Sunday, February 06, 2005


Discovery Institute blogger Jonathan Witt is not happy with my recent blog entry about the travails of Richard Sternberg. He writes:

Another point we half agree with is Evolutionblog's statement that the quality of the paper in question “as a work of scholarship is certainly relevant to assessing whether Sternberg has been treated unfairly.” It's curious, then, that the blogger, Jason Rosenhouse, dismisses Meyer's peer-reviewed article with a website critique (there has been no peer-reviewed critique of Stephen Meyer's article), but Rosenhouse doesn't mention this incisive defense of the Meyer's paper published here and here at our website. Perhaps the blogger encouraged readers to review it at another post.

See the original post for the links.

Of course, the reason I didn't link to the DI's “incisive” defense of Meyer's paper is that I was not writing a post about the merits of Meyer's work. Instead, I was merely using the “website critique” to respond to a specific charge made in the op-ed under discussion. Let me remind you that the op-ed made the following assertion:

The offending review-essay was written by Stephen Meyer, who holds a Cambridge University doctorate in the philosophy of biology. In the article, he cites biologists and paleontologists critical of certain aspects of Darwinism--mainstream scientists at places like the University of Chicago, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford. Mr. Meyer gathers the threads of their comments to make his own case.

To rebut that assertion I cited the work of three people I trust on these issues, namely Alan Gishlik, Nick Matzke, and Wesley Elsberry, the authors of the critique in question. I wrote:

As documented by Gishlik, Matzke and Elsberry (see here), many of Meyer's citations were inaccurate or distorted. He was also very selective in his choice of papers to cite. The fact that Meyer's paper was very bad as a work of scholarship is certainly relevant to assessing whether Sternberg has been treated unfairly.

In citing Gishlik, Matzke and Elsberry in this way, I hardly think I'm obligated to also provide links to all the people who disagree with them. The DI was hardly the only website that took issue with their critique, after all. Was I expected to link to all of them?

However, just so there are no hard feelings:

  • Follow this link to read Meyer's paper.

  • Follow this link to read the critique written by Nick Matzke, Wes Elsberry and Alan Gishlik.

  • Follow this link and this link to read the incisive defense of Meyer referred to by Witt.

But since Witt seems terribly concerned about matters of blog etiquette, let me point out that when quoting from someone else's blog entry it is customary to provide a link to the entry being quoted from. This is especially true when attaching your own beginning to someone else's half-sentence. Yet Witt provided no link to my blog.

For that matter, the DI's bloggers have almost never provided links to The Panda's Thumb, despite the fact that contributors to PT routinely link to the DI blog when appropriate. Indeed, as Ed Brayton points out in in this post, the original version of Witt's post did not link to Gishlik, Matzke and Elsberry, even while linking to the DI's responses to it. A link was added after Ed pointed this out.

And while I'm at it, let me close with some other choice words from Ed Brayton.
It seems that Witt bungled several things in his blog entry:

Equally as important, you might also notice the strange claim in Witt's post that Coddington's response to Sternberg's accusations have something to do with criticism of Sternberg's publication of Meyer's article in the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. After admitting that there are "two sides to the story", Witt says that Sternberg's side of the story is here, and he quotes from it. But what he quotes is in fact Sternberg's response to accusations from others (not from Coddington) that he violated the normal peer review procedure in publishing the Meyer article. Coddington's response to Sternberg's accusations has nothing to do with that.

There are two entirely different questions involving Sternberg. The first is whether he circumvented the normal peer review procedure at PBSW to insure that Meyer's article would be published in the last edition for which he was the editor and could do so. The second is whether Sternberg has been the victim of religious discrimination at the Smithsonian, where he is a Research Associate (which is not an employee, but merely access and workspace at the National Museum of Natural History). Sternberg has made accusations against Coddington involving the second situation, and Coddington's response on Panda's Thumb was to those accusations. Witt bizarrely seems to think that Sternberg's response to the accusations against him in situation #1 and Coddington's response to Sternberg's accusations in situation #2 comprise the “two sides” of the story. False. They are in fact entirely independent statements on entirely independent situations and they have little to do with each other. That's not bad - false implications and hypocrisy in a single post.


At 7:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a huge and convoluted trail of he-said-she-said... I'm completely lost and wondering why I would ever want to read your blog again. Do you have a relevant message to convey? If so, you have failed completely. All this petty finger-pointing makes you look juvenile while obscuring any argument you might wish to promote.

At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't find it difficult to follow at all. It's a relatively complex issue, though; if you find it confusing, I suggest you follow the links provided to the Panda's Thumb and the DI blog and read up.

For my part, I'm a little stunned that the DI thinks it's significant that there's no "peer reviewed" criticism of Meyer's paper yet. Aren't ID advocates usually forced to argue that peer review means nothing, since reviewed journals with independent editors won't touch their dogma?

At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Real Up Human [belive me?] said...

Nor did I find it too abstract to follow...

But I still find myself amiss that we can't master this linking world we are trying to "inter-relate" to peace.

My dad told me a long time ago, "If you are going to do something... do it right the 1st time or don't do it at all."

Obviously a complexity issue such as Dim-Witt unfolds -- requires an a bit of extra "In The Mindway" consideration(s). Now when self-quotations occur... one must think there is an idea out there to find.... But not required.

But if it is linked [<- err]
for the reader --- it is an obvious mistake not to follow it up before making self convoluted trail of thoughts into the mix.

And to whom am I commenting on... We all can see that writer of 7:43AM.

So there is a choice between two styles here and one more additional way to express a external idea to be found.

A mispelling of terms placed in a queer line in order to throw a zorange into this mix. What is that... z?

Define our world. Define Peace.

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