idea that "everything is valid" is nonsense

Postby Luna_Northcat on Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:45 am

The JAM wrote:You know, while searching for info on the crow fossils found in a layer underneath Archeopteryx's, I found these guys: http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3ac901dd3b0b.htm and was wondering if maybe we should watch those guys argue it out while we take a break here :D


*sigh* Yeah, if you want your daily dose of pseudoscientific woo.

I really think the guy there, VadeRetro, should have explained what was meant by "local optimum" when he used the term. It doesn't mean "the locality where the organism lives." :-? However, it looks to have devolved to name-calling shortly after that.

If anyone reads something in there that they want answered, but people are sick of cluttering up this thread with it, why don't you just email me: accademia_dei_lincei "at" yahoo.co.uk.

Incidentally, JAM, I can't get that file you linked to earlier to play either. I'm happy to bet you my life savings that there isn't a single point in there that hasn't already been addressed and debunked a thousand times before, though. If people care enough to look outside the creationist websites, that is.

But I'm taking the hint. I'll try not to carry on this conversation to the point that it gets out of hand. (Too late?)
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Postby MikeVanPelt on Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:58 am

The answer to free speech you disagree with is more free speech.

If a scientific paper is published that does not meet legitimate standards, then the solution is to publish more papers showing how that paper was defective.

The solution is not to behave like The Office of the Unholy Inquisition and mount a scorched-earth attempt to destroy the person who wrote the paper, the editor who permitted the paper to be published, the journal in which the paper was published, and to track down and destroy everyone who was involved in reviewing the paper.

The OSC letter quite clearly demonstrates that that is exactly what many people running the Smithsonian were trying to do.

How crackpotted you think ID is is irrelevant to this point.

An example of an unrelated case from the past, Velikovsky was a genuine, certified, 100% crackpot. The only reason Velikovsky got the attention and following he did was because the unethical tactics used against him by the scientific community made him seem somehow important.
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Postby TMLutas on Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:17 pm

Luna_Northcat wrote:
TMLutas wrote:I read the "we can't help you" note from OSC to Sternberg. It was not dropped for lack of merit but lack of jurisdiction for the very reasons that you cite. I think you can find a fair minded review here.

The actual letter is available here both in html and pdf form and it is just factually false that there is no proof. The proof is included in the letter.

Let me be clear, irrespective of whether ID is correct, the peer review process was actually followed, etc. it is simply out of bounds to spread bald faced lies about an scientists academic credentials in an effort to make him unemployable.

Science, if it is to remain science and not degenerate into some sort of pseudo-science club cannot tolerate this sort of behavior.

Read the letter and tell me that there was nothing new for you there. How much were you *personally* fooled by an organized attempt to smear the man?


*sigh* The WSJ Opinion piece isn't "fair minded" from a science OR investigative point of view. It actually repeats a lot of ID talking points about how it isn't religion -specific, and it repeats the abominable old canard about Darwinism being religious. Sorry, but Darwin's theory of evolution is no more religious than Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, and secularism is an explicit rejection of religion as guiding principle, not actually a religion itself. That's squarely out of a viewpoint where the only possible way to see things is as one religion or another, but seriously, not everybody thinks that way. They also repeat many of Sternberg's allegations uncritically -- despite the fact that, believe it or not, many of them were never substantiated. (See, for more discussion of this, the comments at http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/200 ... vs_sm.html.)

You know, the WSJ was a weak argument. You don't like it, fine. I withdraw it from the argument. I'm not writing in order to defend their honor.

The panda's thumb piece predates the OSC letter by several months. Clearly some investigational work went on and e-mails were unearthed that make the "we don't know enough" of the PT article at least somewhat inoperative.

The commentary in the PT article shows evidence at least prima facie evidence that they were muddying up the OSC head so that when their report came out it could be dismissed without actually engaging any evidence unearthed. That, in itself, is dirty pool.

comment 14781 was interesting to me:
1. Dr. von Sternberg is still a Research Associate at the National Museum of Natural History, and continues to have the usual rights and privileges, including space, keys, and 24/7 access. At no time did anyone deny him space, keys or access.

In the eventual OSC letter, it was pretty clear from the unearthed documentation that attempts were made to restrict access. For instance the email time stamped (9/1/04 8:28 AM) lays it out pretty clearly. There are others that do the same.

Unless you have something more recent from PT or elsewhere that takes into account the new data, I just don't see how that early article can trump the actual emails detailing retaliatory and hostile workplace conduct listed in the OSC letter.
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Postby Luna_Northcat on Tue Nov 14, 2006 4:27 am

MikeVanPelt wrote:<snip>
If a scientific paper is published that does not meet legitimate standards, then the solution is to publish more papers showing how that paper was defective.

The solution is not to behave like The Office of the Unholy Inquisition and mount a scorched-earth attempt to destroy the person who wrote the paper, the editor who permitted the paper to be published, the journal in which the paper was published, and to track down and destroy everyone who was involved in reviewing the paper.



Mike, first, the answer is NOT always "write another paper".

For example: a couple of years ago, the journal Nature published a rather alarmist paper on transgenes from GM corn spreading more widely through the dispersal of corn pollen in Mexico than had previously been thought possible. Because GM is another "hot topic", a lot of people had a look, and started writing "this is not true, the research is shoddy, what the he** were you thinking?" letters to Nature. End result? Paper retracted, with an apology, and the authors' careers damaged. There is doubtful research, which is open to argument and interpretation and rebuttal via further research. And then there is shoddy work, which is simply open to ridicule. Nature's reputation took a hit for publishing that paper.

Now, sorry, but seriously -- most of what ID says and claims is not science. It is not even as close to good science as that paper on GM corn which was withdrawn; much of it is in fact closer to <a href="http://www.dnaperfection.com/">DNA Activation</a>. (Incidentally, claiming that one's work is scientific does not make it scientific, any more than my proclaiming myself a genius would make me a genius. Certain objective standards must be met.)

The paper's arguments were not rebutted in further papers, because there were no substantive, unrebutted arguments there to deal with. It was a rehash of discredited old work, quote-mining, and distortion. Believe it or not, biologists and researchers actually have real work to do, and limited time and money to do it with; wasting that time and money ploughing over old ground, when the ID tactic is to keep repeating the same things regardless of the evidence against them, takes away from that and gets you nowhere fast. (Bear this in mind when you consider the simmering anger that many biologists patently feel when "confronted with ID arguments".)

I don't know if you are aware of this or not, but ridicule is actually a powerful force for keeping science progressing. Reputation is currency; if you do stupid things, your reputation gets trashed, and then no-one wants to work with you...and you can't sidetrack productive research or other researchers any more with poor data. It's not necessarily a nice system, but to a large degree it works. Of course, the thing that makes it work, which a lot of non-scientists seem to pass over, is that it is not simply a popularity contest based on opinion. Ultimately, and always, what reputation springs from -- that is, the basis of the currency, the "Gold standard" -- is the quality of the work and the evidence.

Most ID arguments persuade people who are largely ignorant of biology. Harsh, but true. The reason is, as soon as you become aware of how biology works at a detailed level (not to mention how science works), the arguments fall to pieces. We don't take them seriously, for much the same reason that physicists don't spend all their time rebutting all the stuff that shows up on <a href="http://www.crank.net/quantum.html">crank.net</a>.

To ignore it and ridicule the people who try to insert it into inappropriate arenas isn't actually "stifling debate" in science. There WAS debate; as far as science is concerned, the real debate over the content of ID was over in the early 90s. Biology looked at it, biology discarded it, biology moved on. Now's the time to actually get on with useful and productive things, instead.

--If ID could bring something new to the table, then it becomes productive, and debate could be re-opened.

If ID could actually bring sound work to the table, with good data to back it up, it wouldn't be so looked down on. By doing so, it could actually become part of scientific progress. But it doesn't. It hasn't. This paper came nowhere close to that. And there, we get back to the core of the problem.
Last edited by Luna_Northcat on Tue Nov 14, 2006 5:50 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Luna_Northcat on Tue Nov 14, 2006 5:04 am

TMLutas:
.....eh, what?......

The OSC letter is a disgrace to the OSC, frankly, and also not proof of any particular unreasonable persecution of Sternberg.

Having read the letter through, they spend a great deal of time lamenting the alignment of the Smithsonian with the National Center for Science Education, a science-education advocacy group. Speaking personally, what exactly is the problem with America's premier museum being aligned with a science education advocacy group...? The issue brought up, of course, is the way that both institutions take pro-evolution, anti-creationist stances....which is perfectly reasonable, given that both institutions are interested in science education, not pseudoscience.
Please review what I said about the OSC "investigation" being headed up by McVey, a creationist.

Relevant emails quoted in the letter (emphases mine):
From: [____]
To: [____]
Date 9/1/04 8:28 AM
Subject: Re: Life on West Wing 1st floor

It is up to Zoology to sort out this mess. Your RA’s obviously receive a lot more privileges than those in other departments (e.g., Paleotilology-speaking from my personal experience). These privileges are not based on Smithsonian Directive 205 "Research Associates" (June 7, 2001), and, as a consequence the access and office privileges of a certain RA can be reconsidered with due consideration of [____] concerns. Why does the RA in question have a master key rather than more restricted access? Why does he have an office when there is a space shortage for regular SI staff and visiting researchers? Why does he have unrestricted collection access? You could restrict access to 8:45am to 5:15pm Monday to Friday-the established core hours for Museum staff. [____] as the senior crustacean expert, has every right to determine the scope of collection access.

One important thing to keep in mind, however, is the equal treatment of all RAs in the section. You must not impose more onerous restrictions on one particular RA than on other RA’s in the section [____].



That first set of questions is perfectly legitimate. The bolded statement makes plain that Sternberg must not be singled out.

They don't like him. That much is obvious. But they are still trying to follow rules and be fair. Problem here?

From: [____]
To: [____]
Date: 9/1/2004
Subject: Re: Life on the West Wing 1st Floor

[____]

I believe [____] could have answered most of his questions by asking around IZ—there was no need to bother you as you no doubt appreciate. As you see, he is presuming most of this rather than asking … there is no space shortage, except insofar as [____] wants to deny him space.

Anyway, the core point, I obviously am not going to be able to find a sponsor for Sternberg, yet his official status is as a research associate for the next three years. If you don’t want to make a martyr of him, I'll sponsor him.

As he hasn’t (yet) been discovered to have done anything wrong, particularly compared to his peers, the sole reason to terminate his appt. seems to be that the host unit has suddenly changed its mind. If that’s OK w NMNH, let me know and I'll send him a letters stating so. However, as you decided originally, the political downside of that is costly.

Outside of pique, [____]’s main legitimate concern seems to be a fear of guilt by association. In any case [____] isn’t going to be shut up about this until he wins (i.e. banishes Sternberg) or gets told to. I'm not going to get bit to death by daily emails. The access and key issues are trivial and can be fixed, if out of line.

The only grounds I see is [____]’s lack of support. If that isn’t sufficient, then I basically have to tell [____] (again) to shut up (which I am willing to do).
Which do you prefer?

[____]


They don't like Sternberg, that's not news. Well, he pulled a stunt which associated two science organisations with seriously crappy "science", as well as opening them up to ridicule by the rest of the field. Note that, nonetheless, the author of this email is offering to sponsor Sternberg if no-one else will, because those are the rules -- he must have a sponsor. He is also making clear that it is up to his host department, whether they tell Sternberg to clear out -- as is their right! -- if they are willing to take the flak for it; otherwise he will tell whoever is complaining about it to "shut up" ("I'm willing to do that" he says).

There are more...we could go through them piece by piece if you wanted, but...a lot of them are concerned with the review process, the editing, and whether or not the rules were followed, as they should be. A lot of them are ticked about the institution being brought into disrepute by the guy's actions, as I would have been, had I worked there. However, not one of those emails demonstrates actionable offenses against Sternberg, or any attempt to bend rules in order to single him out. Not one.

I don't understand how you think the PT stuff is designed to "muddy the waters"; can you elaborate? They simply contained flat statements saying "what Sternberg says happened has not happened", a right of rebuttal I think the accused should have.

Sternberg did a stupid thing, but he wasn't smashed down by the "Unholy Inquisition" for it. The DI just like to play up (see, "spin and exaggerate") the whole thing to show how they are "oppressed".

I would like to put an addendum, here, something I don't think is actually being emphasized enough.

People are perfectly able to publish ID papers in legitimate venues. It would even be possible to do so without scuppering one's career, or catching extra flak from one's home institute, if the following conditions are met:

1. The work is sound.
2. The submission rules are followed, and the venue is appropriate for the subject.

The Sternberg/Meyer fiasco fails on both those. That is why the backlash, such as it was. The problem is, with only a couple of exceptions, ID submissions have always failed 1., so it's understandable the association carries a taint.
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Postby PeterSwinkels on Tue Nov 14, 2006 5:47 am

Black Fulcrum wrote:
I do believe there is some form of higher being, or beings, that eventually started this all, maybe even several hundred Big Bangs ago, has to be something or someone to start it off


Then what created whatever started "this all" off? I have thought, about this quite a bit. And I realized that if you keep asking "but, then what came before that? And that? And that?" that you could keep going on for all eternity... I ask myself, whether some very fundamental things about the universe (whatever those might be, I have no idea) might have always been there and have no origin... Science might eventually find an acceptable answer... Whatever the answer, I think it's highly unlikely that it will involve higher beings...
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Postby TMLutas on Tue Nov 14, 2006 5:59 am

Luna_Northcat wrote:The OSC letter is a poor guide on two counts: first, it is a preliminary finding which has as its main evidence emails, but it is quite obviously biased in Sternberg's favor from the get-go (read it!). Really, I think that investigation of abuse against an academic should be by a non-partisan and unbiased investigator. The second reason why the OSC is not a good guide is that they are neither unbiased or non-partisan in general; the investigation was undertaken at the direction of James McVey, who is pro-creationist and has come under a lot of fire from scientists. And heck, if you look at the emails quoted, a lot of them say things along the lines of "He has office space, because we have office space to give him, even though other departments have a lack of office space; his key acccess ought to be in line with policy; if you put any restrictions on him, they have to be the same restrictions as on other RAs, you can't single him out." Yes, in many the tone was hostile, but none of them actually advocated anything actionable, and several made the point of not singling him out.

But seriously....there is a lot more to the story. Read here:
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/200 ... imens.html


Again, you're trying to answer the OSC letter in August 2005 with a post at PT in February 2005. That simply doesn't make sense. In fairness to the PT people, they wouldn't have seen the emails until 6 months later so I won't go into their motivations. They could very well be honest and they deserve the benefit of assuming that they are absent direct evidence to the contrary.

There's post OSC stuff out there but I'll let you pick out what you think is credible. As to McVey's motivations, either he's made up the emails or he has not. If he had, he would have been crucified over it and rightly so. So let's just take the emails and throw out all of McVey's framing. Even without the framing, the legal interpretation, the emails themselves are pretty damning.

Now as to the preliminary nature of the whole thing. Of course it's preliminary. The OSC was refused cooperation by SI. You seem to take that as a neutral event but guess what, that tends to both tick off investigators, and while it's not admissible in a court of law, tends to raise suspicions that maybe there's something more there than what's already been uncovered. SI itself should have welcomed, perhaps even solicited an impartial investigator. AFAIK, they have not. This is not a good thing.

The emails talk about adjusting policy for his department specifically in an effort to punish this one guy. That makes the adjustment retaliation even though the hostile measures also hit other people. Again, take away the framing and just read the documentary evidence. This stuff just wasn't right.

Now perfection isn't a reasonable expectation. People get hot under the collar and do stupid things. This is why we have these rules and we punish these sorts of actions. Letting retaliation go sends a message that next time it's ok to resolve controversies on other issues the same way.

Again, my issue with the events is entirely separate from whether Sternberg himself did stupid/inaccurate/misleading things.
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Postby The JAM on Tue Nov 14, 2006 7:37 am

[...unWARP!!!]

Good evening.


The concepts of "before" and "after" work quite well within our universe, because our universe contains the dimension of Time. Since we're more or less stuck with Time, even in our subconscious thoughts, it's practically impossible to imagine a place where Time does not exist, but if the Big Bang occurred, then there was a point in time and space where Time AND Space had a value of Zero. There was no Before as we know it.

Stephen Hawking wrote:"To ask what happened before the Big Bang is like asking what happens 1 mile north of the North Pole. It's a meaningless question." - "The Creation of the Universe", 1985


¡Zacatepóngolas!

Until next time, remember:

I

AM

THE

J.A.M. (a.k.a. Numbuh i. "Just because I'm imaginary doesn't mean I don't exist")

Good evening.

[WARP!!!]
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Postby PeterSwinkels on Tue Nov 14, 2006 10:32 am

What if the pulsating universe hypothesis would be true? If I remember correctly, it in short states that the universe would stop expanding and start to contract. An event called "the big crunch" would eventually take place, followed by a new big bang. If this hypothesis is true, it would mean that there was another universe before ours and thus something before the big bang...

I've checked A Brief History of Time (a book by Stephen Hawking.) In that book Stephen Hawking states that if there was something before the big bang, we can't know what, and that as far as he's concerned, that whatever there might have been before the big bang is of no consequence.

BTW:
The ISBN code for the book is: 90-351-1783-2. It's a Dutch translation, and is called "Het Heelal - Verleden en toekomst van ruimte & tijd."

Also, I will see if I can find an interesting webpage about the "pulsating universe" hypothesis...
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Postby Sapphire on Tue Nov 14, 2006 1:52 pm

Though there are many prominent scientists who still believe that theory to be true, it's fallen more or less out of favor in recent years, and its trend in terms of popularity is on the decline.

Just sayin'.
I would have hoped to say something meaninful, or possible inciteful. But, alas.
How goes the world today? From right to left or left to right? Perhaps it runs round mad reels, turning in on itself only at long last to blow away with the leaves and gutter-trash.
How goes the world today? Top to Bottom or Bottom to Top? Perhaps it will rise high enough so that it may see the back of its own head, in a maddening tunnel of infinity.
How goes the world today? Clockwise or Counter? Perhaps it will spin itself mad, curling a spring-from into endlessness.
Or maybe, today, it will just stop.
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Postby Deckard Canine on Tue Nov 14, 2006 2:32 pm

Perhaps the theory's in apparent decline simply because it means so little to their study. I expect the same thing to happen to the multiverse theory, it being interesting but scientifically impractical to dwell on for long.

In high school, I considered what if the big crunch happened in such a way that things happened exactly the same way every time. "There's a first time for everything" would be untrue!
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Postby J4N1 on Tue Nov 14, 2006 2:37 pm

sapphire wrote:Though there are many prominent scientists who still believe that theory to be true.


if you mean ID, then name them, if plsating universe, it is a meaningles question, we can't know about anything before Big Bang, or after the big crunch, so one must have faith, our society does not, and science even less so, operate on faith
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Postby Sapphire on Tue Nov 14, 2006 2:47 pm

J4N1 wrote:
sapphire wrote:Though there are many prominent scientists who still believe that theory to be true.


if you mean ID, then name them, if plsating universe, it is a meaningles question, we can't know about anything before Big Bang, or after the big crunch, so one must have faith, our society does not, and science even less so, operate on faith


I meant pulsating universe. I now realize how I was unclear, and would like to thank you for helping me realize that.

However, though your contention is accurate, this would directly apply to almost all knowledge which is not directly usable to humans. The question is not inherently meaningless, since it is only about the beginning of the Universe by proxy; the two possibilities (pulsating and expanding Universe) are about the end of the Universe, not the beginning.

Of course, one can't rule out heat-death. I think. I really only have heard of that from the Ionesco play.
I would have hoped to say something meaninful, or possible inciteful. But, alas.
How goes the world today? From right to left or left to right? Perhaps it runs round mad reels, turning in on itself only at long last to blow away with the leaves and gutter-trash.
How goes the world today? Top to Bottom or Bottom to Top? Perhaps it will rise high enough so that it may see the back of its own head, in a maddening tunnel of infinity.
How goes the world today? Clockwise or Counter? Perhaps it will spin itself mad, curling a spring-from into endlessness.
Or maybe, today, it will just stop.
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Postby Sapphire on Tue Nov 14, 2006 2:53 pm

Deckard Canine wrote:Perhaps the theory's in apparent decline simply because it means so little to their study. I expect the same thing to happen to the multiverse theory, it being interesting but scientifically impractical to dwell on for long.

In high school, I considered what if the big crunch happened in such a way that things happened exactly the same way every time. "There's a first time for everything" would be untrue!


Actually, I read in a recent issue of popular science devoted to people under the age of 40 who have made major scientific breathroughs that the multiverse theory has taken on new life 'cause of some guys recent (read: not yet stood intense scrutiny) discovery, for the lack of a better word due to poor understanding, that the Universe is, and has been since the Big Bang, 'leaking gravity.'

If his calculations are true, then it would seem to actually prove Multiverse theory, under the justification that that's the only place the leaked gravity could go.

Again, this is all very new stuff, and every bit of it is still fresh and undeveloped. It could change the world, or it could be thrown out tomorrow.
I would have hoped to say something meaninful, or possible inciteful. But, alas.
How goes the world today? From right to left or left to right? Perhaps it runs round mad reels, turning in on itself only at long last to blow away with the leaves and gutter-trash.
How goes the world today? Top to Bottom or Bottom to Top? Perhaps it will rise high enough so that it may see the back of its own head, in a maddening tunnel of infinity.
How goes the world today? Clockwise or Counter? Perhaps it will spin itself mad, curling a spring-from into endlessness.
Or maybe, today, it will just stop.
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Postby The JAM on Tue Nov 14, 2006 3:31 pm

Odd, I thought it was proven that the expansion of the universe is accelerating and so that means it's going to expand forever...
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Postby TMLutas on Tue Nov 14, 2006 6:53 pm

Luna_Northcat - If you read, and quoted, that first email, you surely read the second "typical" email noting that, contrary to the email you quoted, there was no actual space shortage. It was right below the section you quoted. So even severely limiting the evidence in the letter to strip out any nefarious editorializing by the attorney, you have, at least, people making up unjustified complaints (why does he get an office?)

We've both read the evidence. At bedrock, I think that you're prepared to do the right thing when bias leaps up and smacks you across the face. But I think you're too willing to let things go in lesser cases. Instituting a review of policy in the attempt to make somebody's life miserable based on his off duty conduct is not generally OK in my book. It's an attempt to provoke mobbing and that can get downright dangerous and nasty.
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Postby Luna_Northcat on Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:15 pm

Sorry I disappeared for a couple days, there. I got a wadge of homework I had to deal with.

Because I can't resist flogging this particular dead horse, I'd just like to point out a few things:

The OSC letter came out some months after the PT comment I linked to, true. However, the only evidence cited by the OSC letters were the emails quoted, which were all -- as far as I could spot -- from 2004. As Coddington was working there, I think he would have known both the allegations made against the Smithsonian by Sternberg, and the content of at least a few of those emails; thus, his comments are relevant despite being made in Feb. 2005.

Sternberg claimed that he was moved twice, "without consultation, to inferior premises". According to Coddington, Sternberg was moved twice, the first time by prearrangement when all the RAs were being moved in a general office reshuffle, before the publication of the controversial paper; and a second time by Sternberg's own request.

There is no evidence either way. Personally, I'm a bit skeptical of Sternberg's account, given his less than sterling record on truthfulness about being "fired" from the Proceedings, but I leave that an open question. I would like to point out, though, that the claims he still has up on his website lack any form of documentary evidence, or even detailed description.

The NCSE advice to the Smithsonian, according to Elsberry, anyway, was "don't overreact, concentrate on the procedural and technical issues around the paper, and don't make the guy into a martyr." Somehow the OSC managed to spin that into something positively scandalous:
"Eventually, they determined that they could not terminate you for cause and they were not going to make you a "martyr" by firing you for publishing a paper in ID. They came to the conclusion that you had not violated SI directives and that you could not be denied access for off-duty conduct. This was actually part of the strategy advocated by the NCSE. "


--I note, here, the paragraph in one of the emails, "One important thing to keep in mind, however, is the equal treatment of all RAs in the section. You must not impose more onerous restrictions on one particular RA than on other RA’s in the section [____]." You seem to have interpreted this as them preparing to restrict ALL the RA's privileges to get back at this guy. I had interpreted this as a statement that any special privileges he had should be pulled, but that he shouldn't be restricted worse than any other RAs. Funny how we got such different angles on that....

(Incidentally, I've done a 6-month stint as a RA, and I have to say that unless the Smithsonian is really unusual, a RA wouldn't normally have a master key. A master key lets you into everyone's office. I would question why an unpaid RA should *ever* have one! )

Anyway, back to the OSC letter. Another thing I would like to ask about -- about 2/3 the way through the letter, they quote a whole string of emails, the first of which talks about "tensions among the staff", and how it will be dealt with for the next 2 1/2 years, and the rest then dive into mostly a discussion about the peer-review issue. The OSC say, "In these e-mails they are continuing to explain why you should not be given access to the SI for the next '2.5 years.'" Eh? I didn't see that; since you are sympathetic to the OSC point of view, here, can you point me to what they got that from, specifically? But this is what I mean by "biased", in that they consistently put a spin on the emails which the emails largely don't bear.

I don't agree that the Smithsonian should have fully cooperated with an investigation by an organisation with no authority to do so, anyway. I know, it does look bad. But it would have set a very bad precedent; it wastes their time and money, and would have opened the door to harassment "investigations" by every political special interest group which could claim an interest in anything they do. I can't think how they could afford that.

But finally (I'm about to stop flogging this poor beast, honest!) -- I would just like to point out that at the end of all the "persecution" and "hounding" which Sternberg (still!) claims on his website, he:
1. still has his keys,
2. still has an office at the Smithsonian,
3. still has full access to the crustacean collections,
4. and is still employed by the NIH in his original position.

So in terms of being "hounded out", he wasn't very, either before or after the OSC "investigation".

Don't get me wrong -- I've seen academic ostracism and "hounding" in action, and it can get __ugly__, and it's often absolutely wrong, too. I just don't think that Sternberg faced anything unexpected or over-and-above what anyone else would have, or that he was even hit with anything particularly bad, or that he was targeted for his religious beliefs. I think he did face anger and a degree of ostracism because he behaved unprofessionally and brought an institution into disrepute -- and the poor quality of the paper at the center of all this is precisely relevant to that. But he and the DI have played it up for maximum impact.
<i>Forte est vinu. Fortier est rex. Fortiores sunt mulieres: sup om vincit veritas.</i>
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Luna_Northcat
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