Monday, September 27, 2004

The Meyer Fiasco, Overview

Recently ID proponent Stephen Meyer got an explicitly pro-ID paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Procedings of the Biological Society of Washington. The paper contained no original research, but was simply a review article criticizing aspects of current evolutionary thinking. It was a major propaganda victory for the ID folks.

Cracks started to appear pretty quickly. Alan Gishlik, Nicholas Matzke and Wesley Elsberry wrote a scathing critique of the article, available here. They pointed out that all of Meyer's major arguments were simply wrong, that he overlooked many relevant papers, and misrepresented many of the papers he did cite. Nearly all of their 6000+ word reply dealt specifically with the scientific claims of Meyer's paper. This fact did not stop the ID folks claiming that the Darwinian establishment was replying with slurs and ad hominems. The Discovery Institute's thoughts on the subject can be found here. Also typical are these bloviations from Agape Press. As far as I know, neither Meyer nor any of his supporters have offered any detailed reply to the scientific criticisms made by Gishlik, Matzke and Elsberry (though there have been a few blog entries in pro-ID blogs about it).

The next blow to land was this statement from the Biological Society of Washington (BSW). They pointed out that a review article of the sort Meyer wrote was outside the usual province of the journal. They further asserted that, save for the editor responsible for the publication of the paper, the entire Council felt the paper was inappropriate for the journal. They also pointed out that they did not know about the paper until it was actually published. This seemed a trifle unusual, to say the least.

The latest development is that the editor of the journal responsible for publishing the paper, Richard von Sternberg, has now set up a website replying to some of the criticisms that have been made. That is the subject of the next post.

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