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NCSE’s Eugenie Scott Serves as Chief of Darwinian Thought Police for University of Kentucky Faculty

Casey Luskin

As reported on ID the Future interview, Martin Gaskell’s attorney Frank Manion stated that during the course of Gaskell’s lawsuit, it became clear that Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), consulted University of Kentucky (UK) faculty about whether UK should hire Gaskell.

She gave Gaskell a clean bill of health–not because she endorsed hiring Darwin-skeptics, but because at the time she believed Gaskell was a dyed-in-the-wool evolutionist–“accepting of evolution.” According to her e-mail, Eugenie Scott wrote:

Gaskell hasn’t popped onto our radar as an antievolution activist. Checking his web site and affiliations (and also with a friend in Nebraska) it seems as if, as you already know, he is very religious, but accepting of evolution. Certainly he is an old-earther, and seems to be a bit of a fan of Hugh Ross, the best known OEC. This is a little troubling, as Ross though fine on astronomy, radioisotope dating and etc., still chokes on biological evolution, and requires the hand of God to specially create the “kinds” at intervals through time. No indication that this is Gaskell’s position, however.

(E-mail from Eugenie Scott to Thomas Troland, 10/21/2007, emphasis added)

At this stage, it’s clear that Eugenie Scott views Martin Gaskell as “accepting of evolution” with “no indication” that he agrees with Hugh Ross. Gaskell passes her litmus test.

It’s later apparent that Eugenie Scott changed her mind about Gaskell, coming to the view that he was a Darwin-skeptic–or as she later calls him an “ID Creationist.” This led her to flip-flop about whether UK was right in denying Gaskell the job.

Eugenie Scott Flip-Flops on Gaskell, Not on Darwin-Skeptics
We reported last month on Dr. Scott’s interview in the journal Science, which showed how she endorsed UK’s decision:

Pro-evolution advocates say the university was well within its rights. “It’s an employment law case,” says Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, an organization in Oakland, California, that lobbies to preserve the teaching of evolution in public schools. “Can an employer discriminate based on the scientific knowledge of an employee?” she asks. “Well, yeah.”

(Eugenie Scott quoted in Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, “Court to Weigh University’s Decision Not to Hire Astronomer,” Science, Vol. 330:1731 (December 24, 2010).)

It turns out that Eugenie Scott has made further statements disparaging Gaskell and endorsing UK’s decision on her Facebook page (yes, that’s right, Eugenie Scott has a Facebook page). Calling Gaskell an “ID creationist” on one Facebook page, she states: “ID creationist Martin Gaskell says the Univ of KY discriminated against him because of his religion; they say because of his science.” This corroborates her words in the Science interview, as she feels it’s OK to discriminate against an applicant due to their scientific views on evolution.

On another Facebook post, Scott’s dim views of Gaskell become even clearer when she compares him to a flat-earther. Linking to an interview by Gaskell in a tech magazine, Dr. Scott states:

He says 1) Christian biologists are discriminated against and 2)51% of biologists are Christians. So lots of them are holding jobs, thus one of these statements isn’t true. It IS true that a biologist who is a creationist is on thin ice, but so would be a geographer who thought the Earth was flat.

So apparently Scott feels that a Darwin-doubter (which she calls a “creationist”) is no better than a flat-earther, putting them on “thin ice.”

Finally, a recent Associated Press story shows that Eugenie disagrees sharply with Gaskell about whether Darwin-doubting scientists should be disqualified from science jobs in academia:

Gaskell said scientists shouldn’t be discouraged or rejected for holding non-mainstream views.

“The question some people ask me is ‘If I were a biologist and if I did have major doubts about the theory of evolution, would that disqualify me from being a biologist?'” he said. “And I’d firmly say ‘No …'”

But some prominent scientists disagree with Gaskell on that point.

“You can’t discriminate based upon religion,” said Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, a science advocacy group in Oakland, Calif. “You can discriminate based upon scientific views. It’s perfectly legitimate to discriminate against a candidate based on whether that candidate’s scientific views are acceptable to the discipline.”

(Dylan Lovan, “God, science not wholly exclusive, astronomer says,” Washington Post (Feb. 9, 2011).)

So what “scientific views” is Eugenie Scott talking about? Given that she’s speaking in the context of Gaskell’s lawuit where Gaskell’s scientific views pertained to evolution, and given that she already said that

Gaskell’s purported “ID creationist” views on evolution put him on “thin ice,” I think the answer is clear.

Then What Scientific Views is Eugenie Scott Talking About?
I’m used to false accusations, and I’ve been falsely accused of misquoting Eugenie Scott’s words because supposedly nothing in her quotation in Science says anything about “Darwin-doubting.” This raises the question: exactly what “scientific knowledge” is Dr. Scott talking about in Science which justifies UK from not hiring Gaskell?

She’s clearly not talking about astronomy–as we’ve documented Gaskell was otherwise the most qualified applicant for this astronomy-related job.

Extensive evidence in this case points to Gaskell either being an actual Darwin-doubter or a perceived Darwin-doubter, and as we’ve seen, this was precisely why UK denied Gaskell the job–which is exactly what Dr. Scott unambiguously said UK was justified in doing. As I reported here, the evidence that UK was worried about Gaskell’s perceived views on “biology and religion” is very strong. They feared (wrongly) that he was a “creationist”–largely because they thought that his online talk he expressed explicit doubts about neo-Darwinian evolution and sympathized with folks like Philip Johnson or Mike Behe, etc. I laid some of this evidence out before even mentioning Dr. Scott’s quote. As I wrote:

Gaskell alarmed the Darwinian thought police at UK because in online notes from a talk, he favorably cites the works of proponents of intelligent design like Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson, and states, “there are significant scientific problems in evolutionary theory,” and “these problems are bigger than is usually made out in introductory geology/biology courses.” In his deposition testimony he further stated that “when it comes to trying to explain everything, and particularly the origin of life … we just don’t have any satisfactory theory.”

Given that Gaskell’s views on evolution formed the apparent basis for UK denying him the job, Dr. Scott said, “Can an employer discriminate based on the scientific knowledge of an employee? Well, yeah.” Science reported that Scott felt UK was “well within its rights.” Later on Facebook, she claimed that Gaskell’s views on evolution–what she calls his “creationist” views–put him on “thin ice.” It seems that Scott felt UK was justified in denying Gaskell the job due to his perceived doubts about Darwin, which UK called “religion” and “creationist.” Dr. Scott too feels that creationism is religion. Thus, I stated:

1. Can a university deny a scientist a job simply because they believe he holds scientific doubts about the neo-Darwinian consensus?

2. Does a university have the right to discriminate against a job applicant based upon his perceived religious affiliation?

It would seem that Eugenie Scott thinks the answer to both questions is, “Well, yeah.”

One can buy a roll of heavy-duty duct tape, tape their lips back so as to keep a straight face, and answer the question I posed with the words “I don’t know” or falsely call me a “quoteminer,” but it’s quite plain what “scientific knowledge” Dr. Scott is talking about: She’s talking about Martin Gaskell’s scientific views regarding evolution, which lead her to label him a “creationist” and compare him to “flat-earthers” and claim he is on “thin ice.”

What’s scariest (though not surprising) about all of this is that apparently university faculty consult with Eugenie Scott about whether they should hire potential Darwin-doubting faculty. From the evidence in this case, it seems pretty clear what she tells them.


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.



academic freedomDarwinEugenie ScottevolutionGaskellLaw and CourtsMartin GaskellNational Center for Science Educationncse