Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The DI’s Non-Response on Sternberg

John West makes a weak attempt to almost respond to the Expelled Exposed site. His comments about Sternberg are simply laughable. To wit:

But tackiness doesn’t stop the NCSE from trying to depict its director Eugenie Scott as a veritable Mother Teresa, selectively quoting from her emails to make it appear that she was trying to protect evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg from persecution at the Smithsonian! Yeah, right. This is the same person who circulated “talking points” to Smithsonian officials to guide them in their campaign against Sternberg.


First of all, there was no “persecution” of Sternberg at the Smithsonian. He acted unethically and violated accepted protocol and his colleagues were angry at him. Some of them expressed that anger in private emails. That’s it. That’s the full extent of the “persecution” that he faced. He was not fired, he was not punished in any way for his actions, he only had some colleagues criticize him in private emails. This is persecution only on the other side of Alice’s mirror.

Second of all, the accusations that have been aimed at Genie Scott are patently absurd and not supported by the emails in the Souder report appendix. The Souder report claims that she “conspired” to “publicly smear” Sternberg with “false and defamatory information.” You know what “smear” they are referring to? They speculated on whether he was a creationist or not. And they found some evidence that he was. And they talked about it – in private emails. That’s it. That’s the full extent of the “public smear.” And by the way, he IS a creationist.

And for the record, here is exactly what Genie Scott said to the Smithsonian leadership. She told them that they absolutely could not fire him for being a creationist and that the only thing that should matter is his scientific work. In one email she wrote:

On the other hand, his creationist views should not be the main focus of the criticism. First, if he can do good standard science, that’s all we care about. Newton did pretty good science, and had some pretty nutty additional ideas about reality, too. So if he keeps the nut stuff out of his basically descriptive work, that’s fine. His science should stand or fall on its own.

And in a follow up email she wrote:

I guess the big question is whether he is a good enough scientist to remain there. If his non-creationist work is good, then I think he deserves the job. If not, and if others are let go under the same circumstances, then let the chips fall where they may. But none of us are after this guy’s job. That isn’t the point of this exercise, in my opinion.

Yes, folks, this is their evidence for the NCSE “conspiring” to “persecute” Sternberg.

Then West absurdly claims:

This also is the same person who was asked to spy on Sternberg’s outside activities by a Smithsonian official in order to find a way to get rid of Sternberg.

You could almost hear the scary music in the background, couldn’t you? I love the picture they’re trying to paint, as though the CIA was arranging meets with Genie Scott so she could make secret drops of covertly obtained photographs and transcripts of illegally obtained wiretaps on his phone. It works better in black and white, perhaps with a cello in the background playing something foreboding. All of this, of course, is nonsense.

It’s all based on a single line in an email where one scientist at the Smithsonian, shocked to find out that one of his colleagues had surreptitiously published an article of substandard quality and inappropriate subject matter into a journal in order to further the PR campaign of a religious group intent on destroying science in its current form and replacing it with a “theistic science”, asks Genie Scott, who has recently informed him that said colleague had close ties to this very group, to keep him posted if they find out anything new.

Run that through the bizarre reality prism cum Nickelodean silly straw that filters all facts on their way to the Discovery Institute and you’ve got a dark conspiracy between “the government” and the NCSE to “spy” on Sternberg. You’d think this was Nixon and the Watergate burglars, for crying out loud.

The only other thing West says is to suggest that people read the Souder report. The same one that I have painstakingly debunked. My response to that report has been out for nearly a year and a half, with no response whatsoever from Sternberg, the DI or anyone else still claiming that Sternberg was a martyr to Darwinian orthodoxy.