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BSW Strengthens Statement Repudiating Meyer Paper

On Monday, Oct. 4, the governing council of the Biological Society of Washington issued a new statement regarding the publication of a paper by Intelligent Design advocate and Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture director, Stephen C. Meyer, in the society's journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.

The new statement makes clear that if normal procedures had been followed, the article would not have been published. The statement reiterates that the journal will not publish a rebuttal, as many BSW members requested, because the subject area of the article is outside of the traditional descriptive systematics for which the journal is known.

In the new statement, the Council directly criticized the scientific quality of the article, saying it "does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings", and emphasized that the decision to publish the article was made independently by the former editor, ID-proponent Richard von Sternberg. The statement is reproduced below:

The paper by Stephen C. Meyer, "The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories," in vol. 117, no. 2, pp. 213-239 of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, was published at the discretion of the former editor, Richard v. Sternberg. Contrary to typical editorial practices, the paper was published without review by any associate editor; Sternberg handled the entire review process. The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings because the subject matter represents such a significant departure from the nearly purely systematic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 122-year history. For the same reason, the journal will not publish a rebuttal to the thesis of the paper, the superiority of intelligent design (ID) over evolution as an explanation of the emergence of Cambrian body-plan diversity. The Council endorses a resolution on ID published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science which observes that there is no credible scientific evidence supporting ID as a testable hypothesis to explain the origin of organic diversity. Accordingly, the Meyer paper does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings.

We have reviewed and revised editorial policies to ensure that the goals of the Society, as reflected in its journal, are clearly understood by all. Through a web presence (http://www.biolsocwash.org) and improvements in the journal, the Society hopes not only to continue but to increase its service to the world community of systematic biologists.