Project Steve — NCSE's lighthearted response to the creationist tradition of amassing lists of "scientists who doubt evolution" — debuted 20 years ago, on February 16, 2003. The signatories endorse a statement describing evolution as "a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences," affirming that "there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence," and characterizing the inclusion of creationism in the public schools as "scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible."
Project Steve is named in honor of the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, a valiant supporter of both evolution education and NCSE, and only scientists with PhDs (or the equivalent) who share his first name — Steve, Steven, or Stephen, or cognates such as Stephanie, Stefan, Esteban, and so on — are allowed to endorse the Project Steve statement. After 20 years, the official Steveometer reads 1488, and because only about 1% of the population possesses a qualifying first name, that implies that at least 148,800 scientists would agree with the statement, dwarfing any creationist list.
Described by Steven Pinker as "the most formidable weapon in the fight against neo-creationism today," Project Steve is indeed a superlative accomplishment, demonstrating the emptiness of the creationist attempt to appeal to authority. So to celebrate its 20th year in existence, here are 25 suitably light-hearted superlatives from Project Steve, one for each letter of the alphabet for which there's a Steve. (NCSE would be overjoyed to hear from any qualified applicant whose surname starts with the letter X. Steve Xi, Stephanie Xenopoulos, Esteban Ximenes, where are you?)
Alphabetically first Steve
Stephen T. Abedon
Chronologically first Steve
Stephen Burnett (Steve #1)
Steven J. Prior (Steve #587)
Alphabetically last Steve
Steven W. Zucker
Chronologically last Steve (so far)
Steve Colvin (Steve #1488)
Most common Steve surname
Smith, with 10 Steves: Stephen A. Smith, Stephen J. Smith, Stephen M. Smith, Stephen S. Smith, Steve Smith, Steve E. Smith, Steven J. Smith, Steven J. Smith, Steven O. Smith, and Steven Thomas Smith.
Most seasonal Steve
Stephen Winter. Honorary mentions: Stefan Sommer, Stefan Sommer.
Most lupine Steve
Steven J. Wolf. Honorary mentions: Stefan Leo Wolff, Stephen S. Wolff.
Most vulpine Steve
A two-way tie: Stephen Fox, Stephen L. Fox.
Steve with the most Nobel prizes
A two-way tie: Steven Chu, Steven Weinberg.
Steve with the most appearances on The Simpsons
Stephen W. Hawking
Most colorful Steve
Plenty of contestants — two Blacks, seven Browns, three Greens (and one Greene), two Roses, two Whites — but the prize has to go to Steve #4, who isn't merely pink: he's Pinker.
Steve with the shortest surname
Steve with the short surname
A two-way tie: Stephen J. Short, Steven M. Short.
Steve with the longest surname
A two-way tie: Stefanos Papanikolopoulos, Steve Stewart-Williams. Honorable mention: Steve Cronen-Townsend, Stefan G. Llewellyn Smith.
Steve with the long surname
Stephen P. Long
Steve with the most exotic variant of Steve
Two-way tie: Istvan Kecskes, Tapani Salmi.
The family that most Steves together
Two-way tie: Steven Piantadosi and Steven T. Piantadosi (father and son); Steve G. Belovich and Stephanie J. Belovich (brother and sister).
Most regal Steve
Five-way tie: Stephen J. King, Stephen J. King, Steve King, Steven C. King, Steven C. King.
Most authoritative Steve
Stephen K. Boss
Steven P. Darwin (Steve #1000)
Steve with the highest diacritical mark density in surname
Steeve Côté (50%)
Most stochastic Steve
Two-way tie: Steven Fortune, Steven J. Luck.
Steve most disappointed by the Project Steve degree requirement
Three-way tie: former NCSE employee Stephen E. "Skip" Evans (B.S.), former NCSE employee Steven Newton (M.S.), current NCSE employee Stepheny Lin Andrews (M.S.).
Steve most likely to be confused with an "intelligent design" creationist
Stephen C. Meyers. Honorable mention: Steven Myers, Steven F. Myers, Steven T. Myers.