Richard Sternberg Evolutionary Biologist

Smithsonian Controversy

In 2004, in my capacity as editor of The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, I authorized “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories” by Dr. Stephen Meyer to be published in the journal after passing peer-review. Because Dr. Meyer’s article presented scientific evidence for intelligent design in biology, I faced retaliation, defamation, harassment, and a hostile work environment at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History that was designed to force me out as a Research Associate there. These actions were taken by federal government employees acting in concert with an outside advocacy group, the National Center for Science Education. Efforts were also made to get me fired from my job as a staff scientist at the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Subsequently, there were two federal investigations of my mistreatment, one by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in 2005, and the other by subcommittee staff of the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform in 2006. Both investigations unearthed clear evidence that my rights had been repeatedly violated. Because there has been so much misinformation spread about what actually happened to me, I have decided to make available the relevant documents here for those who would like to know the truth.

My Account of the Controversy

Summary of Retaliation and Discrimination
Short Statement of Facts
Detailed Statement of Facts and Response to Misinformation

Government Investigations of the Controversy

U.S. Office of Special Counsel Letter (2005)
U.S. House of Representatives Staff Report (2006)
U.S. House of Representatives Staff Report Appendix (2006)

Media Coverage of the Controversy

January 28, 2005, Wall Street Journal: “The Branding of a Heretic: Are religious scientists unwelcome at Smithsonian?”

February 14, 2005, Washington Times: “Researcher Claims Bias by Smithsonian”

August 16, 2005, National Review: “Unintelligent Design: Hostility toward religious believers at the nation’s museum”

August 19, 2005, Washington Post: “Controversial Editor Backed: Editor Explains Reasons for ‘Intelligent Design’ Article”

August 25, 2005, The O’Reilly Factor (Fox News): Transcript

November 10, 2005, All Things Considered (NPR): Transcript

December 22, 2006, The Scientist: “Smithsonian ‘discriminated’ against scientist.

April 2008: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

For further information about news coverage of the controversy, see Sternberg, Smithsonian, Meyer, and the Paper that Started It All