In a Nutshell
In response to Creationist lists of “scientists who doubt evolution”, the National Center for Science Education put together their own list of scientists who support it. All of the signatories are named Steve, or some variation thereof.
The Whole Bushel
The non-profit Discovery Institute was founded in 1990, and is the reason we use the phrase “intelligent design”. Its purpose for the last couple decades has been largely to advance said theory, and poke holes in Charles Darwin’s competing theory of evolution; to that purpose, the Institute published- in 2001- its statement “A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism”, which includes a signed list of members of the scientific community who are skeptical of the theory of evolution to one extent or another. The Institute is fond of portraying evolution as a “theory in crisis”, one which does not enjoy the full support of- and indeed, draws skepticism from- the scientific community.
The National Center for Science Education disagrees with this tactic. Cognizant of the “thousands of scientists affirming the validity of the theory of evolution” but not wanting to “mislead the public into thinking that scientific issues are decided by who has the longer list of scientists”, the NCSE launched Project Steve, the aim of which is to gather the signatures of individuals who agree with the following statement:
“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.”
The qualifications: you must agree unreservedly with the above statement, be a scientist- and be named Steve or some variation thereof, which in itself limits the pool of potential signatories to less than 1% of the population. The original goal was to collect 100 signatures; that was accomplished in ten days. As of 2013, over 1200 Steves comprise the list, almost 60% of whom are biologists; they include Nobel Prize winners Steven Weinberg and Steven Chu, and Cambridge Mathematics Professor and Incredibly Smart Man Stephen Hawking. The project was undertaken in honor of evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, an NCSE supporter and staunch opponent of Creationism.
If you’re wondering if there will be a similar undertaking for Johns, Joes or Freds, the question has already been asked on the Project’s FAQ. The NCSE’s succinct response: “No. It’s only funny once.”
Show Me The Proof
Evolution News: 500 Scientists Sign
Talk Origins: Steve FAQ
NCSE: Project Steve