Say what you will about proponents of Creationism and Intelligent Design, at least they seem to understand how science works. Rather than simply pointing to the Bible whenever asked to substantiate their beliefs, the movement largely propelled by Answers in Genesis noticed that people associate scientists, museums, and the like with facts. Thus, to generate their own veneer of facts, supporter of Creationism and ID set up a new counter-infrastructure that mimics science but produces Intelligent Design friendly results.
This infrastructure has “scientists” (Behe, I’m looking at you), a museum (which claims to be within a days drive for two-thirds of the US population), and now, it’s own honest to god, if you will, peer reviewed scientific journal.
That’s right, you read this correctly. Issue 7177 of the journal Nature notes that the Answers in Genesis group has started its own journal to compete with, amongst other things, the journal Nature. Aside from the rarity of a magazine writing a piece about a competitor, this article was also jarring because it set in contrast the two peer review systems.
On the surface, the two editorial boards follow the exact same rules. The peer review in Nature and the peer review in Answers Research Journal are conducted the exact same way, the difference being what the peer reviewers deem to be legitimate fact. But wait, don’t both sets of peer reviewers get their authority from people just like them? Uh-oh.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming that articles published in ARJ are as valid as those published in Science or Nature, but you have to give credit to Answers in Genesis for hitting science where it hurts. Every scientist has complained at one point or another about the often fickle and random nature of the peer review system upon which scientific fact is based. With the ARJ, the supporters of Creationism have once again brilliantly exploited the chinks in science’s armor to generate legitimacy for a viewpoint with no real factual basis.
This is a perfect moment for scientists to sit back and think about how they can use the infrastructure of religion to better educate the public about science. If science is going to reach the people that keep institutions like Answers in Genesis afloat, scientists need to go beyond putting Darwin fish on their car and using Pastafarianism as an excuse to take extra holidays off from work and really learn how the other side works.