Guillermo Gonzalez and the Ball State Imbroglio

A few days ago we wrote Ball State Imbroglio: What About Gonzalez?, in which we called your attention to an article in the Star Press of Muncie, Indiana — the home town of Ball State University.

Their headline was Gora’s ‘gag order’ a top story of 2013, which reminded the world about the statement of policy by Ball State’s president, Jo Ann Gora, that “intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses,” and the irony that the Discovery Institute regarded that as one of the top stories of the year.

We were delighted to see that the Star Press devoted most of their article, written by Seth Slabaugh, to discussing something we wrote about many months ago: Ball State University Hires Guillermo Gonzalez. The hiring of Guillermo Gonzalez, or “Gonzo” as we call him, was a surprise to everyone — well, almost everyone. He is known to be a Discoveroid “senior fellow,” and his prior position had been teaching at a bible college. We have always thought that the hiring of Gonzo was the big story at Ball State, yet it was being unreported — until Slabaugh wrote about it. Here’s a bit of what was said in his article:

Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, in 2004 published a book, “The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery,” that prompted more than 120 of his then-fellow faculty at Iowa State University to issue a statement condemning intelligent design as contrary to science. In 2008, Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State, essentially a form of termination.


[Michael J. I.] Brown told The Star Press: “The number of astronomers who believe in ID/creationism is tiny, so it is unlikely that two ID-believing astronomers (Gonzalez and Hedin) would end up at the same university by random chance.

After that story appeared in the Star Press, the Discoveroids went into full spin mode. They deployed one of their keenest intellects to deal with the issue — David Klinghoffer — whom we refer to as their journalistic slasher. He swiftly posted this at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: At the Muncie Star Press, Casually Slurring Pro-ID Astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez.

Klinghoffer, while admitting that Gonzo is pro-intelligent design, brilliantly attacked Slabaugh’s newspaper story at what he found to be its weakest point. The source Slabaugh interviewed, Michael J. I. Brown, has a PhD in astronomy, and he’s a Senior Lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Klinghoffer derisively dismissed that source because of Australia’s distance from Indiana. Smart move!

Never mind the fact that the world of academic astronomers is a small one, and most of the prominent players probably know one another either from their work or from actual meetings at various conferences, so it’s understandable that many might prefer not to be quoted in such a news story. Finding someone willing to be named as a source for the story was illustrative of good reporting, not otherwise.

Aside from playing the “Australia is far away” card, what else did Klinghoffer do to discredit the newspaper’s implication that something may have been amiss in Gonzo’s hiring? Ah, here’s where Klinghoffer was at the top of his game. He went to be most powerful source of information imaginable.

Klinghoffer went straight to Gonzo himself, and Gonzo says he was hired fair and square. Hey, if you don’t believe what a Discoveroid “fellow” says when he’s being interviewed by another Discoveroid “fellow,” then there’s something wrong with you.

Want to see what Gonzo says? Never mind Klinghoffer’s account. The Star Press was fair enough to publish Gonzo’s statement. Here it is: Hiring at Ball State not ‘rigged’. It’s brief, and you can read it for yourself, but basically he says there was nothing wrong with how he got the job. Not only that, but he points out that Seth Slabaugh, the reporter, never contacted him about the original article.

Notice anything missing? Come on, dear reader. Does your Curmudgeon always have to be the one who notices the dog that didn’t bark? All right, we’ll spell it out for you. No one has heard from the people at Ball State who actually did the hiring. Although: (a) the buzz in the academic community of astronomers seems to be that something wasn’t right; and (b) Gonzo says everything was just fine, we won’t know for sure until those who were responsible for the hiring decision disclose what happened. So far they’ve been silent.

Your Curmudgeon has no idea how Gonzo was hired. Maybe he really was the most qualified applicant. But until the process is fully brought to light, we’ll continue to be skeptical.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Guillermo Gonzalez and the Ball State Imbroglio

  1. Sergei A. Bobinsky

    In his response letter, Gonzo states:

    “As to the claim that I have not published anything of note since 2001, anyone can look up my papers on the NASA ADS abstract search engine and also look up the number of citations of those papers. They will find that I have published many papers since 2001 that have high citation counts.”

    Can someone more knowledgeable than me about papers/ citations dissect that statement for its truthiness quotient?

  2. Our Sherlock pleads

    Does your Curmudgeon always have to be the one who notices the dog that didn’t bark?

    Yes. We deduce you are best placed to monitor any such woofing as you are already engaged in monitoring your canine’s alignment with magnetic north at certain critical intervals.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    Curmie is sounding a lot like Hambo, evoking ‘were you there’ logic. Did you check the source’s faith, and his framework, too?

  4. When Gonzo referenced citations to his papers, I wonder if he’s counting citations by fellow DI members?

  5. Kling interviewing Gonzo is like one mafia thug interviewing another.
    K – “Did you off him, Gonz?”
    G – “No, Mr. K., I don’t know nuthin about it.”
    K – “See, officer, he’s completely innocent.”

  6. BSU job offer that Gonzalez accepted (unless it was revised):

    Contract Faculty Position, Department of Physics and Astronomy – JRID42248
    Submitted by Judith.Moore Burke on Wed, 2012-05-23 17:14
    Submission Dates
    Post Date: June 1, 2012
    Archive Date: June 30, 2012
    Deadline to Apply for Job: July 2, 2012
    Job Details
    Job Category: Faculty Positions (visiting and non-tenure)
    Institution/Company Name: BALL STATE UNIVERSITY
    Institution Classification/Type: Large Academic
    Submission Address for Resumes/CVs
    Attention To: CHAIRPERSON
    Organization: Ball State University
    Street Address Line 1:
    Department of Physics and Astronomy
    City: Muncie
    State/Province: IN
    Zip/Postal Code: 47306
    Country: United States
    Announcement Job Announcement Text:
    Contract faculty position available August 17, 2012. Responsibilities: teaching general education physics and/or astronomy courses involving lecture and laboratory; teaching upper division undergraduate and graduate level courses; conducting research at a level associated with a contract faculty position; participating in departmental service-related activities at a level associated with a contract faculty position. Minimum qualifications: earned doctorate in physics or astronomy at time of application; teaching experience at the college level which may include typical graduate assistantship assignments; effective communication skills in both classroom and laboratory settings. Preferred qualification: experience or interest in a current research area of the department.
    Send cover letter which indicates goal in research and teaching, curriculum vitae including evidence of experience in research and teaching, transcripts, and the names and contact information for three references to: Chairperson, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. (
    Ball State University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and is strongly and actively committed to diversity within its community.
    Included Benefits:
    No benefits information has been provided by the employer.

  7. @Sergei: Google Scholar would seem to confirm this. I did not dig deep.

    Search here:,50&as_ylo=2000&q=GUILLERMO+GONZALEZ+astronomer

  8. Some of the stuff, like “Observational Astronomy,” is pretty standard astronomy stuff, can be found in other books as well and is not new.

    Though GG is capable of doing real research, his conclusions are weighted to support the main thesis in his book “The Priviledged Planet” that planetary formation is rare and that live could only have come about on earth, not by evolution of course, but by other “intelligent” means.

    If he stuck to astronomy he’d probably be okay, but he doesn’t. He’s another Hugh Ross.