The Discovery Institute is SO proud that they’ve managed to accumulate over 1000 signatures in nearly 20 years from people who doubt “Darwinism”, I thought I’d see what other petitions have over 1000 signatures:
At the Evolution News & Science Today blog, an unattributed article presents the petition as a response to “false statements about Darwinian evolution”:
Discovery Institute first published its Scientific Dissent from Darwinism list in in The New York Review of Books in 2001 to challenge false statements about Darwinian evolution made in PBS’s series Evolution. Promoters of the series, among others, claimed that “virtually every scientist in the world believes the theory to be true.”
David Klinghoffer echoes the sentiment:
Discovery Institute began taking names of signatories in 2001 in response to frequently heard assertions that there is no dissent, or “virtually” none.
There are roughly 4 million Ph.D.s in the United States. As a back-of-the-envelope calculation, let’s assume half of those are in the sciences, and that there are about five times that many in the world (I think both of those are assumptions are conservative). That would work out to ~10 million Ph.D. scientists, not counting (as the Discovery Institute’s petition does) dead ones. So their thousand signatures would represent something on the order of one one-hundredth of one percent (0.0001).
David Klinghoffer asserts (without evidence) that
…the 1,000+ names represent only the tip of a vast iceberg. For every name, you can assigner a multiplier. Would it be ten? A hundred? More? I don’t know.
Let’s give it to him. Let’s say it’s a hundred.
That would mean that roughly 1% of Ph.D. scientists agree with a weakly-worded statement that fails to define its central term:
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.
So under fantastically generous assumptions, we can estimate that the “dissenters from Darwinism,” those who have signed the petition and those who haven’t, living and dead, represent less than 1% of Ph.D. scientists (that is the fair comparison, since most of the signers are not biologists). In other words, 99% agree that evolutionary theory is well supported. Meaning that the “false claim” that “virtually every scientist in the world believes the theory to be true” is actually just about right.
Let me know when you pass Project Steve.