Guillermo Gonzalez, the Intelligent Design proponent who was failed to get tenure at Iowa State University’s astronomy department, is apparently still hell-bent on destroying his own career by making an issue out of it. When ISU originally denied him tenure, they quietly issued him a letter explaining their reasons. They did not publicize their list of criticisms and shortcomings. This is a good thing, of course: doing so would hurt the career prospects of a young Ph.D at other universities. And yet Gonzalez, for all the complaints about discrimination, has still failed to publicize this letter himself. And in the attempt to spin his case as ideological, anti-religious warfare, Gonzalez and the Discovery Institute keep forcing the issue, causing his actual record as a scholar to come under scrutiny. It’s not turning out well for him.
The Discovery Institute has naturally been a model of misdirection on this issue, citing Gonzalez’s publication records prior to his stint as ISU as evidence that he was a superior scholar. This is, as I mentioned, comparing rotten apples to fresh oranges: publishing under someone else’s wing is very different from seeing if you can carry your weight. But the DI is pressing on, now issuing a document purporting to show that Gonzalez published more than in the same time period than the professors who decided on his case: another irrelevant comparison. Even worse for Gonzalez, however, is that this data does contain a relevant comparison, and it is damning. As Ed Brayton over at Dispatches has pointed out that, when you place Gonzalez’s record side by side with the other candidate from his same department that did get tenure, Gonzalez doesn’t even come close to measuring up in either number of new publications or literature citations… the very two things the DI claims are most impressive about Gonzalez. And this isn’t even taking into account his failure to shepard graduate students or bring any significant amount of money into the school (his colleges averaged over a million: he brought in almost nothing at all). Or the actual quality of his work.
What seems clear is that Intelligent Design is quickly turning into little more than a scam for special treatment. They don’t want to play by the rules of science, where a claim must be confirmed or disconfirmed by evidence. They don’t want to be judged like other scientists on the quality of their work or their arguments. If anyone criticizes their work, it’s just a materialist paradigm defending its own. The possibility that their arguments are lousy, as lousy as those of countless normal scientists who have seen their ideas tossed down the crapper by their peers, isn’t even open for discussion. They bristle at the idea that their arguments are essentially based on religious presumption rather than scientific evidence, but then scream religious discrimination at the first sign of resistance to their ideas: even when their critics are themselves religious. If scientists criticize Intelligent Design, then they are engaging in a conspiracy to silence Intelligent Design. If they don’t, they are engaging in a conspiracy of silence to ignore it.
I’m sure other universities, after watching this spectacle, can’t wait to take Gonzalez on now and put up with this sort of behavior.