Real Scientists - And The BCSE
(This article was first published on my blog in January 2007).
Have you heard of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy? It goes like this. "No true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge." "But I do!" pipes up wee Jimmy from Glasgow. "Ah, but no true Scotsman does - you don't count!".
This fallacy is employed routinely by campaigning atheists in their attempts to argue that Darwinism is a proven scientific fact. You see, apparently no true scientist questions Darwinism. "But I do", pipes up Royal Society member, Professor Boggins from the University of Readbridge. "Ah, but no true scientist does - wackos like you don't count!".
The BCSE - True Scientists...?
We've already seen that the British Centre for Science Education is not a group of science educators. Not only is it not a group of science educators, its core doesn't even include any!
However, minor facts like these do not deter the Stanyard or the BCSE from deciding just who is and who is not a scientist. If you were to head over to their page on the organisation "Creation Ministries International" (CMI), then at the bottom of the page you can find an edited copy of CMI's list of staff, as follows:
Did you notice all those quotation marks? Jonathan Sarfati's not a scientist - he's a "scientist". Tas Walker isn't a geologist - he's a "geologist". (Incidentally, the commas on the BCSE web page may give you the wrong idea about which job title applies to which individual).
The message is clear - here we have some more of those creationist charlatans masquerading as scientists - but the BCSE aren't fooled. Roger Stanyard (who wrote the article) certainly ought to know a non-scientist when he sees one - and he isn't going to allow his website's readers to be fooled. CMI may call its staff scientists, but true scientist Roger knows better.
So, let's take a look at these pseudo-scientists. On what grounds do they claim their titles? Unlike the BCSE, CMI aren't afraid to give you the full facts about themselves (http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/45/63/):
Senior "Scientist": Don Batten, B.Sc.Agr.(Hons I), Ph.D.(Sydney):' '"... worked for a state Department of Agriculture for over 20 years, in the field of plant science. His research included environmental adaptation of tropical / subtropical fruits such as mango, lychee and custard apple (Annona spp.); floral biology, floral induction; breeding; environmental physiology (especially water requirements, effects of water deficits), plant taxonomy, and mineral nutrition. His research on floral induction of lychee and mango overturned long-held ideas on this, which were a big impediment to scientific progress as well as causing economic loss due to inappropriate management of these crops."''
Senior "Scientist": Jonathan Sarfati, B. Sc. (Hons), Ph. D., F. M.: "... obtained a B.Sc. (Hons.) in Chemistry with two physics papers substituted (nuclear and condensed matter physics). His Ph.D. in Chemistry was awarded for a thesis entitled ‘A Spectroscopic Study of some Chalcogenide Ring and Cage Molecules’. He has co-authored papers in mainstream scientific journals on high temperature superconductors and selenium-containing ring and cage-shaped molecules. ... He is a former New Zealand Chess Champion, and represented New Zealand in three Chess Olympiads. In 1988, F.I.D.E., the International Chess Federation, awarded him the title of F.I.D.E. Master (FM). Dr Sarfati regularly accepts challenges from multiple players (12 is the most played simultaneously to date) where he is blindfolded."
I admit the chess bit isn't relevant to the question of who is a scientist, but I found it impressive!
Senior "Geologist": Tas Walker BEng, BSc, PhD: "Bachelor of Engineering with first class honours (University of Queensland), Doctorate in mechanical engineering (University of Queensland), Bachelor of Science majoring in Earth Science (geology) with first class honours (University of Queensland)".
Staff (not "Senior", as per the BCSE) "Scientist": David Catchpole, B.Ag.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D.: "Dr David Catchpoole received his B.Ag.Sc. (Hons) from the University of Adelaide and a Ph.D. from the University of New England (New South Wales). His Ph.D. investigated nitrogen transfer between tree legumes, associated grass and ruminant animals (goats). This was undertaken in Indonesia as part of a joint Australia-Indonesia project in forage research, aimed at improving the quality and availability of animal feed. Dr Catchpoole subsequently worked for the Queensland Department of Primary Industries as a plant physiologist. His focused primarily on plant nutrition of tropical fruit trees (especially mango), and varietal selection. He has also worked as a science educator at James Cook University, which included lecturing in tropical horticulture."
Staff "Scientist" Pierre Jerlström BSc. PhD.: His list of fellowship, professional appointments, conferences and publications is a bit too long to summarise: http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/3566/. The title of his PhD thesis was "L-Asparaginases in E. coli: a genetic study." Dr. Jerlström is fluent in four languages and has a patent to his name from his biological research.
Senior "Scientist" Dr. Emil Silvestru: "earned his Ph.D in geology at the ‘Babes-Bolyai’ University in Cluj, Romania, (where he has worked as an associate professor) in karst1 sedimentology. A world authority on the geology of caves, he has published 30 scientific papers, and co-authored one book. He was, until recently, the head scientist at the world’s first Speleological Institute (speleology = the study of caves) in Cluj. ... His areas of expertise include: karstology, sedimentology, geology and hydrogeology of limestone terrains, cave glaciology, show-cave assessment & designing, metamorphic ore geology and prospecting."
And in case they're a bit short of expertise, those who are not employed as scientists still manage to amass the following qualifications between them:
That's right - pick just a couple of those who aren't employed as scientists, and you still have more relevant qualifications than the combined credentials of the British Centre for Science Education's leadership...
Recent Events In The UK
Meanwhile, this week in the UK, another twelve senior academics (including ten professors and the director of an astronomical observatory) wrote to the government publicly applauding Truth in Science, the group which is seeking for a more fair presentation of the Darwinism debate in UK schools.
These professors included Norman Nevin OBE, Professor Emeritus of Medical Genetics, Queen's University of Belfast and Antony Flew, former Professor of Philosophy at Reading University and an eminent supporter of humanism.
"We write to applaud the Truth in Science initiative," the letter said. Empirical science has "severe limitations concerning origins" and Darwinism is not necessarily "the best scientific model to fit the data that we observe".
They concluded: "We ask therefore that, where schools so choose, you ensure an open and honest approach to this subject under the National Curriculum, at the same time ensuring that the necessary criteria are maintained to deliver a rigorous education."
You can see a fuller report on this on Truth in Science's own website: here.
This, of course, isn't in the BCSE's script. According to the BCSE propaganda, the evidence against Darwinism is illusory and exists only in the imaginations of fundamentalist fanatics likely to fly planes into your workplace or storm Westminster in order to set up a theocracy (one, two, three, four).
The BCSE's leadership certainly ought to know a non-scientist when it sees one, given the wealth of personal experience of not being scientists available within its ranks.
But when the BCSE, having taken the label "Centre for Science Education" for themselves, demand the right to strip others of the title "scientist" because of their non-adherence to Darwinism, the only outcome is to make themselves look bigoted, hypocritical and ridiculous. The BCSE's website seeks to paint those who question Darwinism as being unqualified in science and driven by religion. We wonder if the authors of this website have any sense of irony?
Meanwhile, those who don't have an atheist agenda recognise that there are some good evidences for intelligence and design in the natural world, that Darwinism is in serious trouble, and that our schoolchildren deserve to not be given a misleading impression over this.
In the BCSE's book, you are a scientist not because you have proved yourself in scientific disciplines - you can only be a scientist if you agree with a hard-line Darwinian outlook. And if you agree with that outlook, you can write to newspapers and MPs representing yourselves as scientific experts, qualifications or no qualifications!
The BCSE like to portray those whom they disagree with as being extremists and bigots. It is valid to ask the question as to whether the BCSE are not a perfect mirror of the caricature they present of their opponents.