Discovery Institute Claims Victory in Gaskell Case

We sometimes amaze ourselves with our own naiveté. When we posted this yesterday: Martin Gaskell v. Univ. of Kentucky — It’s Settled, we assumed that we could put that topic aside and move on to other matters.

But we hadn’t counted on the reaction of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

We should have expected this, because when the news of Gaskell’s litigation first began to attract attention, the Discoveroids jumped on it (see Discovery Institute Discovers Martin Gaskell), although as far as we can tell they had no involvement in the case and Gaskell doesn’t even know them — which is very much to Gaskell’s credit.

Now that the case has settled, the Discoveroids are wildly running around proclaiming this as some kind of victory — for them! At their blog they’ve posted University of Kentucky Pays $100,000+ to Settle Gaskell Discrimination Lawsuit, by Casey Luskin — everyone’s favorite creationist.

We also found a press release they probably paid to put out. Here’s a link to it if you care for that kind of thing: Victory for Academic Freedom as University of Kentucky Pays $125,000 Settlement in Discrimination Lawsuit. Right — “Victory for Academic Freedom.”

The Discoveroids are claiming victory in a race they never ran. Verily, they are the top contenders for this year’s Rosie Ruiz award — an award that only your Curmudgeon bestows. Okay, let’s see some excerpts from the Discoveroid blog. Casey says, with bold font added by us:

According to news articles, the University of Kentucky (UK) has settled the discrimination lawsuit filed against it by Martin Gaskell, an astronomer who was denied a job due to his perceived doubts about neo-Darwinian evolution

Yes, we know all that. Let’s read on:

Of course the University of Kentucky denies any wrongdoing, but the final settlement reflects Gaskell’s strong case against UK.

*Sigh* No, it doesn’t. You can read it for yourself: Release and Settlement Agreement. It’s a 6-page pdf file. The university pays $125K, everyone releases everyone else, and no one admits doing anything wrong. As we said yesterday:

Don’t read too much into that settlement. It’s true that the university pays, but it might have cost them that much in attorney’s fees to go through a trial even if they won the case. This way they end the matter swiftly. Also, they were remarkably clumsy in how they handled this affair, so it’s not an unjust result (in our humble opinion).

Our point was that having been sued and finding themselves facing a trial, this was the best possible outcome for the university in terms of money. Besides that, now they’re spared the ghastly annoyance of a trial and the unfavorable publicity people like the Discoveroids would generate. Considering the circumstances — which their untactful hiring process created — they came out rather well. If Gaskell’s case were really that strong, why would he agree to a settlement in which the university admitted no wrongdoing? Surely a trial victory would have been infinitely preferable.

Let’s continue with Casey’s interpretation of the world according to Casey:

UK’s perceptions stemmed from Gaskell’s online notes from a talk where he favorably cites the works of proponents of intelligent design like Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson, and states, “there are significant scientific problems in evolutionary theory,” and “these problems are bigger than is usually made out in introductory geology/biology courses.” In his deposition testimony he further stated that “when it comes to trying to explain everything, and particularly the origin of life … we just don’t have any satisfactory theory.”

Yes. That’s undoubtedly a major reason why the university decided not to hire him. We think it was a perfectly rational decision. We repeat, however, that Gaskell probably isn’t your common, everyday, reality-denying creationist. It would seem that he’s some kind of theistic evolutionist, and it was potentially troublesome for the university that he might embarrass them by voicing his erroneous views that there are serious problems with evolution. Anyway, let’s not rehash the case. Here’s more from Casey:

What this case shows is that if you express any form of doubt about Darwin — even if you are totally open to a theistic evolution position — you might be labeled a “creationist” and face discrimination in the academy. … Sadly, this culture of intolerance cost a highly qualified astronomer an excellent job at UK.

That’s not true at all. There are many respected scientists with a “theistic evolution position” — the classic example is Kenneth Miller, an expert witness for the winning side in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Miller, however, sees no problems with evolution. Gaskell apparently does to some extent — and there’s the rub.

We don’t want to beat this thing to death. The case is settled. Gaskell has already accepted a new job in his field, and we’re confident that the last thing he needs is to become the Discoveroids’ poster boy in their campaign for “academic freedom” — that is, the freedom to jam creationism into public school science classes.

But Gaskell may not have any choice. Casey has apparently adopted him.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “Discovery Institute Claims Victory in Gaskell Case

  1. But Expelled said that the courts were part of the massive conspiracy to silence dissent from “Darwinism.”

    Are the DI’s IDiots proudly telling us that this film that they promoted as “the truth” was in fact lying to us?

    Sure, we knew it, but thanks for pointing out how dishonest the ID side is, Casey and the many IDiots for whom he speaks.

  2. The AP article they cited referred to the case as a religious discrimination case and focussed on that aspect. They mention his position on evolution in passing, but outline with examples the concerns about whether he would use his public outreach position to express his religious views. I think the university had a legitimate concern, but clearly they did not address it appropriately.

    So the DI take this religious discrimination case and issue a press release which refers to religion in passing but plays up the doubts about evolution issue, as though that were the central concern, and then brings out Caltech and CSC cases and again spins the “expelled!” angle. I assume they are hoping other publications will pick up the release as though it is legitimate reporting, and they can therefore put their views on the Caltech and CSC cases into the media.

    Why is it that creationism breeds such dishonesty and duplicity?

  3. “Why is it that creationism breeds such dishonesty and duplicity?”

    You’re asking this of people who believe in an evil talking snake???

  4. LRA: “You’re asking this of people who believe in an evil talking snake???”

    The Discoveroids are far worse than “believing in” talking snakes. Most of them apparently don’t take that (or young Earth nonsense, etc.) literally. But they don’t dare challenge those positions publicly, because they want as many people as they can fool in their big tent. Whether or not those people believe that nonsense.