration of biblical law into our lives," and the Maclellan Foundation, which commits itself to "the infallibility of the Scripture." '[89]

According to Charity Navigator, in FYE 2005, the Discovery Institute had $2,989,608 in total revenue and $3,878,186 in expenses.[1]

The Discovery Institute denies allegations that its intelligent design agenda is religious, and downplays the religious source of much of its funding. In an interview of Stephen C. Meyer, when ABC News' asked about the Discovery Institute's many evangelical Christian donors, the institute's public relations representative stopped the interview saying "I don't think we want to go down that path."[4]

Though in the minority, funding also comes from non-conservative sources: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $1 million in 2000 and pledged $9.35 million over 10 years in 2003, including $50,000 of Bruce Chapman's $141,000 annual salary. The money of the Gates Foundation grant is "exclusive to the Cascadia project" on regional transportation, according to a Gates Foundation grant maker.[22]

Published reports state that the institute has awarded $3.6 million in fellowships of $5,000 to $60,000 per year to 50 researchers since the CSC's founding in 1996.[22] "I was one of the early beneficiaries of Discovery largess," says William A. Dembski, who, during the three years after completing graduate school in 1996 could not secure a university position, received what he calls "a standard academic salary" of $40,000 a year through the institute.

Discovery Institute Press

Discovery Institute Press is the Institute's publishing arm[90] and it has published intelligent design books by its fellows including, David Berlinski's Deniable Darwin & Other Essays (2010), Jonathan Wells The Myth of DNA (2011) and an edited volume titled Signature Of Controversy which contains apologetic works in defense of the Institute's Center for Science and Culture director Stephen Meyer.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Discovery Institute". Charity Navigator. 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ Discovery Institute, "About Discovery", retrieved 7 September 2010.
  3. ^ Forrest, Barbara (May 2007) (PDF). Understanding the Intelligent Design Creationist Movement: Its True Nature and Goals. A Position Paper from the Center for Inquiry, Office of Public Policy. Washington, D.C.: Center for Inquiry, Inc.. Retrieved 2007-08-06 
  4. ^ a b Harris, Dan (November 9, 2005). "Small Group Wields Major Influence in Intelligent Design Debate". ABC News. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  5. ^ "ID's home base is the Center for Science and Culture at Seattle's conservative Discovery Institute. Meyer directs the center; former Reagan adviser Bruce Chapman heads the larger institute, with input from the Christian supply-sider and former American Spectator owner George Gilder (also a Discovery senior fellow). From this perch, the ID crowd has pushed a "teach the controversy" approach to evolution that closely influenced the Ohio State Board of Education's recently proposed science standards, which would require students to learn how scientists "continue to investigate and critically analyze" aspects of Darwin's theory." Chris Mooney. The American Prospect. December 2, 2002 Survival of the Slickest: How anti-evolutionists are mutating their message. Retrieved on 2008-07-23
  6. ^ Teaching Intelligent Design: What Happened When? by William A. Dembski "The clarion call of the intelligent design movement is to "teach the controversy." There is a very real controversy centering on how properly to account for biological complexity (cf. the ongoing events in Kansas), and it is a scientific controversy."
  7. ^ Nick Matzke's analysis shows how teaching the controversy using the Critical Analysis of Evolution model lesson plan is a means of teaching all the intelligent design arguments without using the intelligent design label.No one here but us Critical Analysis-ists... Nick Matzke. The Panda's Thumb, July 11, 2006
  8. ^ a b Saletan, William (2005-12-21). "Is Creationism Destructible?". Slate (magazine). Retrieved March 6, 2010. 
  9. ^ "ID's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard." Ruling, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, page 89
  10. ^ a b "That this controversy is one largely manufactured by the proponents of creationism and intelligent design may not matter, and as long as the controversy is taught in classes on current affairs, politics, or religion, and not in science classes, neither scientists nor citizens should be concerned." Intelligent Judging — Evolution in the Classroom and the Courtroom George J. Annas, New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 354:2277-2281 May 25, 2006
  11. ^ "Some bills seek to discredit evolution by emphasizing so-called "flaws" in the theory of evolution or "disagreements" within the scientific community. Others insist that teachers have absolute freedom within their classrooms and cannot be disciplined for teaching non-scientific "alternatives" to evolution. A number of bills require that students be taught to "critically analyze" evolution or to understand "the controversy." But there is no significant controversy within the scientific community about the validity of the theory of evolution. The current controversy surrounding the teaching of evolution is not a scientific one." AAAS Statement on the Teaching of Evolution American Association for the Advancement of Science. February 16, 2006
  12. ^ Ruling, page 131 Kitzmiller v. Dover.
  13. ^ Luskin, Casey (September 8, 2006). "Response to Barbara Forrest's Kitzmiller Account Part IV: The "Wedge Document"". Discovery Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions." ... "If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points."Wedge Strategy Discovery Institute, 1999. The institute's response to the leaking of the Wedge strategy, The "Wedge Document": So What? raises the same objection to the materialistic worldview: "We think the materialist world-view that has dominated Western intellectual life since the 19th century is false and we want to refute it. We further want to reverse the influence of such materialistic thinking on our culture".
  15. ^ Tapper, Jake (February 22, 2007). "McCain Speech Tied to Intelligent Design Group Draws Fire". ABC News. Retrieved December 5, 2007. 
  16. ^ "Media Backgrounder: Intelligent Design Article Sparks Controversy". Discovery Institute. September 7, 2004. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  17. ^ Mooney, Chris (August 2005). "11". The Republican War on Science (3rd ed.). Basic Books. ISBN 0465046754. 
  18. ^ "The Editors". Gilder Technology Report. 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Ronald Reagan: Radio Address to the Nation on Small Business". The American Presidency Project. Gerhard Peters. May 14, 1983. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  20. ^ "Ronald Reagan: Radio Address to the Nation on Tax Reform". The American Presidency Project. Gerhard Peters. June 7, 1986. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  21. ^ Downey, Roger (February 1, 2006). "Discovery's Creation". Seattle Weekly News. Retrieved August 27, 2007. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Wilgoren, Jodi (August 21, 2005). "Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive". The New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  23. ^ a b Barbara Forrest; Glenn Branch (January–February 2005). "AAUP: Wedging Creationism into the Academy". Academe Online. American Association of University Professors. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  24. ^ "About Discovery". Discovery Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  25. ^ Forrest, Barbara (December 2001). "How Intelligent Design Creationism Is Wedging Its Way into the Cultural and Academic Mainstream". Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives. MIT Press. ISBN 0262661241. 
  26. ^ Gishlick, Alan; Nick Matzke, and Wesley R. Elsberry (September 12, 2004). "Meyer's Hopeless Monster". Talk Reason. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  27. ^ Calling evolution "a theory in crisis," more than two-dozen scientists signed an amicus brief by written by Seth L. Cooper of the Discovery Institute and George M. Weaver and Kevin T. McMurry of Hollberg & Weaver. Scientists Defend School Board's Use of Evolution Disclaimer Sticker R. Robin McDonald and Greg Bluestein., Fulton County Daily Report, November 12, 2004.
  28. ^ "Darwinism is a theory in crisis." --Discovery Institute co-founder, Bruce Chapman. How Should Schools Teach Evolution? Bruce Chapman. Dallas Morning News, September 21, 2003.
  29. ^ "Such closed-minded dogmatism is the opposite of good science, and it shouldn't be allowed to dictate what Texas students learn about biology." -- John G. West, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow. Institute Supports Accurate Science John G. West. San Angelo Standard-Times, August 8, 2003.
  30. ^ "In summary, the disclaimer singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forgo scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere." Ruling - disclaimer, pg. 49 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
  31. ^ Nature's Book Shelved Jonathan Witt. Touchstone Magazine, March 1, 2006.
  32. ^ a b c d Biever, Celeste (December 15, 2006). "Intelligent design: The God Lab". New Scientist (2582). ISSN 0262-4079. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  33. ^ Chapman, Bruce (October 2, 2006). "The State of Scientific Research on Intelligent Design". Discovery Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  34. ^ Brayton, Ed (December 15, 2006). "The DI's Genuine Imitation Leather Research Lab". Dispatches from the Culture Wars. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  35. ^ Myers, PZ (February 15, 2007). "Happy Intelligent Design Day!". Pharyngula. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  36. ^ Schönborn, Christoph (July 7, 2005). "Finding Design in Nature". The New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  37. ^ Dean, Cornelia; Goodstein, Laurie (July 9, 2005). "Leading Cardinal Redefines Church's View on Evolution". The New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2010 
  38. ^ "Cascadia: About". Discovery Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  39. ^ Pryne, Eric (October 30, 2003). "Transportation package: What will voters support?". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  40. ^ Murakami, Kery (July 1, 2003). "Private firms seek support to run ferries". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  41. ^ "U.S. Senators and Congressmen to Address Homeland Security, Alternative Energy at Cascadia Conference". The Dallas Morning News. May 24, 2006.,+09:01+PM. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  42. ^ Manjoo, Farhad (August 26, 2005). "Intelligent donation?". Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  43. ^ "Technology & Democracy Project". Discovery Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  44. ^ "Russia Blog". Discovery Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  45. ^ "Past Event: How Do Western Stereotypes Harm U.S.-Russia Relations?". Discovery Institute. October 11, 2006. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  46. ^ "The Lewis Legacy Online". Discovery Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  47. ^ "C.S. Lewis Writings in the Public Domain". Discovery Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  48. ^ "Although it purports to be a secular organization, its religious moorings are clearly recognizable. Patricia O'Connell Killen, a religion professor at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma whose work centers around the regional religious identity of the Pacific Northwest, recently wrote that "religiously inspired think tanks such as the conservative evangelical Discovery Institute" are part of the "religious landscape" of that area." Forrest, Barbara; Paul R. Gross (May 2007). Creationism's Trojan Horse. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195319737. 
  49. ^ Jones, Thomas (November 1, 2001). "Short Cuts". London Review of Books 23 (21). ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved June 24, 2010.  "The Discovery Institute is a conservative Christian think-tank - although some of its fellows are quick to deny they are either of those things..."
  50. ^ Ruling, Kitzmiller v. Dover, page 29.
  51. ^ a b Wedge Document Discovery Institute, 1999. (PDF file)
  52. ^ Kruglinski, Susan (December 22, 2005). "Intelligent Decision". Discover Magazine. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  53. ^ Beyond the "Wedge": Intelligent Design, Science, and Culture Wesley R. Elsberry. (PowerPoint file)
  54. ^ Emma Kippley-Ogman. "Judaism & Intelligent Design". Retrieved 13 November 2010. "But there are also Jewish voices in the intelligent design camp. David Klinghoffer, a Discovery Institute fellow, is an ardent advocate of intelligent design. In an article in The Forward (August 12, 2005), he claimed that Jewish thinkers have largely ignored intelligent design and contended that Jews, along with Christians, should adopt the theory because beliefs in God and in natural selection are fundamentally opposed." 
  55. ^ Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design. Retrieved 13 November 2010. "Possibly the most intriguing personality associated with the Discovery Institute is senior fellow David Berlinkski. He is not a Christian and some-times even identifies himself as "a Jewish agnostic." In an interview, he has admitted, he has admitted: "I have no religious convictions and no religious beliefs. What I do believe is that theology is no more an impossible achievement than mathematics."" 
  56. ^ The New Creationists Nina Shapiro. Seattle Weekly, April 18, 2001
  57. ^ The Evolution of Bruce Chapman by Eric Scigliano. Seattle Metropolitan, March 2006.
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  59. ^ a b Of Pandas and People (1989). Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon (1st & 2nd Ed) William A. Dembski and Jonathan Wells (3rd Ed, under the title The Design of Life. Foundation for Thought and Ethics. ISBN 0-914513-40-0
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  65. ^ Political Animal, Intelligent Design Kevin Drum. Washington Monthly, March 24, 2004.
  66. ^ "The proponents of Intelligent Design (and creationism) are notorious for claiming support from scientists when no such support exists." 9. Intelligent Design Advocates in Academia Who's Who in the Creationist Movement in the UK. British Centre for Science Education.
  67. ^ The Glue that Binds the Movement Michael Flynn. International Relations Center, September 8, 2005.
  68. ^ Survival of the Slickest: How anti-evolutionists are mutating their message By Chris Mooney, The American Prospect, 16 December 2002. Retrieved on 2008-07-23
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  70. ^ Michelle Goldberg's Gone To the MegaChurch and She Found Christian Nationalism There Mark Karlin. BuzzFlash, June, 2006.
  71. ^ Ideas & Trends; Intelligent Design Might Be Meeting Its Maker Laurie Goodstein. New York Times, December 4, 2005
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