What Really Happened to Gonzalez

In an earlier post, I noted that the treatment that Gonzalez has received for his work is shameful.  It’s not unheard-of, however.  The list of names is long and includes people like Sternberg, Dembski, Behe, and Beckwith.

So, what did Gonzalez do?  He published a work that pointed out the fine-tuning of the universe, which is not in dispute.  He pointed out that we live in a very unlikely and unique galactic habitable zone, also not in dispute.  He pointed out that our position in the universe appears to be unique, also not in dispute.  He pointed out that our position in the universe allows for the best range of scientific study, also not in dispute.  Then, he even laid out some observations that would disprove his theory, showing that it was, in principle, falsifiable.  So, what did he do wrong?

What he did wrong was ruffle the materialists’ feathers.  Anything that seems to buttress the materialist worldview is immediately held up as model science.  Take multi-verse theories for instance.  The multi-verse claim is unobservable, unprovable, unscientific.  But, it allows the materialist worldview to hold out a glimmer of hope, so it is embraced.  The Privileged Planet, however, is seen as a threat to that, so it must be stopped at all costs.  This is shameful.  Is it a surprise to anyone reading this why I must hide behind a pseudonym?  If my views were found out, my name would join the list above and I would be marginalized, unable to help the cause from within.

The irony of all this, of course, is that ID science is the real science, while unscientific nonsense like multiverse theories masquerade as science, yet you would never know that from the Darwinist PR machine.

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35 responses to “What Really Happened to Gonzalez

  1. Pingback: Still Not Good for the Gander « Professor Smith’s Weblog

  2. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    Hi professorsmith,

    Let’s discuss Guillermo’s case.

    For starters I’d like to make sure that both of us have sufficient information to go on. Are you familiar with his publication record? How did he do since joining Iowa State? You can look it up on ISI Web of Science.

    What was his grant situation? Compare it to the funding level required in hard sciences.

    What did astronomers outside of Iowa State think of his scientific output? I am sure you can talk to astronomers at your university.

  3. professorsmith

    I apologize for the delay in replying, I’ve been busy the last couple of days.

    I know that Gonzalez did quite a bit of publishing, including a book…you may have heard of it? The Privileged Planet? Ring any bells?

    His grant situation was that he was not pulling in as much as some others in the department, which is not surprising in that he was doing controversial work.

    As to what astronomers outside of ISU thought, I’ve already spoken to that above.

  4. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    Hi professorsmith,

    Yes, I am aware of The Privileged Planet. Unfortunately, popular books don’t count much towards tenure, as I am sure you are aware. I was rather asking you about his peer-reviewed papers, which do. Have you had a chance to track down their dynamics over the years at ISI? Compared his pre-ISU and ISU numbers in this regard?

    As I said, we should be discussing real numbers, not hearsay.

  5. professorsmith

    I don’t have the list in front of me, but he’s been pretty prolific since joining ISU. I think he’s published 16 or 17 papers in a couple years. That’s a good amount.

    Yes, the Privileged Planet doesn’t count, except as a black mark against him, right? I mean, any ID friendly publication means that he should be sternly rebuked and attacked by his fellow professors. It was certainly enough to get other professors to circulate petitions against him. Do you think that was proper of them?

  6. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    He did have a high publication rate as a postdoc. According to ISI, he co-authored 9 papers in 1998 and 10 in 1999. But it went way down when he joined Iowa State in 2001.

  7. professorsmith

    So you’re going to punish the guy for being rather prolific before he had professorial duties? Bottom line is he was publishing at ISU.

  8. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    That not what I said. He was hired at ISU because he showed great promise as a postdoc; his strong postdoc publication record was a reflection of that.

    But your postdoc record takes you only so far. A tenure is made on the basis of your performance as a faculty member. How did he do on that front?

    Your response to funding is a bit vague. Can you be a little more specific with numbers? Compare how much he had in funding with the typical need of a faculty member (summer salary + grad student support + lab).

  9. professorsmith

    So, why don’t you deal with the publication record he had at ISU? I’ve already mentioned that he had 16 or 17 papers. Is that not enough for you? I’m not judging him by his postdoc record; you are the one that brought it up, not me.

    I’ve already admitted that he didn’t pull in as much money as some of his peers. I don’t find it highly surprising though because of the controversial nature of his work. Should we throw out all controversial work that isn’t a cash cow? I wonder what advances we wouldn’t see if we did that.

    Were you going to answer the question as to whether his peers should have been attacking him for publishing the Privileged Planet?

  10. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    He’s had 18 peer-reviewed papers in 2002-07, or 3 papers a year. In itself the number is terribly low: when you begin as a faculty member you usually don’t publish much in the first few years. However, with Gonzalez it was the other way around. 5 papers in both 2002 and 2003, none in 2004, 3 in both 2005 and 2006. A mediocre record, but maybe there’s something else to show for it.

    So what else are you judged upon? The funding. You said that “he didn’t pull in as much money as some of his peers,” but let’s look at the actual numbers. It’s not like he was funded but his colleagues had lots more.

    In absolute terms, he had about $16K a year from 2001 to 2004, from an old NASA grant received by his postdoc advisor at Washington U (Gonzalez wasn’t even a co-PI on it). He had no funding for the next 3 years. In 2007 DI gave him $50K to be spent over 5 years. Now tell me what kind of research you can do on $10K a year or less. It doesn’t even pay for a Ph.D. student (and he had none). That’s pretty bad in absolute, not relative terms.

    If by controversial work you mean publishing a popular book, I must disagree. You can write popular stuff on your own time, whatever the subject. It doesn’t figure in your tenure decision. However, if this hobby leaves you little time to do science, well, that’s your choice. So he wrote a popular book, he helped revise a textbook in astronomy, but none of that is scientific research.

    Lastly, his peers (some of whom I know personally) didn’t attack him for publishing The Privileged Planet. The tenure decision was made on his scientific performance, which was weak no matter how you measure it.

  11. professorsmith

    Mr. Tchernyshyov,
    Oh c’mon, let’s not be coy. His peers didn’t attack him for publishing The Privileged Planet? I suppose they simply started petitions against him because they were dissatisfied with his funding record and/or his publication record? Also, I never said that Privileged Planter should count towards tenure, but there’s no doubt that it counted against him, as the actions of those circulating the petition and the smear campaign against him prove. Why do you try to avoid the issue? Perhaps you are not as hard-hearted as most other Materialists? Perhaps deep down you know that a good man was smeared and ruined by the tactics of your side; tactics that had nothing to do with science and everything to do with protecting your worldview?

  12. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    professorsmith,

    Your argument is based on feelings and not much else. I suggest that you stick to the facts in this case and leave emotions aside.

    Let’s analyze your assertion about Gonzalez’s peers starting a petition against him. The petition was started by Hector Avalos, a professor of religious studies. He isn’t exactly Gonzalez’s peer. Furthermore, none of the 120 faculty members who signed the petition is a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The petition and the list of signatories is available here.

    Next, I’d like to know what is the basis for your assertion that The Privileged Planet counted against Gonzalez’s tenure. Remember that the decision not to give tenure was made at the level of the department.

  13. professorsmith

    It is I who is sticking to the facts, the pertinent ones anyway. It was you who brought up his work before joining ISU, and then it was you who felt the need to chastize me that it doesn’t go towards his tenure, when I never argued that it did.

    As to whether Avalos is a peer, well I guess I have to agree with you 100%. Avalos wishes he could be the equal of Gonzalez, and in his pettiness he started a petition to attack Gonzalez. This is not emotional, this is fact. I did not know that none of the 120 signers were in the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, but I think it helps my argument.

    I’ve previously explained to you why The Privileged Planer counted against him when I said that led to the petitions and attacks on him. I believe the petitioners pressured the school and the Physics Dept. to ostracize Gonzalez, to sacrifice him on the altar of Materialism; to make an example of him, like centuries ago when kings would put the heads of their enemies on spikes. The effect is to make it so that people like me have to hide in the shadows. This is what you seem to support. Again, I ask you, do you think this smear campaign was warranted, was it right?

  14. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    professorsmith,

    I’m glad we agree on the signatories. I don’t think that it helps your case, though. At the very least it robs you of the argument that his peers started a petition against him. Now you have fallen back to the position that the department caved in to the outside pressure. I wonder if you have anything to back that up.

    I have just reread the petition circulated by Avalos and I urge you to do the same. It contains no groundless accusations against Gonzalez, so I am not sure why you would call it a smear. Perhaps you could explain that as well?

  15. professorsmith

    I wasn’t hinging my argument on the petition being started and circulated by his peers. That non-peers, who don’t have the background knowledge that Gonzalez has, feel qualified to tell him that he is not doing science and to pressure the administration to crucify him…well, it shows that it’s not about the science, but about politics and ideology.

    And, of course the petition is a smear. It is an attack on anything that contradicts Materialism. To the uninitiated it may seem harmless enough, but do you really think they would start a petition that they considered harmless?

  16. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    professorsmith,

    If you look up the word smear in a dictionary, you’ll find that it denotes a false accusation intended to damage someone’s reputation. I find it hard to interpret the petition as such. For one thing, Gonzalez’s name isn’t even mentioned. It says that ID isn’t science and thus has no place in a science department. I happen to agree with that statement and I have stated it many times. Does it mean I am smearing Gonzalez? Of course not.

    You may say that the petition put pressure on Gonzalez to quit working on ID on university time. But that’s not a smear, whether you like it or not.

  17. professorsmith

    I find the statement that ID is not science to be false. And, I also find it rather coincidental that a religion professor just happened to go on the warpath against ID for no reason just at the time that Gonzalez was up for tenure. Sorry, but you’ll have to do better. Are you really going to tell me that the petition was not aimed at damaging Gonzalez? If you truly don’t believe so, you need to wake up and smell the real world.

  18. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    Now we’ve gotten to the root of the problem. I think your statement made in the previous post is too strong. I do not think you can formally prove the statement ID is not science to be false. You may feel that ID is science, but that is (at least) debatable as far as I am concerned.

    Perhaps you can point me what benefits ID offers for the field of astronomy.

  19. professorsmith

    If ID doesn’t benefit astronomy, then it is false? Well, we’ll have to throw out a bunch of other things in the process I suppose. I mean, how does germ theory benefit astronomy, or evolution, or botany?

  20. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    False is too strong a word that also has several rather different meanings, e.g. false in the sense of formal logic or false as unfaithful. Science does not deal in such categorical terms. My point was much more practical and your latest reply helps me illustrate it further.

    Gonzalez does research in astronomy. If he started to apply germ theory or botany to studying stars you’d surely say that he was wasting time. In my personal view, ID has no more potential to help astronomers than do botany or theory of evolution.

    As far as I understand, IDers are more interested in astronomy proving design in nature, but that strikes me as a philosophical (if not to say theological) question and philosophy isn’t exactly what he was hired to do.

  21. professorsmith

    OK, I catch your drift now. I apologize for thinking that you had made an error in logic; I simply didn’t realize where you were going with your question.

    Does ID benefit astronomy? Yes, it does, as laid out in The Privileged Planet. He wasn’t trying to apply biological ID to astronomy, but instead formulated a cosmological ID argument. This is not out of bounds.

  22. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    Good. We’re on the same page now. Tell me how astronomy benefited from this approach.

  23. professorsmith

    Read TPP.

    Besides, any expansion of our knowledge/understanding is always good, is it not?

  24. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    I don’t have TPP at hand, but since you’ve apparently read it could you perhaps tell me briefly what kind of progress was made in astronomy through the application of ID?

  25. professorsmith

    I think that understanding our world and the design behind it is progress in itself. TPP is an important work in that regard. Gonzalez makes scientific arguments that help to establish cosmological ID science. (Not to downplay Jay Richards’ part in this, but we’ve been discussing Gonzalez, so I’ve focused on him.)

  26. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    I’m afraid that doesn’t answer my question.

    Finding a cure for HIV would also be progress, but it would not earn you tenure in a department of physics and astronomy. Neither does writing a book for the lay audience.

  27. professorsmith

    Never said it should. Why do you make such disjointed leaps?

  28. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    So, we’re back to square one. How does TPP translate into progress in astronomy? Not in deriving the philosophical or theological implications of astronomy but in astronomy itself? You’re a scientist, right? It’s a simple question.

  29. professorsmith

    Objection! Already asked and answered.

  30. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    No. You pointed to the book’s role in establishing “ID science.” That’s fine. But my question was: how did the science of astronomy benefit from it?

  31. professorsmith

    And I said, “I think that understanding our world and the design behind it is progress in itself.”

    If increasing our knowledge isn’t beneficial to science, then what is science for?

    If you have a point, please get to it. Although I’ve enjoyed our tete-a-tete, it is getting tiresome to go round and round with no end in sight. I think I’ve been a good sport and answered your questions.

  32. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    Apparently we’re not going anywhere with this topic, so here’s my last word on it.

    If working on philosophical implications of science were a viable strategy for getting tenured in a science department, the best way to prove it would be to point out specific people who got to tenure in this way. I know of no such examples. How about you?

  33. professorsmith

    Since I’ve repeatedly said that that was not my argument, I think you are barking up the wrong tree.

    I do agree with you, however, that we are going in circles, so perhaps we should leave it at that.

  34. “I think that understanding our world and the design behind it is progress in itself.”
    is too vague to be meaningful.

    You seem reluctant to discuss specifics on anything.

  35. Rich, you may not be a scientist, so I’m going to explain something to you. Science is about the study of the natural world. Anything that increases our knowledge is a good thing. If we come to understand the design behind this world, then we have increased our knowledge. This is a good thing and it is what science is striving to do.

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