Most readers are probably aware of the Discovery Institute’s "Dissent from Darwinism" statement which now has 700 signatories willing to claim
"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."
I have noted in the past that this statement does not, of course, imply that the signatories deny evolution and common descent and that it is almost certain that "random mutation and natural selection" cannot account for all aspects of the diversity and complexity of life. That said, what is obvious is that most of the signatories have no expertise in areas germaine to evolutionary biology. Over at the Pandas Thumb, Genie Scott notes:
It would be good, indeed, to analyze the rest of them to see if the proportion of biologists in relevant research areas remains a tiny percent of the Ph.D.s signing.
As it happens, I’ve almost finished analyzing the composition of the latest list of signatories, and will present the results in a few weeks (once the semester gets off the ground). For the moment, here is the composition of the 300 signatories in 2004:
- Chemistry – 57
- Engineering – 43
- Physics – 40
- Molecular & Cellular Sciences – 39
- Medicine & Health Professions – 20
- Mathematics – 14
- Physiology – 14
- Microbiology – 9
- Computer Science – 8
- Geology – 6
- Psychology – 5
- Pharmacology – 5
- Organismal biology – 5
- Atmospheric Science – 5
- Exercise Science – 4
- Anthropology – 4
- Neurosciences – 4
- Dairy or Animal Science – 4
- Philosophy – 3
- Statistics – 3
- Chemical Environmental Science – 2
- Veterinary Medicine – 2
- Oceanography – 2
- Forestry – 1
- Agronomy – 1
- Unknown – 7
Chemists, physicists, engineers, bench jockeys, doctors and mathematicians account for over 200 of the 300 signatories. And seriously, who cares what computer scientists, statisticians, philosophers and atmospheric scientists think?
At best, we have five organismal biologists (out of 300 signatories) who may have some training relevant to evolutionary biology. Given that one of them is the crankish Bernard d’Abrera who was canned from the British Museum and now publishes the DI’s Explore Evolution, I don’t hold out much hope for the rest as being qualified to say anything meaningful about the topic at hand.
At the risk of being a broken record, I’ll say this again: I don’t care what chemists, physicists, engineers etc have to say about evolution, and neither should you. They have no expertise in the field (and I have none in theirs).
While I’m at it, here’s my favorite d’Abrera quote:
“No field worker who studies insects, may now freely gaze upon his discoveries of insect morphology,biology or behaviour, without the taint of speculative Darwinism compelling him to colour his conclusions. No more is such a worker allowed to make direct, uncomplicated observations about objective facts about butterflies or moths…. Instead he is now compelled through the pressure of insidious programming by the overlords of the scientific establishment, to subject everything he has objectively observed to the tyranny of subjectivist and useless speculation about butterflies and their hypothetical origins. He must do so for no other reason than being able to collect his grant and acquire his PhD or some other doubtful honour of mutual respectability amongst his peers.The really dangerous part of this global pseudo-scientific cultism is that our worker has unconsciously been made to pass from the intellectual liberty provided within the legitimate realms of distinterested hypothesis, into the cul-de-sac of totalitarian absolutism of unprovable dogma” (2001, p. 64)
I’ll provide the breakdown of the 700 in a few weeks. But trust me, it’s not that different from what you see here.