Wesley R. Elsberry posted Entry 786 on February 3, 2005 03:39 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/784

This is a cautionary tale about the dangers of leaping to grand conclusions on the basis of hearsay. It started back with the publication of Stephen Meyer's article in the August 2004 issue of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, which we took note of in the post Meyer's Hopeless Monster. In that post, we considered the political ramifications of that publication, leading us to say then:

The important issue is whether or not the paper makes any scientific contribution: does it propose a positive explanatory model? If the paper is primarily negative critique, does it accurately review the science it purports to criticize? The fact that a paper is shaky on these grounds is much more important than the personalities involved. Intemperate responses will only play into the hands of creationists, who might use these as an excuse to say that the "dogmatic Darwinian thought police" are unfairly giving Meyer and PBSW a hard time. Nor should Sternberg be given the chance to become a "martyr for the cause." Any communication with PBSW should focus upon the features that make this paper a poor choice for publication: its many errors of fact, its glaring omissions of relevant material, and its misrepresentations of the views that it does consider.

But martyrdom of Sternberg has been a topic of discussion for the past week... and the person accused of martyring him, Jonathan Coddington, has spoken out in a comment posted to a thread here on Panda's Thumb.

The martyrdom of Sternberg was broadly announced in an opinion piece by David Klinghoffer published in the Wall Street Journal. Entitled "The Branding of a Heretic", the piece pounced upon Jonathan Coddington of the Smithsonian Institution as the villain of the story, claiming that in several ways Coddington wronged Sternberg, and further asserting that he did so because of his animosity to what he perceived as Sternberg's religiosity.

Klinghoffer's article makes many allegations for which there is no independent corroborating evidence. Yet there has been an outpouring of outrage on various weblogs and web discussion boards on the basis of Klinghoffer's article. Analogies linking the experiences of Sternberg and Galileo have sprung up like mushrooms after a spring shower.

Here at PT, we had little to say about Sternberg's complaint for the simple reason that there wasn't much information to go on, as we pointed out in Sternberg vs. Smithsonian. But that article apparently caught the attention of one of the principals in the dispute, Jonathan Coddington. He responded in the comments, offering a brief statement taking on several of the allegations made in Klinghoffer's article. I will reproduce it here:

Comment #14871

Posted by JAC on February 3, 2005 09:36 AM

Although I do not wish to debate the merits of intelligent design, this forum seems an apt place to correct several factual inaccuracies in the Wall Street Journal's Op Ed article by David Klinghoffer, "The Branding of a Heretic" (Jan. 28, 2005). Because Dr. von Sternberg has filed an official complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, I cannot comment as fully as I would wish.

1. Dr. von Sternberg is still a Research Associate at the National Museum of Natural History, and continues to have the usual rights and privileges, including space, keys, and 24/7 access. At no time did anyone deny him space, keys or access.

2. He is not an employee of the Smithsonian Institution. His title, "Research Associate," means that for a three year, potentially renewable period he has permission to visit the Museum for the purpose of studying and working with our collections without the staff oversight visitors usually receive.

3. I am, and continue to be, his only "supervisor," although we use the term "sponsor" for Research Associates to avoid personnel/employee connotations. He has had no other since Feb. 1, 2004, nor was he ever "assigned to" or under the "oversight of" anyone else.

4. Well prior to the publication of the Meyer article and my awareness of it, I asked him and another Research Associate to move as part of a larger and unavoidable reorganization of space involving 17 people and 20 offices. He agreed.

5. I offered both individuals new, identical, standard Research Associate work spaces. The other accepted, but Dr. von Sternberg declined and instead requested space in an entirely different part of the Museum, which I provided, and which he currently occupies.

6. As for prejudice on the basis of beliefs or opinions, I repeatedly and consistently emphasized to staff (and to Dr. von Sternberg personally), verbally or in writing, that private beliefs and/or controversial editorial decisions were irrelevant in the workplace, that we would continue to provide full Research Associate benefits to Dr. von Sternberg, that he was an established and respected scientist, and that he would at all times be treated as such.

On behalf of all National Museum of Natural History staff, I would like to assert that we hold the freedoms of religion and belief as dearly as any one. The right to heterodox opinion is particularly important to scientists. Why Dr. von Sternberg chose to represent his interactions with me as he did is mystifying. I can't speak to his interactions with anyone else.

Sincerely yours,
Jonathan Coddington

I have confirmed via email correspondence that Jonathan Coddington at the Smithsonian is the author of the comment posted here at PT.

Klinghoffer and Coddington

Here are the various claims made by Klinghoffer that are disputed by various of Coddington's points made in his response above. I'll quote Klinghoffer and note the point or points from Coddington that dispute each allegation by "Cn", where n is the number from the quote above.

(Klinghoffer wrote:)

He has been penalized by the museum's Department of Zoology, his religious and political beliefs questioned.

[C1 and C6 dispute this.]

(Klinghoffer wrote:)

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Zoology Department, Jonathan Coddington, called Mr. Sternberg's supervisor. According to Mr. Sternberg's OSC complaint: "First, he asked whether Sternberg was a religious fundamentalist. She told him no. Coddington then asked if Sternberg was affiliated with or belonged to any religious organization. . . . He then asked where Sternberg stood politically; . . . he asked, 'Is he a right-winger? What is his political affiliation?' "

[C3 and C6 dispute this.]

(Klinghoffer wrote:)

In October, as the OSC complaint recounts, Mr. Coddington told Mr. Sternberg to give up his office and turn in his keys to the departmental floor, thus denying him access to the specimen collections he needs.

[C1 directly disputes this.]

(Klinghoffer wrote:)

Mr. Sternberg was also assigned to the close oversight of a curator with whom he had professional disagreements unrelated to evolution.

[C3 disputes this.]

(Klinghoffer wrote:)

"I'm going to be straightforward with you," said Mr. Coddington, according to the complaint. "Yes, you are being singled out."

[C6 disputes this.]

(Klinghoffer wrote:)

Mr. Sternberg begged a friendly curator for alternative research space, and he still works at the museum.

[C3, C4, and C5 dispute this.]


It is still premature to make judgments about this case. What is notable, though, is that we see that a second dimension does exist concerning the situation that Klinghoffer wrote about. The overwrought reactions (including those on a now-pulled thread on the "Free Republic" web site; see below) were based on taking the statements of the Klinghoffer article as gospel.

It seems that there is dispute over the facts in the case, and I hope that those in the "intelligent design" advocacy camp will take this opportunity to "teach the controversy" and make sure that Coddington's response is as widely disseminated as the initial media frenzy.

The Rush to Judgment

There's a few categories of sites that simply took Klinghoffer's opinion as authoritative on this matter. The sites listed below are a sampling.

The sites listed below took the Klinghoffer article and ran with it, deploying Galileo's ghost in so doing:

Others credulously repeating Klinghoffer:

And, for completeness, folks who accepted Klinghoffer's account but felt Sternberg was just getting his due. For my part, if Klinghoffer's account were correct (which is as yet disputed), it would be a large breach of ethics and a justified complaint.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #14918

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on February 3, 2005 5:50 PM (e)

OK, so if anyone sees any of those 15 sources that were parroting Klinghoffer/Sternberg retract their claims and apologize for jumping the gun, post the link here…

Comment #14925

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on February 3, 2005 7:15 PM (e)

Readers should feel free to also link other instances of jumping to grand overrarching conclusions based solely on Klinghoffer’s opinion piece.

Here’s another one, this one comparing scientists to the Inquisition:

Weapon of Mass Distraction

Comment #14928

Posted by Bryson Brown on February 3, 2005 8:08 PM (e)

This looks far worse for Dr. Sternberg than the original publication of Meyer’s piece. That merely involved publishing work he seems to be sympathetic to without proper review. But if Dr. Sternberg has really attempted to falsely portray himself as a martyr, Dr. Coddington has grounds for legal action. On the other hand, if the story has been distorted by Mr. Klinghofer, his reputation as a journalist is (or should be) toast after this.

Comment #14929

Posted by PvM on February 3, 2005 8:33 PM (e)

Bryson, first of your claim ‘without proper review’ seems at odds with what is known since there were three reviewers who commented. One may question the quality of the peer review but the peer review step was not skipped here. Secondly, we do not know the full story although/because we have now two sides of the same story. Let’s not jump to conclusions either way until we have sufficient data to make an educated decision.

Comment #14930

Posted by Michael Buratovich on February 3, 2005 8:33 PM (e)

Maybe this whole mess is the result of one person not liking another. It is possible that either Sternberg does not like Coddington or Coddington does not like Sternberg and their political and religious differences are simply fodder for the rumor mill. Perhaps this is a row that these two grown-up, mature chaps should resolve on their own without the papers gossiping about it. Maybe a trip to pub is due and after a few vittels and grog they will see that the other is really not such a bad bloke in the first place. Why get the papers involved? Sternberg has not been fired or sacked. He should just get one with his work (whatever that might be). If the papers call, Sternberg should tell them to go chase an ambulance and then eat some crow. However if Sternberg is the one who called the papers in the first place, then he should either publish a formal apology or resign his position at the museum.

Comment #14931

Posted by PvM on February 3, 2005 8:39 PM (e)

Michael, do you feel that Sternberg should resign if details show that Sternberg called the papers, even if his description of what happened is found to be credible and supported by evidence? Just for ‘calling the papers’?
Let’s not blow things out of proportions until a clearer picture arises. Perhaps the WSJ or the author of the original piece will be able to contribute their side(s) of the story? So many unanswered questions remain and such little data we possess. Let’s not rush to judgement.

Comment #14932

Posted by Keanus on February 3, 2005 8:42 PM (e)

When I read Klinghoffer’s piece a week ago, the quotes Klinghoffer attributed to Dr. Coddington and his colleagues sounded like something from a grade B Hollywood detective movie, too perfect for the piece to be real. In real life, such quotes would reflect more contradictions and inconsistencies than they did. And I seriously doubt that the Smithsonian professional staff would say anything so stupid, to Sternberg or Klinghoffer. It also seemed, with his many errors in describing ID and evolution, that Klinghoffer understood little about the issues involved and was in all likelihood an ID sympathizer. But extrapolating from Coddington’s claims in his posting, there seems to much more to Sternberg’s relationship with the Smithsonian than his handling of the Meyer paper. Given the proclivity of ID backers for martyrdom and persecution, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Coddington’s brief statement is much closer to the truth than Klinghoffer’s.

Incidentally, I wonder how the Wall Street Journal came to publish the column. Klinghoffer is not a WSJ staffer, nor do I recognize his name (I’ve subscribed to the WSJ since the early ‘70’s) as an occasional contributor. They must have had some doubts about the piece because it was not on the editorial/op-ed pages but on the opinion page that graces the last page of their weekend section on Fridays, a section filled with fluffy articles about trivial subjects and ads for expensive vacation houses and over priced objects.

Comment #14933

Posted by Keanus on February 3, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

When I read Klinghoffer’s piece a week ago, the quotes Klinghoffer attributed to Dr. Coddington and his colleagues sounded like something from a grade B Hollywood detective movie, too perfect for the piece to be real. In real life, such quotes would reflect more contradictions and inconsistencies than they did. And I seriously doubt that the Smithsonian professional staff would say anything so stupid, to Sternberg or Klinghoffer. It also seemed, with his many errors in describing ID and evolution, that Klinghoffer understood little about the issues involved and was in all likelihood an ID sympathizer. But extrapolating from Coddington’s claims in his posting, there seems to much more to Sternberg’s relationship with the Smithsonian than his handling of the Meyer paper. Given the proclivity of ID backers for martyrdom and persecution, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Coddington’s brief statement is much closer to the truth than Klinghoffer’s.

Incidentally, I wonder how the Wall Street Journal came to publish the column. Klinghoffer is not a WSJ staffer, nor do I recognize his name (I’ve subscribed to the WSJ since the early ‘70’s) as an occasional contributor. They must have had some doubts about the piece because it was not on the editorial/op-ed pages but on the opinion page that graces the last page of their weekend section on Fridays, a section filled with fluffy articles about trivial subjects and ads for expensive vacation houses and over priced objects.

Comment #14934

Posted by Gary Hurd on February 3, 2005 8:48 PM (e)

Here are some YEC (young earth creationist) comments following a repost of Klinghoffer’s accusations.

Oh, no! The eviloutionsts must be wringing their ape like hands as they now converge to cannibalize him - one of their own, no less!

Still the evilutionist must dig in their heels and continue to defy the religion of evolution. Their pride and name are at stake. They must band together and marginalize and vilify this person since their PRIDE and credibility are at stake. All of the premises an evolutionist has are based on NO GOD at all hence, God or “Intelligent Design” must not be given credence much less mentioned. After all why would an atheist want to give credit to the masterpiece of the universe to Someone he/she doesn’t believe in? God? It would make more sense to credit something else and rob Him of His credit and deny His words in Genesis.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, evolution is a religion. It’s commonly called atheism. Even some “Christians” have their ears tickled by the idea of evolution - most unwise ….

Very interesting, God keeps trying to make Himself known even to unbelievers through His Creation. They are certainly not scientifically minded for they should want to know the truth even if it is in war with their long held beliefs. That is what science is all about. Researching all aspects even those that are “distasteful” to our views. Look at what has happened in the past when Mankind was not open minded to the truth. We would still believe the planet is flat along with the idea that the earth is the center of the universe if scientifically minded people did not buck the “known truths” of the time.

As science continues to explore biology and the stars there are more than enough reasons to question Darwinism now than ever before. One has to ask, what are they afraid of? Why is this fear not any different than the fear the church had centuries before when centralized earth was in question?

All this reminds me of the garden of eden … Eve takes the fruit and Adam eats some of it - all to be WISE. It is the foolish “wisdom” of man and his pride that is pushing evolution … certainly not scientific facts. God is not the author of confusion and that is what godless evolution and origins are based on - random confusion made into order.

Comment #14939

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on February 4, 2005 12:57 AM (e)

PvM speaketh wisely…

Comment #14943

Posted by Jeremy Hallum on February 4, 2005 8:24 AM (e)

There’s a second freeper thread on the subject. The first was pulled as it was a duplicate of this one:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1332845…?q=1

No mention of the Panda’s Thumb thread (yet)

Comment #14951

Posted by ACW on February 4, 2005 12:07 PM (e)

As this story develops, I will be especially interested in the eventual resolution of one particular discrepancy between Klinghoffer’s account and Coddington’s.

Coddington says (C3, supra) that he was von Sternberg’s only “supervisor”. Klinghoffer reports, however, that Coddington “called Mr. Sternberg’s supervisor” to ask questions about von Sternberg. Klinghoffer uses a feminine pronoun to refer to the person Coddington purportedly called.

OK. This is good. We now have a Mystery Woman, and I for one would like to know who she is and hear her side of the story directly.

Comment #14956

Posted by Les Lane on February 4, 2005 1:10 PM (e)

Some insights on Klinglhoffer

Comment #14991

Posted by Keanus on February 4, 2005 7:22 PM (e)

The Wall Street Journal published four letters today re Klinghoffer’s report on the Sternberg/Meyer affair. One straightforwardly supported evolution, describing ID as failing “ … to add anything to our understanding.” Another mentions Sternberg’s membership on the editorial board of the Baraminology Study Group, the nature of that organization, and the shortcomings of ID as science. A third support Sternberg, likening him to Galileo. The fourth, which follows, sheds some actual light on the circumstances of Sternberg’s presence at the Smithsonian, to wit …

To set the record straight:

It should be noted that Richard Sternberg is not a Smithsonian employee. He is a staff member of the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Institutes of Health. As a research associate he has permission to study collections at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History for a three-year term.

Dr. Sternberg’s characterization of his work conditions and treatment at the Smithsonian is incorrect. He was never denied office space, keys or access to the collections. More importantly, the private religious beliefs of employees and research associates are respected by the museum, and have no bearing on their professional standing within the museum.

Randall Kremer
Director of Public Affairs
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
Washington

Enough said.

I also came across a web site include Sternberg’s CV, a letter from the BSG’s organizer, and Sternberg’s relating in detail of how he handled Meyer’s paper, the events following its publication, and some narrative about his position at the Smithsonian and his relationship with colleagues there. I neglected to note the URL, but one should be able to turn it up via Google.

Comment #14992

Posted by Great White Wonder on February 4, 2005 7:30 PM (e)

Thanks for the interesting link, Les.

My most intense reaction to [Klinghoffer’s] book, however, was stark disbelief that someone as intelligent as Klinghoffer could be fooled by some of the bad logic he presents in this book. Every argument Klinghoffer makes regarding the need to believe in the divine authorship of the Torah and the Talmud I could refute on simple basic logic.

So, it seems we have another fundamentalist eager to characterize scientists as anti-religious, and religion as scientific fact. Yawn.

Comment #14993

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on February 4, 2005 7:33 PM (e)

I also came across a web site include Sternberg’s CV, a letter from the BSG’s organizer, and Sternberg’s relating in detail of how he handled Meyer’s paper, the events following its publication, and some narrative about his position at the Smithsonian and his relationship with colleagues there. I neglected to note the URL, but one should be able to turn it up via Google.

Or via The Meyer 2004 Medley, which links to Richard von Sternberg’s home page, as well as a lot of related information.

Comment #15001

Posted by David Wilson on February 5, 2005 1:06 AM (e)

ACW wrote:

Coddington says (C3, supra) that he was von Sternberg’s only “supervisor”. Klinghoffer reports, however, that Coddington “called Mr. Sternberg’s supervisor” to ask questions about von Sternberg. Klinghoffer uses a feminine pronoun to refer to the person Coddington purportedly called.

OK. This is good. We now have a Mystery Woman, and I for one would like to know who she is and hear her side of the story directly.

I would presume she is Sternberg’s supervisor at the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), where he is apparently employed as a staff scientist. In fact, having noted in Reed Cartwright’s earlier posting that he was so employed at NCBI, I first assumed that his supervisor there was the one being referred to in the extract from his complaint quoted in Klinghoffer’s article. But a subsequent part of the quotation seemed to throw some doubt on this. The “supervisor” is quoted as having said “There are Christians here, but they keep their heads down.” The presence of Christians who keep their heads down at NCBI would seem to me to be irrelevant to an understanding of the goings-on at the Smithsonian.

There is one other curious thing about Coddington’s response. He says

I am, and continue to be, his only “supervisor,” although we use the term “sponsor” for Research Associates to avoid personnel/employee connotations. He has had no other since Feb. 1, 2004, nor was he ever “assigned to” or under the “oversight of” anyone else.

But the NMNH’s own list of research associates names one Brian Kensley as Sternberg’s staff sponsor, not Jonathon Coddington.

Comment #15002

Posted by PvM on February 5, 2005 1:08 AM (e)

Another example is Salvador on ARN who ‘argues’

Well, I edited to take the word Darwinist out, if you care to I can list the the organizations like the NCSE, NAS, PandasThumb, bloggers who are professors at universities, etc. who are officially sympathetic to ensuring Sternberg and friends views are permanently silenced in the scientific community…

RBH has asked Sal for some evidence, so far Sal has done little to support his claim, but we should at least admire his leap in logic in the Topic: Official Declarations that Sternberg and Friends should be silenced

Sal states: Official Declarations that Sternberg and friends views should be silenced pertaining to intelligent design.

Example quoted

These encouraging signs tend to get lost in the ongoing hullabaloo over “intelligent design creationism: (IDC). Creationism “and this is true of all its guises” is an antiscientific worldview. It rejects the fundamental precept of science that phenomena in the natural world should be interpreted through naturalistic explanations that are accepted (always tentatively) or rejected by reference to observation. Followers of IDC are no different from the creationists of old; at some point each wants to back away from rational scientific inquiry and explain phenomena by appeal to supernatural causation.

Joel Cracraft

Sal: If ID is unscientific, Cracraft implicit declares appeals to Intelligence are not within the scope of science. Appeals to Intelligent are by definition unscientific in his view therefore should be suppressed.
———-

Thanks Sal…

Comment #15007

Posted by David Wilson on February 5, 2005 7:46 AM (e)

In comment #15001

I wrote:

… having noted in Reed Cartwright’s earlier posting that he [Sternberg] was so employed at NCBI, I first assumed that his supervisor there was the one being referred to in the extract from his complaint quoted in Klinghoffer’s article. But a subsequent part of the quotation seemed to throw some doubt on this. The “supervisor” is quoted as having said “There are Christians here, but they keep their heads down.” The presence of Christians who keep their heads down at NCBI would seem to me to be irrelevant to an understanding of the goings-on at the Smithsonian.

I have just realised that if the supervisor is Sternberg’s superviser at NCBI then this observation of hers would make perfect sense if it were made to Coddington in response to his alleged queries about Sternberg’s religious and political views. It seems to me that the words used in Klinghoffer’s article could be interpreted as saying this—though I must admit I don’t think it’s the most natural way of reading them.

Comment #15010

Posted by PZ Myers on February 5, 2005 9:03 AM (e)

Speaking as someone who is probably the most brutally, harshly atheistical and flamingly left-wing of all of the contributors to the Panda’s Thumb, I gotta say that Klinghoffer’s account of religious persecution was patently absurd. I would never declare that a colleague should be singled out for harassment because they were religious or conservative, nor would I try to get them fired for their beliefs. Most scientists are far more respectful of the religious perspective than I am, so my bullshit detector was ringing loudly throughout that entire WSJ piece–it simply doesn’t jibe with how scientific institutions are administered, but does fit with the right-wing extremist’s caricature of academia.

Comment #15012

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on February 5, 2005 9:33 AM (e)

Wilson wrote:

But the NMNH’s own list of research associates names one Brian Kensley as Sternberg’s staff sponsor, not Jonathon Coddington.

I suspect that Kensley was Sternberg’s old supervisor and the NMNH’s listing hasn’t been update.

Comment #15016

Posted by mumon on February 5, 2005 10:35 AM (e)

You left off Evangelical Outpost, in the credulousness AND attacking scientists department…check out my link in the trackback there.

Comment #15017

Posted by PvM on February 5, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

The ARN moderators, who are quick to ban critics seem to be a bit clueless when it comes to behavior by Sal or other ID proponents

Originally posted by RBH:
Provide specific references to support the charge of “officially sympathetic to ensuring Sternberg and friends views are permanently silenced in the scientific community” or withdraw it.
RBH

RBH,

ARN Moderator 6: Are you objecting to the word “permanently”?

——————–
the original comment by Sal was

Well, I edited to take the word Darwinist out, if you care to I can list the the organizations like the NCSE, NAS, PandasThumb, bloggers who are professors at universities, etc. who are officially sympathetic to ensuring Sternberg and friends views are permanently silenced in the scientific community….

So far Sal has provided little supporting evidence relevant to his claim. For instance PT authors have been very clear on this topic.

Comment #15021

Posted by Great White Wonder on February 5, 2005 3:49 PM (e)

PZ writes

Speaking as someone who is probably the most brutally, harshly atheistical and flamingly left-wing of all of the contributors to the Panda’s Thumb

I support a cap on personal income at $1,000,000/yr. Top that, bro’! ;)

As far as Sal’s comments are concerned, they are completely over-the-top. Sternberg is free to say whatever he wants about any scientific topic. And scientists (and non-scientists) are free to laugh out loud, ignore him, or praise him as a brave genius fighting to save modern biology from itself.

As Pim and others point out, the facts regarding Sternberg’s lawsuit are mostly unknown to us.

But Sternberg has admitted to other facts which, in my mind at least, indicate a lack of sound judgment that can’t be waved away by appeals to “healthy skepticism”. All this assumes, of course, that a reasonable scientist is not interested in promoting the agendas of groups who seek to pull the rug out from under basic principles of biology.

Comment #15022

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 5, 2005 4:09 PM (e)

Salvador Cordova wrote:

Well, I edited to take the word Darwinist out, if you care to I can list the the organizations like the NCSE, NAS, PandasThumb, bloggers who are professors at universities, etc. who are officially sympathetic to ensuring Sternberg and friends views are permanently silenced in the scientific community….

While this sort of thing royally pisses me off, you’ll hardly find a better demonstration of how ethically bankrupt the ID crowd is. This statement is slander, plain and simple. Our “official” statement, if you can call it that, is in fact the exact opposite of what Sal claims. And since Sal has seen it mulitiple times, he has no excuse. I can only assume that this kind of behavior is the result of small-minded malice. If this is not the case, then Sal is welcome to come here and apologize profusely, if he has any honor or decency.

Comment #15027

Posted by PZ Myers on February 5, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

$1 MILLION? What are you, some kind of plutocrat? Who needs more than $100K?

Comment #15030

Posted by jeff-perado on February 5, 2005 8:40 PM (e)

I say let’s be semi-plutocratic, split the difference and cap wages at $550 G’s a year….

But getting back to the issue at hand, why hasn’t anyone pointed out that Klinghoffer’s piece of (pseudo)news never even bothered to attempt to find out what the Smithsonian’s side of the story was? He took Sternberg’s story as “gospel” truth, and that was that.

I would like to see how well a WSJ journalist fares if they were to print a story from a person who claims they were abducted by aliens and the government is conspiring to cover up the whole incident…. After all, one person’s claim of a truthful story is just as valid as another person’s!

I’m not equating Sternberg to an alien abductionist, but why print a story without even attempting to find out if the facts are true???

Comment #15045

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 6, 2005 10:05 AM (e)

jeff-perado wrote:

But getting back to the issue at hand, why hasn’t anyone pointed out that Klinghoffer’s piece of (pseudo)news never even bothered to attempt to find out what the Smithsonian’s side of the story was?

In the article, he claims he attempted to contact Coddington and the other guy he smears (Sues?). He says they didn’t return his phone calls. I wouldn’t have either. But either way, he should have made it clear that Sternberg’s allegations were nothing more than that – allegations. One gets the impression that Klinghoffer had throughly vetted his source, when it turns out that the materially important claim (i.e. Sternberg’s loss of access) was flat-out false according to the museum.

Comment #15050

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on February 6, 2005 11:54 AM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

One gets the impression that Klinghoffer had throughly vetted his source, when it turns out that the materially important claim (i.e. Sternberg’s loss of access) was flat-out false according to the museum.

It gets worse with the retelling, too. Take a look at the WorldNetDaily article. There is nothing more in it than what appeared in Klinghoffer’s opinion piece, but it is written to give the impression of an independent report. Notably, WND left off the bits about trying to contact the Smithsonian. Probably didn’t even cross their minds as something to try.

WorldNetDaily wrote:

“I’m spending my time trying to figure out how to salvage a scientific career,” Sternberg told David Klinghoffer, a columnist for the Jewish Forward, who reported the story in the Wall Street Journal.

The above is as close as the WND writer comes to crediting his source. Klinghoffer wrote an opinion piece, but to the WND that becomes a report in the Wall Street Journal.

I’ll be happy to make a public apology to the anonymous WND author if he can demonstrate that he had actually accessed Sternberg’s OSC complaint prior to writing the article. Somehow, i don’t think that circumstance will arise.

Comment #15051

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on February 6, 2005 11:56 AM (e)

I think it’s very surprising that the Smithsonian Institution came out so quickly, and officially, on Coddington’s side. It would have been much safer for them to simply say that an investigation is under way, state some abstract principle about freedom of expression and declare they do not tolerate workplace discrimination. That was either entirely foolish on their part, or they have very good evidence that Sternberg’s claims, at least as presented in the WSJ, have no substance.

Comment #15052

Posted by steve on February 6, 2005 12:08 PM (e)

Has nobody started a Lies of WingNutDaily site yet? These propagandists are creating a right-wing bloc which is growing and growing.

Comment #15055

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 6, 2005 12:36 PM (e)

I think it’s only a matter of time before WorldNetDaily gets slapped with a massive lawsuit. I don’t think anyone could have lower standards of journalism if they tried. Sooner or later it’s going to bite them in the ass.

As for a website that catalogs WND lies, try Ed Brayton’s blog.

Comment #15058

Posted by Keanus on February 6, 2005 1:17 PM (e)

Friday’s Wall Street Journal (4 Feb 05) offered its weekly “Science Journal” by Sharon Begley on “People Believe a ‘Fact’ That Fits Their Views Even if It’s Clearly False.” In it Begley reports on a study led by Stephan Lewandowsky, of the University of Western Australia to be published shortly in Psychological Science regarding the beliefs and the veracity of those beliefs, even after they’re proved wrong. Specifically the study queried people in Germany, Australia and the US about reports from Iraq, some true and some not, and the later retractions for those that were untrue. Lewandosky noted “By the time they [the subjects] receive a retraction, the original misinformation has already become an integral part of that mental model, or world view. And disregarding ti would leave the world view a shambles.” Lewandosky and his co-authors conclude “People continue to rely on misinformation even if they demonstrably remember and understand a subsequent retraction.” Interestingly it was Americans who were most vulnerable to believing in what they “knew” to be untrue. As Begley writes “ … the simple act of remembering that they had once heard something was enough to make them regard it as true, retracction be damned. Even many of those who remembered a retraction still rated the original claim as true.”

I suspect many of our politicians treat their campaign statements, or those of their surrogates, like toothpaste—once it’s out of the tube, you can’t put it back. And as Begley concludes “The findings … offer Machiavellian possibilities for politicians.. They can make a false claim that helps their cause, contritely retract it—and rest assured that some people will … keep thinking … “ it’s true.

We all probably have anecdotal experience in our own lives for such behavior, but I think Sternberg, Klinghoffer, and the theocrats of ID manifest it in spades.

The article is available to subscribers or for a one-time fee at wsj.com.

Comment #15060

Posted by PvM on February 6, 2005 1:21 PM (e)

Another goodie from ARN, combines evolution Nazis and other buzz words in one posting

ID's Bulldog wrote:

The way Dr. Sternberg (& Dr. Meyer’s article) have been attacked shows me the Nazi thought-police, ie materialistic naturalisms’ finest, are still out in force.

This is not only a travesty to intellectual freedom, critical thought and sound deductive reasoning, it reflects very poorly on the mettle of mankind.

Are people realy this whiny and frightened of new ideas? The thought makes me shudder.

Funny how ID’s bulldog seems to object to the peer review process of the Meyer paper…

Comment #15063

Posted by Mike Walker on February 6, 2005 1:52 PM (e)

I suspect many of our politicians treat their campaign statements, or those of their surrogates, like toothpaste—once it’s out of the tube, you can’t put it back. And as Begley concludes “The findings … offer Machiavellian possibilities for politicians.. They can make a false claim that helps their cause, contritely retract it—and rest assured that some people will … keep thinking … “ it’s true.

I can’t agree more, and while I’m sure that people of all political persuasions are guilty of distorting the facts to get across their agenda, the right-wingers are increasingly unashamedly unapologetic doing it.

This is from the PBS show NOW With Bill Moyers last year:

http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript351_…

HANNITY [10/29/04]: Why would Osama bin Laden, who’s been quiet for so long, come out and virtually try and influence the election today in favor of John Kerry by attacking the president the way he did?

MOYERS: Do you think what Sean Hannity said is fair?

VIGUERIE: Oh, absolutely.

MOYERS: But there’s no fact to back that up. There’s no effort to substantiate that with documentation.

VIGUERIE: That’s what journalism is. It’s just all opinion. Just opinion.

MOYERS: So says Richard Viguerie, a founding father of the modern conservative movement and still one of its most powerful figures. In this new book, Viguerie tells the story of how over the past 40 years the right came to dominate American politics by creating alternative and new media, everything from computerized direct mail to Fox News.

So, basically, the facts don’t matter - if you can get your message across and people believe you then the real truth is of no consequence.

This is a sad day for America.

Comment #15072

Posted by Steve on February 6, 2005 3:36 PM (e)

Comment #15055

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 6, 2005 12:36 PM

I think it’s only a matter of time before WorldNetDaily gets slapped with a massive lawsuit. I don’t think anyone could have lower standards of journalism if they tried. Sooner or later it’s going to bite them in the ass.

As for a website that catalogs WND lies, try Ed Brayton’s blog.

I want to believe this is true, despite the fact that Limbaugh is just as slanderous, yet hasn’t been stopped by a lawsuit.

Comment #15073

Posted by Steve on February 6, 2005 3:40 PM (e)

IDiot bulldog wrote:

Are people realy this whiny and frightened of new ideas? The thought makes me shudder.

Since you want to replace a 140-yro idea with a 1000’s of years-old idea, perhaps they are.

Comment #15074

Posted by Great White Wonder on February 6, 2005 4:08 PM (e)

Steve, that is an awesome and devastating rebuttal to one of the stupidest creationist claims about biologists. Good job.

Comment #15075

Posted by RBH on February 6, 2005 5:04 PM (e)

PvM wrote

Another goodie from ARN, combines evolution Nazis and other buzz words in one posting

To be fair, I reported that post and responded in-thread. I just received an email from the mods. ID Bulldog’s comment has been edited to take the “Nazi” remark out and my in-thread objection to it has been deleted.

RBH

Comment #15077

Posted by PvM on February 6, 2005 5:33 PM (e)

Yes I noticed. An ID critic would by now have been banned…

Comment #15079

Posted by Ed Darrell on February 6, 2005 5:46 PM (e)

There is a story in the Dallas Morning News this week about high school journalists at Cedar Hill High – they’ve exposed some wrongdoing and poor fiscal management in education administration. Really solid reporting.

It’s a tragedy when high school students demonstrate better journalism skills than a major conservative opinion maker, and higher ethics. The tragedy, of course, is the behavior of the World Net Daily people.

Their procedures do not qualify as complying with the ethical standards of the Society of Professional Journalists. I wonder if they have any ethical code? Does anybody know?

Comment #15083

Posted by melior on February 6, 2005 6:55 PM (e)

I, for one, applaud the creationists’ and right-wing-media’s newfound admiration for my man Galileo Galilei. I’m heartened that in so doing they are decisively rejecting Biblical inerrancy, as well as the coupling of church and state.

“The Earth is firmly fixed; it shall not be moved.” -Psalms 104:5

“The doctrine of the movements of the earth and the fixity of the sun is condemned on the ground that the Scriptures speak in many places of the sun moving and the earth standing still… I think that in the discussion of natural problems we ought to begin not with the Scriptures, but with experiments and demonstrations.” - Galileo

“Freedom of belief is pernicious. It is nothing but the freedom to be wrong.” - Cardinal Robert Bellarmine

“Because I have been enjoined, by this Holy Office, to abandon the false opinion that the Sun is the center and immovable, …I abjure, curse, and detest the said errors and heresies…contrary to the said Holy Church.” - Galileo (under threat of torture and death by the Holy Church)

“Divine revelation is perfect and, therefore, it is not subject to continual and indefinite progress in order to correspond with the progress of human reason…. No man is free to embrace and profess that religion which he believes to be true, guided by the light of reason… The Roman Pontiff cannot and ought not to reconcile himself or agree with progress, liberalism and modern civilization.” - Pope Pius IX

Now, can we get them to agree to renounce torture, as used by the Inquisition?

Comment #15084

Posted by PvM on February 6, 2005 8:27 PM (e)

See the latest bloopers from the “Media Complaints Division” of the Discovery Institute’s Center for the renewal of Science and Culture

More on Sternberg: DI Heal Thyself

A classic blooper is

DI wrote:

While this criticism has problems of its own, there is no question that the publication of Meyer’s article was a bitter pill for ID critics to swallow. Instead of saying, “Okay, score one for ID. But it’s still 84,702 to 1,” the defenders of neo-Darwinian orthodoxy raised a series of bogus objections to avoid even the appearance of a debate.

When in fact PT stated the following

We congratulate ID on finally getting an article in a peer-reviewed biology journal, a mere fifteen years after the publication of the 1989 ID textbook Of Pandas and People, a textbook aimed at inserting ID into public schools. It is gratifying to see the ID movement finally attempt to make their case to the only scientifically relevant group, professional biologists. This is therefore the beginning (not the end) of the review process for ID. Perhaps one day the scientific community will be convinced that ID is worthwhile. Only through this route — convincing the scientific community, a route already taken by plate tectonics, endosymbiosis, and other revolutionary scientific ideas — can ID earn a legitimate place in textbooks.

Comment #15086

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on February 6, 2005 9:43 PM (e)

Mature commentary on “intelligent design” shenanigans from PT contributors appears to be a bitter pill for ID advocates to recognize, much less represent accurately.

Comment #15087

Posted by Josh Narins on February 6, 2005 10:05 PM (e)

The WSJ still publishes everyone who lied to them about Saddam’s WMD, and Clinton-Monica attack dog (and the guy who slept with the daughter of his ex-lover, made possible when the mother called him to ask him to help the daughter out in NY, and then forced the daughter to get an abortion).

The WSJ is shameless… assuming there is a profit in it.

Comment #15092

Posted by DaveScot on February 7, 2005 12:46 AM (e)

I sure hope this nonsense isn’t being done on the taxpayer’s nickel. We aren’t paying people at the Smithsonian to engage in this kind of silliness. I hope for everyone’s sake that no one is using federally funded facilities or equipment to participate in this ideological flame war.

Comment #15094

Posted by Mike Walker on February 7, 2005 1:49 AM (e)

Well the OSC is a federal agency so no matter who is in the wrong, federal funds are being spent. What’s your point?

All we have are allegations of inappropriate treatment by one or a few members of staff - even if the allegations are true, that is not a “flame war”.

Comment #15130

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 7, 2005 10:43 AM (e)

Ed Darrell wrote:

Their [WND] procedures do not qualify as complying with the ethical standards of the Society of Professional Journalists.  I wonder if they have any ethical code?  Does anybody know?

Their sole ethical standard seems to be this: Anything which advances The Cause is appropriate. All other concerns (like honesty) are at best secondary.

I think the difference between these kind of people and the rest of us is that we consider good information to be necessary for forming a qualified opinion. In other words, when one seeks the truth, it’s crucial to get the facts straight. But they aren’t seeking the truth, they’re quite certain that they already possess it, and not only is it true, it’s True™, meaning it’s not potentially open to revision. That being the case, the facts don’t really matter. There’s nothing to be discussed, only converts to be won.

Comment #15170

Posted by Ken Willis on February 7, 2005 12:23 PM (e)

I was very interested to find this site and read all the comments on ID, science and the Stephen Meyer/Richard Sternberg affair. I agree completely with the viewpoint expressed here that ID is religion and not science. I believe some shenanigan must have occurred for Meyer’s paper to have ever made it into a peer reviewed scientific journal. But when I saw that most of the posters here have their own superstitutions and believe so much left wing tripe, all the air went right out of my enthusiasm. Gads, just when I was wanting to believe how smart you all are you show me how gullible you are.

Comment #15171

Posted by PvM on February 7, 2005 12:26 PM (e)

Hi Ken. You seem to be using quite a broad brush to characterize the various participants on this board.

Comment #15209

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on February 7, 2005 2:08 PM (e)

Ken Willis wrote:

I was very interested to find this site and read all the comments on ID, science and the Stephen Meyer/Richard Sternberg affair. I agree completely with the viewpoint expressed here that ID is religion and not science. I believe some shenanigan must have occurred for Meyer’s paper to have ever made it into a peer reviewed scientific journal. But when I saw that most of the posters here have their own superstitutions and believe so much left wing tripe, all the air went right out of my enthusiasm. Gads, just when I was wanting to believe how smart you all are you show me how gullible you are.

I don’t believe you.

Comment #15227

Posted by Ed Darrell on February 7, 2005 2:37 PM (e)

Not gullible, Ken. More careful of what we claim to be fact, I think.

For my part, I’m a Christian who spent my early career in science and education policy on the staff of Orrin Hatch, and held a Reagan Administration appointment at the U.S. Department of Education.

Does that make me a believer of “left wing tripe?” Heck, back in those days, even conservative Republicans and Christians thought the truth, and facts, to be of value. Now it’s only left-wingers who do?

Moral decay moves in ways that even the suspicious don’t suspect or expect, it might appear.

How would the beliefs of anyone here affect the facts of the Sternberg claims? They wouldn’t. What’s your beef?

Comment #15281

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 7, 2005 5:47 PM (e)

*Sigh*. What is with people on ARN anyway? I don’t know why I succumbed to the temptation to look at it, but I find my name being mentioned.

teleologist wrote:

Steve Reuland wrote:

“One gets the impression that Klinghoffer had throughly vetted his source, when it turns out that the materially important claim (i.e. Sternberg’s loss of access) was flat-out false according to the museum.”

While Elsberry complains about people taking Klinghoffer’s article as gospel, he and Reuland doesn’t seem to have problem taking Coddington’s post as gospel.

I’m not sure what part of according to the museum wasn’t clear. The museum has responded and disputed Sternberg’s main charge. What I said was a simple fact. I acknowledge the possibility that the museum could be wrong, but it’s absolutely true that this is their position.

Mike Gene wrote:

Steve Reuland:

quote:
———————————-
In the article, he claims he attempted to contact Coddington and the other guy he smears (Sues?).
———————————-

Sues is mentioned twice in the article:

1. “Neither Mr. Coddington nor Mr. Sues returned repeated phone messages asking for their version of events.”

2. “Soon after the article appeared, Hans Sues–the museum’s No. 2 senior scientist–denounced it to colleagues and then sent a widely forwarded e-mail calling it “unscientific garbage.””

Why is this a “smear?”

Yanked completely out of context, it’s not. Yet it’s clear in the article that Sues’ is playing the roll of Evil Darwinist #2 next to Coddington’s Dr. Evil, the leader of the Evil Darwinist Conspiracy. Persecution stories need persecutors, and they’re it.

Comment #15289

Posted by Bryson Brown on February 7, 2005 8:36 PM (e)

PvM: Though this stretches back a little while, I’ll do a little backfilling now that life has vouchsafed me another semi-quiet evening. I tend to think of proper review as more than just finding some referees–content, not form, is the point. For example, when I submit an article critical of another philosopher the target is often asked to act as a reviewer. In the case of Meyer’s article, that would call for a few evolutionary theorists, and I’m convinced (in part by material posted here) that the piece couldn’t survive such a review. Moreover, it’s been widely noted that the subject of Meyer’s piece is well outside the usual run of papers in the journal. So on that issue (absent some dramatic new information) I don’t think Sternberg has much credibility.

For the rest, it was appearances I was talking about, not conclusions. I do think this looks very bad for Sternberg– but, fair enough, it could still turn out that Sternberg really is the injured party. Or that it’s all some honest but tangled misunderstanding. Is anyone prepared to offer odds?

Comment #15296

Posted by Marty Erwin on February 7, 2005 9:40 PM (e)

Research associate is historically a rather interesting and not uncommon title for someone working at the Smithsonian. Ellis Yochelson’s histories of C.D. Walcott include comments on a period of time when Walcott held the same title while effectively running the institution during the tail-end of Langley’s tenure as director. Sternberg’s conflict with Coddington isn’t unusual either, in the historic annals of science and bureaucracy inside the beltway. People ambitious for power and position are attracted to the area like bees to honey; is there any reason to think that ambition will not lead to personal conflict at some level? Sternberg and Coddington are to some degree both victims of media excesses. Sadly, they won’t be the last to suffer the slings and arrows of such outrageous fortune.

Now…for a completely unrelated question…does anyone know if this Sternberg is genetically related to the Sternberg family of fossil collecting fame? My irony meter awaits a response from those in the know.

Comment #15298

Posted by Ken Willis on February 7, 2005 9:58 PM (e)

PvM is right, I am painting with too broad a brush and I apologize for that. Surely there is a wide range of political viewpoints on this board. I read some pretty left wing comments and just reacted to it. A cap on income?

I don’t fit in anywhere because I agree with conservatives on everything except intelligent design theory which I think is nonsense. I agree with the left on evolutionary biology but disagree with them on everything else. I’m a lost soul.

Comment #15301

Posted by Ken Willis on February 7, 2005 10:10 PM (e)

Ed Darrell: Sorry, I guess I painted you with my broad brush. You’re right. A person’s beliefs do not affect the facts. But I think a person’s beliefs might affect their perception of facts. When someone has what seems to me to be a weird belief, such as that a cap on income would be good for us, or that something they call “irreducible complexity” renders 140 years of solid science untrue, I distrust their perception of reality and tend not to trust what they say in other areas. Just me I guess.

Comment #15304

Posted by Great White Wonder on February 7, 2005 10:28 PM (e)

Ken

I don’t fit in anywhere because I agree with conservatives on everything except intelligent design theory which I think is nonsense.

There is no reason that conservatives, especially those that are interested in America’s standing as a leader in science and medical technology, shouldn’t fight for science and against pseudoscience.

And we are more similar than you might think. Look at it this way: we both agree that a $100,000 cap on income is ludicrous! ;)

In all seriousness, my understanding of macroeconomics is just a tad higher than the typical creationist apologist’s understanding of biology (one semester in college). I rely on experts and my elected representatives to sort out the details.

Comment #15305

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on February 7, 2005 10:34 PM (e)

Ken Willis,

PT has a longish list of contributors. The political views of each are not something that we have inquired into. Timothy Sandefur is a libertarian, and Ed Brayton either is or leans that way, too. PZ Myers is liberal, all right. Just check out Pharyngula.org. I don’t know whether we have someone in exactly your position politically, but I do regularly correspond with people matching your political description. About the only thing that we PT contributors all agree upon is that science education is too important to let people put in religious stuff and call it science. Everything else is noise. We aren’t, as a group, asking you to become a liberal, and I hope that you do come back to read articles here even if there are liberal comments to be found here, too.

I hope that you didn’t mind my jest a few comments ago, but as I hadn’t put in anything particularly leftist in the article up at the top, your comment has me somewhat mystified. This last comment of yours helped clear that up.

Comment #15309

Posted by RBH on February 7, 2005 11:35 PM (e)

Ken Willis wrote

But when I saw that most of the posters here have their own superstitutions and believe so much left wing tripe, all the air went right out of my enthusiasm. Gads, just when I was wanting to believe how smart you all are you show me how gullible you are.

Funny how some folks think only left-wingers believe that good science is important. As it happens, I am an officer of the local Republican Party and am old enough to have voted for Barry Goldwater. I am incensed that my party has been hijacked by a bunch of know-nothing science-twisting politicians who wouldn’t know a genuine conservative principle if it bit ‘em on the ass.

RBH

Comment #15318

Posted by jeff-perado on February 8, 2005 1:02 AM (e)

Ken Willis:

I am sorry that you took our little salary capping joke so seriously, but it was nothing more than humor – although in reality a wide range of real jobs that real people who work do indeed have salary caps, government jobs, some professional sports, etc. And the day that Wal Mart starts paying their greeters million dollar salaries, sign me up. So don’t be too offended.

Anyway, yes, please don’t go away just because of some views of some of the commentors, we are all here for the science, not political ranting (there are any number of blogs for that)

Comment #15353

Posted by Ken Willis on February 8, 2005 10:05 AM (e)

Well, I am both bowled over and chagrined. I’m bowled over at the graciousness you all have shown me after my faux pas; and chagrined for not realizing the income cap was intended as humor. I am touched by all of your comments, and especially overjoyed to find agreement from you that a true conservative would value scientific truth over emotional needs. I look forward to learning a lot here, and hope that I can occasionally make a contribution.

Comment #15359

Posted by Ken Willis on February 8, 2005 10:48 AM (e)

BTW, I recently found some hope on the right. John Derbyshire, a writer for National Review, has called the Johnson-Demski-Behe arguments for intelligent design theory, “flapdoodle.”

Comment #15407

Posted by steve on February 8, 2005 3:53 PM (e)

Derbyshire’s latest bit really hits the IDers hard. I’m sad to report I saw the link to it in today’s Kevin Drum post about ID, wherein he (Drum) totally botches macro and micro.

Comment #15410

Posted by Great White Wonder on February 8, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

Steve

I’m sad to report I saw the link to it in today’s Kevin Drum post about ID, wherein he (Drum) totally botches macro and micro.

I saw that too.

I have noted that there is a tendency which may be unfortunate on the part of pro-scientists to argue that the terms “microevolution” and “macroevolution” are terms that were made up by creationists and have no meaning to scientists.

What seems to be correct is that the two terms *as used by creationists* are not meaningful (insofar as it is unclear where micro ends and macro begins and, more importantly, why one sort of evolution is “allowed” by creationist “science” and the other “not”).

But the terms are used by evolutionary biologists and have meanings (different from the meanings ascribed by creationists). The terms even popped up in Mayr’s obituary.

THe bottom line, I guess, is that pro-science advocates should avoid arguing that the terms are “meaningless” and “scientists don’t use them”. It’s really the definitions of the terms, as used by creationists, that are not useful to scientists.

Comment #15415

Posted by Ed Darrell on February 8, 2005 4:24 PM (e)

Ken,

Way too often a blog is a means of whacking the “other” guys over the head, and nothing more.

I hope that you won’t let minor disagreements – or major disagreements – about political stuff scare you off from PT. I hope we can find some common ground.

If you stick around, I suspect you’ll find some of your views may change, but I’d wager you’ll change the views of others even more.

In the meantime, there is dastardy afoot, and science- and truth-loving people everywhere have a stake in the scrap. If Henry Waxman and Orrin Hatch can get together on health issues, if Churchill could sit down with Stalin to plan the liberation of Europe from one set of totalitarians, you and I, and others at PT, can probably find enough common ground upon which to take a principled stand, and do some good.

Science needs the support of thinking conservatives, too, at least as much as thinking conservatives need science.

Comment #15417

Posted by David Heddle on February 8, 2005 4:29 PM (e)

A serious question. GWW wrote:

I have noted that there is a tendency which may be unfortunate on the part of pro-scientists to argue that the terms “microevolution” and “macroevolution” are terms that were made up by creationists and have no meaning to scientists

Could someone provide a simple explantion of these terms as used by biologists?

Comment #15418

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on February 8, 2005 4:34 PM (e)

People could try out my old Jargon File over on the TalkOrigins Archive:

Microevolution

(n) [FAQ] 1. Evolution within the species level. [den., science] 2. Change in allele frequency in a population over time. [conn., SciCre] Note that this connotation is equivalent to evolution(1). All SciCre-ists so far admit that microevolution(2) is observed. Some TAEs may not. 3. Adaptation or variation. [conn., those TAEs who balk at microevolution(2)]

Macroevolution

* (n) [FAQ] 1. Evolution at or above the species level. [den., science] The boundary between macro- and micro- is fuzzy, as some researchers prefer to include speciation in micro- and others reason that the only macro- process that gives distinctive events is speciation. Speciation events are thus, to many scientists, examples of macroevolution. 2. Evolution too imperceptible to be observed within the lifetime of one researcher [conn., Goldschmidt, 1940]. While SciCre-ists are fond of quoting Goldschmidt when discussing his hopeful monster conjecture, they show no inclination to accept Goldschmidt’s connotation of the term macroevolution. 3. Evolution at a level which is not currently observed. [conn., TAE] This is a common connotation among SciCre-ists and TAEs, since it is open ended and easy to adjust with announcements of new observations. Depending upon the astuteness of SciCre-ists and TAEs in your local community, this may be asserted to be at levels ranging from species to family, with a marked preference for the word kind. Given the manner in which kind is defined, this becomes a tautology.

(Jargon File “M”)

John Wilkins has a very nice essay on the origins and usage of the term “macroevolution” in evolutionary biology. It even comes up as the first hit on a Google search for “macroevolution”.

At the TOA, we are working to get a recently compiled dictionary of the history of the evolution/creation controversy. That should significantly extend or supersede my old effort in the Jargon File, which was meant to impart a bit of information in an amusing fashion.

Comment #15421

Posted by Steve F on February 8, 2005 4:39 PM (e)

David,

As I understand it, macro refers to speciation, micro to evolution within a species. YECs would, I think refer to macro being evolution across ‘kinds.’

Comment #15426

Posted by Paul King on February 8, 2005 4:49 PM (e)

YECs would, I think refer to macro being evolution across ‘kinds.’

Which is impossible by definition. Kinds are defined as being unrelated.

Comment #15451

Posted by Ralph Jones on February 8, 2005 6:21 PM (e)

Paul King,

Would you define “kind” and give an example?

Comment #15458

Posted by David Heddle on February 8, 2005 6:50 PM (e)

Wesley & Steve,

Thank you for the definitions.

Comment #15461

Posted by Great White Wonder on February 8, 2005 6:58 PM (e)

Thank you for the definitions.

tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick …

Comment #15492

Posted by Ken Willis on February 8, 2005 11:05 PM (e)

John Derbyshire is a well respected conservative writer in a highly regarded conservative magazine, so his words may help the cause of scientific and intellectual honesty among conservatives. I think. I hope.

I urge everyone so inclined to get a copy of the February 14, 2005 edition of National Review and read the whole article. It is a cogent argument that other conservatives cannot easily ignore. I want to cry when I hear William Buckley, a man I greatly admire, say he believes intelligent design, but I suppose maybe he just hasn’t given it much thought. But he’s thought about everything, hasn’t he? Oh well, I know he certainly will read or has read this article by Derbyshire. One of the many great things Derb said was:

It is odd to be reminded that I.D. is still around. I had written it off as a 1990s fad infecting religious and metaphysical circles, not really touching on science at all, since it framed no hypotheses that could be tested experimentally.

Comment #15531

Posted by Ralph Jones on February 9, 2005 6:06 AM (e)

Surely, Buckley doesn’t support the teaching of ID as science!

Comment #15563

Posted by Russell on February 9, 2005 9:26 AM (e)

Surely, Buckley doesn’t support the teaching of ID as science!

Read it , and weep. For many of us, just one more reason NOT to admire WFB.

Comment #15574

Posted by Paul King on February 9, 2005 10:27 AM (e)

The most developed form of the “kind” concept may be found here:
http://www.bryancore.org/bsg/aboutconcepts.html

Essentially a “kind” is a seperately-created population and all its descendants

Carl Wieland of AiG actually recognised the problem I stated:

…of course we have never observed variation ‘across the kind’, since whatever two varieties descend from a common source, they are regarded as the same kind.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v5/i1/kind.as…

Comment #15590

Posted by ACW on February 9, 2005 11:15 AM (e)

In that case (responding to Paul King) the only difference between me and Carl Wieland is our estimate of the number of kinds. Him: millions. Me: one.

Comment #15626

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on February 9, 2005 1:34 PM (e)

ACW wrote:

In that case (responding to Paul King) the only difference between me and Carl Wieland is our estimate of the number of kinds. Him: millions. Me: one.

Ah, that takes me back…

SciCre-ists already have attempted to “claim” the common ground for themselves. The more astute SciCre-ists simply take evolutionary mechanisms and arbitrarily claim that those mechanisms are somehow limited in action, or take evolutionary concepts and rename them as SciCre concepts. For the first, note the coopting of “natural selection” by various SciCre-ists, with the proviso that NS cannot produce changes above the “kind” level. For the second, note that when pressed for a definition of “kind”, SciCre-ists coopt the definition of “clade”. Biologists think that life forms between one and a few clades (depending on whether the person thinks that some kingdoms may not share a common ancestor with the others… a controversial point of view, but one which dos exist). SciCre-ists won’t give a number of original kinds, but do object to the number “one”.

To have a common ground, the SciCre-ists would have to start operating in the realm of science. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

(W.R. Elsberry on talk.origins)

Specifically, one could point out concerning Pierson’s challenge that while the data doesn’t permit showing every single generation from any lineage from the present back to a single-celled forebear, that there is plenty of evidence the does support the theory of common descent. First, one can remind people of the Passenger pigeon, a bird that was once so numerous that flights could blacken the sky from horizon to horizon, and which is now extinct. Despite the fact that Passenger pigeons had hard parts, there are no fossil specimens whatever of the Passenger pigeon. SO, if one were called upon to produce a fossil lineage starting with the Passenger pigeon, one would be stymied at the start. While the fossil record is fragmentary, it is perfectly sufficient to discredit and falsify certain conjectures. The concept of extinction faced tough going because most people accepted a theological doctrine of plenitude, which held that God would not allow a species of His creation to suffer complete extermination. Cuvier was able to demonstrate through fossil specimens that extinction was a real possibility, and had happened in the past. The fossil reality falsified the doctrine of plenitude. Another doctrine, that of “special creation”, fell to the fossil record somewhat later. “Special creation” held that each species embodied a though in the Mind of God, and that its existence was immutable througout its residence on earth. Soon, the evidence of the fossil record dispatched that idea as false. One can find that modern creationists often substitute the word “kind” into that doctrine. Over time, one finds that creationist doctrine evolves to more closely resemble evolutionary biology. Instead of having God create billions and billions of separate species and some multiple of that of varieties of those species, one finds the modern creationist discussing “kinds”. When pressed to give a definition of “kind”, what tends to pop out bears an uncanny resemblance to the biological term “clade”. By dint of embracing “within-kind” evolution, modern creationists manage to cut down the number of separate creation events that their God must have performed. The number goes down from billions to mere tens of thousands, with some forward-looking creationists going so far as to claim comfort with having groups as broad as phyla being identified as kinds. Thus creationist conjectures are steadily diminishing the number of creation events needed to sustain their doctrine, and asymptotically approaching the figure proposed by common descent: One.

(W.R. Elsberry, TalkOrigins Archive Feedback, Aug. 1999)

Comment #15637

Posted by Mike S. on February 9, 2005 2:05 PM (e)

Ken, I fit your general characterization pretty well. (So does my father, but he doesn’t post on blogs.)

My impression is that the reason conservatives like Buckley support/push ID is that either a) they don’t understand the science, or b) they are pushing a philosophical viewpoint, or both. The idea that Darwinism, or evolution, is either incompatible with religious beliefs or encourages liberal beliefs is very well entrenched, by people on the right and left. A lot of people latch onto/support ID because of the philosophical/political/ideological aspects of it (i.e. Johnson et al.’s rhetoric is effective). (See this exchange in First Things - it discusses this issue in some detail.) I tend to agree with, or have sympathy with their general views on cultural and political matters, but I disagree with them about the links they draw between evolutionary theory and various liberal views. And I definitely disagree with their scientific views on evolution and/or ID. People on all sides of this debate tend to conflate various philosophical, theological, or political issues with the scientific issues, which accounts for the notable lack of communication that goes on. The threads on PT often veer all over the place, but the fact is that the evolution/creationism/ID nexus incorporates all these different aspects of life, which is part of what makes it so interesting to talk about.

Comment #15663

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 9, 2005 5:19 PM (e)

Mike S. wrote:

My impression is that the reason conservatives like Buckley support/push ID is that either a) they don’t understand the science, or b) they are pushing a philosophical viewpoint, or both.

If you read the Wedge Document and other early ID material, you’ll see that the ID was founded mostly for the purposes of pushing a right-wing cultural agenda. But they also hope to use it to advance other conservative causes too. For example, on the Discovery Institute’s webpage, in an FAQ on ID (since removed), they claimed that “materialism” was responsible for welfare! The implication being that poverty has a “spiritual” cause as well as financial. (It appears to be a religious rationalization for saying that the poor deserve what they get, and giving them money just makes them lazy.)

The Wedge Document in particular really tries to boil the complexities of our social and political landscape down to a facile black and white, with “materialism” being responsible for everything bad. ID with its impending cultural renewal is the panacea. With a formula like that, ID can be used to justify anything.

The really funny thing is that ID, according to its own proponents, cannot possibly justify either a right-wing cultural agenda or anything else for that matter. They keep saying that ID cannot identify the designer or tell us anything about it. What, then, could it possibly have to do with abortion, homosexuality, or welfare?

Comment #15669

Posted by Ralph Jones on February 9, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

Paul King,

Is Homo sapiens in the ape holobaramin? Are there any examples of a holobaramin?

Comment #15682

Posted by Ken Willis on February 9, 2005 11:35 PM (e)

Mike, I have the Larry Arnhart discussion from First Things with Johnson-Demski-Behe, it’s really good. Arnhart has a new book coming out, in May I think. Buckley’s career sort of centers around God and Man at Yale, and he has a strong Catholic faith. But if the Pope accepts evolution then I guess any Catholic can. Buckley is brilliant, in my view. And maybe it’s just religion for him. Maybe he’s not trying to have it taught as science. I hope not.

Steve, It seems to me that conservatives should find Darwinian evolution to be a nice fit with the conservative view of the world. After all, conservatives are those with the “constrained vision” that Thomas Sowell discusses in his book, A Conflict of Visions. Specifically, conservatives believe that the greatest order inheres in the thousands or millions of individual decisions made on a daily basis by ordinary people, and that good order does not result when the locus of decision resides in a cadre of elites, as is believed by those with the unconstrained vision, i.e., liberals (most of whom are now full fledged leftists).

Why then would conservatives believe that God, if he is omniscient and wise, would chose central planning? Would not a wise God allow nature to cycle on according to the laws of the universe with each species forging its own best adaptation to its environment? It seems to me that it should be leftists, who hate the idea of anybody being in charge of their own destiny without permission from some powerful technocrat, who would find intelligent design to be compatible with their worldview, with the form and function of every species and individual being the result of direction from on high.

I am really confused as to how ID could be of help in enacting a right wing agenda, if I have a correct understanding of what that agenda would be. I assume a right wing agenda would involve a lot of individual autonomy and liberty with its attendant risk of failure and poverty but also the chance of success and wealth. It seems that evolution models better with that agenda.

Comment #15686

Posted by Paul King on February 10, 2005 1:53 AM (e)

Ralph Jones asks a question which leads to one of the ways of dealing with the problem that “kinds” are too fluid such that evolution across “kinds” can never be shown.

There are taxonomic groupings which creationists, for theological reasons, will generally accept as “kinds”. The species Homo Sapiens is one. Of course we have good evidence that this is false.

While getting a creationist pinned down on the exact taxonomic grouping would be harder (and probably unnecessary) whales would probably be a better example to use in constructive discussion since the emotional objections to human evolution can’t come into play.

Comment #15707

Posted by Jeffrey Davis on February 10, 2005 9:49 AM (e)

Trivia Alert.

Anent Passenger Pigeons, I think I’ve seen a stuffed pair at the Cincinatti Zoo. Certainly no fossils, but if you’re curious about what they looked like Cincy is the place to go.

Comment #15719

Posted by Mike S. on February 10, 2005 12:03 PM (e)

Ken Willis wrote:

I am really confused as to how ID could be of help in enacting a right wing agenda, if I have a correct understanding of what that agenda would be.

1) ID is a tool for attacking evolution. If you are convinced that evolution and a secular worldview are inextricably linked, and that most secular people are liberals, then attacking evolution has some logic to it, from a conservative political/philosophical point of view.

2) Those who push ID are, for the most part, religious conservatives first, and political or philosophical conservatives second (if at all). Which means that their goals are primarily religious. I think there is some evidence that some so-called neoconservatives (who are typically political conservatives first) support ID for strategic political reasons. I recently read an essay dealing with this, but I’m not sure where. Maybe on the Reason website. Even there, though, the reason they support it is the same: they think they are supporting religious beliefs (which they think are crucial for maintaining ordered liberty), and going against secular orthodoxy. I surmise that this is a large part of what motivates Buckley on this issue.

3) Part of the support for ID comes from the fact that evolution is supported by academic elites, by the mainstream media, and by legal elites. Conservatives of various stripes are motivated to attack these elites for various reasons. ID is one more way of doing this. Again, if you are concerned with philosophical or political agendas, and don’t know or don’t care about the science involved, its easy to lump defense of evolution in with other leftist dogmas that are supported in academia. And the reality is that many high-profile defenders of evolution (e.g. Gould, Lewontin, Dawkins) are liberal/leftists, with not many couterexamples from the right like Arnhart (largely because conservatives in academia, law, and the media are more rare and/or less vocal).

Comment #15726

Posted by Great White Wonder on February 10, 2005 12:53 PM (e)

Ken, an interesting discussion and I agree with many of your points (and many of Mike’s). But this one I have to take issue with:

leftists, who hate the idea of anybody being in charge of their own destiny without permission from some powerful technocrat

That was probably intended as hyperbole (maybe conservative humor?). But let’s try to keep it at least sort of real.

As for Buckley, I was thinking of him lately because I recall that he once took a yacht out of what he believed was US jurisdiction so he could smoke pot legally. That must have been an amusing boat ride.

Comment #15756

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 10, 2005 2:33 PM (e)

Ken Willis wrote:

Steve, It seems to me that conservatives should find Darwinian evolution to be a nice fit with the conservative view of the world.  After all, conservatives are those with the “constrained vision” that Thomas Sowell discusses in his book, A Conflict of Visions.

It might seem that way, but there’s more to conservatism than simply free-market economics. Conservatism is also about preserving the status quo. To that end, tradition is given exhaulted status, whereas liberals are more open to change and often find tradition to be stifling. That’s where religion comes in. Though it can at times be a facilitator of change, religion is most often a force for resisting change, maintaining cultural mores, and preserving tradition. William Buckley once wrote that the main job of the conservative is to yell, “Stop!” when things start changing too fast. You can see why insitutions which help maintain the status quo, such as religious institutions, would be favored by him.

Neo-conservatives, many of whom jumped on the ID bandwagon early, have a similar outlook but are more cynically pro-authoritarian. They’re not typically religious themselves, but consider it important that everyone else be religious in order to keep the masses in line.

Of course all of this hinges on the notion that religion and evolution are incompatible, or that knocking down evolution does something to advance religion. I don’t see this as being the case at all, but apparently they do. I suppose it helps that the biblical literalists, who have become very influential within conservative circles in the last couple of decades, must necessarily find evolution incompatible with their religion. A cynic might say that what Buckely, Kristol, etc. want most is to keep these people hanging on.

…and that good order does not result when the locus of decision resides in a cadre of elites, as is believed by those with the unconstrained vision, i.e., liberals (most of whom are now full fledged leftists).

If by “leftists” you mean socialsts or quasi-socialists, I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of self-described liberals (like me) are not leftists.

Comment #15773

Posted by steve on February 10, 2005 3:39 PM (e)

Several comments here have expressed disappointment that a few of the smart conservatives such as William Buckley support ID. There are obvious responses to this, among them that it is possible to be very smart in one field and very stupid in another, for instance by being a creationist MD. Most conservatives of intelligence and education won’t fall for obvious pseudoscience. Religion is capable of blinding the reason, so some will fall for it. But I’d also suggest that such conservatives may advocate ID for a Straussian reason: they know it’s nonsense, but they think religion helps keeps the peace, and should therefore be promoted.

Comment #15776

Posted by steve on February 10, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

I see I was beaten to that punch by another Steve. It’s hard to make useful, insightful comments with all these Steves running around.

Comment #15841

Posted by Ken Willis on February 10, 2005 10:52 PM (e)

Mike s. you are quite right. It is easy for me to forget those things even I know they are all true. To me, ID is an attempt to turn the clock all the way back to a time before all modern science, to the 16th Century and before. The great 17th Century scientists of the Royal Society thought they were discovering God’s grand design with each new discovery of how the natural world works. The Newtonian revolution which confirmed Kepler’s theory of planetary motion revealed an orderly universe which meant we mere mortals did not have to rely on supernatural explanations for everyday occurrences because we could discover what was actually going on. For those people, their faith in God was strengthened with each new advancement in science because they thought the knowledge they gained brought them closer to the face of God. ID is really a form of blasphemy, in my view, because it is an attempt to stop any further learning of how the world works, and thus to remain ignorant of God’s design.

Since ID seems to me to be anti-religion as well as anti-science, I have a hard time remembering that some conservatives are drawn to it for those reasons Mike S. mentions. If religious conservatives truly want to understand God I think they should be eagerly studying every new development in biological evolution. It doesn’t matter to me that Richard Dawkins is an atheist. I can still believe that what I learn by reading his books gives me a deeper understanding of God. Don’t tell him, he may stop writing.

Great white wonder, yes that was a rather strong statement. Now I know this is not a politics board so I’ll only go here this one time, but consider that conservatives are in favor of allowing people to have personal retirement accounts they actually own and are also in favor of allowing individuals to have medical savings accounts with high deductible health insurance so they can manage their own health care costs, not to mention allowing people to have some meaningful choice of what schools to send their children. The left, or liberals, are against all those things. I think I could go on and on. Everytime there is a proposal of any kind to allow individuals to have more control over their own lives, it is conservatives who support it and liberals and leftists who are opposed. So my statement may be a little over the top, but not by much.

Steve Reuland, I think there has been a paradigm shift. It used to be as you say. But now it is liberals who are clinging to the status quo and have to be dragged kicking and screaming for every change. Social Security is just one example. Conservatives are now at the vanguard of every change in social policy from welfare reform to smaller government to tort reform, and on and on.

When I describe liberals as leftists I should always add that of course that does not describe every liberal. You are correct, there are a few liberals still around who probably believe in a strong military, personal responsibility, hard work, etc. And no doubt you are one of them, but your heros are JFK, Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey, and those guys aren’t around anymore. Ronald Reagan was one of those liberals but switched to the other side because as he said, he didn’t leave liberalism, it left him. Your party has been taken over by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Edward Kennedy and Howard Dean, leftists all.

BTW, I was a registered Democrat until 1993. My mother is 99 and I still do not tell her that I started voting Republican. It would kill her.

Comment #15842

Posted by ogmb on February 10, 2005 10:57 PM (e)

I suspect that Kensley was Sternberg’s old supervisor and the NMNH’s listing hasn’t been update.

It has been updated, with the same sponsor. I find this puzzling. Why would Coddington get such a basic fact wrong? That is, either he or the website. He also said “He has had no other since Feb. 1, 2004, nor was he ever “assigned to” or under the “oversight of” anyone else” in his rebuttal.

Comment #15843

Posted by Ken Willis on February 10, 2005 11:07 PM (e)

Steve No. 1, you make a great point. I have a book titled “Intellectual Morons–How Ideology Makes Morons Out of Smart People.” Joseph Schumpeter said that some highly intelligent people fall down to thinking on a lower level on political topics. He could have added religious topics as well.

Steve No. 2, I think the point you were going to make before Steve No. 1 aced you out was also great.

Comment #15854

Posted by Ralph Jones on February 11, 2005 7:02 AM (e)

Ken Willis,

Conservatives are against freedom on the issues of abortion, gay marriage, marijuana, etc. Who passed the Patriot Act? I know this is off topic, but nonsense is nonsense…

Comment #15857

Posted by David Wilson on February 11, 2005 7:29 AM (e)

In comment #15001

I wrote:

There is one other curious thing about Coddington’s response. He says

I am, and continue to be, his only “supervisor,” although we use the term “sponsor” for Research Associates to avoid personnel/employee connotations. He has had no other since Feb. 1, 2004, nor was he ever “assigned to” or under the “oversight of” anyone else.

But the NMNH’s own list of research associates names one Brian Kensley as Sternberg’s staff sponsor, not Jonathon Coddington.

In comment #15012

Reed Cartwright wrote:

I suspect that Kensley was Sternberg’s old supervisor and the NMNH’s listing hasn’t been update.

In comment #15842

ogmb wrote:

It has been updated, with the same sponsor. I find this puzzling. Why would Coddington get such a basic fact wrong? That is, either he or the website. He also said “He has had no other since Feb. 1, 2004, nor was he ever “assigned to” or under the “oversight of” anyone else” in his rebuttal.

The page which I had looked at already claimed to have been updated in December 2004, so the continued appearance of the same discrepancy on the page supposedly updated on February 4th isn’t really all that much more puzzling.

In any case, all such an “update” really means is that someone has replaced the previous page, and presumaby incorporated changes to those pieces of out-of-date information which they have been told about. It’s not all that uncommon for web pages of organisations I have had dealings with to preserve out-of-date information across several such supposed “updates”. So Reed Cartwright’s explanation seems reasonable to me.

The NMNH’s list of Research Associates gives the term of Sternberg’s appointment as running from January 2004 to January 2007. But from his curriculum vitae and account of the Meyer affair, it would appear that he had already had one previous appointment, starting from the end of 2001. Since Coddington claims to have been his sponsor only since February 2004, it looks like a change of sponsor might have coincided with the renewal of his appointment.

Comment #15868

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 11, 2005 10:18 AM (e)

Ken, I don’t want to get into a political debate, but what you say about the status quo is true only because the Right has become increasingly reactionary, forcing liberals into a position in which they can only prevent the loss of progressive reforms that they once took for granted. I think there’s little doubt that it’s the Republican party which has been moving toward the ideological fringe. Consider that Nixon wouldn’t have dreamt of touching Social Security and had what would today be considered a liberal economic outlook.

I know lots of liberals and none of them are against a strong military, hard work, personal responsibility, etc. That’s simply a strawman weilded by the Right. And it’s quite ironic given the personal history of their hero in the Whitehouse.

As for the Democratic party being taken over by “leftists”, Harry Reid, who you mention by name, is well known as a pro-life conservative. I’m not sure how the others would compare because I still don’t know what you mean by “leftists”.

But whatever the case, consider whom the Republican party has been taken over by: Rick Santorum, Tom Delay, George W. Bush, etc. These people are reactionaries. They’re also the ones pushing creationism and ID. Since you’ve been wondering how the leaders of your party could be pushing this stuff, the answer might be that they’re much further to the Right than you give them credit for.

Comment #15879

Posted by Mike S. on February 11, 2005 11:16 AM (e)

Santorum has inserted pro-ID language (non-binding) into a Bill, but I’m not aware of anything Delay or Bush has done to support ID or attack evolutionary theory. I don’t think they care much (or know much) about it either way. It’s true that a significant portion of their political base cares about it, so they periodically make sympathetic noises about it, but it’s pretty low on the list of priorities.

It’s interesting to see the categorizations people on different parts of the political spectrum make. Liberals, generally speaking, characterize themselves as either on the left or left of center, the Democratic party in the middle, the general public (in aggregate) in the middle, and the Republican party far to the right. Conservatives typically characterize liberals as to the left, the Democratic party between the left and the center, the Republican party in the middle, and the bulk of the populace (and themselves) to the right. Of course, it depends upon the particular issue. But I agree with Ken that the Democratic party has shifted significantly to the left (with respect to the general population) over the last 20 years or so, and that is why they’ve been regularly losing elections for the past decade. The idea running around liberal/Democratic circles that if they a) push their progressive ideas more forcefully and/or b) criticize Republicans/conservatives more loudly, they will win elections is a dead end. Note that Hillary is smart enough to recognize this, and is trying to push her image to the right, not be more agressive about pushing liberal policies.

What I don’t agree upon is that there should much of a correlation, if any, between evolution and a person’s political outlook. Evolution has been used as an ideological tool, or whipping post, for people of all ideological stripes. Science itself is apolitical. The academy, on the other hand…

Comment #15880

Posted by Great White Wonder on February 11, 2005 11:38 AM (e)

Ken, my dear conservative friend!

Now I know this is not a politics board so I’ll only go here this one time, but consider that conservatives are in favor of allowing people to have personal retirement accounts they actually own

So am I. And, in fact, everyone in the US is free to have their own personal retirement accounts. That doesn’t change the fact that Social Security is still a great safety net for the unlucky and less intelligent among us (and it’s the Democrats program, which is why conservatives want to “fix” it).

The left, or liberals, are against all those things. I think I could go on and on.

I’m sure you could but it wouldn’t be prudent. There’s nothing to be gained by making inaccurate sweeping statements about leftists or fascists.

Comment #15883

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 11, 2005 12:03 PM (e)

Mike S. wrote:

Santorum has inserted pro-ID language (non-binding) into a Bill, but I’m not aware of anything Delay or Bush has done to support ID or attack evolutionary theory.  I don’t think they care much (or know much) about it either way.  It’s true that a significant portion of their political base cares about it, so they periodically make sympathetic noises about it, but it’s pretty low on the list of priorities.

Delay has made antievolution statements before, though I can’t remember any specific ones off-hand. Bush, when asked about teaching evo vs. creationism, said something to the effect of, “The jury is still out on where the Earth came from,” demonstrating both his creationist sympathies and his cluelessness at the same time.

In general though, creationism is a state issue, since education is a state issue. Pro-creationism and ID legislation is invariably introduced by Republicans, and makes headway in states where Republicans hold a majority. It also comes from Republican dominated school boards. But that doesn’t stop US congressmen from sometimes getting involved. Aside from Santorum, two of Ohio’s Republican congressmen wrote an Op-Ed supporting Ohio’s recent flirtation with ID. The fact that they’re starting to get involved on the Federal level shows just how bad things are.

But I agree with Ken that the Democratic party has shifted significantly to the left (with respect to the general population) over the last 20 years or so, and that is why they’ve been regularly losing elections for the past decade.

I find it hard to believe that anyone who follows politics could see things this way. On what issues have the Democrats shifted to the left? Trade? Welfare? Taxation? On almost every issue, Democrats have shifted to the right or otherwise softened their stance in the last 20 years. The only possible exceptions that come to mind are the cultural wedge issues.

Comment #15885

Posted by Russell on February 11, 2005 12:29 PM (e)

Delay has made antievolution statements before, though I can’t remember any specific ones off-hand.

Delay is way out there check this out.

Comment #15886

Posted by Great White Wonder on February 11, 2005 12:47 PM (e)

Bugman Delay writes

our school systems teach our children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial soup of mud, by teaching evolution as fact.

The guy is a stain on humanity. The only interesting question is whether his face lift will outlast his political career.

Comment #15889

Posted by steve on February 11, 2005 1:04 PM (e)

Ralph Said:

Comment #15854

Posted by Ralph Jones on February 11, 2005 07:02 AM

Ken Willis,

Conservatives are against freedom on the issues of abortion, gay marriage, marijuana, etc. Who passed the Patriot Act? I know this is off topic, but nonsense is nonsense …

Sadly:

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 107th Congress - 1st Session

as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate

Vote Summary

Question: On Passage of the Bill (H.R. 3162 )
Vote Number: 313 Vote Date: October 25, 2001, 01:54 PM
Required For Majority: 1/2 Vote Result: Bill Passed
Measure Number: H.R. 3162 (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001 )
Measure Title: A bill to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.
Vote Counts: YEAs 98
NAYs 1
Not Voting 1

(from http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_…)

Sadly, we liberals didn’t fight that at the time. Perhaps we were too busy trying to illegalize christianity, or writing our manifestoes against personal responsibility.

Comment #15891

Posted by steve on February 11, 2005 1:18 PM (e)

But I agree with Ken that the Democratic party has shifted significantly to the left (with respect to the general population) over the last 20 years or so, and that is why they’ve been regularly losing elections for the past decade. The idea running around liberal/Democratic circles that if they a) push their progressive ideas more forcefully and/or b) criticize Republicans/conservatives more loudly, they will win elections is a dead end.

It’s not true that Dems have shifted hard in the last 20 years. There was a big shift left from about 1950-1970, but not much movement since then. If anything, they’ve moved a little right as communisms failed. It is true that they won’t win by going hard to the left. And big city liberals like me have to realize that the Dems have attracted all the big city liberals. They’re not going to get more votes by simply appealing to us more. Much of the country isn’t like us. That doesn’t mean the Dems have to embrace conservative ideas, either. Dems have been regularly losing elections because the republicans have fashioned a coherent message, they’re disciplined about it, they’ve built institutions to refine and promote it. It’s a movement with a vision. My Dems are at this point mostly selling a grab bag of tweaks. Matt Yglesias is starting to talk about this:

What’s needed, in short, is a real ideology that, as such, has adherents. The adherents would, of course, specialize to some extent as people always do. But what we have right now is really a coalition of lots of micro-ideologies and micro-interests that happen to collaborate with one another from time to time on this or that.

http://yglesias.typepad.com/matthew/2005/02/an_i…

Comment #15894

Posted by steve on February 11, 2005 1:45 PM (e)

It’s an easy problem to diagnose. I’m not a conservative, but I could quickly tell you what ‘conservatives’ stand for. If you asked me what ‘liberals’ stand for, I might be able to come up with some general statements, but it would take a few minutes.

Comment #15897

Posted by Steve Reuland on February 11, 2005 1:54 PM (e)

steve wrote:

That doesn’t mean the Dems have to embrace conservative ideas, either. Dems have been regularly losing elections because the republicans have fashioned a coherent message, they’re disciplined about it, they’ve built institutions to refine and promote it. It’s a movement with a vision. My Dems are at this point mostly selling a grab bag of tweaks.

Yeah, my sentiments exactly. It also doesn’t hurt that the conservative movement spends upwards of $400 million a year to promote their message. There’s nothing comparable on the Left. What little infrastructure there is is still in its infancy, and it’ll take at least another decade to compete on a level playing field.

Comment #15911

Posted by Mike S. on February 11, 2005 4:09 PM (e)

Steve Reuland wrote:

“The jury is still out on where the Earth came from,”

Well, isn’t it? Do you know where the Earth came from? ;)
Bush’s malapropisms crack me up. But’s its almost as funny watching some of his political opponents get themselves so worked up over them. If I kept getting beat by someone, I wouldn’t be in such a hurry to label him an idiot, even if he sometimes mangles words.

Both Steves object to the idea that the Democrats have moved left recently. But notice that I said ‘with respect to the general population’, so it could be the case that the general population moved right, and the Dems stayed in place. The reason I claim that Dems have moved left has to do with the fact that they’ve removed more conservative Dems from power (or they’ve retired). (Reid may be an exception) The Republicans have probably shifted to the right (although in many ways Bush is to the left of Reagan), but they still have room in the party for relative liberals like Specter, Guliani, McCain, and Arnold. Who are the relative conservatives in the Democratic party? Joe Lieberman comes to mind. Anybody else?

Comment #15947

Posted by Ken Willis on February 11, 2005 10:14 PM (e)

Well, I’m a little overwhelmed. All good comments. I agree with a few of them. I seem to have whipped up a firestorm. I’d love to answer them all, try to convert Ralph Jones, Steve Reuland, and Great White Wonder. I know, I know. It would never happen. Still be fun to try. Thanks to Mike S. for the support on part of what I said.

There is one good thing. We all agree that ID is a load of horse manure. I am with all of you on the science. Politics will play itself out as it usually does. No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Now I see there is a whole lot more interesting stuff on Panda’s Thumb that I haven’t checked out yet. This is a great candy store.

Comment #16003

Posted by Jason Spaceman on February 12, 2005 7:03 PM (e)

Another columnist weighs in on the Sternberg/Smithsonian affair. Although he basically repeats the claims made in Klinghoffer’s article.

Comment #16036

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on February 12, 2005 11:52 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #16038

Posted by Jason Spaceman on February 13, 2005 1:20 AM (e)

Today’s Washington Times also has a story on the Sternberg/Smithsonian affair.

Beat you to it again. :-)

Comment #16084

Posted by Ken Willis on February 13, 2005 2:16 PM (e)

As a throwback mutant redneck conservative, the Washington Times article and the Times/Herald of Vallejo, CA article are a real disappointment to me. I don’t know why my fellow conservatives find it too much to ask that the proponents of ID just tell us how it works and show us their evidence.

Since they insist that ID is science and not religion I can’t figure out for the life of me why they think it should not be subject to the standards of scientific proof. We conservatives are supposed to be defenders of truth, not charlatans making lawyer arguments for junk science.

Comment #16254

Posted by Boston rentals on February 14, 2005 9:43 PM (e)

Good point made!

Comment #16319

Posted by mp3s on February 15, 2005 11:33 AM (e)

mp3NUT is cool