“Life is Not Fair”

Everyone knows” how stupid intelligent design is. Therefore, it’s a really bad thing to publish a peer-reviewed article by a proponent of the theory, right?

At least it is at the Smithsonian — according to NPR, and according to the government’s Office of Special Counsel. Thanks to Instapundit for linking to this story. It’s too bad Glenn feels a need to immediately distance himself from the religious mouth breathers, not only prefacing the link by expressing his “deep discomfort” with intelligent design theory — heck, he works in a university, after all — but to bookend that disclaimer at the end of his item by tarring ID theory with the fairly irrelevant brush of that dependable bete-noire, Pat Robertson. Fine: He and NPR, cultural liberals both, are to be commended for calling a spade a spade and publicizing this story.

[Richard] Sternberg was the editor of an obscure scientific journal loosely affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, where he is also a research associate. Last year, he published in the journal a peer-reviewed article by Stephen Meyer, a proponent of intelligent design, an idea which Sternberg himself believes is fatally flawed.

But he published it anyway. Academic discourse, right? Wrong, if it doesn’t fit the political agenda. A campaign of intimidation and hostility was all-but-officially undertaken, resulting in a reduction of his access to research resources, a cut in his pay, a reduction in his professional autonomy. The outcome was what the federal government lawyer investigating the claims preliminarily concluded amounted to a hostile work environment, including efforts to get Sternberg to resign and to cut his pay as well as a broad-based email smear campaign detailed explicitly in the OSC letter.

Eugenie Scott, the executive director of the National Center for Science Education [which led the campaign to discredit the editor], says her group did consult with Smithsonian officials [who engaged in the campaign to discredit Sternberg] and the museum’s concerns were valid.

Ms. Scott is not an advocate of debate — well, of debates, anyway — in general, writing:

Are debates of the sort that creationists love to promote the right arena? Not in my opinion. … such debates are counterproductive. They confuse the public about evolution and the nature of science …

In fact, the group calls debates “the drive-by shootings of critical thinking.”

It’s an odd position, shutting down debate — not only before biased church audiences, but even in an academic setting — for someone who received a “First Amendment Award” from high-minded Playboy magazine (which loves “free expression” except, of course, where its own bunny is gored).

The NPR article continues, summing up with the most chilling comment of this debate-chilling episode:

“Clearly people were annoyed, they were frustrated, they were blowing off steam,” Scott says. “Some probably did speak intemperately. Their concern was that somehow the Smithsonian would be associated with supporting the creationist cause by being associated with this journal that published a creationist paper.”

Anyway, she says — echoing the comments of a Smithsonian official — Sternberg did not really suffer.

“He didn’t lose his job, he didn’t get his pay cut, he still has his research privileges, he still has his office,” Scott says. “You know, what’s his complaint? People weren’t nice to him. Well, life is not fair.”

Ice cold, aren’t we? The arrogance of the True Believer, and the irony.

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Author:Ron Coleman

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