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Announcing the NCSE 700 Club
February 16, 2006, is the third anniversary of the public unveiling of NCSE's Project Steve, so it seems like a good time to announce -- with due apologies to the Reverend Pat Robertson and the Christian Broadcasting Network -- NCSE's 700 Club. Yes, with the addition of Stephen A. Wells, a postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University, there are now 700 scientists named Steve who have publicly agreed:
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.Project Steve is intended, of course, as a parody of the creationist practice of amassing lists of scientists who "reject evolution" or "doubt Darwinism"; "Steve" was selected in honor of the late Stephen Jay Gould. Among the 700 signatories are the physicist Stephen W. Hawking, the linguist Steven Pinker, the geneticist Steve Jones, and all of the eligible Nobel laureates (both Steven Weinberg and Steven Chu).
Moreover, Project Steve proved to be scientifically fruitful in its own right. "The Morphology of Steves" (PDF), by Eugenie C. Scott, Glenn Branch, Nick Matzke, and several hundred Steves, appeared in the prestigious Annals of Improbable Research; the paper provided "the first scientific analysis of the sex, geographic location, and body size of scientists named Steve," using NCSE's pioneering experimental steveometry apparatus (which bears a striking resemblance to a certain famous t-shirt).
Approximately 1% of the United States public possesses a qualifying name (Steve, Stephen, Steven, Stephanie, Esteban, Istvan, and so forth), so the 700 signatories to Project Steve correspond to approximately 70,000 scientists who could be expected to agree with the statement. Since the public unveiling, new Steves have been added to the list at a rate of three per week on average. Can the 800 mark be far behind?