NCSE’s “Project Steve” is a tongue-in-cheek parody of a long-standing creationist tradition of amassing lists of “scientists who doubt evolution” or “scientists who dissent from Darwinism.” According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), “Project Steve is “a tongue-in-cheek parody of a long-standing creationist tradition of amassing lists of “scientists who doubt evolution” or “scientists who dissent from Darwinism.”” (1).
NCSE has created Project Steve in response to creationists who draw up lists that try to convince the public that evolution is somehow being rejected by scientists and is a “theory in crisis.” Such spurious statements have been regularly circulated by the three American anti-evolution creationist organizations such as the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, the Institute for Creation Research, and Answers in Genesis. According to NCSE, “Not everyone realizes that this claim is unfounded. NCSE has been asked numerous times to compile a list of thousands of scientists affirming the validity of the theory of evolution.”
It was discovered that only about 1% of scientists are called “Steve.” This suggests that tens of thousands of scientists support evolution and that the Project Steve list is longer and contains many more eminent scientists than any creationist list. The preferred name of Steve also pays tribute to the late evolutionary biologist, Stephen Jay Gould.
Approximately 54% (381) of the Steves on the Project Steve petition work in biology, which includes anatomy, anthropology, biochemistry, biophysics, botany, and cell biology. Also including related life sciences fields like medicine, forestry and agriculture, the percentage rises to 61%, “The point of Project Steve,” explains NCSE, “is to demonstrate, in a lighthearted manner, that, on the contrary, the status of evolution within the scientific community is secure. But the signatories realize that science is not conducted by voting” (2).
According to one “Steve,” Dr. Steve Carr, a Professor of biology who was asked to serve as the “regional Steve” for Eastern Canada, “It’s often said that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. Teaching the Principles of Evolution course in the core biology curriculum at MUN for 16 years has reinforced for me the importance of evolutionary thinking to every aspect of biology. The NCSE works hard to make sure that students are introduced to the scientific evidence and explanatory power of evolutionary thought early on in their education… I’m proud to be a part of Project Steve – the list includes some of the best scientists in the business, and many friends who share a passion for teaching and research in evolution” (3). NCSE no doubt agrees; their statement is worth quoting in full,
“Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to “intelligent design,” to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation’s public schools.”
1. NCSE. Project Steve. Available.
2. NCSE. Project Steve Frequently Asked Questions. Available.
3. Inkpen, D. 2003. ‘Steves’ supporting the teaching of evolution. Available.