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Peer-Review, Intelligent Design, and John Derbyshire's New Bumper Sticker (Part II)

In Part I, I responded to John Derbyshire's points about ID and peer-review. Part II will rebut some of the false claims on the TalkOrigins webpage cited by Mr. Derbyshire. I will finish this post with Part III later this week.

Firstly, the TalkOrigins webpage claims there should be more pro-ID peer-reviewed papers "especially considering the long history and generous funding of the movement." This statement is highly ironic! The money available for ID research is dwarfed by evolution-funding. Tens of millions of dollars in grants are given to evolution research each year. Because Darwinists hold the purse-strings, design theorists have little-to-no chance of obtaining an NSF grant to explicitly investigate ID. Indeed, the NCSE got over $450,000 from the NSF just to design a pro-evolution-science/theology website! The comparison cited by Mr. Derbyshire is completely backwards.

Moreover, the comparison falsely portrays ID proponents as if they do not do research. The Research Fellowship Program has been by far the single largest program expense of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. From 1996-2005, total expenditures of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture were approximately $9.8 million. Direct expenditures on research fellowships accounted for approximately $3.7 million (or 38%) of this figure. Important note: The $3.7 million amount does not include money for staff support or overhead costs (such as accounting) relating to the administration of the fellowship program.

The Talk Origins Bumper Sticker:
Derbyshire's Double-Standard

The TalkOrigins webpage asserts that some of the publications cited as pro-ID and peer-reviewed don't count because they don't mention ID or do not talk about design. While some of the publications do not say "intelligent design," they're all by proponents of ID who are supporting key arguments under the theory of intelligent design in the statements, citations, and research. This represents a standard high enough to qualify as a "peer-reviewed" pro-evolution paper in the eyes of Judge Jones. After all, Judge Jones cited papers as proof for evolutionary biology claims, even if they didn't contain the phrase for which he cited them.

For example, Judge Jones wrote that "Dr. Miller refuted Pandas' claim that evolution cannot account for new genetic information and pointed to more than three dozen peer-reviewed scientific publications showing the origin of new genetic information by evolutionary processes." (Kitzmiller v. Dover, 400 F.Supp. 2d 707, 744 (2005)). Miller's discussion relied entirely upon the review article "The Origin of New Genes: Glimpses From the Young and Old" (by Manyuan Long, et al., Nature Reviews Genetics (4):865-875 (Nov., 2003)) and its citations to provide the "more than three dozen" articles. Yet the body text of the article does not even contain the word "information", much less the phrase "new genetic information." The word "information" appears once in the entire Long et al. article--in the title of reference #103.

I'm not saying that Long, et al.'s article cannot be cited to argue that evolution can produce new information. But because it does not say "information," it should fail the TalkOrigins standard of a peer-reviewed article cited to explain "the origin of new genetic information?" By citing both the TalkOrigins page and Judge Jones's decision as valid sources, John Derbyshire promotes a double standard, because TalkOrigins holds "peer-reviewed" pro-ID papers to a higher standard than Judge Jones held "peer-reviewed" pro-evolution papers.

John Derbyshire should not cite to TalkOrigins pages as if they are unadulterated truth. It would be better if he carefully constructed his own arguments and put them on his blog, rather than simply blindly citing to TalkOrigins as if it preaches truth. That way we can know that he has taken the time to research his claims carefully and has done some background checking to verify that they are true.