Over at the Discovery Institute’s blog, Rob Crowther is playing up the “Dissent from Darwinism” list. Again. The list is nothing new. They’ve been working on it for several years now, and have managed to accumulate “over 700″ signatures from around the world. Given the number of scientists on the planet, and the degree to which the DI folks have relaxed their definition of “scientist”, it’s hardly a stellar performance on their part. As much as I’d like to ignore the list for being the laughable public relations gimmick that it is, I’m not going to this time. Crowther managed to punch one of my buttons with his latest attempt to describe the reasons that people sign this list:
Signers of the Dissent List have signed the list because it is their professional opinion that the evidence is lacking for the claims for the ability of random mutations and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Period. Nothing more, and nothing less.
It’s their professional opinion? Based on what, exactly?
What basis does Douglas Keil, who is listed as having a PhD in “Plasma Physics” have for forming a professional opinion on evolutionary biology? How about Jeanne Drisko, “Clinical Assistant Professor of Alternative Medicine” at the University of Kansas School of Medicine? Or Aaron Miller, who has a PhD in physics? Or mathematician Gary Dilts? Or “research meteorologist” John Brown? Or Baylor physical chemist John Burba? or Why on earth would I think that any of those people is in any way, shape, or form competent to form a professional opinion on a topic that falls outside their claimed area of professional expertise?
I should note at this point that I haphazardly plucked those people from the list. There are many others there who I could have listed instead. That, in a nutshell, is what bugs me about this whole thing. Crowther wants us to think that all of the people on this list of alleged scientists, many of whom appear to have absolutely no basis for claiming any kind of expertise, experience, or insight in any area of the biological sciences, are qualified to render professional opinions about evolution. Then, he wants us to accept their “professional” opinions as evidence that there’s a legitimate “controversy” about evolution. But he doesn’t want us to accept the professional opinions of the vast, overwhelming majority of scientists who actually work in relevant fields and say that there’s absolutely no controversy about the basics of evolution.
The hypocrisy is annoying. But that’s par for the course when it comes to the Discovery Institute.