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Anti-ID Bias in Journal of the History of Biology

Casey Luskin

David Sepkoski’s recent literature review (“Worldviews in Collision: Recent Literature on the Creation*Evolution Divide”) in Journal of the History of Biology provides another illustration of the fact that many science journals are biased against intelligent design. He uses pejorative language against ID, claiming its proponents engage in a “guerilla campaign,” calling specified complexity “Dembski’s hobby-horse,” and asserting that Stephen Meyer’s article contains a “confused interpretation of the Cambrian explosion” (though Sepkoski provides no specifics to bolster his point). Given the pejorative language, could the anti-ID bias in the scientific community be any clearer?

Sepkoski’s omissions are more interesting than what he includes. He reviews no books by scientific proponents of intelligent design, such as The Privileged Planet, which was published in the same time period as other books Sepkoski reviews. But there is good reason why Sepkoski doesn’t review any ID books. He believes that even mentioning them will add legitimacy to ID. Sepkoski explains that many in the scientific community have blasted Michael Ruse for merely co-editing an academic book on ID with William Dembski:

Some critics have noted that Ruse has of late gotten a bit too chummy with certain creationists, specifically with Dembski, with whom he edited the collection of essays Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA. Others have publicly worried that by agreeing to participate in such an enterprise at all, Ruse has wittingly or unwittingly helped ID proponents claim legitimacy for their position.

Sepkoski is clearly expounding the Darwinist dilemma: ID proponents have made potent arguments. If you ignore them, you look like you have no answers. If you address them, you concede there’s a controversy. Or you can tap-dance around the issue, like Christoph Adami did in Science, citing vastly insufficient evidence to claim irreducibly complexity was explained, and then proclaiming the dispute to be a “political” controversy. Regardless, Sepkoski’s demeaning tone clearly illustrates the intolerance against ID in the scientific community. This shows just how right Thomas Kuhn was to say that scientists “often intolerant of those [theories] invented by others.”

Finally, Sepkoski calls Discovery Institute’s response to Judge Jones’s ruling a “desperate effort,” but his various book reviews give zero mention of our book, Traipsing Into Evolution, which gives extensive reasons why the Judge was wrong. It appears that Sepkoski wants to keep scientists in the dark about intelligent design through ridicule, pejorative language, and censoring mention of ID literature and many of the arguments contained therein.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



David Sepkoski