Discovery Institute’s "Censor of the Year" award recognizes success in choking off free speech on evolution and intelligent design. To be given on Darwin Day, February 12, the prize this year will go to University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne, author of the popular blog Why Evolution Is True.
In 2013, Coyne was instrumental in pushing Ball State University in Indiana to formally ban teaching about the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID). The move represents a milestone in the drive to punish critics of Darwinian theory.
Working with the extremist Freedom From Religion Foundation, Coyne focused his attention on gagging untenured Ball State physicist Eric Hedin, who had taught an interdisciplinary course that included a bibliography with books favoring and criticizing ID.
Dr. Stephen Meyer, director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture and author of the New York Times bestseller Darwin’s Doubt, explained the importance of the case: "The chilling effect extends everywhere in science. Scientists know that speaking openly about weaknesses in Darwinian theory or about intelligent design as an alternative can mean the end of a vulnerable scholar’s career. Hedin serves as an example to others."
"This is very serious business," said Dr. John West, associate director of the Center for Science & Culture. "Censorship retards the search for truth and hurts innocent people. Among die-hard defenders of evolutionary orthodoxy, it’s now standard operating procedure. If they could give a substantive reply to advocates of ID on the scientific merits, they would do so. Jerry Coyne is simply a bully. "
In another recent censoring success, Coyne pressured the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum to erase a reference to "God’s creatures" in a dedication sign placed by a donor.
Image of Jerry Coyne adapted from photo by Emma Rodewald/Wikipedia user Fuzheado under Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA-3.0. Usage not intended to imply endorsement.