A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism
A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism is a list produced by the Discovery Institute to support its claims of scientific validity for intelligent design. The list was advertised in prominent periodicals such as The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and The Weekly Standard in October and November 2001, "to rebut bogus claims by Darwinists that no reputable scientists are skeptical of Darwinism" with particular reference to 2001 PBS: Evolution documentaries by "producing a list of 100 scientific dissenters. The Discovery Institute has continued to collect signatures, reporting 300 in 2004, over 400 in 2005, over 600 in 2006, and 700 in 2007. Subscribers to the list, claim that:
|“||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.||”|
On November 29, 2001, the National Center for Science Education produced a critique, describing the wording of the statement and of the advertisement as misleading, and noting that of the 105 "scientists" listed, 41 were biologists, with the remainder including engineers, mathematicians and philosophers, and that none of those listed was recognizable as a prominent contributor to the scientific literature debating the role of natural selection in evolution. From interviewing a sample of the signatories they found that some were less critical of "Darwinism" than the advertisement claimed. A February 2006 New York Times article criticized A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, pointing out that only 25% of the signatories were biologists and a sampling of those signing "suggest(s) that many are evangelical Christians, whose doubts about evolution grew out of their religious beliefs." The Discovery Institute response claimed that the article had missed the point, and that "engineers and other scientists have realized that the primary problems facing modern evolutionary theory are engineering problems" Many groups have compared the 700 Darwin Dissenters to the roughly 955,300 biological scientists that existed in the US in 1999.
Possible Overestimation of Figures
A large fraction of the Darwin Dissenters are mathematicians, engineers, physicists, engineers and others who never deal with evolution professionally. Ken Chang of the New York Times found that in February of 2006, about 75.1% of the Darwin Dissenters were not biologists. Therefore, the roughly 150 biologist Darwin Dissenters represent about 0.0157% of the US biologists that existed in 1999. In other words 99.9843% of biologists in The US either support Evolution or haven't signed the poll while it has been open.
It is likely that there were more biologists and earth scientists in the US in 2007 than there were in 1999. The number of people graduating in biology and the net increase in biologists through immigration have probably continued to increase, so that the figure of 955,000 is likely an underestimate of the number of US biologists in 2007.
The list of Darwin Dissenters includes many foreign scientists, which also results in an overestimate of the percentage of scientists that do not accept evolution.