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The Scientists-Versus-Scientific-Spokesmen Divide

Here's more from Stephen Meyer on the theme -- sounded in his debate with Karl Giberson -- that working scientists are far more doubtful about Darwinian orthodoxy than you'd ever know from media commentators and scientific spokesmen. It turns out the public is, by the same token, more in line with scientific skepticism than, once again, Darwin's defenders would give you to understand.

World Magazine notes a recent AP poll showing a majority dubious of unguided evolution, and asked Meyer for his response ("Scientists stunned by the public's doubt of Darwin"):

"They tend to be skeptical about ... theories that are about events that are in the remote past, which are essentially historical in character and which cannot be verified in the same way that you would verify things in the laboratory," said Meyer, who has written two books making the case for intelligent design. "So I don't find this surprising, and I think it's overall evidence of the public's good horse sense in being able to distinguish ideology from scientific facts and evidence."

Where Meyer cast the debate over evolution vs. intelligent design as philosophy vs. fact, many scientists the AP interviewed saw it the other way around. They dismissed the public's skepticism of Darwinian evolution as "scientific ignorance" -- facts versus faith. Nobel Prize-winning biochemistry professor Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University attributed the poll results to "the force of concerted campaigns to discredit scientific fact," citing significant interest groups -- political, business, and religious -- campaigning against scientific truths on vaccines, climate change, and evolution.

Meyer said that view under-represents the real facts being discovered in evolutionary biology.

"Very few leading evolutionary biologists today think that natural selection and random mutation are sufficient to produce the new forms of life we see arising in the history of life," Meyer said. "And then when the public is catching wind of the scientific doubts of Darwinian evolution and expresses them in a poll like this, these self-appointed spokesmen for science say that the public is ignorant. But actually, the public is more in line with what's going on in science than these spokesmen for science."

So what you have is a very interesting contrast between science and what people say who claim speak in the name of science. Another good reminder that every thoughtful person is under an obligation to educate himself on vital subjects like evolution rather than rely on spoon-feeding from the media or the usual roundup of Internet evolution apologists.

I'm on Twitter. Find me @d_klinghoffer.