Sunday, January 30, 2005
"There are Christians here, but they keep their heads down."
Paid Subscribers to the WSJ OnLine can find the piece here . Those of us who like reading the free stuff through Opinion Journal, the piece can be found here. But since it is an important piece, I have taken the liberty to place the entire article on Oblogatory Reading.
An Excerpt to whet your appetites:
Richard Sternberg [is] a research associate at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington. The holder of two Ph.D.s in biology, Mr. Sternberg was until recently the managing editor of a nominally independent journal published at the museum, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, where he exercised final editorial authority. The August issue included typical articles on taxonomical topics -- e.g., on a new species of hermit crab. It also included an atypical article, "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories." Here was trouble. The piece happened to be the first peer-reviewed article to appear in a technical biology journal laying out the evidential case for Intelligent Design....But check out the whole thing.
...Whatever the article's ultimate merits -- beyond the judgment of a layman -- it was indeed subject to peer review, the gold standard of academic science. Not that such review saved Mr. Sternberg from infamy. Soon after the article appeared, Hans Sues -- the museum's No. 2 senior scientist -- denounced it to colleagues and then sent a widely forwarded e-mail calling it "unscientific garbage."
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Zoology Department, Jonathan Coddington, called Mr. Sternberg's supervisor. According to Mr. Sternberg's OSC complaint: "First, he asked whether Sternberg was a religious fundamentalist. She told him no. Coddington then asked if Sternberg was affiliated with or belonged to any religious organization....He then asked where Sternberg stood politically; ...he asked, 'Is he a right-winger? What is his political affiliation?'" The supervisor (who did not return my phone messages) recounted the conversation to Mr. Sternberg, who also quotes her observing: "There are Christians here, but they keep their heads down."
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