Imagine that you are a scientist. You worked hard to obtain advanced degrees in the areas of research that really intrigue you. You dream of making new discoveries and publishing your findings in scientific journals of world-wide reputation. You are eager to pass on your knowledge to eager students who will take what you have taught them to discover things you never dreamed about. Throughout your education and during your entire professional life, it has been drilled into you that to be a scientist worthy of the name, you must accept the tenants of Darwinian evolution. Even if you are religious, perhaps a devout Christian, it has been conveyed to you in so many ways, some subtle, some not so subtle, that your religion is a private matter with no bearing on the world of science. No matter what you believe, you must never question Darwinian orthodoxy concerning the origins of life.
Lets further imagine that there are aspects of evolution that you cannot reconcile with what you have observed in your own research. You do not even have to be a believer in the book of Genesis to be dissatisfied with evolutionary assumptions and conclusions. In fact, you don't have to be religious at all to experience such dissatisfaction. In fact, you may be irreligious, but find merit in other explanations of life's origins such as Intelligent Design.
To extend this imaginary picture further, lets say that you make some complimentary references to Intelligent Design in class, or you allow the publication of a paper sympathetic to Intelligent Design, or you write such an article yourself. What if the consequences are that you are harassed at work so that it is impossible to teach and conduct research? What if your professional competence and qualifications are maligned? What if your colleagues investigate your background and outside activities? What if you lose the position at that prestigious institution? What if you are a reporter covering scientific topics and in a story chronicling the evolution/Intelligent Design debate you give equal time to both sides and then you find you are no longer a full time reporter because of it?
Sound off base? Impossible in the world of science where everyone involved is in search of objective truth? Not according to Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, the documentary featuring Ben Stein. This film chronicles real people similar to the hypothetical scientist who in fact challenged evolutionary dogma or simply sought a fair hearing for Intelligent Design. These people, such as Dr. Richard Sternberg, claim that they suffered retaliation from an evolutionary vanguard within the hallowed walls of Science that is intent on silencing all dissent from evolution. The film not only lets those who claim to have suffered professional retaliation to tell their story, it also gives their colleagues time on film to refute such charges. Expelled also explores the relationship between Darwin's ideas and the Holocaust. It also examines the implications for mankind if Darwinian explanations for the origin of life are correct.
Now, imagine you are me. Suppose I see Expelled and post a favorable review on this blog. Suppose the review posts at 6 a.m. and I receive a reply ninety minutes later. (A record for this relatively unknown blog.) Lets pretend that this blogger calls himself Ben Franklin, a nom de plume to preserve his true identity. Ben Franklin takes issue with my review and refers me to a website that he emphatically claims refutes everything Expelled asserts from the charges of retaliation to issues regarding evolution itself. I go to that website and read it carefully. Should I not assume that the charges the website makes against the individuals in the film be backed up with references to documentary evidence? Should I not expect the website to deal honestly with the evidence it does cite? Should not the site quote the entire evidential record concerning a disputed point and not quote selectively to conceal the truth? When the evidence clearly demonstrates that the organization sponsoring the website actively participated in persecuting one of those profiled in Expelled, should not that website acknowledge that as it portrays those who appeared in Expelled in unflattering terms? Suppose that in fact this website fails to live up to ANY standard of honest reporting most would come to expect. Not only that, but as I peruse the Internet, perhaps I find a concerted effort to discredit Expelled and very little effort at rebuttal in the blogosphere. How should a blogger respond?
This is in fact what happened. In May I saw Expelled in a local theater and on May 14th, I wrote a favorable review. Ben Franklin did indeed respond and recommended the website spoken of above. That website is Expelledexposed.com. (This site can also be accessed at http://www.evolutioniscool.com/ .) I investigated the site and even from my first perusal it was obvious that the site's authors engaged in making unsubstantiated charges. These same authors arrogantly assume that what they assert will be taken at face value by gullible readers and expect no one to investigate the site's claims. After debating Ben Franklin over the sites veracity and discovering a concerted effort on the Internet to discredit Expelled, I thought it would be good to do a series of posts on Expelledexposed.com. Even though such a task is not my primary purpose as a blogger, I feel that if no other blogger is willing to examine the evidence, I might as well. (The Discovery Institute is a great source of information on this subject.) The stakes are higher than the reputation of a movie, its producers, and those it features. The purpose of Expelledexposed.com goes deeper than portraying those appearing in the film in a negative light. It seeks to discourage readers from even contemplating that there may be alternative explanations to life's beginnings.
Expelledexposed.com is produced by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). The NCSE website defines that organization's objective as defending the teaching of evolution in America's public school classrooms; the stated objective is to keep evolution in the classroom and keep what it labels "scientific creationism" out. Members of the NCSE work in tandem with groups across the U.S. to prevent the introduction of "scientific creationism" into the public school science curriculum. One of the NCSE services is to provide "expert witnesses" who testify at public hearings and in courtrooms against allowing any science teaching that challenges Darwinian evolution. The NCSE is profiled in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and it features an interview with its Executive Director, Dr. Eugenie C. Scott.
As stated earlier, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed chronicles the professional retaliation suffered by those who in some way challenged Darwinian Orthodoxy and sought a fair hearing for Intelligent Design. Expelledexposed.com seeks to refute these allegations. One does not have to be a participant in these events to see the flaws in the website's version of events. The sources it cites, such as a government report, it cites selectively to give a bad impression of those claiming to have been persecuted. Such is the case of Richard Sternberg. In 2004, Sternberg was a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. He also served as editor for "The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (PBSW)," a scientific journal published by The Biological Society of Washington (BSW). Sternberg's activities as editor were outside his research duties at the Smithsonian and therefore not under the jurisdiction of his superiors at the Smithsonian. Yet when Sternberg allowed a peer reviewed article, "The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories" by Dr. Stephen Meyer, to be published in the PBSW, Sternberg suffered retaliation from evolutionists at the Smithsonian furious that an article friendly to Intelligent Design had been published in a respected scientific publication. There was a concerted campaign to have Sternberg removed as a Research Associate at the Smithsonian. These charges were investigated by the U.S. House of Representative's Committee on Government Reform. The committee issued a report vindicating Sternberg and outlining a conspiracy to get Sternberg fired from the Smithsonian. An appendix to the report, containing memos, e-mails, letters, official policy statements, etc., provides the evidence for the House report's conclusion. Expelledexposed.com claims that the evidence contained in the report's appendix actually disproves Sternberg's claims. Yet a full reading of the appendix paints a different picture than the selective treatment of it by expelledexposed.com and bloggers it links to.
Expelledexposed.com fails to engage in the full disclosure of the evidence; it manipulates the evidence to damage Sternberg's reputation. The website fails to fully disclose the truth in another matter: the government's report accuses the web site's sponsor, the NCSE, of colluding with Sternberg's colleagues to get Sternberg fired from the Smithsonian. For the website to trash Sternberg and deny he had been persecuted over the publication of the Meyer paper while failing to disclose that the web site's sponsors took an active part in that persecution is intellectual dishonesty at its worst. And for this expelledexposed.com needs exposing. Other blogs expelledexposed.com links to attempt to exonerate the NCSE of trying to ruin Sternberg, but in Part I, I will point to the evidence contained in the government reports' appendix that serves as a "smoking gun", proving the charge correct.
Expelledexposed.com alleges that Sternberg did not suffer retaliation for allowing a paper favorable to Intelligent Design to be published in a scientific journal; the website states that Sternberg was in hot water for conduct warranting dismissal from the Smithsonian. Yet the appendix to the government report contains admissions from Sternberg's superiors that Sternberg engaged in no conduct deserving dismissal. The appendix contains clear evidence that the real reason Sternberg's colleagues and the NCSE conspired against him was the publication of the Meyer paper. Expelledexposed.com charges Sternberg with publishing the paper without proper peer-review. The website and allied blogs quotes an official statement by the BSW as evidence that the paper was published in violation of proper procedures. Again, the website is selective in the evidence it presents; contrary evidence, statements from the BSW's then-President acknowledging proper procedures were followed, contained in the appendix and on Sternberg's website are ignored. Expelledexposed.com also fails to disclose that the NCSE wrote the first draft of the BSW statement denying that the Meyer paper had been peer-reviewed.
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed profiled others besides Sternberg who claimed to be persecuted for challenging Darwinian orthodoxy. However, since there is so much more material dealing with Sternberg, more emphasis will be given to his case than the others. Other issues to be covered in these articles are the relationship between Intelligent Design and Creationism, the relationship between Darwinian Evolution and eugenics and Nazi philosophy and the Holocaust plus the compatibly, or lack of, between evolution and Christianity.
The issue of the government report and its appendix needs to be addressed. The report, 29 pages in length, substantiates the charges made by Sternberg that he suffered retaliation for publishing the Meyer paper. Expelledexposed.com and the blogs it links to dismiss the report as the political handiwork of the religious right under the direction of Congressman Mark Souder and former Senator Rick Santorum. The appendix to the report is 74 pages. The portrayal of the appendix by expelledexposed.com and evolutionary minded blogs is schizophrenic. At times the appendix is either portrayed as a bewildering collection of loosely related documents unconnected with the allegations made in the government report. At other times, the appendix is supposed to contain evidence exonerating those the report criticizes. The first time I read it, I was bewildered. Yet as I repeatedly read through it, the connection of the individual elements with the report became more evident. Far from being a collection of unrelated documents, they told a coherent story. For the benefit of readers, I will provide here a table of contents of what is contained in the appendix:
p. 2-6. Letter to Smithsonian officials from Souder/Santorum. The letter denies that Stenberg's allegations are a figment of his imagination. Mentioned is harassment against Sternberg and evidence the Meyer paper had been peer-reviewed. The Smithsonian officials are taken to task for not taking the matter seriously and asked what they will do to rectify the situation. Evidence of anti-religious ideology at the Smithsonian is mentioned.
p. 7-8. Reply from the Smithsonian. Discrimination against Sternberg and an anti-religious atmosphere at the Smithsonian is denied.
p. 9. A statement of Smithsonian policy on Diversity and Equal Employment.
p. 10-12. Letter from the same Smithsonian official to Sternberg declaring Sternberg to be a Research Associate in good standing. Allegations of harassment by Sternberg are dismissed. Assurance given that those who differ on the origin of species will not be discriminated against. Sternberg welcome to reapply for a position. Sternberg given a new sponsor. Sternberg not to be given grant to make up for loss of research time. Sternberg's notes still at the Smithsonian and available to him. Access to Smithsonian granted.
p. 13. Sternberg appointed to Research Collaborator. (Not recommended as Research Associate as he formally had been.)
p. 14-15. A Statement of the duties of a Research Collaborator at the Smithsonian.
p. 16-20. Notes to and from Sternberg's colleagues and superiors. One colleague in particular is urging Sternberg's superior (Sternberg's new sponsor) to fire Sternberg for alleged violations of policy, to which Sternberg's superior states is not any basis for firing Sternberg. This "sponsor" hopes that Sternberg will resign if asked, and he was asked. (p. 18) From these pages it is evident that the publication of the Meyer paper is what really angers Sternberg's colleagues and superiors. Yet the publication of the Meyer paper is stated to be outside Smithsonian jurisdiction, so the Smithsonian cannot fire him over the matter. (p. 19) Ways to discover who reviewed the Meyer paper are discussed.
p. 21-27. Letters exchanged between Sternberg and his superiors relating to Sternberg's appointment as Research Collaborator.
p. 27-29. Letter from Sternberg colleague to Sternberg's superior. Proof that the publication of the Meyer paper sparked an interest in Sternberg's background (religion, politics), but no hostile intent expressed. Sternberg said to have mishandled laboratory specimens and failed to return over fifty Smithsonian Library books. Letters decry the publicity over the Meyer paper. Anti-religious statements made by some.
p. 30-35. Communications between Sternberg's superiors and the NCSE on how to best handle Sternberg. Shows collusion between Smithsonian and the NCSE in investigating Sternberg's background and activities outside the Smithsonian in an attempt to fire Sternberg. Smoking gun: this from the NCSE on page 32: "If there are reprecussions for von Sternberg from the article, they should be because of his poor judgement in publishing it..." This directly contradicts the contention of expelledexposed.com that Sternberg was not targeted for publishing the Meyer paper. The evidence of collusion between the Smithsonian and the NCSE is clearly shown in these pages. See p.73-74 for evidence of collusion as well.
p. 36-51. Memos regarding reorganization of office space where Sternberg worked. Some colleagues do not want to share space with Sternberg for fear of association. p.47- Sternberg declared to have done nothing wrong so he cannot be let go until his term as Research Associate expires. Sternberg cannot be fired for publishing a paper outside Smithsonian jurisdiction.
p. 51-53. Reprecussions from the Meyer paper. Messages among Sternberg's colleagues and superiors. Sternberg's version of the truth over the Meyer paper discussed.
p. 54-55. More on office space. Sternberg's superior states Sternberg did nothing wrong regarding lab specimens. (p. 54)
p. 56-60. Lab procedures policy statement. More dealing with office space. Note, the issue of one's relationship with the Creationist movement and future employment with the Smithsonian is discussed. (P. 59) Remember that Sternberg was assured that those who disagreed on the origin of species would face no discrimination (p. 10-12)
p. 60-62. Differences between being a Research Associate and being a Research Collaborator discussed.
p. 63-67. Issues pertaining to Meyer paper. Efforts to ascertain who reviewed the Meyer paper. Anti-religious sentiments expressed. (p. 66) Background information on Sternberg and Meyer.
p. 68-69. Letter and outline from Sternberg to his superior concerning Sternberg's future research plans.
p. 70-71. Reprinting of previously presented material.
p. 72. Sternberg's editorial practice vindicated by the then-President of the BSW. The BSW is the publisher of the journal in which the Meyer paper was published.
p. 73-74. The NCSE to the then-President of the BSW. The NCSE supplies a draft statement to the BSW claiming the Meyer paper not peer-reviewed. It may or may not have been proper for the NCSE to provide a draft statement. Yet it is another example of the failure of expelledexposed.com to reveal its involvement in the matter when it points to the BSW statement denying peer-review took place as evidence Sternberg acted improperly as editor while failing to acknowledge NCSE involvement in the drafting of the statement in the first place.
Finally, I am providing a list of abreviations to aid you in understanding the following articles, the next one in particular. It will be assumed that when readers read Part I, they would have already read this Introduction. I will refer to certain organizations and websites, etc., using these abreviations without explanation. Reading Part I without knowing these abbreviations could cause readers to become confused. I thought it best to publish this Introduction days before Part I so the reader can study the material presented here. Please study expelledexposed.com and the blogs it links to beforehand. Also read the U.S. Government report and its appendix closely, preferably more than once. They can be accessed at The Discovery Institutes Website, or at Sternberg's website, which should also be studied closely. Here are the abbreviations to keep in mind as you read further:
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed------------------Expelled
Richard Sternberg's website ---------------------- Sternberg
Report of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform ------------------------------------------------------------------Gov.report
Appendix to the Report ---------------------------Appendix
The National Center for Science Education --------NCSE
The Smithsonian Institute ------------------------SI
"The Origin of Biological Information and Higher Taxonemic Categories" by Dr. Stephen Meyer --------------------------------------------------- The Meyer Paper
The Biological Society of Washington--------------BSW
"The Procedings of the Biological Society of Washington"----PBSW
I hope this is helpful as you read Part I which will be published soon. .