Why isn't intelligent design found published in mainstream peer-reviewed science journals? Darwinists use a similar rule—I call it “Catch-23”—to exclude intelligent design from science: intelligent design is not scientific, so it can’t be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. How do we know it’s not scientific? Because it isn’t published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Catch-23! 4
From Jonathan Wells Phd., A politically incorrect guide to Darwinism and intelligent design, page 111
A journal editor sends an article to several outside referees (“peer reviewers”) who advise the editor whether the article should be accepted as written, accepted only after revision, or rejected.
In 2003, Meyer submitted an article titled “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories” to the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. The article provided extensive references from the scientific literature to support Meyer’s argument that DNA carries complex specified information that cannot be produced solely by natural processes such as mutation and selection. Relying on an inference to the best explanation, Meyer concluded that intelligent design was the cause of the enormous increase in biological information required to produce the major animal body plans in the Cambrian explosion.
Meyer wrote: “Analysis of the problem of the origin of biological information . . . exposes a deficiency in the causal powers of natural selection that corresponds precisely to powers that agents are uniquely known to possess. Intelligent agents have foresight. Such agents can select functional goals before they exist.” Intelligent design theorists “are not positing an arbitrary explanatory element unmotivated by a consideration of the evidence. Instead, they are positing an entity possessing precisely the attributes and causal powers that the phenomenon in question requires.”1
Sternberg, was a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) with two doctoral degrees in evolutionary biology. Following standard procedure, Sternberg sent Meyer’s article to three reviewers, all of them evolutionary and molecular biologists at well-known institutions. The reviewers recommended that the article be published, though only after substantial revisions. Meyer revised his article in accordance with their recommendations, and the journal published it in August 2004. 2
When the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington published Meyer’s article proposing intelligent design as an explanation for the origin of biological information, all hell broke loose. Science journals regularly publish articles attacking intelligent design, but they routinely reject articles defending intelligent design. For example, Darwinists have criticized Michael Behe’s arguments for ID (Chapter Ten) in many peer-reviewed science journals, including Nature, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and the Quarterly Review of Biology. But those journals routinely refuse to publish Behe’s responses. One journal editor to whom Behe submitted a response cited a reviewer who wrote: “In this referee’s judgment, the manuscript of Michael Behe does not contribute anything useful to evolutionary science.” The editor of another journal wrote to Behe: “As you no doubt know,
our journal has supported and demonstrated a strong evolutionary position from the very beginning, and believes that evolutionary explanations of all structures and phenomena of life are possible and inevitable. Hence a position such as yours . . . cannot be appropriate for our pages.” 3
In Joseph Heller’s classic novel about World War II, Catch-22, an aviator could be excused from combat duty for being crazy. But a rule specified that he first had to request an excuse, and anyone who requested an excuse from combat duty was obviously not crazy, so such requests were invariably denied. The rule that made it impossible to be excused from combat duty was called “Catch-22.” 4
Why isn't intelligent design found published in peer-reviewed science journals? Darwinists use a similar rule—I call it “Catch-23”—to exclude intelligent design from science: intelligent design is not scientific, so it can’t be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. How do we know it’s not scientific? Because it isn’t published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Catch-23! 4
The 2004 publication of Meyer’s article shattered the rule. It also alarmed Darwinists at the Smithsonian Institution (SI), with which the Biological Society of Washington (BSW) is loosely affiliated. Smithsonian Darwinists teamed up with the militantly pro-Darwin National Center for Science Education (NCSE) to control the damage to their cause. NCSE staffers sent long, detailed emails attacking Meyer’s article to high officials at the Smithsonian. The NCSE then worked closely with Smithsonian employees to develop a strategy of character assassination to punish Sternberg for publishing the article. To protect himself, Sternberg lodged a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), established by Congress to investigate such cases. 5
To Dr. Richard Sternberg, concerning his treatment by the Smithsonian Institution (SI) after publishing a peer-reviewed article by Dr. Stephen C. Meyer on intelligent design: “Our
preliminary investigation indicates that retaliation came in many forms. It came in the form of attempts to change your working conditions. . . . During the process you were personally investigated and your professional competence was attacked. Misinformation was disseminated throughout the SI and to outside sources. The allegations against you were later determined to be false. It is also clear that a hostile work environment was created with the ultimate goal of forcing you out of the SI.” 6
In August 2005, the OSC sent Sternberg a letter notifying him that a recent administrative decision had removed his case from their jurisdiction, but confirming that “members of NCSE worked closely with SI and NMNH members in outlining a strategy to have you investigated and discredited,” noting that “OSC questions the use of appropriated funds to work with an outside advocacy group for this purpose.” The OSC letter also confirmed that the management of the Smithsonian had falsely accused Sternberg of mishandling specimens in his research and of violating Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington policies in the publication of Meyer’s article. These accusations “were published to several outside organizations,” severely damaging Sternberg’s reputation. The managers later admitted that the accusations were false, but the OSC saw no evidence that “any effort was made to recall or correct these comments once the truth was known.” There were other abuses, too, but since the OSC lost jurisdiction over the Sternberg case “the SI is now refusing to cooperate with our investigation.” Nevertheless, the OSC concluded that the management of the publicly funded Smithsonian Institution had deliberately “created a hostile working environment” for Sternberg, hoping that he would “leave or resign.”
To investigate the Darwinists’ accusation that Sternberg had circumvented the normal peer-review process, the president of the Council of the BSW reviewed the file, and he found that the peer review had been properly conducted. Nevertheless, the council subsequently issued a statement declaring that “the Meyer paper does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings.” Although the BSW stopped short of formally retracting the article, the Darwinists did not end their ruthless campaign of character assassination against Sternberg. Catch-23 is still enforced by most science journals, but it is now supplemented with an additional rule: if intelligent design theorists do manage to publish in a peer-reviewed science journal, Darwinists will make sure the editor suffers grievously for it. 8
1) Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117 (2004), 213–39.
2) Meyer’s article itself is available online: http://www.discovery.org/a/2177
4) Jonathan Wells, “Catch-23,” Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology, July/August 2002. Available online (April 2006) at:
5) Jim Giles, “Peer-reviewed paper defends theory of intelligent design,” Nature 431 (2004): 114. Trevor Stokes, “Intelligent design study appears,” The Scientist 5 (September 3, 2004): 4. Available online (April 2006) at: http://www.the-scientist.com/news/20040903/04/
6) U.S. Office of Special Counsel, 2005
7) David Klinghoffer, “The Branding of a Heretic,” Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2005.
8 Richard Monastersky, “Biology Journal Says It Mistakenly Published paper That Attacks Darwinian Evolution,” Chronicle of Higher Education Daily News, September 10, 2004. “Statement from the Council of the Biological Society of Washington,”
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