Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The Meyer Fiasco, II

Meanwhile, The National Center for Science Education is reporting that the Biological Society of Washington, the group that publishes the journal in which Meyer's papaer appeared, has weighed in with this statement:

The paper by Stephen C. Meyer in the Proceedings (“The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” vol. 117, no. 2, pp. 213-239) represents a significant departure from the nearly purely taxonomic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 124-year history. It was published without the prior knowledge of the Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, or the associate editors. We have met and determined that all of us would have deemed this paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings.

We endorse the spirit of a resolution on Intelligent Design set forth by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and that topic will not be addressed in future issues of the Proceedings. We are reviewing editorial policies to ensure that the goals of the Society, as reflected in its journal, are clearly understood by all. Through a web presence ( and contemplated improvements in the journal, the Society hopes not only to continue but to increase its service to the world community of taxonomic biologists.

Based on this statement, it seems clear that the normal editorial process was not followed in this case. I'd still like to know more about those three stellar referrees, however.

Another question is raised by the BSW statement: The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington is a fairly obscure journal that primarily publishes articles in the subject of taxonomy. Why, then, did Meyer choose to send his paper to this journal? Was it because he knew the editor, Richard Sternberg, would give the paper preferential treatment? Given that Sternberg did not follow the normal procedures of the journal, that seems all too plausible.


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