A Harvard library website that offers ways to spot "fake news"1 links to a non-Harvard Google doc with "Tips for analyzing news sources." The doc lists hundreds of "False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical 'News' Sources,"2 and as of this writing the list includes the Institute for Creation Research.
As soon as we learned of it, we contacted the assistant professor behind the list, a Harvard journalism web resource that linked to the list, and the Harvard library that also linked to the list. Our respectful requests for removal from the list—after all, ICR.org does not report false news, misleading news, clickbait, or satire—brought a variety of results.
Our initial request for removal stated that ICR news reports include contributions from scientists with terminal degrees from prestigious universities including Harvard, Pepperdine, Clemson, University of Colorado, Indiana University-Bloomington, University of Minnesota, University of Texas at Dallas, and the University of North Carolina. Shouldn't those who kick ICR to the curb likewise consider these institutions as gutter dwellers? But they don't.
The "false" news list originally noted ICR's inclusion on the list for reasons "unknown."
After our request, the list manager specified ICR.org as "junksci," as though ICR purveys junk science.
Junk science describes conclusive-sounding statements with no support from experiment or observation. Examples of junk science include flat earth theories, manipulated climate reports, and a variety of unproven health-related claims. It should also include areas like astrobiology—meaning "space life"—that have zero study samples.
ICR actually tries to expose some junk science.3,4 We also pass tests listed on the "false" doc. For example, our website URL does not end in "lo" or "com.co." We specify authorship, post vetted articles instead of unscreened blog posts, and use standard font configurations.
ICR.org contains thousands of science articles that painstakingly reference original technical science sources. For example, our report of an enzyme that locates DNA damage sites using an ingenious electrical current detector was not just junk.5 The journal Theoretical Biology & Medical Modeling published those research results. Our report on a Psittacosaurus fossil from China with original skin, including its original skin shade patterns, was not just junk.6 The source research was published in Current Biology. Should those who read the "fake" list consider the hundreds of secular science journals that our articles reference as junk, too?
If ICR.org was a junk science site, then its critics should be able to document our unscientific claims, but they tell no such tales.
Irony soaks this situation. It certainly does not reflect the good journalism that the "false" doc was intended to counteract for this document to discredit an organization like ICR by means of sloppy journalism! First, it listed us for no known reason, then it labeled us "junk" without reason. Slapdash investigation haunts both decisions.
Harvard's journalism website removed its link to the "false" doc, presumably for this reason. Harvard's library page merely added the words "informal list" to its link to the "false" doc.
ICR.org clearly and repeatedly promotes and describes good, referenced science. So, why are we on this "false" list? What's really going on?
Our scientists believe the Bible.
When we report on the good science behind stunning ingenuity in DNA repair enzymes, for example, we feel free to credit the Creator. When we report on the good science behind preservation of short-lived tissues still persisting in dinosaur and other fossils, we feel free to include the Bible's recent Flood as a reasonable explanation. Today's anti-Creator, anti-Bible attitudes clearly clash with this biblical history.
Many find it easier to simply label the Bible as "junk" than to actually investigate it. If they peered inside, they would find that the Bible is painfully true, to the point that it exposes the junk that inhabits every human heart.7 We challenge readers to search for legitimate junk on ICR.org, having confidence that peering into ICR.org's nearly half-century worth of content similarly reveals a long trend of good science—conclusions based on experimental results and reliable eyewitnesses.
- Fake News, Misinformation, and Propaganda. Harvard Library. Posted on guides.library.harvard.edu, accessed March 23, 2017.
- Zimdars, M. 2016. False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical "News" Sources. Posted on docs.google.com, accessed March 3, 2017.
- Morris, J. 2006. Is Earth Really Round? Acts & Facts. 35 (3).
- Thomas, B. Leaked Emails May Show Global Warming Research Is a Fraud. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org December 3, 2009, accessed March 23, 2017.
- Thomas, B. Nobel Prize Highlights Cell Repair Mystery. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org November 12, 2015, accessed March 23, 2017.
- Thomas, B. Scales, Colors, Proteins in Dinosaur Skin. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org September 29, 2016, accessed March 23, 2017.
- The gospel even explains how Jesus can cleanse the junk from any soul. See 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.
*Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his M.S. in biotechnology from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Article posted on March 27, 2017.