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Discovery Institute (DI) commits plagerism!
11 years ago

By SA Smith

It is one thing to correct Michael Behe, some structure guy with zero research experience on HIV-1 evolution. But considering the sheer number of DI “fellows” who are lawyers, and the fact I’m just a biology student with zero experience in law, I found it rather strange that I caught something the DI lawyers evidently had no problem with:


Long Original with Narration:

DI manipulation with *Narration*:

Now, I have brought this to the attention of Harvard and XVIVO, and I don’t know what they’re going to do. (They’re Harvard.—They can do whatever they want.) I do know that they are not happy campers. Now, IANAL, I am a virologist, but here’s why I would be upset.

This isn’t a case of naive copyright infringement on Dembski’s part, ie “Hey! I found this cool video on YouTube, lets use it!” Though Dembski is pictured here, others have reported multiple DI “fellows” presenting this manipulated animation. The Discovery Institute does not have a license to use this animation, so they downloaded it illegally.

Maybe they think it is “okay” to use it anyway because they stripped off Harvard/XVIVOs copyright and credits.

Maybe they think it is “okay” because they gave the animation a new title— “Inner life of a cell” became “The cell as an automated city”—and an extraordinarily unprofessional new narration—alternate alternate title: “Big Gay Al takes a tour of a cell!“. Harvard/XVIVOs narration, all of the science, is whisked away and replaced with a “surrealistic lilliputian realm”—“robots”, “manufacturing”, “circuitry”, “nano moters”, “UPS labels”. Maybe they think it is “okay” because they turned all of Harvard’s science into “Magic”!

Hmm. From my point of view, as a virologist and former teaching assistant, this isn’t just copyright infringement. This is theft and plagiarism. Taking someone else’s work without their consent, manipulating it without their consent, pretending it supports ID creationist’s absurd views of reality, and presenting it as DI’s work.

Shrug The DI fellows would be expelled from my university for this.

Ms. Smith is a graduate student studying the molecular and biochemical evolution of HIV within patients and within populations. She can be found blogging at ERV.

Turn off your Irony Meters before reading this post.
11 years ago

Dont say I didnt warn you.
Irony meters off? Okay!

So like, you know how Dembski took Harvard/XVIVOs animation, screwed around with the narration, and is now pretending he didnt do anything wrong (but hes going to stop)? Lets get into the Tardis and travel back in time to the year 2001-- the before times, when ERV didnt even know what a Creationist was. Robert Pennock published a book called "Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics." Included in this book was an article called "Who's Got the Magic?", by a William A. Dembski. Pennock got permission to use this essay from the journal title that carried Dembskis article, Metanexus. Pennock followed Metanexuss rules. Because rules for us commoners are not good enough for Creationists, William Dembski threw a tantrum. *surprise*

"I had never signed over the copyright for "Who's Got the Magic?" to Pennock or anyone else for that matter. Was it therefore our entire exchange that he was planning to add, with copyright permissions requests (that never came) still down the road ? Or was it just his portion of the exchange and a summary of mine that he was planning to add to "the ms"? Was his mention of adding it to "the ms" a reference to the MIT anthology or to some other work? Finally, the one other ID proponent whom I knew to be a contributor to Pennock's anthology ( i.e., Paul Nelson) had been explicitly contacted about being a contributor. I hadn't."

"... I would like to have seen a public apology by Pennock and some notice by MIT Press indicating that my essays appeared without my knowledge."

Yes, in 2002, William Dembski was bitching about Pennock going through the appropriate channels to add Dembskis essay to his anthology legally. He is demanding an apology by Pennock and MIT Press.

For doing what they were supposed to.


I told you to turn off your irony meters.

Lets jump back to today. November 29, 2007. From William Dembskis webpage:

"All material on this website is copyright and may be reproduced only for personal use."

"Who's Got the Magic? A response to Robert Pennock's false dichotomy that ID forces one to choose between mechanism and magic. This article first appeared on Metanexus ( It was reprinted without permission in Robert Pennock's Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics."

"William Dembski's press releases in response to the publication of this book. Integrity is hard won and easily lost. For publishing William Dembski's work without his knowledge or permission, Robert Pennock and MIT Press compromised their integrity."

But Pennock did nothing wrong. And Dembski admitted that in 2002-- "Pennock and MIT Press are legally in the clear". But hes still got that stuff on his page in 2007. The same year he purposefully stole a $$$$ animation from Harvard, smeared poop all over it, and denounced 'Darwinists' for bringing it to the attention of Harvard (more on 'Darwinists' tomorrow, evidently John West was feeling left out).

What the hell?


What is this, example #2985298571983 of Special Rights for Creationists? Poor babies just cant play by the same rules as everyone else on the planet.

Dembskis 'Animation' and Hanlons Razor
11 years ago

Hanlons Razor-- "Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice."

Dembski probably didnt modify that animation himself. Hes just a friggen idiot.

Greg Laden just stumbled upon the altered animation (seriously, we've been looking for that damn thing for MONTHS, and Gregs just like 'Hmm, lipid rafts.' ARRG!). It was uploaded in 2006, and doesnt appear to be anything malicious-- from the other videos uploaded, its probably just some student who did it for a class presentation. Its definitely the one-- stutter of the animation at the beginning, faint credits at the end.

Dembski is just a tard.

Not a malicious tard.

But stupidity isnt an excuse for what he did, nor does it explain his bizarre reaction to being called out. Ah well-- I contacted GoogleVideo, going to have them take it down, hope I can get into contact with the dude who did it. But there are still downloaded copies of this animation out there. Keep your eyes open for this and other pictures/animations/etc that Creationists might be pilfering.

No question about it!
11 years ago

Abbie Smith aka SA Smith aka ERV is now one of my most beloved idols of science!

My Photo 

More evidence
11 years ago

Discovery Institute, Dembski, Copyright, and 'Design of Life'

*squints eyes shut*

*rubs temples*

*keyboard to forehead*

So… You know all that stuff Dembski said in his notpology a while back? You know, where Dembski said he was really, really sorry for using a manipulated version of XVIVO/Harvards animation titled 'The Inner Life of a Cell’, but he didn’t do anything wrong?

Back in September of 2006 I announced at my blog UncommonDescent that a "breathtaking video" titled "The Inner Life of Cell" had just come out... ...Moreover, at the time, the video did not have a voiceover explaining the biology of what was being shown... most simply have some background music that do not explain the relevant biology... I downloaded from the Internet a version of the video with a voiceover describing the relevant biology...the version I used omitted the opening credits (a fact about which I became aware only in the last few days)...

Remember how John West at the Discovery Institute said they didn’t know nuthin about anything, they were being persecuted by Darwinists?

Some have even claimed (as usual, without an iota of evidence) that Discovery Institute supports the disregard of copyright laws or even had something to do with Dr. Dembski's usage of the animation in question. (Wrong on both counts.)

*squints eyes closed again*

Yeah… They were lying.

Peter Irons and Afarensis teamed together and discovered things in ‘Design of Life’ only a Master would look for or notice:

Footnote from Chapter 6:

Now, there is nothing wrong with them referencing XVIVO’s animation. Nothing weird about that. Whats interesting is the ‘last accessed’ date:

January 25, 2007.

The footnote is to the original Harvard website, not YouTube. The longer animation, with the original narration, with the original title/opening credits/closing credits/copyright.

January 25, 2007.

But Dembski didn’t know nuthin November 26, 2007. He sure didn’t know there was an original narration or no opinin credits! He just thought it was nifty and found it on the intrawebz!

January 25, 2007

Dembski knew at the time of his presentation at OU (September 17, 2007) that he was NOT allowed to use Harvards animation, but he did it anyway and lied about it when he got caught.

But theres more. You remember this coincidence? This figure?

The caption refers you to Footnote #4:

Part 2
11 years ago

"As seen" at a web-article about 'Inner Life of a Cell.' Figure 8.1 was SUPPOSED to be a still from ‘Inner Life’. Not a funny coincidence, it was supposed to be ‘Inner Life’. But while they changed the actual figure, the stupid bastards didn’t change the footnote.

*keyboard to forehead again*

To quote Peter:

  1. Removing the XVIVO still from the book (but forgetting to remove the incriminating footnote) indicates that Dembski knew a) that he didn't have permission to use any portion of the video, and b) that Harvard and/or XVIVO would have grounds for copyright infringement if a still from the video appeared in the book.
  2. Nonetheless, knowing this (as he must have before Sept. 2007), Dembski went ahead and showed the over-dubbed XVIVO video at his OU talk on Sept. 17, probably assuming that nobody in the audience would know that it was a doctored version of the video. Over-dubbed or not, the video was still protected by copyright, and Dembski did not have permission to use it, which he obviously knew by then. Claiming (as he did on UD on Nov. 26 and 27, after you exposed him on ERV on Sept. 20) that he simply "found" the doctored version on the Internet, does not excuse his knowing violation of copyright.
  3. All the other evidence you showed on ERV (stripping the opening credits, projecting a new title of "The Cell as an Automated City," etc.) indicate that Dembski knew he was using the XVIVO video without permission.
  4. Is the latest footnote snafu a big deal? Not as big as the OU use of the doctored video. But it shows, IMO, that Dembski knew well before his OU talk, while DOL was still in production, that using a still from the XVIVO video would violate copyright. However, he failed to erase his fingerprints (the tell-tale footnote on p. 299) from the scene of the attempted crime.
  5. This footnote snafu is just further evidence of Dembski's cover-up of his serious ethical problems in appropriating other people's work for his own purposes (and profit). Rubbing his nose in it seems perfectly justified.

Dembski is a lying sac of Creationist Crap. Pretend to act shocked.

But lets not forget the organization supporting Dembski and ‘Design of Life’. John West at the Discovery Institute wants us to believe that the DI ‘Don’t know nuthin’ about Dembski’s obsession with ‘Inner Life of a Cell.’ Even though everyone at the DI has written GLOWING reviews of ‘Design’, and they all no doubt received review copies, as well as pre-print copies, and drafts, and two DI senior fellows wrote ‘Design’—Dembski and Wells (wheres Behe?), they expect all of us to believe that the DI knew nuthin of Dembski/Wells having some ‘copyright issues’ with Harvard trying to get a pic for ‘Inner Life’.

Im sure Dembski/Wells kept it to themselves that the Evil Darwinists in their Ivory Towers at Harvard wouldn’t let them use a dippy little picture.

Im sure none of them flipped by the Harvard picture in a pre-print version and said 'WOW! We got Harvard to give us the copyright to use this pic??' Lawyers wouldnt think of such things.

John West—You all are the IDiots that tried to steal Harvards work and were too incompetent to cover your own tracks. *We* aren’t the stupid ones. *We* don’t believe you knew nuthin. <!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--> <!--[endif]-->

* Before anyone posts any crap about ‘IZ CRIZMAS Y R U POSTIN?’, my family isn’t Christian, but Dembski wanted to make sure this years Christmas present got to everyone on time.

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