Congressional Investigation Confirms Discrimination against Smithsonian Scientist Critical of Darwinian Evolution

Staff
Discovery Institute
December 18, 2006
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SEATTLE–The demotion of a well-published evolutionary biologist critical of Darwinian evolution has been found to be religiously and politically motivated, according to a new government report.

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform released a staff report titled, "Intolerance and the Politicization of Science at the Smithsonian: Smithsonian's Top Officials Permit the Demotion and Harassment of Scientist Skeptical of Darwinian Evolution." The report details the persecution of Dr. Richard Sternberg, whose civil and constitutional rights were violated by Smithsonian officials when he published a peer-reviewed article by Dr. Stephen Meyer criticizing Darwinian evolution and supporting intelligent design.

"After two years of denials and stonewalling by Smithsonian bureaucrats, a congressional investigation now confirms a campaign of harassment and smears against evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg, whose only 'crime' was his honest skepticism of Darwinian dogma," said John West, vice president of public policy and legal affairs at the Center for Science & Culture. "It's outrageous that the federal government would sanction such blatant discrimination. This is clearly an infringement of Dr. Sternberg's free speech rights."

According to the report, Sternberg said, "[I]t is clear that I was targeted for retaliation and harassment explicitly because . . . I allowed a scientific article to be published critical of neo-Darwinism, and that was considered an unpardonable heresy." The staff investigation validates this claim and documents the evidence in detail.

Findings of the investigation include:

  • Officials at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History "explicitly acknowledged in emails their intent to pressure Sternberg to resign because of his role in the publication of the Meyer paper and his views on evolution." They wanted "to make Dr. Sternberg's life at the Museum as difficult as possible and encourage him to leave."
  • "NMNH officials conspired with a special interest group to publicly smear Dr. Sternberg; the group was also enlisted to monitor Sternberg's outside activities in order to find a way to dismiss him."
  • "The hostility toward Dr. Sternberg at the NMNH was reinforced by anti-religious and political motivations." NMNH scientists demanded to know whether Sternberg "was religious," "was a Republican," "was a fundamentalist," and whether "he was a conservative."

The investigation concludes, "This is discrimination, plain and simple. The abject failure of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary to protect the basic rights of Dr. Sternberg to a civil work environment is indefensible."

"Given the attitudes expressed in these emails, scientists who are known to be skeptical of Darwinian theory, whatever their qualifications or research record, cannot expect to receive equal treatment or consideration by NMNH officials."