Pro-ID Professor Denied Tenure Despite Ranking Highest Among Faculty

Tuesday, May. 29, 2007 Posted: 10:44:AM PST
( [email protected] ) May 29, 2007 01:44 PM EDT

The Discovery Institute, a think tank of intelligent design (ID) proponents, is again advocating for Guillermo Gonzalez to receive tenure, and argues that the school’s refusal is a result of their bias against ID – which holds that the biological aspects of life are too complex to have evolved randomly, but must have been produced by an unidentified intelligence. Gonzalez is author of the pro-ID book The Privileged Planet.

"In other words, Iowa State denied tenure to a scientist whose impact on his field during the past six years outstripped all of the university's existing tenured astronomers according to a prestigious Smithsonian/NASA database," said Dr. John West, associate director of the Center for Science and Culture (CSC), on the Discovery Institute website.

The ranking system is devised on how much a scientist impacts other colleagues’ research. The more times a person’s papers are cited in other scientific articles or research, the more weight that person receives.

The citation index is normalized since multiple people often author an article, so an article that is cited with more than one author will be weighted less than a paper which has only one author.

The score here looked at articles published from 2001-2007. Calculating Gonzalez normalized index, he received a score of 143. The next closest professor on the ISU staff had a score of 103 and the next best tenured astronomer was 68.

"It's important to stress that the normalized citation counts for 2001-2007 only include citations to articles published during the most recent 6 years, yet Gonzalez is still the top ranked in his department," explained Casey Luskin, M.S., J.D., who computed the citation counts using the Smithsonian/NASA data system, on the Discovery website. “These statistics refute any claim that Gonzalez’s scholarly productivity and impact ‘trailed off’ since coming to Iowa State.”

Looking at the years individually, Gonzalez received the top scores in his department in 2001, 2003, and 2006 and came in second in 2002.

In last week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, the pro-ID astronomer also had the top "h-index" statistic among the ISU astronomy department. In the same way, scientists are measured by how often articles are cited by other scientists. Gonzalez’s score of 13 bested the next highest of 9.

"This new data adds to the mounting evidence that Gonzalez may have been denied tenure at ISU not because of his record as a scientist,” added Luskin, “but because of discrimination against his views in support of intelligent design."

ISU is one of many schools that have already drafted a statement that negate use of ID thought as scientific. Although the school does not want to be aligned with the disputed idea, according to professors at the school, the university had begun to be labeled as an “ID school.”

Gonzalez, who has written 68 peer-reviewed journals (53 more than the 15 required by his department to meet its standard of excellence in research), says that he does not teach ID in class, however, and that it is purely outside research.

Apart from his work on ID, the denied professor has helped in the discovery of two planets, helped build technology that discovered extrasolar planets, and wrote a college-level astronomy textbook published by Cambridge University.

He was one of three professors not given tenure out of a total of 66 professors at ISU.

"For an untenured assistant professor to best nearly everyone in his department in lifetime normalized citations is most impressive,” concluded Luskin, “and it makes even more indefensible the university's decision to deny him tenure."

Generally, individuals that are denied tenure leave their university.