2004-09-06 00:35:33 UTC
Anti-evolution paper met with 'hysteria, name-calling'
'Intelligent design' defense published in peer-reviewed science journal
September 4, 2004
The publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal of an article
expounding and defending "Intelligent Design" was met with "hysteria,
name-calling and personal attack," according to the report's author.
According to a story in The Scientist, Dr. Steven Meyer's article, "The
origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,"
published online Aug. 28, was greeted with widespread criticism from members
of the society publishing the journal the Biological Society of
According to its website, The Scientist is "an international news magazine
published in print and on the Web. It reports on and analyzes the issues and
events that impact the world of life scientists."
Intelligent Design which one critic calls "the old creationist arguments
in fancy clothes" is the "idea that the origin of information is best
explained by an act of intelligence rather than a strictly materialistic
process," Meyer told The Scientist.
In his article, Meyer, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, states:
"What natural selection lacks, intelligent selection purposive or
goal-directed design provides."
The Discovery Institute "supports research by scientists and other scholars
developing the scientific theory known as intelligent design."
Many scientists reportedly expressed shock and outrage that an article
questioning evolution would be published in a peer-reviewed scientific
journal. According to The Scientist:
Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science
Education, said, "many members of the society were stunned about the
article. It's too bad the Proceedings published it," Scott added. "The
article doesn't fit the type of content of the journal. The bottom line is
that this article is substandard science."
The Panda's Thumb, a Web log dealing with evolutionary science, calls
Meyer's article "a rhetorical edifice out of omission of relevant facts,
selective quoting, bad analogies, and tendentious interpretations."
However, National Center for Biotechnology Information staff scientist
Richard Sternberg told The Scientist the three peer reviewers of Meyer's
paper "all hold faculty positions in biological disciplines at prominent
universities and research institutions, one at an Ivy League university, one
at a major U.S. public university, and another at a major overseas research
All found the paper "meritorious, warranting publication," he said.
Moreover, Sternberg told the journal he and Meyer have falsely been labeled
creationists by the scientific community, noting: "It's fascinating how the
'creationist' label is falsely applied to anyone who raises any questions
about neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. The reaction to the paper by some
[anti-creationist] extremists suggests that the thought police are alive and
well in the scientific community."
The Discovery Institute's communications director, Robert L. Crowther,
explained the difference between intelligent design and creationism.
"Dr. Meyer is a well-known proponent of intelligent design and that is what
his paper is about," Crowther told The Scientist. "To try and characterize
him as a creationist is just an attempt to stigmatize him and marginalize
his paper, all the while avoiding the scientific issues that it raises."
Meyer puts it even more bluntly: "I have received a number of private
communications from scientists expressing their agreement or intrigue with
the arguments that I develop in my article. Public reaction to the article,
however, has been mainly characterized by hysteria, name-calling and
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