Members of the intelligent design (ID) movement, when responding to arguments that journal articles don't support ID, claim that peer-reviewed scientific journals typically reject articles critical of the theory of evolution which propose some form of ID, regardless of the papers' scientific merit.

Dr. Lee Spetner, a physicist known for arguing against the theory of evolution saying mutations must be guided by an outside intelligence, made the claim thus:

Since they [evolutionists] control the literature in evolution, they reject papers that seriously criticize it. Many authors have attempted to publish such papers and they have been rejected, not because they are flawed, but for tangential reasons. I have submitted such papers; one was rejected for "not being of sufficient interest", and another was rejected for "not being sufficiently focused." So they love to use the catch that objections such as mine to neo-Darwinian theory "have not been published in peer refereed journals."

Similarly, there was a controversy surrounding an ID journal article written by Dr. Stephen Meyer.

While even according to the Discovery Institute there are several peer-reviewed journal articles that offer various criticisms of the theory of evolution in favor of ID, this doesn't necessarily speak to the proportion of such articles that were rejected, and even among those, the biological science journal articles don't explicitly propose ID and typically just question a particular aspect of current evolutionary theory.

Is there in fact an unfair standard imposed upon ID proponents to keep them out of the peer-reviewed scientific literature?

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is primarily opinion based.
    – rjzii
    Jul 29, 2013 at 3:56
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    "not being of sufficient interest" is a very common rejection reason, especially when you try to publish in more famous journals. A perfectly fine paper is going to be rejected from Nature or Science if the result it just not interesting or spectacular enough for a wider audience. "not being sufficiently focused" sounds a bit like the author submitted a typical creationist rant.
    – Mad Scientist
    Jul 29, 2013 at 5:58
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    Articles don't have to go as far as ID to be rejected from respected journals. Simply taking an unusual stance is enough to do it. My favorite take on ID is from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, where he says "Look, even guys like Newton believed in ID", but fortunately that didn't stop people from digging deeper into the unknown. Jul 29, 2013 at 12:09
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    If the standard for science journals is "The article must propose a scientifically testable hypothesis" and none of the pro-ID articles can match up to that standard, I'm not really seeing how it's unfair. Aug 18, 2016 at 5:40
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    Reminds me of an Aus journalist who was sent a report to analyze by climate change deniers. His response, "In considering your request that I identify errors in the report you sent to me - CSIROh! Climate of Deception? Or First Step to Freedom? - I find myself confronting an unusual problem: how does one critically analyse a pile of horse shit?" ID can go in journals but they immediately cease to be scientific journals the day they publish it. Your mistake is "regardless of the scientific merit". The sceintific merit of ID submissions is by default zeros so it is not regardless. Aug 19, 2016 at 20:57

1 Answer 1


The American Astronomical Society says, "intelligent design is not science", and "it fails to meet the basic definition of a scientific idea: its proponents do not present testable hypotheses".

The American Psychological Association "rejects intelligent design as scientific", saying it lacks "a means of testing it that passes scientific muster".

The American Geophysical Union calls it an "untestable belief and, therefore, cannot qualify as a scientific theory".

The United States National Academy of Science says, "creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science".

The American Association for the Advancement of Science says that "whether there is an intelligent designer is a matter of religious faith rather than a scientifically testable question".

An editorial from Nature says, "Because it invokes a supernatural origin for something one cannot yet explain, and because it does not generate testable hypotheses and cannot be subjected to empirical inquiry, ID is not science".

This characterization of intelligent design as "not science", or "not scientific" is widespread amongst the scientific community. Here is a more complete list of this rejection by scientific societies.

Science journals tend to not include papers on non-scientific topics. This is their agenda. This is one factor directing their control over the literature.

For example:

Whether or not these standards are fair is a question of opinion, and off-topic for this site.

I have not found evidence that exclusion of intelligent design in scientific journals is due to dislike or that dislike of a topic is a criteria for exclusion by any journal.

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    Arguably the first sentence could read "because "its proponents do not present testable hypotheses"." Jul 30, 2013 at 17:32
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    It seems you're getting at to but not directly saying 'These sources establish that ID is unscientific in nature due to being untestable or lacking explanatory power, and therefore it is reasonable to explain that any given paper's rejection is due to the unscientific nature inherent to or associated with ID.'
    – A L
    Jul 30, 2013 at 18:07
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    "Science journals tend to not include papers on non-scientific topics." citations about them rejecting journal articles because they're not about science would strengthen your answer.
    – Golden Cuy
    Jul 30, 2013 at 21:20
  • Examples of them referring to criteria when rejecting specific articles is what I had in mind.
    – Golden Cuy
    Jul 30, 2013 at 21:32
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    Just to be clear, your answer to the question in the title is "yes"? Or are you saying "no, since we can know the merit of an ID paper merely by being ID it is being rejected on its merits even if it goes unread." I just can't vote for this answer, because I still have no idea what the answer to the original question was based on some quotes showing that scientific consensus is that it is "not science."
    – Matt
    Aug 3, 2013 at 14:25

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