What Has Science Done?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Playing the Numbers Game

The Discovery Institute's CSC has an interesting little bulletin up on its website at the moment titled "Peer-Review & Peer-Edited Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design." Its dated October 1, 2005, which by my clock is still over a month away, but hey, lets not dwell on simple mistakes.

With Intelligent Design again in the
newspapers, one is forced to read through and double-check the numerous "talking points" that are spit-fired at reporters, who tendency to investigate is already weakend by a "he said/she said" mentality. Carl Zimmer goes digging through PubMed and Science Direct to see what the impact the DI's funding of ID 'theory' has made in Biology circles. His response, absolute diddly.

I cared to go see what www.jstor.org had in its archives. The journals I ran a search for evolution, natural selection, intelligent design through were:
Science, Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, Scientific Monthly, and the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science of the USA: Biological Science. Of the 27 articles found using "intelligent design," half are produced before 1990 when the CSC took on its crusade against Darwin, none are associated with DI fellows, and of those related at all to "origins research" most are fervently against the validity of ID. For "natural selection," I picked up 5,425 hits and for "evolution," 44,928 hits (from years 1859-2005).

But Jonathan Witt and his make-believe friend
say that over 400 scientists are "convinced that Darwinian Evolution is deficient," so there must be a controversy. Not so says Professor Steve Steve and the 586 other Steves which have signed a statement supporting the validity of Biological Evolution. But as I mentioned in a previous posting, "the voices must be weighed, not counted." Who has the Ph.D.s in biology and genetics, who have put decades of research into the study and analysis of evolutionary theory, and the support of scientific organizations across the globe? Ok, moving on.

There is one final thing that bugs me about this research list.

In fact, some of the most important and groundbreaking work in the history of science was first published not in scientific journal articles but scientific books, including Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Newton’s Principia, and Darwin’s Origin of Species the later which was published in a prominent British trade press and was not peer-reviewed in the modern sense of the term.

Maybe its just me, but I think the scientific community and its approach to publishing valuable research has changed in the last 150 years. Also, scientific journals didn't exist when Copernicus was alive! Both Newton and Darwin's work was subject to extensive review in the
Transactions of the Royal Society and other scholarly journals, as well as by fellow scientists like Edmund Halley and Asa Gray respectively. The errors of the books themselves I shall leave to groups better trained then myself to dissect the material within the covers of the books, if they havent already.

Is there a budding research program like Steve Myers tried to con Nightline into thinking? No. Is there a controversy in the scientific community about the validity of Biological Evolution? No. Will the media stop printing pseudo-scientific garbage? Probably not. Is it worth the effort to keep fighting for science? YES!