Re: [asa] Expelled Explained

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Mon Apr 14 2008 - 15:09:06 EDT

> In the case of Sternberg, it seems that he ignored the rules of the journal
> in terms of how papers were supposed to be reviewed. But it also seems that
> it was not uncommon for those rules to be ignored, and enforcement only came
> with this particular controversial paper. Others here have looked into that
> more deeply that I have.

A bit more on his case:

Some of the response against Sternberg was unreasonable with clear
political and anti-religious motivation.

His status at the Smithsonian was relatively unofficial to begin with,
making him legally quite vulnerable to any whims from higher up in the
system, in contrast to the official tenure assessment situation for

Other people working on invertebrates have been getting moved into
what are perceived as less desirable quarters, despite not having said
anything against evolution. Some of the purported persecution was
probably totally unrelated to his position on evolution and instead
was a function of higher-ups seeing crustaceans as less glamorous and
less likely to attract funds than other things. Cf. the big new
exhibit of big game animals at the Natural History Museum, funded by a
big-game hunter, that replaced the modern invertebrate display areas.

The paper that he approved for publication was scientifically poor and
totally out of keeping with the standard contents of the Proc. Biol.
Soc. Wash. My father subscribes because it is a standard place for
Smithsonian scientists to publish papers of the "Five new species and
a new genus of snails from upper Whatchacallistan" genre. Unaware of
the controversy about the article, he spotted it as something strange.
 Although it is true that the topic of the controversial article is
not totally out of keeping with the stated scope of the journal, it
simply isn't what the journal normally prints. Other similar cases
suggest that the DI is on the lookout for opportunities to slip
publications into legitimate scientific journals that would not
provide the scrutiny that a submission to a journal actually focused
on evolutionary biology would provide. Meyers' review article at best
takes an ID spin on points where there is legitimate uncertainty; at
worst it clearly misinterprets the publications that it cites. (This
could arise from other causes than deliberate dishonesty, but it is
clearly poor work.)

Sternberg had previously presented at baraminology conferences and
signed the DI petition, so there was existing evidence that his take
on evolution might not be fully conventional. It was only his
editorial approval of the Meyers article that got him into trouble,
being much more conspicuous and seeming to claim the approval of the
Biological Society of Washington rather than just his own.

His tenure as editor was finishing at the time he approved the
article, so he was not terminated prematurely from that role.

Thus, as for Gonzalez, there was evident bias motivating some of the
opposition, but also he got himself in trouble through inadequate
quality of his work, and other factors besides his position on ID were
in play.

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 Apr 14 15:10:26 2008

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