New Battle on Peer Review

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New battle on peer review, according to article in This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 8 Sepember 2004. The scientific journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington recently published an article by Stephen Meyer from the USA based Discovery Institute advocating the theory of Intelligent Design to explain the complexity of living organisms and claiming that biological information cannot have arisen from Darwinian evolution. According to the usual practice of scientific journals, the article had been sent out for "peer review" before publication, i.e. sent to other scientists who were asked to critique and recommend it (or not) for publication.

The publication of the paper in a small, but mainstream, peer reviewed scientific journal has annoyed many evolutionary scientists, who regard Intelligent Design theory to be thinly disguised creationism and, as such, must not be allowed into the system. Kenneth Miller, a cell biologist of Brown University, Rhode Island and opponent of Stephen Meyer, believes Intelligent Design advocates will use Meyer’s paper to claim scientific validity for their ideas. He commented: "Peer review isn’t a guarantee of accuracy. That is especially true of review articles."

Editorial Comment: Miller is right on both counts. A paper published in a peer reviewed journal usually does give credibility in the scientific or educational literature. We have used this reference to back our case for creation in a debate.

Miller is also correct in claiming that peer review is no guarantee of truth. It merely indicates that the reviewers agree with the original authors, or at least think their ideas should be discussed seriously.

The process of peer review also means that if the "peers" have already decided it is wrong, or should not be discussed, it won’t be published, irrespective of how factual it is. The lack of creation-based research in mainstream peer reviewed journals is often used as an excuse for claiming that creation is unscientific. It merely indicates the peers of the mainstream journals have already made up their minds that creation is wrong. For example, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has made a formal declaration that Intelligent Design is wrong, evolution is true, and all efforts should be made by scientists to prevent the idea of an intelligent creator from being taught in schools and universities. (see below) AAAS is the publisher of the journal Science. Therefore, no peer reviewer for this journal is going to recommend a creation based article for publication. (Ref. peer review, design, science)

Statement on Intelligent Design from The American Association for the Advancement of Science:
Whereas, ID proponents claim that contemporary evolutionary theory is incapable of explaining the origin of the diversity of living organisms;
Whereas, to date, the ID movement has failed to offer credible scientific evidence to support their claim that ID undermines the current scientifically accepted theory of evolution;
Whereas, the ID movement has not proposed a scientific means of testing its claims;
Therefore Be It Resolved, that the lack of scientific warrant for so-called "intelligent design theory" makes it improper to include as a part of science education;
Therefore Be It Further Resolved, that AAAS urges citizens across the nation to oppose the establishment of policies that would permit the teaching of "intelligent design theory" as a part of the science curricula of the public schools;
Therefore Be It Further Resolved, that AAAS calls upon its members to assist those engaged in overseeing science education policy to understand the nature of science, the content of contemporary evolutionary theory and the inappropriateness of "intelligent design theory" as subject matter for science education;
Therefore Be It Further Resolved, that AAAS encourages its affiliated societies to endorse this resolution and to communicate their support to appropriate parties at the federal, state and local levels of the government.

Approved by the AAAS Board of Directors on 18 Oct 2002.

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