Thursday, February 03, 2005

Coddington Replies

On Sunday I posted this blog entry about a Wall Street Journal op-ed describing the woes of Richard Sternberg. Recall that it was Sternberg who abused his position as editor of a scientific journal to publish, in contravention of normal editorial procedures, a pro-ID article. He has filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel alledging religious discrimination at the Smithsonian Institution.

Sternberg's supervisor at the Smithsonian is Jonathan Coddington. The op-ed accuses him of discriminating, on the basis of rleigon, against Sternberg. Coddington has now replied to the editorial, in a comment posted over at The Panda's Thumb. I reproduce the entire comment below:


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 &;ldquo;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


Of course, a concern for the truth is not something that characterizes pro-ID writing. They will continue to peddle Sternberg's version of the story as if it is received fact, and will give little if any regard to Coddington's version of events. For them sticking to the script is more important than getting it right.

3 Comments:

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Gadfly said...

You don't have Haloscan for trackbacks, so I wanted to let you know I've linked to this and a couple other posts here.

 
At 7:05 PM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

Dr. Rosenhouse,

You might be flattered to know that

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/blogs/index.php

linked to your blog to get coddington's response. Apparently the DI thinks highly enough of you to read your blog regularly.

They could not have chosen a better blog (well, PZ's is pretty good too) to monitor.

Salvador T. Cordova

 
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