The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Project Steve Tops 1100 Signatures!

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 27, 2009

Our friends at the National Center for Science Education have topped 1100 signatures to their Steve-O-Meter! For those who don’t know, Project Steve is an effort by the NCSE to show how bankrupt are the claims of creationists that a significant number of scientists “dissent from Darwinism”.

Creationist groups such as the Discovery Institute have engaged in a long-running campaign to fool the public into believing that there is a significant section of the scientific community that disagrees with evolutionary theory.  In their “dissent from Darwinism” campaign, they’ve claimed that as many as 400-500 prominent scientists believe that evolutionary science is defunct.

In response, the NCSE started Project Steve, named in honor of the late evolutionary biologist Stephen J. Gould, which allowed scientists to sign the following statement:

“Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to ‘intelligent design,’ to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation’s public schools.”

The upshot is that the only people allowed to sign onto Project Steve must be named Steve, Stephen, Stephanie, or some variation thereof.  Now, let’s examine the numbers… to date, Project Steve has garnered over 1100 signatories.  If we assume that only about 1% of scientists fall into this naming category (which seems a reasonable estimate), then that means that we can project that approximately 110,000 scientists have signed onto Project Steve!

And if we compare this to the creationist “dissent from Darwinism” (which allows signatories of any name), we see the following ratio…

Project Steve signers / creationist signers = 110,000 / 500 = 220 times!!!

That is, about 1/220 = 0.45% of scientists agree with the creationists in their lame attempts to distort evolutionary science.  Or, to put it more bluntly, roughly 99.55% of scientists agree that evolution is fully established science as outlined by the Project Steve statement.

Now, a discerning creationist critic might note that this argument is a version of the argument from popularity, and they would be exactly right.  But then they run into a contradiction within their own arguments, because their own “dissent from Darwinism” is also a similar kind of argument (which they conveniently ignore).  It just so happens that the pro-science side has the actual evidence on its side, which is precisely why so many scientists accept evolution.

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