The Discovery Institute’s Attack on Ronald Wetherington

The Discovery Institute (DI) has a piece up at their Evolution News and Views blog by Casey Luskin where they are portraying Ronald Wetherington as a "science censor." He is one of the reviewers of the proposed revision of the Texas science standards.

I suppose the DI is attacking Wetherington’s character in response to it being pointed out that half the reviewers are unapologetic Intelligent Design proponents. Not only that, but two are actually co-authors(Ralph Seelke and Steven Meyer) of the anti-evolution textbook Explore Evolution. Furthermore,Seelke and Meyer are the only reviewers not from Texas. Anyway, back to the attack against Wetherington.

Luskin writes:

Ronald Wetherington, has a track record of advocating censorship to restrict the free flow of information on evolution to students.[…]

Wetherington has a history of trying to stifle free speech on evolution, and then denying his intolerant actions.

To back up his claim as Wetherington being a "science censor," Luskin’s only piece of evidence is that Wetherington was part of a group of 20+ professors at Southern Methodist University (SMU) that wrote letters trying to have an Intelligent Design conference co-sponsored by the DI and an SMU law group not use SMU’s facilities and the University’s name for the conference. I am not sure how opposing one conference is a track record of censorship, and Luskin provides no other links or describes any other actions taken by Wetherington. 

It is obvious if you read the letter that this group of professors were trying to remove the University’s name from the conference and to try not to lend scientific credibility to the conference.  They are not trying to censor anyone and they outright say in a letter to the Dallas Morning News:

We, the undersigned, do not argue against the basic right to believe, worship and express oneself as one desires.

Luskin then goes on to personally attack Wetherington:

Wetherington’s Credibility Gap.When pressed with his intolerance, Wetherington responded by denying his own actions. In a letter to SMU Daily, Wetherington tried to backpedal and downplay his attempts to censor the pro-ID viewpoint, claiming that his protests were merely “a call for disallowing the conference until its legal scheduling was confirmed.” Really? Was Wetherington’s normal practice as an anthropology professor to double-check all conferences planned at SMU to confirm whether they had undergone “legal scheduling”?

Wetherington doesn’t backpedal here.  He freely admits that they were making sure that the scheduling was legal.  I honestly don’t blame him for being suspicious of the DI.  As far as him being intolerant, that could be true in certain circumstances.  Like me, he is intolerant of pseudoscientific pursuits and doesn’t want SMU to be known as a purveyor of such things.  Would he be intolerant if he didn’t want holocaust deniers to have a conference on SMU? What about a conference by believers of a flat earth?    

Wetherington lives in Texas, teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses for many years, has published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and has helped write textbooks.  He is a good choice to review the Texas science standards.


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