When done well, critical discourse studies offer biting critiques of power in society, showing how dominant discourses, i.e. taken-for-granted or commonsensical assumptions, world views and ideologies, shape and are shaped by text and talk.
The Wedge Strategy is an interesting and topical example of an alternative discourse (Intelligent Design) seeking to challenge *the* dominant one (Evolution). Published in 1999, the Wedge Strategy is a Discovery Institute (DI) manifesto which aims
To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God (p4)
“Materialistic explanations” refer to evolutionary science, which Intelligent Design disqualifies as “atheistic”. The Wikipedia entry on the Wedge Strategy is well worth reading. In The Wedge at Work, Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy at Southeastern Lousiana University,
does not analyze the philosophical and scientific arguments (such as they are) of DI’s intelligent design proponents. Others are doing that quite capably; rather, the present study analyzes the nature of the wedge strategy, providing a framework from which to move at any point into the philosophical and scientific analyses.
Forrest’s analysis shows how the DI attempts to
- “cultivate a facade of academic legitimacy”;
- “influence college students, too many of whom are ignorant of genuine science, thus recruiting them into the wedge movement”;
- “cultivate the support of university administrators and financial donors”;
- “acquire physical bases of operation, with access to all the advantages this brings”
- “exploit their presence in higher education, using their credentials to “snow” the public”.
On Tuesday, March 3, Barbara Forrest will give a talk about her research at Ghent University, entitled ”Inside Creationism’s Trojan Horse: A Closer Look at Intelligent Design” (auditorium C, Blandijnberg 2, Ghent, 8pm). Attendance is free and highly recommended.