NCSE’s “Project Steve” Now Has 1,200 Steves

There’s great news to report which we just spotted at the website of our friends, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). You already know about their “Project Steve,” which has its own page. All the Steves are listed here. The last time we posted about their list was Project Steve: Total Reaches 1,000.

NCSE’s new article is titled Project Steve: n > 1200. It says:

With the addition of Steven Piantadosi on April 6, 2012, NCSE’s Project Steve attained its 1200th signatory. A tongue-in-cheek parody of the long-standing creationist tradition of amassing lists of “scientists who doubt evolution” or “scientists who dissent from Darwinism,” Project Steve mocks such lists by restricting its signatories to scientists with PhDs whose first name is Steve [or Stephanie, Esteban, etc.]. About 1% of the United States population possesses such a first name, so each signatory represents about 100 potential signatories.

Therefore, the 1,200 names on the list represent roughly 120,000 scientists. The Steves sign on to a statement, which is this:

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.

Besides restricting their list of Steves to scientists with PhDs, NCSE says:

When last surveyed in February 2006, 54% of the signatories worked in the biological sciences proper; 61% worked in related fields in the life sciences.

In contrast — because creationists claim that evolution is a “theory in crisis” — the Discoveroids have their own list. Here’s a Wikipedia article on it: A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. Their signatories also approve of a statement, but it seems to be — shall we say — a wee bit weaker than the statement signed by NCSE’s Steves. This is what the dissenters 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 statement is notable mostly for what it doesn’t say. For example, although it’s probably the case with some of the signers, it doesn’t say that they literally reject evolution, and it certainly doesn’t say that they’re creationists or that they accept Intelligent Design. It doesn’t really say much of anything, except that they’re “skeptical” — a term presumably chosen to permit as many as possible to sign.

How many signatories do the Discoveroids have? They don’t give the number at their special website for their little list: A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism, but the grand total appears to be “over 800,” according to this year-old Discoveroid post. They’ve probably added a few more since then. They might be close to 900.

But bear in mind that the Discoveroids’ list is everyone they could convince to sign, including a significant number of MDs (presumably proctologists), dentists, philosophers, political “scientists,” sociologists, and such. On the other hand, the NCSE list is Steves only, over 60% of whom are in a biological field, and who statistically represent 120,000 scientists.

But we want to be fair, so — for what it’s worth — here’s an article Casey wrote a couple of years ago defending the Discoveroids’ list: Responding to Fallacious Criticisms of the Dissent from Darwinism List. Nevertheless, the numbers speak for themselves. Ignoring the quality of the two lists, if the Discoveroids had 1,200 names, that would be only 1% of the scientists represented by the Steves. But they don’t have 1,200. Assuming they have 900 (which they don’t), that’s three-fourths of 1% (0.0075) of what NCSE’s list indicates. So there you are.

The next time some creationist claims they’ve got a “growing” list of “hundreds” of scientists who are abandoning evolution and supporting Intelligent Design, you can inform him that the sane side has far more Steves than they have people.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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31 responses to “NCSE’s “Project Steve” Now Has 1,200 Steves

  1. I downloaded the list and, at random, I grabbed two names. One was “Margil Wadley”, who has a PhD from “Purdue University” (my alma mater). A Google search of her name, plus “phd” and “chemistry” turns up a first page that is mainly links to this “Dissent from Darwin” list. The second page turns up one link to a paper to which she was co-author… back in 1990. Other than that, she appears to no longer be involved with anything science-related.
    The other was “Mark Toleman” who has a PhD from the University of Rhode Island. I did the same type of Google search, “mark toleman phd microbiology”. Dr. Toleman appears to still be involved with the field of microbiology. He’s even listed as a co-author of a paper that was published in “The Lancet” (not a lightweight in the field of medicine, I’m told). He’s also not ashamed to tell others that he’s a creationist.
    Then I did the same thing with the “List of Steves”. I grabbed “Stephen A. Dinkelacker” from Miami University and “Steven A. Hardinger” from Purdue. A quick Google search of Dr. Dinkleacker turned up an entire page of links to the fact that Dr. Dinklelacker, who is listed in the “List of Steves” as being at the University of Central Arkansas, is now on the faculty of Framingham State University. And his field? According to the page, he “teaches Comparative Vertebrate Physiology and Biological Concepts. His research focuses on physiological ecology and conservation biology of reptiles.” As SC pointed out, 60% of the Steves are in fields directly related to biology. This guy is definitely one of them.
    A Google check of Steven A. Hardinger turns up his page at UCLA..
    So, we have 1 of 2 people on the “Dissent” list are not even practicing, while the two from the “Steves” list are not only still active, but still very productive based on the number of papers listed for both.
    Make of that what you will.

  2. Oh, and the full count of the “Dissent” list (if anyone cares) is 842.

  3. Ten minutes well spent of a guy who went through the DI’s list a few years ago and actually contacted people.

    As you might expect the probability of the DI’s list being FRAUDULENT is quite high.

    Everything the DI promotes is a lie. Never lose sight of that.

  4. Is Steve Murphree who changed his mind and signed the Steve list still listed as a Darwin Dissenter?

  5. So, we have 1 of 2 people on the “Dissent” list are not even practicing, while the two from the “Steves” list are not only still active, but still very productive based on the number of papers listed for both.
    Make of that what you will.

    It tells you what we already know, no useful science comes of religion other than possible insight to mass mind control techniques by wannabe alpha males.

  6. Curmudgeon: “That statement is notable mostly for what it doesn’t say. For example, although it’s probably the case with some of the signers, it doesn’t say that they literally reject evolution, and it certainly doesn’t say that they’re creationists or that they accept Intelligent Design.”

    In fact an early survey found that the great majority of biologists (then about 100, IIRC) who signed the “dissent” accepted common descent. Which means that biologist Biblical literalists – even old-earth-old-life ones – are virtually nonexistent, and the few that claim to be can be reasonably suspected of “faking it for the cause.”

  7. @Doc Bill:

    Thanks. That’s the link I was referring to. Thanks also to Gary for another eye-opener.

  8. @sparc: Yes, Steve Murphee is STILL listed on the “Dissent from Darwin” list. Look on page 16, 10 names up from the bottom.
    Soooo, make that 841 on the list.

  9. Tomato Addict

    And then there are the defectors. (from a completely different Gary.)

    There are two people (MD’s) on the dissent list from my own institution; neither is actively involved in any current research as of my last check, and one is no longer in academia.

    SC:“… It doesn’t really say much of anything, except that they’re “skeptical” — a term presumably chosen to permit as many as possible to sign.”

    There is also one person from my own profession, whom I occasionally correspond with, and that more or less sums up why he signed. He writes a good blog, too.

  10. @TA: Yeah, that’s the same link that @sparc posted. BTW, I’m not that “Gary”. He’s far more knowledgeable about evolution and things biology than I will ever be. But if you’re ever in doubt as to which Gary you’re talking to, drop in an obscure Monty Python reference (say, something about “I got me head stuck in the CUPboard” or “We just wanted a block of flats, not an abattoir”); if you get the proper response back, chances are it’s me!

  11. Tomato Addict

    @Not That Gary: Have you heard of the other Gary named Hurd?

    I’ve been waiting weeks for an excuse to write that. Maybe I should have waited longer. Just think though, if GH started posting here, we could have Two Gary’s.

  12. @TA: Yes, I’m very familiar with Dr. Hurd. (He, of course, has absolutely no idea who I am.) Anyone who has read many of the creationist rants that SC has linked to will often times find Dr. Hurd providing rebuttals and refutations to the spurious, often-outright egregious claims made.
    And did I write this comment… in the shed?

  13. Did someone call?

    The other day (well, a while ago) I posted another piece on the Discotute list; http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/2012/03/discotute-dissent-from-darwin.html

    Anybody could sign this “dissent,” even Darwin, if they ignore (or were ignorant of) the fact the discotutes use this as if it supported creationism.

  14. Dr GS Hurd asks: “Did someone call?”

    That was the secret Curmudgeon Signal, that only the enlightened can hear.

  15. An example of how the Dissent from Darwin list is being used: In Oklahoma Sen. Josh Brecheen introduced a creationist bill (SB 1742, mostly copied from Louisiana, which the bill states) this session that was not heard in committee and died. To support his bill he distributed to other senators a pile of DI copied crap, including the entire llst of dissenters. My Senator mailed them all to me. The problem is that readers who have no knowledge of the kinds of persons listed will have no idea of how unimportant the list really is. I am sure that many of the ‘engineers’ listed have little biology (except those in environmental fields), much less any course in evolution. Of course, the Steve list also will have no meaning to many, unless it is explained to them – but I approve of the idea!

  16. Tomato Addict

    @Gary(‘s) Maybe we should start a Gary list? ;-)

  17. Good idea! Craig’s list is taken.

  18. I considered claiming that since my middle name is Steven, I should get to sign the Steve List. But, it seemed to detract from the main idea.

  19. Speaking of names, there are about as many scientists named “Dr. K. Miller” (Kenneth and Keith) who are devout Christians and outspoken opponents of ID/creationism, as there are biologists who think the evidence supports a recent 6-day creation. And two more than the grand total of those who support that and other anti-evolution “theories” on their own merits, not on long-refuted “weaknesses” of evolution.

  20. TA said:

    Maybe we should start a Gary list?

    I’m in! But I have to warn you, I only have a master’s degree, and then only in electrical engineering.

  21. Tomato Addict

    @Gary: Here it is! The Gary List

    Since the Steve’s have such a big head start, I took the liberty of listing you 832 times. ;-)

    Gary> “… I only have a master’s degree, and then only in electrical engineering.”

    No worries – I took care of that.

  22. @TA: I. Am. STUNNED!
    Now, excuse me. I need to go clean off THIS keyboard. You know why.

  23. Hey! I signed a few dozen times too! Under the name Gary.

  24. Tomato Addict

    Dr Gary> “Hey! I signed a few dozen times too!…”

    I edited the requirements to allow PhD’s (and anyone else) to sign on too. I might have added something about the Dissent From Darwinism list too. The document is public, so please feel free to make your own modifications. :-)

  25. Concerning the ongoing citings of the DI’s list, a reader posted a letter to the editor in my local newspaper, the Northwest Florida Daily News, making a big deal out of the physorg article he’d seen about the list, mentioning about 600 signers. I replied, and it got printed, to the editor’s letters.

    “Re: Patently False, Oct 2, 2011. A comment on one specific point.

    The gentleman cites a five year old article on physorg.com about the Discovery Institute’s (DI) Dissent from Darwin List (http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/). (Has the writer looked at physorg.com’s articles under the Evolution Tab? I saw twenty five pages of just article titles, all of which explicitly support evolution.) The current DI list has under 800 signatories, not exactly a groundswell of new supporters in five years. The DI’s List has a tongue in cheek competitor from the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) (http://ncse.com/taking-action/list-steves). Unlike the DI’s List, NCSE’s List is limited to people who are biologists or in a closely related field. The NCSE statement strongly supports evolution as the unifying theory of biology. Oh, and every signer must be named Steve, as an homage to the late biologist Steven J. Gould. The list of Steves topped nearly 1200 recently.

    In the long term, it shouldn’t be about how many people actually vote in a plebiscite, or if there is any fringe element that disagrees with the consensus. A scientific theory is successful if it explains what we see in the world, and makes falsifiable predictions for what we’d find when we look further.

    On that basis, evolution is strongly supported, being observed in the field and verified in labs all over the world, and is overwhelmingly accepted by biologists. Just look up examples like Tiktaalik rosae, Lenski’s bacteria, lizards of Pod Mrcaru, the Loberg lake stickleback, and then follow the links!”

    No response so far in the letters to the editor!

  26. Tomato Addict

    Well done, AlanC.

  27. We are all Gary!

  28. retiredsciguy

    Tomato Addict & Doc Bill — You guys have way too much time on your hands — and that’s good! I can understand why Gary ruined another keyboard, TA.

  29. Tomato Addict

    TA> “So Doc Bill, what are we going to do tonight?”

    >DB> “The same thing we do every night, TA, try to make Gary spray Mountain Dew!”

    Poit!