Discovery Institute: Creationist “Peer-Review”

WE hope you’re sitting down, because we have some amazing news for you today. The neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) will now have what appears to be their own “peer-reviewed” journal.

The Discoveroid blog announces BIO-Complexity: A New, Peer-Reviewed Science Journal, Open to the ID Debate. The article is by Jay Richards, whose Discoveroid biography says that he has Discoveroid “senior fellow” status — i.e., he’s a full-blown creationist. According to Wikipedia, he has some kind of faculty status at Biola University, a California bible college.

Having mentioned Biola, we must digress for just a moment. This page at their website about Biola’s conference “Intelligent Design and the Future of Science” offers what amounts to a compendium of all the names we’ve ever encountered while writing about creationism. Richards is there. So is William Dembski, Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, Francis Beckwith, Jonathan Wells, Guillermo Gonzales, etc. A veritable gathering of titans.

[Addendum: While thinking about all these interlocking relationships, we checked out Howard Ahmanson, Jr., who is known to be a patron of the Discovery Institute. Wikipedia notes that he is also a patron of Biola. Surprised? Hey, check this out: Philip E. Johnson: Godfather of Intelligent Design. He was the keynote speaker at Biola’s centennial year celebration. Interesting how all these lines seem to intersect.]

But let’s return to the Discoveroid announcement. Richards says, with bold font added by us:

A new scientific journal, BIO-Complexity, is set to accelerate the pace and heighten the tone of the debate over intelligent design. The purpose of the journal, according to its self-description, is to combine the rigors and accountability of peer-review, at its best, with an editorial policy open to the debate over intelligent design. It is an open-access journal, which means everyone can download all articles for free.

Isn’t that precious? The creationists have a captive “peer-reviewed” journal where they can publish their articles. Here’s a link to its web page: BIO-Complexity. Let’s read on:

For years, scientists and other scholars who want to pursue design-theoretic research have had to deal with a Catch-22. Though many big scientific ideas appear in books, specialized science develops, in large part, through the peer-reviewed publishing process. At the same time, anyone with the slightest acquaintance with the subject knows that arguing explicitly for design in an article submitted to a scientific journal is a sure-fire way to prevent the article from seeing the light of day. But it looks like that is about to change.

[...]

It’s a Catch-22, of course, because critics claim that ID “isn’t science” since it’s not in the peer-reviewed literature. (That’s not true; but the Catch-22 means that explicitly ID-oriented work is vastly under-represented in that literature.)

Yes, creationism is “vastly under-represented” in science journals. So is astrology, faith healing, numerology, and alchemy. Not only that, but beyond the world of science there are even greater injustices. Spindly men who weigh only 100 pounds are “vastly under-represented” among the linemen on professional football teams; and middle-aged women who weigh more than 300 pounds are “vastly under-represented” in each year’s contestants for the Miss Universe title. The solution to each of these problems is for the under-represented to create a separate organization with all-inclusive standards — that is, no standards.

Let’s not waste more time on Richards’ article. Instead, we need to take a look at who will be running BIO-Complexity — the new “scientific” journal. This page lists their Editorial Team. Among those names are a few that leap out at us because we’ve often written about their creationist work: Michael Behe, William Dembski, Richard Sternberg (why doesn’t he use his actual name — “von Sternberg”?) and Jonathan Wells.

So there you are. The creationists now have their own little journal, where their “research” can be reviewed by their peers — other creationists. What intellectual treasures will now come to light? We don’t know, but we suspect that the thrills awaiting us in their pages will be analogous to those we’d get from watching the swimsuit competition in the “Fat Old Miss Universe” contest.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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51 responses to “Discovery Institute: Creationist “Peer-Review”

  1. “It is an open-access journal, which means everyone can download all articles for free.”

    Of course. Let’s make it as easy as possible for all the brain-washed rubes, the science illiterate who need little convincing, and any one else that they can possibly con into believing that their claptrap has any scientific validity. More supplimental material for certain”science” teachers to use to teach the “contoversy.” Another creationist joke. I can’t wait. Oh wait a minute – yes, I can.

  2. Peer-review for creationists is a joke. I doubt that any ID paper will ever by rejected, unlike that real peer-review process. All of us have had a paper rejected at one time or another. Can you imagine one board member rejecting a paper from another board member? I can’t wait to see Vol. 1 No. 1 and laugh my ass off. I do need to loose a few pounds.

  3. This reminds me of the old ISCID journal, now thankfully relegated to the status of cobwebsite. The “peers” will be the ID advocates themselves, rather than working researchers who actually study such phenomena for extended time frames.

    The first paper, “Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking
    Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness” by Gauger et al, is a joke. For example, it doesn’t mention ID anywhere, either by name or by concept. Rather, it’s a test of a particular subset of hypotheses stemming from evolution by natural selection, and not a particularly interesting subset at that.

    This botch of a “journal” will be dead and gone within five years, tops. You heard it here first.

  4. Biokid says:

    All of us have had a paper rejected at one time or another.

    [*Blink*] Jeepers, I’m not the only one!

  5. Can we anticipate that there will be a paper describing what “intelligent design” is? Something positive and substantive, rather than just “There’s something wrong with evolution”?

    Maybe there will be an exploration of what sort of thing is designed, what sort of thing is not designed, and how to tell the difference?

    Maybe something about when, for how long, and how often designs take place, and when they stopped happening?

  6. TomS says:

    Can we anticipate that there will be a paper describing what “intelligent design” is?

    The Discoveroids have described it. As you might expect, I’ve written about it: Intelligent Design Redefined.

  7. ANOTHER “peer reviewed” journal site???

    Notice it’s about tone rather than substance. Yet another echo chamber circle jerk.

    “I say, old chap, what a smashing idea.”

    “Oh tosh! You’re smashing, old bean!”

    “What ho, those Darwinist blighters will be so jealous! Let’s not invite thrum to tea.”

    “you ARE a little devil. Get it? A ‘devil’ ?”

    Hahahahahahahaha! Can’t wait.

    Sent from my iPad.

  8. I wonder if they’d be susceptible to Poe’s Law. Could make it entertaining….

  9. Have you read Doug Axe’s article in BIO-Complexity? I doubt it. Or you’d already know that it has nothing to do with the ridiculous assertions you threw up here. (Or you don’t care.)

    Rather it is about science, something that critics like yourself seem incapable of dealing with, or responding too in any constructive or substnative manner. Sad.

  10. Ohhhh, Bobby the Crow, Trollmaster first class!

    Are you inviting us to tea?

    Will you show us your collection of mendacious intellectual pornography?

  11. Robert Crowther asks:

    Have you read Doug Axe’s article in BIO-Complexity? I doubt it.

    No, I haven’t. I’ll be looking at it from time to time. It’s likely that there will be some science articles there, but I wonder if there will be anything that supports ID.

  12. @Crowther. You mean the same Doug Axe who is on the editorial board of BIO-Complexity and is the director of the Biologic Institute which funds BIO-Complexity. The Biologic Institute is in turn is funded by the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture?

    You mean that Doug Axe? Did he have to pay the $500 author fee for his article to get posted?

  13. Doc Bill says: “Ohhhh, Bobby the Crow,”

    Come on, we’re better than that. If they misbehave, they’ll be banned like anyone else. If they follow The Rules and comment like gentlemen, no problem.

  14. Robert, I read the paper by Gauger et al. I didn’t bother with the Axe article, as it did not purport to be original scientific research.

    When it comes to ID, let’s first see the scientific research, as allegedly guided by the intellectual framework claimed by ID proponents. THEN we’ll discuss “insights.” Until then, articles like Axe’s in BIO-Complexity 1:1 aren’t worth my time.

  15. darwinsbulldog

    Here’s the Catch-22: 22 of the 29 on the Editorial Board are signatories of the Dissent from Darwin list: http://blog.jmlynch.org/2010/05/01/a-new-id-journal/

  16. darwinsbulldog says:

    22 of the 29 on the Editorial Board are signatories of the Dissent from Darwin list

    I assume the non-signing seven won’t cause any trouble.

  17. longshadow

    Peer -reviewed journal, they say?

    “Paging Prof. Sokal; paging Prof. Sokal…. please pick up the white courtesy phone.”

  18. Oh isn’t that sweet! Their very own journal! It can join the ranks of such exalted publications as Answers Research Journal, full of “ cutting-edge creation research” (and peer-reviewed ). http://www.answersingenesis.org/arj. I’m sure BIO-Complexity will be an equally proud showcase for some fine, cutting-edge ID research.

  19. The simple fact that Mr. Crowther and his colleagues cannot refute is that no evidence, in particular no testable mechanism through which an intelligent agency influences biological complexity, in support of ID appears in a single peer-reviewed scientific research paper. That’s a pool of over 19 million citations as indexed at the National Library of Medicine. If I’m reading this press release correctly, Mr. Crowther and his colleagues actually believe that there is a decades-long global conspiracy among scientists that has kept any such paper from being published. Astonishing – I usually have to argue with creationists a bit for them to admit that they’re conspiracy theorists, and the DI comes right out and admits it. Cue the Stonecutters.

    Who controls the British crown?
    Who keeps the metric system down?
    We do! We do!

    Who leaves Atlantis off the maps?
    Who keeps the Martians under wraps?
    We do! We do!

    Who holds back the electric car?
    Who makes Steve Gutenberg a star?
    We do! We do!

    Who robs cavefish of their sight?
    Who rigs every Oscar night?
    We do! We doooooo!

  20. Michael Fugate

    You can’t get much better than “Acts & Facts” put out by ICR. Always the finest science on display.

  21. Michael Fugate says:

    You can’t get much better than “Acts & Facts” put out by ICR. Always the finest science on display.

    You know it’s good, because David Coppedge is a contributor.

  22. Michael Fugate

    aaarrrrgh! might be appropriate for my forgetting “than” in the first sentence.

  23. All fixed. I’m very forgiving of typos.

  24. Gabriel Hanna

    I can’t say I’m surprised, it’s the next logical step.

    They need to have something they can point to that will give their fellow travelers a necessary fig-leaf, and they will also try to use it to make it more difficult for courts to rule that ID isn’t science.

    But it’s “cargo cult” science–that if they have a journal and peer reviewers then they are automatically doing science.

    Or it would be if they believed in what they were doing.

    I’m curious to see what papers get rejected from this journal. Just a few weeks ago I had a paper rejected from Physical Review Letters, though Physical Review B was happy to take it (it came out on Tuesday).

    Peer reviewers tell you what’s wrong with a paper. They tell you what in your paper isn’t clear, ask questions of you that you might not have thought needed explaining (this happens all the time when you spend a year on something and you know it inside and out) and they point out references which you may not be aware of and probably should be.

    Peer review is CRITICISM. That’s what these guys don’t get about science–that scientists are endlessly critical of each other.

  25. waldteufel

    Gabriel, as you know, we are also constantly critical of ourselves.

    Creationsists like Robert Crowther just can’t understand that. They don’t do science, and they have no concept of what science is.

    The Disco Tute is just a PR machine that is funded by religious wackos, and Crowther is just one of their minions.

    Isn’t it cute when creationists dress up and pretend to be scientists?

  26. Gabriel Hanna says:

    But it’s “cargo cult” science–that if they have a journal and peer reviewers then they are automatically doing science.

    I like that. Another that comes to mind is the Wizard’s giving the cowardly lion a medal for courage.

  27. waldteufel wrote:

    Creationsists like Robert Crowther just can’t understand that. They don’t do science, and they have no concept of what science is.

    Crowther is an interesting case. Like most people who work for the DI, he is not a scientist, nor did he major in a scientific discipline in college. Unlike most of them, he is a self-described libertarian agnostic, which means he either:

    1) Believes the intelligent designer is a a material extraterrestrial entity or entities
    2) Doesn’t care that ID is scientifically bankrupt, his PR job is just a living

  28. Gabriel Hanna: congratulations!

  29. James F says:

    Gabriel Hanna: congratulations!

    From me too. An excellent accomplishment.

  30. @Robert Crowther:

    I have been waiting 14 years for more detail on the whats, whens and hows of design insertion in biology. The irony is that all the detail I have seen came out 14 years ago (in “Darwin’s Black Box”) and it has been nothing but backpedaling since then. If I did that I’d be “expelled” even without mentioning “design.”

    As you know, In DBB Behe suggested that the designer might have inserted the design in the ancestral cell ~4 billion years ago, and that “information” may have been periodically lost in various lineages since then. Is that still ID’s “best hypothesis” or is a better one finally in the works? Will it be supported without reference to “weaknesses” of “Darwinism”?

    There’s no Catch-22, and you know it. Provide testable details on the whats, whens and hows, and you can publish in real peer-reviwed journsls. And like Ken Miller, you can even identify the designer.

  31. I just read the Gauger, but it is too far from my experience for me to get much out of it. However, I was surprised at the complete lack of any statistical analysis or methods to back up the conclusions (I’m a statistician, so that’s what I look for). Can anyone comment if this lack of statistics is typical/usual for this field of study?

  32. Tomato Addict says: “I just read the Gauger …”

    I’m waiting to see some of the long-suppressed evidence that disproves evolution. You know — the mountains of evolution-killing stuff the courageous ID researchers keep trying to get published but which is always rejected by the Darwinists. Now that the ID boys have their own journal, we should be seeing an avalanche of heretofore hidden material. From all the endless complaints they make at their blog, there should be quite a backlog of powerful evidence that’s ready to be released to the world. This should be exciting.

  33. Curmudgeon: “I’m waiting to see some of the long-suppressed evidence that disproves evolution.”

    I have to confess that the only reason I read scientific articles in my field (chemistry) is because they’re all about “disproving” phlogiston theory. Chemists stopped trying to propose and test their own new ideas after ~1987. In fact nowadays more articles than ever are merely about how chemists are “expelled” by “phlogistonists,” or how acceptance of phlogiston theory leads to all sorts of evil behavior.

    I’m kidding, of course, but isn’t that exactly how anti-evolutionists behave?

    Curmudgeon: “Now that the ID boys have their own journal, we should be seeing an avalanche of heretofore hidden material.”

    I assume you’re kidding too, because nothing stopped them from publishing before. For years they have had 100s of “peer reviewers” from the “dissent” list available to rubber stamp – I mean “critique” – their papers.

  34. Frank J says:

    I assume you’re kidding [about expecting an avalanche of heretofore hidden material].

    A very safe assumption. If they ever had anything of genuine significance, and they couldn’t get the usual journals to publish it because of their imaginary Darwinist conspiracy, they’ve still got their blogs, they know how to write books, they can even file a lawsuit and send out a blizzard of press releases. Look at all the press that dumb Noah’s Ark “discovery” got — and that was just a Chinese creationist. Seattle can do better than that. If there’s one thing the Discoveroids know how to do it’s get publicity.

    So yes, I think it’s safe to assume that they’ve got nothing earth-shaking that’s ready to publish. Also, who’s going to submit to their journal? Maybe all the guys I’ve banned from this blog, but who else?

  35. Gabriel Hanna

    So yes, I think it’s safe to assume that they’ve got nothing earth-shaking that’s ready to publish. Also, who’s going to submit to their journal?

    One of the biggest reasons they don’t publish in journals–other than that there’s nothing to publish–is because of the nature of journal publishing.

    When you publish in a journal, you have to pay for it, and nobody reads but scientists. When you publish with Regnery, they pay you and a million people buy it.

    But now that they’ve started their own journal, they can pay each other to publish in it…

  36. What I also find annoying is that they ripped off the layout from Public Library of Science; they couldn’t even be original with the journal’s appearance.

  37. retiredsciguy

    If there truly were an “Intelligent Designer”, then why are so many of his/her/its “designs” so blatantly unintelligent?

    For instance, going back to the example of the human eye used by Darwin — if the eye had been intelligently designed, why do we have near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism, color-blindness, total blindness, and any number of clearly inherited imperfections of vision?

    This fact alone would seem to disprove the idea of Intelligent Design much more forcefully than “irreducible complexity” could possibly be shown to “prove” it.

    Sent from my refurbished HAL-9000.

  38. Curmudgeon: “Look at all the press that dumb Noah’s Ark “discovery” got — and that was just a Chinese creationist. Seattle can do better than that. If there’s one thing the Discoveroids know how to do it’s get publicity.”

    Yes, so imagine what they would have published by now if they really thought there was an ark, global flood, evidence of a young earth, or even “special creations” over billions of years.

    If anything, they have spilled too may beans over the years, conceding almost everything to evolution, and playing increasingly dumb about what little else they have.

    Like most critics, I predict that the “scientific” stuff will be mere incredulity arguments “designed” to keep their scientist critics busy with long, technical refutations that will be way above the heads of the DI’s main target audience. But the articles, and the “debates” over them, will be peppered with catchy, misleading sound bites that say nothing about their “theory” but will get more nonscientists to doubt evolution.

  39. @ Robert Crowther-

    I looked over Gauger’s paper and Ralph Seelke is listed as the PI on the paper. Some questions:

    In his paper “What can evolution really do?” Seelke states:

    “Hello- I’m Ralph Seelke, and I’m a microbiologist who’s obsessed with answering one basic question: What can evolution really do??? By this I mean: What can we really SHOW it to be capable of doing? I want to cut through the theory and inference and speculation, and get down to what it has been shown capable of doing, and what it has been shown to be incapable of doing IN THE LABORATORY.”

    http://www2.uwsuper.edu/rseelke/index.htm

    Yet, when I look at his publication history in Pub Med, here’s what I get:

    Evidence for specific DNA sequences in the nuclear acceptor sites of the avian oviduct progesterone receptor.
    Toyoda H, Seelke RW, Littlefield BA, Spelsberg TC.
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1985 Jul;82(14):4722-6.
    PMID: 3860819 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]Free PMC ArticleFree text
    Related citations
    2.
    A mutational hot spot in the incompatibility gene incC of mini-F plasmid.
    Seelke RW, Kline BC.
    Plasmid. 1984 Jul;12(1):37-40.
    PMID: 6387734 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
    Related citations
    3.
    Genetic studies of F plasmid maintenance genes involved in copy number control, incompatability, and partitioning.
    Seelke RW, Kline BC, Trawick JD, Ritts GD.
    Plasmid. 1982 Mar;7(2):163-79. No abstract available.
    PMID: 6281833 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
    Related citations
    4.
    Genetic evidence that control of F replication is negative.
    Kline BC, Seelke RW.
    Mol Gen Genet. 1982;187(2):218-24.
    PMID: 6294461 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    That’s right. Four papers. FOUR. From 1982-1985. His last paper was published 25 YEARS AGO.

    And you think this guy is credible? Really?

  40. Well LRA, obviously Seelke has been “Expelled” by the Darwinists. His last 25 years of work should be showing up in BIO-Complexity soon.

  41. Hahaha!! I guess so, RogerE. Yet, he’s been working in a university all this time and not publishing. (How did he not get fired?) But he wants to show what evolution can do. IN THE LABORATORY. Hmph! Had he been showing what evolution can do IN THE LABORATORY, he’d have a long publication history. Like, say… Frances H. Arnold of CalTech (with 168 publications on evolution and molecular bio).

  42. In fact, Crowther, it would do you some good to read about how scientists use evolution in the lab:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2702793/?tool=pubmed

  43. Has Seelke read any of Richard Lenski’s work? Seriously.

    BTW, LRA, Seelke broke his dry spell and was an author on a paper last year:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19133069

    It’s about…wait for it…evolution of yeast genes. Don’t tell the YECs.

  44. James F says: “It’s about…wait for it…evolution of yeast genes.”

    Yeah, but they’re still yeast.

  45. retiredsciguy

    SC: “Yeah, but they’re still yeast.”

    Probably bread or beer by now.

  46. Gabriel Hanna

    LRA, that’s some good work.

  47. Gabriel Hanna says:

    Physical Review B was happy to take it (it came out on Tuesday).

    I can’t find it. Got a link?

  48. Gabriel Hanna

    I confess! I made it all up to look like a big shot scientist.

    Oh, wait, here it is:

    http://prb.aps.org/abstract/PRB/v81/i13/e132104

    If you can’t read it I’ll email the PDF.

  49. Gabriel Hanna: It’s great that you’re published in Physical Review B. Thanks for the link and the offer to email the pdf. However, I must decline your generous offer. The abstract was quite sufficient to persuade me that the work you do in materials physics is well outside of my limited knowledge.

    For everybody else, here’s another link to Gabe’s paper: Equation of state and refractive index of argon at high pressure by confocal microscopy.

  50. Gabriel Hanna

    The abstract was quite sufficient to persuade me that the work you do in materials physics is well outside of my limited knowledge.

    I don’t think it would have been at all–and I’m pretty sure no one else is going to very interested in any of my papers. But thank you.

  51. Gabriel Hanna says: “I don’t think it would have been at all”

    I know my limitations. But any time you publish something, I’d be delighted if you let us know and give a link to it. You never know who might be reading this humble blog.