Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dissent From Darwin: So, Who Are These Geologists?

The Dissent from Darwin list, which has been hawked ad nauseum by the Discovery Institute has one lone palaeontologist on it. It does, however, have nine geologists on the list. Who are they?

Fred Schroeder
- Columbia University. Columbia University has no listing of such a person. No published record since 1993, when he was working for Exxon as a petroleum geologist.
Seth Edwards - Associate Faculty at the University of Texas El Paso - UTEP has no listing of such a person - whereabouts unknown. Checks of Google Scholar and Web of Science turned up no papers by a Seth Edwards.
WJ Hedden - Missouri University of Science & Technology - There is is no faculty listing at this university for a WJ Hedden. A check of Google Scholar and Web of Science turned up one paper, written in 1980.
Richard Erdlac - He is a structural geologist with a specialization in geothermal energy. He has had most of his experience in the private sector and with government contracts, especially with the Department of Energy. Web of Science and Google Scholar list twelve publications in the last thirty years, with the most recent in 1994. The Clean Technology Conference and Expo lists him as a an energy consultant and the University of Texas at Austin no longer has a listing for him.
Susan L.M. Huck - Clark University. She is listed as a geologist although she has taught in geography and sociology. Neither Google Scholar or Web of Science lists papers by this person, although several papers in political activism can be found. Clark University has no listing for her and I cannot find her at another university.
Scott T. Dreher - listed as being at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, is now at the University of Durham in the UK. He is a specialist in isotopic geology and petrology. Web of Science lists nine papers dating back to 2000, with the bulk of them coming in the last five years.
Peter William Holyland - University of Queensland (Australia) - His speciality is mineral exploration. No papers found in Google Scholar, three papers found in Web of Science, most recent being 2000. By this time, he was working for Terra Sancta Inc. in Western Australia. Worked at one time for the Center for Strategic Mineral Deposits in Western Australia.
John H. Whitmore - Listed as being at Cedarville University, is now at the University of Minnesota's Department of Forest Resources after a short stint at the University of Ottawa. By 2006 was publishing in The Journal of Creation. It is clear from his writings (here for example) that he accepts the biblical flood model. To paraphrase Bill Murray, that's a big no.
Terry W. Spencer - Dr. Spencer is a seismologist, dealing mostly with wave propogation and compressive strength of rock. As such, this would not take him into the fossil record much, if at all. He does, however, seem to be a bona fide scientist.

So, what can we conclude from the above list and the relevance of each signatory to evolution? Only two are active, practicing geologists (one could say the same thing about me based on my output, though) but none have a specialty even close to palaeontology and one is a practicing creationist (and hence, not a practicing geologist). Therefore, like the physicists and medical doctors, their signatures are meaningless because they have little to no familiarity with the fossil record or evolutionary theory.

Once again, the Discovery Institute is blowing smoke in the hopes that no one will notice that there is nothing behind it. As with the new Zogby Poll, they can't go out and try to get palaeontologists and biologists to sign the Dissent from Darwin statement because they know good and well that very few will.
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