Thursday, September 16, 2004

The evolution of peer review...

Check Albert Mohler's post, Panicked Evolutionists: The Stephen Meyer Controversy, for his analysis of the recent hoopla regarding the Discovery Institute's Stephen Meyer being published in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. One of the battle cries amongst evolutionists is that proponents of Intelligent Design have not published work in peer reviewed journals. Yet, as Mohler states,
Eugenie C. Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, told The Scientist that Dr. Meyer's article came to her attention when members of the Biological Society of Washington contacted her office. "Many members of the society were stunned about the article," she told The Scientist, and she described the article as "recycled material quite common in the intelligent design community." Dr. Scott, a well known and ardent defender of evolutionary theory, called Dr. Meyer's article "substandard science" and argued that the article should never have been published in any scientific journal.
It would appear that the bluff has been called and the evolutionists have laid their cards on the table.

1 comment:

Rusty said...

I'm a little puzzled. The impression I've gained of Meyer's paper is that it is poorly written - that *even if* it described reality, it's so flawed as a scholarly work that it shouldn't have passed peer review. For example, one quote is:

"For over three billion years, the biological realm included little more than bacteria and algae (Brocks et al. 1999)."

The Brocks paper, as a matter of *fact* (not opinion), doesn't say or imply that.

Once the sloppiness of the paper was revealed members of the Society, understandably, objected. How is this calling anyone's 'bluff'?
Paul | Email | Homepage | 09.16.04 - 1:43 pm | #


If the article is as poorly written as some people claim and it still made it into a peer-reviewed journal, what does that say about peer-review? How many other journal articles get published every year that are just as poor as Meyer's? Could peer-review perhaps not be the be-all and end-all of good science?
Macht | Homepage | 09.16.04 - 9:53 pm | #


It turns out in this case that the DI had a sympathetic pal on the editorial staff who snuck the paper past the normal review process.

But it was enjoyable. The resulting critques, many written by devout Christian scientists like Wes Elseberry on The Panda's Thumb, have been a hoot to read. And it gives many scientists, who don't normally give mythologically explanations a second glance, some insight into the level of dishonesty the IDC, and by proxy some elements in the Religious Right, is willing to stoop in the name of their righteous cause. The best way to blow the cover off an org who claims to be interested in moral and physical truth is to expose them lying their brains out publicly.
DarkSyde | Email | 09.17.04 - 7:42 am | #


A complaint from the evolutionists has been that ID articles have not appeared in peer reviewed journals. While this appears to be a valid complaint, the reaction of the scientific community with regards to Meyer's article is revealing. Instead of welcoming the fact that ID is attempting to gain a peer reviewed audience, we have claims that the article is simply recycled ID propaganda and should never have been published.

Their bluff has been called, and the sci-community has made it known that they will not allow scientific inquiry of ID. Dogmatic as they are, they are not fools, for they know that once one ID article is received, others will follow.
Rusty Lopez | Email | Homepage | 09.17.04 - 8:10 am | #


IDC has been 'attempting' to gain peer review for some time. It's one of the primary three modes of attack outlined in Phillip Johnson's wegde document. It's nothing new at all. Before IDC, it was YEC (YECists were so cute!) No one welcomes pseudoscientific drivel attempting to steal credibility with the possible exception of the followers of the drivel in question.
For example, I doubt you would 'welcome' attempts by Hindu fundamentalists to get their mythology into American science classes or peer reviewed Journals. You make an exception for the IDC drivel because it jives with your own ANE mythos.
DarkSyde | Email | 09.17.04 - 8:46 am | #


Rusty, do you think that misquoting scientific papers is good for ID? Is that how you want ID to prove its claims, by lieing? Because if that's the standarrd I can 'prove' that ID is wrong, and for that matter 'prove' any scurrilous claim you like about Jesus.
Paul | Email | Homepage | 09.17.04 - 8:52 am | #


BTW I expect Bill Dembski will get some stuff published, or at least try, now that he's leaving mainstream academia for theology. In his current position as a tenured Prof at Baylor, he cannot publish fraudulent material or the school will come down hard on him along with the rest of the academic world. That consequence looses much of it's impact if he's no longer a mainstream academician but a glorified preacher. In fact, he can play up the martyr angle if he get's reamed in the journals for lying* dishonest material. So we'll be having lots of stuff to discuss with Dembski in the next few years I'm sure. (*This was one of the things that amazed me when I began to learn about this creationism stuff. I knew that there was some dishonesty in the religious right, but I had no idea the entire ideology was completely based on duplicity. Creationism has been a real eye opener.)
DarkSyde | Email | 09.17.04 - 8:55 am | #


Rusty, you say "...the reaction of the scientific community with regards to Meyer's article is revealing. Instead of welcoming the fact that ID is attempting to gain a peer reviewed audience..."

But the first critique on the Panda's Thumb opens with this "We congratulate ID on finally getting an article in a peer-reviewed biology journal... It is gratifying to see the ID movement finally attempt to make their case to the only scientifically relevant group, professional biologists. This is therefore the beginning (not the end) of the review process for ID. Perhaps one day the scientific community will be convinced that ID is worthwhile. Only through this route — convincing the scientific community, a route already taken by plate tectonics, endosymbiosis, and other revolutionary scientific ideas — can ID earn a legitimate place in textbooks."
xray | Email | 09.17.04 - 11:15 am | #


X! Where've you been?

Okay, TPT also says, The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (PBSW) is a respected, if somewhat obscure, biological journal specializing in papers of a systematic and taxonomic nature, such as the description of new species. A review of issues in evolutionary theory is decidedly not its typical fare, even disregarding the creationist nature of Meyer’s paper. The fact that the paper is both out of the journal’s typical sphere of publication, as well as dismal scientifically, raises the question of how it made it past peer review.
Rusty | Email | Homepage | 09.17.04 - 8:30 pm | #


The answer probably lies in the editor, Richard von Sternberg. Sternberg happens to be a creationist and ID fellow traveler who is on the editorial board of the Baraminology Study Group at Bryan College in Tennessee. (The BSG is a research group devoted to the determination of the created kinds of Genesis. We are NOT making this up!) Sternberg was also a signatory of the Discovery Institute’s “100 Scientists Who Doubt Darwinism” statement. [3] Given R. v. Sternberg’s creationist leanings, it seems plausible to surmise that the paper received some editorial shepherding through the peer review process. Given the abysmal quality of the science surrounding both information theory and the Cambrian explosion, it seems unlikely that it received review by experts in those fields. One wonders if the paper saw peer review at all.

How 'bout I split the difference with you and state that it was, "a cautionary, if not skeptical, welcome by the scientific community..."
Rusty | Email | Homepage | 09.17.04 - 8:33 pm |