AAAS: Darwin is the 1000th Steve

Eugenie Scott is executive director of the National Center for Science Education, an organization dedicated to keeping evolution in the public schools. At the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, six years ago, she launched Project Steve — a tongue-in-cheek response to a list of Darwin-doubting scientists that another group had collected to challenge the authenticity of evolution. Scott’s parody project encouraged scientists named Steve (or any related name, such as Stephanie, Stephen, Stefan, Etienne or Esteban) to formally endorse evolution.

The first year there were 220 signatory scientists. A little over an hour ago, Scott — again at a AAAS annual meeting — announced to reporters that the 1000th Steve had just been added to her list. Later this evening (when his delayed flight from New Orleans finally arrives), Steven P. Darwin — yes, Darwin — of Tulane University’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (and director of its Herbarium), takes the top spot. He will receive a thumbless-panda statue (a cute if tacky stuffed animal affixed to a block of wood) from another member of the far-from-elite Stevie pack: writer Steve Mirsky of Scientific American.

Approximately one percent of Americans are named Steve or some variation of that, Scott says. So the current signatories to Project Steve represent an estimated 100,000 scientists who accept evolution, she contends. And yes, this fete comes the day after Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday.

Janet Raloff

Janet Raloff is the Editor, Digital of Science News Explores, a daily online magazine for middle school students. She started at Science News in 1977 as the environment and policy writer, specializing in toxicology. To her never-ending surprise, her daughter became a toxicologist.

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