Monday, December 03, 2007


Vichy Science

Casey Luskin, Gofer General of the Discovery Institute, is out with the DI's post press conference version of events based on the Iowa State University faculty e-mails they've obtained concerning the denial of tenure to Guillermo Gonzalez. And Casey is shocked, shocked by what they've found!

I'll leave it to you to read the [cough] horrible things being said about Gonzalez and ID but Casey sums up at the end with the following complaints (in bold, with my comments interspersed):

(1) Key ISU faculty that voted on Dr. Gonzalez’s tenure have an intense disdain for ID,

Almost all scientists who are not themselves religiously committed to a distortion of the philosophy of science, to permit claims that God's handiwork can be detected by scientific means, have intense distain for ID and its dishonest agenda.

... and there is absolutely no question that ID was a major, if not an overriding factor in the denial of Dr. Gonzalez’s tenure.

The "scuttlebutt" going on in an academic department is not necessarily reflective of the ultimate collective decisions of that department. Gonzalez, of course, set off the wagging tongues by engaging in pseudoscience to the apparent detriment of his scientific and academic work, as shown by the dearth of publications by him while at ISU, the lack of grants he brought in and the lack of Ph.D. candidates he produced.

(2) Gonzalez’s foes never complained in e-mails about his academic track record as an observational astronomer; they only lamented about his views on ID.

I'm no expert on academic politics and tenure procedures but those things don't compare as subjects of hot gossip the way his being an IDeologist would be. And that's what these e-mails appear mostly to be: gossip.

(3) Gonzalez’s foes hoped a department-wide condemnation of ID would make Gonzalez want to leave ISU.

If they had done it, it would have been a "sign from above" that he might want to look elsewhere. If I have a criticism of the ISU physics and astronomy department, it is that they did not do what Lehigh University's biology department did about Michael Behe. The DI's whining would be even less credible than it is now if they had made it clear that they viewed Gonzalez' "outside interests" as pseudoscientific well before tenure was denied.

(4) Many implicitly expected that if Gonzalez did apply for tenure, he would be denied, thus discussing, debating, and effectively prejudging his tenure case in secret e-mails a year before the actual tenure deliberations.

Tough! Gonzalez ain't got a right to tenure and his fellow faculty members don't have to wait to make up their mind about him.

(5) These faculty sacrificed Dr. Gonzalez’s academic freedom to support ID to misplaced concerns about the department’s reputation and personal disdain for ID.

Those concerns were hardly misplaced, as shown by the reactions of the faculty themselves. That reaction is widely shared ... for good reason, of course. And nobody is stopping Gonzalez from going somewhere else to teach and do research (except Gonzalez himself by making it clear he will be an administrative troublemaker). No one has "academic freedom" to insist on tenure. Babbling incoherently in your own field of study, even if not in your classes, is more than enough grounds to deny tenure.

(6) Their concerns primarily centered around outward appearances of fairness for legal purposes and they showed little, if any, real care for the true protection of Dr. Gonzalez’s academic freedom to support ID, even though ISU's faculty handbook claims that "[a]cademic freedom is the foundation of the university."

He still has all the academic freedom he ever had to hump pseudoscience. He can go out and get a job at any university or college that will hire him, just like any other untenured teacher and researcher. He was not guaranteed a lifetime job when he was hired at ISU and academic freedom can't magically give him a lifetime job. Imagine if any instructor could be guaranteed lifetime employment just by humping bad ideas under the cover of "academic freedom."

They even sought to hide their discriminatory plans and unethical activities surrounding their secret e-mail tenure deliberations on Dr. Gonzalez.

As I understand it, the university gave all the e-mails up under a request pursuant to Iowa's Open Records Act. The only "hiding" that could have been involved was to not voluntarily reveal the private e-mails of their employees about a non-public procedure. Hoo, boy!!! If that's the standard the DI wants to employ, does that mean that the ever so honest and ethical Discovery Institute will voluntarily give us all their internal e-mails leading up to the Dover trial and the aftermath? Now thar's good reading!

There's only one last thing to say: "time again for our ongoing poll ... is Casey Luskin an idiot or just morally challenged?"

The only difference between Gonzalez and an astrologer teaching students to read their horoscopes when they are supposed to be learning astrophysics, is that most astrologers seem to have the sense to know where their ideas belong. How anyone could be surprised that someone committed to undermining science, or at the very least dragging it back into the dark ages, doesn't get the privilege of a permanent position teaching science, is mind bloggling (spelling intentional)!
There's only one last thing to say: "time again for our ongoing poll ... is Casey Luskin an idiot or just morally challenged?"

More than one of the above.
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