Whoa. This is amazing. A NY Times reporter got a Discovery Institute press release, and he didn’t just accept it on their say-so—he actually went digging to find out how accurate it was. I have to give Kenneth Chang his due for going below the surface and investigating a claim.
The Discovery Institute has been circulating a petition since 2001, trying to get people to sign on to a statement of dissent from Darwin. They’ve now got over 500 signatures on it, but as the article shows, the majority are not biologists, and in interviews with some of the signers, many seem to have signed because of religious sensibilities. When asked, they did dig up two signers who were not religious, and one is David Berlinski, who is not a scientist but is instead a professional pompous ass and semi-supporter of astrology. The list includes Phil Skell, a major crackpot.
That’s why these petitions are meaningless: there will always be fringe characters who will sign on to anything that pokes the establishment in the eye.
As Josh Rosenau shows, there’s another reason the DI petition could get that many signatures: it’s meaningless and gutless. The thing is titled “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” for Odin’s sake…”Darwinism”? I dissent from “Darwinism”—it’s a theory that’s over a century old, that has been extensively revised, and Darwinism sensu strictu doesn’t exist as a major theory anymore. It’s a straw man that creationists flail at.
Look at the cowardly statement they ask people to sign:
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.
That’s it? They can’t even mention their pet guess of Intelligent Design, but instead ask people to sign off on a statement professing the values of skepticism and careful examination? Weak, man, weak. Pathetic.
Hey, I’ve got this idea that Martians are zapping George Bush’s brain with their orbiting lasers, causing it to shrivel and collapse. Do you think the NSA, FBI, CIA, EPA, NCD and RRB will pay attention to me if I get enough people to sign a petition deploring neurodegenerative diseases?