HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS???

A couple weeks ago, the would-be-hilarious-if-they-werent-so-dangerous group, the National Organization for Marriage (OMNOMNOMONOMNOM!) had their 2008 donor list leaked via the Human Rights Campaign (pdf).

One of the largest donations came from none other than the president of the John Templeton Foundation, John Templeton ($450,000) and his wife Josephine ($100,000).

I recognize that John Templeton the person and The Templeton Foundation as a foundation are different entities. However considering the personal financial and political causes taken up by Johnny boy, its hard to take the mission statement of the organization he heads seriously.

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. We support research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will.

Except the love between two people of the same gender.

We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.

Because organizations like NOM are civil, educational, and have provided clarity and new insights into the issue of civil rights.

Our vision is derived from the late Sir John Templeton’s optimism about the possibility of acquiring “new spiritual information” and from his commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship. The Foundation’s motto, “How little we know, how eager to learn,” exemplifies our support for open-minded inquiry and our hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries.

‘Open-minded’ is not a phrase I would use to describe NOM, their mission, or anyone else on that donor list.

We are supposed to believe that the mission statement of The Templeton Foundation is sincere, when John Templeton is hiding shit like this (hiding his anti-marriage donations behind anon NOM, rather than an organization/politician whos donations are not anon). This is just reason #92746582028475 not to take the Templeton Foundation, or anyone who takes their money, seriously.

Comments

  1. #1 Justicar
    April 16, 2012

    I try not to comment on the Templeton Foundation if I can help it. I know this will sound mightily jaded, but I think many of its devotees on the atheist side are only such because they’ve seen the size of the checks that get handed out for ‘tolerant’ and ‘respectful’ discussion.

  2. #2 Ender
    April 16, 2012

    “This is just reason #92746582028475 not to take the Templeton Foundation, or anyone who takes their money, seriously.”

    What a stupid way to end a sensible post.

    ‘The guy who set up the foundation has some views we find abhorrent’ is a fucking stupid reason to use to justify not taking seriously the views of people who accept money from that foundation.

    The only acceptable reason to not take them seriously is if the data doesn’t show what they say it shows.

    Everything else is blind tribalism and unscientific nonsense.

  3. #3 ERV
    April 16, 2012

    “The only acceptable reason to not take them seriously is if the data doesn’t show what they say it shows.”

    I dont take people seriously when they contribute to the ‘prestige’ of an organization by turning their backs on their fellow humans (in this case, homosexuals) and the idea that all humans deserve equal rights. If someone is willing sell out such fundamental, core ideals for 30 pieces of silver, I am not going to take anything that they say seriously. Their words are meaningless, and for sale.

    We didnt know about this before, but anyone who takes money from Templeton now– damn straight I am judging them.

  4. #4 Ender
    April 16, 2012

    “I dont take people seriously when they contribute to the ‘prestige’ of an organization…

    Well then you’re wrong, and a bad judge of ideas. Darwin could have actually been a Social Darwinist and it would not affect the quality of his science. Watson (or was it Crick?) *is* a racist, and DNA is *still* a reverse-helix.

    “If someone is willing sell out such fundamental, core ideals for 30 pieces of silver, I am not going to take anything that they say seriously.”

    More fool you. Even the stopped clock is right twice a day, and even a paid-off clock isn’t paid off all the time.

    If the ideas they have been corrupted to spread are shit, then dismiss the ideas, if the ideas they have been corrupted to speak are worthy, then accept the ideas, even if they have a swastika tattoed on their head. (You might want to have a good hard *look* at their ideas just to be sure though)

    “We didnt know about this before, but anyone who takes money from Templeton now– damn straight I am judging them.”

    I think that you were on the right side of the Pharyngula-ERV kerfuffle. But even if I thought the other side was right and you really were a misogynist gender-traitor she-harpy who was amused by sexual assaults in elevators I would still look at your Scientific work as science, and judge it on whether the science was good. Regardless of your “evil” “though-crimes”.

    I guess I’m just a better scientist than you.

  5. #5 ERV
    April 16, 2012

    I think its sweet you judge people in a vacuum, but Im more cynical and less forgiving.

    If one is willing to compromise fundamental ideals in exchange for money, Im going to assume that one would do and say anything for money, and I wont trust a word that comes out of ones mouth. People lie and say their best friends new hair-cut looks AWESOME (when it looks like shit). People cheat at Monopoly. People do U-turns where they arent supposed to when theyre lost. People dont up and turn their backs on a fundamental aspect of their core beliefs– that all humans deserve equal rights– in exchange for a few bucks. I am judging them for being hypocrites and sell-outs and intellectual prostitutes to a shocking degree, not for being anti-homosexual or having tattoos of swastikas on their foreheads.

    People who accept future Templeton money who are genuinely anti-homosexual, I dont have any problem with them. They might be bigots, but they are intellectually consistent bigots.

  6. #6 anandine
    April 16, 2012

    As HL Mencken wrote (from memory, so it’s not exact), never trust anything anybody says if they would be fired if they said the opposite.

  7. #7 Raving
    April 16, 2012

    I think its sweet you judge people in a vacuum, but Im more cynical and less forgiving.

    There is merit in limiting the scope of one’s subjective considerations. Compartmentalization can be a beautiful thing.

    When an attorney asked the outspoken Provine whether there is “an intellectually honest Christian evolutionist position … or do we simply have to check our brains at the church house door,” Provine’s answer was straightforward: “You indeed have to check your brains.”

    http://www.archive.org/stream/TheCaseForACreator/TheCaseForACreator_djvu.txt

  8. #8 John Marley
    April 16, 2012

    Darwin could have actually been a Social Darwinist and it would not affect the quality of his science.

    Bullshit. Social Darwinism is filled with bad logic and confimation bias. If Darwin had been that poor a scientist, the quality of his science would absolutely have been affected. Natural Selection would not be any less true, but it would not have been Darwin who successfully described it.

    Watson (or was it Crick?) *is* a racist, and DNA is *still* a reverse-helix.

    Non-Sequitur. Unless you can expain how racist motives can affect the study of molecular structure.

    I guess I’m just a better scientist than [Abbie].

    No, but you certainly are an asshole.

  9. #9 Ender
    April 17, 2012

    “Im more cynical and less forgiving”

    Fair enough. But more cynical means less evidence based, if you ignore the chance to read the evidence (their work) and just decide to not take them seriously.

    “If one is willing to compromise fundamental ideals in exchange for money, Im going to assume that one would do and say anything for money, and I wont trust a word that comes out of ones mouth

    Indeed. And ‘accepting money from an organisation that *very recently* had new evidence released about the political opinions of one of it’s founders’ =/= ‘willing to compromise fundamental ideals in exchange for money’

    If it did, you’d have the rational and fair position.

    “People who accept future Templeton money who are genuinely anti-homosexual, I dont have any problem with them. They might be bigots, but they are intellectually consistent bigots.”

    Hehe. That’s just silly. If they take money, but aren’t anti-homosexual you will dismiss their research. But if they take money and *are* bigots, you will have no problem with their research.

    That’s almost backwards. If they aren’t bigots, they might have done good research or have been paid off, so you *should* look at their research and find out.
    But if they are bigots then they are more likely to have an overt agenda, or be compromised by confirmation-bias so you should look *extra hard* at their work, and still accept it if the weight of evidence supports their science.

  10. #10 Ender
    April 17, 2012

    @John

    Bullshit. Social Darwinism is filled with bad logic and confimation bias. If Darwin had been that poor a scientist, the quality of his science would absolutely have been affected. Natural Selection would not be any less true, but it would not have been Darwin who successfully described it.

    Unfortunately your understanding of history is weak, or you would already know that tons of great scientists also believed stupid things full of bad logic and confirmation bias, and still managed to do great science.
    There is no reason that Newton could not have believed in alchemy and Bible interpretation and done great science (as he did) and that Darwin could not have done the same.

    The point remains. Crazy views or not, if someone does good science, the only way to know is to look at the evidence, and not write-them-off ahead of time because of other *unrelated views* or even worse, because of the *unrelated views* of someone who owns a foundation that has funded them.

    “Non-Sequitur. Unless you can expain how racist motives can affect the study of molecular structure.”

    Exactly. And Templeton being against Gay Marriage cannot affect the study of any of the Templeton studies that do not include gay marriage so writing off all Templeton studies *without looking at the evidence* (and especially writing off all *people* who have ever taken money from Templeton) is… …as stupid as writing off all Watson’s science and writing off all people who have ever been funded or awarded money by Watson.

    “No, but you certainly are an asshole.”

    Aw. That’s sweet. But, if pointing out that to ignore the evidence in favour of pre-judging people’s scientific work based on their associations rather than actual scientific rationale is to be a poor scientist had hurt Abbie’s feelings I’m sure she could have defended herself.
    But arsehole or not, I’m right.

  11. #11 0verlord
    April 17, 2012

    ERV is correct, indeed wise, to make such judgments based on integrity. The scientist whose principles are for sale to the highest bidder is more likely to, for example, lie about his scientific findings because a special interest group paid him off. This is common sense. Sad that it must be explained.

  12. #12 Ender
    April 17, 2012

    “ERV is correct, indeed wise, to make such judgments based on integrity”

    ERV is mistaken to make judgements about people’s integrity based on her opinion of the political choices of the owner of a foundation that has funded their research.

    “The scientist whose principles are for sale to the highest bidder is more likely to, for example, lie about his scientific findings because a special interest group paid him off.”

    There is no evidence that any of these scientists have principles that are for sale to the highest bidder so your point is irrelevant.

    Sad that it must be explained.

    It’s even sadder that your condesplaining missed the point entirely.

  13. #13 Prometheus
    April 17, 2012

    Ender,

    While I understand your aesthetic, it is more of a justification of an arthurian leitmotif than a ethical position.

    If you regard intellectuals as captives, rewarded when they perform as desired by the political power that holds them….then I guess, you have an effective rationalization for those en-caged by a patronage system.

    But not caring where your money comes from, just as not caring where it goes indicates a certain ethical poverty.

    Templeton has a demonstrable history of awarding treats, prizes, fellowships etc. to whatever prominent scientist/journalist/cleric has taken a very public accommodationist stance in concert with pre-existing celebrity sufficient to promote Templeton’s prestige.

    Handing a billion dollars derived from a 1964 tax loophole to retired science celebrity millionaires and mediocre science journalists as a way of pumping air into”Non-overlapping magisteria” is…well…shitty.

  14. #14 Sascha Vongehr
    April 18, 2012

    Ha ha, I do like your stating that anybody who takes money from them will be judged by you from now on. Today it turns out: The Dalai Lama will take a huge pile. In case people are not sure where to start with judging him, here is a good place:
    http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/tibet_and_buddhism_stay_liberated-86473

  15. #15 SLC
    April 18, 2012

    I’m disappointed that Ms. Smith didn’t mention her favorite science writer, Chris Mooney, (snark) who was the recipient of a Templeton Fellowship a few years ago. Or the Joshua Rosenaus and the Nick Matzkes who are slavering for one.

  16. #16 JKR
    April 20, 2012

    Ender,

    ERV is free to make whatever judgment about the integrity of people who accept Templeton money. It’s nice you told us what your opinions are, but don’t go around telling the rest of us what we ought to think.

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