In the New York Times, Mark Oppenheimer recounts how “Debate Over Intelligent Design Ensnares a Journal” (May 13, 2011). He means the Beckwith-Forrest-Synthese controversy where Southeastern Louisiana U philosopher (and supposed expert in intelligent design) Barbara Forrest misrepresented Baylor philosopher Frank Beckwith (who is not a design supporter). The print version of the journal disowned the paper, and the Darwin lobby, in which Forrest is a key player, has been carrying a torch ever since, demanding that the hit paper be reinstated as respectable.
Reporter Oppenheimer gets it mostly right, for example,
Dr. Forrest said this week that she suspected that intelligent design theorist William A. Dembski “was involved in this, because his work was mentioned” in her article, too. Reached by phone, Dr. Dembski said that he had not contacted Synthese and knew of no specific campaign to influence the journal.
No, Dembski didn’t know. There was no campaign. I was the only person clearly sympathetic to the ID community who knew anything at all, and I did not tell Dembski. Or anyone else. I made that clear after the “Save Our Forrest” campaign started, which should have ended its ongoing insinuations, but didn’t, of course.
When Beckwith talked to me late in January, he talked like a man who had been mugged, determined to get justice, all alone if need be. But he wasn’t all alone.
Distinguished Christian philosopher Plantinga contacted the journal, as did another Christian philosopher known to be unsympathetic to ID, both accusing Forrest of “character assassination.” Apparently, Beckwith had never even asked them to complain:
I don’t know these guys well, but to have philosophers of that stature come to your defense – I was blown away by that.”
I myself warned Nick Matzke, Forrest’s defender, not to continue turning the debacle into a [debris] storm. Which raises an interesting question: Now that the Times has markedly failed to just rush in obediently to help Matzke, … will it all blow over now? Or will the “Save Our Forrest” campaign roll on oblivious?
Forrest herself appears oblivious to any sense of error or wrongdoing even now; Of a colleague, an editor at Synthese, she told Oppenheimer, “I figured that he’s under a lot of pressure. But he made a mistake.”
For Oppenheimer’s article, go here.