SEATTLE--In an ironic greeting to the seven-part public television
series "Evolution" that begins tonight, 100 scientists have declared
that they "are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation
and natural selection to account for the complexity of life." The
signers say, "Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian
theory should be
Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based public policy center, compiled
the list of statement signers (attached). Among other things, the
long list may help to answer the contention of designated
spokespeople for the series "Evolution" that "virtually all reputable
scientists in the world" support Darwin's theory. Institute officials
charge that officials of WGBH/Clear Blue Sky Productions have used
that contention to keep any scientific criticism of Darwinism from
being acknowledged or examined in the eight-hour series.
"They want people to think that the only criticism of Darwin's theory
today is from religious fundamentalists," said Discovery president
Bruce Chapman. "They routinely try to stigmatize scientists who
question Darwin as 'creationists'."
Chemist and five time Nobel nominee, Henry "Fritz" Schaefer of the
Georgia, commented on the need to encourage debate on Darwin's theory
of evolution. "Some defenders of Darwinism," says Schaefer, "embrace
standards of evidence for evolution that as scientists they would
never accept in other circumstances." Schaefer was on the roster of
signers of the statement, termed "A Scientific Dissent on Darwinism."
Meanwhile, a Zogby Poll released today shows overwhelming public support--81
percent--for the position that "When public broadcasting networks
discuss Darwin's theory of evolution, they should present the
scientific evidence for it, but also the scientific evidence against
it." Only 10 percent support presenting "only the scientific evidence
that supports" Darwin's theory. (Less than 10 percent said "Neither"
or "Not sure.")
"Public television producers are clearly at odds with overwhelming
public sentiment in favor of hearing all scientific sides of the
debate," said Chapman, a former Director of the US Census Bureau.
"The huge majorities in the poll cross every demographic, regional
and political line in America." The national sample of 1,202 adults
was conducted by Zogby International from August 25-29. The margin of
error is +/-3.0%.
Discovery Institute commissioned the Zogby poll, though the survey
itself was designed by the Zogby organization. It also included
questions on education and "intelligent design," a theory that some
scientific critics of Darwin support. (That theory makes no religious
claims, but says that the best natural evidence for life's origins
points to design rather than a process of random mutation and natural
selection.) Discovery Institute last week also opened a special
website (www.reviewevolution.org) to critique the WGBH/Clear Blue Sky
series in a scholarly "Viewer's Guide." Discovery officials say that
the website analyzes all program segments in the series and has
uncovered numerous scientific and
historical errors, exaggerations and omissions. Full results of the
Zogby poll also are available on the website.
"The numbers of scientists who question Darwinism is a minority, but
it is growing fast," said Stephen Meyer, a Cambridge-educated
philosopher of science who directs the Center for the Renewal of
Science and Culture at Discovery Institute. "This is happening in the
face of fierce attempts to intimidate and suppress legitimate
dissent. Young scientists are threatened with deprivation of tenure.
Others have seen a consistent pattern of answering scientific
arguments with ad hominem attacks. In particular, the series' attempt
to stigmatize all critics--including scientists--as religious
'creationists' is an excellent example of viewpoint discrimination."
Signers of the statement questioning Darwinism came from throughout
the US and from several other countries, representing biology,
physics, chemistry, mathematics, geology, anthropology and other
scientific fields. Professors and researchers at such universities as
Princeton, MIT, U Penn, and Yale, as well as smaller colleges and the
National Laboratories at Livermore, CA and Los Alamos, N.M., are
included. A number of the signers have authored or contributed to
books on issues related to evolution, or have books underway.
Despite repeated requests, the series' producers refused to cover
scientific objections to Darwinism. Instead, the producers offered
only to let scientific dissenters go on camera to tell their
"personal faith stories" in the last program of the series, "What
According to Discovery's Chapman, "This was almost an insult to
serious scientists. Some of these dissenting scientists are not even
religious. When you watch that last program, you realize they were
wise to refuse to take part in it."
Jed Macosko, a young research molecular biologist at the University
of California, Berkeley, and a statement signer, said, "It is time
for defenders of Darwin to engage in serious dialogue and debate with
their scientific critics. Science can't grow where institutional
gatekeepers try to prevent new challengers from being heard."