Saturday, June 04, 2005

It's everywhere . . .

. . . so it must be designed.

Everyone is chiming in on the Wells Rivista article. Stranger Fruit interprets the relevence of the journals the IDists publish in. John Rennie questions the logic of the argument. And you didn't think PZ Myers would stand by without comment either, did you?

So, what can we make of the Discovery Institute and their propaganda machine? As John Lynch points out at Stranger Fruit, the journals publishing the ID tripe are not exactly at the level of Science, Nature, Cell, PNAS or any of the other upper echelon publications. In fact, Lynch gives us their incredibly low impact factors:
  • Rivista 0.500 (for 2003)
  • Proc Biol Soc Wash 0.506 (for 2003)
Impact factors are defined as "a measure of the frequency with which the 'average article' in a journal has been cited in a particular year or period" by Thomson Scientific (the group in charge of impact factors). They calculate it by "dividing the number of current year citations to the source items published in that journal during the previous two years." Essentially, it is the expected number (mean) of citations in the current year for an article published in the last two years.

Publications in journals with impact factors less than one should not expect to be cited in the next year as the average article appearing in those journals has less than one citation in the year following its appearance. Because the importance of a particular publication is measured, in part, by the number of citations it receives, we can see how insignificant both Rivista and PBSW are in the world of biological research.

Please don't take this as an attack on people who publish in low impact journals (although, John Lynch points out that Rivista is more than just a low impact journal -- it has a history of endorsing anti-evolution and creationism). I merely am saying that it is not worth trumpeting a publication in a journal with an extremely low impact factor. If the DI could get their "scientists" to publish original research (which neither ID article has been) in important journals, we may have to take them seriously -- and it would also indicate they've gone out and done some real research. Until then, they will twiddle away in obscurity.

Of course, not everything exists in obscurity. Take, for example, the ubiquitin proteins. As the name suggests, they are everywhere. Because these proteins are ubiquitous and highly conserved, they must be designed. This is, of course, a continuation of Wells's centriole hypothesis and is essential for the success of the ID movement. Without wasting any more time (or doing any real research or data analysis) I must publish my ubiquitin theory immediately.


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