Discoveroids’ “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”

Every time we mention the National Center for Science Education’s “Project Steve,” their list of scientists with PhDs who support evolution, we always contrast it with the woeful list run by the Discovery Institute — A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.

The last time we reported on both of them was NCSE’s “Project Steve” Keeps Growing. That was a couple of weeks ago when there were 1,239 Steves. Because only about 1% of the population has that name (or its variants), NCSE’s list represents approximately 123,900 scientists, mostly in biological fields, who all agree with NCSE’s strong statement supporting the theory of evolution. Hey, we just checked. There are now 1,245 Steves, so the total continues to grow.

In that earlier post we gave the best estimate we could for the Discoveroids’ list. We guessed that they had, maybe, slightly over 800 names. We had to guess because they never publish the total. Unlike NCSE’s list which is limited to Steves, the Discoveroids’ list includes everyone they could get to sign. The Discoveroids’ “all names” list is roughly 3/4 of the number of Steves, so that means they’ve got only 3/4 of 1% of the scientists represented by the Steve list. Also, the Discoveroids’ list isn’t primarily biology types. It’s a shabby show, and demonstrating that is Project Steve’s purpose.

But now, after a very long period of understandable silence, the Discoveroids have posted a new blog article about their list. See Our “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” List: A Reader Inquires. It’s by Joshua Youngkin, a Discoveroid lobbyist — or as they describe it: “program officer in public policy and legal affairs.” He says, with bold font added by us:

Discovery Institute maintains a list of PhD scientists who are willing, and think themselves safe enough, to publicly express skepticism toward the orthodox Darwinian view of how life has developed over time. That list, “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” is a thorn in the side of those who say there’s no scientific debate over whether evolution works in a completely naturalistic fashion

A thorn in the side? It’s more like a flea trying to rape an elephant. Then Youngkin tells us:

Irked, some write emails. Here’s a recent example:

You can read the alleged email at the Discoveroids’ blog. Basically, their “irked” correspondent asks why their list has so many people outside the biological fields, and why the Discoveroids don’t publish the total of their signatories. He also criticizes their use of the term “Darwinism.” Amusingly, at the end of the letter, where the sender’s name would normally be, the Discoveroids have replaced it with this: “[Name redacted to avoid embarrassing the writer].”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We’re certain the writer of that letter is quite proud of it, and wouldn’t mind his name being shown. Anyway, after that the Discoveroid author gives us what would be his condescending reply, were he to send one. Pay careful attention, dear reader, and see if you think something’s missing from the reply:

Thanks for writing.

The Dissent from Darwinism statement counters and preempts any claim that (1) there is no scientific dissent over how evolution happens, by what means, that is, or that (2) it is unscientific to be skeptical of the proposition that natural selection and random mutation together satisfactorily explain the development of life over time. A scientist and signatory of the Dissent list need not specifically work in evo-devo, say, in order to serve as a counterexample to (1) and (2).

That was Youngkin’s first paragraph. So far we’re told that the Discoveroids don’t need mostly biology types on their list. It’s quite sufficient for them to have (we took these from their list) civil engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, computer engineers, meteorologists, industrial hygiene specialists, nutritionists, and philosophers (like David Berlinski).

There’s only one more paragraph to Youngkin’s reply. It’s about something that wasn’t mentioned in the “irked” letter to which Youngkin is responding — the different statements that the signers of each list support. We quoted those statements in our earlier post so we won’t repeat them here. It’s sufficient to remind you that the Project Steve statement is strong and straightforward, while the Discoveroid statement is, shall we say, a bit squishy. Anyway, this is the remainder of Youngkin’s reply:

As to your other important question, the Project Steve statement does not address the same claims as the Dissent from Darwinism statement. Project Steve says, for example, that “there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence.” But that is not the same as affirming either (1) or (2), not even close. So there is no conflict between the two, at least as Project Steve is currently worded. That means Project Steve is not really a “counter,” as you say, to the Dissent from Darwinism list or statement. I could recommend some edits to the Project Steve statement to remedy the situation, if you like.

So there you are. Oh, we see a few hands going up. Okay, you in the front — what’s your question? You say the Discoveroids didn’t answer the question about how many people signed their list? Hey, that’s right! They didn’t answer that question. Well, there were so many other points to be made that they probably overlooked it. No doubt they’ll provide that information in an update.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Discoveroids’ “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”

  1. The most significant thing about the bogus “dissent” statement is not how they have to get mostly non-biologists, and pad the list with their members and close associates (conflict of interest?), to even approach 1% of scientists. No, it’s how the great majority of biologists who did sign the statement concede common descent. IOW they find literal Genesis, old earth or young earth versions, at least as bogus as they pretend to find “Darwinism.” And it’s a good bet that most of the remaining few – representing less than 0.1% of biologists – that do claim to deny common descent are faking it for the sake of the big tent.

  2. Irked, some write emails.

    Who writes this way? These are the people the Discovernaughts put out front as their PR spokesmen?

    Can you too write a Youngkinism? For example:

    “Stupid, some write blog posts.”


    “Medieval, some signed the DI’s petition.”

  3. Diogenes says: “These are the people the Discovernaughts put out front as their PR spokesmen?”

    What’s the problem? Doesn’t every scientific research organization have people like that?

  4. Alex Shuffell

    I don’t consider a ‘thorn in the side’ to be a good metaphor. The ID/creationism in science would be more accurately expressed as ‘a rouge pubic hair on my plate of chips.’ That metaphor has many deep layers to it, I have found it works very weel.

    All their debates are fought with parsnips pretending to be potatoes, in the form of lawyers, politicians and journalists. When they are honest about answering questions, or occasionally when a bit of honest thought slips out, it becomes far too obvious how utterly strange these people are. That’s why I love reading your work.

  5. Eddie Janssen

    …and think themselves safe enough…
    Well, there is ofcourse your built-in excuse.

  6. If the D.I. were honest and straightforward, they would collect a list of credentialed biologists and related scientists who were willing to sign a statement reading simply “we believe Intelligent Design is a legitimate scientific theory”. If they accumulated a long list of legitimate signatories, it would be a powerful argument for their side.

    Odd that they do not do such a simple act, but instead craft a carefully vague statement that really doesn’t say that evolution is not true, and makes no mention of intelligent design. One would think that they were, dare I say, dishonest?

  7. SC, love your blog!
    Please check out Bill Moyers new interview with Zach Kopplin. Zach is the 19 year old fighting creeping creationism in public schools and he specifically takes on the ‘droids.

    sorry if I didn’t embed the link properly but it’s the first story at


  8. Ed: “If the D.I. were honest and straightforward, they would collect a list of credentialed biologists and related scientists who were willing to sign a statement reading simply ‘we believe Intelligent Design is a legitimate scientific theory’.”

    Not only would most of the signatories not sign that, in fact 2 of the most prominent Discoveroids, Phillip Johnson and Paul Nelson, are on record admitting that ID is not a scientific theory.

    What I would like to see is a statement where the “dissenters” spell out exactly what they think happened (staring with which lineages originated independently, if any), and when (millions and billions of years ago? last Thursday?, etc.). They do not need to make any reference to a designer, creator. etc. much less name any that they have in mind. But they do have to state how they would test any claims.

    In fact I wrote such a statement 6 years ago and posted it on Talk.Origins. Despite many reminders over the years – and you know that some Discoveroids read TO constantly if only to find quotes to mine – not one person came forward.

  9. That’s what I was about to say, that ID is not a scientific theory in any form or fashion. To allow them to get away with referring to it as such is a crime, but that’s how they operate.

  10. We should start our own pro-Intelligent Design petition. One that is more specific, and encourage as many creationists as possible to sign it– just to see how many scientists we can get who REALLY think intelligent design is a scientific theory.

    For example, a petition like this:

    “We the undersigned, holders of research Ph.D. degrees in physical or life sciences, believe that Intelligent Design is a real scientific theory that makes testable predictions confirmed by observation. We affirm that by the standard of making testable predictions that fit observations, ID is as successful or more so than Darwinian and neutral evolutionary theory.”

    I’d be curious– and unafraid– to know how many valid signatures they could get. But we have to exclude engineers. No offense to you engineers.

  11. @Russ: Thanks for posting the link to Bill Moyers’ interview with Zach Kopplin. First time I’ve seen him or heard him speak. Impressive!

  12. Russ says: “Please check out Bill Moyers new interview with Zach Kopplin.”

    I know about it. Zack is a favorite around here. But I’m waiting for some creationist website to rip into it. That’s more fun to write about.

  13. Diogenes: “I’d be curious– and unafraid– to know how many valid signatures they could get.”

    Read my reply to Ed. The Discoveroids themselves would not dare sign it.

  14. Diogenes said:

    But we have to exclude engineers. No offense to you engineers.

    None taken. But I’d point out that this means “no MDs” as well. So far as I’m concerned, medical doctors are the engineers of the biological world.

  15. Agreed on the MDs, and I’d thow in the mouth mechanics, er dentists as well 🙂