I had an interesting email a few years ago from a collaborator who had recently co-authored the first paper to come out of my postdoctoral research. He had Googled himself, and our paper had cropped up in some unexpected places. As well as apparently being proof that retroviruses from space are reprogramming our genome, our research had also been co-opted by Reasons to Believe (RTB), a group calling themselves “the Premiere Science-Faith Think Tank” who claim to provide “Powerful New Reasons from Science to Believe in Christ”. My precious paper, the culmination of more than a year of hard work, was part of number 7 on their list of the “Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2003 that Support RTB's Testable Creation Model”.
I have to admit that my first reaction was amusement. As a new British immigrant to Canada, I felt very secure in a secular society and dismissed creationism and intelligent design as primarily American problems. Look at these idiots, thinking that my paper supports their crackpot theories! I got on with my work and didn't let the crazy website people bother me.
Over the last year or so, I've become much more aware of what some people call the culture wars in the United States. Science is under attack, and this is no longer an American problem. Creation “museums” exist in Canada and the UK, prominent European politicians support creationism, and a group called Truth in Science is threatening science education throughout the UK.
I eventually decided to reclaim my research from the people who have consistently tried to distort the science to support their own agenda. I checked a few months ago and found my paper in the RTB archives. I emailed the website's creators, explained that they had misunderstood the meaning of my paper, that it actually provided evidence in support of evolution, and politely asked if they could please remove it from their site. I repeated my request a couple of times. I never received more than a bland message in reply saying that they would look into it.
Now here's the thing – my wonderful former room mate decided to shut down the email account that he'd set up for me without giving me a hint of warning. So I lost all my correspondence with RTB, and never heard from them again. It's possible that they tried to contact me and had their message bounce back (although if they'd really wanted to reach me, they could have found me through the contact information within the paper in question). All I know is that my paper's still on their website, and I want it removed.
So here is my public statement: my research that is cited on the RTB website actually supports evolution (the details are in a separate post due to length. I got a bit carried away).
I plan to send this link to the RTB website, explain what happened with my email account, and ask them to respond. I'll post any correspondence here. I will also start to contact other authors whose work is cited in the RTB archives and try to solicit some similar statements refuting the use of their work to support creationism. If anyone reading this has also had a paper misused by RTB or any similar group, please let me know and I'll be in touch.
If you have a website of your own, a link to this post would be much appreciated - it would be great if Google searches for RTB would bring up statements like this one somewhere near the top!
Don't believe in lies and misinformation!