Dispatches from the Creation Wars

That Famous DI Statement

The DI’s famous list of “dissenting scientists” who “doubt Darwin” has gone over 500 names and they are crowing. Their press release is reprinted almost word for word in the Worldnutdaily and they’ve even launched a website about this list called dissentfromdarwin.org. But as I’ve said a thousand times, the statement that they claim shows “dissent” from “Darwinism” is a sham. Here’s the statement that the 500 scientists agreed to:

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

This is “dissent from Darwin”? I’ll go a lot further than that statement. I’m not only skeptical of the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life, I flat out deny that it those two things alone have that ability. The statement ignores several evolutionary mechanisms that are also quite important in explaining biodiversity on earth. Richard Dawkins could agree to that statement, for crying out loud; is he then a “dissenter” from “Darwinism”? This is little more than a straw man.

And even if the statement did indicate actual dissent from evolutionary theory, of what use other than rhetorical is a list of “scientists”? Why not scientists in relevant fields of study? How many biologists, geneticists or anthropologists are on that list? Very few. Lots of engineers of various types, a few chemists, but if you narrowed it down to those in actual relevant fields the number would be much smaller.

Comments

  1. #1 skipevans
    February 21, 2006

    NCSE did an analysis of the list when it first came out at 200.

    http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/7306_pr87_11292001__doubting_dar_11_29_2001.asp

    They even emailed as many that could be found email addresses for, and of the few who responded (I’m quite sure the DI got wind and ordered the minions to keep silent) a couple said they did not doubt evolution at all and even had no problem accepting commen ancestry for chimps and humans.

    The list is indeed a bunch a baloney, worded specifically so that anyone, even the most ardent evolutionist, could in good faith sign on.

    Typical Disco-Rot all around.

    And yes, the list contains a whole bunch of people with no training in any relevant field, along with the typical DI hucksters, and a few from YEC organizations as well.

    Compare that with Project Steve:

    http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/3541_project_steve_2_16_2003.asp

    …now over 700 and growing, most list members in relevant fields, and a much more specific stronger statement, and its pretty obvious that Project Steve makes ground pidgeon meat out of the DI’s dishonest list.

    And on top of all that, you can get a pretty kick ass Project Steve tee shirt to boot!

  2. #2 pough
    February 21, 2006

    From dissentfromdarwin.org:

    Finally, if you have a Ph.D. in engineering, mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry, or one of the other natural sciences…

    That’s very telling, isn’t it? Start with three mostly irrelevent fields that tend to have the highest number of people who “dissent” from the standards of other fields and tuck in the one relevent one in at the end (but not the very end because that would highlight it, too).

  3. #3 rik
    February 21, 2006

    The last science course I had was high school 40 years ago. I hate to admit it, but “natural selection and random mutation” sounded right to me, so can you help me with my ignorance? You state “The statement ignores several evolutionary mechanisms that are also quite important in explaining biodiversity on earth.” Could you point me to some non-technical explanations of these mechanisms?

  4. #4 Dave S.
    February 21, 2006

    rik –

    For examples of these other mechanisms, check out sexual selection, neutral drift, speciation and endosymbiosis. A good introduction to evolution can be found HERE. The talkorigins site is also a great source for much more info on evolution as well.

  5. #5 t.f.
    February 21, 2006

    rik
    sexual selection and genetic drift do not count as either of those two. (sexual behavior and subsequent selection is not related to “survivability”, per se, but rather gives rise to it–fecundity)
    to follow up on Skip’s point, they have *a DEAD MAN* on the list — Dave Chapman (see http://www.whoi.edu/mr/obit.do?id=716)
    Their *new and improved* statement is a joke. First, the *Darwinism* is what they disagree with, which is *not* taught in schools, versus common descent, or the evolution of higher taxa, etc. As has been pointed out by Jack and others *no one* says but these morons attaches philosophical meanings to the teaching of evolution in schools: the *complexity of life* is subjectively dependent upon your perspective (does this mean consciousness, emotions, the soul?), and what *claims* exactly are they discussing? That RM/NS are *unguided* (as was injected in the Kansas standards, as Jack pointed out)? What do *Darwinists* claim, versus what does evolutionary theory claim about the power and explanatory success of RM/NS in dealing with *common descent*?

    Secondly, they are begging the question with the second sentence entirely, of course–who the hell says the signers didn*t sign just to endorse the idea that evidence *should always* be examined? Who wouldn’t agree that it should? Does this not beg the question that it already *isn’t*? Or that there *is contradictory evidence*?

    I get rabidly angry sometimes at this kind of ploy!

    Finally, in looking *only* at the first page of the *dissenters* list yields an interesting analysis. Granting the IDers the right to see Biochemists, even Entomologists, on there, I still find the following names laughable due to their fields of expertise in declaring anything *authoritative* about biological evolution:

    Skell (Chemistry)
    Giertych (Dendrology)
    Forslund (Astrophysics)
    Bass (Mathematics)
    Hey (Medicine)
    Heinze (Geophysics)
    Dembski (Mathematics)
    Dave Chapman (Oceanography) *DECEASED*
    Schroeder (Marine Geology)
    Schwartz (Psychiatry…how fucking stupid are these people?)
    Snoke (Physics)
    Tipler (Mathematical Physics)

    This is out of only 28 on the first page, and we here have 12 people who clearly have no credential authority in declaring RM/NS insufficient as the agency of evolution (forgetting your point that sexual selection, genetic drift, etc *should* be included). So 43% of these names should be stricken from the first page. I have no patience to go through the rest of the pages, but I am betting it only gets worse from here…

  6. #6 Reed A. Cartwright
    February 21, 2006

    Not to mention the fact that the DI cherrypicks the credentials of the signers, using the person’s degree or employment, which ever seems more prestigious.

  7. #7 Dave S.
    February 21, 2006

    to follow up on Skip’s point, they have *a DEAD MAN* on the list — Dave Chapman

    Well that’s the way it’s done in Chicago. :)

  8. #8 J-Dog
    February 21, 2006

    I wonder how many negative ID emails we (meaning SB & PT readers) could send using their link: cscinfo@discovery.org.

    The email can be very simple, using only the subject line: “You People Are IDiots”.

    It is SO unlike them to allow ANY way of responding to them. Would it take one day for them to remove the link? 2 days? One hour? This is GREAT because you don’t even have to be a Steve to respond.

    It would be a way for those of us who are not actually blogging and in the front lines of the battle to make our voices heard.

  9. #9 Ed Brayton
    February 21, 2006

    rik wrote:

    The last science course I had was high school 40 years ago. I hate to admit it, but “natural selection and random mutation” sounded right to me, so can you help me with my ignorance? You state “The statement ignores several evolutionary mechanisms that are also quite important in explaining biodiversity on earth.” Could you point me to some non-technical explanations of these mechanisms?

    There are other mechanisms for genetic variation other than mutation (recombination, for instance) and other non-adaptive or non-selective mechanisms that can account for the spread of such variation (such as genetic drift).

  10. #10 Ed Brayton
    February 21, 2006

    J-Dog:

    That is exactly the kind of response we absolutely do not need to engage in.

  11. #11 raj
    February 21, 2006

    From the quotation:

    We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life.

    This is interesting, but it should be noted that all of the means for achieving genetic modification may not have been discovered. There was an article in Scientific American within the last year that suggested that otherwise benign viruses (that is, they didn’t cause disease) may have been vectors for genetic modification. Were the modifications random? Probably not.

  12. #12 maurile
    February 21, 2006

    The DI’s famous list of “dissenting scientists” who “doubt Darwin” has gone over 500 names and they are crowing.

    Three of them are named Steve.

  13. #13 Matthew
    February 21, 2006

    I expect your name to be added to the list along with this quote:

    I’m not only skeptical of the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life, I flat out deny that it those two things alone have that ability.

    Even a Panda’s Thumb contributor is a darwin doubter!

  14. #14 Michael Hopkins
    February 21, 2006

    I really would not get on the DI for having a dead signer. Indeed, I would be rather surprised if none of the Steves are dead (hundreds of names, on average older than the average person, and over three years since it project started). I really don’t expect anyone to edit out signers who have since died.

    “Tipler (Mathematical Physics)”

    Why anyone would want Tipler’s endorsement for anything is beyond me. I doubt that the DI would want to tell his readers what Tipler proposes.

  15. #15 Ian Gibson
    February 21, 2006

    I’m not really concerned with numbers or whether they are scientists from relevant fields; the main point is that their actual arguments are total crap.