Witt's Straw Man: A Case of Extreme Irony Deficiency
Ironically, J. Witt falsely accuses D. Morgan of constructing a strawman, while putting together his own strawman:
Most obvious among the errors, neither Sternberg nor the Discovery Institute claims he was fired from his editorship. To claim that we have claimed this is pure straw man.
Intrigued, I had a look at Morgan's post. I can't say that I was surprised to find that there was no claim made there about Sternberg being "fired". (The word "fired" doesn't even occur in the post or the following comments.) Nor does Morgan make any claim that Sternberg or the DI had said so.
Instead, what Morgan documents is that Sternberg had already put in his resignation from the PBSW editorship long before the Meyer paper saw print. Read the following passage from a Washington Times article on the Sternberg affair and see if it seems to give the impression that Sternberg's leaving the editorial post was done because of pressure from within the Smithsonian.
The report was "peer-reviewed" by three outside scientists, Mr. Sternberg said, "but employees at the Smithsonian, who had a sharply negative reaction to the report, insinuated that editorial malfeasance occurred on my end. I protested vigorously."
He says he gave up his post as managing editor of Proceedings in September but continued to be harassed by Smithsonian officials. Mr. Sternberg says he was penalized by the museum's Department of Zoology, which limited his access to research collections and told him his associateship at the museum would not be renewed because no one could be found to sponsor him for another three-year term.
And then there was the post by John Coleman on the Crux Magazine pro-ID blog, "Sci-Phi".
Sternberg, something of a postmodern Catholic received even worse treatment when he allowed an article proposing the possibility of Intelligent Design (a prominent anti-Darwinian theory of origins) to appear in the Museum of Natural History’s journal. Sternberg lost his post at both the museum and the journal, as noted by Bobby Maddex; his crime—allowing a theory considered unscientific by the academic mainstream to make it through the process of peer review.
None of the busy "fact-checkers" at the DI's blogs bothered to take issue with Coleman's claim, but let anyone point out that such was not the case, and they are johnny-on-the-spot to say that the DI never actually said it was true. DI-affiliated ID advocates are common on the Crux Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, including:
Francis J. Beckwith
William A. Dembski
Phillip E. Johnson
John Mark Reynolds
It took Panda's Thumb contributor Ed Brayton to check that fact, and Coleman promised to make a correction to his article. So far he has not.
It appears that Jonathan Witt is hard up for material to have to make up a false and easily checked claim like the one quoted at the outset.
Update 2006/12/16: It's coming up on two years since Coleman made his false statement, and there is still no sign that he has publicly acknowledged his error, added an erratum to his article, or otherwise let his readers in on the fact that he was telling them falsehoods before.