This is why history is so fascinating to me: I get to learn that creationists have been using the same dishonest tactics for at least 96 years. I’m reading Ronald L. Numbers’s The Creationists, and on page 66, I come across this paragraph from William Louis Poteat, responding to creationist T.T. Martin’s list of “twenty-one really great scientists in the world” supposedly rejecting evolution:
Two do not appear in the biographical dictionaries, five are misrepresented, seven won reputation in other than biological fields, and six have been in their graves more than forty years, two of these having died long before Darwin’s great book was published. One lone biologist is left to support the thesis that the doctrine of evolution is discarded by the science of today. And this man’s position is so peculiar that he is usually mentioned as the single exception to the universal acceptance of evolution by biologists of responsible position.
This is laughably familiar to anyone who’s been following the creation-evolution wars for more than ten seconds. The Discovery Institute, that laughable bunch of assclowns polluting my fair city with their ignorance, likes to put out a list of “scientists” who supposedly “Dissent from Darwinism.”
Cast your mind back to 2001, when DIsco clogged up some major newspapers with a cunning advert trying to convince the public that scientists totes don’t like evolution! See how they spun:
The list consists of 41 biologists (over half of whom are biochemists), 16 chemists, 4 engineers, 2 geologists/geophysicists, 8 mathematicians, 10 medical professionals, 4 social scientists, 15 from physics or astronomy, and 3 whose specialties we were unable to determine. Few were from biological subfields associated with organismic and population-level biology — the divisions of biology most closely associated with the study of evolution. None was recognizable as a prominent contributor to the scientific literature debating the role of natural selection in evolution. (The list published on the review evolution web site, which we analyzed, originally contained 103 names. The ads published in the print media contained 105 names, with the addition of the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture, the creationist arm of the DI, President Stephen Meyer and Fellow Paul Nelson, both of whom hold PhDs in philosophy.)
I’ve highlighted my favorite bit. Also, that’s not all the deception they practiced. Be sure to read up at the source!
They’ve added names as the years passed. In 2004, they had around three hundred. Which would be a possibly impressive number, if Project Steve hadn’t had about 500 scientists named Steve supporting evolution by then, and if so damned many of their signatories hadn’t been useless:
Most of the signators to the DI’s list (about 80%) are not biologists; some are not even scientists. Generally speaking, mathematicians, electrical engineers, philosophers, and so forth are only marginally more qualified to comment on the validity of evolution than the average person on the street.
You can peruse the 2011 state of the list here, where you’ll learned dead people are counted as ardent supporters, nobody likes to mention their affiliation with Cedarville, Liberty, or Oral Roberts universities, and lots of others also seem quite shy about mentioning who they’re currently affiliated with, choosing instead to boost their science cred by saying only who they got their degree from. Also, active researchers are not well represented:
In fact, relatively quick searches reveal that a very large percentage of the signatories have no academic affiliation at all; the number of biologists actively researching biological issues even remotely related to evolution can be counted on one hand.
For all the exciting ways today’s creationists like to pad their list of scientists, start with this entertaining and educational video. Have blood pressure meds handy.