From the desk of the DI Media Complaints Division

Robert Crowther from the Discovery Institute’s Media Complaints Division seems to be quite content to reference an ID friendly blogsite by Denyse O’Leary

If misreporting were a concern to Robert, he would certainly have pointed out the various problems with Denyse’s arguments. But like ‘teach the controversy’, it seems that correcting errors in reporting is mostly one sided.

Based on Denyse’s blog comments, I asked Denyse the following questions

Denyse, as a journalist/reporter/science writer [1] have you checked your ‘facts’?

  1. Is Sternberg an employee of the Smithsonian? You write “Smithsonian persecutes one of their own”. As far as I can tell Sternberg is employed by the NIH and the research associate position is not one of employment w/ the Smithsonian.

  2. Is Sternberg neutral on the concept of intelligent design? You write “The amazing part is that the man is not even a supporter of intelligent design”.

But Sternberg is a fellow of ISCID ( . .) and he spoke at a “conference titled “Evolution, Intelligent Design, and the Future of Biology” at the Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education of University of Helsinki, where they will explain why a “growing number [sic] of scientists challenge the evolutionary view and claim that biology is better understood as a product of intelligent design.”” (see . .)

The website announced

Helsinki University of Technology Main building, Mellin-auditorium, Otaniemi 22.10. 14:15-19:15

Nothing in modern scientific discussion raises controversy and emotions like the question of design in biology. This is understandable since the ruling paradigm of natural history is Darwinian evolution: random genetic changes guided by natural selection have created all the biological complexity. A small but growing number of scientists challenge the neo-Darwinian view (doc) and claim that biology is better understood as a product of intelligent design. Evolutionary biologist Dr Richard Sternberg and philosopher of science Dr Paul Nelson explain the reasons in this lecture series.

Employment claim

Denyse’s response:

Denyse wrote:

He was one of their own until the Meyer episode, so far as I can tell.

Do the research, even his own webpage describes that he is employed by the NIH and a search of the Smithsonian shows that research associatesare NOT employed by the Smithsonian:

The title of Research Associate is used to denote an individual’s formal scholarly affiliation with the Institution. However, Research Associates are not employees of the Smithsonian.

About the neutrality claim

Denyse wrote:

He says he isn’t. That puts him in no man’s land. A dangerous place to be. I gather he is a structuralist. in biology.

He said that he is no ‘creationist’ or at least no young earth creationist. He hardly seems to be a disinterested party here (when it comes to ID).

Denyse wrote:

None of this indicates that Sternberg espouses the view; only that he offers to explain the reasons. Ruse does the same in his books.

Right… That’s all to it. Just a disinterested bystander who happens to travel to Helsinki with Paul Nelson to explain what ID is all about. Come on Denyse… I suggest that you do at least some research before you make Sternberg out to be the disinterested party.

From Tom Schneider

Sternberg was to give a talk at a pseudo-scientific meeting, Evolution, Intelligent Design, and the Future of Biology on 2004 Nov 23 (cancelled as of September 21). The abstract stated: “The talk will emphasize that genes themselves are irreducibly complex structures, and pitfalls in common neoDarwinian models of gene evolution.” The Ev paper demonstrates that Behe’s concept of “irreducible complexity” is untenable. Sternberg’s position is untenable.

The lecture series

14.15 How Do We Detect Intelligent Causes? Paul Nelson 15.15 A 21st Century View of Genomes, Richard Sternberg 16.15 Break 16.45 Can Intelligent Design Illuminate Homology? Paul Nelson 17.45 Fluid Genomes: Information-Generating or Information- Shuffling? Richard Sternberg 18.45 Discussion

According to the NCSE

According to the article, Meyer “said he had chosen the journal because Mr. Sternberg attended a conference where Mr. Meyer gave an oral presentation advancing the same arguments. The two discussed the possibility of publishing the work.” Although the conference is not named in the article, it is likely that it was the Research and Progress in Intelligent Design Conference, held at Biola University in October 2002, at which Meyer spoke on “The Cambrian information explosion: Evidence of intelligent design” and Sternberg spoke on “Causal entailments in convergently developed, irreducibly complex organ systems.” Only advocates of “intelligent design” spoke at the RAPID conference, and at least one critic of “intelligent design” was expressly forbidden to attend.


Research and progress in intelligent design.

Is Denyse certain that Sternberg does not believe in intelligent design? Has Sternberg made such a statement?


PvM wrote:

Finally you are reporting an allegation by Sternberg as if it were the truth. All we have is Sternberg’s version as filed with the OSC. We so far know only one side of the story… Are you sure that you are not jumping to conclusions here before we know all the details?

Denyse wrote:

No, but it is a pretty good bet.

Based on what evidence Denyse? Why do you believe this to be a good bet? What details or facts do you have that support your viewpoint beyond Sternberg’s claims? Are we to assume that the ‘other side’ must be guilty?

Her ‘rebuttals’ of the National Geographic’s article do not fare much better, but that’s for a later time. As is my review of her book which is quite painful to read due to its many misconceptions.

The big question is: Will the Discovery Institute’s Media Complaints Division ask her to correct her misreportings? Don’t hold your breath.

[1] Denyse O’Leary is an award-winning Canadian science writer/journalist living in Toronto (from her website)