The world’s leading scientists yesterday urged schools to stop denying the facts of evolution amid controversy over the teaching of creationism.
The national science academies of 67 countries – including the UK’s Royal Society – issued a joint statement warning that scientific evidence about the origins of life was being “concealed, denied, or confused”. It urged parents and teachers to provide children with the facts about the origins and evolution of life on Earth.
This is a nice foil to a recent post on the Discovery Institute’s “Evolution News and Views blog,” noting that their list of “dissenting scientists” has now exceeded 600 individuals, and touting that more international scientists are signing on:
“Dissent from Darwinism has gone global,” said Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman, former US Ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna. “Darwinists used to claim that virtually every scientist in the world held that Darwinian evolution was true, but we quickly started finding US scientists that disproved that statement. Now we’re finding that there are hundreds, and probably thousands, of scientists all over the world that don’t subscribe to Darwin’s theory.”
600 individuals versus the national science academies of 67 countries. How seriously pathetic.
The statement itself was drafted by the Interacademy Panel on International Issues and can be found here. Note that it’s not only in support of evolution, but also touches on the nature of science itself:
Scientific knowledge derives from a mode of inquiry into the nature of the universe that has been successful and of great consequence. Science focuses on (i) observing the natural world and (ii) formulating testable and refutable hypotheses to derive deeper explanations for observable phenomena.
Contributing countries include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, the UK, United States, Denmark (sorry, Bill) and many others. These academies represent millions of working scientists around the globe–while the DI finds it impressive that “…hundreds, and probably thousands, of scientists all over the world…don’t subscribe to Darwin’s theory,” the rest of the reality-based community is again showing their support for both evolutionary theory, and the scientific method as the way to undertake research.
One comment on the new statement: while I find the statement and its signatories impressive, but is there a “statement burnout?” As Nick at the Scientific Activist states:
Of course the world’s preeminent scientific organizations should be pushing the teaching of evolution, and they should be doing a lot more than just putting out weak press releases. It’s no wonder that intelligent design, despite its complete lack of anything even resembling scientific validity, has made such an impact, since its proponents have been so proactive and so much more media savvy than the scientific community.
Instead of just drafting a statement, the IAP’s resources could be better put to use by directly engaging the public on the issue or by putting together useful resources for the scientific and educational communities.
Statements are certainly popping up everywhere. The DI has theirs, and I blogged previously on another anti-evolution statement (“Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity”) here. Conservatives have their own statement against intelligent design, and I was part of a group to circulate a petition supporting evolution (mentioned here). I agree that, alone, the statements aren’t enough, and I agree with Nick that we need to directly engage the public and create useful resources. It’s simply not an either-or thing. The resources he links are from the US National Academy of Sciences, one of the signatories on the current statement. Additionally, the IAP is more of a facilitator between the various science academies worldwide, so putting together a piece like this is right up their alley–and, IMO, a component of the “media savvy” that Nick mentions our opponents possess (and scientists lack). The DI knows that numbers sell–and while theirs are absolutely pathetic by comparison, they can point to their list and say, “see, we have scientists who support us.” The IAP statement is a nice collection where evolution supporters can point and say, “yeah, but how do they compare to this list?” Kudos to them for pulling it all together.