Smithsonian Darwinists Harrass Competent Scientist for Publishing a *Gasp* Intelligent Design Paper

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UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM DECEMBER 2006

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INTOLERANCE AND THE POLITICIZATION OF SCIENCE AT THE SMITHSONIAN SMITHSONIAN’S TOP OFFICIALS PERMIT THE DEMOTION AND HARASSMENT OF SCIENTIST SKEPTICAL OF DARWINIAN EVOLUTION
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In January 2005, an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal first raised public awareness about disturbing allegations that officials at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) had retaliated against museum Research Associate (RA) Richard Sternberg because he allowed publication of an article favoring the theory of intelligent design in a biology journal.1 A well-published evolutionary biologist with two doctorates in biology, Dr. Sternberg claimed that after publication of the article, his colleagues and supervisors at the NMNH subjected him to harassment and discrimination in an effort to force him out as a Research Associate. In November of 2004, Dr. Sternberg filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the agency charged with “protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing.” The OSC eventually found evidence to corroborate Dr. Sternberg’s complaint, concluding that “[i]t is… clear that a hostile work environment was created with the ultimate goal of forcing” Dr. Sternberg out of the Smithsonian.

Despite this finding, the OSC was unable to pursue its investigation due to a question of jurisdiction. In August of 2005, subcommittee staff initiated their own investigation into the possible mistreatment of Dr. Sternberg by the Smithsonian. During their investigation, staff met with Dr. Sternberg and senior Smithsonian officials, and reviewed internal emails provided by the Smithsonian in response to requests from the subcommittee. The staff investigation has uncovered compelling evidence that Dr. Sternberg’s civil and constitutional rights were violated by Smithsonian officials. Moreover, the agency’s top officials—Secretary Lawrence Small and Deputy Secretary Sheila Burke—have shown themselves completely unwilling to rectify the wrongs that were done or even to genuinely investigate the wrongdoing. Most recently, Burke and Small have allowed NMNH officials to demote Dr. Sternberg to the position of Research Collaborator, despite past assurances from Burke that Dr. Sternberg was a “Research Associate in good standing” and would be given “full and fair consideration” for his request to renew his Research Associateship.2 The failure of Small and Burke to take any action against such discrimination raises serious questions about the Smithsonian’s willingness to protect the free speech and civil rights of scientists who may hold dissenting views on topics such as biological evolution. Major findings of this staff investigation include:

One Response to “Smithsonian Darwinists Harrass Competent Scientist for Publishing a *Gasp* Intelligent Design Paper”

  1. lordkalvan says:

    For another analysis of the Sternberg ‘affair’ check out ‘The Richard Sternberg Affair
    Intelligent Design at the Smithsonian Institution’ by Ed Brayton, available at

    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/08-04-17.html#part2

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