Update on the Gonzalez Tenure Case

So it turns out that Iowa State University likely acted appropriately in denying Guillermo Gonzalez tenure; the original article (subscription required) is here and a good summary can be found here. In short: Gonalez didn’t produce new stuff after moving to ISU, but tried to get tenure on his research done as a post-doc.

I’m still not convinced it’s a total win for for Darwinist side. The way I see it there are at least three related Darwin/Intelligent Design arguments going on simultaneously:

  1. The true account of the origin of biological diversity.
  2. The (privileged ) role of science in public policy debates.
  3. The role of science (including/especially biology) in our society.

Only the first is won or lost exclusively through scientific research, scientific practice and the norms of the scientific community. It is also the one we need to worry about the least, since Darwinian natural selection is true and Intelligent Design is false.

Guillermo Gonzalez didn’t do the work and didn’t get tenure, based on his quantity of research and the number of grants (zero) he received. So far, so good. But when this is seen in the scientific blogosphere as a win of Darwinism over Intelligent Design— not just the appropriate functioning of the tenure process, not just preservation of the norms of the scientific community, but a win in the Culture War between the forces of Darwinian Good and the Neo-Creationist Evil, it ends up loosing us ground in debates 2 and 3. I still think that if real, live scientists give off a whiff of scheudenfreude when an IDer doesn’t get tenure, it sends the wrong message to society at large; it tells them that science doesn’t deserve the privileged role in public life we think it ought have.

If the pro-science among us gloat over Gonzalez loosing his bid for tenure, simply because he belongs to the ID contingent, it’s actually worse if he was rejected for good reasons. That makes the anti-ID, anti-religious bias all the more obvious.

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