Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

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Breaking News: Iowa State Department Faculty Acknowledge ID Played Role in Gonzalez's Tenure Denial

According to a story to be published in the May 26 edition of World Magazine (already available online here), two faculty members of the department that denied tenure to Guillermo Gonzales at Iowa State University have admitted that his work on ID played a role in the denial. While Prof. Eli Rosenberg, Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, insisted to the magazine that intelligent design "was not an overriding factor" (emphasis added), he then conceded according to the magazine that Gonzalez's pro-ID book The Privileged Planet "played into the decision-making process. He also explained that the reputation of a professor among others in his field is a significant factor." Of course, if "reputation" is used as a code word for whether one's views are popular among fellow scientists, then this is another way anti-ID bias entered into the decision.

But Rosenberg is not the only department member who admitted that intelligent design played a role in the tenure decision.

ISU astronomy professor Curtis Struck told World that he was not surprised at the denial of tenure to Gonzales because "[h]e includes some things in his astronomy resumé that other people regard as taking a coincidence too far." Struck was obviously referring to Gonzalez's arguments for intelligent design.

Struck's comments mean that at least three of the five tenured astronomers in Gonzalez's department have now been tied to anti-ID bias. As noted earlier this week, another tenured astronomer in the department signed a statement circulated by the National Center for Science Education denouncing intelligent design as "creationist pseudoscience," while the husband of a third astronomy professor signed the same statement.

Despite his own admission, Prof. Rosenberg tried to do damage control by claiming that there was something deficient about Dr. Gonzalez's sterling research record: "You take a look at somebody's research record over the six-year probationary period and you get a sense whether this is a strong case. Clearly, this was a case that looked like it might be in trouble." Really? Was Gonzalez somehow derelict in publishing 350% more peer-reviewed publications than his own department's stated standard for research excellence? Or in co-authoring a college astronomy textbook with Cambridge University Press? Or in having his research recognized in Science, Nature, Scientific American, and other top science publications?

It is worth pointing out that in early 2004 Gonzalez's department nominated him for an "Early Achievement in Research" award for an outstanding record in research. So what changed between 2004 and 2006 when Gonzalez submitted his tenure application? Well, 2004 was the year The Privileged Planet was published. Dr. Gonzalez continued to publish peer-reviewed journal articles, and even co-authored the Cambridge University Press textbook in 2006, but his department seems to have soured on him just as the controversy over intelligent design heated up on the ISU campus and around the nation. Coincidence... or design?

Isn't the answer obvious?