RE: [asa] Sternberg quote

From: Donald F Calbreath <>
Date: Mon Mar 26 2007 - 14:03:44 EDT

If we are going to discuss the Sternberg controversy, let's include al the data. In December, 2006 the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources issued a report that detailed their investigation of Dr. Sternberg and his treatment by the Smithsonian. The committee found significant discrimination against Dr. Sternberg (see excerpt below)

The full section of the congressional report dealing with the violation of Dr. Sternberg's free speech rights is reprinted below:


In the emails exchanged during August and September of 2004, NMNH officials revealed their intent to use their government jobs to discriminate against scientists based on their outside activities regarding evolution.

In a series of emails on August 30, Dr. Ferrari and Dr. Sues discussed the Smithsonian's procedures for hiring and firing a Research Associate and how Dr. Sternberg was approved for his RA position. Sues lamented that "The Sternberg situation could not have been prevented by senior management because his CV looks credible and does not reveal his interactions with the creationist movement." Dr. Sues seemed to be suggesting that if Sternberg's supposed interactions with the "creationist movement" were known, he would not have been approved as an RA, and the "situation" would have been prevented.

Dr. Ferrari's comments also suggested a very real bias in the selection process: "I wonder, however, if we might consider a more open process of vetting nominees? For example, while a post doc here Sternberg was listed in an advertisement in the NY Times as a scientist at the Smithsonian Institution who did not believe in evolution. I saw that page and certainly would have spoken up had I known he was a prospective research associate." Ferrari seemed to be suggesting that questioning evolution would disqualify a candidate for a position.

Similarly, in an email on September 9, Dr. Sues blamed the scientist who nominated Sternberg as a Research Associate for not adequately investigating his background. "Sternberg is a well-established figure in anti-evolution circles, and a simple Google search would have exposed these connections." The clear implication was that had a background check been conducted on Sternberg's non-governmental activities, he would have been barred from being a Research Associate.

Given the attitudes expressed in these emails, scientists who are known to be skeptical of Darwinian theory, whatever their qualifications or research record, cannot expect to receive equal treatment or consideration by NMNH officials. As a taxpayer-funded institution, such blatant discrimination against otherwise qualified individuals based on their outside activities raises serious free speech and civil rights concerns. Some NMNH officials apparently believe that they have the right to use their official positions to punish scientists who in their outside activities express skepticism toward Darwinian theory. The unwillingness of top Smithsonian officials to take proactive measures to correct this discriminatory environment is shameful. Imagine a parallel situation in which government officials expressed their intent to prohibit the appointment of anyone who is found to have participated (on their own time) in a gay or lesbian group, or in an abortion-rights group. Action !
 to stop such an expression of discriminatory intent would be swift and certain. But in the present case, Smithsonian officials seem indifferent to ensuring that NMNH comply with the basic requirements of the Constitution, Title V civil service law, and the Smithsonian's own antidiscrimination policy.

end of excerpt


I would think that the members of ASA (ostensibly all Christians) would want to protest this blatant misuse of government power to silence someone who does not go along with the prevailing view of evolution. The Meyer paper went through appropriate peer-review. The persecution of Dr. Sternberg was based on a political and philosophical belief that "anything goes" when you disagree with someone (a practice I have been very disturbed to see on recent posts to this listserv). Or has ASA made acceptance of Darwinian evolution a part of the faith statement?


Donald F. Calbreath, Ph.D

Emeritus Associate Professor of Chemistry

Whitworth College,

Spokane WA


From: on behalf of David Campbell
Sent: Mon 3/26/07 10:10 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Sternberg quote

There's nothing wrong with focusing on some other area and
disregarding the question of origins in biology; in fact, the vast
majority of biologists do this.

There is other evidence suggesting that Sternberg might be a
creationist. He signed the Discovery Institute petition, though the
wording of it was so open-ended as to not actually require having any
objections to evolution. The DI petition called for thorough
investigation of evolution, which I would like to see as well, because
it might involve more funding for evolutionary studies and perhaps
even a few jobs for systematists. Sternberg also authored a paper on
baraminology a little while ago, suggesting that he is associated in
some fashion with creation science s.l.

My father, who is not especially up on ID, etc. spotted the Meyer
paper and asked me what it was about, as it sticks out conspicuously
from the normal fare for the journal.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Mon Mar 26 14:07:01 2007

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