Discovery Institute still spinning Bryan Leonard

| 42 Comments

Long-time readers of PT will recall the Bryan Leonard affair in Ohio. Now Casey Luskin harks back to that to criticize one of the Ohio State professors who called attention to anomalies in Leonard’s quest for a Ph.D. in science education from the Ohio State University.

To recap, in 2005 I wrote

Bryan Leonard is a recently visible figure in the intelligent design creationism movement. Leonard is a high school biology teacher at Hilliard Davidson High School in a suburb of Columbus. As an appointee to the Ohio State BOE’s model curriculum-writing committee, he was the author of the IDC-oriented “Critical Analysis” model lesson plan adopted by the Ohio State Board of Education last year, and he recently testified at the Kansas Creationist Kangaroo Court hearings. The credential that endears him to the IDC movement is that he is a doctoral candidate in science education at the Ohio State University, and his dissertation research is on the academic merits of an ID-based “critical analysis” approach to teaching evolution in public schools.

Leonard was scheduled to defend his dissertation yesterday, June 6, but we learned late last week that his defense has been postponed.

Briefly, the composition of Leonard’s committee did not meet the requirements of the program from which he sought the degree, and further, there was no indication that he had sought or received Institutional Review Board or parental permission to conduct his research, using misleading material about evolution, on public school students. As I wrote in 2005,

Leonard’s final dissertation committee did not meet those requirements. It was composed of his advisor, Paul Post from the technology education program area of the section for Math, Science and Technology; Glen R. Needham of the Department of Entomology in the College of Biological Sciences; and Robert DiSilvestro of the Department of Human Nutrition in the College of Human Ecology. For the final defense an Assistant Professor from the department of French & Italian in the College of Humanities was also assigned to the committee to monitor the procedure. Thus, there were no members from the science education program area on Leonard’s final dissertation committee.

That lack was pointed out to the University by three senior members of the University’s graduate faculty, evolutionary biologist Steve Rissing, paleoanthropologist Jeff McKee, and mathematician Brian McEnnis, in a letter to the appropriate administrators of OSU. (Full disclosure: all three are friends of mine.) All three were (and still are) full professors on the OSU graduate faculty. Excerpts from that letter are quoted in an excellent summary in the OSU newspaper.

Not only did Leonard’s committee not meet the requirements of his program, two of four members were prominent ID proponents. Needham and DiSilvestro were active in Ohio ID circles, and both signed the DI’s “Dissent from Darwin” statement. Along with Leonard, DiSilvestro testified in the Kansas Kangaroo Court. Leonard described his (unpublished) work in that hearing.

After biologist and Dean of the School of Biological Sciences Joan Herbers was added to Leonard’s committee, replacing the Assistant Professor of French and Italian, Leonard’s defense was postponed at the request of his advisor, and as far as I know it was never rescheduled.

The Discovery Institute predictably threw a fit about OSU’s treatment of Leonard. See here and here for examples. According to the DI, it was a manifestation of the oppressive Darwinist conspiracy. See here for my take on the DI’s spinning then.

Now the Discovery Institute, in the person of Casey Luskin, has revived its falsehoods about the Leonard affair in the context of a critique of Steve Rissing’s recent paper about the undue emphasis in college biology programs on MCAT preparation to the neglect of other audiences–students preparing for biology and related science majors, and students completing general education graduation requirements.

In his current screed, Luskin wrote

Leonard, who had a master’s degree in biology, also taught public high school biology and used a state-approved lesson plan to teach his students about the evidence for and against neo-Darwinian theory. His doctoral thesis analyzed the pedagogical benefits of teaching Darwinian evolution in this objective manner.

When some evolutionary biologists on the OSU campus caught wind of it, they wrote a letter protesting Leonard’s thesis defense, claiming that “there are no valid scientific data challenging macroevolution” and therefore his teaching about problems with neo-Darwinism was “unethical” and “deliberate miseducation.”

You read that right: in their view, merely teaching students that there are scientific weaknesses in neo-Darwinian theory amounted to a form of “unethical” human research experimentation.

That was one of the concerns Rissing, et al., raised, but it was not the only concern. Casey missed another: that Leonard had failed to obtain Institutional Review Board and/or parental permission to subject his students to his research. And though Casey claims that “…Bryan Leonard was ultimately cleared of Rissing’s repugnant and contrived charges, …”, to my knowledge there’s no evidence that Leonard had either Institutional Review Board or parental permission to mislead his students about evolution in the course of his teaching in a public school. According to his testimony in the Kansas Kangaroo court, Leonard had been teaching that way for “five or six years” as of 2005, meaning he started well before the State BOE adopted the ‘critical analysis’ model lesson plan in 2004 and before the ‘critical analysis’ language in the State standards (Benchmark H-23) was adopted in 2002. I wrote about that topic seven years ago:

Given that Leonard’s lesson plan draft contained a series of falsehoods about evolutionary biology, and given that in Kansas Leonard testified about his (as yet unpublished) research, the question arose as to whether Leonard had appropriately informed the IRB and the parents of his students that he was teaching scientific trash in order to assess its effects on their children and whether he had received appropriate permissions to do so. To my knowledge that question has still not been answered.

That question still hasn’t been answered seven years later. And as far as I can tell, Leonard’s dissertation defense was never rescheduled. So much for his having been cleared.

Casey, of course, doesn’t even hint at the violation of requirements concerning the composition of dissertation committees in Leonard’s program or the IRB issue. He’s carrying on in the tradition of the Disco ‘Tute’s misrepresentations about that case that were also made by Jonathan Wells here. I discussed Leonard’s behavior there, too:

As a graduate student, Leonard had already thrust himself into a policy-making environment as a member of a committee writing lesson plans to instantiate the new state science standards in Ohio, in particular 10th grade biology. He drafted a lesson plan that contained classic creationist objections to evolutionary theory (the misnamed “critical analysis of evolution”). As originally submitted to the State Board of Education the lesson plan contained nine “aspects of evolution” to be “critically analysed”. Eight of the nine came straight out of Wells’s Icons of Evolution, a collection of misrepresentations, distortions, and flat falsehoods. The lesson plan also contained irrelevant “web resources”, including a number of creationist web sites, and at least one outright fake reference, a paper allegedly in Nature that has no existence outside creationist web sites. It was a shoddy piece of creationist propaganda masquerading as a lesson plan.

In the Kansas creationism hearings Leonard claimed to have been teaching that creationist trash for years and that his doctoral research focused on whether doing so influenced students’s learning about evolution.

Casey is oblivious to all that, though. Institutional Review Board? We don’t need no steenkin’ Institutional Review Board.

42 Comments

Whew! Am I glad I found out my kids will be attending Hilliard Darby instead of Hilliard Davidson! Hopefully all of the Hilliard schools aren’t tainted by creationist teachers.

I was really shocked to read Luskin raising the corpse of Leonard. Truly, the Disco Tute and the disgusting Luskin in particular have no shame. The Tute must really be on the skids for them to sink this low. Luskin talks the big talk about being civil but in reality to drag Leonard out like this is beyond the pale. Clearly, the Tooters have no morals nor ethics.

Luskin has been at the Tute for ten years. I can only imagine in my most horrific nightmares what his Dorian Gray picture looks like. How a person could become this twisted and sour is beyond my comprehension. I suppose desperate times call for desperate action, but this? It’s the lowest I’ve seen for the Disco Tute and that’s saying something.

Man, that was a trip down memory lane for me. I remember everyone of those PT posts, RBH.

I remember thinking then how utterly oblivious Leonard seemed to the damage he was doing to his chances of ever finishing his PhD. When he was “on the stand” in Topeka, Pedro metaphorically pulled his underwear over his head. When a PhD candidate in Science Education admitted that he hadn’t even read the Science Standards he came all the way to Kansas to criticize, he looked more than a little unprepared.

That’s what I get for trying to comment on my phone.

I fixed it for you.

Well he has had seven years to publish his findings in the peer reviewed literature. The evil Darwinist conspiracy might have had his dissertation defense cancelled, but how could they possibly have prevented him from publishing valid research? Did he even publish it in the creationist non peer non reviewed literature? How could the evil Darwinist conspiracy have stopped that?

And what about all those grants he has gotten to do more research? Doesn’t that prove that he was doing good work all along? What? Oh. Never mind.

I followed the story closely at the time because the Tute was whining about the “Darwinian Pressure Groups” hammering poor old Leonard. Thus was founded Delta Pi Gamma, me and Harold, as I remember, Co-Presidents for life and trying to raise funds for a fraternity officer BMW. I think the Tute saw problems with copyright infringement because they shortly shifted to “Evolution Lobbyists” as their enemy and we didn’t have enough money to incorporate Epsilon Lambda.

The Tute never lifted a finger to help Leonard and now they’re giving him the finger. Sad, pathetic little people the Tooters.

DS said:

Well he has had seven years to publish his findings in the peer reviewed literature. The evil Darwinist conspiracy might have had his dissertation defense cancelled, but how could they possibly have prevented him from publishing valid research? Did he even publish it in the creationist non peer non reviewed literature? How could the evil Darwinist conspiracy have stopped that?

Based on the (sketchy) description he gave of his research at the Kansas Kangaroo Court, his grasp on research design seems pretty shaky, and he’d have a tough time publishing it in anything but the DI’s vanity journal.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

DS said:

Well he has had seven years to publish his findings in the peer reviewed literature. The evil Darwinist conspiracy might have had his dissertation defense cancelled, but how could they possibly have prevented him from publishing valid research? Did he even publish it in the creationist non peer non reviewed literature? How could the evil Darwinist conspiracy have stopped that?

Based on the (sketchy) description he gave of his research at the Kansas Kangaroo Court, his grasp on research design seems pretty shaky, and he’d have a tough time publishing it in anything but the DI’s vanity journal.

And given how often the Discovery Institute publishes issues of its vanity journal, he’d have a hell of a time publishing his garbage even in that.

Just back from a trip down ‘archive alley’. It’s great fun to reread Dover and Dembski’s elequent silent testimony. Rereading RBH on Leonard was also pleasant.

Did Luskin really write, ‘Leonard who had a Masters degree…’ What happened to the degree? Lost? Stolen? Laughed out of existance? If Luskin trained as a lawyer, one would think the correct use of tenses might be important to him.

Speaking of memory lane, where is Dembski’s infamous “fart video” that he made after the decision at Dover?

robert van bakel said:

Just back from a trip down ‘archive alley’. It’s great fun to reread Dover and Dembski’s elequent silent testimony.

Proving once and for all, “You say it best - when you say nothing at all” (with apologies to Allison Krause)

anonatheist said: Whew! Am I glad I found out my kids will be attending Hilliard Darby instead of Hilliard Davidson! Hopefully all of the Hilliard schools aren’t tainted by creationist teachers.

Keep your eyes open!

Robocop required!

Where is Bryan Leonard now?

I think there is no case more instructive of how current politically motivated ID/creationists behave than this one.

It is incredibly important to understand this case.

Bryan Leonard has the legal right to express any belief he wishes during his private hours, and to look for a job in a religious school or other venue in which he can express such views during work hours, as well.

Instead he dedicated himself to a program of violating the rights of others via stealth. He claims to have snuck religious favoritism into public school science class before beginning his time as a graduate student. As a graduate student, he violated ethical standards by doing his research in a surreptitious way that bypassed required ethical oversight. He also schemed with sympathetic professors from peripheral departments (relative to the subject of his PhD) to bypass the usual rigorous thesis defense process, and tried fly out of Ohio State University with an under-the-radar “PhD”, which he planned to brandish in defense of sectarian favoritism at taxpayer expense in public school science classes (according to his own statements). Even though such favoritism is illegal no matter what PhD anyone holds. If granted a PhD in this way it would have been an exceptionally gross violation of all academic standards and ethics, and probably of the law - his would-be advisers planned to rubber stamp his thesis out of religious favoritism, while, of course, other PhD students were not offered such favoritism.

We have to look at this and understand that, even though it’s all in the service of sectarian religious favoritism, it’s not just about religion, as traditionally understood. Leonard already had total freedom to express his religion, including any creationist beliefs. No fake PhD was required for that.

The words that help us understand this mindset are “authoritarian”, “obsessed”, “unethical” and “very sneaky”.

The ultimate objective was to trick Ohio State University into seeming to endorse Leonard’s ideological agenda.

We saw a very similar thing not long ago when a group of creationists rented space at Cornell university for a conference, and attempted to misrepresent their conference to a scientific publishing house.

They could have openly told Cornell that it was a creationist conference. The space would still have been rented to them. They could have invited any number of religious publishing houses to publish the proceeds. There is no barrier to full and free expression of their ideas.

Instead they were determined to trick Cornell and Springer into seeming to endorse their ideological agenda.

Another key word is “negative”. It is a negative agenda. We all know here that they don’t offer positive evidence for their claims. Leonard’s thesis was, needless to say, about (fake) “weaknesses” of the theory of evolution. Leonard had and has no intention of doing scientific research to support “intelligent design”. His goals were to sabotage teaching of science in public schools, and damage the reputation of Ohio State University by tricking them into seeming to support his agenda. All at taxpayer expense.

The Discovery Institute should ask permission to publish Leonard’s thesis. It was supposedly defensible and my guess is that Leonard should be willing to have it published. Isn’t it a straightforward case of academic freedom? ;-)

If the actual thesis is published it will likely be very clear why no defense was ever made.

I have contended that it would have been better to let the defense proceed and have the thesis accepted by the committee. It would have been a black eye for Ohio State and the faculty involved, but they were obviously lax and would have moved to tighten up their procedures. It could have led to law suits by the high school students or the parents of the students subjected to the, likely, bogus lessons and “research.” But that would have also been on Ohio State to make sure that it didn’t happen again.

Leonard’s thesis project had been approved by his committee and he had completed the research and was prepared to defend it. His committee was at least clueless about the issues, and in two cases were likely intent on pushing the thesis through. My guess is that Ohio State has swept the issue under the rug and wants it to stay there.

When is the statute of limitations up for law suits against the university for this episode? Can students and parents still sue the University over this issue? It has been 8 years. The fact that Leonard has been silent on the issue indicates some legal entanglements in this whole mess.

DS said:

Well he has had seven years to publish his findings in the peer reviewed literature. The evil Darwinist conspiracy might have had his dissertation defense cancelled, but how could they possibly have prevented him from publishing valid research? Did he even publish it in the creationist non peer non reviewed literature? How could the evil Darwinist conspiracy have stopped that?

And what about all those grants he has gotten to do more research? Doesn’t that prove that he was doing good work all along? What? Oh. Never mind.

It’s alleged (1) that Leonard didn’t have the required approval by OSU’s IRB and (2) that the students’ parents did not consent to have their children participate in the research. If these allegation are true, wouldn’t they be cause for reputable journals to reject Leonard’s work, since it would have been conducted in violation of the relevant ethical standards? My recollection is that the few times I’ve published in medically-oriented journals, I had to indicate as corresponding author that the work complied with the relevant ethical standards.

We must demand that the DI or some appropriate ID venue publish Leonard’s thesis. This should be an OP by itself at PT: the scientific community demands the publication of Leonard’s thesis, and opposes the DI’s censorship and suppression of pro-ID writings.

Why is the DI again attempting to squelch the writing of pro-ID advocates? What are they afraid of? We must oppose the censorship of ID writings by ID proponents themselves. We must demand that ENV or the DI website immediately publish Leonard’s grand thesis, for all of us to peruse.

I will here draw an analogy to Dover. Before Prof. Barbara Forrest went to give her expert testimony at Dover, her subject being the writings and books of ID proponents like Phillip Johnson, Dembski, etc.– the pro-ID lawyers from the Thomas More Legal Center sent to the judge a scurrilous, horribly written (that is, probably ghost-written by the DI) petition, demanding the exclusion of Forrest’s testimony and ALL THE EVIDENCE SHE WAS GOING TO CITE, that is, all the books and articles written by ID advocates themselves, pre-2004. That is, they wanted to exclude the writings of ID’s leading “thinkers”– because what those thinkers wrote, pre-2004, was that ID was, by definition, creationist, religious and supernatural. For this reason, ID proponents sought to censor and suppress Intelligent Design writings.

Is the DI once again seeking to censor, silence, suppress and squelch the writings of ID proponents? We must oppose censorship of Intelligent Design ideas perpetrated by the bullying, intolerant proponents of ID themselves.

We demand that the Discovery Institute cease bullying, censorship and suppression of ID ideas and writings; and that the DI immediately publishes in full Bryan Leonard’s PhD “thesis” so that the scientific community can change its quality.

Errata: “judge its quality” not “change its quality”.

Speaking of memory lane, where is Dembski’s infamous “fart video” that he made after the decision at Dover?

I don’t know, but I do remember that when Panda’s Thumb pointed it out, Ken Miller dropped by and said how good it was to see the research that the Discovery Institute was up to!

SWT said:

DS said:

Well he has had seven years to publish his findings in the peer reviewed literature. The evil Darwinist conspiracy might have had his dissertation defense cancelled, but how could they possibly have prevented him from publishing valid research? Did he even publish it in the creationist non peer non reviewed literature? How could the evil Darwinist conspiracy have stopped that?

And what about all those grants he has gotten to do more research? Doesn’t that prove that he was doing good work all along? What? Oh. Never mind.

It’s alleged (1) that Leonard didn’t have the required approval by OSU’s IRB and (2) that the students’ parents did not consent to have their children participate in the research. If these allegation are true, wouldn’t they be cause for reputable journals to reject Leonard’s work, since it would have been conducted in violation of the relevant ethical standards? My recollection is that the few times I’ve published in medically-oriented journals, I had to indicate as corresponding author that the work complied with the relevant ethical standards.

So then, I guess no one can legitimately claim bias or suppression or conspiracy or anything else. The guy simply did not know how to conduct research. And if he didn’t even know enough top get the proper permission for working with humans subjects, what are the odds that he was competent at experimental design and data analysis? I think we can be pretty sure that the supposed “research” will never see the light of day in any form. If it did, it would probably be yet another example of creationist incompetence and misunderstanding of science.

Let’s focus on one important point.

When Casey said, “…Bryan Leonard was ultimately cleared of Rissing’s repugnant and contrived charges, …” he was just lying outright, right? Leonard was never cleared, correct?

diogeneslamp0 said:

Is the DI once again seeking to censor, silence, suppress and squelch the writings of ID proponents?

Only the “best” ones. ;-)

DS said:

SWT said:

DS said:

Well he has had seven years to publish his findings in the peer reviewed literature. The evil Darwinist conspiracy might have had his dissertation defense cancelled, but how could they possibly have prevented him from publishing valid research? Did he even publish it in the creationist non peer non reviewed literature? How could the evil Darwinist conspiracy have stopped that?

And what about all those grants he has gotten to do more research? Doesn’t that prove that he was doing good work all along? What? Oh. Never mind.

It’s alleged (1) that Leonard didn’t have the required approval by OSU’s IRB and (2) that the students’ parents did not consent to have their children participate in the research. If these allegation are true, wouldn’t they be cause for reputable journals to reject Leonard’s work, since it would have been conducted in violation of the relevant ethical standards? My recollection is that the few times I’ve published in medically-oriented journals, I had to indicate as corresponding author that the work complied with the relevant ethical standards.

So then, I guess no one can legitimately claim bias or suppression or conspiracy or anything else. The guy simply did not know how to conduct research. And if he didn’t even know enough top get the proper permission for working with humans subjects, what are the odds that he was competent at experimental design and data analysis? I think we can be pretty sure that the supposed “research” will never see the light of day in any form. If it did, it would probably be yet another example of creationist incompetence and misunderstanding of science.

If these allegations are true, Leonard’s adviser also failed – his adviser should have made certain that his student’s research was completed competently and in line with legal and ethical standards. Leonard’s adviser should also have made sure that his committee met university requirements.

Hi Casey, I know your reading this. What do you think of the responses? Pretty shameful behavior (lying for Jesus) on your part part, don’t you think? So what’s the plan now? Honesty? hahahahahahahahaha

SWT said:

DS said:

SWT said:

DS said:

Well he has had seven years to publish his findings in the peer reviewed literature. The evil Darwinist conspiracy might have had his dissertation defense cancelled, but how could they possibly have prevented him from publishing valid research? Did he even publish it in the creationist non peer non reviewed literature? How could the evil Darwinist conspiracy have stopped that?

And what about all those grants he has gotten to do more research? Doesn’t that prove that he was doing good work all along? What? Oh. Never mind.

It’s alleged (1) that Leonard didn’t have the required approval by OSU’s IRB and (2) that the students’ parents did not consent to have their children participate in the research. If these allegation are true, wouldn’t they be cause for reputable journals to reject Leonard’s work, since it would have been conducted in violation of the relevant ethical standards? My recollection is that the few times I’ve published in medically-oriented journals, I had to indicate as corresponding author that the work complied with the relevant ethical standards.

So then, I guess no one can legitimately claim bias or suppression or conspiracy or anything else. The guy simply did not know how to conduct research. And if he didn’t even know enough top get the proper permission for working with humans subjects, what are the odds that he was competent at experimental design and data analysis? I think we can be pretty sure that the supposed “research” will never see the light of day in any form. If it did, it would probably be yet another example of creationist incompetence and misunderstanding of science.

If these allegations are true, Leonard’s adviser also failed – his adviser should have made certain that his student’s research was completed competently and in line with legal and ethical standards. Leonard’s adviser should also have made sure that his committee met university requirements.

The behavior of Leonard’s advisers is arguably the major scandal here.

I will now repeat a question which may have been mistaken as rhetorical when I asked it above -

Does anyone know where Leonard is now? Teaching school? Submitting a thesis somewhere else?

Casey Luskin’s article actually attacks Professor Rissing (the faculty member who drew attention to the shenanigans) for some more recent statements; Leonard’s actual fate is not mentioned.

The name Bryan Leonard is very common even with the “y” spelling. I’m not able to figure out what Bryan Leonard is up to now.

But I sure would like to know what the net effect of trying to cheat Ohio State into granting a bogus PhD is.

I suspect he’s teaching public school science, and have some internet hints that he may be doing so in Texas. Does anyone know?

Just to remind everyone, I completely oppose religious tests of any type when it comes to public (and most private) employment. Whether or not someone is privately a creationist is irrelevant, as long as they don’t violate the rights of others. Likewise, if Ohio State University merely flunked him out of graduate school, rather than officially noting ethical misconduct, that would not be a disqualification for teaching at the high school level.

Still, I’d like to know what he’s doing, and if he is teaching science, I’d like to be sure that he’s learned his lesson, respects the rights of all students, and sticks to accepted science.

harold said:

SWT said:

DS said:

SWT said:

DS said:

Well he has had seven years to publish his findings in the peer reviewed literature. The evil Darwinist conspiracy might have had his dissertation defense cancelled, but how could they possibly have prevented him from publishing valid research? Did he even publish it in the creationist non peer non reviewed literature? How could the evil Darwinist conspiracy have stopped that?

And what about all those grants he has gotten to do more research? Doesn’t that prove that he was doing good work all along? What? Oh. Never mind.

It’s alleged (1) that Leonard didn’t have the required approval by OSU’s IRB and (2) that the students’ parents did not consent to have their children participate in the research. If these allegation are true, wouldn’t they be cause for reputable journals to reject Leonard’s work, since it would have been conducted in violation of the relevant ethical standards? My recollection is that the few times I’ve published in medically-oriented journals, I had to indicate as corresponding author that the work complied with the relevant ethical standards.

So then, I guess no one can legitimately claim bias or suppression or conspiracy or anything else. The guy simply did not know how to conduct research. And if he didn’t even know enough top get the proper permission for working with humans subjects, what are the odds that he was competent at experimental design and data analysis? I think we can be pretty sure that the supposed “research” will never see the light of day in any form. If it did, it would probably be yet another example of creationist incompetence and misunderstanding of science.

If these allegations are true, Leonard’s adviser also failed – his adviser should have made certain that his student’s research was completed competently and in line with legal and ethical standards. Leonard’s adviser should also have made sure that his committee met university requirements.

The behavior of Leonard’s advisers is arguably the major scandal here.

I will now repeat a question which may have been mistaken as rhetorical when I asked it above -

Does anyone know where Leonard is now? Teaching school? Submitting a thesis somewhere else?

Casey Luskin’s article actually attacks Professor Rissing (the faculty member who drew attention to the shenanigans) for some more recent statements; Leonard’s actual fate is not mentioned.

The name Bryan Leonard is very common even with the “y” spelling. I’m not able to figure out what Bryan Leonard is up to now.

But I sure would like to know what the net effect of trying to cheat Ohio State into granting a bogus PhD is.

I suspect he’s teaching public school science, and have some internet hints that he may be doing so in Texas. Does anyone know?

Just to remind everyone, I completely oppose religious tests of any type when it comes to public (and most private) employment. Whether or not someone is privately a creationist is irrelevant, as long as they don’t violate the rights of others. Likewise, if Ohio State University merely flunked him out of graduate school, rather than officially noting ethical misconduct, that would not be a disqualification for teaching at the high school level.

Still, I’d like to know what he’s doing, and if he is teaching science, I’d like to be sure that he’s learned his lesson, respects the rights of all students, and sticks to accepted science.

Sounds as if this ought to be filed under “And we would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling evolutionists.”

Leonard seems to drawn attention to himself by talking in public. This led to people with the knowledge of how OSU research should be done asking awkward questions. It sounds pretty clear that Leonard (and particularly his advisers) were not doing things properly. Once that came out into the open, it was all up.

It was lucky for everyone concerned that it was caught before Leonard was awarded the degree. If it were found out afterwards that he hadn’t got the approval from the appropriate ethics committee, OSU would have been obliged to take the PhD back, since Leonard would, in submitting his thesis, have signed that he *had* done everything properly, and so would, techinically, have lied. If it were publicly known that OSU had allowed such a serious breach of the rules to stand, they would have been up to their necks in official displeasure from funding sources.

harold said:

I will now repeat a question which may have been mistaken as rhetorical when I asked it above -

Does anyone know where Leonard is now? Teaching school? Submitting a thesis somewhere else?

He’s still listed as a member of the science department at Hilliard Davidson HS. He is also listed as the advisor for the Future Medical Club.

http://hdv.hilliardschools.org/abou[…]ching-staff/

Let’s be realistic here for a moment.

If the class had been offered, and the discussion was honest and actually did try to “teach the controversy” what was the likely outcome?

Science would have been portrayed - rightly - as putting 200 years of solid research and evidence on the table. All of which points to an ancient earth and humans being nothing more than unusually dextrous monkeys.

Religion would make its case and be shown to have nothing more than fanciful tales completely at odds with any actual physical measurement ever made, and modern “Creation Science” would be shown to be noting more than political manufactroversy.

Some religious member of the class, after years of indoctrination about how their side would win a fair fight, would be horribly offended that anyone should attack and oppress his faith so unjustly.

There would be a letter to the editor.

The local mega-churches would jump on it with righteous indignation.

Politicians would jump on it for partisan political gain.

Fox, Drudge and The 700 club would have the standard 5-minute remote interview segment featuring offended student X and his lawyer.

Amarillo College would issue a half-assed apology about how they didn’t mean to denigrate anyone’s religion.

This would mollify neither the churches, nor the politicians, both of which found some PR traction in the issue.

Butby now people who actually value real fact-based education would join the fray on the other side, thrashing Amarillo for caving. Amarillo College, a small institution that depends on the goodwill of local governments for support, would be pummeled from all sides.

For what? For a pointless exercise discussing whether the earth really is round?

If I were the Dean at Amarillo, I’d have shit-canned the course the moment I heard about it too.

Yes, I have an educational mission and all that, but I’m still not dumb enough to purposely stick my dick in a hornet’s nest just to see what’s gonna happen next (one of my favorite local sayings from my time living in Austin).

Jeremy said:

harold said:

I will now repeat a question which may have been mistaken as rhetorical when I asked it above -

Does anyone know where Leonard is now? Teaching school? Submitting a thesis somewhere else?

He’s still listed as a member of the science department at Hilliard Davidson HS. He is also listed as the advisor for the Future Medical Club.

http://hdv.hilliardschools.org/abou[…]ching-staff/

For the sake of the students and taxpayers of that district, I hope he’s now an advocate of teaching accepted science, whatever his private views may be.

[cynicism]But of course, as long as he doesn’t outright shock the students with a Tesla coil, he should be alright even if he does teach a little post-modern fundamentalism on the public dime. And in Ohio, he may be safe even if he is branding crosses on them with a Tesla coil.[/cynicism]

One of us or all of us should write Leonard an email asking if he was really cleared of the charges by an investigation, as Luskin claimed.

If not, it’s Casey Luskin twenty thousandth outright lie.

diogeneslamp0 said:

One of us or all of us should write Leonard an email asking if he was really cleared of the charges by an investigation, as Luskin claimed.

If not, it’s Casey Luskin twenty thousandth outright lie.

Leonard was not “charged” with anything. That’s Luskin hyperbole. After Leonard spoke publicly in Kansas about his research prior to its having been defended, the three members of the graduate faculty raised several questions about the circumstances surrounding his candidacy for the degree. Some of those questions were never publicly answered, to my knowledge, at least. And since his defense was never rescheduled, it’s a reasonable inference that any confidential answers weren’t favorable to Leonard.

With respect to the IRB question, I understand that it’s possible to be exempted from IRB review by claiming to be testing alternative teaching methods. However, if a method involves teaching falsehoods, that would require a full IRB review. If Leonard claimed that he was only testing alternative methods and didn’t mention the material, it’s possible to have by-passed IRB review. Of course, it would have been a fraudulent claim.

The real culprits in the case were Leonard’s committee members–DiSilvestro and Needham, both full professors, and his advisor, Post (then an assistant professor). They led Leonard down a garden path, and then left him to be hung out to dry.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

With respect to the IRB question, I understand that it’s possible to be exempted from IRB review by claiming to be testing alternative teaching methods. However, if a method involves teaching falsehoods, that would require a full IRB review. If Leonard claimed that he was only testing alternative methods and didn’t mention the material, it’s possible to have by-passed IRB review. Of course, it would have been a fraudulent claim.

According to 45 CFR 46.101

(b) Unless otherwise required by department or agency heads, research activities in which the only involvement of human subjects will be in one or more of the following categories are exempt from this policy:

(1) Research conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, involving normal educational practices, such as (i) research on regular and special education instructional strategies, or (ii) research on the effectiveness of or the comparison among instructional techniques, curricula, or classroom management methods.

Like my university, OSU requires that the IRB determine if a proposed study is exempt under 45 CFR 46.101(b)(1). So, some review is required simply to establish the exemption from IRB oversight.

I think that stevaroni presents a likely scenario as to what would happen if someone were to take creationism/ID seriously and present “both sides”.

TomS said:

I think that stevaroni presents a likely scenario as to what would happen if someone were to take creationism/ID seriously and present “both sides”.

It has been proposed that such fair and balanced teaching be done since the Scientific Creationist fiasco over 30 years ago. The main problem is that any good teacher would be the last ones to go out of their way to hurt their students. You would not expect a “fair” distribution of what got taught. The ignorant, incompetent, dishonest and deranged on one side (the creationist side) would predominate in any such scenario. It is just human nature and the nature of this issue. The ignorant and incompetent “science” siders would bumble through and tick off everyone. You would also give the dishonest and deranged on the “science” side the opportunity to abuse their students. Really, the type of teachers that you want teaching your children will not want to do it.

Reality is really so one sided that, that is the only outcome expected.

Richard B. Hoppe said: The real culprits in the case were Leonard’s committee members–DiSilvestro and Needham, both full professors, and his advisor, Post (then an assistant professor). They led Leonard down a garden path, and then left him to be hung out to dry.

Without prior IRB approval, what could they do? No credible journal is going to accept the results of any experiment on humans that was conducted without the subjects’ informed consent or the approval of some sort of ethics body. Doesn’t matter whose mistake that was - his or his advisors - and it doesn’t matter if it’s creationism or some mainstream hypothesis he’s teaching.

IMO at best, his advisor could’ve argued with the school to give him another 4-5 years to complete his degree, so he could (re-)perform similar but approved experiments. But who knows if he would even accept that? I think a lot of people, regardless of religion or ideology, would just walk away from that situation. Being told your last 5 years of work doesn’t count, sorry, here’s your do-over chance, please consider working for us for basically no money for another 5 years sucks. It sucks for creationists and real scientists alike.

Maybe the defense was never rescheduled because the advisor and the school in fact gave Leonard the best “out” they could - the opportunity for a research do-over - and he walked away. After being told my last 5-6 years of work was flushed down the toilet? I might walk away too.

Without prior IRB approval, what could they do? No credible journal is going to accept the results of any experiment on humans that was conducted without the subjects’ informed consent or the approval of some sort of ethics body.

Nothing whatsoever. Data on human subjects collected without IRB review is unusable. Our IRB has prohibited the use of data innocently collected by a doctoral student who was “marooned” in a foreign country for 3 months and who sought to make use of the time by conducting a very innocent study. It is fundamental to the IRB approach that unethically collected data are never suitable for use.

In the OP, Richard mentioned a fake reference to Nature in Bryan Leonard’s “Critical Analysis” curriculum for the Ohio DOE. This piqued my curiosity so I dug it up.

Byran Leonard’s “Critical Analysis” curriculum is now a dead link, but archived that the Wayback Machine at http://web.archive.org/web/20060222[…]Analysis.pdf.

The point of the reference is to back up Jonathan Wells’ and Leonard’s claims about how phylogenetic trees based on anatomy or DNA are all unreliable. The fake article title is “Unreliable Trees.”

The fake reference is:

Lowenstein, J. and A. Zihlman. “Unreliable trees.” Nature, 355 (1992) [FAKE]

The article at that page number in Nature is something completely different.

The above-named article is apparently a mutated version of a real reference, but from New Scientist, not Nature. It can be accessed via Google Books: Lowenstein J. & Zihlman, Adrienne, “The Invisible ape,” New Scientist, Vol 120, No 1641, Dec. 3, 1988, pp.56-59.

CREATIONIST QUOTE MINE, AS QUOTED BY ANSWERS IN GENESIS, CREATION MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL, ANDREW SNELLING ETC.:

“… anatomy and the fossil record cannot be relied upon for evolutionary lineages. Yet palaeontologists persist in doing just this.”

[“Yet another ‘missing link’ fails to qualify.” by Andrew A. Snelling. Creation Ministries International. Undated; latest ref. is 1992.]

Here is another quote mine:

CREATIONIST QUOTE MINE:

“But anatomy and the fossil record cannot be relied on for defining evolutionary lineages. Yet, paleontologist persist in doing just this. …the subjective element in this approach to building evolutionary trees, which many paleontologist[s] advocate with almost religious fervor, is demonstrated by the outcome: there is no single family tree on which they agree.” Nature , 1992, Vol.355, p.783.

[Quoted at: http://www.bible.ca/tracks/fossil-man.htm; Quoted and analyzed at: http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/s[…]mp;p=1474345]

Now some from the real quote, in context. The authors, in 1988, compared phylogenetic methods based on molecules and those based on anatomy of living hominoids. The article is strictly limited to hominoids, not a general analysis of all phylogenetics. The quote mine removes the context that it’s limited to hominoids. The authors criticize anthropologists of the 1970’s, who relied only on comparisons of anatomy of living hominoids, and concluded that the human line first branches off from great apes, then great apes split into chimps and gorillas. The authors trust DNA phylogenetic methods, which reproducibly and reliably show that the gorilla line branched off first, then the chimp line branched off from the human line. Thus, they criticize anthropologists of the 1970’s for dismissing molecular data, which the authors present as highly reliable.

REAL QUOTE:

Anatomy and the fossil record reveal a great deal about adaptation and way of life. The fossil record and the bits of anatomy preserved in it document a sequence of evolutionary developments. Without the fossil record, we could not know that our ancestors walked on two legs before their brains became larger, or that savanna was a very early human habitat. But anatomy and the fossil record cannot be relied on for defining evolutionary lineages. Yet palaeontologists persist in doing just this. They rally under the banner of a methodology called cladistics, in which family trees of living and fossil primates are constructed on the basis of “primitive” and “derived” traits (mostly of teeth and bones), which are either shared or not shared. Shared primitive characteristics are shared because they come from a common ancestor; unshared derived characteristics reveal separate evolutionary paths. The subjective element in this approach to building evolutionary trees, which many palaeontologists advocate with almost religious fervour, is demonstrated by the outcome: there is no single family tree on which they agree. On the contrary, almost every conceivable combination and permutation of living and extinct hominoids has been proposed by one cladist or another.

[Lowenstein J. & Zihlman, Adrienne, “The Invisible ape,” New Scientist, Vol 120, No 1641, Dec. 3, 1988, pp.56-59, p.58.]

The authors conclude:

REAL QUOTE:

The invisible ape, our common ancestor [with chimps], is certainly not identical to any living species of ape, but the molecular, anatomical, behavioral and paleontological constraints point to a creature very much like a chimpanzee. The molecules tell us that it was more closely related to living chimpanzees than like any other ape. The fact that chimpanzees can walk on two feet and that they are social creatures and use tools also supports the view that they might have come from the same ancestor as humans. The earliest known human fossils were like chimpanzees in both size and structure of the bones, and differed mainly in the teeth and pelvis.

Our present portrait of the common ancestor [of chimps and humans] is like those composite drawings… It is not an exact photograph, and it may be incorrect in major and minor details, but it provides a basis for recognition until further information is forthcoming.

[Lowenstein J. & Zihlman, Adrienne, “The Invisible ape,” New Scientist, Vol 120, No 1641, Dec. 3, 1988, pp.56-59, p.59.]

It’s amazing anyone can parse that into a challenge to the common descent of humans and apes. But this is just what Bryan Leonard, Answers in Genesis, Andrew Snelling, Creation Ministries International etc. etc. did.

If this is not in the TO Archive of Quote Mines, it should be.

diogeneslamp0 said: In the OP, Richard mentioned a fake reference to Nature in Bryan Leonard’s “Critical Analysis” curriculum for the Ohio DOE. This piqued my curiosity so I dug it up.

Byran Leonard’s “Critical Analysis” curriculum is now a dead link, but archived that the Wayback Machine at http://web.archive.org/web/20060222[…]Analysis.pdf.

Though I may have given a different impression through eliding some stuff, it’s important to know that Leonard was just a member of the writing committee that produced the ‘critical analysis’ model lesson plan, and was almost certainly not the main mover in producing the lesson plan. It’s very likely that the main mover was Dr. Dan Ely, a University of Akron cardiovascular physiologist who also testified in the Kansas Kangaroo Court hearing. Ely was an active member of Science Excellence for All Ohioans (SEAO), the intelligent design creationist organization set up to push ID into the Ohio public schools curriculum. SEAO was reportedly funded by Focus on the Family.

In his Kansas testimony Ely presented himself as having found discrepancies in phylogenetic analyses of molecular data, and as having consulted with his evolutionist colleagues about it, implicitly recruiting them to his evolution-doubting stance:

If you can imagine, I’m a biologist in a university biology department and I am questioning this, so what did I do, I go to our molecular biologists that are following molecular phylogenies and I say, is there any discrepancy here? This is your area, it’s not my area specifically, are there discrepancies? Are there controversies? Absolutely. And so they would go on to explain to me either from plants or from animals the different discrepancies that there are.

Several of those colleagues subsequently hammered him for his misrepresentations in a letter to the Kansas State Board of Education. A sample:

Dr. Ely is a physiologist, receiving his formal training in a medical school environment. From Dr. Ely’s own statements as well as our various interactions with him, it is abundantly clear that Dr. Ely has a poor understanding of evolutionary biology.

Indeed, if undergraduate majors in our biology department revealed such profound misconceptions about basic evolutionary biology we would have serious misgivings about conferring their degrees in biology. We have attached a critique of several of his statements at your hearings to make clear our contention.

Their smackdown of Ely was much stronger than that administered to Michael Behe by his Lehigh University colleagues. (Incidentally, Ely testified that he thought the age of the earth was somewhere between 5,000 years and 4 billion years.)

So, responsibility for the ID ‘critical analysis’ lesson plan is not solely, or even mainly, Leonard’s. In particular, documents at the time indicated that Ely submitted the (near-?) final form of the ‘critical analysis’ lesson plan to the Department of Education. I suspect that like his dissertation mess, Leonard was led and manipulated by a tenured professor for whom Leonard was an appealing front man. Let’s not rewrite history by eliding Ely’s important role in creating that lesson plan.

This is a good point Richard, I would not want to blame Leonard like he’s solely responsible when these authority figures are leading him around.

Richard B. Hoppe said:

(Incidentally, Ely testified that he thought the age of the earth was somewhere between 5,000 years and 4 billion years.)

Jack Butler ID: No problem. Come on over here Ron Science. Let me show you what I’m doing, taking advantage of some of the time off. To, uh, add a whole new wing on here. Gonna rip these walls out and, uh, of course re-wire it.

Ron Richardson Science: Yeah, you gonna make it all 220 YEC?

Jack Butler ID: Yeah, 220 YEC, 221 OEC. Whatever it takes.

- Mr. Mom (1983)

Richard B. Hoppe said:

diogeneslamp0 said: In the OP, Richard mentioned a fake reference to Nature in Bryan Leonard’s “Critical Analysis” curriculum for the Ohio DOE. This piqued my curiosity so I dug it up.

Byran Leonard’s “Critical Analysis” curriculum is now a dead link, but archived that the Wayback Machine at http://web.archive.org/web/20060222[…]Analysis.pdf.

Though I may have given a different impression through eliding some stuff, it’s important to know that Leonard was just a member of the writing committee that produced the ‘critical analysis’ model lesson plan, and was almost certainly not the main mover in producing the lesson plan. It’s very likely that the main mover was Dr. Dan Ely, a University of Akron cardiovascular physiologist who also testified in the Kansas Kangaroo Court hearing. Ely was an active member of Science Excellence for All Ohioans (SEAO), the intelligent design creationist organization set up to push ID into the Ohio public schools curriculum. SEAO was reportedly funded by Focus on the Family.

I went to the SEAO web site and they have a link to the draft Ohio lesson plan instead of the one that was finally approved. This is the draft that had the Wellsian lie about no moths on tree trunks and creationist web links like ARN and web sites from a creationist lawyer and his wife as “science” web resources. They even cite Wells’ book Icons as a reference. All of that junk got deleted from the final after the draft got posted. Sort of a hoot to see what they (Leonard among them) wanted to get away with.

http://www.sciohio.org/curriculum.pdf

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