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New York Times reports on Darwinist’s article disowned by philosophy journal

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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.

How dumb do they think we are?!!!
Not quite as dumb as a box of rocks, slightly more dumb than a blonde. Mung
These guys make false accusations like the above example and then expect the general public to just take their word on their views of science. How dumb do they think we are?!!! tjguy
In her essay, Dr. Forrest, known for her opposition to intelligent design, argued that Dr. Beckwith made many of intelligent design’s conceptual mistakes, and “presents I.D. exactly as I.D. leaders do.” LOL! whot? he presents ID accurately?? the horror! He must be punished! someone catch this heretic! Polanyi
It's all perfectly logical, as long as you don't think too hard about it. Mung
I like the alleging of an ID conspiracy. Because if there's one thing ID proponents have, it's pull with universities. Particularly when it comes to journals which have just finished a special issue dedicated to, basically, blasting ID. And you know what really sells this "ID pressure" story? The fact that the man involved principally is Beckwith. Whose last major ID event was an article at Biologos criticizing ID heavily. And one of whose main complaints here was that he was being cast as an ID proponent despite himself rejecting ID. nullasalus
Beckwith posted the Synthase editors' response: Res ipsa loquitur May 13, 2011:
. . .Professor Beckwith requested an opportunity to respond to Professor Forrest's paper. We agreed that this was a fair course of action. . . . At this point we have a duty to help create procedures to prevent situations of the sort we saw here from recurring. . . . We have begun planning a transition to improved editorial procedures and improved oversight . . .
PS res ipsa loquitur
(rayz ip-sah loh-quit-her) n. Latin for "the thing speaks for itself," a doctrine of law that one is presumed to be negligent if he/she/it had exclusive control of whatever caused the injury even though there is no specific evidence of an act of negligence, and without negligence the accident would not have happened. . . .Under res ipsa loquitur all those connected with the operation are liable for negligence. Lawyers often shorten the doctrine to "res ips," and find it a handy shorthand for a complex doctrine.
Francis J. Beckwith blogs at Patheos.com e.g. Or We Can Be Philosophers: A Response to Barbara Forrest March 8, 2011
We have a choice. We can take our cue from Forrest, and a few of her compatriots higher up on the philosophical food chain, and continue to escalate and amplify our inflammatory rhetoric, falsely depicting our adversaries as sinister subversives looking to usher in a totalitarian regime committed to either theocracy or atheocracy. Or we can be philosophers.
The Scandal of Being a Christian, or in the words of the immortal Frank Sinatra….
. . .So, she, like the Christian, believes that she is correct about her beliefs. And she, like the Christian, believes that other points of view are mistaken. But then she is in precisely the same position as me: she thinks she is right and others wrong. Thus, on her own grounds, her critique of my work ought to be rejected as epistemically suspect, and I need not worry about it.
Synthese Disclaimer Published
. . . We believe that vigorous debate is clearly of the essence in intellectual communities, and that even strong disagreements can be an engine of progress. However, tone and prose should follow the usual academic standards of politeness and respect in phrasing. We recognize that these are not consistently met in this particular issue. These standards, especially toward people we deeply disagree with, are a common benefit to us all. We regret any deviation from our usual standards. Johan van Benthem Vincent F. Hendricks John Symons Editors-in-Chief / SYNTHESE I am honored that these editors have chosen to distance their prestigious journal from the less-than-scholarly tactics of Professor Forrest.
St. Thomas Aquinas and the Inadequacy of Intelligent Design (However, I think Beckwith misunderstands ID arguments) Objections to the Synthase Editor's disclaimer has publicized this case. e.g. Google now lists 11,000 results for "Beckwith Forrest Synthase" I believe congratulations are due to Nick Matzke for so widely publicizing Forrest's unschholarly work replete with numerous errors. DLH
Mark also welcomes comments at: MarkOppenheimer.com DLH

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