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Nature’s sneery summary of creationist fossil hunter Mark Armitage’s wrongful dismissal suit against California State U

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After discovering layers of soft triceratops tissue, he was fired.

Here’s Nature:

Armitage freely admits that he often engaged students in conversations, giving his opinion on issues such as the age of the remarkably well-preserved cells in the triceratops horn. “To me, the obvious conclusion is they’re young. They can’t be 68 million years old,” he says.

In terms of getting his job back, those conversations might be Armitage’s undoing. US anti-discrimination laws require employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s beliefs or religious practices, unless doing so would cause ‘undue hardship’ to the employer, says Justine Lisser, a spokesperson for the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

If Armitage made his living bending metal in a machine shop, an employer would find it difficult to show how his views caused undue hardship, she says.

Yes, of course. Anyone who threatens Darwinism with inconvenient findings and talks about what he thinks they mean should end up that way.

Now here’s a question: The U fired him; will they also take credit for his find?

Wouldn’t Nature, love that!

See also: He responds to his critics.

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14 Replies to “Nature’s sneery summary of creationist fossil hunter Mark Armitage’s wrongful dismissal suit against California State U

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    No Ideology has done more harm to science and/or society than atheistic materialism.

  2. 2
    News says:

    I’m waiting to see if they try some gimcrack to take credit for his find. If so, THAT’LL be the issue where they show their hand. Wonder what the story’ll be then?

  3. 3
    Edward says:

    Ok, so how is presenting a scientific oppinion “causing ‘undue hardship’” to a ‘scientific’ organization. Aren’t ‘scientists’ supposed to be up to the challange? How is an inference that bones with tissue residue in them might be less than 65 million year old a particulary challenging oppinion. Wouldn’t that be a rather obvious conclusion. If people get fired for pointing out something that is seemingly obvious why worry about bannings on an opinion based forum.

    ???,
    Ed

  4. 4
    lifepsy says:

    Have to give credit to Nature for even bringing the issue to the public eye. Wonder if the author, Christopher Kemp, is taking any flak for it.

    Here is the usual irony from the Evolution faithful:

    Creationists often appeal to soft-tissue preservation as evidence that dinosaur fossils are thousands rather than millions of years old, says palaeontologist Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. “Science is about building hypotheses and then attempting to falsify them,” he says. “Creation science or any kind of pseudoscience is just the opposite. It is coming up with an idea or a notion or anything else and finding evidence to support it.”

  5. 5
    Bob O'H says:

    I’m waiting to see if they try some gimcrack to take credit for his find.

    They don’t need to. He gave them the credit in the paper by listing them as his affiliation.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Anybody notice how paywalls are creeping up and up steadily? KF

    PS: The wave of discoveries of soft tissues and cell stuff in recent years is interesting. I for one doubt the very long term stability of the organic molecules just on activation processes and access of bacteria. Something really, really weird is going on and I FOR ONE WOULD LIKE TO SEE SOME SUGGESTIONS.

  7. 7
    News says:

    Bob O’H at 5: They might try to leave his name off the discovery. That should be challenged. They can fire, humiliate, and bankrupt him, but the facts of the find remain. (Not that one would expect the pop science media to take any note.)

  8. 8
    Dr JDD says:

    Lifepsy – such irony isn’t it?! When it suits them.

    For example Lenski’s bacteria. Was that coming up with a hypothesis and trying to disprove it? Or when the results have been inadequate to explain any form of macroevolution or novel innovative processes it is still shoehorned in that these support the macro-evolutionary story?

    And what about the multiverse? Are the experiments performed done in an attempt to falsify the hypothesis? What a preposterous suggestion – on the contrary, it is all prefaced on an a priori commitment to their desired world view. So they are no different and in fact worse as they claim their’s is the real and pure science and creationism is pseudo.

    laughable how they cannot see their own folly.

  9. 9
    Edward says:

    At any rate someone named Wesley Elsberry had interesting comments on the article.

    Ed

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Brett Vickers turned over care and maintenance of the TalkOrigins Archive to him (Wesley Elsberry) late in 2001. He established a group of about a dozen volunteers, the TalkOrigins Archive Delegation,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wesley_R._Elsberry

    Talk Origins editor??? Well so much for Elsberry being unbiased.

  11. 11
    Bob O'H says:

    Bob O’H at 5: They might try to leave his name off the discovery.
    How, exactly? It’s on the paper. It’s also not in a particularly high impact journal, and was published over 18 months ago. The paper will no doubt appear in their data bases, but other than that, why would they do anything?

  12. 12
    PaV says:

    Steeped in liberal methodology, the Nature article equivocates. Here’s what I mean.

    1.)

    Armitage freely admits that he often engaged students in conversations, giving his opinion on issues such as the age of the remarkably well-preserved cells in the triceratops horn. “To me, the obvious conclusion is they’re young. They can’t be 68 million years old,” he says.

    So, Armitage “gives his opinion,” and he says that the “obvious conclusion is” they’re not 68 million years old.

    He didn’t “teach” that the earth is only 4,000 years old, nor did he say that the “only” conclusion is they’re not 68 million years old. Nature wants to imply that this is what was going on, equating “opinion” and personal “conclusions” with ‘teaching’ and presentation of opinion as ‘fact.’

    2.)

    US anti-discrimination laws require employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s beliefs or religious practices, unless doing so would cause ‘undue hardship’ to the employer

    “Undue hardship”? Really? So if Armitage gives his “opinion” and then tests a fossil only to find “soft tissue,” and says–from his scientific understanding—that the “obvious” (not “only”) conclusion is that the fossil is not as old as it has been dated, this somehow causes “undue hardship”? How is anyone harmed, much less the university?

    I don’t see how CSUN is NOT going to lose this suit.

  13. 13
    Learned Hand says:

    I don’t see how CSUN is NOT going to lose this suit.

    I think that you’re not an employment lawyer. Neither am I, but assuming basic discrimination/FEHA principles apply Armitage has a tall hill to climb.

    You can find Armitage’s complaint online, but not the answer unfortunately. (It may be on the LA court’s online docket, I wasn’t motivated enough to pay for a search.) He’s alleged that his employer discriminated against him on the basis of his religious beliefs or what they perceived his religious beliefs to be, and that he made (or was perceived as making) protected statements regarding those beliefs.

    Assuming the case goes anywhere, the burden will shift to the employer to show that they fired him for non-discriminatory reasons. They could also win by showing that, whyever they fired him, they had no obligation to accommodate his religious beliefs because doing so would have imposed an undue burden on them.

    I think the employer is currently claiming they did not fire him because of his religious beliefs (or, more precisely, because of the things he did motivated by those beliefs). That’s a very, very, very, very, very common thing for employers to say, whatever their motivations were. That makes it easy to assume that they’re lying, but do recall that one reason it’s such a common defense is that it’s commonly true. People get fired all the time for pedestrian reasons. Typically, an institution with internal counsel would know better than to claim that funding for a position was cut unless they could back that claim up. In the absence of more information, I’d guess it’s more likely than not that the employer has good evidence to support that position.

    But even if this case were to be decided on discrimination grounds I think the employer has a very strong defense. When Armitage shares his beliefs with students, he’s using the university as a soapbox to share beliefs that are considered risible by the vast, overwhelming majority of experts. It seems rather like a UFOologist telescopist finding some fascinating rock structures on Mars, then telling students that the “obvious conclusion” is that Mars is inhabited. I think the employer could easily show that an employee misleading students in such a way is an undue hardship such that they need not accommodate his religious beliefs.

    But as I said, I doubt it will get that far.

  14. 14
    bFast says:

    “If Armitage made his living bending metal in a machine shop, an employer would find it difficult to show how his views caused undue hardship, she says.”

    Um, Dr. Armitage taught people how to use microscopes. Does microscopy depend on your view of the age of the universe? Huh, turns out it does.

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