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Project Steve – the petition about science that actually supports science

Some of you know about Project Steve. Most probably don’t. So what is Project Steve?

Well, it is a tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic, humorous parody of the various declarations, petitions, and proclamations that science deniers use to “prove” there is a controversy about science, usually climate change, HIV/AIDS, evolution, and most recently, COVID-19.

One of the most famous is the Scientific Dissent from Darwinism (SDD), set up by the Seattle based, intelligent design think-tank (yes, you probably see all the irony). One more thing – Darwinism is one of those creationist code words that doesn’t mean what they think it means.

Although Charles Darwin was one of the first scientists to recognize evolution and natural selection, that was over 150 years ago. We know so much more about evolution today including the existence of DNA, genes, mutations, and so much more. Modern evolutionary biology has its roots in Darwin, but it has “evolved” far beyond what Darwin understood.

The Scientific Dissent from Darwinism

The Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, which was started in 2001, states:

We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.

Since 2001, they have gotten about 1000 signatures from Ph.D.-level scientists, of which only about 250 are biologists. The remainder of the signatories are engineers (not basic science, let alone biological science) to meteorologists to physicians (again, not a basic science discipline).

Now, science is not a democracy, and we don’t vote to determine what we accept as real science. But let’s assume it is subject to a vote, and let’s allow the 1000 so-called scientists on the SDD list who claim to “dissent from Darwinism” to vote because we’re nice. Out of the 1,000,000 or so research biologists in the United States, the creationists get about 0.01% of the vote. In a democracy, that would be considered a landslide. In fact, we’d be making jokes about the losers of such a vote.

But the creationist crowd wants the public to think there’s a big controversy about evolution, when in fact, the only dissenters are non-scientists and a microscopic number of biologists. Every time we hear there’s a controversy, we all laugh, then realize that the creationists win the argument.

This is not the Steve you’re looking for.

What is Project Steve

In 2003, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) started the tongue-in-cheek Project Steve (named for Stephen Jay Gould), treating the creationist propaganda lists with all of the respect it deserved, which is nothing.  Project Steve was simply a list of Steve’s (including Stephanie, Stephan, Steven, Estaban, and other derivations of Steve) with Ph.D.s who supported the theory and fact of evolution.

The signatories agreed to the statement that:

Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selectionis a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to “intelligent design,” to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation’s public schools.

As of July 2020, Project Steve has gathered 1,457 signatures of Steves, Stephanies, etc. with PhDs who support the science of evolution. What does this mean? Absolutely nothing and that is precisely the point. 

Even if these 1400 or so Steve PhDs are the greatest scientists on earth, it should not matter. The fact that they are all Steve PhDs AND support the science of evolution because of the mountain of evidence should be much more impressive. 


Michael Simpson
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