Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity

Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity

The Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity (PSSI), formally registered as PSSI International Inc, is a nonprofit anti-evolution organization promoting intelligent design associated with the Discovery Institute, based in Clearwater, Florida. It sponsors events promoting intelligent design and fundamentalist Christianity.

The PSSI has also created and maintains a list of medical professionals who "Dissent from Darwinism". This list is used by the Discovery Institute in its anti-evolution campaigns. The petition is in support of the Discovery Institute claims that intelligent design is scientifically valid while attempting to create the impression that evolution lacks broad scientific support.[1] The Dissent petition contains a vaguely worded and misleading statement, similar to the widely criticized document produced by the Discovery Institute, A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, in 2001.

This effort as one of the Discovery Institute anti-evolution campaigns has come under criticism for being misleading and anti-science.[2] The list of signatories represents an insignificant fraction of medical professionals (about 0.02%). The validity of evolution is not determined by petitions or polls, however, but by scientific evidence. This is the reason that, in biological science itself, the theory of evolution is overwhelmingly accepted.[3]

As of August 27, 2007, the list included 270 physicians and other medical and related professionals.



The PSSI claim that academic freedom is being hampered by evolution supporters suppressing views that they disagree with. They also attack the standard creationist strawman of evolution, claiming that "Darwinian macroevolution" is a random process that moves from "molecules to man". This is incorrect, since natural selection is not a random process at all, and the theory of evolution is silent on the processes by which life began, such as abiogenesis.

The PSSI website repeats other standard creationist objections to evolution, including the claim that subscription to "Darwinian macroevolution" (a misleading nonsense phrase)[citation needed] is damaging to the social structures of societies. This is contrary to the data analyzed in a study published by author and illustrator Gregory S. Paul.[4] Nevertheless, the methodlogy and conclusions of Paul's study were criticized by more recent articles published in the same journal.[5][6] The PSSI tries to emphasize the threat of evolution by using a mined quote from philosophy professor Daniel Dennett, "Darwinian evolution is a ‘universal acid;’ it eats through just about every traditional concept and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view."[7]

PSSI also quotes film maker and Harvard Medical School graduate Michael Crichton[8]:

Consensus science "is an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had." [7]

Organization and Activities

The Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity was established in early 2006 by Rich Akin.[9] Geoffrey Simmons, M.D., Discovery Institute fellow, is one of the Directors of the PSSI.

The PSSI invites any person with an M.D., D.O., D.D.S., D.M.D., D.V.M. or equivalent degree to be a physician/surgeon member of PSSI. The PSSI offers separate memberships for other medical professionals and the general public.

The PSSI has held a "Doctors Doubting Darwin" rally at the University of South Florida's Sun Dome in September, 2006. It held events in Barcelona, Malaga, Madrid, Leon and Vigo, Spain from January 17 to January 25, 2008. Further events at Louisiana State University in the spring of 2008, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala in August 2008, Oregon and Washington State in the fall of 2008, Rome, Italy in the winter of 2008.[10]

As of August, 2007, it cost 350 dollars a year for a regular membership in the PSSI. The PSSI also offered memberships with reduced fees for medical residents, medical students, other medical professionals, nonmedical memberships, and others who are not able to afford these fees.[11]


By May 8, 2006, the PSSI Dissent petition had 34 signatories.[2]

Originally it was free to join the PSSI.[12] This continued to be true at least through April 11, 2007.[13]

On the evening of Friday, September 29, 2006, a "Doctors who Doubt Darwin" rally organized by Tom Woodward, author of Doubts About Darwin, and Rich Akin, author of Darwin or Design?, and sponsored by the PSSI, was held at the University of South Florida's Sun Dome.[14] This rally drew about 3500-4000 people, according to Hank Tippins of the Tampa Bay newspaper, The Observer News.[15] Jacob Tillman of the University of South Florida newspaper, The Oracle estimated that the crowd was larger than 1000.[16] Apologetic organizations promoting the event had hoped to fill all 7700 seats in the Sun Dome.[17][18]

This meeting featured the Discovery Institute's Jonathan Wells and fellow Michael Behe, and received local radio coverage. The Sun Dome rally was opposed by the Florida Citizens for Science organization.[19][20]

The PSSI also sponsored a three hour presentation to 120 people at the Radisson Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida on the morning of Saturday, September 30, 2006, the day after the Sun Dome rally. This discussion featured intelligent design advocates Michael Behe, Ralph Seelke and Jonathan Wells. St. Petersburg Times reporter Melanie Ave reported that the material was met with skepticism in some quarters.[21] A debate was planned as a second part to "Darwin or Design?" featuring the Discovery Institute's Stephen C. Meyer.[22]

See also


  1. ^ Understanding the Intelligent Design Creationist Movement: Its True Nature and Goals; A Position Paper from the Center for Inquiry, Office of Public Policy Barbara Forrest. May, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Poor Orac, Tara C. Smith, Aetiology, Scienceblogs, May 8, 2006
  3. ^ "99.9 percent of scientists accept evolution", according to Brian Alters, as quoted in Finding the Evolution in Medicine, Cynthia Delgado, NIH Record, July 28, 2006.
  4. ^ Paul, GS (2005). "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look". Journal of Religion & Society 7. Retrieved 2007-03-24. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Resources, Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity website
  8. ^ The PSSI webpage actually describes Crichton as: writer and film maker (Jurassic Park, et al.) Michael Crichton (summa cum laude graduate of Harvard College, MD from Harvard Medical School, postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, visiting lecturer in anthropology at Cambridge University).
  9. ^
  10. ^ PSSI events official webpage
  11. ^ Annual Memberships, Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity, retrieved August 10, 2007.
  12. ^ Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity website from July 16, 2006.
  13. ^ Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity website from April 11, 2007.
  14. ^ Foundation for Theory and Ethics Newsletter, Jon Buell, October 2006.
  15. ^ Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Hank Tippins, Tippin the Scales, The Observer News, Tampa Bay, Florida, October 21, 2006.
  16. ^ Design dilemma: Scientists seek to convince USF audience of intelligent design's validity, Jacob Tillman, The University of South Florida Oracle, 10/2/06.
  17. ^ Recent Events Archive: Apologetics Events in the U.S. and Beyond,
  18. ^ September 23, 2006 - News, Texans for Better Science Education Newsletter, Sept 23, 2006.
  19. ^ Florida Citizens for Science official webpage
  20. ^ Doomed in the Dome, Red State Rabble blog, September 28, 2006.
  21. ^ 147 years later, evolution debate fills forums: A panel of three scientists who doubt Darwin's theory are asked if they have proof of design's role in life, Melanie Ave, St. Petersburg Times, October 1, 2006.
  22. ^ Why Debates are Dubious, Nick Matzke, Panda's Thumb, entry 2526, August 19, 2006.

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