Re: [asa] gonzalez' citation record

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri May 25 2007 - 12:01:51 EDT

Louise, the link you posted from that other astronomer's blog whose tenure
case is precarious is interesting. Actually, IMHO, it's scary. Here's what
he says:

I believe it is *appropriate* for Gonzalez to be denied tenure for
publishing this book. In so doing, he not only *embarrassed his department
and his University, but actively worked against the cause of good science
education in this country*. This is the exact opposite of what Sean Carroll
did; his book brings prestige to him and (now, unfortunately) to the
University of Chicago, and furthered the cause of science education.
Gonzalez hurt it. Intelligent design is widely recognized by the scientific
community for what it is-- antiscience.... (emphasis in original)

Note that, once again, *any* reference to teleology is being conflated with
*every *ID argument and *every* sort of creationism and is called
"antiscience." Gonzalez's design arguments are essentially the same ones
made by Francis Collins in "The Language of God," essentially the same ones
made by Owen Gingerich in "God's Universe," essentially the same ones made
by Stephen Barr in "Modern Physics and Ancient Faith," essentially the same
ones made by Simon Conway Morris in "Life's Solution," and so on. This guy
is arguing that it's ok to write about the implications of science for a
popular audience, *but* *only if the discussion excludes any notion of
teleology*. Expressing *any* notion that the remarkable properties of life
and the universe reflect design -- even while accepting that life and the
universe can also be explained in terms of "natural" causes -- is grounds
for ostracism by the scientific community.

This makes me feel just as ill as the grand opening of the "creation
museum." Maybe even more so.

On 5/25/07, Freeman, Louise Margaret <> wrote:

> Thanks for the analysis, Ted.
> I have read on some internet sites (though not fact-checked for myself)
> that Gonzalez has not
> received any external grant funding (apart from a small Templeton grant
> used to write
> Priviledged Planet) or graduated any PhD students during is time in
> Iowa. I would be interested
> in seeing Gonzalez's record in those areas compared to the other examples
> you mention.
> My admitedly amateurish take: Gonzalez was not in the "walk on water"
> category: the peple who
> publish widely and bring in lots of grant money, relative to their
> peers. I'm cynical enough to
> believe that such people could probably publically advocate the "Moon is
> made of green cheese"
> hyothesis without jeopardizing their tenure chances.
> Gonzalez is also not in the "bottom of the barrel" category of people who
> do no respectable
> scholarship and have no chance for tenure. I don't know that I've ever
> seen an example of this
> type who made it to the tenure track position and lasted until tenure
> review, though I'm sure
> there are some out there.
> Gonzalez was, like most of us, in that middle category who had points for
> and against him. It
> looks like, as Ted demonstrated, his publications should have been a big
> plus. If he indeed
> never successfully secured research funding or trained a graduate student,
> that would be a big
> minus. One depressing aspect of this affair for me is that I've heard no
> one, pro or con,
> comment at all about what kind of teacher he is... apparently both sides
> acknowledge that's
> not a significant factor! (Grrr... but I'll save my rant about lack of
> appreciation about that for
> later. Suffice it to say I'm glad I'm not in a major research institute!)
> In plus/minus situations, political factors usually mange to tip the
> scales, and in this case
> Gonzalez probably had multiple factors working against him.
> 1. Anti-Christian or anti-theist bigotry. I'm not convinced this was a
> major factor; unfortunatel,
> we'll likely never know how much of a role this played, as people who feel
> this way are very
> unlikely to say so publically.
> 2. Anti-ID sentiment from people who see may have no personal beef against
> religion, but see
> the ID movement, as personified by the DI, as a major political threat
> against quality science
> education. Such people, perhaps understandably, do not want ID publically
> associaed with their
> science department or their university.
> 3. Anti-popular science sentiment. This type of "snobbery" is of course
> not limited to
> Christians; it likely cost Carl Sagan admittance to the National Academy.
> Scientists who actively engage the public via popular books, films etc.
> reduce their status in the
> eyes of their peers. Personally, I think this is just another reflection
> of anti-teachng bias, only
> with the general public as the "students."
> The question is, was the Avalos petition a reflection of factor #1, #2 or
> both?
> I doubt many would advocate that sentiment #1 should ever be a factor in
> tenure decisions.
> Personally, I think the public would be better served if sentiment #3 was
> not so prominant (and
> thankfully, smaller colleges are much more likely to welcome
> popular-science advocates.)
> Are universities justified in rejecting tenure applications because of
> sentiment #2? There's
> where the struggle is.
> I thought this perspective, from a fellow astronomer whose own tenure bid
> is in jeopardy due to
> lack of funding, was interesing.
> __
> Louise M. Freeman, PhD
> Psychology Dept
> Mary Baldwin College
> Staunton, VA 24401
> 540-887-7326
> FAX 540-887-7121
> > For comparison, his colleague Dr.
> > Steven Kawaler, an excellent astronomer and full professor at ISU, has
> > been cited about half as much (681 time!
> > s, as of this week); his h-index is 16, and none of his papers has
> > been cited as often as any of Dr. Gonzalez' top four papers. Harvard
> > astronomer Alyssa Goodman, director of The Initiative in Innovative
> > Computing, has an h-index identical to that of Dr. Gonzalez: as
> > interesting and important as her work is, the data reveal that Dr.
> > Gonzalez' work is no less interesting, at least in terms of citations
> > in professional journals.
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Received on Fri May 25 12:02:24 2007

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