Project Steve by the Numbers

Over on the Panda’s Thumb, there’s a thread about NCSE’s Project Steve hitting the kilosteve mark, that is, the 1000th signatory. A commenter there wished to register her annoyance with Project Steve, and to do it with numbers:

Louise Van Court said:

I realize that the whole Project Steve thing is a spoof on the Dissent From Darwin statement and that the NCSE is just having fun with it, but 1,000 signatures is not a very impressive number really. I am more impressed by the lack of signatures to either of these statements considering the bureau of labor statistics on the site of a total of 173,000 biological scientists (apparently using some rounded figures) including “biological scientists, biochemists and biophysicists, zoologists and wildlife biologists and biological scientists all others.” The number of signatures is not even 1% of the total number even with Steve and derivations of that name being fairly common in the US. Perhaps there are many scientists that prefer not to put their names on a public list and just want to stay away from the culture war. Good for them.

James F. immediately pointed out that 1,000 * 100 = 100,000, so a goodly percentage of the eligible people had in fact signed on. It’s always amusing to see antievolutionists joining innumeracy to ignorance.

But Louise Van Court is even worse off than James F. noted. If one goes to the link she provided, one gets a 404-style message. If one does some looking, one can find the actual link. There, “Biological Scientists” are said to have numbered about 87,000 in 2006. Indented entries in four categories split that out. Louise arrived at the 173,000 number by adding up the rounded-off figures for biological scientists and the categories of biological scientists. She counted everyone twice and presented that as a figure. If what she had come up with by inflating the population number to double its actual size was, as James F. put it, an “EPIC FAIL”, one wonders how to express just how badly off she was given the actual numbers from her cited source.

Project Steve has been somewhat more open to Ph.D.s from outside the stated categories, but it is primarily pitched to them. The numbers indicate that for the biological sciences, Project Steve may be close to complete saturation.

That’s what I call shooting oneself in the foot; nice job, Louise!

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

7 thoughts on “Project Steve by the Numbers

  • 2009/02/13 at 11:35 am

    On PT, Glenn Branch notes that the actual response figure for biologists can be no greater than 62%, based on about 54% of the Project Steve Steves being in that category, and inclusive of unemployed scientists and foreign scientists.

    It would be interesting to know just what the actual response percentage was for Project Steve, but that appears difficult to unravel without both the PS distribution data and worldwide data on numbers of science doctorates split by fields and nationality. What we can tell is that the quick and dirty dismissal attempted by Louise simply doesn’t work.

  • 2009/02/13 at 11:58 am

    Yea for teh Steves.

    (In the Happy Birthday to Darwin video linked from PT the other day, I noticed that Professor Steve Steve was sitting on the table with the NCSE crew but not on the list of participants at the end of the video).

  • 2009/02/13 at 12:08 pm

    In all fairness, she did pop up later in the thread and admitted flat out that she was wrong. Props to her for that anyway, it’s a pretty rare thing to see.

  • 2009/02/15 at 10:28 am

    Thank you, Wes! I’m still learning, so I took Louise’s figure at face value. The glaring math error should have made me suspicious of any other claim.

    As Dave S. noted, however, Louise did return and admit her mistake – which disqualifies her from ever working at the Discovery Institute – so I had to formally withdraw my “EPIC FAIL” and transfer it to a troll named “Just stopping by.”

    Congratulations to Steve Darwin for being Steve #1000!

  • 2009/02/15 at 11:39 am

    Everyone is writing about this. But we already knew that Steves were irrationally in favor of Darwinism. Especially when their name is Darwin.


  • 2009/02/15 at 2:26 pm

    “Rationally” is spelled without an “ir” prefix.

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