Dispatches from the Creation Wars

You may know by now that Guillermo Gonzalez, the pro-ID astronomer, was just denied tenure at Iowa State. If you know that then you also know that the ID crowd is in full cry and wail at this outrageous persecution. That was predictable, of course; the ID movement, being primarily about public relations and not science, has a long history of false or unsupported claims of persecution (which shouldn’t surprise us, I suppose; after all, their religion has its origin in an act of alleged martyrdom). Says the DI:

This is a very sad day for academic freedom. Dr. Gonzalez is a superb scholar and a fine human being. His research has been featured in Scientific American, Science, Nature, and many other science journals. Iowa State’s decision to deny him tenure is a travesty, and the university should be held to account for its action. This deserves to be an even bigger story than the persecution of evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg at the Smithsonian.


It deserves precisely the same attention as the fake persecution claims of Richard Sternberg, to whom nothing actually happened other than his own discomfort at being caught redhanded engaging in a clear conflict of interest by flouting the normal peer review standards of the journal he was editing to sneak in a pro-ID paper that he had solicited himself and hid from the associate editors and the editorial board who were more qualified than he to review it. That is, just enough attention to debunk the false cry of persecution.

Here’s what those screaming persecution won’t say: they have not one iota of evidence that tenure was denied because Gonzalez is an ID advocate. None. They are presuming that to be the case because it fits the story they’ve been falsely claiming for years, that the evil Darwinian priesthood is out to destroy anyone who believes in God. It is convenient for them to cry persecution, but there simply is no evidence for it. And here’s something else they won’t say: people get denied for tenure every single day, all over the country, for a million different reasons, some fair and some unfair.

Here’s a perfect example in the same field: Sean Carroll of Cosmic Variance. Sean was denied tenure by the University of Chicago despite an incredibly impressive publication record and reputation as a scholar (see his CV here). He’s published dozens of papers in the top journals in his field, as well as acting as a referee for many of the top journals. He’s organized academic conferences all over the world. He’s taught at and delivered seminars in his field at the finest universities, including Harvard, MIT, Brown and Princeton.

Given Dr. Carroll’s exceptional track record of scholarship, there is no earthly reason why he should have been denied tenure at any university in the world. But he was. Did he whine endlessly about how persecuted he was? Nope. Here’s his response:

The bad news is that I’ve been denied tenure at Chicago. It came as a complete surprise, I hadn’t anticipated any problems at all. But apparently there are a few of our faculty who don’t think much of my research. A stylistic clash, I imagine. And a handful of dissenters is all it takes to derail a tenure case. I don’t think there are many people in the outside world who believe that the University of Chicago is better off without me than with me, but there seems to be an anomalously high concentration of them among my own colleagues.

That’s it. So what did he do then? He went and got another appointment at another world class institution, CalTech. And he’s done some writing on tenure and the fact that it’s often a crapshoot. People even better than Gonzalez are denied tenure all the time. It can happen for a million reasons ranging from scholarly incompetence to old fashioned personality clashes. Get over it and get a new job.

I’m sure Gonzalez will land on his feet. Even if another state institution won’t hire him, I’m sure BIOLA or any number of other religious schools would love to have him. And if worst comes to worst, he can join Dembski at one of the many seminaries around the country. Heck, if nothing else he can make a nice living going from church to church telling his story of martyrdom (without a shred of evidence, of course; as long as it fits the preconceived desire to be picked on for Jesus, they’ll buy it).

Comments

  1. #1 SLC
    May 14, 2007

    I suspect that one reason that Gonzales was denied tenure was that he was hired to teach courses, perform research, and seek research grants in the field of astronomy. He was not hired by the biology department to do any of the above in biology (in which by the way he had no competence or training). Since he was apparently more interested in biology then in astronomy, denial of tenure seems perfectly reasonable.

  2. #2 SteveF
    May 14, 2007

    Gonzalez is by far and away the most impressive IDist in terms of publication and research output. I’m sure he’ll end up somewhere pretty decent. As Ed points out, just because someone doesn’t get tenure, it doesn’t mean there is a conspiracy.

  3. #3 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    May 14, 2007

    Given Dr. Carroll’s exceptional track record of scholarship, there is no earthly reason why he should have been denied tenure at any university in the world.

    Perhaps his writings on Evo-Devo convinced his committee that he lacks focus.

    (Yes I’m joking, and I do know that Sean Evo-Devo Carroll and Sean Astrophysics Carroll are not the same.)

  4. #4 David Heddle
    May 14, 2007

    Ed,

    As I posted on telic thoughts, tenure in the sciences at a research university is not an easy thing, and an application can be derailed for any number of factors. One comment: as Sean Carrol’s experience points out, tenure always, or almost always, has a political component, and that very well may have played a part on Gonzalez’s case. We may never know, because there is enough linguistic wiggle-room in any tenure decision and committee report (And believe me I know, I once served on and chaired the university faculty committee that was the stage before the provost in tenure decisions) to obfuscate political motivations by committee members. A committee member who wants to derail a candidacy need only say things like “I don’t think this candidate’s track record on acquiring grants is promising enough to award tenure” even when he really means “I don’t like this guy” for whatever reason.

    And in a sense the ID community, as it always does, will suffer for the ineptitude of its leadership. For given that they see conspiracies with greater ease than John Birchers saw commies, they have desensitized everyone to any future claim of ID discrimination. With Gonzalez, who is by leaps and bounds the best of the marquis IDers, it will be hard for them to champion his case simply because they cry wolf too often.

    SLC:

    I hope you are wrong. If Gonzalez never published, or if, like PZ, he spent his days blogging instead of doing research, then his dabbling (such as it was) in biology might be grounds for denying tenure. But in his case it wouldn’t be, because he had a record of scholarship in his profession. His hobbies should not be questioned or discussed by any of the committees. And if it is “apparent” to you that he was more interested in biology than astronomy, then it is apparent that you don’t know what you are talking about.

  5. #5 Dr X
    May 14, 2007

    This story of alleged persecution has great appeal to people who know absolutely nothing about academic appointments and tenure. It is most offensive that the mass of support for the ID movement comes not from scholars but from ordinary folks who have the narcisstic gall to assume that they know more about these matters than people who’ve engaged in disciplined, intensive study for years.

    Then again, many ordinary ID supporters have probably learned all about the world by listening to nitwits like Sean Hannity and that misanthropic pinhead, Bill O’Reilly.

    Without a constintuency united by feelings of persecution and a shared aversion to mental exertion, ID promoters would have no audience.

  6. #6 SLC
    May 14, 2007

    Re Heddle

    1. It is my understanding that Gonzales was actually either teaching or proposing to teach a course in intelligent design in biology. That doesn’t sound much like a hobby.

    2. It is my understanding that Prof. Gonzales book purporting to make the case that the solar system occupies a privileged place in the universe has been denounced by his colleagues as rank pseudoscience, worthy of inclusion in a rewrite of Martin Gardners’ seminal book on the subject. This is hardly conducive to endearing him to his colleagues at Iowa State University who are understandably reluctant to get tarred with the same brush. Now Prof. Gonzales, like Michael Behe, may actually have a decent publication record in respectable journals but Behe waited until after he had tenure before turning into a whackjob.

    3. For Prof. Heddles’ information, my PhD thesis adviser was, like himself, an old earth creationist (pretty hard to be a young earth creationist and an elementary particle physicist who accepts quantum mechanics).

  7. #7 David Heddle
    May 14, 2007

    SLC,

    If he was actually teaching a course on biological ID, then he can hardly be blamed for doing something that would have required several stages of approval including his department, the university curriculum committee, and the dean. A professor doesn’t just decide to teach a class. If he was simply proposing such a class, then that’s largely irrelevant.

    Does anyone know if it’s true that he taught a bio-ID course?

    In talking about the privileged planet type arguments you need to distinguish between his scholarly publications on habitable zones and his popular book. Writing a popular book should not be grounds for tenure denial.

    Ironically I always felt that The Privileged Planet argument was slightly anti-ID in a certain manner of speaking. To me the ID argument would be:

    God designed our solar system and made the moon just right so that we could have solar eclipses and study the chromosphere and verify general relativity, all for his glory.

    Where tPP argument is more like:

    A large moon is necessary for survival of complex life (for whatever reasons-orbit stability, cleansing tides, seasons, etc) and a large moon permits solar eclipses, and solar eclipses are good for science, therefore we see a correlation between observability and habitability.

    Likewise for the transparent atmosphere, our location in the galaxy and in cosmic time, etc. In other words, I really believe that a flaming atheist, at least an open minded one, could see some scientific merit in the privileged planet argument that habitability and observability are tightly coupled. Yes IDers use it for their agenda, but they also use the big bang for their agenda, and that doesn’t impugn the scientific value of the big bang.

    I do agree with you that it would have been better for Gonzalez to have stayed in the ID closet until he was tenured. While the IDers will argue discrimination and the anti-IDers will respond that their claim is baseless, I suspect the truthful answer is that yes, Gonzalez did pay a price for his ID, but on the other hand it’s to be expected. It’s a nasty business, tenure.

  8. #8 Raging Bee
    May 14, 2007

    His hobbies should not be questioned or discussed by any of the committees.

    If his “hobbies” cause damage to the university’s standing as an educational institution, then that fact should indeed be questioned and discussed. As a politically-motivated pack of lies, the pseudoscience of ID should be considered just as embarrassing to a university — or even a kindergarten — as any pseudoscience used to prop up, say, a racist ideology.

    The fact is, as with many jobs, that the number of qualified applicants is greater than the number of available positions; therefore some applicants will, inevitably, lose out for reasons having nothing to do with their qualifications. We all know, as Ed admitted, that people are denied tenure for worse reasons than advocating long-discredited pseudoscience; so why NOT deny tenure to IDiots?

  9. #9 Raging Bee
    May 14, 2007

    “Likewise for the transparent atmosphere…”

    Our atmosphere is transparent to us because our eyes evolved to see in it. If a creature evolved “eyes” to see a different range of the spectrum, to which his/her/its home atmosphere was transparent, would he/she/it find our atmosphere transparent?

  10. #10 David Heddle
    May 14, 2007

    Raging Bee,

    First of all, like Larry Moran, you look like an idiot for using the term “IDiot.” Things do wear out you know–there is a reason why no matter how clever a joke is after a while you don’t want to hear it again. That term is so 2003. Secondly, you are of course supporting the claim of the IDers that Gonzalez was discriminated against for his beliefs. Lastly, to make a comparison between a private belief in ID with racism is just downright friggin’ stupid and deserves no response. Gonzalez’s ID belief, in theory, should not count against him, unless he was teaching it in an unauthorized manner. In practice, of course, anything can factor into a tenure decision.

    As for the transparent atmosphere, I don’t want to get involved in a PP debate, but your point is woefully ignorant. There is a coincidence recognized (even by non-IDers) that cannot be explained by your blurb. That is: our atmosphere is narrowly transparent to the region of peak intensity of the sun’s spectrum. If that were not so, then evolution would have had to decide (in a manner of speaking) whether it was better for our eyes to operate where the atmosphere was transparent, or where the sun’s intensity peaked–as it turns out evolution didn’t have to make that decision. That has obvious observability ramifications. Furthermore, the transparency also has obvious habitability ramifications in that carbon chemisty is facilitated by a great deal of light in the visible region reaching the surface, for such light has the correct energy range to interact with atomic bonds. It’s not nearly as trivial as you suggest. The Douglas Adams puddle argument, and its variants, is one of the dumbest arguments against privileged planet reasoning that you could choose to invoke.

  11. #11 Ed Brayton
    May 14, 2007

    I don’t think Gonzalez really did much of anything in biology. He was a proponent of cosmological ID, which the DI promotes along with biological ID despite the fairly obvious conflict between the two and despite the fact that cosmological ID makes it transparently obvious that the designer could only be God.

  12. #12 SLC
    May 14, 2007

    Re Heddle

    I don’t know if he actually taught the course. As you have pointed out, such a course would have required several levels of approvals. I do recall that he proposed to teach such a course. Even making such a suggestion would not endear him to the biology faculty at any respectable school.

    As for his book on the privileged planet, the fact that it was published by Regnery, also publishers of such distinguished authors as Ann Coulter, Tom Bethell, and Mark Fuhrman does not inspire confidence. As for its scientific claims, I am posting a link to an article in todays’ Washington Post on a proposed search for life on Europa. Europa certainly does not satisfy any of the conditions posited by Prof. Gonzales and yet here we are spending multimillion bucks investigating the possibility.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/13/AR2007051300989.html

  13. #13 David Heddle
    May 14, 2007

    SLC,

    Yes, proposing to teach a course in someone else’s turf is very impolitic. That’s independent of ID, by the way. It’s not easy for a physics department to get a course in mathematical physics approved (even though we invent all the really useful math) because the math department will be upset. (Sometimes we hide it in courses like “Introduction to Theoretical Physics.”)

    I’m not sure what your point is about Europa. I think Europa research rocks, and I support the use of public funds for that research. I’m guessing Gonzalez would too. And if we found complex life on Europa, that would certainly destroy the PP argument–but so what?

    What the heck does his publisher have to do with the argument? Are you really suggesting that anyone who publishes with Regency should be denied tenure?

  14. #14 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    May 14, 2007

    Sean Carroll used to teach a course on atheism. He has not, to my knowledge, tried to blame his failure to achieve tenure on Chicago on that.

  15. #15 Royale
    May 14, 2007

    Ed,

    I think the rest of their article is even funnier:

    Ironically, Dr. Gonzalez arrived in America as a child refugee from Castro’s Cuba. Unfortunately, he seems to have discovered that the Darwinist ideologues in America’s universities can be nearly as unforgiving as the Marxist ideologues of his home country.

    Comparing evolution to Marxism. Will their bitchisms ever cease?

  16. #16 tacitus
    May 14, 2007

    I guess you could say it sucks that the process of gaining tenure is such a political crap shoot, but since it is (and probably always will be) that way, then being denied tenure on the basis that you have knowingly given aid and succor to the forces of anti-science is as good a reason as any.

    The DI can wail and gnash their teeth all they want, but given their own rabidly political nature, their shock and dismay ring completely hollow.

  17. #17 Alex
    May 14, 2007

    Writing a popular book should not be grounds for tenure denial.

    And yet, sometimes it’s a factor. I was at Yale when Lawrence Krauss was denied tenure there. Obviously, the reasons for that decision were not made public, but it was widely suspected that it was at least partly because he had taken time away from “real research” to write popular science books.

  18. #18 Reed A. Cartwright
    May 14, 2007

    Ultimately a tenure decision by one’s department, comes down to “do I want to work with this person for the next two decades?” It is never based solely on their research output. In that sense, I think it is reasonable to hypothesize that Gonzalez’s connection to the Discovery Institute did him no favors. If there were any faculty members, who were knowledgeable about Behe and Lehigh, they might have formed the opinion that granting tenure to Gonzalez was risky. After all since DBB, Behe has published very few research papers and has forced his department to post a disclaimer about him on their webpage.

  19. #19 W. Kevin Vicklund
    May 14, 2007

    Most (main sequence) stars have a peak intensity in the spectrum in which our atmosphere is transparent. Especially when you eliminate the opaqueness of atmospheric oxygen (O2 and O3, which require certain metabolisms to maintain). Just about any planet with our particular atmosphere would be “priviledged” regardles of star (unless it orbited a blue star or some special stars – and even with a blue star, the total amount of light in the atmospherically transparent spectrum would be greater than that of a cooler star of the same size and distance)

    And as I have argued previously (about a year or so ago), since life can change the composition of the atmosphere, the atmosphere might be transparent in the peak range because of the presence of life, not the other way around (hypothetically – I am not stating this as a theory of what actually happened, just that it could). If a trait arises that increases the amount of energy (or other resource), that trait will tend to be selected for providing that at least one form of life can take advantage of the new or improved source.

    That’s why I find the habitability-observability argument to be tenuous at best. In the process of improving habitability, life may increase observability.

  20. #20 Reed A. Cartwright
    May 14, 2007

    And yet, sometimes it’s a factor. I was at Yale when Lawrence Krauss was denied tenure there. Obviously, the reasons for that decision were not made public, but it was widely suspected that it was at least partly because he had taken time away from “real research” to write popular science books.

    The same thing can happen with good teachers. I know in my grad department, it was rumored that some profs didn’t like people who had good teaching evaluations. The logic being that the time spent being a good instructor, is time not spent researching.

  21. #21 SLC
    May 14, 2007

    Re Alex

    The issue is not that he wrote a popular book. The issue is that he wrote a popular book which has been almost universally condemned as pseudoscience.

    Re Heddle

    1. The fact that he published a book with a disreputable publisher like Regnery is at least some indication that no reputable publisher would take it on.

    2. The point about Europa was that it satisfies none of the criteria claimed by Gonzales and in fact is rather distinctly unprivileged and yet may contain complex life in oceans underneath the ice cap. This possibility has been known for some time, considerably earlier then when Prof. Gonzales wrote his book. Thus it is even worse then Behes’ claim in his Darwins’ Black Box book that there were no intermediates between present day whales and their purported terrestrial wolf like antecedent. At least those intermediates were discovered after Prof. Behes’ book was published.

  22. #22 Raging Bee
    May 14, 2007

    Secondly, you are of course supporting the claim of the IDers that Gonzalez was discriminated against for his beliefs.

    I am not supporting the claim; I am merely saying that, as tenure decisions go, overt support for a discredited pseudoscience is as good a reason as any — and better than some — for denial of tenure; as would teaching geocentrism in an astronomy course. If two professors were in contention for one tenured spot, and both were equally qualified but for their differing opinions on evolution vs. ID, you’d be a fool not to choose the one who supported the most credible theory, and pass on the guy who clung to a load of long-debunked horsemuffins.

    Lastly, to make a comparison between a private belief in ID with racism is just downright friggin’ stupid and deserves no response.

    Not if that “private belief” is a politically-motivated pseudoscience, made up and upheld for less-than-honorable political goals, and consisted of factual claims that were either suspect or disproven.

    Gonzalez’s ID belief, in theory, should not count against him, unless he was teaching it in an unauthorized manner.

    If he was publicly touting factual claims that have been repeatedly discredited for years, that would raise — in my mind at least — serious questions about his credibility as a teacher, and/or his ability to process knowledge that conflicted with his personal beliefs. And that, in turn, would raise a few questions about the university’s slant on such issues.

    As for the transparent atmosphere,…your point is woefully ignorant. There is a coincidence recognized (even by non-IDers) that cannot be explained by your blurb. That is: our atmosphere is narrowly transparent to the region of peak intensity of the sun’s spectrum. If that were not so, then evolution would have had to decide (in a manner of speaking) whether it was better for our eyes to operate where the atmosphere was transparent, or where the sun’s intensity peaked–as it turns out evolution didn’t have to make that decision. That has obvious observability ramifications. Furthermore, the transparency also has obvious habitability ramifications in that carbon chemisty is facilitated by a great deal of light in the visible region reaching the surface, for such light has the correct energy range to interact with atomic bonds. It’s not nearly as trivial as you suggest. The Douglas Adams puddle argument, and its variants, is one of the dumbest arguments against privileged planet reasoning that you could choose to invoke.

    Evolution could also have “decided” to give us sensory organs that didn’t rely on light at all — something it already gave bats, certain fish, and humans born sightless. In any case, your PP argument doesn’t hold a heckuva lot of water. First, our atmosphere is transparent to a LOT of frequencies other than visible light, at least some of which a sensory organ could, at least in theory, have evolved to perceive. And second, “What a coincidence, this is the best of all possible worlds!” doesn’t objectively prove the existence of a Creator — especially when living things have so many parts and systems whose performance is far less stellar than that of the human eye.

    As for the bit about carbon reactions that require visible light, what about life that evolved at the bottom of the ocean?

  23. #23 Raging Bee
    May 14, 2007

    Heddle: you’re making a common mistake that I was warned about in a history class: reading history backwards, seeing each event as “setting the stage” for the next; and concluding that everything that happened was inevitable and predetermined, and that none of it could have gone any other way. It’s an easy mistake for studens of history to make, especially when you’re reading history with an ideological bias; so I strongly suspect the Privileged Planet crowd are making the same mistake. I can accept such opinions as part of a religious belief (I have such beliefs myself), but it ain’t science.

  24. #24 JCD
    May 14, 2007

    One thing that may have been a problem is that, as far as I can tell, he has not published with any grad students, or even taken one on, much less advised one all the way to a PhD. That’s not a good sign for a young professor.

    But really, I can’t see any committee overlooking things like the publication of a pseudoscientific book with a press like Regnery. I don’t think there should be any question that his pro-ID views played a role, as of course they should have in a science department.

  25. #25 Scott Elyard
    May 14, 2007

    David Heddle:
    “First of all, like Larry Moran, you look like an idiot for using the term “IDiot.” Things do wear out you know–there is a reason why no matter how clever a joke is after a while you don’t want to hear it again. That term is so 2003.”

    Since really, ID itself is so 1802, it’s actually difficult to see why more people don’t make use of it.

    You have no idea how tempting it is to use such terminology, David. Myself, I refer to ID proponents as deluded (and its chief practicioners as parasitic upon people of faith)–perhaps that ought to earn me a medal for my excellent restraint.

  26. #26 slpage
    May 14, 2007

    First of all, like Larry Moran, you look like an idiot for using the term “IDiot.” Things do wear out you know

    I cannot wait until the propagandists at the DI and elsewhere stop using the term “Darwinism”.

  27. #27 George Cauldron
    May 14, 2007

    I cannot wait until the propagandists at the DI and elsewhere stop using the term “Darwinism”.

    Or Davison’s ‘darwimp’. :-)

  28. #28 David Heddle
    May 14, 2007

    slpage,

    I cannot wait until the propagandists at the DI and elsewhere stop using the term “Darwinism”.

    Me too.

  29. #29 Chip Poirot
    May 14, 2007

    I’m bothered (nay disturbed) by the cavalier attitude about tenure denials.

    Am I bothered by Gonzales being denied tenure? I don’t know enough to be bothered or not.

    I am disturbed by this attitude of: its OK to make up reasons to deny people tenure and you should just move on with your life…

    There are some pretty clear guidelines for AAUP tenure procedures. It isn’t supposed to come down to a whim or a personality clash. It’s supposed to be abou fair, honest evaluation of a person’s scholarly record and teaching record, weighted according to the needs of that particular institution. That’s it, end of story.

    Again, I don’t know about the Gonzales situation. I’m sick of the academic culture that encourages and winks at personal retribution, violations of academic freedom, breach of promises, bad faith actions as being “that’s just the way it goes”.

    All I can say is I’m grateful I have tenure and teach in a unionized environment.

  30. #30 Gerard Harbison
    May 14, 2007

    People are missing what is the most likely and most obvious reason for his tenure denial: failure to win a major grant award. I’ve expanded on this on my blog.

    http://homepage.mac.com/gerardharbison/blog/RWP_blog.html

    All the other stuff might have been important if the tenure file was borderline. But the way it works, in most science departments at Research I universities, most of the time, is no grant, no tenure.

    Now if he did have a major grant award (I can find no evidence of this) he might well have a case that he was dismissed over his views. But universities are generally as loath to kick out well-funded faculty as they are to keep unfunded ones.

  31. #31 Davis
    May 14, 2007

    …even though we invent all the really useful math…

    Ahem. Y’all certainly devise some clever math, but you physicists need us math-types to keep you properly rigorous. :)

  32. #32 Jedidiah Palosaari
    May 14, 2007

    I’ve left a job because my teaching of evolution didn’t fit with the school’s teaching of ID. I could easily make the same ridiculous argument that I was denied the possibility of chairing the science department, or listened to, because of my pro-evolution position. (This school had no tenure track.) But I have no evidence of this, and I think it unlikely. Just because our beliefs don’t fit with the majority doesn’t mean that we are denied advancement because of this.

    But attacking a religious belief is wholly inappropriate, and immaterial to the issues at hand. When you suggest that the martyrdom was alleged, or try to tie it into ID, you insult the many Christians who accept evolution, and you follow the IDists in the same path of conjoining the disparate elements of science and religion.

  33. #33 trrll
    May 14, 2007

    I cannot wait until the propagandists at the DI and elsewhere stop using the term “Darwinism”.

    It’s annoying when people I disagree with coin “clever” dismissive names for the opposition. It always reminds me of the junior high school bullies who think that getting somebody’s name wrong is the height of hilarity. But what really makes me wince is when somebody I otherwise agree with does the same.

    For ID to resort to such cheap, childish tactics is at least understandable, because they have so little in the way of real arguments. But for somebody arguing the scientific perspective, armed with such a wealth of data and knowledge, to do the same seems a bit like kicking a cripple.

  34. #34 Barron
    May 14, 2007

    Important rule for young associate professors… Don’t start with the wacky stuff until AFTER you get tenure.

    First you get the appointment, then you get the tenure and then you get the wackiness!

  35. #35 David B. Benson
    May 14, 2007

    IMO, if Gonzalez indeed had not successfully advised enough graduate students, that alone would be cause for denial…

  36. #36 FL
    May 14, 2007

    Looks like Evolutionist Fear Factor has reached a new low. The religion of evolution is apparently so messed up, so willing to do anything to anyone–no matter how high the dirty deed registers on the ole Whack-o-Meter–to protect itself from rational academic challenges, it ain’t even funny anymore.

    But I agree that a scientist of Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez’s stature WILL indeed land on his feet. He’s just that good, just that proven in his track record.

    And I would also bet that those who reside outside the First Church of Darwin will actually step up their efforts and work even harder to achieve their pro-science goals, knowing that the disciples of Darwin clearly occupy the moral low ground instead of any moral high ground.

  37. #37 Raging Bee
    May 14, 2007

    FL: if you had actually read Ed’s post, and the responses to it, you would know how far off the mark your post is.

  38. #38 Mithrandir
    May 14, 2007

    FL: also, if there had been any rational academic challenges to evolution in the past century, you might have more of a point. As it is, there have not been.

  39. #39 df
    May 14, 2007

    I’m posting the 17 papers that ISI knowledge returns when I searched using

    au = gonzalez g and ad = iowa

    I get the same 17 when I do

    AU=gonzalez g and AD=iowa and OG=iowa state

    This search may have missed some things but generally ISI brings up only “real” publications – though some of these look a a bit weak too, e.g., in Biosphere. Throwing out semi-popular stuff (which really doesn’t count towards tenure, at least not as a replacement for more substantial stuff) and realizing that Gonzalez isn’t the senior author on all the papers, I’d say that his record is weak and his coverage of his own area seems spotty. It looks like it was an open and shut case, unlike the guy at Chicago. It’s worth noting that at places like Chicago it is often asked when making tenure recs. (seriously) “Will this guy be good enough to be in the running for a Nobel prize at some point?” Of course, neither is Iowa State Chicago.

    Gonzalez’s papers since 2001 are:

    2001: 1
    2002: 2
    2003: 5
    2004: 0
    2005:5
    2006:3
    2007:1

    But some of the papers/journals shouldn’t count in a tenure decision. Anyway, fwiw, here’s my take on the journals he publishes in:

    PASP is an ok journal but not top tier.

    IAU symposisa – essentially an abstract, so not the equivalent of an article

    MNRAS – good journal

    Icarus – good journal

    Biosphere – and Scientist articles: not really relevant to astronomy and not sure how legit. they are

    AJ and ApJ – excellent journals

    Rev Mod Phys – also good

    Sci Am – popular science

    here’s the list:

    1. Vanture AD, Smith VV, Lutz J, et al.
    Correlations between lithium and technetium absorption lines in the spectra of galactic S stars
    PUBLICATIONS OF THE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF THE PACIFIC 119 (852): 147-155 FEB 2007
    Times Cited: 0

    2. Gonzalez G
    The chemical compositions of stars with planets: A review
    PUBLICATIONS OF THE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF THE PACIFIC 118 (849): 1494-1505 NOV 2006
    Times Cited: 0

    3. Tautvaisiene G, Wallerstein G, Geisler D, et al.
    Chemical abundances in the Sagittarius galaxy: Terzan 7
    IAU SYMPOSIA 13: 210-210 2005
    Times Cited: 0

    4. Gonzalez G
    Indium abundance trends among sun-like stars
    MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 371 (2): 781-785 SEP 11 2006
    Times Cited: 0

    5. Gonzalez G
    Condensation temperature trends among stars with planets
    MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 367 (1): L37-L41 MAR 21 2006
    Times Cited: 5

    6. Gonzalez G
    Habitable zones in the universe
    ORIGINS OF LIFE AND EVOLUTION OF THE BIOSPHERE 35 (6): 555-606 DEC 2005
    Times Cited: 0

    7. Gonzalez G
    Misrepresenting intelligent design
    SCIENTIST 19 (16): 8-8 AUG 29 2005
    Times Cited: 0

    8. Giridhar S, Lambert DL, Reddy BE, et al.
    Abundance analyses of field RV Tauri stars. VI. An extended sample
    ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL 627 (1): 432-445 Part 1 JUL 1 2005
    Times Cited: 8

    9. Geisler D, Smith VV, Wallerstein G, et al.
    “Sculptor-ing” the galaxy? The chemical compositions of red giants in the Sculptor dwarf spheroidal galaxy
    ASTRONOMICAL JOURNAL 129 (3): 1428-1442 MAR 2005
    Times Cited: 16

    10. Laws C, Gonzalez G
    A reevaluation of the super-lithium-rich star in NGC 6633
    ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL 595 (2): 1148-1153 Part 1 OCT 1 2003
    Times Cited: 5

    11. Laws C, Gonzalez G, Walker KM, et al.
    Parent stars of extrasolar planets. VII. New abundance analyses of 30 systems
    ASTRONOMICAL JOURNAL 125 (5): 2664-2677 MAY 2003
    Times Cited: 48

    12. Wells LE, Armstrong JC, Gonzalez G
    Reseeding of early Earth by impacts of returning ejecta during the late heavy bombardment
    ICARUS 162 (1): 38-46 MAR 2003
    Times Cited: 13

    13. Gonzalez G
    Colloquium: Stars, planets, and metals
    REVIEWS OF MODERN PHYSICS 75 (1): 101-120 JAN 2003
    Times Cited: 27

    14. Candia P, Krisciunas K, Suntzeff NB, et al.
    Optical and infrared photometry of the unusual Type Ia supernova 2000cx
    PUBLICATIONS OF THE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF THE PACIFIC 115 (805): 277-294 MAR 2003
    Times Cited: 23

    15. Armstrong JC, Wells LE, Gonzalez G
    Rummaging through Earth’s attic for remains of ancient life
    ICARUS 160 (1): 183-196 NOV 2002
    Times Cited: 12

    16. Reddy BE, Lambert DL, Laws C, et al.
    A search for Li-6 in stars with planets
    MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 335 (4): 1005-1016 OCT 1 2002
    Times Cited: 26

    17. Gonzalez G, Brownlee D, Ward PD
    Refugees for life in a hostile universe
    SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 285 (4): 60-67 OCT 2001
    Times Cited: 1

  40. #40 df
    May 14, 2007

    I’d add that tenure decisions are based primarily on work done while an asst. prof. at the institution considering tenure. So if Gonzalez has 55 papers only the 17 at ISU would be considered as primary in hi scase for tenure. If I’ve missed any articles from his probationary asst. prof. time at ISU then please post…

  41. #41 raven
    May 14, 2007

    This whole discussion doesn’t have enough facts to really figure out why he was denied tenure. Besides which, astronomy isn’t my field and I wouldn’t be able to tell if his work was good, bad, or indifferent.

    My best guess is that the university had reason to believe that his pseudoscience was going to contaminate his science or it may have already done so. The risk here is that you end up with a wingnut babbling incoherently…..who has tenure. Much harder to fix later on and a black eye for the university. Tenure is not where one wants to take a risk.

  42. #42 raven
    May 14, 2007

    Regarding my last post. At my old university, a young, very bright, and very strange and troubled assistant prof was up for tenure. An hour after the final award of tenure he came into the break room and we all congratulated him for passing. He smiled and said, “Yes, I’ll never have to work another day in my life.” We all laughed at the joke.

    What makes it even funnier. He never did any research again. Papers almost done were never sent out. No work on grants already won. The graduate students all ended up scattering to other labs. He took his sabbatical at the Betty Ford clinic for substance abuse. The U. might have wanted to get rid of him, but tenure, you know, they never did.

  43. #43 Ed Brayton
    May 14, 2007

    Some people, including the folks at Telic Thoughts, seem to be misunderstanding the point of my post. My point is not that ID didn’t have anything to do with being denied tenure; it may well have had quite a bit to do with him being denied tenure. My point is that to scream persecution about it is ridiculous. Very bright people are denied tenure every single day for a whole host of reasons, fair and unfair. Publicly espousing an idea rejected by 99% of those in your field is almost certainly going to have an effect on how your colleagues view you; welcome to reality. This is hardly evidence of a Stalinist conspiracy to destroy anyone who believes in ID, it’s just the normal way that the highly politicized process of tenure works virtually everywhere. But the truth is that we just don’t know why he was denied tenure. It may well be because he didn’t bring in sufficient grant money, or because he didn’t produce grad students, or any number of other reasons. There are a billion possible reasons why people are denied tenure and every department at every university has their own set of things they consider important. And yes, much of the time it is purely subjective, as in “do we really want this guy representing us” or “do we really want to spend the next 25 years working with this guy.” Is it fair? Nope. Is it persecution? Nope. Get over it.

  44. #44 Gerard Harbison
    May 14, 2007

    It costs close to a million dollars to start up a new faculty member in the hard sciences these days. We don’t deny tenure because we don’t like people. We can’t afford the luxury. And at a place like Iowa State, or my university, with a couple of major grants, you can fart in the dean’s office, and he’ll ask you if you’d like the window shut.

    Of course, I’ve only been casting tenure vores for 15 years, so what do I know?

  45. #45 Chip Poirot
    May 14, 2007

    Ed,

    I am not pro-ID.

    You have a skewed attitude about tenure. I find your attitude disturbing. I find it even more disturbing that the other academics on this board are willing to make the excuses they are making.

    The only way to know if he was denied tenure improperly is to compare his record to other cases for tenure at his institution. One also needs to look at his letter of appointment and the University’s tenure procedures and appeals process. He should follow these procedures before (or at least along with) screaming persecution.

    Saying that the tenure process is corrupted does not justify corrupting it more.

    Again, I don’t know that he was denied tenure unfairly or what the motivations were. That should really be up to the appeals committee (if they have one) at his university to review.

    If he was denied tenure and had a tenurable record, and if his pro-Id beliefs were a motivating factor behind that decision, then the decision was wrong.

    This may hardly add up to persecution and there may be perfectly legitimate reasons for denying tenure.

    But with tenure and academic freedom already under attack and universities looking for any way they can to attack and undermine tenure and academic freedom, I find these kinds of rationalizations to be disturbing.

    At the least it displays a cavalierness about the corruption of tenure processes.

  46. #46 Matt Young
    May 14, 2007

    I agree with Professor Poirot that tenure is corrupted (partly by money; at my university you can’t even apply for tenure if you have a purely teaching position). But granting tenure is not a reward for past performance as much as it is a prediction of future performance, as someone above has noted. I have no idea whether Professor Gonzalez deserved tenure on the basis of his performance to date, but I think it is reasonable to deny tenure on the basis of a prediction that he will continue to be an embarrassment to the university. Try this thought experiment: In the original essay and in every comment above, replace the words “intelligent design” with the word “astrology” and see what you get.

  47. #47 Ed Brayton
    May 15, 2007

    Larry, sooner or later you’re going to learn not to post here. Your posts will be deleted every single time, period.

  48. #48 Spooky
    May 15, 2007

    Barron said:

    First you get the appointment, then you get the tenure and then you get the wackiness!

    You forgot to put the [pacino][/pacino] tags around that ;)

  49. #49 windy
    May 15, 2007

    That is: our atmosphere is narrowly transparent to the region of peak intensity of the sun’s spectrum. If that were not so, then evolution would have had to decide (in a manner of speaking) whether it was better for our eyes to operate where the atmosphere was transparent, or where the sun’s intensity peaked–as it turns out evolution didn’t have to make that decision. That has obvious observability ramifications. Furthermore, the transparency also has obvious habitability ramifications in that carbon chemisty is facilitated by a great deal of light in the visible region reaching the surface, for such light has the correct energy range to interact with atomic bonds.

    Too bad then that life and vertebrate eyes evolved in water, which is very bad at transmitting any kind of light compared to the atmosphere. Blue penetrates strongest, so maybe Earth is fine-tuned for blue light… but wait! Human eyes are most sensitive to green light! Perhaps they need some more fine-tuning. And what’s up with snakes seeing infrared and birds and bees seeing ultraviolet, didn’t they get the memo?

    But these are of course minor details compared to the design of chlorophyll (the people responsible have been sacked).

  50. #50 Larry G
    May 15, 2007

    Ed,

    Your columns are full of good stuff, including this one, but there’s a speck of gratuitous B.S. on your chin—no, a little to the left—that’s it:

    “[The ID movement] has a long history of false or unsupported claims of persecution (which shouldn’t surprise us, I suppose; after all, their religion has its origin in an act of alleged martyrdom).”

    Sounds like a clever cultural insight unless you think about it. Are Christians at large—not just the Fundamentalus americanus that the Brights so love to hate, but, say, liberal Episcopalians, whose religion is based on the same stories—in fact especially given to “false or unsupported claims of persecution” relative to other groups? If any real data exist I would be surprised, but until something better comes along I will defend my impression that such claims are a staple of all propaganda systems, everywhere, everywhen—fascist, Christian, state-atheist, whatever. They are especially important for movements that seek to bully others from a position of relative power: Hitler, for example, continually harped on the theme of persecution. The ID movement has a long history of false or unsupported claims of persecution not because it is a Christian movement—that is a childish notion—but because it is a political/ideological movement rather than a scientific one, and persecution or atrocity stories (which are sometimes true, sometimes manufactured or embellished, depending on the movement in question) are a time-honored tool for keeping any movement base agitated, activated. Nothing mobilizes any movement, any movement at all, like the belief that it is the underdog. Everyone wants to be Jack, nobody wants to be the Giant. Us too.

    Yay to your fine journalism, boo to the lazy religion-bashing.

    Sincerely,

    Larry

  51. #51 Raging Bee
    May 15, 2007

    Is it fair? Nope. Is it persecution? Nope. Get over it.

    And it’s something that happens to just about everyone when looking for, or trying to hold, a job. I’ve lost jobs for good reasons and bad, so I can sympathize a little with Gonzalez — but he’s not a victim of “persecution.”

  52. #52 SLC
    May 15, 2007

    Re Harbison

    Much as it pains me to agree with Prof. Harbison about anything, he is absolute correct that tenure, at least in the sciences, depends on attraction of outside grants. This is cynically known as publish and perish.

    Re raven

    With regards to Prof. Gonzalezs’ quaint beliefs in ID, there is every incentive to deny tenure for individuals suspected of incipient nuttery so that one doesn’t later end up with whackjobs who can only be fired with extreme difficulty and who are an embarrassment to the university. Consider the following individuals.

    1. Arthur Butz, tenured Prof. of Engineering at Northwestern Un. Prof. Butz is a Holocaust denier.

    2. Peter Duesberg, tenured Prof. of Medicine at U.C. Berkeley. Prof Duesberg is a HIV/AIDS denier.

    3. Brian Josephson, tenured Prof. of Physics at Cambridge, Un. Prof Josephson supports cold fusion, ESP, and PK.

    4. Michael Behe, tenured Prof. of Biochemistry at Lehigh, Un. Prof. Behe, a fellow of the Discovery Institute, is an evolution denier.

  53. #53 kuraL
    May 15, 2007

    Funnily enough Gonzalez lists his publications here at the DI website http://tinyurl.com/2226gw. Unlike his colleagues at the IaState Physics department his IaState page http://tinyurl.com/7g8tx features almost nothing about his work. AFAIR, that’s the way Gonzalez’s IaState page has been for quite some time now. Looks like Gonzalez was never that serious about his faculty position at IaState, busy instead writing fluff like PP. The guy tried to do go bonkers like Behe before he got tenure. Some cheek!

  54. #54 nunyer
    May 15, 2007

    The DI had a win-win situation here.

    If GG had received tenure, the DI would have trumpeted, “ID Researcher Granted Tenure at Prestigious Institution.” Salvador T. Cordova would have been declaring Victory for ChristTM all over blogdom while Dembski drooled enviously over GG’s job security.

    Now, they’re hollering “Help! Help! I’m being repressed! Come see the abuse inherent in the system!” and playing the persecuted victim card. Either way, they get more press.

  55. #55 David Heddle
    May 15, 2007

    Windy,

    You comment is really dumb. My previous comment on the transparent atmosphere is ID-agnostic and has nothing to do with where life started or deep sea vents or anything of that nature. It has to do with the unexplained coincidence that the atmosphere is narrowly transparent where the sun’s intensity peaks (more or less) and where our eyes are most sensitive (more or less) and also where things like photosynthesis are facilitated–especially when one notes that chemistry does not evolve–atomic bonds have the energy they regardless of whether light of the proper energy range makes it to the surface.

    If a non-theist had made the claim: “this coincidence is fascinating–and maybe a planet requires this lucky circumstance in order for something as complex as humans to evolve, and note how as a consequence we can do astronomy” then it would have, I suspect, been treated as an interesting speculation and not as the worst kind of pseudoscientific babbling on par with, according to Raging Bee, racism.

    I’m a scientist, maybe you are too though it doesn’t show–I can state that something is unexplained without invoking metaphysics–while you seem to have a hair trigger reaction that if a believer says something is unexplained he is claiming it proves God. Get a life.

  56. #56 Chip Poirot
    May 15, 2007

    SLC,

    What bothers me about your argument is that you seem to be suggesting that if Gonzales qualified for tenure and if he was denied tenure because of his ID beliefs/advocacy, then that was OK.

    That is not OK. As much as I am against ID (and many other things) I will still defend the academic freedom of people to advocate for ID or any other idea that I consider to be bad.

    As long as they are publishing in valid academic journals, teaching their classes well and not harassing their students or colleagues, a person’s ideas should never be the motivating factor behind getting rid of a person.

    If a person’s ideas make it difficult or impossible to get published, or they won’t teach the curriculum, that’s a different and more complicated story.

    I refuse to celebrate the corruption of the tenure process or violations of academic freedom just because “that’s the way things are”.

    AGain, I’m not saying that he was denied tenure for illegitimate reasons.

    There are at least a fair number of academics posting here and at Panda’s Thumb. You’d think the academics would have enough common sense to go to the AAUP web page and review the AAUP standards on academic freedom and tenure.

    And btw, tenure is not a “lifetime appointment”. Tenure means that you can only be fired for “just cause” and after due process. Normally that means a full hearing before a faculty review board. Tenure does not mean you cannot be fired and it does not mean that your job cannot be eliminated for financial reasons.

    Whether one is tenured or not, one is supposed to always be protected with respect to academic freedom. One is always supposed to have the right to a fair and honest review of one’s work.

    And saying somebody was denied tenure because we decided not to grant him tenure is not an explanation.

  57. #57 Ed Brayton
    May 15, 2007

    Larry G-

    You make some good points and I will acknowledge the validity of your argument. I’ll only point out that there is a certain subset of Christians who tend to take the “you will be persecuted in my name” statement from Jesus much more seriously than others and they wear any criticism as a badge of honor, convincing themselves that they are terribly put upon but that’s okay because suffering for Jesus is a good thing. But I certainly will acknowledge that this is not true of most Christians and that the line you criticize was merely intended to be a bit of snark, not a serious argument.

  58. #58 Gerard Harbison
    May 15, 2007

    Much as it pains me to agree with Prof. Harbison about anything, he is absolute correct that tenure, at least in the sciences, depends on attraction of outside grants.

    The pain is mutual, believe me :-)

  59. #59 Larry G
    May 15, 2007

    Chip Poirot makes an excellent case and I cheer him, point by point.

    Re. SLC’s list of tenured embarrassments, a right-winger could make a parallel list of people they consider embarrassments to their institutions, leading off with Noam Chomsky at M.I.T. (whom I admire). Obviously, if anybody whom a college administration considers “an embarrassment to the institution” (or potentially so) is fair game for hiring discrimination, then it’s open season on everyone who doesn’t pray three times a day in the direction of the administration building. The fact that in everyday, real-world practice academic freedom is imperfectly protected—and comes with certain obvious hazards, like all freedoms—is no reason to zero it out. Or to rage at it when it happens to break in favor of Them. Racist or ID-bonkers physics profs who do good physics should not be discriminated against, just like left-wing linguists who do good linguistics should not be discriminated against. (With the commonsense provisos that Poirot mentions.) Universities SHOULD have to put up with “embarrassments.” If they can’t, they’re not doing their job. Either you believe in freedom of speech for speech you loath or you don’t believe in freedom of speech.

    Raging Bee’s argument that “I’ve lost jobs for good reasons and bad, so I can sympathize a little with Gonzalez — but he’s not a victim of ‘persecution'” seems to me to be missing its logical driveshaft. Losing one’s job for a “bad reason” might very qualify as persecution: it depends on the reason. If I was working in a bakery and got fired because the boss didn’t like my passionate belief in evolution, I think “persecution” would be a pretty OK word. Economic sanctions can qualify as persecution by any reasonable historical standard: requiring that hospitals, banks, etc. fire their Jews was an early measure taken by the Nazis during their rise to power. If (if) Gonzalez was turned down for purely extracurricular thoughtcrime then it was an injury to him and it was wrong, and let’s have no jiggery-pokery about how Truth Is One and someone who gets evolution wrong today is going to falsify the speed of light tomorrow. That argument cuts alls ways and would leave no one safe from the “orthodoxy sniffers” (as Orwell called them). Exactly what noises would Panda’s Thumb be making if an English professor had just been given the boot by Rutgers for saying on his blog, only for saying on his blog, that evolution is a reality? Or that religion makes people dumb and crazy? “Get over it”? I hope not.

    Ed, I thank you for your sporting reply to my earlier note about whether Christians are particularly prone to persecution claims.

    Regards,

    Larry Gilman

  60. #60 Gerard Harbison
    May 15, 2007

    Second both Larry G and Chip.

    I have seen nothing to indicate that Gonzalez’s tenure was denied for anything other than legitimate reasons; and by far the most common reason is failure to establish an independent, visible and funded research program.

  61. #61 windy
    May 15, 2007

    You comment is really dumb.

    You comment double dumb! Hee hee…

    My previous comment on the transparent atmosphere is ID-agnostic

    Oh dear, excuse my enormous presumption of bringing up ID in a thread that has “ID” in the title.

    It has to do with the unexplained coincidence that the atmosphere is narrowly transparent where the sun’s intensity peaks (more or less) and where our eyes are most sensitive (more or less) and also where things like photosynthesis are facilitated–

    Since W. Kevin Vicklund commented so excellently on that first point (although you apparently missed that completely) I settled for making a small joke which nevertheless pertains to your second and third point. I guess you were predestined not to get it.

    If you insist on drawing a direct line from planetary conditions to “our” particular type of eyes and vision and habitat and habits, don’t blame us for assuming that you a) do not appreciate the diversity of other life and/or evolutionary contingency or b) are operating from a privileged humans POW.

    especially when one notes that chemistry does not evolve–atomic bonds have the energy they regardless of whether light of the proper energy range makes it to the surface.

    Still fixated on the “surface”, I see. Most of the surface of this priviledged planet is made of guess what? And guess what it does with this bounty of energy? Not much (as far as biochemistry is concerned).

  62. #62 Richard Thawyer
    May 16, 2007

    What if the physics department read Gonzalez’s book The Privileged Planet and concluded it was unscientific, unsupported wishful thinking on a level with your typical JFK or UFO conspiracy theorist? (That is my opinion although I am not a physicist.) Wouldn’t that be a perfectly good reason to deny tenure?

  63. #63 Thomas Robey
    May 16, 2007

    While the discussion is on tenure, we should consider another case. More than in Carroll’s situation, Gonzalez’s denial resembles another highly publicized tenure decision – James Sherley’s lack of tenure in Biological Engineering at MIT. The headline in that case (the validity of which I cannot evaluate) was a claim of racism, but underneath that situation was Sherley’s controversial views about the morality of human embryonic stem cell research. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Sherley bases his perspectives about stem cell research on his Christian faith.

    If you are interested, I just made a post on my blog summarizing that case.

  64. #64 windy
    May 17, 2007

    I guess everyone buggered off from this thread already?

    …while you seem to have a hair trigger reaction that if a believer says something is unexplained he is claiming it proves God.

    I checked back to see if I was being unfair, but after your measured initial comment you proceeded to call any attempt at explanation dumb and idiotic, and I was mostly reacting to the later comments. If a believer says something is unexplained, then ignores partial explanations and starts insulting everyone, that might also suggest something…

    And the Adams puddle bit is a humorous analogy. You might find it extremely inaccurate or incomplete but “dumb”? Do you also find Professor Pangloss’s arguments convincing?

  65. #65 Kevin
    May 17, 2007

    And if it is “apparent” to you that he was more interested in biology than astronomy, then it is apparent that you don’t know what you are talking about.

    Posted by: David Heddle | May 14, 2007 10:42 AM

    David, you didn’t perhaps, speak or email with any members of the committee did you? Because if you argued for tenure for this person he would most surely be denied.

    I hope you didn’t queer it for him.

  66. #66 Zuska
    May 22, 2007

    I can’t say I would be thrilled to have as a tenured colleague someone who espouses ID, but I have to agree with Chip Poirot on all his points about the tenure process. I wouldn’t want GG as a colleague, and I’m not really in a position to judge his qualifications, but if he had met the minimum standards for tenure it would be wrong to deny him tenure just because he believes in ID, even if I really couldn’t stand the idea of having him as a colleague.

    I say this because too many times, women scientists have been denied tenure despite having met (or exceeded) the minimum standards for tenure simply because some guy or group of guys doesn’t like the idea of having a woman as a colleague. So he says “I don’t think her publication record is good enough” or “she hasn’t brought in enoughgrant money” or, my two most favorite, “she isn’t collegial” or “she doesn’t show enough promise of future success”. Because how can you defend against the last two? You can’t prove to someone that you are collegial if they say you aren’t. You can’t prove to someone that you will be successful in the future if they don’t think you will be.

    Tenure is not supposed to be about future success; it’s supposed to be about meeting the standards for teaching, research, and service during the probationary period, because that’s all you can really measure. But the process does get politicized and people do get “persecuted” for having beliefs that colleagues don’t like, or for being of the wrong race or gender. We have to take a stand against that in all cases, even the ones we don’t like.

    We don’t know yet if GG was unfairly denied tenure. I suspect not, if his grant record was so poor; nobody can get tenure without grants. But if he was unfairly denied tenure, we should be upset by that.

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