P.Z. Myers: Americans Who Fund Scientific Research Are an “Ignorant Mob”

Michael Egnor

P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula has responded to my open letter to the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology. In my letter, I strongly criticized the Darwinist organization’s endorsement of censorship and its disrespect for academic freedom. I reminded its members that they have a responsibility to the millions of taxpayers who fund their grants, and part of that responsibility entails a modicum of respect and a willingness to accept an open discussion of evolutionary theory in public schools.
Myers replies:

Now we see exposed the Discovery Institute’s opinion of scientists: they are parasites, suckling at the public teat…and that we should be divorced from civic responsibilities altogether.

Scientists aren’t parasites. Experimental biologists, physicists, astronomers, chemists, and medical researchers are employees of the people who fund them, generally taxpayers. Most scientists do their work with humility and integrity. They understand, at least implicitly, that they have a responsibility to the public that pays their way. Few scientists engage in censorship, restriction of academic freedom, and boycotts. And they don’t consider such anti-science advocacy a ‘civic responsibility;’ they exercise civic responsibility by welcoming and even encouraging questions about their scientific theories. They respectfully engage those who disagree with their scientific viewpoints. They don’t censor and they don’t boycott, because boycotts and censorship are ideological tactics, not scientific discourse.
I reserve the appellation “parasites” for Darwinists, at least those Darwinists who oppose academic freedom and who sneer at most Americans for whom scientific explanations in nature need not be restricted to unintelligent causes. Many Darwinists — at least Darwinian fundamentalists like Myers — are atheist ideologues who despise the religious beliefs of ordinary Americans who pay their way. Darwinist ‘civic responsibility’ consists of denying other people the freedom to act in accordance with their own views of civic responsibility, which include the civic responsibility to establish educational policy for their own children in their own schools.
Darwinists make their living from ordinary people who they ridicule, censor, and boycott. In this respect they’re not scientists at all; they’re ideologues — atheist fundamentalists — who use science and public funding to advance their metaphysics.
Myers writes:

… What Egnor proposes here is nothing less than a naked threat to use the ignorance of the mob to attack science. [emphasis mine]

American taxpayers who fund scientific research are not “ignorant” and they’re not a “mob.”
The American public is Dr. Myers’ employer, and for many years it has patiently underwritten the Darwinist ideological crusade. Americans’ patience will run out someday, and they will decide to use their hard-earned tax money to employ ethical scientists who respect academic freedom and who advance real science, not atheist metaphysics.

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.