One of the most disturbing revelations of the recent congressional investigation into the Smithsonian’s persecution of Richard Sternberg is the behind-the-scenes role of the pro-Darwin lobbying group the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). According to the congressional staff report, the NCSE was in essence asked to spy on Dr. Sternberg by Smithsonian official Dr. Hans Sues:
The NCSE was also enlisted by a NMNH official to monitor Dr. Sternberg’s outside activities. On August 26, Dr. Sues promised NCSE director Eugenie Scott that “[f]rom now on, I will keep an eye on Dr. (von) Sternberg, and I’d greatly appreciate it if you or other NCSE specialists could let me [know] about further activities by this gentleman in areas poutside [sic] crustacean systematics [emphasis added].” The clear purpose of having the NCSE monitor Dr. Sternberg’s outside activities was to find a way to dismiss him. Dr. Sues hoped that the NCSE could unearth evidence that Dr. Sternberg had misrepresented himself as a Smithsonian employee, which would have been grounds for his dismissal as a Research Associate: “As a Research Associate, Sternberg is not allowed to represent himself as an employee of the Smithsonian Institution, and, if he were to do so, he would forfeit his appointment.”
But spying was only part of the NCSE’s role. According to the congressional report, the NCSE helped mastermind efforts by government officials to publicly smear Sternberg with false information:
Many of the efforts to publicly discredit Dr. Sternberg were done under the guidance of the National Center for Science Education, a private special interest group and proevolution advocacy organization. Early on in the controversy, the NCSE circulated a set of “talking points” to the BSW Council and NMNH officials on how to discredit both Sternberg and the Meyer article. The OSC investigation found that the “NCSE recommendations were circulated within the SI and eventually became part of the official public response of the SI to the Meyer article.”
Congressional investigators found the collusion between government employees and the NCSE of significant concern:
The extent to which NMNH officials colluded on government time and with government resources with the NCSE to publicly discredit Dr. Sternberg’s scientific and professional integrity and investigate opportunities to dismiss him is alarming.