Friday, June 01, 2007


I Can See Clearly Now

Despite the furious effort of the Discovery Institute to destroy whatever career Guillermo Gonzalez had left as an astronomer, the issue does not seem to be catching much notice in the "mainstream media." There has been little obvious play concerning the denial of tenure to Gonzalez by Iowa State University outside such Christian news sources as the Baptist Press and the Christian Examiner. When there has been notice in non-religious media, there has been far less credence given to the Disco Boyz' complaints than was the case once (thank you, Judge Jones!). Take this article in The Des Moines Register, "Little grant money a factor in tenure denial."

While there is a nod, far down in the article, to Gonzalez's claims to an extensive list of peer reviewed articles he published (without noting, as many sources have pointed out, that those mostly were published before his time at ISU), it is Gonzalez's failure to bring in research funding, particularly in comparison to his peers at the university, that is repeatedly emphasized:

Iowa State University has sponsored $22,661 in outside grant money for Guillermo Gonzalez since July 2001, records show. In that same time period, Gonzalez's peers in physics and astronomy secured an average of $1.3 million by the time they were granted tenure, which is basically a lifetime appointment at the university.

"Essentially, he had no research funding," said Eli Rosenberg, chairman of the physics and astronomy department where Gonzalez is employed. "That's one of the issues."
Rosenberg went on to say:

In order to survive doing research, (you) have to support graduate students and travel. You have to generate that money yourself.
Laughably, John West of the DI said that Gonzalez was given a "grant" for $50,000 over five years to study observational astronomy by the Discovery Institute. Really, if they want to buy a chair in Intelligent Design Propaganda at some real university, they're going to have to get Howard Ahmanson, Jr. to pony up a lot more than 10 large a year.

Gonzalez tried, unconvincingly, to downplay the funding issue:

I'm sure it was a concern among department members, but it's not actually a requirement in any of the documents of the department or the university that I have to bring in outside funding.
The university's spokesman denied that, saying that there is a "position responsibility statement" signed by each faculty member of the physics and astronomy department that addresses the importance of seeking or obtaining money to support research.

In any case, you'd have to be pretty dumb not to know that grants are the sine qua non of a research department. Wait a minute ... Gonzalez believes in Intelligent Design, doesn't he ...

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