Re: [asa] Expelled and ID (ASA annual mtg.)

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Apr 24 2008 - 11:14:46 EDT

Here's the requested survey of the research program in progress.

----- Original Message -----
  From: David Opderbeck
  To: Rich Blinne
  Cc: Donald F Calbreath ; George Murphy ; asa
  Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2008 9:32 AM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Expelled and ID (ASA annual mtg.)

  Let's say this paper was properly peer reviewed. Who cares? One paper doesn't establish a vast movement. Rather than the nitty-gritty of the Myer paper review, I'd want to ask this: why haven't you established your own peer reviewed journal? Answering my own question, they have:

  So rather than smacking around these arguments about peer review in the mainstream literature, what about a survey of the research program in progress? (There seem to be some interesting philosophical / critique articles, but they seem to be a few years behind in getting out publications).

  On Thu, Apr 24, 2008 at 8:52 AM, Rich Blinne <> wrote:

    On Apr 23, 2008, at 4:02 PM, Donald F Calbreath wrote:

      As I recall, Meyer's paper underwent normal peer-review before appearing in print. Hardly smuggling, wouldn't you say?

      From: [] On Behalf Of George Murphy []
      Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 7:50 AM
      Subject: Re: [asa] Expelled and ID (ASA annual mtg.)

      There was a panel discussion on ID at the Messiah meeting in 2005. Two
      notable features of it were:

      1) The organizer deliberately excluded ant specifically theological
      critiuque of ID.

      2) Dembski said irenically in the course of the discussion that he didn't
      think that it was necessary to rule out theistic evolution. His performance
      since then gioves good reason to wonder how sincere he was about that.

      ID is a failed research program both scientifically and theologically. It
      has failed every attempt to make any positive contribution in either area &
      its attempt to give itself some credibility by such devices as smuggling
      Meyer's term paper into a peer-reviewed journal shows how pitiful it really




      The paper by Stephen C. Meyer, "The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories," in vol. 117, no. 2, pp. 213-239 of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, was published at the discretion of the former editor, Richard v. Sternberg. Contrary to typical editorial practices, the paper was published without review by any associate editor; Sternberg handled the entire review process. The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings because the subject matter represents such a significant departure from the nearly purely systematic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 122-year history. For the same reason, the journal will not publish a rebuttal to the thesis of the paper, the superiority of intelligent design (ID) over evolution as an explanation of the emergence of Cambrian body-plan diversity. The Council endorses a resolution on ID published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (, which observes that there is no credible scientific evidence supporting ID as a testable hypothesis to explain the origin of organic diversity. Accordingly, the Meyer paper does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings.

      We have reviewed and revised 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 improvements in the journal, the Society hopes not only to continue but to increase its service to the world community of systematic biologists.

    This above is the statement put out by the journal . The argument is in two parts. The first part is rock solid. The paper is way off topic for this journal. This is the basis for George's smuggling charge. Note what I emphasized, it did not go through normal peer review. It was this editorial misconduct that raised the ire of others. Others have noted that this wasn't always the case but it was typical. However, given something this controversial it really shouldn't have been given more sets of eyes and as Christians we should be "above reproach", avoiding even the appearance of impropriety. Furthermore, we still don't know who the peer reviewers are and thus cannot with any confidence know that it went through even "loose" review. Sternberg himself wasn't qualified to review this because his expertise was in very the systematics content of the journal itself. That's how editors are chosen, being experts in the field of the journal.
    The second part is circular and could take some revision because it sounds like they are giving no opportunity for a new testable hypothesis to be presented. If they took the time to note that the paper was not original research but a survey paper then the circularity could have be removed. My last sentence would have been:

      The Meyer paper because it is a survey paper and not original research continues in that tradition and adds no new testable hypothesis. As such, the Meyer paper does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings.

    Rich BlinneMember ASA

  David W. Opderbeck
  Associate Professor of Law
  Seton Hall University Law School
  Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

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Received on Thu Apr 24 11:17:48 2008

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