Monday, December 05, 2011

Checking in on BIO-Complexity

So, it has been a year and a half since the Center for Science and Culture, the wing of the Discovery Institute, inaugurated BIO-Complexity, the new journal devoted to objectively examining the evidence for intelligent design. At the time, I wrote the following, concerning the viability of the journal:
The only other way that this would work is if competent scholars in biological complexity were to submit papers. Then the journal would probably get a wide variety of papers, some supportive of ID (maybe) and some not. Even if some of them were not supportive, though, the board would be foolish not to publish them. If it only accepted ID friendly papers which were then reviewed by the biological community as a whole and found wanting, it would be another nail in the coffin for the scientific argument for ID.

The Discovery Institute have set themselves up a huge task here and are finally putting their cards on the table. Lets see what kind of hand they have.
Now we know what kind of hand they have. It is not very good. Since its debut, eighteen months ago, the journal has produced...

five research articles.

That is one article every 3½ months. Even brand new journals in the sciences have at least five to seven articles per month. Further, the current year, which is now in its waning days, has seen only two articles. That is slightly better than one article every six months.

It gets worse. Three of the five articles are either single-authored or co-authored by Douglas Axe, who is the managing editor and only four authors represented are not on the editorial board.

This is inbreeding if I have ever seen it. This level of production is every bit what I feared: the lack of impartiality has given rise to a journal that is slanted in one direction: support of ID. In April of this year, Todd Wood wrote the following:
In the larger scheme of things, I am sensing a discouraging pattern to BIO-Complexity publications. As I quoted above, the journal is supposed to be about "testing the scientific merit of the claim that intelligent design (ID) is a credible explanation for life," which is a great goal. But this is the fifth paper published by BIO-Complexity, and it's the fifth paper that focuses on perceived inadequacies of evolution. So when are we going to test "the scientific merit of the claim that intelligent design (ID) is a credible explanation for life?"
The number of papers that do address the merits of the ID explanation for life simply aren't there. Why not? Surely in eighteen months, at least two or three papers discussing research in this area would have been submitted for publication. Where are these papers? Where is this research?

Is it possible that the intention was never to address this laudable goal? Was it always to write papers trying to poke holes in evolutionary theory? It certainly seems that way. The problem is, based on their output and the lack of diversity in authorship, they cannot even do much of that.

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