Darwinist Denial Syndrome Rears Its Head in Gonzalez Tenure Case

So what is the Darwinist Amen-chorus saying about Iowa State University’s refusal to grant tenure to ID-proponent Guillermo Gonzalez? Predictably, they are in denial. According to them, intelligent design proponents may be evil and deserve to be wiped off the face of the earth, but of course Darwinists aren’t engaging in persecution when they deny them jobs, harass them, and vilify them. They are merely engaging in normal academic behavior!
This seems to be the point of Darwinist Ed Brayton’s escape-from-reality blog complaining about what he calls the “ID Persecution Complex.” In truth, however, it’s not ID proponents who suffer from a failure to accept reality, it’s the Darwinists. Darwinists like Brayton exhibit symptoms of what might be called Darwinist Denial Syndrome: When confronted with evidence of discrimination against an ID proponent, they deny, deny, deny.

According to Brayton, reports that ID scientists have faced discrimination are just a “false cry of persecution.” Brayton undermines this claim by ranting breathlessly out of both sides of his mouth. Take his discussion of the discrimination and harassment faced by Dr. Richard Sternberg. Out of one side of his mouth Brayton insists the discrimination never happened. Then–without even pausing–he rants out the other side of his mouth that Sternberg deserved the treatment he got because he allowed an article supporting ID to be published in the biology journal he edited.
Those who want the real story about the persecution of Sternberg should read the United States Congressional Report on the investigation of Sternberg’s case that was issued last December. Lest there be any doubt, it was subtitled “INTOLERANCE AND THE POLITICIZATION OF SCIENCE AT THE SMITHSONIAN: SMITHSONIAN’S TOP OFFICIALS PERMIT THE DEMOTION AND HARASSMENT OF SCIENTIST SKEPTICAL OF DARWINIAN EVOLUTION.” Findings of the investigation included:

  • Officials at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History “explicitly acknowledged in emails their intent to pressure Sternberg to resign because of his role in the publication of the Meyer paper and his views on evolution.” They wanted “to make Dr. Sternberg’s life at the Museum as difficult as possible and encourage him to leave.”
  • “NMNH officials conspired with a special interest group to publicly smear Dr. Sternberg; the group was also enlisted to monitor Sternberg’s outside activities in order to find a way to dismiss him.”
  • “The hostility toward Dr. Sternberg at the NMNH was reinforced by anti-religious and political motivations.” NMNH scientists demanded to know whether Sternberg “was religious,” “was a Republican,” “was a fundamentalist,” and whether “he was a conservative.”

Doesn’t sound like Sternberg’s case was a “false cry of persecution.” And neither is Gonzalez’s.
Brayton goes on to claim there is no evidence that Gonzalez was denied tenure because of his advocacy of intelligent design.

It is convenient for them to cry persecution, but there simply is no evidence for it. And here’s something else they won’t say: people get denied for tenure every single day, all over the country, for a million different reasons, some fair and some unfair.

What there is clear evidence for is Gonzalez meeting and exceeding every standard for tenure at ISU. According to the tenure policy of Gonzalez’s own department, research excellence needed for tenure is normally supposed to be shown by the publication of 15 peer-reviewed articles. Gonzalez has published 68. As John West pointed out in a previous blog, that is a whopping 350% more than he needed to publish in order to satisfy the standard adopted by his own department.
There is no evidence that Gonzalez didn’t meet the criteria for tenure. So, one has to wonder what other reason there might be. It’s abundantly clear that there has been a very hostile environment at ISU for ID proponents such as Gonzalez, with events organized to denounce him, letters written defaming him, and petitions organized to stifle his right to free speech. (see here and here)
Brayton can claim that there is no persecution of Darwin skeptics or ID proponents, but the evidence says otherwise. As far back as the early 90s, biology professor Dean Kenyon was temporarily barred from teaching his biology classes at San Francisco State University. Recently Caroline Crocker suffered the same fate at George Mason University, and she subsequently lost her position. And unfortunately, there are countless other instances of discrimination and academic intimidation:

  • University of Idaho president Timothy White has imposed a speech code banning criticism of Darwinian evolution in science classes. According to White, it is “inappropriate” for any faculty member to teach “views that differ from evolution” in any “life, earth, and physical science courses.”
  • Chemistry professor Nancy Bryson lost her job at a state university after she gave a lecture on scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory to a group of honors students.
  • Three days before graduate student Bryan Leonard’s dissertation defense was to take place, Darwinist professors at Ohio State University accused Leonard of “unethical human-subject experimentation” because he taught students about scientific criticisms of evolutionary theory.
  • High school teacher Roger DeHart was driven from his public school simply because he wanted his students to learn about both sides of the scientific debate over Darwinian evolution.
  • This effort to win the debate over evolution through censorship and intimidation is promoted by the over-the-top rhetoric of leading Darwinists. Biology professor P.Z. Myers at the University of Minnesota, for example, recently wrote this about anyone supporting intelligent design or questioning modern evolutionary theory: “Our only problem is that we aren’t martial enough, or vigorous enough, or loud enough, or angry enough. The only appropriate responses should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing and humiliation of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy far-right politicians.”

Scientists and scholars who doubt Darwin’s theory, or do research supporting intelligent design should have the same academic freedom rights as any others. Unfortunately, that is not currently the case at many American colleges and universities.

Robert Crowther, II

Robert Crowther holds a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in public affairs and 20 years experience as a journalist, publisher, and brand marketing and media relations specialist. From 1994-2000 he was the Director of Public and Media Relations for Discovery Institute overseeing most aspects of communications for each of the Institute's major programs. In addition to handling public and media relations he managed the Institute's first three books to press, Justice Matters by Roberta Katz, Speaking of George Gilder edited by Frank Gregorsky, and The End of Money by Richard Rahn.