Icons of ID: Apples and Oranges

On ARN Mike Gene is arguing, amongst others, that there is a similarity between the publication of Meyer’s paper in PBSW and Pennock’s paper in Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics. Mike is wrong.

When the Meyer paper came out, the critics began to complain the Meyer paper was a drastic departure from the traditional focus of the journal. Now that we can see how the Pennock paper undercuts this complaint, we finally get some ad hoc rationalizations. I am utterly unswayed by Myrmecos’ attempt to argue one is a drastic departure from the traditional focus, while the other is not.

What Mike seems to forget is that the departure by PBSW was made by a single editor and not by the board and was a significant departure from standard practices.

If Mike’s argument is that the argument that Meyer’s paper does not belong in the PBSW is invalidated by Pennock’s publication in Annual reviews then he overlooks some basic differences:

  1. The PBSW board clearly opposed the paper having been published and considered it a departure from standard practices.

A biological society that published an article critical of evolutionary theory issued a statement this week saying its council did not approve the paper.

The Biological Society of Washington, which publishes the journal, said the article was published without the prior knowledge of the Council. The society said, “We have met and determined that all of us would have deemed this paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings.”

Can Mike tell us if a similar conclusion was reached by the Annual Review board?

  1. Annual review invites contributors to write a review article.

Founded in 1932, Annual Reviews provides researchers, professors, and scientific professionals with a definitive academic resource in 29 scientific disciplines. Annual Reviews saves you time by synthesizing the vast amount of primary research literature and identifying the principal contributions in your field. Editorial committees comprised of the most distinguished scholars in the discipline select all topics for review, and the articles are written by authors who are recognized experts in the field. Annual Reviews publications are among the highest cited publications by impact factor according to the Institute for Scientific Information

Suggesting that the editorial committees identified and selected the topic for review. So in other words Annual Review invites the authors to contribute…

Pennock’s article on Intelligent Design, its motivations, its history and how scientists can help play a role in improving science education, seems quite appropriate for Annual Review. Too bad that such articles can not be distributed amongst other journals but science generally frowns upon such practices. Given that ID’s main claims include the genetic code, I’d say that the journal made a good decision. Nevertheless it was a decision made by the editorial committee.


Other Notable Papers in Annual Reviews

  • Reilly PR., Public concern about genetics, Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2000;1:485-506.
    Throughout the twentieth century and continuing into the present, the general public has been fascinated by advances in genetic knowledge. At times, individuals and groups have either inadvertently or deliberately misused genetic knowledge in the service of political goals. At other times, advances in genetics have challenged deeply held societal or religious beliefs. During the 1990s, there were many advances that focused an unprecedented level of public attention and concern on genetics. In particular, the public has expressed deep concern about gene mapping, cloning, and genetically modified foods. In each case, the origin of the concern and the nature of the public response have been different. I consider these topics and argue that the scientific community must increase its commitment to public discourse.