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Jerry Bergman. 2008. Slaughter of the Dissidents: the shocking truth about killing the careers of Darwin doubters. Leafcutter Press. pp. 477.

There are so many stories: school teachers who lost their jobs, students who did not receive their earned degrees, candidates who did not secure academic jobs, university faculty who lost their jobs or who were assigned to less meaningful work – all had one thing in common – their colleagues feared they might criticize Darwinism. Some victims blatantly criticized evolution in their work while others never actually did so. Almost all were labeled as religious whether they were or not. Often nobody actually knew what their religious views were, but if the individual was critical of establishment science, it was assumed that the person was promoting a religious agenda. Apparently there is no occasion in most academic circles in the United States, in which it is considered appropriate to question Darwinian interpretations of nature. All too often, according to a new book by Jerry Bergman, the questioner has been drummed out of academic circles.

For thirty years Dr. Bergman has collected documentation on cases of viewpoint discrimination in the United States. Some of the events which he relates are recent, such as the stories of Dr. Caroline Crocker and Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez, both of whom are featured in the movie Expelled. Other famous cases which he discusses include those of Dr. Dean Kenyon (one of the scientists in the DVD Unlocking the Mystery of Life) and Dr. Raymond Damadian who holds the basic patent for the MRI machine – but who, famously, did not receive a Nobel Prize for the MRI when other subsequent workers were recognized in 2003.

Dr. Bergman not only outlines past scenarios in which discrimination has occurred, he also discusses various stages in the process including initially light hearted queries about the individual’s opinions, then a name-calling phase such as “nutcase”, then informal complaints and then formal charges and, finally, procedures to fire the person or deny their degrees, or whatever. In cases where the victim seeks legal recourse, it is almost unheard of for them to win their cases.

Dr. Bergman has chosen events which are diverse and interesting, however sad the outcomes. It has to be remembered that these are real people’s lives and careers which have been derailed. Most unexpectedly, these people ran into trouble because they honestly thought it was possible to discuss these issues in science. Most of these people had excellent credentials, but these were not enough to save their careers. Most Americans believe that they are protected against blatant discrimination of any sort. According to Dr. Bergman however, this is not the case, and the situation is growing worse. The first step toward counteracting these situations (which can happen in Canada too) is to become informed. So do buy the book and read it.

April 2009

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