The Age Of Embarrassment

Cross posted from Skeptical Analysis

GlobalWarmingHickMentality

We haven’t had one of these in a while. So, what’s new?

A Real Climate Scientist Demolishes Bill Nye’s Global Warming Alarmism

All right, this one is a bit old—from last year even. That aside, I want to thank whoever posted this on Facebook for me to pick up. The truth be known, Facebook is a prime source of story ideas for this blog.

And this is refreshing. For once I’m not having to explain some fact-deprived meme from The Comical Conservative. This time we have Dr. Roy Spencer, an actual climate researcher, weighing in. And he has much to say about the evidence. Actually, he doesn’t. At least in the YouTube clip he doesn’t. Additionally, the item posted by Austin Peterson on The Libertarian Republic presents little in the way of evidence, either for or against the case for anthropogenic global warming (AGW). But Spencer is a real scientists working in the field, and it is worth knowing what he had to say in the interview.

Global warming alarmist talking heads like Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Al Gore are constantly paraded around as experts on climate.

I hope not. Because none of the three do research related to climate, and nobody would seriously refer to them as experts. What they happen to be are public defenders of the science behind AGW—speakers, if you like. In fact, you can discount Vice President Al Gore right off the bat, because his expertise is politics, and his training in serious science is close to vacant.

On the other hand, Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson have taken some college courses—Tyson more so—in physics, and the science of physics lies at the base of the study of AGW. In full disclosure, I have had college courses in physics, including four in the critical field of thermodynamics, and it is from this background that I come to agree with the argument for AGW.

To be sure, Dr. Roy Spencer has had these courses, and beyond that he has degrees in atmospheric science, including a Ph.D. in  meteorology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The Wikipedia entry for Roy Spencer lists a number of peer-reviewed papers critical of AGW, such as this one:

In 2007, Spencer and others published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters regarding negative cloud feedback in the tropics that potentially supports Richard Lindzen‘s Iris hypothesis, which proposes that as the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease, allowing infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space. Spencer stated, “To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent. […] Right now, all climate models predict that clouds will amplify warming. I’m betting that if the climate models’ ‘clouds’ were made to behave the way we see these clouds behave in nature, it would substantially reduce the amount of climate change the models predict for the coming decades.

This paper is available on-line from the American Geophysical Union, and I have retained a copy for your viewing:

https://skeptic78240.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/climatescience-spencer-01.pdf

Spencer’s objections to AGW, based on publication topics, appear to be related to the effects of clouds on solar energy loss. Some of his publications have received major push-back from other scientists. Of note is a recent work published in 2011 with William Braswell:

In 2011, Spencer and Braswell published a paper in Remote Sensing concluding that more energy is radiated back to space and released earlier than previously thought. Spencer stated, “The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show. There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

The paper was criticized by numerous climate scientists. Kerry Emanuel of MIT, said this work was cautious and limited mostly to pointing out problems with forecasting heat feedback.

The editor-in-chief of Remote Sensing, Wolfgang Wagner, later resigned over publication of Spencer and Braswell (2011), stating, “From a purely formal point of view, there were no errors with the review process. […] the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view …but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.” Wagner added he, “would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements”.

Spencer responded that Wagner’s assertion was wholly inaccurate, “But the paper WAS precisely addressing the scientific arguments made by our opponents, and showing why they are wrong! That was the paper’s starting point! We dealt with specifics, numbers, calculations…while our critics only use generalities and talking points. There is no contest, as far as I can see, in this debate. If you have some physics or radiative transfer background, read the evidence we present, the paper we were responding to, and decide for yourself.”

Andrew Dessler later published a paper opposing the claims of Spencer and Braswell (2011) inGeophysical Research Letters. He stated, among other things:

First, [they] analyzed 14 models, but they plotted only six models and the particular observational data set that provided maximum support for their hypothesis. Plotting all of the models and all of the data provide a much different conclusion.

At the very least, Spencer’s methods indicate a lack of scientific rigor. I went into this with the possibility of finding an additional factor, that factor being denial of AGW is strongly linked with political alignment and to a lesser degree with religiosity. Spencer’s Wikipedia contains two notes pointing toward religious influence:

Spencer is a signatory to An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, which states that “We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history.”. He believes that most climate change is natural in origin, the result of long-term changes in the Earth’s albedo and that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have caused some warming, but that its warming influence is small compared to natural, internal, chaotic fluctuations in global average cloud cover. This view contradicts the scientific consensus that “most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities”.

And:

In TCS Daily, Spencer wrote, “Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied theevolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as ‘fact,’ I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism. In the scientific community, I am not alone. There are many fine books out there on the subject. Curiously, most of the books are written by scientists who lost faith in evolution as adults, after they learned how to apply the analytical tools they were taught in college.” In the book The Evolution Crisis, Spencer wrote, “I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world. […] Science has startled us with its many discoveries and advances, but it has hit a brick wall in its attempt to rid itself of the need for a creator and designer.”

Climatologist Patrick Michaels has defended Spencer, arguing that his religious beliefs have nothing to do with his climate change research.

Dr. Michaels holds a “Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison” and is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank whose agenda includes opposition to AGW. He is correct in arguing that Spencer’s religious beliefs have nothing to do with whether he is correct in his conclusions. Most likely, there are many researchers supporting AGW who are also deeply religious.

What bears on religion and science is the matter of demonstrable science as opposed to personal opinion. Spencer has published his research, some of it valid, some not so much. Base on his research and that of others he voices the opinion that AGW is without merit. It’s here the value of his opinion comes into play.

When a person says in one breath that AGW is invalid science, and in the next breath he expresses belief in a mythical person who created the universe in six days and has power over our daily lives, then you can begin to doubt his conclusions regarding AGW. My observation from many years is that if a person’s thinking is horribly screwed up in one part of his brain, it’s time to closely examine everything else he says.

The Age of Embarrassment is still upon us, and there will be more on this. Keep reading

 

Creating Information

Two summers ago I volunteered to review physics texts for the Texas Education Agency. The reviews were held in a large hall in a hotel in Austin, and other teams were reviewing other books. In particular I ran into a creationist I had met twenty years previous. He is Walter Bradley, and he was reviewing biology texts for the State of Texas. What I found odd about this was:

  • Dr. Bradley has no academic standing in the subject of biology. He is former chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University.
  • Bradley is an acknowledge creationist, a position he has taken in opposition to basic principles of biology.

Here is Dr. Bradley with fellow creationist Ide Trotter at the text book review:

Wikipedia has this to say:

Bradley was one of the pioneers of the concept of intelligent design, attempting to explain topics not yet understood by science as the activity of God. Bradley’s writings on the subject anticipated some of the concepts later articulated by William Dembski and Michael Behe, and he was a participant in early meetings regarding the wedge strategy, a religious public relations campaign with a goal of reshaping American culture to adopt evangelical Protestant values.

I struck up a conversation with Dr. Bradley, and the topic naturally turned to Intelligent Design. What is pertinent to this is that Bradley posed this question to me: As new organisms develop by biological evolution, where does the new information come from?

I knew the answer to the question, but I did not press Dr. Bradley on it. I will give the answer now, and it is counter-intuitive. New information comes from completely random processes. I have highlighted that statement. Carry this forward to the discussion of observed evolution by random mutation and natural selection—Darwinian evolution.

Prior to the development of Nylon, there was no bacterium that could eat the substance. You have a fabric made of wool or cotton, and it is subject to attack by any number of bacterial agents. Not so with Nylon. Eventually a bacterium was discovered that could “eat” Nylon:

In 1975 a team of Japanese scientists discovered a strain of Flavobacterium, living in ponds containing waste water from a nylon factory, that was capable of digesting certain byproducts of nylon 6 manufacture, such as the linear dimer of 6-aminohexanoate. These substances are not known to have existed before the invention of nylon in 1935.

Further study revealed that the three enzymes the bacteria were using to digest the byproducts were significantly different from any other enzymes produced by other Flavobacterium strains (or, for that matter, any other bacteria), and not effective on any material other than the manmade nylon byproducts.

A random mutation had produced a bacterium that could eat Nylon. This was a new organism that filled a newly-created niche (Nylon) in the environment. This was Darwinian evolution in action. What do the creationist say in response?

Many supporters of evolutionary theory have claimed that nylon-eating bacteria strongly demonstrate the kind of evolution that can create new cellular structures, new cells, and new organisms.1 However, examining only the apparent, visible beneficial trait can be misleading. Recent research into the genes behind these traits indicates that no evolution has taken place.2In fact, the genes of nylon-eating bacteria show that they have been degraded through mutation.

The gene that mutated to enable bacteria to metabolize nylon is on a small loop of exchangeable DNA.3 This gene, prior to its mutation, coded for a protein called EII with a special ability to break down small, circularized proteins. Though synthetic, nylon is very protein-like because inventor Wallace Carothers modeled the original fiber based on known protein chemistry. Thus, after the mutation, the new EII protein was able to interact with both circular and straightened-out nylon. This is a clear example of a loss of specification of the original enzyme. It is like damaging the interior of a lock so that more and different keys can now unlock it.

This degeneration of a protein-eating protein required both the specially-shaped protein and the pre-existence of its gene. The degeneration of a gene, even when it provides a new benefit to the bacteria, does not explain the origin of that gene. One cannot build a lock by damaging pre-existing locks. Nylon-eating bacteria actually exemplify microevolution (adaptation), not macroevolution. Science continues to reveal, though, how benevolent is our Creator God, who permits bacteria to benefit from degradation, and man also to benefit from bacteria that can recycle synthetic waste back into the environment.

The three references cited are listed below:

  1. Thwaites, W.M. 1985. New Proteins Without God’s Help. Creation/Evolution. 5 (2): 1-3.
  2. Anderson, K.L, and G. Purdom. 2008. A Creationist Perspective of Beneficial Mutations in Bacteria.Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Creationism. Pittsburgh PA: Creation Science Fellowship and Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 73-86.
  3. Yasuhira, K. et al, 2007. 6-Aminohexanoate Oligomer Hydrolases from the Alkalophilic Bacteria Agromyes sp. Strain KY5R and Kocuria sp. Strain KY2. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 73 (21): 7099-7102.

The author of this is “Brian Thomas, M.S.

Brian Thomas received his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1993 and a master’s in biotechnology in 1999 from Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas. He taught junior high and high school at Christian schools in Texas, as well as biology, chemistry, and anatomy as an adjunct and assistant professor at Dallas-area universities. Since 2008 Mr. Thomas has been a science writer and editor at ICR, where he contributes news and magazine articles, speaks on creation issues, and researches original tissue fossils. He is the author ofDinosaurs and the Bibleand a contributor to Guide to Creation Basics,Creation Basics & Beyond, and Guide to Dinosaurs.

Interesting points of his argument are:

  1. This degeneration of a protein-eating protein required both the specially-shaped protein and the pre-existence of its gene.
  2. The degeneration of a gene, even when it provides a new benefit to the bacteria, does not explain the origin of that gene.
  3. One cannot build a lock by damaging pre-existing locks.
  4. Nylon-eating bacteria actually exemplify microevolution (adaptation), not macroevolution.
  5. Nylon-eating bacteria actually exemplify microevolution (adaptation), not macroevolution.
  6. Science continues to reveal, though, how benevolent is our Creator God, who permits bacteria to benefit from degradation, and man also to benefit from bacteria that can recycle synthetic waste back into the environment.

1. Regarding the prerequisite of a specially-shaped protein, another prerequisite is the existence of the bacterium. I hate to be picky, but still another prerequisite is the existence of the planet Earth. This is not a well-based point to argue from.

2. The origin of the original gene is not explained. The origin of the original gene is not at issue here. Darwinian evolution is classically step-wise. Every novel feature is derived from or is built upon an existing one.

3. The “lock” mentioned here is an analogy. A mechanical lock is a device that is used by people, and Thomas is reminding us that a lock that is damaged, such as by putting a .357 Magnum slug through it, does not produce a useful mechanism. The problem with this argument is this is not a lock mechanism built by people. This is a gene that expresses the production of a protein (or an RNA sequence), and it has been altered, and the altered form produces a result that allows the bacterium to digest Nylon.

4. Yes, this is micro evolution. What did Thomas think this was all about? Just about all gene mutations produce micro changes in the offspring. Darwinian evolution, including the the formation of new species, is the accumulation of micro-changes.

5. I am going to let Brian Thomas have this point. I mean, if it’s God doing all of this, then who am I to dispute it?

Back to Walter Bradley’s challenge. New information does come from random processes. People who employ genetic algorithms to develop improved systems (e.g., Diesel engines) use random processes to inject variation into trial designs. It works in modern industry. It works in nature.

Ferris Bueller Gets Expelled

This is the second installment of the review of Ben Stein’s Expelled video. It was previously posted on the Skeptical Analysis site.

– John Blanton

FreeToThink

This is the second in a series reviewing Ben Stein’s Expelled video. The first was sort of an introduction—introducing some of the players and giving readers a feel for what this production is all about. I also dipped into the first of six people who were supposedly expelled for speaking out against Darwinian evolution or even seeming to support the concept of Intelligent Design.

The first personality was Dr. Richard von Sternberg, who supposedly (watch the video) lost his position at the Smithsonian Institution because he published a paper by creationist Steven C. Meyer in the journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, of which he was the unpaid editor.

In the video Ben Stein interviews Sternberg, and they discuss the terrible consequences of Sternberg’s actions. His “life was nearly ruined.” That, I find interesting. His life was not ruined. It was nearly ruined. Without outright fabrication the video conveys the idea that Sternberg’s life was ruined when, in fact, it is never stated that his life was ruined. Only nearly ruined. Speaking as a person whose life has been nearly ruined many times, I am eternally grateful it was only nearly ruined and not actually ruined.

Such is the art of propaganda, which this video is all about.

There is something else curious about Stein’s interview with Sternberg. They discuss what is supposed to be a grievous injustice perpetrated on an honest man, but no details are revealed.

Sternberg tells us that he lost his office (at the Smithsonian), but he does not describe the scene. He had to turn in the keys to his laboratory space. How did this happen? Did the lab manager come to him and say, “Dr. Sternberg, you can no longer work here. Hand over your keys and never set foot here again?” If that’s what happened, then why doesn’t Sternberg in the interview provide the circumstances, name names and dates?

To me the answer is clear. Sternberg and Stein are not being straight forward with viewers. They both know the details, and they know that revealing the details would be detrimental to their argument, their argument being that Sternberg suffered a terrible injustice. The conclusion from the known facts is that Stein and Sternberg are not honorable men. I will extend that to saying that Intelligent Design is not a worthy cause, because it requires dishonorable tactics to promote itself.

Here are the facts not mentioned in the video, reprinted from my previous post:

Posted by JAC on February 3, 2005 9:36 AM

Although I do not wish to debate the merits of intelligent design, this forum seems an apt place to correct several factual inaccuracies in the Wall Street Journal’s Op Ed article by David Klinghoffer, “The Branding of a Heretic” (Jan. 28, 2005). Because Dr. von Sternberg has filed an official complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, I cannot comment as fully as I would wish.
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.
2. He is not an employee of the Smithsonian Institution. His title, “Research Associate,” means that for a three year, potentially renewable period he has permission to visit the Museum for the purpose of studying and working with our collections without the staff oversight visitors usually receive.
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.
6. As for prejudice on the basis of beliefs or opinions, I repeatedly and consistently emphasized to staff (and to Dr. von Sternberg personally), verbally or in writing, that private beliefs and/or controversial editorial decisions were irrelevant in the workplace, that we would continue to provide full Research Associate benefits to Dr. von Sternberg, that he was an established and respected scientist, and that he would at all times be treated as such.
On behalf of all National Museum of Natural History staff, I would like to assert that we hold the freedoms of religion and belief as dearly as any one. The right to heterodox opinion is particularly important to scientists. Why Dr. von Sternberg chose to represent his interactions with me as he did is mystifying. I can’t speak to his interactions with anyone else.

Sincerely yours,
Jonathan Coddington

By the time Ben Stein concludes his interview with Richard Sternberg, he has become completely disillusioned. Never had he thought our country’s liberties could be forsaken over a matter such as posing challenging questions about science. He did not have far to go to find another example. The video shows a clip extolling the virtues of George Mason University, a short distance from where he was standing.

Caroline Crocker

Now he relates the sad tale of Dr. Caroline Crocker:

Caroline Crocker (b 1958) is an American immunopharmacologist who taught a biology class at George Mason University in 2005, while employed in a non-tenure track contract position as “contingent faculty”. She also held another teaching position at Northern Virginia Community College. After her contract at George Mason University was not renewed, as is common with such positions, she claimed that she lost her job there “for teaching the problems with evolution” in a lecture which she repeated in a class at Northern Virginia Community College in the presence of a Washington Post reporter on November 2, 2005.

A GMU spokesman told the reporter that the university let her go at the end of her contract period for reasons unrelated to her views on intelligent design. In January 2006 she began a postdoctorate year at the Uniformed Services University. Her case has been presented in a Discovery Institute intelligent design campaign and features in the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

[Some links removed]

I have previously covered the Caroline Crocker story in the September 2010 issue of The North Texas Skeptic. What I will do here is just plagiarize myself and paste the main body of that story:

I feel sure that Crocker never actually taught creationism to her students. She apparently did much more than that. As Crocker has demonstrated, it’s possible to create a lot of mischief without actually teaching creationism. Some have noted that Crocker is not so much the victim that is painted in Expelled. But she is still worth a book.

Free to Think is Crocker’s story of her ordeal with GMU, and more. The following is from the publisher’s Web site.3

The heart of the book covers how she impartially presented the students with the scientific evidence for and against evolution and the scandalous reprisals that resulted. It continues with the saga of the attempted lawsuit and ends, triumphantly with a call to action.

After you have read the book you are invited to return and to post a comment. Being over-eager, I posted a comment before I even received a copy:

I reviewed the Washington Post item from 5 February 2006 that included an interview with Crocker. It appears she freely admits to promoting what are distorted and incorrect views about the science behind biological evolution. Only a single example here: She repeated claims by Jonathan Wells about the peppered moth experiments:

“The experiment was falsified. He glued his moths to the trees.”

I am a photographer, and if somebody wanted photographs of moths for a book or a magazine or a paper, this is exactly what I would have done. I would have glued the moths to the trees. Students hearing Crocker’s explanation would be left with the conclusion that real scientists are lying to them in this case. That was obviously the point Crocker was trying to get over. She was, in effect, deliberately lying to the students.How can a teacher who does this expect to keep her job?

After posting my comment I received a response from Kevin Wirth. He reminded me that comments were solicited only from people who had read the book and wanted to discuss the book. He said he was going to move my comment to the blog section.

That started a nice dialog with Kevin Wirth. Besides being the CEO of Leafcutter Press, Crocker’s publisher, he appears to support Crocker’s cause and also to oppose the science behind biological evolution. His position is not surprising. A little Internet research reveals that Kevin Wirth is also the name of the Director of Product Development for Access Research Network (ARN). From the ARN Web site:4

Seattle area resident Kevin Wirth is a founding member of Students for Origins Research (now known as Access Research Network) and is the CEO of a micro-publishing firm called Leafcutter Press. He has been conducting research on viewpoint discrimination against students, educators, and scientists who are Darwin skeptics for over 25 years, and just recently collaborated with Dr. Jerry Bergman in the publication of a groundbreaking book on this topic titled Slaughter of the Dissidents. Kevin seeks to create greater public awareness of not only the plight of dissenters who have been discriminated against for harboring doubts about Darwinism, but also provides access to vital information supporting a rationale for skepticism about evolution-related issues.

Kevin wanted to make an issue of the pepper moths glued to trees, but there was no basis for his argument. Bernard Kettlewell did glue moths to tree trunks for various reasons, one being perhaps to take photographs. No secret was made of this, and if any experimenting was falsified (using Crocker’s language), this was not it. Crocker was wrong to make this statement in class, either through design or ignorance. Neither instance would be commendable.

A single case could be excused, but this was a pattern with Crocker. Her statements in the Washington Post story, plus other data, point to a deeper problem. The Post story is informative beyond the peppered moth remarks:5

But this highly trained biologist wanted students to know what she herself deeply believed: that the scientific establishment was perpetrating fraud, hunting down critics of evolution to ruin them and disguising an atheistic view of life in the garb of science.

Also:

Before the class, Crocker had told me that she was going to teach “the strengths and weaknesses of evolution.” Afterward, I asked her whether she was going to discuss the evidence for evolution in another class. She said no.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has put up a Web site in response to the Expelled video, and this includes a section devoted to Crocker.6

The late D. James Kennedy produced a video featuring Caroline Crocker. The video is posted on the Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM) Web site, and it contains samples from Crocker’s classroom presentation at Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC).

One slide says this:7

Scientists are Confused
Scientists have differing opinions on this issue; intelligent design model is gaining ground.
Gould and Eldridge [sic] (evolutionists) “There is no validation of the position that speciation causes significant morphological change.”
Werner von Braun (rocket scientist), “It is unscientific to teach evolution only.”

Another slide features Archaeopteryx and Eohippus:8

Presumed Transitional Forms

Archeopteryx [sic]
Birds there in same layer.
Is a bird (like an ostrich), not a reptobird.
Only one complete fossil and has been questioned as a fraud.

Horse
Eohippus is found in the same layers as the modern horse.
Eohippus is the same as modern-day hyrax.

I am certainly confused. “Scientists having differing opinions” is a standard part of main stream science and is not peculiar to biological evolution. Also Crocker’s statement “intelligent design model is gaining ground” is overly optimistic on her part. The modern Intelligent Design conjecture has been kicking around since about 1990, and in this time no serious research has come out supporting it. Science magazine is the premier American professional science journal. What mention I have found of Intelligent Design (disregarding letters to the editor) in Science has been derogatory.

The Gould and Eldredge quote is addressed on NCSE’s Exposed site:9

Gould actually said “But continuing unhappiness, justified this time, focuses upon claims that speciation causes significant morphological change, for no validation of such a position has emerged.” (Gould, SJ and Eldredge, N, “Punctuated equilibrium comes of age” Nature 366, 223-227, 1993). In other words, there is a question of the order in which speciation and physical diversification take place, not “confusion” over whether any link exists between such diversification and speciation. Crocker’s erroneous quotation and mischaracterization of the author’s intent show poor scholarship, and encourage her students to misunderstand key concepts.

I am glad that Crocker mentioned von Braun’s disdain for teaching only evolution. That pretty much settles the issue, because we all know the great rocket engineer held the ultimate truth on all other matters under his consideration. No, seriously, this is not an argument from science. It’s an amateurish attempt at argument from authority.

I don’t know what a reptobird is, but Archaeopteryx had features common with some dinosaurs that modern birds do not. I will go Crocker one better on the “one complete fossil” claim. A review of the ten known Archaeopteryx fossils indicates every one of them is missing at least some small part (or much more). Too bad for Crocker; after she made her wild claims about Archaeopteryx in 2004-2005 another fossil was assigned to Archaeopteryx siemensii in 2007. It is the “the most complete and well preserved” yet.10

It was easy for Crocker to make the claim “has been questioned as a fraud.” All she has to do is to assert that Archaeopteryx is a fraud, and the foregoing statement becomes true. In fact, astronomer Fred Hoyle and physicist Lee Spetner also made this assertion. What Crocker failed to mention is that these claims were refuted by scientists familiar with archaeological research and not so familiar with cosmology.11

I could find no research that backs up Crocker’s statement that “Eohippus is found in the same layers as the modern horse.” A FAQ entry on the Talk Origins site gives the following possible origin:12

…Eohippus fossils have been found in surface strata, along side two modern horses, Equus nevadensis and Equus occidentalis.

The quote is from The Neck of the Giraffe by Francis Hitching, who does not provide a justification for the statement. Talk Origins traces the statement back to a book by creationist R.L. Wysong. Crocker appears to have lifted a bit of myth from creationist literature and used it in class with no attempt at confirmation.

The statement that “Eohippus is the same as modern-day hyrax” is amateurish and unbecoming of someone holding a Ph.D. in the life sciences. Eohippus is not the same as a hyrax. The rock hyrax is the closest living relative to the modern elephant.

Crocker has another interesting slide in the CRM video:13

Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
Failed at medical school (could not dissect).
Had some training as a clergyman.
Rich kid who enjoyed partying, drinking, and gambling.
Went to Galapagos Islands.
Father was not pleased.

That settles it for me. If Darwin was such a slacker, then the whole science of biological evolution is worthless trash. Anyhow, this seems to be Crocker’s argument, and it lacks a certain amount of scientific and scholastic rigor.

A closer look at the Kettlewell research story finds little actual controversy within the scientific community, Crocker and Wells notwithstanding.

Laurence Cook has posted his lecture on The Rise and Fall of the Peppered Moth. I have copied his text for you to read, but you can follow the link to see the complete presentation.14

Michael Majerus wrote Melanism: Evolution in Action, and biologist Jerry Coyne reviewed the book in Nature. Coyne’s review was critical of Kettlewell’s experimental technique, but Majerus disputes Coyne’s interpretation and has emphasized support for Kettlewell’s conclusions. Others have been critical of Kettlewell and the peppered moth research, including a book by journalist Judith Hooper titled Of Moths and Men. Regardless, all critiques of moth research have been refuted by those scientists who actually do the research. See the Wikipedia page for the whole story.15

What has not happened is that Jonathan Wells and others critical of peppered moth research have not gone into the field and done their own research and published the results in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It has become apparent that the science of Intelligent Design does not involve any actual scientific research.

If arguing against Darwinian evolution is what Crocker was paid to do for NVCC (and possibly GMU), then they should have hired me for the job, because I could have done it better. Had GMU hired me to disparage Darwinism I would have pulled up the work of someone like Michael Behe. Behe’s argument from irreducible complexity has some semblance of a scientific basis. If there is no Darwinian pathway leading from an ancestral feature to a modern feature, then something else must account for the modern feature besides Darwinism.

Behe has been pitching this argument for about fifteen years, but he has not been making any headway. So far irreducible complexity exists only as a conjecture with no scientific research to back it up. Unlike the arguments put forward by Crocker, irreducible complexity more closely resembles real science. If Crocker had wanted to argue against Darwinism in her GMU class, she could have cited Behe, but she also would have had to note that irreducible complexity has not in any way been demonstrated. Obviously she did not bother to do any of this.

I may have been the first to post a comment about Free to Think, but the first comment to stick was posted by Ray Bohlin.16

Great Read! As is usually the case, the full story is even worse than the abbreviated version in Expelled. Her book will not only help you see how unseemly academia can be, but also inspire you with personal stories of Caroline’s impact on students.

Of course, Ray Bohlin is our own Ray Bohlin. He has a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Texas at Dallas and currently heads up Probe Ministries in Richardson, Texas. Probe Ministries was co-founded by Jon Buell, founder and president of the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE), also in Richardson. FTE is the publisher of the book Of Pandas and People, the original “text” book geared toward Intelligent Design. Despite having a Ph.D. in biology, Bohlin has a curious view of biological evolution. At the Texas Faith Network conference on 3 November 2003 in Dallas he addressed those in attendance and stated he believes all modern life forms have a common ancestor. All except humans, he said. We do not share ancestry with those other creatures. Bohlin is a fellow of the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture, the principal organization promoting Intelligent Design in the United States.

Both Expelled and the CRM video feature some glowing testimonials by students. Crocker also mentions these in the book. So, why was such a popular teacher expelled? GMU stated that student complaints kicked off the process. Who is to know? I don’t have an official poll of Crocker’s popularity with students at GMU, but there is an on-line survey from NVCC students. Some of them gave her good reviews. Others, not so good. Readers should be wary of any negative comments posted by students, even assuming the posts are by actual students. A failing student can use such a vehicle to even the score with a teacher.17

There is another Web site called N.C.S.E. Exposed that purports to correct “errors in the National Center for Science Education’s fact-free attack on Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” The section pertaining to Caroline Crocker emphasizes the high praise she received as a teacher but does not dispute that she taught creationism or even Intelligent Design. The page contains several links to external material. A linked page discusses the Washington Post story, and it quotes text favorable to Crocker. However, it omits Crocker’s incriminating remarks, previously mentioned. There is a link to a page attempting to refute the Miller-Urey experiment (one of the Jonathan Wells icons). Another linked page tells of rave reviews for Icons of Evolution. Crocker has written her own rebuttal to the “false claims” about her, but the link to that page is broken.18

Besides Free to Think, Crocker has written Guide to Cell Structure and Function (2005) and has authored a chapter in The Immunopharmacology of Allergic Diseases (1996). In addition to a number of peer-reviewed papers, the page claims she has contributed magazine articles to SalvoMagazine, including “What Exactly is the Problem with Evolutionary Theory” and “Do ID Proponents Get Persecuted in the Academy?” The first is nowhere to be found but the second is in the 4-2008 issue. She has contributed “Intellectual Freedom Must Include Conservative Professors, Scientists” in Washington Examiner, 30 June 2008.19

You can view the video that started the whole expelled business back in 2008. It runs about an hour and 38 minutes, and the screen is small, but it’s free. Get some popcorn.20

Leafcutter Press has a press kit for Free to Think. Besides a rundown on the book, the kit provides extensive biographical information on Crocker.21

References
http://www.freetothinknow.com/
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0981873448/thenorthtexasske
http://www.freetothinknow.com/
http://www.arn.org/infopage/wirth.htm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/03/AR2006020300822_pf.html
Also at
http://www.ntskeptics.org/news/news2010-07-20.htm#interview
http://www.expelledexposed.com/index.php/the-truth/crocker
http://ntskeptics.org/creationism/expelled/Crocker/carolinecrocker3.jpg
http://ntskeptics.org/creationism/expelled/Crocker/carolinecrocker2.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeopteryx
10 ibid.
11 ibid.
12 http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/horses/eohippus_equus.html
13 http://ntskeptics.org/creationism/expelled/Crocker/carolinecrocker1.jpg
14 http://ntskeptics.org/creationism/expelled/Crocker/cook.htm
15 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peppered_moth_evolution
16 http://www.freetothinknow.com/
17 http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=649890
Pages are archived here at the following links:
http://ntskeptics.org/creationism/expelled/Crocker/ShowRatingsPage1.pdf
http://ntskeptics.org/creationism/expelled/Crocker/ShowRatingsPage2.pdf
http://ntskeptics.org/creationism/expelled/Crocker/ShowRatingsPage3.pdf
18 http://www.ncseexposed.org/#crocker
The broken link points to this domain: http://intellectualhonesty.info/
19 http://intellectualhonesty.info/
http://www.salvomag.com/new/articles/salvo4/IDcrocker.php
http://www.slaughterofthedissidents.com/template/static/20case_studies/CROCKER_C.html
http://www.slaughterofthedissidents.com/template/static/20case_studies/CROCKER_C.html
http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.php/2/2008/10/26/another_look_at_skeptic_magazine_s_criti
http://www.slaughterofthedissidents.com/template/static/20case_studies/Letter_to_GMU_081505.pdf
20 http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/expelled-no-intelligence-allowed/
21 http://www.freetothinknow.com/about-2/about-dr-caroline-crocker-2/

 Resuming fresh material

For readers’ convenience and before I forget to do it, I’m linking to duplicate copies of pertinent documents:

ShowRatingsPage1.pdf

ShowRatingsPage2.pdf

ShowRatingsPage3.pdf

The above mentions images—screen shots—from the Web site of Coral Ridge Ministries. I have no evidence these are actual copies of Crocker’s classroom presentations (at NVCC, not at GMU). We have only the Coral Ridge Ministries reference to them as Crocker’s material. Here are the images.

carolinecrocker1

carolinecrocker2

carolinecrocker3

carolinecrocker4

carolinecrocker5

With the assistance of Kevin Wirth I was able to contact Caroline Crocker by e-mail. I asked about these presentation slides. She told me that what I needed to know was in the book.

With that in mind I purchased a copy of Free to Think. Contrary to what I had hoped, based on my correspondence with Crocker, the book does not give any details about what she taught in her classes (about evolution or creationism). The pertinent details are on page 89. “Dr. Carter” was her new boss in 2004.

‘The meeting went quite amicably at first, talking about the past semester
and the TAC project, bur then it turned in an unexpected direction. I was alrcady
standing, ready to leave, when without preamble, Dr. Carter announced, ”I’ve
been told by several students and faculty that you’re teaching ‘creationism.’ I am
going to have to discipline you. You won’t be allowed to teach lectures this coming
semester, but will fulfill your hours by teaching labs.” He stood up as he spoke.

[Page 89]

The best I can make of that is that one or more people complained that Crocker was running down Darwinian evolution, and this got reported as teaching creationism. We will have to take her word that she did not teach creationism or even Intelligent Design.

It would not be surprising if Crocker never actually taught creationism. Creationists do not have to do that. Creationists will accomplish their core goal if they can dismiss the vast body of science behind Darwinian evolution. They believe, and in many cases rightly so, that doing damage to  mainstream science will leave students with the idea that alternatives such as Intelligent Design have merit.

As I mentioned in my NTS piece, Crocker received both good and bad reviews from her students. Regarding whether she taught Intelligent Design, here is one that says she did:

Interesting class, but she teach ID and use a bunch of inaccurate propaganda to do it. She also plays favorites if
you don’t toe the line. You’ll still get credit, but just keep in mind she’s teaching a bunch of BS.

Crocker’s culpability in the matter becomes additionally apparent with events following her 2004 encounter with “Dr. Carter.”

Northern Virginia Community College

At the same time Crocker taught at GMU, she was also an adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC). On November 2, 2005, she gave a lecture which she told a reporter was the lecture that had led to her losing her job at a previous university. She said “I lost my job at George Mason University for teaching the problems with evolution. Lots of scientists question evolution, but they would lose their jobs if they spoke out.” Crocker had described the lecture beforehand as teaching “the strengths and weaknesses of evolution”, and when asked afterwards if she would be discussing the evidence for evolution in another class, said that she would not as “There really is not a lot of evidence for evolution.” Myers remarked that this statement was grounds for her dismissal.

Subsequently, she resigned from NVCC and began work for the Department of Defense in cancer research.

Intelligent design

Crocker became the Executive Director of the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center in early 2008. She left the Center in the summer of 2008 to pursue other endeavors. She appeared in a Coral Ridge Ministries video entitled The Intelligent Design Controversy in Higher Education and in the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The claims she made in the Coral Ridge video about transitional fossils (and specifically Archaeopteryx and the evolution of the horse) were criticised by PZ Myers as being factually incorrect. Crocker currently runs a promotional website advertising her public speaking. According to the website topics include: The Censorship of Science, Evolution: Fact, Science, or Religion, along with an Alpha course.

[Slight edits (misplaced period) and some links deleted. The first reference to “Myers” is presumably biologist and noted atheist PZ Myers.]

This bit puts to tests Ben Stein’s statement in the video that not only did Crocker lose her job at GMU, “she suddenly found herself blacklisted, unable to find a job anywhere.” I guess by that he means anywhere but the United States Department of Defense and the Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center.

Lest we delude ourselves that Ben Stein is just performing a scripted role in a video production, there is ample evidence he is a supporter of creationism. I will just mention here his endorsement of Crocker’s book. In the Forward, he praises Crocker’s courage and forthrightness, which is laudable. He also displays the complete lack of knowledge of the subject matter and the disregard for scientific integrity that so exemplifies creationist thinking.

Despite lack of clear evidence that Darwinism explains everything it purports to, no one is allowed to question that the evidence had to be “Darwinist”, that is, accidental. Despite the truth that no life could exist without the basic laws of gravity and physics and thermodynamics, and despite the absence of any evidence that these laws came into being accidentally, one cannot question that they must have come about by chance.

Despite the fact of the incredible, mind boggling complexity of the cell, despite the truth that no one has ever been able to explain how a cell could have hundreds of thousands of interlocking parts that repair and reproduce themselves, no one is allowed to question that the cell happened by accident.

[Page ix]

Expelled features four additional people of courage who have been expelled. Next up is Guillermo Gonzalez.

Ferris Bueller Gets Expelled

It’s been suggested I add some skeptical news items and posts to the NTS blog. I’m going to start by reposting a series I previously wrote the the Skeptical Analysis blog. Here is the first installment. I’ve added some screen shots from the video that were not in the original.

– John Blanton

In 2008 the word began to circulate, and there was a lot of excitement. I eagerly awaited the release of the video and purchased my copy through Amazon. It’s Expelled, starring movie and television personality Ben Stein.

Expelled

As you can see, the subtitle is No Intelligence Allowed. If by now you are getting the idea this is going to be about Intelligent Design, then you can come up to the head of the class.

Also, note that Ben Stein’s most famous movie role was Ferris Bueller’s teacher in the movie. You may think it’s just a coincidence this video’s title is Expelled, but I see a deeper intent.

Anyhow, the video is about Intelligent Design, and it starts with an elderly and bearded professor dryly explaining biological evolution. He intones in a dry way, reminiscent of Ben Stein’s portrayal in the movie.

Moving through history, in an unguided and undesigned way, the theory of evolution …

Ben Stein is sitting on the very back row of the class room (where else). He speaks out.

Excuse me.

Professor:

Yes … Ben!

You get the idea the two have been through this before.

Ben:

How did life begin in the first place?

Professor (exasperated):

Mr. Stein, you have the same question every time.

Ben:

But you never answer, Sir.

The professor stutters in obvious confusion, or could it be frustration? His response is unintelligible. All this time the other students are watching the exchange much as spectators at a tennis match.

Ben Stein continues:

Could there have been an intelligent designer?

Students’ faces turn in unison and cast a gaze at their professor. They are looking for an answer. If there is one. The professor is beaten.

Of course he is. He’s not a real professor. He’s just an actor playing a part in the video. He’s following the script. The theme music strikes a down beat, and the titles roll.

Expelled is nothing if not a good video production. The titles are first rate. The production is by Premise Media:

Ben Stein’s ‘Expelled’ To Be Auctioned as Premise Media Faces Bankruptcy

Ben Stein’s creationist propaganda film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is facing auction after the film’s makers, Premise Media Holdings LP, filed for bankruptcy.

Expelled was Stein’s attempt to push ‘intelligent design’ into the mainstream, but it failed on just about every level.

The Anti-Defemation League condemned the film, which attempted to link evolution to the Holocaust. Academics and scientists, as well as film-makers and documentarians, heaped scorn on the movie. And critics panned the movie, Roger Ebert first among them.

The really pernicious thing about Stein’s propaganda film, however, is not that it pushed intelligent design and creationism, but that it attempted to convince Americans that we should teach these things in our public schools.

Americans have voted with their wallets, and now Expelled and Premise Media are feeling the pinch.

Some background: I purchased my first copy of the video in 2008, and I lent it to somebody and never got it back. No problem. Following the bankruptcy of Premise Media Amazon now offers the disk at the low price of $2.00. Shipping is $4.00 from the original source (not Amazon). So I was this week I was able to get a replacement copy for less than I paid for the original.

Anyhow …

Spoiler alert: This is a propaganda film. As propaganda it is first rate, and I am here to tell you I have looked at a lot of propaganda. This aspect is what I will analyze most in this and following reviews. There is no science. Sorry.

The propaganda starts with the titles, again first class.

The theme music is playing. It’s by Andy Hunter, and it’s first class. It’s stirring, and it propels the viewer into the story line. Some children are playing soccer in a street. There is a wall. It soon becomes apparent the street is supposed to be in West Berlin in the days of the Soviet Union, and the wall is the Berlin Wall. There is no color. The titles are cast as an old news reel film, sometimes jerky.

Expelled-01

The scene cuts to some military officers poring over plans on a table. It’s apparent they are not Wehrmact. They must be Soviet. The screen flashes a depiction of the route of the Berlin Wall and the fortified border that separated East and West Germany from 1961 to 1989. The theme music is a quick string beat that moves the viewers along.

Expelled-02

We see soldiers setting up wooden posts and stringing barbed wire. There is a bullet-pocked wall with names painted on it, but it is just a part of the title sequence, and the names are those of the producers.

Hands are placing concrete blocks on top of a partially-completed wall and securing them in place with mortar. Workers mortar more blocks in place. The music surges forward, the rhythm compels the viewers attention.

Men in suits stand in the street and observe the construction of the wall. They are perplexed. Crowds in the street mill behind the men.

The wall is nearly to it’s full height, and it partially obscures a poster on a wall behind it. The poster is part of the credits, listing Mark Mathis as associate producer.

Expelled-03

A soldier in uniform and wearing a Wehrmact style helmet marches by a shop window. He has a rifle slung over his shoulder.

People watch. The wall is nearing completion. Expressions on the faces of the people are grim. The are obviously frustrated. They can do nothing.

Now there is barbed wire above the top of the wall, and through the barbed wire we can see a street sign on the other side. Only it’s not a real street sign. It’s part of the credits, and the street names spell out “Simon Tondeur Editor.”

The title theme continues. Now all questions vanish. This is the Berlin Wall. There is a sign in an odd mixture of German and english that says “Achtung West Berlin.”

The title sequence draws to a close, and we again see the children kicking the ball in the street. Finally it sails over the wall and disappears. The children stand and stare. The ball is obviously gone forever. Behind the wall. Just as liberty and justice disappeared behind the wall in 1961. The theme music winds down and strikes a final chord. The presentation begins.

There is an auditorium. The crowd is waiting for the main speaker to appear. It’s Ben Stein. He’s waiting back stage. Waiting for the introduction to conclude. Waiting to walk on stage. The scene cuts to biologist and noted atheist Richard Dawkins, who says:

The battle over evolution is only one skirmish in a much larger war.

Others weigh in.

Creationist Jonathan Wells says, “Science simply makes no use of the hypothesis of God.” Biologist and noted atheist PZ Myers says, “Ask yourself, what does Intelligent Design give us—nothing.” Another scientist speaks: “We cannot accept Intelligent Design as an alternative theory.” And another, “They will never accept that we have a better argument, and they just pester us and waste our time.”

This section also features an interview with Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine. Ben Stein grills Shermer on the validity of Intelligent Design, and to my distress Shermer lets him off entirely too easily. Shermer is asked whether Intelligent Design is pseudo science or real science (my terms). Shermer places Intelligent Design mostly in the pseudo science portion of the spectrum. What he should have mentioned is that Intelligent Design is a complete fraud and is really just creationism dressed up in a cheap tuxedo.

In any event, that pretty much sets the mood. Mainstream science is really down on Intelligent Design. And God. But freedom?

Ben Stein comes to the podium and begins to speak. He speaks of freedom. He reminds us freedom is what made this country. Freedom is what made this country great. His speech evokes images of American icons, such as the Washington Monument, which the video displays while Stein is speaking. His speech evokes the image of Martin Luther King, shown, as well.

Ben Stein speaks of threats to liberty. The video shows these threats. It shows black people in the South standing up for their rights. It shows black people being manhandled by the police.

Richard von Sternberg

We see Ben Stein on site at the Washington Monument. It is a place where freedom was threatened. From a view of the monument the camera pans to the left, and we see the Smithsonian Institution. This is a place where freedom was threatened.

Ben Stein meets with Dr. Richard von Sternberg, a victim of repression:

Richard M. Sternberg is an American evolutionary biologist who has completed a BS degree from University of South Carolina and has two PhDs; the first from 1995 in molecular evolution from Florida International University, and a second in systems science from Binghamton University. He did post-doctoral work between 1999 and 2001 at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) at the Smithsonian Institution, on thephylogeny of brachyuran crabs.

In February 2001 he began work as an invertebrate taxonomist for the National Institutes of Health at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, later becoming a staff scientist. The position allowed time for research work, and he continued at the NMNH, now as an unpaid research associate. Soon after starting work, he agreed to take on the unpaid position of Managing Editor of the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a taxonomic journal which usually publishes descriptions of newly identified species. Also in 2001, he joined the editorial board of the Baraminology Study Group, a young earth creationist “creation science” attempt to identify and classify the created kinds mentioned in scripture. He has stated that he is an outside critic and remained skeptical of their young earth beliefs. Around this time he was sympathetic to historic ideas of structuralism of patterns in nature, but could not go from that to inferring the existence of a designer. He occasionally met proponents of intelligent design, and in 2002 presented a lecture on formal causation to the ISCID intelligent design group’s “Research And Progress in Intelligent Design” (RAPID) conference.

[Some links removed]

Sternberg relates how he used to work at the Smithsonian, but he does not anymore. The reason does not is he got crossways with the scientific orthodoxy. He was editor of a scientific journal and dared to publish a paper that gave credence to Intelligent Design. That’s why he doesn’t work there anymore. He lost the office he had at the Smithsonian, and he was pressured to resign. His religious beliefs were investigated.

Some skeptical analysis will be beneficial.

Sternberg met with Steven C. Meyer, the author of a paper that Sternberg published in the journal of which he was editor. Apparently the two arranged to have the paper published in order to give Intelligent Design the prestige of having a paper published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Sternberg did not consult with others on the editorial board of the journal, but he selected the four reviewers, including himself. He has never revealed the identities of the other three reviewers, which I presume were fans of Intelligent Design.

At any level of reading the paper has no scientific merit. I have read it and found it to be at the level of an op-ed piece that might be printed in the opinions section of a newspaper. You can read it for yourself.

The editorial board was highly outraged, which outrage provided much of the fuel for the fire storm fanned in the video.

Sternberg did not lose his job. He was not employed at the Smithsonian. He was employed at the National Institutes of Health, and in his free time he was doing unpaid research at the Smithsonian. His job as editor for the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington was a voluntary, unpaid position. He announced his resignation as editor even before the paper in question was published.

The National Center for Science Education dug a little deeper:

The Claim

“In October, as the OSC complaint recounts, [Sternberg’s supervisor] Mr. Coddington told Mr. Sternberg to give up his office and turn in his keys to the departmental floor, thus denying him access to the specimen collections he needs.” (Wall Street Journal editorial, linked from Expelled website)

The Facts

According to Coddington in a January 2005 communication, “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. 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.”

Jonathan Coddington is more explicit in his posting on the Panda’s Thumb blog:

Posted by JAC on February 3, 2005 9:36 AM

Although I do not wish to debate the merits of intelligent design, this forum seems an apt place to correct several factual inaccuracies in the Wall Street Journal’s Op Ed article by David Klinghoffer, “The Branding of a Heretic” (Jan. 28, 2005). Because Dr. von Sternberg has filed an official complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, I cannot comment as fully as I would wish.
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.
2. He is not an employee of the Smithsonian Institution. His title, “Research Associate,” means that for a three year, potentially renewable period he has permission to visit the Museum for the purpose of studying and working with our collections without the staff oversight visitors usually receive.
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.
6. As for prejudice on the basis of beliefs or opinions, I repeatedly and consistently emphasized to staff (and to Dr. von Sternberg personally), verbally or in writing, that private beliefs and/or controversial editorial decisions were irrelevant in the workplace, that we would continue to provide full Research Associate benefits to Dr. von Sternberg, that he was an established and respected scientist, and that he would at all times be treated as such.
On behalf of all National Museum of Natural History staff, I would like to assert that we hold the freedoms of religion and belief as dearly as any one. The right to heterodox opinion is particularly important to scientists. Why Dr. von Sternberg chose to represent his interactions with me as he did is mystifying. I can’t speak to his interactions with anyone else.

Sincerely yours,
Jonathan Coddington

What is so interesting is that in the video Sternberg says, and Stein accepts as fact, that he lost his office. Sternberg never mentions in the video that he was given another office.

This episode sets the standard for the remainder of the Expelled video. It is a pure propaganda piece with a complete complement of innuendo, misstatement and deceit by omission. This is the standard of the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture, the creationist organization that sponsors the campaign promulgated in this video and a number of others.

Sternberg is the first of the “expelled.” Others to follow are Caroline Crocker, Guillermo Gonzalez, Robert Marks, Pamela Winnick and Michael Egnor. And I haven’t even gotten to the gas chambers and the Nazi connection. This video is a beauty, and there will be more to come in future installments of Ferris Bueller Gets Expelled.