Monday, May 16, 2011

The Synthese Brouhaha makes the NYT

HT: PZ Myers

The Synthese brouhaha (I love that word) has even made the New York Times. Despite accusations by Barbara Forest and others that the editors-in-chief had caved to pressure from the ID community, the only evidence we have of pressure is from three philosophers who do not support ID:

Three philosophers have, however, admitted to contacting the editors who issued the quasi-apology for Dr. Forrest’s article. One is the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga, of Notre Dame, who recalled sending an e-mail to the editors two years ago.

“I thought her article didn’t measure up to the usual academic standards of Synthese at all,” he said on Thursday. “It was heavy on character assassination and innuendo and light on anything Beckwith ever said.”

In May 2009, the Calvin College philosopher Kelly James Clark also wrote to Synthese. “I reject intelligent design and I don’t think it should be taught in the schools in the U.S.,” he said in an e-mail dated May 5, 2009. Like Dr. Plantinga, Dr. Clark accused Synthese of “character assassination."

Dr. Beckwith, the article’s subject, also wrote to the editors in 2009.

“For a couple of days, I was really depressed,” he said by telephone. He was baffled by what he felt were ad hominem attacks, and what he saw as guilt by association. (He says he has nothing to do with Christian Reconstructionists, for example.) He wrote a letter to the editors, but said he never asked anyone else to complain on his behalf. “I don’t know these guys well, but to have philosophers of that stature come to your defense — I was blown away by that.”

And Bradley Monton (who apparently was also attacked in the special edition) quotes John Symons, one of the editors-in-chief of Synthese:

"I’m speaking independently of my co-editors and the publisher here, but I’m sure they’ll concur with me fully: To be clear, the editors in chief of Synthese in no way “caved to the ID lobby” or to threats of lawsuits. Regular readers of the journal will find many instances of intemperate language and ad hominem in this issue which we regret and for which we take full responsibility. We are in no way shifting this responsibility to the guest editors. We failed to prevent this language going into print and because of this failure we felt the obligation to write this preface and to acknowledge that we compromised the standards of the journal."

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