Creation Bits

This blog has been superceded, and is only here for archive purposes. The latest blog posts, depending on topic, can be found at one of the blogs at the new location!

These are very uneditted and underthought ideas that I get while debating the creation/evolution debate. This is the more-often-updated but less-thought-out version of the crevo blog.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Misreporting and selective facts about Sternberg

Another blogger has written a set of "facts" about the Sternberg case. I've posted this response in a few other places, but before I do, I do want to make sure two things are clear:

1) It is not clear what Sternberg's religious beliefs are. He may in fact believe in special creation. He has only said that he is not a Young-Earth Creationist. He also may be a young-earth creationist religiously but not scientifically (i.e. -- believing it personally but not thinking that the science currently supports it). Sternberg has been quiet on his religious beliefs. However, shouldn't they be irrelevant in determining his scientific ability? Or should creationists complain every time an atheist makes a publication on evolution or peer-reviews an evolutionary paper? Some creationists are too quick to list Sternberg as being secular, and, while this may be true, we simply do not have the facts.

2) It is not clear what persecution Sternberg was subjected to. Some of Sternberg's claims have been denied, other's have not, but it is not clear from an independent source what happened.

Anyway, here is my response to the article:

It's basically slandering Sternberg on his association with creationists. The underlying assumption of that post is that legitimate scientists cannot be creationists. Therefore, while legitimate scientists can disagree with each other, if the disagreement is over creationism, the creationist cannot be a legitimate scientist by definition.

Most of the numbered facts on that post are fairly irrelevant, and are not disputed by any post I've ever read on the Sternberg issue.

Why does fact 1 end with an exclamation point? Is there anything even remotely interesting in fact 1?

Why is fact 2 interesting?

What do you mean by the paper was "held" in fact 3? That's a pretty normal delay in peer review. It seems the evolutionists have gone from saying it was "rushed through" to it was "held" trying to find something that will stick.

Fact 4 only exists for the purpose of injecting speculation.

Fact 5 is simply a smear by association, pretending that associating with creationists is some sort of biological crime, and that you can't legitimately be a scientists and a creationist.

Is it really illegitimate to have Todd Wood review your paper? Fasting forward to fact 10, first of all, you should be more careful who you quote from. He did not talk about Wood et al on O'Reilly. That was in the acknowledgements of his paper. Second, it is not clear (though it is irrelevant), that these were his peer-reviewers. I don't know what the peer-review policies for tha Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences is (I have tried to look, but to no avail), but I would be highly surprised if you got to pick your own reviewers.

However, how does Todd Wood not qualify as a legitimate reviewer? He is actively published on various issues about the genome, was part of the team that sequenced the rice genome, and has written chapters in two different fairly standard textbooks on genetics. So what, other than labelling, disqualifies him as a legitimate scientist that should not be peer-reviewing?

Since we're on rule #10, there is no real contradiction. First of all, I've read the paper you were referring to, and he was _very_ careful to not criticize neo-Darwinism itself but only its relationship to transposable elements. Second, the existance of a journal or two that doesn't exhibit this problem does not mean that it doesn't exist. But Sternberg was quite careful to avoid criticizing Darwinism in its entirety. Even more so, Sternberg did not suggest a non-material explanation, which is a double-whammy.

Fact 6 is not in dispute. However, you left out two important facts:

1) Sternberg discussed the paper with a member of the council, who agreed it should be published.

2) After-the-fact, the President of the BSW examined the peer-review file, and agreed that, scientifically, the paper was good to publish, but was a bad move politically:

"Finally, I got the [peer] reviews and agree that they are in support of your decision [to publish the article]."

Also, according to Sternberg:

"At no time during my nearly three years as managing editor did I ever ask the Council as a body for its input on any editorial decision regarding any particular paper. Nor did the Council itself or anyone on the Council intimate to me that the Council ought to be in any way involved in editorial decision-making with regard to particular papers."

This "fact" also manages to leave out the important fact that Sternberg HAD IN FACT DONE THIS BEFORE:

"I had previously chosen on several occasions to handle certain papers directly and that was accepted as a normal practice by everyone involved with the Proceedings."

In fact, this fact is counter-factual, implying the opposite:

"he does not say is whether or not that gives the managing editor the right to solely review a paper, without involving the associate editors or anyone else in the journal's editorial board"

He DOES say that (the quote above) and on the SAME WEB PAGE! For "facts" these are getting awfully disingenuous.

Fact 7 is irrelevant. The ISCID is part of the ID movement, but is not solely about Intelligent Design.

Fact 8 simply is a restatement of the fact that the investigation was not allowed to be completed.

I find it interesting that in fact 9 you automatically choose the side of the smithsonian as "fact" over Sternberg's. How is this distinguished as fact, especially when the information from the OSC is considered with much questioning? I don't know the truth, but to say that FACT resides with one or the other indicates that the author has independent knowledge of the situation.

In addition, Fact 10 fails to address many of the accusations Sternberg himself made.

Anyway, the idea that this is a listing of "facts" is rediculous -- it is deceptive and manipulative treatment of the facts to smear Dr. Sternberg.

The truth is, I don't know for sure what the final truth is as far as Sternberg's beliefs or his persecution. But this list of "facts" does the word "facts" a disservice.

Well, thanks a lot for posting my response to your comments. I want to maintain civility about this, if we can, okay? If not, I'll just post everything at my site and those interested can read it there.

Right now, Witt-lessness has my full attention, but I promise a full analysis is forthcoming.
I figured you were perfectly able to write your own comments if you wanted them. Notice that I didn't move Gilson's post either. This blog posting pre-existed both of your responses. My only aim was to move non-research-related information to a non-research-related blog. If there is anything that I have done uncivil, let me know.
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