A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism - Responses - Affiliations and Credentials

Affiliations and Credentials

Barbara Forrest and Glenn Branch say the Discovery Institute deliberately misrepresents the institutional affiliations of signatories of the statement A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. The institutions appearing in the list are the result of a conscious choice by the Discovery Institute to only present the most prestigious affiliations available for an individual. For example, if someone was trained at a more prestigious institution than the one they are presently affiliated with, the school they graduated from will more often be listed, without the distinction being made clear in the list. This is contrary to standard academic and professional practice and, according to Forrest and Branch, is deliberately misleading.

For example, the institutions listed for Raymond G. Bohlin, Fazale Rana, and Jonathan Wells, were the University of Texas at Dallas, Ohio University, and the University of California, Berkeley respectively, the schools from which they obtained their Ph.D. degrees. However, their present affiliations are quite different: Probe Ministries for Bohlin, the Reasons to Believe Ministry for Rana, and the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture for Wells. Many of those who have signed the list are not currently active scientists, and some have never worked as scientists. Also, if a signatory was previously the head of a department or the president of an institute, their past and most prestigious position will be listed, not their current position.

Visitors at prestigious institutions will have that affiliation listed, not their more humble home institutions. For example, Bernard d'Abrera, a writer and publisher of books on butterflies, appears on the list as "Visiting Scholar, Department of Entomology British Museum (Natural History)", in spite of the fact that this museum had become independent of the British Museum three decades previously and had formally changed its name to the Natural History Museum almost a decade before the petition. d'Abrera's primary affiliation is with his publishing company, Hill House Publishers. d'Abrera does not have a PhD either, nor any formal scientific qualification (his undergraduate degree was a double major in History & Philosophy of Science, and History), although creationists often call him "Dr. d'Abrera". The Discovery Institute currently recruits people with PhDs to sign the Dissent petition.

At least one other signatory, Forrest Mims, has neither a PhD nor any formal academic training in science. Additionally, at least seven signatories have their advanced degrees from outside the areas of "engineering, mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry, or one of the other natural sciences" that are currently being recruited: Ronald R. Crawford has his Ed.D. in Science Education, David Berlinski has his PhD in Philosophy, Tom McMullen has his PhD in the History & Philosophy of Science, Angus Menuge has his PhD in the Philosophy of Psychology, and Stephen Meyer has his PhD in the Philosophy of Science; and at least six, Jeffrey M. Schwartz, Ricardo León Borquez (incorrectly listed as "Ricardo Leon"), Gage Blackstone, Daniel Galassini, Mary A. Brown and Thomas C. Majerus, have professional doctorates (such as an MD, DVM or PharmD), rather than holding a research doctorate (such as a PhD).

Also, in early editions of the list, Richard Sternberg was described as "Richard Sternberg, Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution" though Sternberg was never a Smithsonian staff member, but an unpaid research associate. At the time of signing the list Sternberg was the outgoing editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a minor biology journal, where he played a central role in a peer-review controversy. Later versions of the list mention Sternberg's affiliation with Sternberg's alma maters, Florida International University and Binghamton University. At present Sternberg is a Staff Scientist with GenBank, the genetic database at the National Institutes of Health.

Critics also say the Discovery Institute inflates the academic credentials and affiliations of signatories such as Henry F. Schaefer. The institute prominently and frequently asserts that Schaefer has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Barbara Forrest and others allege that the Discovery Institute is inflating his reputation by constantly referring to him as a "five-time nominee for the Nobel Prize" despite that Nobel Prize nominations remain confidential for fifty years and there being about 250-300 nominations per prize per year.

By analysing the data for 34 British, or British-trained signatories of the Dissent list, the anti-creationist British Centre for Science Education raised doubts about the claimed affiliations and relevant expertise of those on the list.

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