On Tue, 05 Jun 2001 07:42:49 +1000 Jonathan Clarke
> > The current scientific consensus is an iron collar choking free
> > Professionals in America get fired if they challenge the reigning
> > paradigm. Ask me how I know.
> How do you know this?
Sorry, I didn't really intend to get off on this, but in a nutshell: I
was the editor for the Alabama Geological Society Newsletter for about 6
months in ~1995. I wanted to foster open debate/discussion about my
favorite topic (origin of coal), so I invited Steve Austin (PhD in
Geology from Penn State) to write an article presenting his view that
coal consists of transported organics. I also innocently invited Bob
Gastaldo (geology professor at Auburn University at the time) to submit a
parallel article presenting evidence supporting his view that coal
consists of in situ organics.
Bob and I had a rather tense telephone conversation. The next day he and
another geologist from the University of Alabama called the Society
President and complained to him along the lines of the following e-mail
that Dr. Gastaldo sent to every geology department in the State, along
with at least one state agency for which I do most of my work. Here is
the text of his e-mail, which was faxed to me:
I received a telephone call today from Bill asking if I'd write a short
generalized article on coal formation for the Alabama Geological Society
Newsletter. Bill has taken over as the Newsletter Editor and wanted to
"level the playing field" by having my short article "balanced" by one
written by Steve Austin. For those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Austin, he
works for the Institute for Creation Research in El Cajun, California,
is prominent in their literature and videos. Dr. Austin has been very
active for over the past 20 years in the fight to bring "balanced
treatment" to the classrooms of America. His present model for coal
formation states that coal can form "very quickly." He uses the
accumulation of trees in Spirit Lake after the blast of Mt. St. Helens as
model for coal formation. His previous model purported to having
forests" in nearshore marine settings. This model validated the idea
all coal formed during the Noachian Flood. The article I wrote in 1984
discrediting this hypothesis can be made available to you upon request.
I told Bill that I was unwilling to "balance" the presentation in the
Newsletter because Dr. Austin's premises are not based upon scientific
inquiry. I also told him that if the push to present "creationist views"
continues in the Alabama Geological Society, that I will withdraw my
membership and suggest that others do the same.
The "push" towards "balanced" (read pseudoscience) treatment has already
begun in the Newsletter. If you read the article in vol. 9 (no. 3) that
was sent in August (dated 1 Aug), you will see that Bill Payne has used a
book by van Flandern to cast suspicion on the accuracy of the geological
time scale. The article is entitled "Fundamental Principle of Geology:
Uniformitarianism/Cosmic Catastrophe." I can supply you with a copy if
do not have one available.
As you are probably aware, there is a group of individuals in Alabama who
are associated with the Eagle Forum, a christian-fundamentalist group who
have tried to place their agenda into the State school system. They were
partially successful this year with the inclusion of the "nobody was
present when the first organisms appeared on Earth and, therefore, nobody
can state how life appeared" statement NOW found in all Biology texts in
the state. I believe that the Alabama Geological Society will be used as
"pawn" in this game, particularly if "pseudoscientific" articles,
to cast skepticism on the principles of geology, appear on an
issue-by-issue basis. With the Alabama Geological Society granting their
"approval" of these ideas by publishing them, we will become unwitting
cohorts in this deceptive game. In the end, we (the members) will all
"agree" with what has been published and this will be further
that "balanced treatment" is the right thing to do.
If the inclusion of creationist-style articles continues in the
Society Newsletter, I hope that you will react accordingly and drop your
membership. I would also hope that those of you who regularly
in the meetings/functions of the Society take a stand against this
incursion. Please inform your colleagues of this situation.
Robert A. Gastaldo
Alumni Professor of Geology
Auburn University, AL 36849
The next day I received a call from the Society President who said he was
getting calls from all over the State about me, and asked for my
resignation. I felt at the tiime, and I still do, that as a matter of
principle I was correct in what I had done, and refused to resign. A
week later I got a letter saying I had been replaced.
I have reviewed the 1984 article Gastaldo referenced above; it may be
I invited Bob to respond, but he hasn't quite gotten around to it yet.
These types of stories are not all that uncommon. You may remember the
editor who was hired for Scientific American who was terminated before he
began work because it was discovered that he was a creationist.
Dean Kenyon, author of "Of Pandas and People," had been an evolutionist
for years, until he began to realize that the naturalistic explanations
for life were lacking and he became a creationist. As I recall the
story, his administrators at the Univ of California (?) tried to fire him
but his fellow profs came to his rescue, saying he was exercising his
And of course there was Halton Arp, who was denied telescope time because
he kept finding evidence that redshift was not due to recessional
velocity. Arp finally moved to West Germany where he could experience a
little academic freedom again.
And a highschool teacher, maybe in Oregon, who has been prohibited by his
administrators from presenting problems with the theory of evolution.
And a public grade-school teacher here in Alabama who was fired
(actually, his contract wasn't renewed, and they don't have to tell you
why) because he taught (I think) the concept of intelligent design. I
understand that he was a great teacher and the kids loved him.
I'm sure Phil Johnson could fill a book with examples. The point is -
this trend is real and those who come after you are not very polite when
you threaten their religion.
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