Monday, November 16, 2009

The ID Cookie Crumbles...


During this year of celebration of Darwin and evolutionary biology, Intelligent Design (ID) supporters are fond of asserting that a branch of the biological sciences that currently accounts for over 100 regularly published journals (containing over 1000 peer-reviewed scientific reports) per year, over 1000 books published by reputable scientific publishers per year, and involving grant and foundation support amounting to several billion dollars per year is "crumbling", while ID, which accounts for not one peer-reviewed scientific journal and one peer-reviewed book (published over a decade ago) is replacing it.

I can go to Mann Library here at Cornell (the second largest library of biology in the world, comprising over a million books and bound periodicals) and find the equivalent of an entire floor devoted to evolutionary biology. I couldn't carry this month's issues of the various journals devoted to evolutionary biology to the loan desk, even if I used a large laundry basket and made several trips. I have a paltry selection of the most current books on the subject of evolution in my personal library: only 1000+ volumes published in the past ten years or so. If I had unlimited funds, I could buy ten times as many, and still could not keep up with the field.

Virtually every large university in the world has a department of ecology and evolutionary biology. Here at Cornell we have such a department, with almost two dozen professors and dozens of graduate students, and there are at least five other departments at Cornell who number evolutionary biologists among their members. There are almost half a dozen undergraduate and graduate organizations devoted to the scientific aspects of evolutionary biology at Cornell; branches of such societies are found worldwide.

By contrast, there are two tenured professors in the entire world who explicitly support ID, only one of whom is in a department devoted to an empirical science (the other teaches at a theological seminary). Neither of them is currently engaged in empirical research intended to validate ID.

Of the 35+ undergraduate IDEA clubs (a very liberal estimate) that were founded during the heyday of ID (the late 1990s and early 2000s), not one is currently maintaining a website or apparently meeting regularly. And according to Google Trends, interest by the news media in ID has fallen almost to zero since the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in late 2005, while interest in evolutionary biology is at an all-time high and still increasing with no end in sight.

So, based on the empirical evidence, which is "crumbling", evolutionary biology or ID?

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As always, comments, criticisms, and suggestions are warmly welcomed!

--Allen

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