Yes, we read that Coddington (aka JAC) lied; yes, we read that Coddington’s evolutionist friends at Panda’sThumb and at NCSE lied as well (see that info in links below). The Smithsonian Institution indeed discriminated against Richard von Sternberg, as the inflammatory e-mails of high authorities of that institution demonstrate (see below). However, OSC is closing the case because its laws have recently changed and it doesn’t cover the working position held by Sternberg… and also because the Smithsonian refuses to further collaborate with the investigation…
In the first link below we read that:
A lengthy and detailed letter from OSC attorney James McVay, dated August 5, 2005, and addressed to Sternberg, summarizes the government’s findings, based largely on e-mail traffic among top Smithsonian scientists.
Then we read there:
A typical internal e-mail on the subject fumed, “I hope we are not even considering extending his access to space.” (All quotations from e-mails given here are taken from the OSC‘s letter to Sternberg.) Another expresses frustration that a good pretext for dismissing him had so far not been identified: “As he hasn’t (yet) been discovered to have done anything wrong,… the sole reason to terminate his appt seems to be that the host unit has suddenly changed its mind. If that’s OK w/NMNH, let me know and I’ll send him a letter stating so.” One manager huffed, “Well, if you ask me, a face-to-face meeting or at least a ‘you are welcome to leave or resign’ call with this individual is in order.” The same e-mail indicated that a manager had been compiling trivial offenses by Sternberg that could be cited in telling him to get out. Among other things, the Smithsonian staffer had gone over Sternberg’s library records. He “has currently 50 books checked out from the SI library (I checked this with the library).”
Evolution News & Views, “Discrimination is Alive and Well at the Smithsonian“
We also read in the first article on the case appeared on the Wall Street Journal that soon after S. C. Meyer’s article appeared, Hans Dieter Sues–the museum’s No. 2 senior scientist–denounced it to colleagues and then sent a widely forwarded e-mail calling it:
Next, link to the Meyer’s article that Sternberg as Editor published:
Taxpayers deserve to know about the injustices committed by those felons in white robes that rule the Smithsonian, here are some fragments of their offensive e-mails against Sternberg, and against the Christian foundation of the blessed United States of America, as reported in the links. Then, here are those e-mail fragments that have been made public, thus far:
“We are evolutionary biologists, and I am sorry to see us made into the laughing stock of the world [by publishing Meyer’s article criticizing Darwinian theory], even if this kind of rubbish [that is, Intelligent Design] sells well in backwoods USA.”
“Scientists have been perfectly willing to let these people alone in their churches.”
“spending 4.5 years in the Bible Belt,” [the writer of that contemptuous e-mail then describes the fun that he and his son had when his] “son refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance because of the ‘under dog’ [meaning presumably the ‘under God’] part.”
Isn’t that an aberration against the very same Christian foundations of our Western Civilization?
Update: Friday, August 19, 2005:
Some remarks of that article are next:
The special counsel accused the National Center for Science Education [NCSE], an Oakland, Calif.-based think tank that defends the teaching of evolution, of orchestrating attacks on Sternberg.
The NCSE worked closely with the Smithsonian “in outlining a strategy to have you investigated and discredited,” McVay wrote to Sternberg.
An e-mail stated, falsely, that Sternberg had “training as an orthodox priest.” Another labeled him a “Young Earth Creationist,” meaning a person who believes God created the world in the past 10,000 years.
The Smithsonian sings the very same chant of Hitler and of Communism:
“We do stand by evolution — we are a scientific organization,” said Linda St. Thomas, the spokeswoman of the Smithsonian.
Sternberg has seen stress piled upon stress in the past year. His marriage has dissolved, and he no longer comes into the Smithsonian. When the biological society issued a statement disavowing Meyer’s article, Sternberg was advised not to attend. “I was told that feelings were running so high, they could not guarantee me that they could keep order,” Sternberg said.
Sternberg declared: “I loathe careerism and the herd mentality,” he said. “I really think that objective truth can be discovered and that popular opinion and consensus thinking does more to obscure than to reveal.”
Then. we read in the Website of Dr. Sternberg:
Rick Sternberg’s declaration:
“it is clear that I was targeted for retaliation and harassment explicitly because I failed in an unstated requirement in my role as editor of a scientific journal: I was supposed to be a gatekeeper turning away unpopular, controversial, or conceptually challenging explanations of puzzling natural phenomena. Instead, I allowed a scientific article to be published critical of neo-Darwinism, and that was considered an unpardonable heresy.”
Next, we can read the full report of the OSC at:
Some excerpts from it, for the posterity, are posted here:
From an e-mail from Smithsonian authorities attacking Sternberg and Christian America:
Scientists have been perfectly willing to let these people alone in their churches, but now it looks like these people are coming out and invading our schools, biology classes, museums and now our professional journals. These people to my mind are only a scale up on the fundies of a more destructive kind in other parts of the world. Depressing. Oh, if we only still had Steve Gould to lead the counter-attack.
Then, details of the oprobious e-mail including “the ‘under dog’ part” previously mentioned by the newspaper that earlier reported it:
An e-mail by a NMNH scientist that was sent to your [Sternberg’s] supervisor sums up the sentiment of the e-mails, as it relates to this issue. It reads, “The whole situation sounds like a pain in the… neck. Hopefully, the ID folks will get distracted with something else soon. After spending 4.5 years in the Bible Belt, I have learned how to carefully phrase things in order to avoid the least amount of negative repercussions for the kids. And I have heard many amazing things!! The most fun we had by far was when my son refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance because of the ‘under dog’ part…” The e-mail concludes by lamenting that the school teacher was “religious” and it was unfortunate that there was “anti-evolution education” in the schools.
Members of NCSE, furthermore, e-mailed detailed statements of repudiation of the Meyer article to high level NMNH [the National Museum of Natural History, which is a Smithsonian (SI) facility] officials. In turn they sent them to the Society. There are e-mails that are several pages in length that map out their strategy. NCSE recommendations were circulated within the SI and eventually became part of the official public response of the SI to the Meyer article.
…OSC questions the use of appropriated funds to work with an outside advocacy group for this purpose. This is only discussed to show that the actions taken on the part of SI employees clearly had a political and religious component.
First, the e-mail traffic does show that there were meetings between the individuals in question during the time frame that you allege in the complaint. For some reason there was no official record kept by the SI of what was stated in the meetings, at least based on what has been provided to OSC to date. Further, a second e-mail drafted by this same manager several months later admits that one of these meetings to place and, more importantly, these issues were discussed.
During the process you were personally investigated and your professional competence was attacked. Misinformation was disseminated throughout the SI and to outside sources. The allegations against you were later determined to be false. It is also clear that a hostile work environment was created with the ultimate goal of forcing you out of the SI.
The first actions taken against you after the Meyer article were to research your scientific education and writings. This was in conjunction with researching your off-duty professional associations. There are several e-mails that recount the findings regarding your prior work, and your professional memberships. Within each are comments that label you as an advocate for ID [Intelligent Design], or as a creationist, or as one e-mail states a “Young Earth Creationist.” The rumor mill became so infected that one of your colleagues had to circulate your curriculum vitae simply to dispel the rumor that you were not a scientist.
…there was a serious effort by some to take the drastic step of piercing the veil of peer review, an unprecedented and unethical act within your field. They assumed that you violated editorial regulations of the Proceedings because you were the primary editor of the article. These comments were made to and by SI and NMNH managers and were published to several outside organizations. It was later revealed that you complied with all editorial requirements of the Proceedings and that the Meyer article was properly peer reviewed by renowned scientists. As an aside, the information received by OSC does not indicate that any effort was made to recall or correct these comments once the truth was made known.
During the impromptu background investigation allegations were also made that you mishandled specimens and collections during your scientific research. You have clearly explained how damaging this is for a scientist in your position. This information was also shared outside of the SI. And once again managers later had to admit that the allegations were false. And as with the editorial issue there was no effort, as far as we can tell, to correct this misconception. This allegation may have played into a larger strategy to deny you access to the range and collections at the SI.
There was a strategy by several managers to force you out of the SI. The first thing they did was to check your official status with the SI to see if you could be let go for cause for the Meyer article and the information found in your unofficial background investigation. Then they tried a more sophisticated strategy by arguing that since your sponsor died shortly before the Meyer article was published that you could be denied access on that basis. Within two weeks of receiving the Meyer article in the Proceedings, four managers at the SI and NMNH expressed their desire to have your access to the SI denied. A typical e-mail reads, “” I am blown away by this Meyer BS but Sternberg seems to have generated a legion of questionable editorial activities. In my case he was just plain sloppy in letting mss lie without action. I hope we are not even considering extending his access to space. I assume he has no sponsor. As is, I feel like I want my office re-keyed.” This was one of several e-mails attempting to deny you space.
Undeterred, these same managers then embarked on a new strategy to change your working conditions and create a hostile working environment. Several e-mails complained that you should not be allowed to “live” on the same working floor with other scientists. Two very senior scientists wanted your supervisor to let you know that “you are welcome to leave or resign.”
These are typical e-mails:
Date 9/1/04 8:28 AM
Subject: Re: Life on West Wing 1st floor
“…Why does the RA [Research Associate] in question have a master key rather than more restricted access? Why does he have an office when there is a space shortage for regular SI staff and visiting researchers? Why does he have unrestricted collection access? You could restrict access to 8:45am to 5:15pm Monday to Friday-the established core hours for Museum staff. [____] as the senior crustacean expert, has every right to determine the scope of collection access…”
Subject: Re: Life on the West Wing 1st Floor
“…there is no space shortage, except insofar as [____] wants to deny him space.
…his official status is as a research associate for the next three years. If you don’t want to make a martyr of him, I’ll sponsor him.
As he hasn’t (yet) been discovered to have done anything wrong, particularly compared to his peers, the sole reason to terminate his appt. seems to be that the host unit has suddenly changed its mind. If that’s OK w NMNH, let me know and I’ll send him a letters stating so. However, as you decided originally, the political downside of that is costly.
…[____] isn’t going to be shut up about this until he wins (i.e. banishes Sternberg) or gets told to… The access and key issues are trivial and can be fixed, if out of line…
Which do you prefer?
OSC declared that these [e-mails] clearly indicated that SI authorities were still attempting to find a reason to terminate Sternberg. He had not “yet” been found to have committed a terminable offense. They were still looking for a pretext.
>>> [____] 08/31/04 12:09pm >>>
“… in an effort to try to understand what might be going on here in the Crustacea floor at east for the next 2.5 years [the remainder of Sternberg’s associateship], let me ask some questions to see if you can supply some answers…
…The recent events are fastly precipitating serious personnel issues as it is clear that tensions are at a high level on this floor, Is this a proper working environment for all the staff that lives on the this floor? Does the admin really expect us to live normally in this environment for 2.5 years, and will things really change after that?
Date: 9/9/04 10:45 am and >>> [____] 09/09/04 10:33 AM >>>
Subject: Re: Reply (2)
“…Given the Meyer fiasco, how Sternberg represents himself to the world of science is of some consequence to you. I strongly suggest that you call [____] and start asking questions rather than waiting until the crisis becomes unmanageable. [____]”
>>> [____] 09/09/04 10:33 am>>>> Thank you, [____]
“As the BSW is, legally speaking, an external activity, we cannot use Sternberg’s mishandling of the Meyer paper to revoke his status as Research Associate. The SI Directive lists only a few points that are deemed sufficient cause for that purpose, and none applies to Sternberg.
Like you, I would like to know who the alleged reviewer were, but [____] has not told me anything. People at the NCSE suspect that some or all of them may have been co-authors on a previous paper by Meyer, which was substantially copied into the PBSW paper.
>>> [____] 09/09/04 10:12 am >>>
“But certainly it is not unreasonable to ask [____] or [____] to pull the file and determine whether the manuscript was rigorously reviewed, in effect who reviewed it?”
“…were the reviewers people who a priori support ID or structuralism, nuanced names for creationism?”
“After all, the manuscripts does nothing except poke holes in evolutionary processes that attempt to explain major changes in body architecture, and then gratuously [sic] concludes that because evolution cannot explain major architectural changes, intelligent design must be the process involved.”
“Two traps not to get caught in:
Number of reviewers. If two or even three reviewers were used, that was not enough for a paper of this broad a reach; four to six reviewers should have been consulted.
Reviewer anonymity. Don’t let [____] [____] or Sternberg tell you that reviewers names must remain a secret. Reviewer anonymity is a request by a reviewer to an editor that the reviewer not be directly and immediately identified to the author of a manuscript under review. In fact, during the 15 years that I was associate editor, we published a list of reviewers of manuscripts for the year at the end of each year as a way of advertising our interest in a rigorous review process.
OSC declares: “In these e-mails they are continuing to explain why you should not be given access to the SI for the next “2.5 years.” This information also seems to indicate that your managers were not concerned about the SI Directive 205 until after the Meyer article. Also troubling is that these e-mails and others show that they were not concerned with these issues until after the Meyer “fiasco.” Lastly, as you can see they were very interested in piercing the veil of peer review. Again, there is not information to indicate that this was done before the Meyer article.”
Date: 9/9/04 11:13 am
Subject: Re: Reply 
“Please read my emails more carefully. I am not suggesting martyrdom for anyone. I am concerned about how and by whom the Meyer manuscript was reviewed.
As an aside: in general then, who is responsible for the scientific behavior of a Research Associate of the National Museum of Natural History?”
>>> [____] 09/09/04 10:57 am >>>
“Legally, unless you can present me with evidence that Sternberg has represented himself as an employee of NMNH, my hands are tied. I have extensively researched and consulted on this issue as I fully share your point of view. Indeed, I was strongly advised that we do not make a “martyr” out of Sternberg; you may be aware that there are powerful members of Congress who would rush to his defense.
This whole embarrassment can be credited to the late [____] who nominated this man and to the BSW who entrusted him with the editorship of the Proceedings. Sternberg is a well-established figure in anti-evolution circles, and simply a Google search would have exposed these connections. Please place the blame where it squarely belongs. I immediately resigned from the BSW.”
>>> [____] 09/09/0409 11 am>>>
“I think there is, but the heat may have to increase a bit. “
Date: 9/13/04 1:46 pm
Subject: RE: Upcoming in Helsinki
Well if you ask me, a face to face meeting or at least a “you are welcome to leave or resign” call with this individual, is in order. Of course, that is easy for me to say, and as bosses it is you who have to decide what to do. I will respect your decision. All I can say is that this is plain embarrassing for us all in NMNH. What will be when a book on ID comes out with our name on it? Believe me, it will come. The BSW made a crucial error a year ago, and it seems to me we don’t want to do the same.
If you have not yet seen the summary update, see:
[garbled URL from the ncse website]
A key to all this is whether the infamous PBSW article was really peer-reviewed or not. Since the museum funds a lot of papers in that journal, it seems to me a reasonable thing for NMNH to ask BSW to demonstrate what really happened by opening the files to you. They certainly should have a vested interest in clarifying this. The ex-editor had already demonstrated a pattern of disregard for the well-established peer-review process in that journal, and that alone does not “follow prevailing standards for conducting research in the discipline” (SI D 205, page 4), as far as I can tell. That, taken with the AAAS resolution [the one that already ruled out ID a-prior as unscientific], should be enough to justify a “you are welcome to leave or resign” call or meeting to say so.”
“Finally, whether or not SI D 205 needs to be revisited Is perhaps something the admin may wish to pursue. I for one, find it deficient in many respects. How does it deal, for example, with the current situation: the SI staff that supported the RA passes away, so who should the RA report to? Here are some eye-openers, juts FYI (and pardon me for sounding repetitive). Said RA
*is not known who he reports to, or what decapod groups he is waiting on and for what projects/manuscripts;
*comes to work “after hours only” but nobody knows when, yet we will extend him long term space privileges (meaning in the daytime his assigned space could be tied up);
* keeps an unusual number of catalogued specimens in NMNH office, and for unusual lengths of time, ignoring requests from curator in charge to put Them back in stacks;
* keeps in NMNH office what appear to be specimens that have not been registered through the required TM procedures;
* has currently 50 books checked out from the SI library (I checked this with the library);
* an SI staff from another NMNH department has been seen entering HA office and apparently handles specimens without authorization from IZ Cm head or curator in charge.
If I were to do this in any other museum I’d be run out of that town.
>>> [____] 09/13/04 10:51 am >>>
I just reread 205, but I don’t see any basis for terminating his appt based on this sort of activity, suppose we call him on the phone and verbally ask him to do the right thing and resign?
OSC explains to Sternberg:
These e-mails are consistent with many others at this time. Your managers are still attempting to find a way to terminate your access. However, they have decided that the politics aren’t right for them to let you go. They wanted to make it clear that you should “do the right thing and resign.” This supports your allegation that you were subjected to a hostile work environment. Finally, the last e-mail cited sets forth a troubling summary of events were people had to be investigating your work activities beyond that which is done for other RAs. They are even inspecting what you have been checking out from the library. We are very concerned where this type of scrutiny can lead. Your job as a scientist is to ask the hard questions and make other scientists think about their positions. This type of scrutiny does not engender the correct atmosphere. From the information received by OSC, not a single e-mail shows that a manager attempted to halt this type of retaliatory investigation or admonish those that had already taken place.
Eventually the changes in your working conditions were watered down significantly. You are now required to give your supervisor an outline of your research. This may seem innocuous, but as you explain, this can be used as a method of controlling any controversial study. Also, you make the point that others in your position were not asked to do the same. Second, they denied your access by taking your master key. Lastly, they have prevented you from having the same access to the research specimens. Again, this may seem minor until considering the advantage given to others that do not have the same hindrances.
There are many retaliatory comments made by senior scientists of the SI and NMNH noted in the documents and e-mails that we have received. Some are suggestions about how to handle the situation with you and some are directed at changes they want made to prevent scientists like you from being RAs. Many have not been cited in this letter. However, they do support the contention that the managers created a hostile work environment… These emails make clear that nobody would be willing to sponsor you two years from now. In fact, your supervisor made this point.
…Keep in mind that there are scientists who are RA‘s at the SI for decades… It seems that the merit of your work may have nothing to do with your position at the SI. It could mean that they will ensure that no one would dare sponsor you for fear that they will receive the same treatment. This may ultimately mean that, as far as they know, others in the SI who would be in a position to sponsor you are “like minded.”
At this point I would normally discuss the legal standards for First Amendment violations and for religious and political affiliation discrimination. Because it seems clear that we now lack jurisdiction, it is not necessary. Other than to say, aside from the jurisdictional argument, there is nothing in our preliminary investigation that would rule out the merit of your claims.
More on this story, go to (and internal links):
A link to the ever clever Dr. Dembski’s Blog:
David Price’s Blog Espresso’s Roast.
Lawrence Selden’s Darwinian Fundamentalism.
Meta-jester, from Real Physics on Darwinian Inquisition!
ARN’s Blog, “Discrimination Stalks Smithsonian Scientist“
At ARN‘s Intelligent Design Forum, Salvador Cordova on “Richard Sternberg, August 2005”
More here, as this history unfolds on our day and time!