Iowa Citizens for Science Press Release on Gonzalez Case

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The Iowa Citizens for Science have a great press release up concerning the Gonzalez tenure case at ISU.

Iowa Citizens for Science, a grassroots group dedicated to improving public education, feels that the Discovery Institute and Guillermo Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the creationist think tank, are circumventing the normal scientific process to promote their religious ideology. Gonzalez and the DI have announced plans to sue Iowa State University, asserting that ISU violated Dr. Gonzalez’ First Amendment rights in denying his tenure application.

The claim that his rights were violated seems odd to many observers. “How can Gonzalez complain if his work on ID was considered?” wonders Dr. Tara Smith, president of Iowa Citizens for Science and assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa. “If intelligent design is scientific, his department is entitled judge his work in that field. If ID is not science, it’s fair to question why their faculty member is spending so much of his time and resources on it. The claims of persecution issuing from the Discovery Institute and Dr. Gonzalez require that intelligent design be both science and religion. This isn’t about science, it’s about politics.”

It isn’t just that the DI wants IDC to be both science and religion; they want to pick and choose which view is legitimate in every available context. In the “Expelled” roadshow, the tour presenters want everybody to know that IDC is religion. Anyplace that they think may include skeptics, they want to claim IDC is all science and has nothing to do with religion. In the Gonzalez case, they can’t seem to figure out exactly which thing to call it. If it is “religion”, then they can play the “religious discrimination!” and “persecution!” cards (as Gonzalez is featured in the “Expelled” roadshow). If it is “science”, they can play the “Darwinists don’t get our paradigm shift” card. But each of those comes at a cost, and the DI wants to welch on that. If they go the religion route, they can’t legitimately push for governmental imprimatur or special treatment. If they go the science route, they can’t legitimately claim that criticism is out of bounds. The DI simply wants it all to go their way, without any ill consequences. They want the deference that we in the USA are used to giving a divergent and narrow religious view, meaning no criticism involving the merit of the view, and the respect that is due to a successful scientific research program. People need to wake up to the fact that the DI should have no expectation that others will allow them to play “privileged politics”; nor can they expect that non-science will not be recognized as non-science and given the level of respect due a sham aimed at evading the constitution.

The ISU astronomy department did not publicly release detailed reasons for the tenure denial, but the Chronicle of Higher Education found that Gonzalez’ rate of publication had dropped off dramatically since he joined the ISU faculty. None of his graduate students had completed their programs, and he had not received grants from the National Science Foundation or NASA, the major funders of astronomical research. The decline in Gonzalez’ productivity corresponds to the time when he began writing and promoting intelligent design.

The DI wants to deny that anything but IDC was an issue in the tenure considerations, or diminish how much emphasis went into consideration of the other factors. Apparently, the Monday press conference strained them a bit on the timetable, and one can see it reflected in some parts of their 44-page press package, as in footnote #79:

79 Get some cites to post-UW metallicity papers from GG.

Back to the ICfS release…

Dr. Paul Bartelt, past president of the Academy of Science and professor of biology at Waldorf College, is not surprised. “Intelligent design is not science, and it’s fairly predictable that his scientific productivity dropped off once he devoted himself to pursuing an unscientific agenda. I don’t know what his department considered, but declining scientific productivity and the reasons for that decline would be fair points to consider.” Tenure denial is not rare; a third of the applicants in Gonzalez’s department over the last decade were denied tenure.

Gonzalez listed The Privileged Planet, his book about intelligent design, in his tenure review file. “How can he and the DI claim that it was improper for ISU to consider the material he asked them to review?” Dr. Gregory Tinkler, of Iowa Citizens for Science, asked. “He invited his colleagues to consider his work on ID. His department and the scientific community have examined ID, and found that it isn’t science. Gonzalez made his best case and lost at every level of tenure review. Being a religious scientist is perfectly normal and acceptable, but scientists are supposed to be able to separate science from non-science, and good research from bad. Academic freedom protects a scientist’s ability to do science, not to pass off a political or religious crusade as science.”

That’s an important point. Gonzalez had control of what he would or would not put on the table for evaluation in the tenure deliberations. Gonzalez chose to put his IDC book, “Privileged Planet”, in his tenure dossier. The DI is trying to obscure this point or deny it outright, as one finds in their press package:

Yet Dr. Hira wrote that “[i]t is undeniable that his work in ID was considered during the tenure review,” intimating that Dr. Gonzalez opposed having his ID work considered by his tenure evaluators.

Hello? How can anyone claim that Gonzalez did not want his ID work evaluated in his tenure application when he himself prominently included it in his very own tenure dossier? Well, how could anyone with a working conscience do that, I should say.

Finishing up with the ICfS release:

In 2005, faculty members at ISU, the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa signed petitions to inform the public and policymakers that ID is not science. The Kansas Board of Education was considering ID-based science standards, and the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial under way in Dover, Pennsylvania was testing whether teaching intelligent design in public high schools was unconstitutional. A federal judge, John A. Jones, ruled in December, 2005 that intelligent design is a form of creationism making it a religious view and not a science, and that teaching it in public schools violates students’ First Amendment rights.

Iowa Citizens for Science is a grassroots nonprofit dedicated to improving science education in the Hawkeye State. Its membership consists of scientists, educators and parents from across the state. On the web at www.iowascience.org.

See also Mike Dunford’s view. Originally posted at the Austringer.

17 Comments

The DI simply wants it all to go their way, without any ill consequences.

I.e., they want the legal system to work the same way their “science” does. (They claim to have proved that an intelligent designer did this or that, then claim that questions of who and how are out of bounds.)

You can’t just wrap ‘goddidit’ in a discarded lab coat and expect reality to jump on board.

Academic freedom protects a scientist’s ability to do science, not to pass off a political or religious crusade as science.”

Exactly. The DI keeps bleating on and on about “academic freedom,” stressing the freedom part and conveniently forgetting about the academic part. Haven’t they learned from Dover that while such paper thin arguments may play well to their slavering sycophants, any halfway competent lawyer will tear them to shreds? I think so, which is why all this bluster about launching a lawsuit will probably never materialize. They want the persecution PR, but they know they wouldn’t stand a chance in a courtroom. Mark my words, if Gonzalez sues, the Discovery Institute will back out faster than they did in Dover. You can’t expect professional liars to actually stand behind anything they say.

Excellent posting Wes, and excellent press release.

It isn’t just that the DI wants IDC to be both science and religion; they want to pick and choose which view is legitimate in every available context.

Is that kind of like, how does the electron know when to be a wave and when to be a particle? :-)

“It’s a floor wax. No, it’s a dessert topping. It’s both!”
(OK, I’m showing my age.)

Bobby Wrote:

They claim to have proved that an intelligent designer did this or that, then claim that questions of who and how are out of bounds.

Actually they haven’t even really said what the “this or that” is, or even when the designer did it. So even if one gives them the benefit of the doubt in detecting design, their work was finished more than a decade ago. All they have been doing since is repackaging the same worthless argument over and over.

I should note that such an approach has been quite successful, as strategy, if not as science. And in the media, if not in the courts. Not only is the public almost completely unaware of how IDers evade those questions, and why they are important - questions that even YECs have the guts to tackle - but their tactics keep distracting critics who should know better.

Has anyone noted the DI’s allegation of “hostile work environment?” Legally, I think that claim has to allege that the hostility stems from the victim’s real or apparent status as a member of a protected class. The only one that comes close here is religion (I haven’t seen anyone at EN&V say anything about being Cuban), so either Luskin is throwing around empty legalese, or they’re giving away a lot by claiming that the physics department was hostile to GG’s religion.

Drops in productivity, none of his graduate students completed their programs, no grants from NSF; just these three items are more than enough to deny tenure.

What explains the drop in productivity? Good research questions generate lots of work. And there are already hundreds of good questions in astronomy and cosmology needing research in order to address them. Why not pick a couple and propose a research program that gets at the answers? Intelligent Design has never generated a research question that could translate into viable research.

Why did no graduate students complete their programs? Was Gonzalez not able to provide them with research questions to address? Did he pick poor students? What were his criteria for choosing them? Why was he not able to judge their abilities and match them up with research questions? Did he provide any guidance? What happens to those students now?

Why no grants from NSF or some other scientific funding agency like NASA or even some branches of the military (where phenomena from outer space have implications for satellites, space probes, communication, and navigation)? NSF’s budget may be tight, but they are willing to fund good research questions, especially at a university that has access to facilities and a good track record. It would be very interesting to get a look at Gonzalez’s research proposals (if he ever submitted any). Was he attempting to duplicate research going on elsewhere? Could he formulate a set of good questions and a program for addressing them? Who was he networking with? Did he show any awareness of the bigger picture? Did he have any idea of how to become a principle investigator?

This is where the “rubber hits the road”, as the saying goes. ID has no traction whatsoever, and cdesign proponentsists have no clue why. They have been immersed in a world that is so totally out of touch with reality that they can’t even conceive of a scientific research program that gets at anything. Everything is exegesis, word games, and politics for them.

Exegesis, word games, and politics are not substitutes for scientific research, and the involvement of the Discovery Institute in all this makes it clear that this is what it is all about; and to hell with science.

Mike Elzinga said:

This is where the “rubber hits the road”, as the saying goes. ID has no traction whatsoever

ID is apparently the oil slick in the path of science.

GvlGeologist, FCD said: “ID is apparently the oil slick in the path of science.”

They want to be the wooden stake in the heart of science.

Unfortunately they have too many termites and woodpeckers in their stable of “experts.”

I sent the following letter to the Iowa State Board of Regents in order to put them on notice that intelligent design is a propaganda ploy and an example of intellectual dishonesty.

Dear President Gartner and Members of the Iowa State Board of Regents:

Discovery Institute’s propagandists are trying to trick you into believing that their opinion of “intelligent design” constitutes a “scientific theory.” Please do not fall for that trick.

Discovery Institute’s website contains dozens of pages but none of those pages contains a definition of intelligent design. Instead, one of those pages includes the question, “What is the theory of intelligent design?” That question is followed not by a definition of intelligent design but instead by Mr. Casey Luskin’s opinion that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause.” You can see and hear Mr. Luskin stating his opinion at http://www.discovery.org/v/2

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language contains the following definition of evolution: “The theory that groups of organisms, as species, may change with passage of time so that descendants differ morphologically and physiologically from their ancestors.” This definition can be transformed into an opinion that reads, “The theory of evolution holds that groups of organisms, as species, are best explained as the products of natural selection, not by the assertion that an intelligent cause miraculously created them.”

Discovery Institute has similarly transformed its intelligent design hypothesis into an opinion. Discovery Institute has turned the hypothesis that an intelligent cause designed and created the universe, including living things, into the opinion that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause.”

Discovery Institute’s propagandists have transformed their intelligent design hypothesis into an opinion and coupled that opinion to the rhetorical question “What is the theory of intelligent design?” in order to hide the fact that their hypothesis is untestable and cannot be verified and cannot become a scientific theory. Please do not allow Discovery Institute’s propagandists to bamboozle you into accepting Mr. Luskin’s opinion as a “scientific theory.” They want Mr. Luskin’s opinion to be accepted as a scientific theory so that they can then allege “viewpoint discrimination” and “hostile work environment” and “violation of academic freedom.” Don’t fall for that crap!

In his decision on the case of Kitzmiller, et al v. Dover School District, et al, Judge John E. Jones III wrote, “To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.” Judge Jones correctly found intelligent design to be “an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion.” Any person who promotes the view that intelligent design constitutes a scientific theory is not being honest with himself or with others. Any person who engages in that sort of intellectual dishonesty should not be offered a tenured position at your university.

Sincerely, Scott G. Beach

Thanks, Wesley for a clear and informative post. I was not previously aware that Gonzalez had included Privileged Planet in his tenure dossier.

This totally blows away the DI’s claim that the tenure committee should not have considered his “hobby” of working on ID. Gonzalez asked them to consider his work on ID. If I had been on the tenure committee, I would have rejected his application, too.

Paul Burnett:

GvlGeologist, FCD said: “ID is apparently the oil slick in the path of science.”

They want to be the wooden stake in the heart of science.

Fortunately they have too many termites and woodpeckers in their stable of “experts.”

There. Corrected it for you.

ravilyn sanders corrected me, saying: ““Fortunately they have too many termites and woodpeckers in their stable of “experts.”” There. Corrected it for you.”

Good one. I meant, of course, “unfortunately for them.” But “fortunately for reality” reads better. Correction accepted. Thanks.

You also forgot dry rot, and the powder post and deathwatch beetles, too.

The DI and ID Creationism are like the young lad who asks a thousand girls to go to bed with them. 999 girls slap them really hard across the face, but that one who says yes. That’s what they’re trying to do in all the thousand court cases. There’s that Woods Hole Creationist who just got fired for refusing to Evolotionary Biology too.

…like the young lad who asks a thousand girls to go to bed with them. 999 girls slap them really hard across the face…

I’ll thank you to leave my personal life out of this, Doug.

Including religious dogma in science education would certainly improve student exam scores. Rather than using secular logic to solve science problems, students can just answer, “God Did It!”.

If Huckabee, an avowed Creationist, is elected president, is there a chance he will appoint Michael Behe as his National Science Advisor? He won’t get elected but he may be able to exert his Creationist views on any Republican who is elected.

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This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on December 12, 2007 6:19 AM.

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