Monday, February 12, 2007

Evolution by the Numbers

Last week, Bob talked about how 100 more scientists signed some sort of statement refuting the science of evolution, thus bringing the number of signers to a grand total of 700! Here is the press release from the Discovery Institute, the folks who brought you the losing side of the Kitzmiller v. Dover intelligent design case.

Bob's logically fallacy here is referred to as an argumentum ad populum, i.e., an appeal to the people, also known as the "bandwagon fallacy." Such an argument concludes that a proposition is true because many or all people believe it. However, just because a lot of people believe something is true doesn't make it so. If it did, the Earth would be flat and the Sun would revolve this flat Earth once every day.

That being said, it's interesting to point out that the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has compiled a similar list of scientists who understand and support the science of evolution. NCSE's list is currently at 787 scientists.

Wow! you might say, the NSCE's list is about the same number as the Discovery Institute's list! Well, yes and no. You see, the NSCE's list is comprised entirely of people named Steve to honor the late Stephen Jay Gould. Since people named Steve total only about 1% of the total population, it's possible to extrapolate that tens of thousands of scientists would have signed the NSCE's list.

But instead of competing lists of scientists, the best way to understand evolution is to understand its theories and examine the evidence for yourself.

1 comment:

Lumberjack said...

About eight times a week, Bob makes two related statements. First, he says, “Science supports creation and not evolution.” Second, he explains creationist views are “censored” our of school text books, museums and mainstream media reports. Evolutionists “Control” the peer review process, you see. He says schools don’t teach enough science -- if “enough” science was taught, creation would be obvious to all.

Sounds great I suppose, to most of Bob’s audience but he overlooks one important characteristic of discourse in the scientific marketplace of ideas. The “censorship” he complains of can and would be overcome in due course were his first statement true.

The most enduring names in science belong to those who upset the establishment – that showed dominant ideas at the time to be false. Galileo is the obvious name, but think of others -- Kepler, Pasteur, Franklin, Newton, Einstein, Harvey, Snow and so on. If indeed, as Bob says, “science supports creation,” peer-reviewed publications and PowerPoint presentations at professional associations will show that. Creationists will have to pay their dues by following the same processes other scientists do, but they refuse. Instead they stage “debates,” publish books and launch publicity programs.

Nowhere are there creationists striving diligently, with requisite rigor and discipline, to upset the establishment view of evolution. Instead of presenting their evidence, they whine about being shut out of the arena.