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Why Discovery Institute Has Asked Some Scientists Not to Sign the Darwin Dissent List

David Klinghoffer

Discovery Institute

On Darwin Day, the Scientific Dissent from Darwinism list, now at 1,000+, is catching interesting and diverse media attention. PJ Media recounts some of the background:

Discovery Institute found 100 Ph.D. scientists and published the list in The New York Review of Books. After a few years, “the pushback became really harsh; some of the people on the list lost funding, some were threatened with their jobs. We thought, ‘We don’t have to keep promoting this.’ People kept signing anyway.”

West insisted that the list “keeps growing on its own accord without our promotion.” In fact, West told PJ Media that Discovery Institute encouraged many professors not to sign, lest they lose their jobs. “There are people who want to sign and we tell them not to because they don’t have tenure. It’s not like we’re begging people to sign,” he said.

This is what I mean when I say the list of a thousand plus vastly understates the number of scientists who are skeptical of evolutionary theory.

Come Out of the Closet — Later

The College Fix and Zero Hedge also acknowledge the peril that comes with publicly staking out a dissenting position:

Regarding how his colleagues view the list, [Michael] Behe said, “Most of my peers are unaware of it, but those who are aware of it don’t like it one bit. They think that anybody who would sign such a list has to have a dishonorable motive for doing so.”

Taking a stand comes with a risk. Scott Minnich, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Idaho, said he has many times been accused of being “anti-science.”

By contrast, any view affirming of current evolutionary orthodoxy is the clear careerist’s move. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Of course, skeptics who have chosen not to sign are simply exercising caution. And wisely so. Let me emphasize that. When they come out of the closet later, they will do so from a position of greater authority than if they torpedoed their careers now. That’s one reason why, as John West says, Discovery Institute has advised vulnerable scientists not to sign.