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Darwinists Spread Misinformation about Guillermo Gonzalez’s Denial of Tenure

Casey Luskin

All too predictably, during the past week various Darwinists have been trying to divert attention away from the Guillermo Gonzalez tenure case through a campaign of misinformation about both Dr. Gonzalez and intelligent design. Whether they do so knowingly–as a calculated attempt to defame Gonzalez and smear his professional record–or through ignorance isn’t always clear. Either way, the truth about Dr. Gonzalez’s work and achievements is readily available. (A great place to start is the Biosketch of Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, Astronomer and Asst. Professor at Iowa State University.)

Let’s take a look at some of the false facts being tossed around.

False Fact #1: Dr. Gonzalez’s Work is about Intelligent Design in Biology.
One commenter on Ed Brayton’s blog said, “I suspect that one reason that Gonzales was denied tenure was that he was hired to teach courses, perform research, and seek research grants in the field of astronomy. He was not hired by the biology department to do any of the above in biology (in which by the way he had no competence or training). Since he was apparently more interested in biology then in astronomy, denial of tenure seems perfectly reasonable.”

In fact, none of Dr. Gonzalez’s work on intelligent design deals with biology. Rather, Dr. Gonzalez’s research detects design in his own area of expertise: physics and cosmology, as the subtitle of his book The Privileged Planet reads, “How our place in the cosmos is designed for discovery.” Dr. Gonzalez’s work on ID deals almost singularly with cosmic design, not biological design.

False Fact #2: Dr. Gonzalez Doesn’t Have Many Published Peer-Reviewed Papers.
Another commenter wrote, “I’m posting the 17 papers that ISI knowledge returns when I searched,” and this comment was then linked from Pandas Thumb by someone who similarly wrote, “See here for a review of Gonzalez’ publication record.” This led to later statements from misinformed commenters, like “This really is a straightforward case – Gonzalez doesn’t have a leg to stand on. It is dishonest of the DI to say that he outperformed by 350% ISU expectations.” However, Dr. Gonzalez has many more than 17 publications–68 refereed papers to be exact. In fact, a fair comparison yields even more publications from Dr. Gonzalez: the 17 publications listed by this Darwinist included non-refereed papers. When both Dr. Gonzalez’s refereed and non-refereed papers are counted, he has published over 95 publications, as is reflected in this listing of his publications.

False Fact #3: Dr. Gonzalez’s Research Has Not Been Cited Often.
The same commenter who claimed Dr. Gonzalez had published a mere 17 papers also claimed that many of the papers had extremely low citation rates. As we explain in the Biosketch of Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, Astronomer and Asst. Professor at Iowa State University, “His work has been cited in Science, Nature, and many other scientific journals. All told, there were nearly 1,500 citations to his articles and research in science journals by the end of 2005.” This is an astoundingly high citation rate for a scientist so young in his career. It is worth noting that Dr. Robert J. Marks, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University stated:

“My jaw dropped when I saw one of his papers has 153 citations and 139 on another. I have sat on oodles of tenure committees at both a large private university and a state research university, chaired the university tenure committee, and have seen more tenure cases than the Pope has Cardinals. This is a LOT of citations for an assistant professor up for tenure.”

False Fact #4: The Only Publications that Matter are the Ones Published Since Joining ISU.
Some commenters seemed to operate under the assumption that the only publications that should be counted are the ones published by the tenure applicant since joining ISU. But this is not what tenure guidelines for the Department of Physics and Astronomy state: “For promotion to associate professor, excellence sufficient to lead to a national or international reputation is required and would ordinarily be shown by the publication of approximately fifteen papers of good quality in refereed journals.” There is no indication that the publications must be since joining ISU, and the text seems to assume that all publications in the scientist’s career are to be counted.

False Fact #5: Dr. Gonzalez Must Have Been Denied Tenure Due to a Lack of Research Grants.
Some commentators have implied that the denial of tenure to Gonzalez was related to a lack of research grants. Yet, as reported here, the tenure standards of Gonzalez’s department do not even mention grants as a factor in tenure and promotion–so if this was an issue Dr. Gonzalez’s department was disregarding its own standards for tenure. (It should be added that those who have made this claim are merely speculating, because the specifics of Gonzalez’s tenure denial are confidential while the denial is on appeal.)

False Fact #6: ISU’s Tenure Standards Are So High Even Many Good Researchers Cannot Get Tenure There.
ISU has tried to insist that it is really difficult to get tenure at ISU, but as we revealed earlier this week, the facts contradict this claim. Indeed, the tenure acceptance rate at ISU has risen from 85% in 2003 to 91% in 2007! This hardly shows that it is particularly difficult to get tenure at ISU.


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



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