In the News: Few Biologists but Many Evangelicals Sign Anti-Evolution Petition

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Jason Spaceman

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Feb 20, 2006, 10:07:11 PM2/20/06
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From the article:
---------------------------------------------------------------
By KENNETH CHANG
Published: February 21, 2006

In the recent skirmishes over evolution, advocates who have pushed to
dilute its teaching have regularly pointed to a petition signed by 514
scientists and engineers.

The petition, they say, is proof that scientific doubt over evolution
persists. But random interviews with 20 people who signed the petition
and a review of the public statements of more than a dozen others
suggest that many are evangelical Christians, whose doubts about
evolution grew out of their religious beliefs. And even the petition's
sponsor, the Discovery Institute in Seattle, says that only a quarter
of the signers are biologists, whose field is most directly concerned
with evolution. The other signers include 76 chemists, 75 engineers,
63 physicists and 24 professors of medicine.

The petition was started in 2001 by the institute, which champions
intelligent design as an alternative theory to evolution and supports
a "teach the controversy" approach, like the one scuttled by the state
Board of Education in Ohio last week.

Institute officials said that 41 people added their names to the
petition after a federal judge ruled in December against the Dover,
Pa., school district's attempt to present intelligent design as an
alternative to evolution.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Read it at
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/science/sciencespecial2/21peti.html

(get a login & password at
http://bugmenot.com/view.php?url=www.nytimes.com)

J. Spaceman

wf...@comcast.net

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Feb 20, 2006, 10:34:37 PM2/20/06
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On Mon, 20 Feb 2006 22:07:11 -0500, Jason Spaceman
<notr...@jspaceman.homelinux.org> wrote:

>From the article:
>---------------------------------------------------------------
>By KENNETH CHANG
>Published: February 21, 2006
>
>In the recent skirmishes over evolution, advocates who have pushed to
>dilute its teaching have regularly pointed to a petition signed by 514
>scientists and engineers.
>

john derbyshire the ultra conservative national review pundit pointed
out that the national center for science education countered this with
their 'steve' project....they asked scientists with the 1st name of
steve to sign a petition supporting evolution

at last count the number of 'steves' outnumbered the entire discovery
institute petition signers by about 10:1

Steven J.

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Feb 20, 2006, 10:53:18 PM2/20/06
to

Jason Spaceman wrote:
> From the article:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> By KENNETH CHANG
> Published: February 21, 2006
>
> In the recent skirmishes over evolution, advocates who have pushed to
> dilute its teaching have regularly pointed to a petition signed by 514
> scientists and engineers.
>
> The petition, they say, is proof that scientific doubt over evolution
> persists.
>
Oddly, that statement to which they signed their names does not express
doubt about evolution (common descent with modification). It states,
as quoted in the article: "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."

Strictly speaking, there is nothing in this statement that contradicts
the statement signed by 700+ participants in "Project Steve" that:
"Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the
biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in
favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry.
Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes
of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution
occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its
occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically
irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited
to "intelligent design," to be introduced into the science curricula of
our nation's public schools."

Mainstream "Darwinists" routinely grant that some portion of evolution
results not from natural selection, but genetic drift (the question
being just how much). "Darwinists" who are developmental biologists
commonly consider that physical constraints on developmental processes
play as large a role as mutation and selection. Nor, of course, is any
evolutionary biologist going to discourage "careful consideration of
the evidence for Darwinian theory." The problems arise only when
"careful consideration of the evidence" means presenting incorrect or
misleading information in biology classes.


>
> But random interviews with 20 people who signed the petition
> and a review of the public statements of more than a dozen others
> suggest that many are evangelical Christians, whose doubts about
> evolution grew out of their religious beliefs. And even the petition's
> sponsor, the Discovery Institute in Seattle, says that only a quarter
> of the signers are biologists, whose field is most directly concerned
> with evolution. The other signers include 76 chemists, 75 engineers,
> 63 physicists and 24 professors of medicine.
>
> The petition was started in 2001 by the institute, which champions
> intelligent design as an alternative theory to evolution and supports
> a "teach the controversy" approach, like the one scuttled by the state
> Board of Education in Ohio last week.
>
> Institute officials said that 41 people added their names to the
> petition after a federal judge ruled in December against the Dover,
> Pa., school district's attempt to present intelligent design as an
> alternative to evolution.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Read it at
> http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/21/science/sciencespecial2/21peti.html
>
> (get a login & password at
> http://bugmenot.com/view.php?url=www.nytimes.com)
>

-- Steven J.

A.Carlson

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Feb 20, 2006, 11:15:10 PM2/20/06
to

Not quite correct on two accounts.

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/5945_the_faqs_2_16_2003.asp

For 'Project Steve', the signatories themselves must be named either
'Steve' or a derivative, such as Stephan, Stephanie, etc.
Approximately 1% of the population would meet this requirement. To
date Project Steve appears to be a bit shy of 700 names. From this,
the following observations can be made:

1) Even by severely limiting the people who can sign, Project Steve
has only slightly more signatures than the Discovery Institute has but
the names on their list are far more impressive, including far better
representation from the biological sciences and includes such
luminaries as Steven Hawkings and both of the people named Steve who
are Nobel laureates.

2) The implication of this list, limited to only 1% of the scientific
community to begin with, is that there are at least over 100 times as
many people who would be expected to sign such a petition in support
of evolution. This is further supported by observations such as the
overwhelming support for evolution in the sciences as reflected in
scientific journals and a similar 'friend of the court' brief sent to
the Supreme Court that was signed by over 70 Nobel laureates in
support of the scientific merit of the ToE.

I still like the fact that a petition by members of the cloth in
support of the ToE had no problem reaching their goal of 10,000
signatures from clergy members. IOW, it is apparently much easier to
find clergy who support the fact of evolution than it is to find a
scientist who has problems with it.

http://www.uwosh.edu/colleges/cols/religion_science_collaboration.htm

wf...@comcast.net

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Feb 20, 2006, 11:43:11 PM2/20/06
to
On Mon, 20 Feb 2006 20:15:10 -0800, "A.Carlson" <amc...@hotmail.com>
wrote:

>
>I still like the fact that a petition by members of the cloth in
>support of the ToE had no problem reaching their goal of 10,000
>signatures from clergy members. IOW, it is apparently much easier to
>find clergy who support the fact of evolution than it is to find a
>scientist who has problems with it.
>
>http://www.uwosh.edu/colleges/cols/religion_science_collaboration.htm


thanks for the correction...and good point!

Marc

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Feb 20, 2006, 11:46:55 PM2/20/06
to

Jason Spaceman wrote:
> From the article:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> By KENNETH CHANG
> Published: February 21, 2006
>
> In the recent skirmishes over evolution, advocates who have pushed to
> dilute its teaching have regularly pointed to a petition signed by 514
> scientists and engineers.

This New York Times science article has a link
http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/ to the DI Center
for Science and Culture web page, where there
are links to the actual list in pdf form and the
press release and such.

The Discovery Institute also has this statement:
'....if you have a Ph.D. in engineering, mathematics, computer
science, biology, chemistry, or one of the other natural sciences,
and you agree with the following statement, "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," then
please contact us at ...'

Why is it that they call for "computer science" or math PhDs
to sign a statement about biology, I wonder.

Does my biomedical PhD now allow me to comment on C++
or prime number theory?

And why doesn't the Discovery Institute even back their own
ideas about Intelligent Design" in their own rigged statement?

(signed) marc

Bobby D. Bryant

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Feb 21, 2006, 2:35:16 AM2/21/06
to

I would change that to "around 100 times as many".


> of evolution. This is further supported by observations such as the
> overwhelming support for evolution in the sciences as reflected in
> scientific journals and a similar 'friend of the court' brief sent to

And I suspect that it's *far* more than 100:1 in said journals.


> the Supreme Court that was signed by over 70 Nobel laureates in
> support of the scientific merit of the ToE.
>
> I still like the fact that a petition by members of the cloth in
> support of the ToE had no problem reaching their goal of 10,000
> signatures from clergy members. IOW, it is apparently much easier to
> find clergy who support the fact of evolution than it is to find a
> scientist who has problems with it.
>
> http://www.uwosh.edu/colleges/cols/religion_science_collaboration.htm


--
Bobby Bryant
Austin, Texas

A.Carlson

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Feb 21, 2006, 4:57:53 AM2/21/06
to

Don't know what all you're taking into account or specifically
referring to (my English or my math), but I was considering the fact
that the Project Steve list has almost 40% more signatures than the DI
list has to begin with.

I notice now that the '100 times as many' can be read as though it
referred to '100 times as many scientists as compared to just those
named Steve' or '100 times as many scientists as compared to those on
the DI list'. In response to the 10:1 ratio, I was referring to the
latter.

I'd hate to shortchange the representation of mainstream scientists
but it's all pretty iffy anyway. I once took a gander at the clergy
list, when it only had a couple thousand signatures and noticed that
there were far fewer than one percent of them named Steve and far too
damn many churches named St. Stephens.

>> of evolution. This is further supported by observations such as the
>> overwhelming support for evolution in the sciences as reflected in
>> scientific journals and a similar 'friend of the court' brief sent to
>
>And I suspect that it's *far* more than 100:1 in said journals.

Well yeah, they're actually expected to have evidence to back their
claims up ;)

Ernest Major

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Feb 21, 2006, 2:35:22 PM2/21/06
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In message <1140493998.0...@g44g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>,
Steven J. <stev...@altavista.com> writes

As has been mentioned before Richard Dawkins could sign that statement
in all honesty (unless he considers "skeptical" too weak). For that
matter Darwin could have as well (substituting variation for mutation).
--
alias Ernest Major


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Cyde Weys

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Feb 22, 2006, 12:45:27 AM2/22/06
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Sayeth Jason Spaceman:

> In the recent skirmishes over evolution, advocates who have pushed to
> dilute its teaching have regularly pointed to a petition signed by 514
> scientists and engineers.
>
> The petition, they say, is proof that scientific doubt over evolution
> persists. But random interviews with 20 people who signed the petition
> and a review of the public statements of more than a dozen others
> suggest that many are evangelical Christians, whose doubts about
> evolution grew out of their religious beliefs. And even the petition's
> sponsor, the Discovery Institute in Seattle, says that only a quarter
> of the signers are biologists, whose field is most directly concerned
> with evolution. The other signers include 76 chemists, 75 engineers,
> 63 physicists and 24 professors of medicine.

An evangelical Christian signing an anti-evolution petition is like a
street-sweeper signing a Ptolemaic oath.

--
~ Cyde Weys ~

Sub veste quisque nudus est.

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