Monday, May 21, 2007

Update on Professor Gonzalez's Tenure Battle

Iowa State Faculty Admit Intelligent Design Played Role in Scientist’s Tenure Denial

By: Staff

Discovery Institute

May 18, 2007

Ames, IA – Two Iowa State University (ISU) faculty members of the department that rejected astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez’s tenure application have admitted that his work on intelligent design played a role in the department’s denial of tenure.

“What possible academic reason was there to deny tenure to a candidate who met or exceeded every requirement?” asked Dr. John West, associate director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, the nation’s leading think-tank supporting research into the scientific theory of intelligent design. “This is clearly a case of viewpoint discrimination and an attack on Dr. Gonzalez’s academic freedom and free speech rights.”

In a World magazine article released today, physicist Eli Rosenberg, Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is described by the magazine as having admitted that Gonzalez's pro-ID book The Privileged Planet “played into the decision-making process. Rosenberg went on to explain that the reputation of a professor in his field is a significant factor.

“Normally a scientist’s reputation is based on publishing scientific articles, which Gonzalez excelled at,” said West. “Of course, if instead ‘reputation’ is used as a code word for whether one’s views are popular among fellow scientists, then this is another way anti-ID bias entered into the decision.”

ISU Astronomy Professor Curtis Struck, meanwhile, told World that he was not surprised at the tenure denial given Gonzalez’s intelligent design research that “people regard as taking a coincidence too far.”

The comments from Struck mean that at least three of the five tenured astronomers in Gonzalez’s department have now been tied to anti-ID bias. As discovered earlier this week, another tenured astronomer in the department signed a statement circulated by the Darwinist lobby organization National Center for Science Education denouncing intelligent design as “creationist pseudoscience,” while the husband of a third astronomy professor at ISU signed the same statement.

Dr. Rosenberg tried to do damage control by claiming that there was something deficient about Dr. Gonzalez’s sterling research record: “You take a look at somebody’s research record over the six-year probationary period and you get a sense whether this is a strong case. Clearly, this was a case that looked like it might be in trouble.”

“Really? Was Gonzalez somehow remiss in publishing 350% more peer-reviewed publications than his own department’s stated standard for research excellence?” asked West. “Or in co-authoring a college astronomy textbook with Cambridge University Press? Or in having his research recognized in Science, Nature, Scientific American, and other top science publications?

For more information click here.

16 comments:

Sir Fab said...

Why Professor Gonzalez was denied tenure is, as of this moment, a case of "he says, she says."
Why intelligent design, contrary to Dr. West's assertion, is not science, is indisputable.

Jeremy said...

"Indisputable" is a little strong. All the Wikipedia link shows is that the contemporary scientific community, a community enslaved by methodological naturalism (convenient way to make religion and science jibe, but a way that only gives you ontologically naturalistic answers), can't stand ID. I admit that I read the material rather quickly, but all the statements seemed to be different versions of, "ID is not science damn it!" (with lot's of foot-stomping and fist-waving). That does little to show that ID is actually unscientific.

Admitedly, ID has a rough go to substantiate itself as science if science requires predictive success--which it does and should. There's no question that the one big prediction that ID makes: there is a designer, is going to be hard to get at empirically. But is this really problematic? Certainly, be honest about where the evidence points is a virtue, and if the evidence points to design, even if the designer can't be found, it still may be the best explanation of the data. That definitely is scientific.

But Darwinism is not in any kind of better position here. Darwinists look at the same data and come to a different conclusion, a different "best" explanation. (Clearly, what counts as "best" is going to be driven by a number of extra-empirical factors, factors that are then unscientific as well.) But what kind of predictions has Darwinism made? In fact, most Darwinist predictions have been predictions about the past, and therefore not subject to experimentation. Further, any histirical evidence that comes to light is then interpreted in terms of the prediction; that's a bit cart-before-the-horse-ish, no?

Now, all of the information that has come to light regarding similarities in gene structure, etc. were not predicted by evolutionary biology, but they would certainly be a matter of course if Darwinism were true. So the similarities do give Darwinism a bit of confirmation. But the same could be predicted if a designer used the same material to design different life-forms, so similarities could confirm ID too. Here's the upshot: despite the genetic similarities, the irreducibly complex organells within the cells makes it impossible that they evolved to be this way over time. It would seem that ID would have a bit more confirmation than Darwinism.

But the Darwinists don't let that get in their way. Instead, they attempt to show how such irreducibly complex systems could have evolved. Most of the methods use a variety of different species with hologous organells to develop an evolutionary pathway from simpler structures to the contemporary "apparently" irreducibly complex structure. The problem is two-fold: First, it is a fallacy to use contemporary species to prove anything about how things used to be in other, long extinct species--paleontological evidence is the only thing that should really count there. Second, even if one could make use of the contemporary species, any supposed pathway is non-empirical--one cannot do any kind of experiementation to see if the pathways hold up. In effect, the best explanation the Darwinists come up with is just as empirically shallow as the ID'ers.

Again, that doesn't stop them. For all the pokes and prods Darwinists give to the ID'ers, one would think that their methods would be unassailable, and presented with the utmost care and responsibility. Unfortunately, it seems that Darwinists will resort to just about any tactic to make their case, even if the theory presented goes against the evidence (as opposed to there just not being any evidence). Here's an example: Look at the book _Why Intelligent Design Fails_. This book is supposed to be a semi-scholarly work dedicated to showing why ID fails scientifically, not necessarily philosophically. (That is a commendable goal; they claim that if ID wants to be science, then let's see if it passes the scientific standard. It seems to me that that is the responsible way to treat even the most bizzare scientific claims--like quantum physics.) There are two chapters on irreducibly complex systems. the one I want to focus on is the chapter related to the development of the avian wing (the evolution of terrapods, bipedal carnivorous dinosaurs, to contemporary birds). The author displays a phylogenetic chart, the more primitive dinosaurs toward the left, and the more bird-like dinosaurs to the right, ending with birds on the far right. There's something interesting about that chart. The family from which T-Rex comes is to the left of archeopteryx, and that indicates that archeopteryx is further along on the phylogenetic tree than is the tyrranosaurids (I think that's how you spell the family).

Now there were several species besides the T-Rex in the Tyrranosuarid family. To my limited knowledge, all were roughly similar to the T-Rex--big carnivors. The archeopteryx was about the size of a chicken. Now none of that really matters, it's just for descriptive purposes. Here's what matters: The tyrranosaurid family shows up in the Cretaceous, possibly early Cretaceous, but the T-Rex itself doesn't show up until the very late Cretaceous--about 60 MYA. That's right about the time the dinosaurs went extinct. The arceopteryx was from the late Jurrasic, perhaps 180 MYA. Does anyone see the problem? There is a gap of millions of years between the arrival of the archeopteryx and the tyrranossaruids (even if they have an early arrival in the Cretaceous, and T-Rex plays no direct role in the phylogeny of birds). How in the world is archeopteryx supposed to be more advanced phylogenetically than the tyrranosaurids when the tyrranosaurids weren't even around for another few million years? To top it off, the author doesn't even mention that there were already birds in the Cretaceous. It sounds like bad scholarship at best, dishonest scholarship at worst.

One more example: I was checking up on the whole T-Rex to birds thing, and was amazed to find a pro-evolution website that had a diagram of the transition of the crocodilian pelvis to the bird pelvis. Wouldn't you know it--the diagram went crocodiliam, T-Rex, archeopteryx, bird. It only takes a second of research to realize that there is about 80-100 million years separating the archeopteryx and T-Rex--and the archeopteryx came first! Again, how in the world is a past ancestor supposed to be in any kind of phylogenetic relationship with a future and more-primitive species? Dishonesty at its worst.

My point is that the Darwinists don't play fair. Letting the naturalists define science is a bit like letting early 19th century cotton-farmers define what it is to be a human person.

Singing Owl said...

"'ID is not science damn it!' (with lot's of foot-stomping and fist-waving). That does little to show that ID is actually unscientific."

Well said, Jeremy!
ID cannot be "proven" in the same way evolution cannot be "proven."

I read the Wikipedia page and LOL, but it isn't really funny. This whole Gonzalez thing makes me steam!

Andrew said...

Letting the naturalists define science is a bit like letting early 19th century cotton-farmers define what it is to be a human person.

Be reasonable - maybe Emerson or Thoreau. Oh wait.

Douglas Groothuis said...

Wikipedias are not reliable. Leave them alone, please. They are moving targets drawn by God-knows-who.

Sir Fab said...

Dr. Groothuis:
Wikipedia is not unreliable when it quotes official sources which are properly cited and easy to reference.
The page I linked to lists Associations which can be easily found and contacted by those who wish to.

Ed Darrell said...

a community enslaved by methodological naturalism (convenient way to make religion and science jibe, but a way that only gives you ontologically naturalistic answers)

The alternative is to accept falsehoods, lies, and unproven claims. Is that really a better idea, for science? Christians came up with methodological naturalism, because it seemed the ethical thing to do.

Why do you wish to depart from Christian tradition, Jeremy?

Ed Darrell said...

Wikipedia has controls and editors. It's more reliable than the average preacher, it seems to me -- who has no one checking the sermons.

One is entitled to one's opinion, but not a separate set of facts.

John Stockwell said...

Jeremy wrote:
All the Wikipedia link shows is that the contemporary scientific community, a community enslaved by methodological naturalism (convenient way to make religion and science jibe, but a way that only gives you ontologically naturalistic answers), can't stand ID.


Wikipedia or not, the failure of intelligent design as science is evidenced by

1) a decided lack of publication in peer reviewed media
2) the majority of the materials that are published in the name of ID are political and/or philosophical in nature, rather than scientific publications.

Whining about "materialism" does not feed the bulldog, as they say. In short there are no goods delivered by the ID movement. Indeed, the only "fist pounding and foot stomping" that I can see is coming from ID supporters who demand "equal time" for ID, without having first earned it through actually doing the work.


Indeed, all of your claims that IDer's "look at data" is not backed by the corresponding technical papers in peer reviewed media reporting what they saw. No. There is no evidence whatsoever that ID supporters do much science on the subject at all.

We have heard that line before. Young earth global flood believers claim that they "look at geologic data" and see evidence for their perspective. Such claims are a halmark of pseudoscience.

(Incidentally, Jeremy you really are bad at making scientific arguments. I suggest that you drop this line of argumentation to avoid further embarassment.)

Jeremy said...

John

Your missing the point.

All of your whining about the lack of techinical articles in peer-reviewed journals is not very persuasive when it is precisely because of the naturalistic, anti-design assumptions of the reviewers that keep the movement from becoming mainstream. You can rant and rave all you want, but the fact that we don't see the articles in the journals is not necessarily the fault of the ID'ers.

Incidentally, John, you're really bad at philosophy. Maybe you should give it up to spare yourself further embarassment. While you're at it, why don't you call your buddies who promote false Darwinism (the whole T-Rex before archeopteryx thing) and tell them they're really bad at science too. I'm sure they would appreciate the rescue from embarassment.

That's all I have to say--you're getting testy, and that's not nice, nor is it scholarly.

Okay, one last thing. I didn't make any scientific argument at all. And, you didn't even address the bad science that gets passed off in the name of Darwinism. Alas, I won't read your response; I've grown bored with you (ad hominem or not, it's true).

Dr. Steve Cowan said...

Jeremy said. . .
Admitedly, ID has a rough go to substantiate itself as science if science requires predictive success--which it does and should. There's no question that the one big prediction that ID makes: there is a designer, is going to be hard to get at empirically.

For what it's worth, Dr. Gonzalez's brand of ID makes at least one remarkable and risky prediction: that life will be very rare in the universe and (if it exists elsewhere at all) will be confined to planets with very specific traits in solar systems with very specific traits (including what Gonzalez and Richards call a Circumstellar Habitable Zone), situated in specific regions of galaxies (what they call Galactic Habitable Zones). This prediction can be tested and potentially falsified. So it doesn't seem to me that Gonzalez's ID theory falls short in this regard.

Douglas Groothuis said...

Ed:

That was a pot shot.

The typical university classroom doesn't have checks, and is probably less accountable than most pulpits. When someone like David Horowitz tries to put any in place (Academic Bill of Rights), the pampered class goes crazy. They are used to a free reign of opinion without accountability.

Moreover, a biblical congregation should hold teachers accountable to the Bible, logics, and facts.

John Stockwell said...

Jeremy wrote:
All of your whining about the lack of techinical articles in peer-reviewed journals is not very persuasive when it is precisely because of the naturalistic, anti-design assumptions of the reviewers that keep the movement from becoming mainstream. You can rant and rave all you want, but the fact that we don't see the articles in the journals is not necessarily the fault of the ID'ers.


A common fallback position of the fringe is to claim that there is a smear campaign or a conspiracy by the mainstream preventing publication of their materials.

In our era it is possible to self-publish, so such smears/conspiracies would be easy to unmask by the simple listing of papers that were summarily rejected, along with the reviewer comments. Such a list of "perfectly good papers, with useful science" would do much to support the cause of the ID community. Not a single paper of this variety can even be cited by IDers to support this position.

As to Jeremy's comments about faulty paleontological discussions in non-expert media, I can only say that if you read non peer reviewed publications, the reader should beware.

From Jeremy's previous post:

But what kind of predictions has Darwinism made? In fact, most Darwinist predictions have been predictions about the past, and therefore not subject to experimentation. Further, any histirical evidence that comes to light is then interpreted in terms of the prediction; that's a bit cart-before-the-horse-ish, no?


Jeremy's first mistake is to state the old creationist saw to the effect that "science requires repeatable events". Not so. Science merely requires that we can study evidence in a repeatable way.

The basic evidence of evolution is the following:
1) taxonomic law
2) the law of faunal succession
3) reproduction beyond necessity for
replacement
and more modern:
4) change of allele frequencies with
with generations

Darwin's notions of evolution are sufficient to explain all of these, making the first two the result of common descent under natural selection of new traits generated by the last two.

Jeremy goes on:

Now, all of the information that has come to light regarding similarities in gene structure, etc. were not predicted by evolutionary biology, but they would certainly be a matter of course if Darwinism were true. So the similarities do give Darwinism a bit of confirmation. But the same could be predicted if a designer used the same material to design different life-forms, so similarities could confirm ID too. Here's the upshot: despite the genetic similarities, the irreducibly complex organells within the cells makes it impossible that they evolved to be this way over time. It would seem that ID would have a bit more confirmation than Darwinism.


A mechanism for variation and inheritance is a requirement of common descent though variation with natural selection, so Jeremy is wrong again. Common descent was supported originally through morphological comparisons, but it is an inescapable conclusion by comparative DNA analysis, owing to the fact that pseudogenes from various sources, such as viral DNA are shared among taxonomically related species. This of course, is compounded with more recent observations regarding hox genes, which make species even closer, genetically speaking.

As to Jeremy's claims of "organelles" being "irreduceably complex", I would suggest that he bone up on Margulis' theory of the origin of organelles (mitochondria, rhibosomes, and nuclii being the most important as these all having their own genetic material) being the result of the symbiosis of prokaryotes. (A result which is strongly supported through comparative DNA and RNA analysis.)

So, basically, there you have it. If ID is supposed to be a contender for the title of "standard model for the origin of species" then it must explain all of the items above, effectively meaning that ID must be an *evolution* theory, possibly with an additional mechanism.

Of course, today's ID is not a mechanism oriented theory, so it doesn't actually do anything.

Ed Darrell said...

Of course it was a pot shot, in return for yours, Dr. Groothuis. Wikipedia is highly accurate in most listings, especially over time. If I have something to contradict what Wikipedia says, they generally change it, if the sources I give them check out. I don't know why you keep harping on Wikipedia -- unjustly, in my view.

Every college or university I've taught at has much more control over what is taught than most preachers have. Maybe theological institutions differ, but that's rather the point. We can't afford loose canons in law, or in most of the sciences, especially not in engineering.

Jeremy, you said: All of your whining about the lack of techinical articles in peer-reviewed journals is not very persuasive when it is precisely because of the naturalistic, anti-design assumptions of the reviewers that keep the movement from becoming mainstream.

All the whining is quite persuasive when the federal courts have determined, upon sworn testimony of creationists and ID advocates, that there is no naturalistic, anti-design assumption of any reviewer that prevents publication of ID papers. In fact, 100% of ID papers submitted to journals have been published. The problem is -- again revealed under oath -- that IDists rarely do research on ID, more rarely do research on ID that would establish a hypthesis that could lead to theory, and consequently, have nothing to publish.

The fault is not in your stars, nor with the journal editors, but in ID. Why is there no significant ID research program? Great question. Behe used to promise a paper "in a year," but he stopped making that promise about five years ago.

But, Jeremy, don't you think it's poor form to claim bias when the courts have given ample opportunities to prove bias, and IDists have failed at every turn?

Douglas Groothuis said...

Fab:

All these institutions are closing ranks and parroting each other. They are not engaging the arguments. Few do. I debated someone on May 13 who never really engaged the arguments.

John Stockwell said...

Dr. Groothuis wrote:
All these institutions are closing ranks and parroting each other. They are not engaging the arguments. Few do. I debated someone on May 13 who never really engaged the arguments.


Hmm. Likely there is a communication difficulty. Scientists present theories, and observations, and the response of other scientists is to present clarifications and/or contrary or extensional evidence.

The mode of discussion is not the same as the philosophers' debate format. It is more along the lines of the presentation of work and evaluation of that work through illuminating and penetrating questioning by the scientist's peers. Indeed, scientists do not engage in debate in the way that philosophers do.

Science operates on the premise of open exchange of knowledge, under an ethic of honest communication, with a committment of error correction. That system yields a living body of knowledge which we rely on, but one which is dynamic and which we expect will change as the enterprise of science continues.

The ID community does not engage within this enterprise. Indeed, they may have "arguments" but basically, without scientific facts to support them, those arguments mean nothing to scientists.

Your experience is to try to engage in debates, and what happens is that there are not arguments from your opponent, but only the statement of what you would call "assertions". Those are not assertions, but are statements of the mainstream scientific view.

To scientists, the mainsteam scientific view is the current best statement of "what the science is" on the given matter.

From the scientists' point of view, the *only* way to improve on that is to do new science, which in part involves running the new information through the guantlet of penetrating questions and commentary of those members of the scientific community who are most knowledgeable of the particular issue in question. That is what is meant as peer review in the scientific context.