Do Discovery Institute Fellows read the scientific literature?

Having read an earlier book by Stephen Meyer (see No Signature in the Cell), I was distinctly underwhelmed by his grasp of biology and had no great desire to read his latest ‘work’, Darwin’s Doubt. It’s notable that the reviews that I’ve read on the web fall into two camps. On the one hand, the lay audience quite frequently laps this stuff up, particularly where the reader is predisposed to do so by religious belief, while on the other had reviews by people with some actual scientific expertise have been uniformly damning (see for example this by Nick Matzke over at Panda’s Thumb: Meyer’s Hopeless Monster, Part II). Sitting somewhere in the middle is the review by the author of the Smilodon’s Retreat blog (Darwin’s Doubt – A Review), who appears to be located between the informed lay person and practising scientist (he’s a teacher): every reference made by Meyer is being subjected to scrutiny, and generally found wanting in some respect.

In a recent post (McDonald – The Great Darwinian Paradox), Smilodon’s Retreat addresses one of the long-standing repeated citations in the canon of works in Intelligent Design creationism, that of the Great Darwinian Paradox, beginning with Behe in 1996 and continuing through to Darwin’s Doubt in 2013. The conclusion? That Discotute Fellows are being not only selective in how they refer to McDonald’s review article, but are at best “economical with the truth“. Quote-mining is a characteristic of creationist writing – see The Quote Mine Project for examples – and it would seem that as a variety of creationism, Intelligent Design creationsm is no exception.

It seems pretty clear not only that the detailed review of Darwin’s Doubt is revealing a concerted effort to distort the reality of evolutionary biology and allied disciplines to provide a platform for the God of the Gaps concept of Intelligent Design creationism, but that disentangling the inaccuracies and deliberate obfuscation in the book requires quite a dedication in time and effort. More than I, for example, can offer. The author of the Smilodon’s Retreat review deserves applause for his effort. Sadly, this appears to be taking a toll on his time, and the approach to the review has changed (A Change to the Darwin’s Doubt Reviews).



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