suggested slogan? "Incompetent design." He proposes publicizing the flaws in the supposedly perfect design of human beings—such as the sharp bend in the lower back, better suited to apes. "The phrase, 'Oh, my aching back' has become part of the English language," he says. "No first-year engineering student would be dumb enough to put that kind of design into a frame, so it is either evolution or incompetent design."
In his film, Olson focuses on other flaws in the design of living creatures. For example, when rabbits eat, the food bypasses the stomach and is excreted. Rabbits then eat the excreted material to get nutrients. In the movie, Olson shows a rabbit eating its own waste.
Others take more playful jabs at I.D. A husband-and-wife team at Zygote Games in Amherst, Mass., in honor of the Dover trial, offered a 20 percent discount on its card game "Bone Wars: The Game of Ruthless Paleontology," which explains how scientific theories are developed. Then there is the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (online at Venganza.org), which asserts that if students are to be taught alternative theories, then one of them should be that the universe was created by a flying heap of pasta.
Small efforts by some science groups have met with mixed success. To make fun of the Discovery Institute's tactic of frequently listing the names of scientists who support the I.D. theory, the NCSE created T-shirts that list only those evolution supporters with the first name "Steve," in honor of the well-known evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who died in 2002.
Ohio State's Nisbet says it's not enough to get the facts out and believe the public will respond; it is time for evolutionists to frame the debate on their terms. In Ohio, he says, where the board of education voted Feb. 14 to remove anti-evolution teachings from state standards, what won the day was the threat of a costly lawsuit and trial—expenses the state might incur "all because a small interest group took control of the agenda."
Other economic arguments can work too, he says. "If we sponsor I.D. at the state level, what kind of message does it say about our state being hospitable to scientific education?" he asks. "Will companies want to invest here, and what will it do to our schools and the ability of our students to get into top colleges?" Such a strategy could resonate nationally, he adds, because while the U.S. has always been a leader in science and technology, "other countries are catching up."
Nisbet's suggestion to scientists: invest long-term in science education, form a coalition and hire a PR firm that can devise strategies for messaging around these alternative ways of framing the debate.
Without a national voice to advocate on their behalf, supporters of evolution have been left to fight at the grassroots level—like Jack Krebs, a high school math teacher in Kansas and president of Kansas Citizens for Science. "From a marketing point of view, they have co-opted a lot of terms that sell well in the minds of the American public," Krebs says. "We don't have the catchphrases. We are not winning the PR war on this."