Decline And Fall (3)
(This article was first published on my blog in January 2008, and documents the declining interest in the BCSE from outsiders over the course of the previous year).
As I write, in January 2008, it's abundantly evident that the 2006 BCSE launch failed. Evidence-a-plenty of that disintegration is obtained by comparing the BCSE committee of January 2007 with that of January 2008:
Then (both images from http://www.bcseweb.org.uk):
Only a minority of the original committee made it through the whole of the first year - and one of those who did survive, Roger Stanyard, resigned and rejoined in the meantime (see here for the gory details). This reflects what happened to the BCSE's support as a whole: the majority of those who supported it in January 2007 pulled out, fell out, were chucked out or just plain saw some sense and left.
The present front page of the BCSE says the following about its online discussion forums:
"Members and participants in our forum include teachers, academics, scientists, members of the clergy, engineers, archaeologists, scientists, students, management consultants, professional managers and businessmen, as well as people of a wide variety of political and religious persuasions."
How many people is that? The plurals must mean at least two - and there are eleven different categories there, and then a "wide variety" of others. What's the reality? Here's the reality, in pretty colours - the result of statistical analysis of the online forums...
Number of People Posting
This graph shows the number of different individuals who posted in the BCSE forums in each of the last 5 quarters (i.e. October 2006 until December 2007, split up into 3-month chunks):
That graph though fails to distinguish between posters who posted once, and those who are regulars. If we are very generous and say that a "regular" is someone who posted more than 9 times in a quarter, then the graph looks like this:
The figures for the respective quarters are 29, 25, 17, 14 and 12. If you've read any of their website then you'll know that the BCSE like a good spin - but I think that this set of figures might be beyond even their ability. Remember what I said the BCSE claim on their front page for their forum - did it lead you to believe that there were only actually 12 regular posters in there?
The decline is equally stark when you compare the total number of posts made and put October 2006, November 2006 and December 2006 side by side with the same month from the year just ended:
My estimation, based on the figures available from the in the forum itself, is that there are around only 20 people regularly reading the BCSE web forums. Which means, dear reader, that if you are one and I am another... then together we're 10% of the total!
When I looked at the total number of posts made over the course of the whole of 2007, the decline was more moderate. How can there be a more moderate decline in the total number of posts than in the number of people making posts? It must mean that the remaining BCSE leaders are doing more and more of the talking. And indeed it is so.
In the first three months of 2006, 10 individuals accounted for 70% of posts on the BCSE forums. In the last 3 months, it took just 5 individuals to do the same. Over half the posts were made by one of just 3 individuals, and the top 10 individuals accounted for 91.1%.
In the last 3 months of 2007, a grand total of twenty three individuals participated in the BCSE forums - and that includes four people who only posted once. Allowing a generous measuring stick, there cannot be said to be more than 12 active participants. Compare this with the BCSE's boast back in 2006 that it had 83 real members, and compare it with the spin on the BCSE's home page. As we've seen, the "83 members" claim wasn't even slightly true at the time; and neither is the new statement on the website.
The BCSE's new website claims to have 11 different categories of people in its forum, each with multiple members, plus a "wide variety" of others in addition. In truth, it scarcely has 11 people at all, let alone variety within that grouping.
The BCSE have yet given us again a good dose of evidence as to its own utter inability to deal straightforwardly and honestly. If the Darwinian case is so strong, why does it need such a large does of spin, misdirection and downright falsehoods to help it along? If evolution is such an undoubted fact, why does it require such tactics as this to boost its public image? Of course it is true that the BCSE's porkies do not affect the truth of Darwinism one way or the other. It is also true, though, that the BCSE's leaders are not stupid people, and that they are very strongly motivated to put the best case that they can in order to discredit any questionning of materialism's creation story - and that this is the best they have been able to do. If that doesn't make you at least smell a rat, then nothing will!