January 5, 2021 | David F. Coppedge

AAAS Wants to Evolve Integrity

The pro-Darwin AAAS is trying to use a failing strategy: increasing scientific integrity by intelligent design.

The editors and publishers of Science Magazine and the open-access journal Science Advances, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is caught in a quandary. As Darwinists, they believe everything on earth is a product of evolution, but they are worried about scientific integrity. Why don’t they just wait for it to emerge by natural selection?

Philip Yeagle, an AAAS Fellow and Senior Deputy Editor and Scientific Integrity Officer for Science Advances, calls integrity an “Essential pillar supporting scientific progress.”

Ensuring the scientific integrity behind every paper published in scientific journals is an essential standard in the world of scientific publishing. Scientists depend on published work that accurately represents the experiments performed and the results obtained so that future work can be effectively planned and performed. Readers must know that high standards have been met for the integrity of the data and the experimental protocols utilized. The public must have confidence in the integrity of the results that are presented in the published papers because those results may influence and have import in their lives.

Can integrity evolve somehow by evolutionary game theory or group selection? Perhaps these stakeholders—scientists, readers and the public—will leave more offspring as a group if their reading material is honest and truthful. But wait; that would require the correspondence theory of truth to have evolved beforehand. And since truth in the Darwinian view is an outcome, not a virtue, it is conceivable that well-crafted lies could achieve the same outcomes as integrity. Does Yeagle understand this?

At Science Advances, serious scientific integrity issues are rare (recent analysis shows that serious concerns were substantiated in less than 0.1% of submissions). When issues do arise, they demand attention and action. Issues that have been raised at Science Advances include figure manipulation or other kinds of data manipulation or falsification, plagiarism, lack of proper protocol approvals from oversight bodies such as IRB and IACUC, and dual submission. These mostly mirror the kinds of cases reported by the Office of Research Integrity at HHS (https://ori.hhs.gov/case_summary).

Science Advances takes on the obligation to maintain the highest possible level of integrity of papers published in its pages and to promote high standards of scientific integrity in publishing. In support of those obligations, Science Advances has established processes to respond to allegations of impropriety.

From an evolutionary standpoint, this might be a natural outcome of game theory, with its taxonomy of cooperators and cheaters. Yeagle, then, would be an enforcer of an evolutionary strategy that has, so far, achieved stability to some degree. Like a bee protecting his hive, he considers it his “obligation” to find the invaders and expel them. Otherwise, the hive could be compromised and become weak in the drive to prosper in the publishing business.

If that is the case, then “integrity” is a mirage. All the fraudsters, plagiarists and manipulators he worries about are just trying to pass on their genes using a different strategy that works for them. Since Yeagle does not repudiate Darwinism, his appeal is not about honesty, but about survival of the fittest. Yeagle wants Science Advances to be king of the hill. According to the core beliefs of the AAAS, if Yeagle’s selfish genes find a better way to cheat and keep the journal on top, wouldn’t selection favor that strategy? Integrity has nothing to do with it. Integrity is just a pretty word that is useful to him at the present time, because evolution rewards whatever works – even fraud.

Hold their feet to the fire. Make them use the resources of their own worldview. Don’t let Darwinians steal from the Christian smorgasbord of values. Make them cook up their own integrity from the Stuff Happens Law. Maybe it will wake some of them up.



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