One of the biggest knocks against Intelligent Design is the lack of published peer-revieiwed articles in scientific journals. A story from last year (that I forgot about) tells the story of an evolutionists who dared to publish a piece supportive of ID. Meet Richard Sternberg, former Smithsonian researcher and editor of Proceedings of the Biological Society.
For daring to accept a paper by ID supporter Stephen Meyers, having it peer-reviewed by three scientists and publishing it, Sternberg was forced out of the Smithsonian and subject to career and life destructive rumors.
Immediately after the publication of the paper, gossip began to spread in the Smithsonian from within and without. Sternberg was accused of being a “sleeper cell operative for the creationists,” not being an acutal scientists, religious zealot and that he took bribes, rigged the peer-review process, was a Young Earth Creationist, had trained as an orthodox priest.
When the biological society issued a statement dissavowing the Meyers article, Sternberg was told not to come because “they could not guarantee [him] that they could keep order.”
All this against a guy who holds two PhDs in evolutionary biology, was praised by his professors for his graduate work and earned a coveted research associate appointment at the Smithsonian Institution.
When he was approached about publishing the paper, he sent it to three scientists who came back with close to 50 things to considered, but agreed that the paper should be published.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which is to protect federal employees from reprisals, investigated the situation and worked to help Sternberg. They found that “the rumor mill became … infected” against Sternberg. So much so that a colleague had to circulate his resume to quelch rumors that somehow he was not a scientist.
For their effort the Special Counsel and the principal legal adviser, James McCay, were attacked by the Smithsonian and the National Center for Science Education, a think-tank supporting the teaching of evolution, after McCay wrote that the NCSE “work closely with” the Smithsonian to have Sternberg “investigated and discredited.”
A anonymous Smithsonian official said McCay was trying to embarrass the institution. The NCSE said he was playing out a political agenda and equated Sternberg to an employee who “embarrassed” his employer and “really blew it” for the company.
What got Sternberg in trouble was his penchant for going against the system. He knew his journal had not published papers such as the one Meyers wrote, but wanted to stir the pot. I am not convinced by intelligent design but they have brought a lot of difficult questions to the fore,” Sternberg said. “Science only moves forward on controversy.”
Even after this move has essentially ruined his career and hurt his life (his marriage even dissolved), Sternberg still believes that challenging the prevailing notions is good for science. “I loathe careerism and the herd mentality,” he said. “I really think that objective truth can be discovered and that popular opinion and consensus thinking does more to obscure than to reveal.”
And critics wonder why ID has no peer-reviewed articles published. Let’s see as a scientist who writes the article you will receive no grant money, no recognition unless it is negative and no one will publish your work. If you are an editor of a journal you will always have the image of Richard Sternberg in the back of your mind as you refuse to publish yet another article on ID.
It must just be because ID isn’t science, of course it has nothing to do with the way anyone who even mentions the words “Intelligent Design” are treated by the scientific community. We could ask Sternberg what he thinks, but he’s just a religious zealot anyway.