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
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
You say, "... it is simply out of bounds to spread bald faced lies about an scientists academic credentials in an effort to make him unemployable." You are absolutely correct about this. I support this statement entirely and wholeheartedly. The problem in this particular situtation is that I didn't actually see anyone spreading bald-faced lies about Sternberg. Sternberg, on the other hand, may have come up with a few whoppers about Coddington. Of interest, from Coddington's own pen (document accessible from the link above):
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.
3. I am, and continue to be, his only "supervisor," although we use the term "sponsor" for Research Associates to avoid personnel/employee connotations. He has had no other since Feb. 1, 2004, nor was he ever "assigned to" or under the "oversight of" anyone else.
4. Well prior to the publication of the Meyer article and my awareness of it, I asked him and another Research Associate to move as part of a larger and unavoidable reorganization of space involving 17 people and 20 offices. He agreed.
5. I offered both individuals new, identical, standard Research Associate work spaces. The other accepted, but Dr. von Sternberg declined and instead requested space in an entirely different part of the Museum, which I provided, and which he currently occupies.
For interest, though, I think you should note the final comment on the part of the writer at Panda's Thumb:
"For my part, if Klinghoffer's account were correct (which is as yet disputed), it would be a large breach of ethics and a justified complaint."
Academic freedom from persecution is actually a big issue for everyone, and people do recognise that.
However --my apologies, I should have made quite clear, you are entirely correct on one point. The OSC dropped the case for lack of jurisdiction and for no other reason. They would have pursued it if they could have. However I believe (and this found its way into my response in an incomplete form) that Sternberg himself wanted to pursue the matter further, but couldn't find anyone who would support him in tribunal due to the difficulty of supporting his case.
And all of that aside, though, one of the biologists who was actually involved in that mess made a pertinent comment about it in his blog:http://webapp.utexas.edu/blogs/archives ... 02980.html
Critically, even the PBSW's instructions for contributors explicitly states: ‘Manuscripts are reviewed by a board of Associate Editors and appropriate referees.’ The first paragraph clearly indicates that Meyer’s was not a properly peer-reviewed paper. Klinghoffer is guilty of artful fabrication, in line with what we usually expect from defenders of ID.
As biologists, as well as ordinary citizens of a democracy who are presumably ready to defend freedom of speech, what should our position be? The first point to emphasize is that, by short-circuiting the normal review process as Editor of a journal, Sternberg is guilty of professional misconduct. Second, this professional misconduct is of a type that calls into question the integrity of the scientific process on which we rely every day when we trust each other’s work published in peer-reviewed journals. Third, it is therefore entirely reasonable to have doubts about the scientific integrity of Sternberg’s own work. Consequently, not only is it reasonable to “ostracize” him in the rather weak sense of refusing to collaborate with him (one of Klinghoffer’s complaints). In fact, if we care about the veracity of our own results, it would be unwise to collaborate with or rely on Sternberg. It is thus entirely to be expected if Sternberg finds himself isolated at the Smithsonian (as Klinghoffer alleges).
And none of this has anything to do with what motivated Sternberg, whether it be his religious or his political beliefs. This episode is more important than mere ID. It is emphatically not about free speech, tolerance of diversity, let alone innovation of science, no matter how shrill the claims of ID proponents and their apologists become. It is about the integrity of the scientific process.
Yeah, his co-workers didn't like him any more after he pulled this stunt. That just never
happens in an academic environment.
As for the academic merit of the paper itself...one of the reasons it provoked such a firestorm of criticism, was that it repeated a whole bunch of ideas which had already been dealt with and refuted. The whole "appearance of too many taxa in the Cambrian" is one of them. Seriously, it's been done to death.
This is a frustration to a lot of scientists; see, the whole idea behind the progression of science is that you propose something, you test it to the extent possible, you examine evidence, people comment on your tests and your results, your results are examined and either accepted or discarded, and then you move on, and tackle the next question. With ID, as with creationism, no matter how often the results are examined and discarded, people keep coming back with the same proposals over and over and over and over again; no matter how flawed an idea is shown to be, by evidence and logic, it keeps getting proposed. If engineering progressed at such a rate, we would only now have invented the horse-drawn plough. There were no ideas to answer in Meyer's lit review which had not already been dealt with, several hundred times over. ID was discussed and debated, when it was first proposed; that was back in about 1988, for pete's sake! A lot of biologists do get very fed up with it now because although it was debated and discarded by practicing scientists as being without merit, a fringe handful with considerable non-science support has kept it going, an unkillable zombie process hogging CPU time. That in itself accounts for the attitude "we stand by the NCSE position."
I was actually aware of this issue and following it closely from the very start. However, just to let you know -- at the beginning, I was absolutely shocked and horrified at the treatment of Sternberg, and firmly on his side. (Even though, from the beginning, I was disgusted that he had published such a paper.) What happened was that as more and more people stepped forward and pointed out the problems with his story, my outrage on his behalf started to crumble rapidly, and I was left with a certain feeling of having been used....by Sternberg.
<i>Forte est vinu. Fortier est rex. Fortiores sunt mulieres: sup om vincit veritas.</i>