The Discoveroids Are Gaining Momentum

It’s been a few years since we wrote about the Discovery Institute’s Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. Wikipedia’s article about it is a bit outdated. They say: “as of the August 2008 update, it contains 761 names.”

The Discoveroids have a new post about it at their creationist blog: Skepticism About Darwinian Evolution Grows as 1,000+ Scientists Share Their Doubts. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Over 1,000 doctoral scientists from around the world have signed a statement publicly expressing their skepticism about the contemporary theory of Darwinian evolution. [Gasp!] The statement, located online at, reads: “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.”

We always contrast that with “Project Steve,” a splendid enterprise of our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). It has its own page at their website, and it’s their response to the Discoveroids’ list. The last time we wrote about it was over two years ago: ‘Project Steve’ Now Has 1,400 Steves. They say: “About 1% of the United States population possesses such a first name, so each signatory represents about 100 potential signatories.”

We don’t know how many Steves are on NCSE’s list now, but only ten Steves are statistically equal to all the 1,000 signatures on the Discoveroids’ list. If the Discoveroids limited their list to only “Steves,” they’d have about 10 names. Also, The Discoveroids are far less selective than NCSE in choosing their signatories. The Discoveroids’ list includes a significant number of MDs, 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.

The statements the signatories of each list sign are also quite different. The Discoveroids’ people sign on to this:

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’s thin gruel indeed. NCSE’s statement says:

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.

The Discoveroids’ new post tells us:

Bruce Chapman, Discovery Institute’s Chairman of the Board, found 100 PhD scientists to sign the initial dissent statement. Realizing that there were likely more scientists worldwide who shared some skepticism of Darwinian evolution and were willing to go on record, the Institute has maintained the list and added to it continually since its inception.

A thrilling tale. They continue:

The list of signatories now includes 16 scientists from the National Academies of Science in countries including Russia, Czech Republic, Brazil, and the United States, as well as from the Royal Society. Many of the signers are professors or researchers [like Michael Behe] at major universities [like BIOLA] and international research institutions such as the University of Cambridge, London’s Natural History Museum, Moscow State University, Hong Kong University, University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, Institut de Paléontologie Humaine in France, Ben-Gurion University in Israel, MIT, the Smithsonian, Yale, and Princeton.

The Discoveroids’ post ends with a quote from one of their signers, which you can read for yourself if you care to click over there.

So where are we? Well, the Discoveroids finally got their list up to 1,000 names, so that’s something. It’s difficult to come up with a figure for the actual number of scientists in the world, because that term (like the Discoveroids’ list) can include social scientists, political scientists, etc. For the US alone, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has over 120,000 members, so the Discoveroids still have a lot of work to do.

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28 responses to “The Discoveroids Are Gaining Momentum

  1. “creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to “intelligent design,”
    Lovely to read.

  2. Dentists, lawyers, optometrists, Uber drivers dissent from Darwinism. The end is nigh.

  3. I skimmed through the list and only spotted one member of the US-NAS, and he is deceased.

  4. They also need a proof editor – some people are listed twice.

  5. I am, given the ad hoc nature of the appeal to otherwise undetectable dark matter, skeptical of the ability of current physics to account for the motion of stars in spiral galaxies. Perhaps I should found “Dissent from Newton and Einstein”?

  6. The Clergy Letter Project has been stuck at just short of 15,000 Christian clergy for qite some time. And I am disappointed that they haven’t had any signatories from Guam or American Samoa – otherwise there is at least one name from each of the states, DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands – every jurisdiction of the USA.

  7. Given the great number of clever people, and so many years, it is surprising that no one has been able to formulate an alternative to evolution. The very first step.

  8. @TomS
    Indeed! No one has found an alternative to evolution that fits the facts, nor within evolutionary theory has anyone found a convincing replacement for the adaptive role of natural selection. To be sure, genetic drift and neutral theory are hugely important additions but neither has supplanted natural selection.

    I’m old enough to recall that when the first phylogenetic trees were drawn using molecular data their congruence with trees based on morphology was striking. Independent evidence for common descent it was!

  9. Deceased members don’t matter as their objections can clearly be discerned by the ability of ID researchers to communicate with the world of the supernatural. If the ID folks gather around a table, hold hands and chant Demski’s magical number incantations, the deceased’s voices can be heard.

  10. Dead people supporting long dead end ideology*, currently renamed ID? Who could have possibly predicted that outcome?

    *Creationism within the scientific community died around 1.5 centuries ago. Now it is only to be found among the willfully ignorant. The ID crowd must replay all of this nonsense to keep their funding coming in, otherwise they would all be unemployed. Can you even imagine a bio-technology company actually wanting to hire Annie Green Screen? At least her “lab” would be ultra cheap to maintain!

  11. I would point out that many of the signers of their petition aren’t scientists, it includes many mathematicians and engineers, quite a few philosophers, at least one economist and one butterfly photographer. Most of the actual “scientists” are in areas unrelated to evolution.

    Also what it is ‘dissenting’ from is not the full Theory of Evolution, but a truncated strawman.

  12. Steven Thompson

    The “scientific dissent from Darwinism” doesn’t dissent from Darwinism. Darwin himself declared that natural selection was the most important but not sole cause of evolution, and readily admitted that the burden of proof was on his (then new) theory, and on these points I think all evolutionary biologists would agree (with the proviso that by now, that burden of proof has been met). The statement does not deny common descent with modification, or that natural causes of some kind can explain the diversity and complexity of life, or posit any sort of “intelligent design.” There is strictly speaking nothing in it that contradicts the “Project Steve” statement.

    Perhaps some, even many, of the signers would have signed a stronger, more explicitly creationist statement, but they did not do so here.

  13. @PaulB contemplates initiating an interesting project: “Perhaps I should found “Dissent from Newton and Einstein”?”
    Why not? I propose the statement

    – We are skeptical of claims for the ability of Newtonian and Relativistic Mechanics to account for the origin of our Universe. While hardly a physicist makes such claims careful examination of the evidence concerning the Big Bang should be encouraged.

    The trick, as so often when the IDiots from Seattle are involved, is ambiguous language. Here it’s specifically the word “skepticism”. That’s because skeptical scientists actually do carefully examine all evidence. IDiots however jump to and from from our natural reality to their presupposed supernatural one like a frog on a hot plate.

  14. @Hrafn, well put. A truncated strawman doesn’t have a leg to stand on

  15. @FrankB

  16. Imagine a speeding train, pulling tens of flat cars after flat cars laden with steaming piles of horse manure covered with flowers. You’ve entered the Discoveroid twilight zone.

  17. Michael Fugate

    I am skeptical that the signers of the DI’s list know much about evolution and what they do know is warranted by evidence. I am skeptical that the signing is being done for scientific reasons or for other than emotional and/or religious reasons.

  18. Some years ago a guy posted a video on YouTube where he went through the list, at that time around 700, and weeded it out. He got rid of all of the non-biologists, went through the remainder and contacted a bunch of people. Of the people who replied, some did not know about the list and asked to be removed. To my knowledge, once you get on that list, you’re there forever!

    Anyway, it was a tiny fraction who remained, most of them known crackpots.

  19. I’d love to see them find a meteorologist who can explain, in non-Biblical terms, how enough rain could fall in forty days and forty nights to submerge Mount Everest.

  20. Michael Fugate

    I wonder what would cause someone to sign in the first place? And how would one not know what one was signing onto? Is one approached by a person in a trenchcoat, “Psst, buddy, got a PhD? Want to sign my petition?”

  21. @Eric Lipps
    It wasn’t only rain, but also waters rising out of the deep.
    Remember in Genesis 1 that part of the creation was to separate the primordial water into two parts, above the Earth, being held back by the Frimament (the source of rain), and beneath the Earth.

    But I wonder whether a Ark replica would attract many visitors if it were placed near the foot of a mountian like Mount Rainier, with a “topographical prominence” over 13,000 ft (4000 meters). (See the various Wikipedia articles on “topographical prominent”.) How many people could imagine a flood topping Mount Rainier?

  22. @Eric LIpps, how could you be so ignorant of the work of John Baumgardner, a real live Los Alamos physicist,who has conclusively shown that there was plenty of water provided the mountains were low enough and the oceans shallow enough, as they were on his model before the opening of the floods of the deep led to plate tectonics. The Himalaya are post- flood.

  23. How about Thomas Burnet, who published his Telluris Sacra Theoria, Sacred Theory of the Earth, 1681-1690?

  24. Gerald Carey

    Just FYI and I’m sure this has been done before but…
    I transferred the list to an Excel sheet and did a really quick search for the following terms:
    British Museum (1 entry),
    University of Cambridge (8 entries, 2 ‘biologists’),
    London’s Natural History Museum (1 entry),
    Moscow State University (5 entries, 3 ‘biologists’),
    Institut de Paléontologie Humaine in France (can’t find this one),
    MIT (11 entries, no biologists),
    the Smithsonian (can’t find any entries),
    Yale (2 entries, no biologists),
    and Princeton (14 entries, no biologists).
    So just to clarify, I am doing a very unsophisticated search for these keywords in the qualification and institution columns and I am calling the person a ‘biologist’ even if they are only vaguely associated with the field.
    Needless to say there are only three people with entries that have the word ‘evolution’ associated with their title or institution.

  25. Good work, Gerald Carey!

  26. Michael Fugate

    One problem with the list is signers can add any affiliation they choose. It could be where they went to graduate school, where they did a post-doc, where they taught, etc. It could be from 50 years ago.

  27. Gerald Carey:
    The “British Museum” hit was the butterfly photographer (now apparently deceased) I mentioned above. He also lacked a PhD, and his affiliation with the Museum was somewhat ropy.

  28. This video is 10 years old but it’s still relevant.