NCSE’s “Project Steve” Now Has 1,300 Steves

You have undoubtedly heard about “Project Steve,” a splendid enterprise of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), which has its own page at their website.

It was back in April of 2012 when we wrote “Project Steve” Now Has 1,200 Steves. Then in February of 2013 we wrote “Project Steve” Keeps Growing. That was when NCSE announced:

After ten years, the official Steveometer reads 1239, and because only about 1% of the population possesses a qualifying first name, that implies that at least 123,900 scientists would agree with the statement, dwarfing any creationist list.

Much of what we say today has been said in our two most recent posts, but we’re going to repeat ourselves a lot because: (a) this is good stuff; and (b) when the subject comes up in the future, as it surely will, we’ll be able to link to just one post — this one.

Our friends at NCSE have reached another milestone. A couple of days ago they posted Project Steve: n > 1300 If you’re not familiar with this, you’re probably wondering: Who are these Steves, and what’s this all about? NCSE explains:

With the addition of Stefan Roitsch on January 15, 2014, NCSE’s Project Steve attained its 1300th 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. (Cognates are also accepted, such as Stephanie, Esteban, Istvan, Stefano, or even Tapani — the Finnish equivalent.) About 1% of the United States population possesses such a first name, so each signatory represents about 100 potential signatories.

The best-known list that Project Steve mocks is the one promoted by the Discoveroids — who are described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page. How many signatories do the Discoveroids have? They don’t give the number at the website for their little list, A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism, but the total appears to be “over 800,” according to this old Discoveroid post, which is the last time they embarrassed themselves by giving an estimate. They may have picked up a few more since then, because sometimes a scientist slips into his dotage and starts babbling nonsense.

[Addendum: There’s a later Discoveroid post about their little list, and they still don’t say how many people have signed. We wrote about it here: Discoveroids’ “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”. For completeness, we’ll also mention that Wikipedia has an article on their list: A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.]

Bear in mind that the Discoveroids’ list isn’t limited to Steves. If it were, and because Steves are only about 1% of the population, they’d have only around 8 people on their list, maybe as many as 9. If they had 13 Darwin-doubting Steves, their list would then be equal to one percent of NCSE’s 1,300 (that’s 0.01). But they don’t have 13 Steves. The Discoveroids’ Steve list, if they had one, would be a mere six tenths of 1% of NCSE’s Steves — that’s 0.006, creeping up on 0.007 of what the Steve list represents, which is around 130,000 scientists with PhDs.

Never mind the percentages, just compare 130,000 to a mere 800 or so — that’s the reality. Considering all the creationist revival meetings the Discoveroids have had and the millions of dollars they’ve spend promoting their “theory,” it’s not a very impressive showing.

But there’s more to it than just numbers. First, the Discoveroids’ list includes everyone they could convince to sign, including a significant number of MDs (presumably proctologists), dentists, engineers, meteorologists, industrial hygiene specialists, nutritionists, philosophers, political “scientists,” sociologists, and such. On the other hand, everyone on NCSE’s list of Steves has a PhD, and a majority of them are in a biological field. NCSE’s latest post says:

Among the 1307 current signatories to Project Steve are 100% of eligible Nobel laureates (Steven Weinberg and Steven Chu), at least ten members of the National Academy of Sciences, and the authors of popular science books such as A Brief History of Time, How the Mind Works, and Darwin’s Archipelago. When counted by David H. Bailey in April 2012, almost 60% of the signatories were found to have a Ph.D. degree and/or professional position in a core field closely related to evolution.

Aside from the quality of the signatories, the statement the Discoveroids’ people sign is strikingly weak:

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.

Whoopie — that’s pure mush. Note what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say they’re creationists, or that they subscribe to intelligent design. Nor does it say that they flat-out reject the theory of evolution. It doesn’t really say much of anything.

On the other hand, the statement that NCSE’s Steves sign is considerably stronger than the Discoveroids’ statement — it has none of that wishy-washy “we are skeptical” language:

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.

So the next time some creationist claims they’ve got a “growing” list of “hundreds” of scientists who are abandoning evolution and supporting Intelligent Design or some other version of creationism, thanks to NCSE, you can confidently inform him that his list is numerically and scientifically insignificant.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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27 responses to “NCSE’s “Project Steve” Now Has 1,300 Steves

  1. How many signatories do the Discoveroids have? They don’t give the number at the website for their little list, A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism, but the total appears to be “over 800,” according to this old Discoveroid post, which is the last time they embarrassed themselves by giving an estimate.

    The pdf currently up at the website claims to have been last updated in July 2013, and is 20 pages long. The pdf doesn’t seem to like copying and pasting its text, but by my count there is a maximum of 45 people per page: that makes 900 people. But much of the first and last pages are not made up of signatures, and there exist a number of places within the list where a person gets two lines due to long details, so the actual total is more like 850.

    It seems then that the reason why the DI have not embarrised themselves again since 2011 is that they have nothing new to report. In contrast, we see that the NCSE have gained more than 60 Steves in less than a year. That’s another indictment of their “growing” list for the heap, by all accounts.

  2. They don’t want to make available their list in a readily copy fashion. Also, they used to have dead people’s names appearing on the list, and as I recall they said that the names were still being retained because had they still been alive, those persons would still be dissenters from Darwinism, so their names are still counted. But unlike the Steve list, their signators are from every imaginable background.

  3. @DavidK: Used to? The list I’m looking at still has at least half a dozen, including the very first entry (the chemist Philip Skell).

  4. As with almost everything they do, the Discoveroids lie through their teeth, make stuff up, whip up vague and meaningless statements, and hope that’s enough to fool their fat but clueless donors and the drooling dimwits that are their target demographic.

  5. DavidK: “They don’t want to make available their list in a readily-[copied] fashion.”

    There’s a simple way around that — photograph it. Either by taking a screen shot with your computer, or photographing with a camera or cell phone.

  6. Ceteris Paribus

    @DavidK “They don’t want to make available their list in a readily copy fashion. ”

    You may be trying too hard. The dissentfromdarwinism web page isn’t intellingently designed for your browser. When you click their “download” button it runs a script to serve up a PDF of the list. You can’t use your mouse to select parts of a PDF file, you have to take the whole file.

    So

    Depending on your browser, you can copy a PDF file by using something like “right click” mouse, then you get a drop down menu to print, or copy or save as.

    Or maybe your broser has a “file” button in the tool bar, with the drop down buttons.

  7. “the long-standing creationist tradition of amassing lists ”
    The Steve-list does an excellent job of exterminating this tradition. I know from my own experience when debating creacrappers on internet.

  8. Ceteris Paribus

    @DavidK addendum. Or, you can simply print the PDF file as you would print any web page. But I wouldn’t waste the printer ink.

  9. DavidK says: “They don’t want to make available their list in a readily copy fashion.”

    The list is just there to impress you by its mere existence. It’s not supposed to be examined. It’s like the footnotes to a creation science paper — they’re for appearance only.

  10. @Ceteris Paribus: I think he means that you can’t copy and paste the text as you would on a webpage or a better pdf, nor use find-and-replace. It’s little better than an image, even though you can download it.

  11. Stephen Kennedy

    If I had a PhD in science rather than an MD I would happily sign on as one of the Steves. The DI’s list includes medical doctors and engineers who are really not scientists and, in fact, seem particularly prone to be taken in by pseudosciences such as creationism. Just because our professional educations included some training in science, it does not make us scientists.

    I have a BS in Physics and Astronomy as well but that does not make me a scientist either, just an educated layman on those particular topics.

  12. Charles Deetz ;)

    Since we’re keeping score, browsing YouTube, I see Hambo’s posted video about the upcoming debate at 1,048 views, or 3% of the views an AronRa video in the same listing. The video is less than two minutes long. Or should we ask Youtube to measure views in ‘Steves’?

  13. No less a fine, upstanding scientist than Dembski himself disparaged Project Steve as a wasted effort because it merely underscores what is obvious, namely that the majority of practising scientists accepts a naturalistic account of evolution. Then again, the Discorrhoids have a remarkable history of attempting to distort adverse and uncomfortable facts into something less blatantly damning, and therein lies the rub: The NCSE has Project Steve to counter the Discorrhoids’ Project Deceive.

  14. O ye deluded Darwinists! You are entirely overlooking the Morton-demonic filter which Joshua Youngkin carefully installed in his Our “Scientific Dissent from Darwin” List: A Reader Inquires last March, viz. (my bolding):

    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.

    But consider what rare extraordinary intestinal fortitude is required to consider oneself “safe enough” from the jackbooted Darwinist Gestapo! How many countless thousands of evolution-doubting PhD’s have been brutally lashed into silence by fear of a midnight smashing in of their front doors as the Evilutionist SWAT team, rounding up the dissenting scientist and his kin for either deportation to the forced-labour re-education facility at Down House or summary execution?

    So clearly, the very paucity of names on the DI’s Dissent from Darwinism List, both in absolute size as well as relative to Project Steve is in fact overwhelming proof of the evil repression and intimidation thuggishly meted out by the Darwinist stormtroopers! Q.E.D.

  15. Hmm, you learn something new every day. I hadn’t considered that when it comes to picking methods for conserving ideology, jackboots and thuggery are the Darwinists’ natural selection…

    😈

  16. Regarding creationism in charter schools, and Zack related research, here’s a new article on creationism thrust into public education:

    https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/charter-for-creationism-activist-finds-questionable-science-in-tax-funded

  17. @Mega: “How many countless thousands of evolution-doubting PhD’s have been brutally lashed into silence”
    Of course it’s pure accident that none of these evolutio-doubting PhD’s are called Steve. Or … or … do I smell a good conspiracy theory here? Are those poor Steves forced by irresistable social pressure to sign?

  18. DavidK observes, “Also, they used to have dead people’s names appearing on the list, and as I recall they said that the names were still being retained because had they still been alive, those persons would still be dissenters from Darwinism, so their names are still counted.”

    SC points out that “…[creationists claim] they’ve got a “growing” list of “hundreds” of scientists who are abandoning evolution and supporting Intelligent Design or some other version of creationism…”

    I’d bet that the DI’s signed-on “dissenters from Darwinism” are dying off faster than they are signing on, so it is no longer a “growing” list, but rather a shrinking list.

    The DI should be challenged to cull their list. Also, some signed-on dissenters may well have changed their minds.

  19. A little footnote on this topic. My beloved and all-time favourite Discoveroid–the splendiferous Casey Luskin–posted a blog on this very topic on 1 January 2010: Responding to Fallacious Criticisms of the Dissent from Darwinism List

    At that time–which was fully four years ago, he wrote:

    Today the list has over 800 signatories.

    So in four years, their list has ‘grown’ at something less than 25 per annum, tops.

    What does 25 represent as a percentage of new PhD’s in relevant life science disciplines per year–never mind new medics, electrical engineers, &c.?

    Yessir, no doubt about it, this exponential growth in dissent is, in Luskin’s own lapidary prose, exactly What to Expect When the Evolution Bubble Is About to Pop

  20. Rationalwiki has a comprehensive article on the Discovery list here; alphabetically listed with (cursory) information on every single signatory (some 1200+ at present, or at least by June 2012) (conflict of interest warning: I was heavily involved in researching that one myself).

    Of particular interest is the following comparison with Project Steve: “By comparison The Discovery Institute’s list had 12 signatories whose names would have qualified them for the Steve list per 2012. The twelve constitute a motley crew that contains at least some non-scientists (Meyer, Cheesman), certified crackpots (Gift), and one single biologist named C. Steven Murphree, who, to add insult to injury, later repudiated his involvement with the Discovery list and signed Project Steve instead.”

  21. Wait. Rationalwiki says 1200+, while EyeonICR says 850 to 900. Who should I trust?

    There were only ever two leading scientists on the list. Phillip Skell, I believe the only member of NAS [is that right?], who died 4 years ago, and Fred Sigworth, Yale prof and acquaintance of mine, who asked to have his name removed. By rights, both names should be off the list.

    Everyone else on that list, you would never have heard of if they weren’t anti-evolutionists.

  22. The RW list itself has only ~840 names on it, and it cites the claim that there are now “over 1200” directly to the pdf itself, which may once have listed the number on it. If they ever did have that many there must have been an exodus since though – I went through again and I think there are 851 now, give or take.

  23. G.D. remarked:
    The twelve constitute a motley crew that contains at least some non-scientists (Meyer, Cheesman), certified crackpots (Gift), and one single biologist named C. Steven Murphree, who, to add insult to injury, later repudiated his involvement with the Discovery list and signed Project Steve instead.”

    I seem to recall over on PT some time ago where some signators to the DfD list had requested their names be removed only to be told once you sign, you can never remove your name. It’s like a dishonesty institute copyright that they’ll never relinquish, even if you die.

  24. SC: “But there’s more to it than just numbers. First, the Discoveroids’ list includes everyone they could convince to sign, including a significant number of MDs (presumably proctologists), dentists, engineers, meteorologists, industrial hygiene specialists, nutritionists, philosophers, political ‘scientists,’ sociologists, and such.”

    That only a minority of “dissenters” are biologists only scratches the surface in showing how sleazy that scam is – scamming not only those who fall for it, but even some signers who innocently signed it based on the deliberately vague language, then demanded (those who realized it so far) to have their names removed when they found how they would be misrepresented.

    Also the list is padded with names of Discoveroids and “fellow travelers” who already had a track record of anti-science activism. That alone is a conflict of interest, if the intent is to pretend that it’s a list of scientists with “no dog in the fight.”

    More interestingly, a survey was conducted of a sample of the biologists on the list, and it was found that the great majority of them accepted common descent. Leaving on the order of 0.1% of biologists who deny common descent, and presumably far fewer who buy the whole young-earth nonsense.

    Bottom line is that these scam artists are trying to have it both ways. Every field in science has a small % of sell-outs to pseudoscience. Why not? Pseudoscience is more lucrative – if you lack a conscience. If anything, this “dissent” shows how unusually low that % is for biology. Despite a tremendous incentive to “dethrone Darwin” – many religious biologists would love to, and all of them would love the fortune and fame – the evidence just ain’t there. But Discoveroids don’t just want to show that a small % “dissent,” but rather pretend that the majority of biologists are either willingly conspiring to hide “weaknesses” of evolution, or “bullied” in to going along. And that is their most outrageous lie.

  25. DavidK: “I seem to recall over on PT some time ago where some signators to the DfD list had requested their names be removed only to be told once you sign, you can never remove your name.”

    In fairness to the DI – not that it helps their case in the least – I read that some names were reluctantly removed. I do know that names of those who die after signing it are not removed, but just get an asterisk. One of them is Dr. David Medved, the physicist father of Discoveroid Michael.

  26. I think the Disco’Tute’s best hope on this one is to steal a trick from the Mormons and recruit posthumous signatories, just as the LDS church conducts posthumous baptisms.

    And in fairness, surely we Darwinists–once we have shuffled off this mortal coil and found our eternal souls flung into the Lake of Fire–would be glad of the chance then to have our names enrolled on the DI’s proud list of dissenters!

  27. So they have no living members of the NAS on the list, so far as we know, Skell being dead for 4 years.

    Casey Luskin’s article of Jan. 1, 2010 said the list had “over 800” signatories; more than 4 years later, it’s now 851. So the rate of increase is at best a dozen per year.

    By comparison, Project Steve has grown between Feb. 2013 and Jan. 15, 2014 from 1239 to 1300, a gain of 60 in less than one year. Since Steves are 1% of the population, these implies a gain in those who would sign the list, not named Steve, of 6,000 per year, compared to the ~dozen gained per year for Dissent from Darwinism, a rate of increase that is 500 times higher for evolution.

    It’s worse than that– because Project Steve is limited to Ph.D.s in hard sciences, while Dissent from Darwinism lets in M.D.s and Ph.D.s in philosophy.

    But lying Casey Luskin and the Discovernaughts will keep saying that there is “a growing number” and “more and more” scientists who are anti-evolutionist.