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Guillermo Gonzalez’s Denial of Tenure Brings out Widespread Intolerance among Rank and File Darwinists

Casey Luskin

ID Proponents Need Not ApplyIt seems like just yesterday that University of Minnesota biologist P.Z. Myers, who runs what Nature declared to be the #1 science blog, admitted, “I get to vote on tenure decisions at my university, and I can assure you that if someone comes up who claims that ID ‘theory’ is science, I will vote against them.”

As Iowa State University (ISU) has denied tenure to Guillermo Gonzalez, possibly due to his views on intelligent design, pro-ID biologist Mike Gene has provided insightful commentary on the situation: “[T]his issue has become larger than Guillermo Gonzalez’s situation, so it won’t matter when the official reasons for denial are eventually supplied. What matters is that the academics have gone on record and given you a peek behind the closed doors and how they would handle someone who took ID seriously.” Gene quotes various pro-Darwin-only voices expressly stating that ID-proponents do not deserve tenure. The intolerant undergraduate I recently highlighted now appears to have been merely the tip of the iceberg.

Let me begin by highlighting the widespread intolerance for intelligent design advocates among the general science community, in this case regular participants at popular science blogs. Later I’ll examine more closely the same sort of intolerance coming from credible scientists and scientific scholars.

“Whackjobs” with “Narcissistic Gall”
One commenter on a Darwinist blog, who claims to be a “psychoanalytically-oriented clinical psychologist,” told “ordinary folks … who know absolutely nothing” about this issue that they have “narcisstic [sic] gall” if they feel that denying tenure to a highly-published young scientist (who has previously been the target of vicious attacks at his university due to his pro-ID viewpoint) may imply a tinge of unfair intolerance.

Another commenter on Ed Brayton’s blog offered free and unsolicited advice for untenured pro-ID faculty… along with some name-calling: “Prof. Gonzales, like Michael Behe, may actually have a decent publication record in respectable journals but Behe waited until after he had tenure before turning into a whackjob.”

“Cleansing” an “Embarrassment”
A commenter on Pandas Thumb used similar name-calling while justifying what he called the “clensing [sic] of an embarassment [sic]”:

From my vantage point, it makes a lot of sense why ISU would not grant this guy tenure. I wouldn’t want my alma mater to. Why would ANY science related department want someone on their staff with tenure who clearly supports pseudoscience and is a Fellow of the DI??? Duh!!! This is not a ‘persecution of a critic of Darwinism’. It’s an a [sic] clensing [sic] of an embarassment [sic].”

Similarly, an M.D. / Ph.D. candidate in molecular physiology and biological physics at the University of Virginia called intelligent design “denialism” and said in a post titled “Get Off the Damn Cross Already” that removing proponents of ID from the university is “sensible”:

“And even if his peers at ISU decided he didn’t deserve tenure because of his pro-ID ideas, that’s not a conspiracy against ID, it’s called the sensible protection of the university’s reputation by members of the faculty. It would be perfectly justified, in my opinion, to block someone from getting tenure over their ID stance in a science department, because ID isn’t science. It’s an effort to undermine science. It’s denialism.”

(Mark Hoffnagle, “Get Off the Damn Cross Already“)

That’s fascinating logic: apparently the widespread feeling that it is “sensible” to remove individuals of a particular viewpoint does not necessarily mean there’s a “conspiracy” to remove individuals with a particular viewpoint.

“Racis[m]” and “Horsemuffins”
Another one of Brayton’s commenters stated that “[i]f two professors were in contention for one tenured spot, and both were equally qualified but for their differing opinions on evolution vs. ID, you’d be a fool not to choose the one who supported the most credible theory, and pass on the guy who clung to a load of long-debunked horsemuffins.” Apparently this commenter doesn’t care that the pro-evolution viewpoint is already the dominant in the academy, indicating the low value he places on viewpoint diversity. This commenter continued, taking an extremely low road by comparing supporting ID to supporting racism in order to justify a ban on ID proponents:

If his “hobbies” cause damage to the university’s standing as an educational institution, then that fact should indeed be questioned and discussed. As a politically-motivated pack of lies, the pseudoscience of ID should be considered just as embarrassing to a university — or even a kindergarten — as any pseudoscience used to prop up, say, a racist ideology.

That’s the rank and file saying loud and clear that they will not tolerate any opinion but their own when it comes to intelligent design in academia. Later I will take a look at the professors and scientists who are leading this anti-ID crusade by example.


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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