Brutally Criticized

Published August 25, 2005

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This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 24, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "'Factor' follow-up" segment tonight. As you may know, there's a bitter debate over whether public schools should be allowed to teach students an alternative to Darwin's theory of evolution, a concept called Intelligent Design (search).

That concept puts forth that a higher power oversaw the evolutionary process. And that's why man will never completely understand it.

One year ago, the editor of a scientific journal called Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington (search ) ran an article by Dr. Stephen Meyer of Cambridge University in England that stated intelligent design should be taken seriously as a theory. Well, since that time, Dr. Richard Sternberg's life has been hell. He joins us now from Washington.

Well, I just want to tell everybody that, you know, the federal government investigated your situation and found that you had been harassed because you allowed this article to be printed. I want to know what happened to you? What form did the Harris men take?

RICHARD STEINBERG, FEDERAL SCIENTIST AND EDITOR: Well, it took a number of forms, Bill. First of all, immediately after the article was published, there was a very tepid reaction with a museum.

However, a number of outside groups and individuals began writing e- mails, letters of protests, phoning the museum, phoning my employer, demanding my ouster for this. Apparently, there was an unstated rule that you do not accept a manuscript for per review that counters Darwinism, or seriously counters Darwinism.

And furthermore, I was a gatekeeper. I allowed the paper to be peer reviewed and furthermore, I committed the terribly sin of allowing it to be published.

And so the retaliation that followed took the form of the spreading of misinformation, such that, you know, my degrees were in religion and philosophy, not in science, that there was actually no per review, that I had accepted money under the table. That I...

O'REILLY: So they came after you viciously. And I know how that is; they do that to me every day. But who is behind this?

STERNBERG: Well, it was...

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

STERNBERG: It was a concerted — it was — the retaliation occurred in concert. It was between the officials of the Smithsonian Institution, curators, various administrators and the National Center for Science and Education, based in Oakland, California.

They — they orchestrated, for example, at least the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) orchestrated a repudiation of the article, actually helped the repudiation to be drafted. That is a statement of retraction. And then turned around and cited it on their web site as evidence, not so much evidence, but allowed them to strongly insinuate editorial malfeasance on my part.

They aided in drafting, for example, a statement by the council that oversees publication of the journal to suggest that somehow I had broken the rules.

O'REILLY: But the bottom line is they wanted to ruin you for simply running an article by a scholar. I mean, Cambridge University is one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

STERNBERG: Yes.

O'REILLY: They said look, you ought — you ought to take a look at this intelligent design and not just throw it out in the garbage.

STERNBERG: Right.

O'REILLY: So they tried to ruin you for doing that. And I'm not — I'm not quite understanding, is this an anti-religion movement? I mean, what are they afraid of here? What's the bottom line on it?

STERNBERG: Well, it was — it's an attempt, I think, to suppress scientific dissent.

O'REILLY: Why, though? Why? Why? What is it in for these people who would be to brutal toward anyone who might want to just take a look at intelligent design?

STERNBERG: There — there is a — I think it's religiously and politically motivated. It's a form of projection. You have groups like the NCSE and others who argue that the intelligent design advocates, the creationists, etc., are trying to suppress information, trying to hinder science. And — and ironically, quite the opposite appears to have occurred in this situation.

They felt that, you know, if, for example, the pros and the cons of the issue are placed on the scientific table, then essentially the whole edifice is going to unravel, and that simply cannot be allowed.

O'REILLY: Well, I think it's more than that. I think this is a concerted effort in a fascist way to punish anyone who might want to inject the higher power into any scientific discussion.

I mean, this is a real — let's get religion out of it completely and never deal with that aspect of it again.

Doctor, thanks so much. We're sorry you had to go through what you went through.

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