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In Anticipation of Darwin Day, What Would Charles Darwin Say About "Censor of the Year" Jerry Coyne?


At Why Evolution Is True, Jerry Coyne predictably revels in being recognized as Censor of the Year, musing that "such a prize really is an honor, coming as it does from an organization devoted to spreading lies to schoolchildren." Parse the logic of that one if you can. I think he means the "lie" that there's more than one view on Darwinian evolution in mainstream science. Coyne should get to know the work and writing of his U. of Chicago colleague biologist James A. Shaprio, who proposes "Natural Genetic Engineering" as an alternative to Darwinism.

Or see here for Casey Luskin's "What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution?" These are not idiosyncratic concerns. But Coyne assiduously refuses to acquaint himself with the reality that there's a fascinating and substantive debate going on.

Meanwhile he is so jazzed to be recognized as a censor and bully that he grants me an honorary doctorate. Thanks!

Thank you, Dr. Klinghoffer -- the award is even more meaningful coming from a fellow Jew -- and thanks to all the people at the Discovery Institute. I will cherish this honor immensely, and will put it on my desk right next to my "Emperor Has No Clothes Award" from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

If only I were an untenured academic at a less fancy school than Coyne's, anxious about how I'm going to support my family if tenure doesn't work out, Coyne could try to get me in trouble with my administration and endanger my employment too. With my newly minted PhD from Coyne U., perhaps now I can go on and follow in Dr. Coyne's footsteps, punishing and intimidating working scientists with different views from my own while I blog about how hard I work (at tracking down adorable animal videos). In case any of his colleagues wonder what he does with his time, Coyne insists:

I write on this site between 6 and 8 a.m., before work hours (posts are spread throughout the day), devoting the rest of the time to academic duties and writing a book. And I work 7 days a week...

I bet they do wonder. The book he refers to is the vaunted religion-bashing volume that will no doubt appear some day. Frankly, I would love to know what some of Jerry Coyne's University of Chicago colleagues think -- I mean the vast majority who haven't given up publishing in their own field to pursue unrelated interests in areas where they have no scholarly qualifications. I'm curious what the grad students in his department make of him. Is it their ambition to move on to other things once they've "made it" as he has? Somehow, I doubt it.

I'm unable to detect any recent publications by Coyne in his actual field and if he has any interactions with students, the impact appears to be negligible. Compare Coyne's zero ratings at RateMyProfessors.com -- I mean, no one has even bothered to rate him -- to his victim Eric Hedin's ratings, which notably emphasize how much they like him and feel that he cares about them.

Coyne also chides us for neglecting to highlight his triumph in getting a donor's dedicatory plaque taken down from a wall at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, because it referred to "God's creatures." Actually, we did make reference to that, as we've done in the past. But unlike the Hedin business, no one was hurt in that case -- unless it's the taxpayers of Los Angeles County. They will have to come up with the difference if the donor in question reasonably walks away in disgust and finds other worthy objects of his charitable giving.

What would Darwin do? Or what would he say, given the insistence of his follower Dr. Coyne that dissenting views should be suppressed, or failing that, their existence denied? As you'll see from the wonderful graphic image above, and we can't be too often reminded of it, Darwin favored fairly acknowledging other views, hearing them out, and responding substantively:

A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question.

His legacy has been co-opted, overwhelmingly, by folks who think otherwise. Which is why we prefer to call "Darwin Day" something more fitting: Academic Freedom Day.

See here later this morning for information about what Coyne will receive in recognition of his efforts as a censor of open discussion of science and biological origins.

I'm now on Twitter. Find me @d_klinghoffer.