Rod Dreher and the Templeton “bribe”

When I claimed that the John Templeton Foundation was engaged in bribing journalists, I didn’t mean that they directly paid off those journalists for writing articles that blurred the lines between science and faith.  It’s nothing so crass as that. What I meant was that Templeton creates a climate in which journalists who take a certain line in their writings can expect sizable monetary and career rewards:

As I said, The Templeton Foundation is smart—or rather wily.  They realize that few people, especially underpaid journalists and overworked academics, are immune to the temptation of dosh, and once those people get hooked on the promise of money and prestige, they forever have a stall in the Templeton stable. And, in the hopes of future Templeton funding,  perhaps they’ll continue to write pieces congenial to the Foundation’s mission.

It’s a subtle way of using writers to promulgate your own views, though of course none of those writers would ever admit that they had been bought off.

Rod Dreher is an example of how the Templeton system works.  Dreher was a columnist at the Dallas Morning News, and author of Crunchy Cons (2006), a book about those conservatives who think as righties and live as lefties.  Last year, Dreher won a Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowship, one of Templeton’s most important vehicles for conflating science and faith. Since he got his fellowship, Dreher has written not only for the Dallas paper, but also on beliefnet, a religion/sprirituality website. His columns have pretty much been aligned with the Templeton Foundation’s own views.

Last August, for example, either at or near the end of his Fellowship, Dreher wrote a piece for the Dallas Morning News describing his wonderful experience at Cambridge, decrying “atheist fundamentalism,” and asserting that the horrors of Nazi Germany were part of “atheism’s savage legacy.”  He then touted a NOMA-like solution:

We ought to reject the shibboleth, advocated by both religious and secular fundamentalists, that religion and science are doomed to be antagonists. They are both legitimate ways of knowing within their limited spheres and should both complement and temper each other. The trouble comes when one tries to assert universal hegemony over the other. . .

Contrary to the biases of our time, the importance of science does not exceed that of art and religion. As the poet Wendell Berry writes, the sacredness of life “cannot be proved. It can only be told or shown.” Fortunate are those whose minds are free enough to recognize it.

This kind of stuff is like cream to the cats at Templeton.  How they must have licked their whiskers when they read it!

In a beliefnet column posted last week, Dreher decried the coming “Age of Wonder” touted by physicist Freeman Dyson,” in which science may play an increasingly important role in our life:

This, in the end, is why science and religion have to engage each other seriously. Without each other, both live in darkness, and the destruction each is capable of is terrifying to contemplate — although I daresay you will not find a monk or a rabbi prescribing altering the genetic code of living organisms for the sake of mankind’s artistic amusement. What troubles me, and troubles me greatly, about the techno-utopians who hail a New Age of Wonder is their optimism uncut by any sense of reality, which is to say, of human history. In the end, what you think of the idea of a New Age of Wonder depends on what you think of human nature. I give better than even odds that this era of biology and computers identified by [Freeman] Dyson and celebrated by the Edge folks will in the end turn out to have been at least as much a Dark Age as an era of Enlightenment. I hope I’m wrong. I don’t think I will be wrong.

Over at Pharyngula, P. Z. Myers took apart Dreher’s arguments against biotechnology, giving a dozen examples of Dreher’s ignorance and misstatement.  And although Dreher wrote

The truth of the matter is that I turned up in Cambridge knowing a lot about religion, but not much about science. What I saw and heard during those two-week seminars, and what I learned from my Templeton-subsidized research that summer (I designed my own reading program, which compared Taoist and Eastern Christian views of the body and healing) opened my mind to science. It turned out that I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I went on the fellowship.

it appears that he still doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

On Sept. 26 of last year, five days before Templeton started accepting applications for their journalism fellowships, Dreher promoted the Templeton Journalism Fellowships on belief.net, encouraging people to apply.

On November 30 of last year, Dreher announced that he was leaving the Dallas Morning News to become director of publications at the John Templeton Foundation. That’s where he is now. He’s still publishing on beliefnet, though, where, a week ago, he wrote a heated column attacking my contention that Templeton bribes journalists.  It’s the usual stuff—outraged assertions that journalists could be bought, attacks on “atheist fundamentalists,” and what Dreher calls a “brave, contrarian position” that we should all be “nice” to each other.   You can read it for yourself, and I urge you to do so.

The curious thing, though, is that while decrying the idea that Templeton “buys off” journalists, Dreher is himself a beneficiary of Templeton’s practice of rewarding those who, after entering the system, perform well.  Dreher was a journalism fellow just last year. Other journalism fellows have been promoted to the advisory committee for the fellowships.  And several members of the Templeton Foundation’s Board of Advisors have, after their service, gone on to win the million-pound Templeton Prize itself.  The lesson, which seems transparently obvious, is that if you clamber aboard the Templeton gravy train and keep repeating that science and faith are complementary “ways of knowing,” good things will happen to you.

Oh, one last point.  The Templeton website says this about Dreher’s credentials:

A seven-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, Rod has spent most of the past two decades as an opinion journalist, having worked as a film and television critic and news columnist at the New York Post and other newspapers. He has appeared on National Public Radio, ABC News, Fox News Channel, CNN, and MSNBC.

That seemed odd to me.  Seven-time Pulitzer nominee?  That’s big stuff!  But a bit of sleuthing showed that it’s not what it seems.  Nearly any journalist can be a Pulitzer “nominee” for journalism.  All somebody has to do is fill out a form, submit a few of the “nominee’s” articles, and write a $50 check to Columbia University/Pulitzer Prizes. As the Pulitzer website says:

By February 1, the Administrator’s office in the Columbia School of Journalism has received more than 1,300 journalism entries. Those entries may be submitted by any individual based on material coming from a text-based United States newspaper or news site that publishes at least weekly during the calendar year and that adheres to the highest journalistic principles.

Editors do this all the time for their writers, but you don’t have to be an editor to nominate someone: anybody can do it.

And the thing is, the Pulitzer organization does not recognize the category of “nominee” for those who get nominated this way—it recognizes the category of “nominated finalist,” those three individuals whose submissions make the cut and get considered for the Pulitzer Prize itself. The Pulitzer organization, in fact, discourages the use of the term “nominee,” presumably because any newspaper or news site journalist who has a friend with fifty bucks can be a nominee.  From their website:

22. What does it mean to be a Pulitzer Prize Winner or a Pulitzer Prize Nominated Finalist?

  • A Pulitzer Prize Winner may be an individual, a group of individuals, or a newspaper’s staff.
  • Nominated Finalists are selected by the Nominating Juries for each category as finalists in the competition. The Pulitzer Prize Board generally selects the Pulitzer Prize Winners from the three nominated finalists in each category. The names of nominated finalists have been announced only since 1980. Work that has been submitted for Prize consideration but not chosen as either a nominated finalist or a winner is termed an entry or submission. No information on entrants is provided.
  • Since 1980, when we began to announce nominated finalists, we have used the term “nominee” for entrants who became finalists. We discourage someone saying he or she was “nominated” for a Pulitzer simply because an entry was sent to us.
  • Pulitzer also says this:

    The three finalists in each category are the only entries in the competition that are recognized by the Pulitzer office as nominees.

    I checked the Pulitzer list of nominated finalists, and I didn’t find Dreher’s name on it.  I guess Templeton is calling Dreher a “nominee” against the recommendations of the Pulitzer organization.  If I’m right here, Dreher and Templeton may want to correct his credentials.

    35 Comments

    1. Hempenstein
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Ha! As usual, great sleuthing on the nominee business!

    2. Posted March 8, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Yeah, a religion editor friend of mine got “nominated” for the Pulitzer, too. Her boss sent her name in.

      Apparently the paper covered the $50 fee, even.

      Her current bio says that she was “nominated for a Pulitzer prize” several times as well.

    3. Artikcat
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Dear Weit; right on target, but from the start your argument opens to the well deserved counter-argumentc of nepotism in science (and for tht matter elsewhere). I say, lets ostracize Templeton,for Gods sake!!-no pun intended- period. I mean classical ostracism, as practiced in Greece and in Indian-Native American- societies pre-contact

    4. NewEnglandBob
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      I agree that this isn’t bribery of Rod Dreher.

      It smells more like prostitution to me.

      • Artikcat
        Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        For every prostitute there is a pimp-well, almost always.

      • Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        I don’t know whether “prostitution” applies here.

        I understand that there are some things that prostitutes just won’t do, regardless of the money.

        • Artikcat
          Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:38 am | Permalink

          Really? Isn’t it common knowledge that every human being has a price tag? It seems to me that the Templars of Templeton are well aware of this. In their world there are thirty pieces of silver for everyone. In your own currency

    5. Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      I didn’t find most of PZ’s post to be all that useful as a discussion of Dreher. Myers focuses on Jody Bottum’s dopey essay. The fact that Dreher quotes Bottum’s dopey essay might show that Dreher finds certain kinds of meandering nonsense to be inspiring, but it doesn’t say much about his argument.

      Before I get into this, I want to be clear that I agree with Myers that there is something mysterious (and outright anti-Darwinian) in talking about “what it means to be human”. I don’t know what Dreher means by this — it’s probably a meaningless trope. And of course Dreher’s stuff about religion is perfect bullshit, too.

      Still, Myers seemingly doesn’t wrangle with Dreher’s general point about “techno-optimism” until bullet point 9. And Myers’s points in those middle sections (11-12) are pretty weak.

      Part of Myers’s critique in (11) is based on an implausible reading of Dreher. So he asks: “Why imagine that having slower, more expensive, more difficult techniques now will suddenly leap over the social, ethical, and legal barriers that we have in place?” Great question. But if I were Dreher, I would answer: who said anything about “suddenly”? Where did this implication of suddenness come from? Doesn’t Dreher’s techno-pessimism work just as well when dealing with incremental change? He worries about how things “will in the end turn out”, so either one fits.

      Point 11 is that “Using science to tinker with the possible imperfections of our progeny is nothing new, except perhaps in the precision, the expense, and the increased range of possibilities.” While Myers seeks to trivialize Dreher’s point, he does it in a sterile way. For one legitimate way of parsing the above quoted statement is, “Eugenics is nothing new (except perhaps for the precision, expense, and increased range of possibilities of directing eugenic research), because we have always selected our mates.” Both statements are arguably true, but only because Myers’s qualifications — accent on “expense” — make all the difference between eugenics and mate selection. Since for most of us, and presumably Myers as well, there’s a palpable moral difference between eugenics and mate selection, it may be that Myers isn’t quite the “starry-eyed techno-optimist” that he thinks he is (even if his tongue is firmly in cheek).

      Sure enough, we find that Myers’s advice is startlingly mild: “Please do consider that there will always be pitfalls and unexpected consequences of new ideas and technologies. Just do it from a position of informed awareness, rather than ignorant abhorrence of change.” In other words: it’s fine to worry about Frankensteins, just make sure they’re plausible ones. Well, fine. Dreher could take the tip and call himself a cautious pessimist. I’m not sure much headway would have been made on the issues that he finds most pressing.

      In fact, the “techno-pessimism” argument is only (finally) confronted in a meaningful way at (12). He makes two arguments: one against the historical examples, another in favor of weeding out disadvantageous traits.

      Surely Myers is right that we ought to try to weed out disadvantageous traits, but the only consequence of that would be that we ought to be cautious and focused. A mild refutation, if it is a refutation.

      But he also argues “that nightmares like the Holocaust arise when people fail to see that the nature that deserves respect and protection is in our minds, our culture, our interactions, not in our lineage or our genes.” That sounds more like optimism. But the questions are — whose minds, which cultures, which interactions, and who decides? Suppose we grow a perfect violinist in a vat. The violinist could play almost immediately after birth, and wouldn’t need to put any real work into learning the craft. Would we, the community, think this violinist is valuable, or would we think the violinist is nothing more than a portable stereo?

      This is just to say that if we want to speak this generally, then things like minds, community norms, and so on, must be seen as too fickle to use as a basis for our genetic agenda. On the other hand, if Myers wants to limit himself to a more specific point — say, cautiously in favor of correcting maladies instead of creating Superman-Pig-Violinists — then it will be distinct from trite sentimental labels like “optimism” or “pessimism”.

      • Tacroy
        Posted March 8, 2010 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        Uh are you sure you posted this to the right site? It’s not that difficult to post something to Pharyngula, after all.

        • Posted March 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          It bears on this post.

          Also the quality of the discussion over there is quite a bit lower so it’s kind of a waste of time. (I still read Myers’s posts, just not the comments.)

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted March 8, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        I have no idea what this rambling comment is supposed to mean. Myers critique of Dreher is apt, it is Dreher who references Bottum at length.

        Myers even make a shambles of Dreher’s context, though he doesn’t need to – it is common to extract a specific dreadful point and show that the argument makes no sense.

        For example, here the reply among other things claims that it is Myers who brings up the pace of discovery here. But everything in Bottum’s piece is without proper context, as Myers show, so “On Thursday [sic], October 5, it was revealed” is the given pace. Arguing this abysmally, the comment makes no sense.

        In the end the comment comes to some sort of conclusion. Myers is correct in that this was a critique of “techno-utopians”, and the problem with the described technique is that the usual means of using it such as rationality (“minds”) and morality (“community norms”) are fickle.

        Why these means are fickle, used daily to engage techniques and successfully so, isn’t explained. Nor why this technique especially would differ – the example of a human “in a vat”, whatever that means, is tellingly already mentioned by Myers, obviously to no effect. (“The product of a fully human nuclear genome [carried to term via an oocyte with pig mitochondria] would be fully human.”)

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted March 8, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          D’oh! “is the given pace” – is the given pace that Myers comment on.

        • Posted March 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          Torbjörn, I would say that he doesn’t make sense of Dreher’s criticism of “techno-optimism” (which is what I presume you mean by “context”). As I said, I thought Myers’s points (11-12) were quite weak. This matters, because (11-12) is the indispensible core of Dreher’s critical argument.

          You can certainly *weaken* Dreher’s argument by criticizing his use of that idiotic piece by Bottum, and this matters a little bit. But you can’t *defeat* his argument that way. Unfortunately, it sometimes seems as though Myers wants to defeat the argument. However, as I tried to show by going over (11-12), I doubt that Myers has the ammunition to do it.

          Is this clear enough? Before we discuss anything further, I should make sure I’ve given you a workable idea of what the conclusion and point of the post was. My final paragraph might be misleading in this respect, because it’s more of an afterthought than a conclusion.

          Also, for my part, if I may say so, I’m also a bit lost by your remarks. Your third paragraph is difficult for me to align with the rest of the conversation. What do you mean by “pace”? The word doesn’t appear in any post.

    6. Eric MacDonald
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Great review of Dreher’s ouvre! Great detective work too. It makes it so clear how fraudulent Templeton really is.

      But what a curious guy this Dreher is! Not only was he bought off by Templeton, he’s bought into the Templeton schtick lock, stock and barrel!

      I’d like to comment on a couple things. First of all, Sean Carrol’s idea that being nice is a brave contrarian thing to do. As he says, we (atheists) can afford to be nice, because we’re right! As the man says:

      I think that folks in the reality-based community should be the paragons of reasonableness and even niceness, while not yielding an inch on the correctness of their views.

      I like that: ‘reality-based community.’ Now, if that’s what being nice is all about, then I’d like to know what it would be like to be strident and abrasive?

      Or take Dreher’s comments about Simon Blackburn, who apparently addressed the Templeton conference at Cambridge last year. Here’s what Dreher says about him:

      Going from memory, he seemed to believe that science and religion had nothing whatosever to say to each other, because religion fails the kind of test people like Jerry Coyne insist it must pass to be taken seriously as a way of knowing. I found it hard to understand why someone who thought that religion was absurdity from soup to nuts would trouble himself to participate in the program.

      But later he suggests that this is what made the conference worthwhile, because it had people like Blackburn as speakers. He can’t have it both ways.

      Dreher brings up the wonderful atheist Freddie, who can’t see why any atheist should be concerned about religion, as though he lived in a hermetically sealed world where he can quite happily ignore all the offences of religion against justice, human rights, humanity.

      No doubt there are unbelievers who simply live without belief. Lots of them, doubtless. But a thoughtful atheist, one imagines, might give more than a passing thought to the fact that a Saudi woman without a male guardian was sentenced to 300 lashes and 1.5 years in jail, just because she didn’t have a male guardian with her, or that the Roman Catholic has ignored the rape of children by clergy, and covered it up, or that the pope and other Vatican officials claim that condoms have no value as a preventative of STDs, or that Muslims sentence writers to death for publishing novels or their own opinions, or indulge daily in suicide bombing of innocent people. That might just be worth being concerned about.

      One last thing. Referring to the new regime of monitoring comments on richarddawkins.net, Dreher asks Dawkins to reflect “on what his own illiberalism on the subject of religion has helped midwife.” Does he really think that Dawkins is responsible for all the nasty people on the internet? Including all the nasty Christians and Muslims too? This guy really has bought into the Templeton story. He needs to step back and get some perspective.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted March 8, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        I really, really like Carroll on his writings on reality and quantum physics (QP), and his research on time.

        The first are a clear view of physics as process and not state transitions (QP pretty much killed that) and the non-definiteness of observables before observation, and the later is an intriguing unraveling of the need for an infinite Hilbert space in an expanding (never-ending) universe (“What if Time Really Exists?”, Carroll).

        And I really, really don’t like Carroll on his research on cosmology and his writings on “niceness”.

        The first is a recurrent search for time symmetry because for some reason I can’t understand he claims inflation can’t start in a large and lasting enough non-inflationary universe if it has a small likelihood of doing so. (Time symmetry removes such a “problem” by gluing small likelihood states together symmetrically, thus presenting large likelihood states as boundaries.)

        And the later is skirting close enough to “accommodationism”. I like to have some sane attitude between me and insanity, thank you very much! :-D

        (More concretely, I want to be able to tell Chris “earlier-Framing-infamous-and-now-Templeton-awarded” Mooney that he is full of it.)

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted March 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Here is the full context:

        It’s also wrong to fetishize politeness for its own sake. Some people manage to forfeit the right to be taken seriously or treated politely. But that shouldn’t be the default position. And being polite doesn’t make you more likely to be correct, or vice-versa. And — to keep piling on the caveats — being “polite” doesn’t mean “keeping quiet,” at least as a general principle. We all know people who will resort to a cowardly tactic of claiming to be “offended” when you say something perfectly reasonable with which they happen to disagree. There’s no reason to give into that; but the solution is not to valorize obnoxiousness for its own sake.

        The irony is that the pro-obnoxious crowd (obnoxionists?) is ultimately making the same mistake as the accommodationist crowd. Namely: blurring the lines between the truth of a claim and the manner in which the claim is presented. Accommodationists slide from “we can work together, in a spirit of mutual respect, with religious people on issues about which we agree” to “we should pretend that science and religion are compatible.” But obnoxionists tend to slide from “we disagree with those people” to “we should treat those people with contempt.” Neither move is really logically supportable.

        A lot of the pro-obnoxiousness sentiment stems from a feeling that atheism is a disrespected minority viewpoint in our culture, and I have some sympathy with that. Atheists should never be ashamed of their beliefs, or afraid to support them vigorously. And — let’s be honest — there’s a certain amount of pleasure to be found in being part of a group where everyone sits around congratulating each other on their superior intellect and reasoning abilities, while deriding their opponents with terms like “superstition” and “brain damage” and “child abuse.” But these are temptations to be avoided, not badges of honor.

        Within the self-reinforcing culture of vocal non-believers, it’s gotten to the point where saying that someone is “nice” has become an insult. Let me hereby stake out a brave, contrarian position: in favor of being nice. I think that folks in the reality-based community should be the paragons of reasonableness and even niceness, while not yielding an inch on the correctness of their views. We should be the good guys. We are in possession of some incredible truths about this amazing universe in which we live, and we should be promoting positive messages about the liberating aspects of a life in which human beings are responsible for creating justice and beauty, rather than having them handed to us by supernatural overseers. Remarkably, I think it’s possible to be positive and nice (when appropriate) and say true things at the same time. But maybe that’s just my crazy utopian streak. [My bold.]

        Clearly it is a problem when observable superstition and child abuse is claimed to be mere derision. It is also an underhanded stone thrown at Dawkins for his mere pointing out that religious behavior can be so (and is respectively likely is).

        I agree that we should not hold people in contempt for beliefs. But we can, and should, hold them in contempt for needlessly stupid or hurtful behavior.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted March 8, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

          “Clearly it is a problem when observable superstition and child abuse is claimed to be mere derision.” – Clearly it is a problem when pointing out observable superstition and child abuse is claimed to be mere derision.

    7. Flea
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Lying for Jesus, lying for Mammon. Nothing new under the sun.

    8. Captain Howdy
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Since he got his fellowship … [H]is columns have pretty much been aligned with the Templeton Foundation’s own views.

      To be fair to Dreher, he has always written idiotic God-driven drivel, so charges that he was bribed are out of line. He’s more like a nymphomaniac who finally got around to becoming a whore.

      Speaking of which, Dreher claims he used to be atheist — because he didn’t like the idea of God harshing on his sexual freedom. (So he stopped believing in It.)

      http://blog.beliefnet.com/crunchycon/2006/11/how-come.html

    9. MadScientist
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      “What I meant was that Templeton creates a climate in which journalists who take a certain line in their writings can expect sizable monetary and career rewards”

      But that *IS* a bribe. Politicians do it all the time, but the public seem to lie to themselves and listen to the politicians who claim it is not a bribe. People these days have far too narrow a view on what constitutes a bribe.

    10. MadScientist
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      “They are both legitimate ways of knowing within their limited spheres …”

      I have mathematical expressions for that; using ‘Science’ to represent the volume of the sphere of science and ‘Religion’ to represent the volume of the sphere of religion:

      \int_{t=0}^\inf{Science}dt = N, N &gt&gt 0

      \int_{t=0}^\inf{Religion}dt = 0

      In other words, as time goes by science grows but ultimately has its limits; at the same time the influence of religion shrinks. Note that this is only a relative view of religion; we need to specify the initial conditions to get a correct view of religion. Those conditions would be:

      (1) The function Religion() will be one of monotonically increasing, monotonically decreasing, or constant.
      (2) Religion(t=0) = 0

      In other words, religion doesn’t know jack shit – never did, never will. It only pretends to know.

    11. Posted March 8, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      I don’t get it. Every time someone takes a job with a magazine (with a particular political slant), a think tank, an advocacy organization, etc., they put themselves in a position of having to continue toeing a particular line in order to keep receiving a paycheck. So what? Nobody thinks this has anything to do with bribery.

      You’d start to question a writer’s integrity if they hooked up with an organization, or stayed with it, just for the money and then changed their tune to keep the money coming. But Rod Dreher is not an example of that at all. A Dallas conservative, crunchy or not, is just the kind of person you’d expect to warm up to Templeton ideas. Also, there’s nothing that says he wasn’t influenced by things he heard at the Cambridge seminar, as opposed to changing his positions for monetary gain. Being influenced by a seminar is obviously perfectly legitimate.

      From what I can tell, Chris Mooney’s outlook has enough in common with the Templeton outlook that there’s no reason at all to think he’s compromising his integrity by taking their money. They are science-promoters, and so is he. They want to defuse science-religion tension, and so does he. You can think he’s wrong to have those Templeton-compatible attitudes, but I don’t that he’s done anything remotely like taking a bribe.

      • Matt Penfold
        Posted March 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        In science it is well known that scientists engaged in drug research that is funded by drug companies is more likely to produce results that show a benefit from using the drug being tested.

        For the most part there is not any malfeasance on the part of the scientists involved in such studies, and yet the bias is still there.

        Is there any reason why journalists should be any less susceptible to this kind of bias ?

        I would also add that scientists are required to declare the source of funding in such research. Should journalists who are, or have been, Templeton fellows be required to declare such in any article they write on science and religion ?

    12. Margaret
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      “…although I daresay you will not find a monk or a rabbi prescribing altering the genetic code of living organisms for the sake of mankind’s artistic amusement.”

      So no monk or rabbi or other religious person has ever tried to breed a new variety of rose? I didn’t think my opinion of the religious could sink any lower.

      • Matt Penfold
        Posted March 8, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        I would say has he not heard of Mendel, but the answer is almost certainly no.

    13. Posted March 8, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

      This kind of “nomination” to the Pulitzer is equivalent to the inclusion in the “Who’s who” book. And, of course, there are people who actually mention it in their credentials.

    14. Bill
      Posted March 8, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

      Science is about what is knowable, but unknown. Religion is about what is unknowable. Doesn’t sound very complementary to me.

      What Dreher seems to be saying, is that the use of the outcomes of science should be tempered by morals (and I think all scientists would agree with that). He is mis-equating religion and morals as being the same thing, but provides no evidence of that. Of course, to the extent that religion does include any morals that might be supportable, the morals came first and the religious framework built around them.

    15. ChicagoMolly
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:32 am | Permalink

      Mr. Coyne, you got us all wrong. You talk about this money like it was, what, a bribe? We at Templeton don’t bribe people. We do favors for people. We do favors all the time. Favors are good. We do people favors, and then they do us favors.

      We could do you a favor, Mr. Coyne. Knowhadimtalkinabout?

    16. Wrysmile
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      They’ve changed the web page already it now reads

      “Nominated by his editors seven times for the Pulitzer Prize”

    17. Posted March 9, 2010 at 2:10 am | Permalink

      Beware of whores who say they don’t want money. What they mean is they want more money. Much more.

      -Wm. S. Burroughs

    18. Chris Slaby
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:16 am | Permalink

      I’m glad that the webpage has changed his resume, but it’s still somewhat dishonest in light of what the Pulitzer website says. Dreher, and all other “nominees,” should be required to post the disclaimer from the Pulitzer people. It’s a pretty meaningless credential; you do have to have written something, but assumably it would be made clear somewhere else that a journalist has indeed published stories. I think this is a disingenuous (and redundant) act that isn’t actually any sort of achievement or sign of his skills as a journalist. In fact, writing that you were nominated for a Pulitzer, when anyone with a published article and $50 can be nominated, is an intentional act of deception to make yourself look like a better, more successful journalist than you actually are.

      • Tulse
        Posted March 9, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        writing that you were nominated for a Pulitzer, when anyone with a published article and $50 can be nominated, is an intentional act of deception

        Wait…are you saying that the Templeton Foundation is not completely honest and above-board? That’s unpossible!

    19. Krubozumo Nyankoye
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      And since the Pulitzer organization only lists the nominee finalists, claiming to have been nominated is rather hard to verify.

    20. Posted July 2, 2010 at 5:14 am | Permalink

      Not sure how I missed this discussion earlier.

      Benefits of Dreher’s moving to Templeton:

      1. Those of us who get the Dallas Morning News don’t have to put up with his wacky conservatism any more.

      2. Dreher moved off his hard-line, ill-informed creationist stance. Not far, but off.

      I don’t think one can make a great case that his position at the Templeton Foundation is as bully a pulpit as DMN. Part of the editorial writing team he was a member of won the Pulitzer this last round, for editorial writing on local issues (a well-deserved award, too).

      Perhaps we should take advantage of the Templeton momentum, such as it is: Anybody want to join me in a proposal for a grant to get religious nuts in Texas to go all Templeton-y on accepting evolution in high school biology curricula?

    21. Posted September 28, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Rod was one of the three editors I worked under at DMN when writing ed-op commentary for a suburban satellite. He is just a nice guy and passionate about writing. Personable – unlike most of the anti-socials here. For not being “worth much” you certainly gave him quite the space with your rant-a-thon. smile

      Tammy Swofford


    2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

    1. [...] yesterday Templeton had advertised him as a “seven-time Pulitzer Prize nominee,” and, as I pointed out, that characterization violated the Pulitzer organization’s own guidelines.  Dreher’s [...]

    2. [...] willing to churn out accommodationist pap.  The John Templeton Foundation, through its credential-bending director of publications Rod Dreher, has announced that, if you’re willing to toe the party line, Templeton has big simoleons for [...]

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