Free Speech Icon Free Speech

Please, NASA, No More Galileos!

Joshua Youngkin

Galileo Trial.jpg

In 1610, Galileo peered through his telescope and saw Saturn more clearly than any other human being before him, thus making Galileo the first to use a device to examine the ringed gas giant. For his inventive efforts to get a closer look at the heavenly body, and to thereby better understand man’s place in the cosmos, Galileo came under the critical eye of the Roman Inquisition who ultimately placed him under house arrest until his death.
Four hundred years later, man is still using inventive devices to study Saturn, and has even closed the 1.2 billion kilometer gap by way of Cassini-Huygens, an unmanned planetary orbiter operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). In an ironic twist of fate, these modern students of Saturn — the men and women at JPL — launched a Human Resources investigation (the modern equivalent of the Roman Inquisition) into whether one of their own expressed a dissenting scientific view, in favor of Intelligent Design (ID), and whether his dissent could be labeled and punished as “harassment” and the “pushing [of] religion.” So they found, and so they did.
The case alluded to above, that of David Coppedge, is one we’ve already discussed here, and so we won’t talk about it again in any detail now. But suffice it to say that the Coppedge case stands as an egregious instance of intolerance toward scientific dissent, so much so that it merits your attention and action, for Caltech runs JPL under contract with NASA, a government agency, and is thus indirectly accountable to the electorate, by which I mean you, dear reader.
You could, if so inclined, contact the respective heads of JPL and Cal Tech to tell each of them about your dissatisfaction with their taxpayer-funded handling of the Coppedge matter, and further request that they make right by settling on fair terms with Coppedge. In fact, we’ll shortly provide you an action item here on ENV with all the relevant details to facilitate just such an effort. However, corporate action on the scale urged here would not be so obviously warranted were it not for the fact that the Coppedge story is just the tip of a dissent-squashing iceberg, as we’ve seen in 2011 alone.
Recall that just this summer the California Science Center (CSC) paid over six figures to avoid public trial on how, in a strange fit of museum politics, the Smithsonian and their buddies pressured the CSC to cancel the contract the CSC entered to screen a pro-ID film, Darwin’s Dilemma. Before that, the University of Kentucky paid over six figures to settle astronomer Martin Gaskell’s claim that he was wrongfully denied employment for doubting Darwinism. Also in 2011, the journal Applied Mathematics Letters paid thousands of dollars and publicly apologized to avoid litigation after it wrongfully withdrew mathematician Granville Sewell’s paper critiquing neo-Darwinism.
They say trouble comes in threes. For Darwin skeptics in 2011, woe came in a four-pack.
True, no one listed above was subjected to trial in the Star Chamber, placed under house arrest or forced to recant, but careers have been ruined by the modern practitioners of medieval justice, those Darwinists in high places. No one who has mouths to feed wants to make the news this way, and we at Discovery Institute don’t want any more Galileos to defend or lament. In this mixed season of protest and Thanksgiving, it’s time that the Darwin-doubting community came together in support of Coppedge to gently remind the Inquisitors who it is that butters their bread.