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Anti-evolution paper met with 'hysteria, name-calling'

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 09/04/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

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 Washington.

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 institute.”

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 personal attack.”

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