Thursday, November 10, 2005

NPR on ID

This is from Robert Crowther (sorry I didn't include this at first). I report, you decide.

NPR Exposes Attacks On Scientists Skeptical of Darwinism (www.evolutionnews.org)
Finally a mainstream media organization--and would you believe it is NPR?--is covering the glaring cases of viewpoint discrimination on America's campuses, and even at the Smithsonian Institution. The report (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5007508) on contemporary abuses of academic freedom aired today on All Things Considered and in it NPR's Barbara Bradley Haggerty describes the way Eugenie Scott and the National Center for Science Education have organized attacks on scientists known to harbor sympathies for intelligent design and to doubt Darwinism.


Scott probably thought that she could count on NPR to edit out remarks of hers that make her sound like Madame DeFarge, the execution-relishing Dickens character from A Tale of Two Cities. But they did not. Apparently, there are still some editors at NPR who think academic freedom means something.

Hagerty reports that NPR spoke with:

"18 university professors and scientists who subscribe to intelligent design, most would not speak on the record for fear of losing their jobs. One untenured professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia wrote that talking to NPR would be 'the kiss of death.' Another said there is no way I would reveal myself prior to obtaining tenure."
I'm sure Madame DeFarge is searching out these secret skeptics even as you read this.

The first segment is about Richard Sternberg, the Smithsonian scientist with two doctorates in evolutionary biology who has been hounded by the NCSE and perfervid Darwinists at the National Museum of Natural History--deprived of his office, research materials and even his key to the building. Why? Because he had the temerity to publish a peer-reviewed article on intelligent design by Stephen Meyer, senior fellow of Discovery Institute.

(The after-the-fact censorship of Meyer's article didn't work; you and thousands of others have read it HERE.)
http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2177
The Smithsonian's response to NPR's inquiries about the Sternberg case was to stonewall the reporter. Is anyone on Capitol Hill noticing this kind of behavior?

The story includes other organized efforts to get suspect professors fired or denied tenure or simply sent to Coventry, including biologist Caroline Crocker at George Mason University and astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez at Iowa State, among others.

Next question: will the NCSE and Co. try to get Ms Haggerty fired? You just can't have reporters going around, you know...reporting.

-----

Robert L. Crowther

Director of Communications

Center for Science & Culture

(206) 292-0401 x107

Read Evolution News & Views, our blog on media coverage of the debate over evolution at www.evolutionnews.org

Intelligent Design: The Future, a daily blog about the science behind intelligent design at: www.idthefuture.com

12 comments:

Mike D said...

And I thought no "real scientist" supported ID.

Jim Lippard said...

NPR left out many of the facts about the Sternberg case, which may be found here:

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=mozclient&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&q=site:www.pandasthumb.org+sternberg

amstar said...

No, mike d, the problem is that there is no real science in support of ID. What a few people think is irrelevant if they can not back up their ideas. No mater what their credentials.

A critique of the Meyers article is here. As usual the argument in ‘support’ of ID consists solely of selectively interpreting data to exaggerate the uncertainty associated with our current understanding of evolution. Until someone comes up with a positive argument in support of ID, the ‘movement’ can not possibly gain any traction in the scientific community.

The peer review process is imperfect and depends very heavily on the attentiveness of the editor. I am not in a position to comment on Sternberg’s treatment at the hands of the Smithsonian but it is clear he did a poor job vetting the Meyers article and for that he deserves to be criticized.

The rest of the piece on NPR is simply another attempt by ID supporters to give the appearance that there is a raging controversy in the scientific community. There isn’t, no mater how much Behe and NPR’s religion correspondent would like there to be. For those of you who wish to doubt me the NPR piece surely provides you with some ammunition, but the number of people referred to in the piece are trivial. How many people did the reporter have to talk to in order to identify 18 university associated doubters? How many of the 18 were even scientists? And of the scientists, how many were biologists? The piece does not actually say.

The question I have for NPR is why did they have their religion reporter take on a story about an apparent scientific controversy? What was the science desks involvement? If they were not involved, shouldn’t they have been?

Sternberg is an interesting character. He seems to live a double life. He is associated with the study of Baraminology but says he does not believe in it. He also says is does not believe in ID but he has attended ID conferences and has even presented a talk on irreducible complexity. These inconsistencies do not make a very sympathetic character.

Jim Lippard said...

Interesting--the NPR reporter who covered this issue is the *religion* reporter, and she has ties to Howard Ahmanson, the billionaire who is the primary funder of the Discovery Institute...

http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/how_could_you_npr/

Mike D said...

I think it is interesting that there is no "real" science that backs up ID and no "real" sceintists that take it seriously. To get "real" science you need peer review by "real" scientists. In order to get peer review, it has to be in a "real" scientific journal. But when a "real" scientific journal mistakenly accepts one article, things get unreal. I don't expect the scientific community to make room for this theory any time soon. It is dangerous to challenge orthodox doctrine.

amstar said...

Jim: Whenever these stories surface it seems that there is a short trail leading to the same small group of highly motivated people. Nothing wrong with that but it helps illustrate the limited the support for ID is in the scientific community.

Mike D: You say “It is dangerous to challenge orthodox doctrine.” I hope the irony of this comment is not lost on you. Who would you prefer to see make these kind of judgments if not the people who are specialists in the field? Do you go to a lawyer for medical advice? Do you seek financial advice from a car mechanic?

Anonymous said...

So it's dangerous to challenge orthodoxy, is it? Ha! Ha! What a hoot to see a christian making that argument.

By the bye, it ain't that ID proponents are not real scientists - they are shitty scientists. Big difference. :-)

Mike D said...

Let me be clear about my irony. The orthodoxy being challenged is evolution. It is now the scientific community in danger of excommunicating their members who question established dogma. I don't expect them to burn their heretics, but they will be branded as "shitty scientists" and abhored by their peers. Maybe even lose a job or the prospect of advancement.

It is amazing that it never crosses the mind of a majority when they are persecuting a minority.

Being on the Protestant and non-denominational side of things, questioning institutional orthodoxy (usually on peripheral issues) is what I do best. I know I hope for too much that ID could prompt a Reformation in the science community to consider a model that could include God. From the outside it looks like it could be tough to be a scientist and admit a belief in God.

Anonymous said...

So it is not possible for people to practice shitty science?
There are to be no standards of excellence in science?
What ought to be done with those scientists who are incompetent?

Mike D said...

Any scientist who agrees that philisophical naturalism is insufficient to explain reality and that ID holds some promise to explain some issues should be exposed as an incompetent heretic, his articles should be severely roasted for violating science standards of excellence, and .... Wait! This sounds like Salem.

How about... Science is willing to test any reasonable hypothesis. If NPR is right, these secret theist scientists could come out of the closet and be both good scientists and good theists.

Anonymous said...

If these theistic scientists are competent, all they need do is some verifiable research that can confirm their hypothesis. It's really that simple.
All the silly talk about being persecuted is not going to persuade other scientists.
And yes, of course, we should let religious news reporters determine what standards scientists should use.

amstar said...

Mike D,

Insisting that one must accept god or evolution is a false dichotomy and completely irrelevant to a discussion of the merits of the ideas championed by ID proponents.

I think the best quote from the NPR piece was from Everett Mendelson who said that scientific revolutions do occur when scientists challenge orthodoxy but “just because someone is challenging orthodoxy does not mean it is scientifically revolutionary.” So I ask you again if you do not want the evidence evaluated by people who have devoted their entire professional careers to studying particular topics, who would you put in their place? The system is not perfect but rather than just criticize it, tell me how you would change it. You really want Behe’s arguments to be right. What if the evidence he uses to support his position is flawed or incomplete? How would you know?

With this statement: “How about... Science is willing to test any reasonable hypothesis” you cut right to the heart of the problem. What are the ID supporters reasonable hypotheses and how are they proposing to test them? ID supporters have not been prevented from testing their ideas. The message being sent by their peers via the review process has been that the data presented so far is insufficient. Surely money can’t be a problem. The Templeton Foundation (among others) would almost certainly be willing to throw as much money at ID research as necessary. So where is the positive research agenda?

Remember also that Behe has not been silenced. He wrote his popular book which by one estimate has sold over 100,000 copies. His ideas are out there (no pun intended). It has been almost ten years since the book was published. Ten years is longer than the tenure process. This means there are many faculty members who now have tenure, who came across these ideas during the early and most formative period of their scientific training. If his ideas are so good, where is the groundswell of support?