Uncommon Descent must have noticed ERV’s comment that no one reads their site, because now they seem to be frantically chumming the waters with bizarre bait. I’ll bite; like a shark, I’m a mindless eating machine, exquisitely sensitive to the thrashing of victims and the scent of blood. And it makes for great street theater!
O’Leary has just put up a bizarre account of Dembski’s dismissal from the Baylor engineering department. It is, of course, entirely one-sided and reflects only Dembski’s perception of his treatment, but even that is revealing.
Dembski had a prior appointment at Baylor — there was an attempt to establish a center, the Polanyi Center, for studying Intelligent Design creationism. That center got blown away by appalled faculty and Dembski’s own political arrogance.
I had worked at Baylor from 1999-2005 as Associate Research Professor in the Conceptual Foundations of Science. During that time my work on intelligent design was continually vilified at Baylor and I personally was ostracized from much of the Baylor community. Nonetheless, during that time I always found the engineering faculty congenial, who invited me regularly to give special lectures on intelligent design to their students.
Dembski got a new job at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, but he continued to try and creep back into Baylor. He got a peculiar post-doctoral appointment with Robert Marks of the School of Engineering and Computer Science (which is very strange: a post-doc with a full-time appointment at another university? Anyone who has ever been a post-doc knows that you are supposed to be the full-time lackey of your PI!). I guess those congenial engineers were cutting him a lot of slack.
But not so fast!
Dean [of the School of Engineering and Computer Science] Kelley informed us that there were concerns with my being again on campus (I had been on faculty at Baylor from 1999 to 2005) and that I might need to be let go “for the good of the School of Engineering and Computer Science.”
I guess not everyone in engineering liked him.
Then comes the tragic final denouement. Dembski is … expelled.
(10) Later on Friday (12.08.06) I received an email from Dean Kelley indicating that he needed to talk to me about clearing my desk and returning my keys. I asked him to send me a formal letter to indicate when my appointment officially ends and the reasons for its ending — I received such a letter as an email Monday, 12.11.06, stating that I had been terminated Friday 12.08.06 but giving no reasons for my termination.
(11) On Saturday (12.09.06), prior to any official notification that my position with Baylor was over, my Baylor ID card no longer worked to take my family to the cafeteria. Also, on that day, my Baylor email address (William_Dembski@baylor.edu), which had worked since 1999 (it had never zeroed out even in my year-long absence from Baylor since June of 2005) now yielded the following response to people who attempted to send email to it: “Recipient address rejected: Account Disabled.” I had been erased.
There are at least two readings of this sad sad story.
One is that favored by the ID mob, and is probably the one that will get pushed by their side most heavily: it is the martyrdom of St Dembski. It feeds their persecution complex to believe that their righteous hero was being persecuted. He could no longer feed his starving, helpless family at the university cafeteria! (I want to know—is the Baylor cafeteria that good? Most places I’ve been, getting locked out of the campus cafeteria is doing you a favor.) His email address was disconnected! O Woe! There is a teeny grain of truth to this story, though: I’m also a little troubled by the fact that the administration stepped in to dismiss a PI’s grant and cut the knees out from under a post-doc, even if the terms of the position are awfully suspicious.
The other reading, though, which is apparent even in Dembski’s own account, is one of an antagonistic, uncollegial fellow trying to ride the coattails of Baylor’s reputation, and refusing to accept the fact that he was no longer an associate of the university. If Baylor were a girl, everyone would be squirming uncomfortably and yelling, “Billy, stop being so creepy! She doesn’t love you! Stop stalking her!” and urging the poor sap to move on. He’s got a job at a seminary: work it. If that job isn’t satisfactory, apply for others. Of course, the stench of his reputation precedes him, he won’t have much in the way of glowing recommendations from his former colleagues, and he has just widely advertised the fact that his peers at his last job detested him and that he’s actively short-changing his investment in his current job. Even if I weren’t vehemently opposed to the ideological baggage he’s flaunting everywhere, I wouldn’t hire him: he sounds like a very annoying and disruptive fellow.
But of course, that’s exactly what they want. Dembski is going to milk his self-proclaimed crucifixion for everything it’s worth. His side will regard him as a self-sacrificing hero, our side will see him as a pathetic loser, and no advances in ID creationism, if any were to be made, will occur … except in the PR, framing, and spin side of the debate.