Great news: I’m the Discovery Institute’s “Censor of the Year”!

February 10, 2014 • 6:59 am

I have more substantive things to post today, but stuff like sick kittens, and now this Big Announcement, keep getting in the way.

In this case I’m so proud I could bust a button! Reader Doc Bill just informed me that I was selected from a field of stiff competitors (including anticreationism activist Zack Kopplin) to be the Discovery Institute’s (DI’s) “Censor of the Year.” They even made a cool poster of me!


Senior Liar Fellow David Klinghoffer wrote the encomiums at Evolution News & Views, although he somehow fails to grasp that such a prize really is an honor, coming as it does from an organization devoted to spreading lies to schoolchildren (all bolding is from the DI announcement):

Let me make clear at the outset: In naming University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne as “Censor of the Year,” we at the Center for Science & Culture are not bestowing an honor. While the idea of giving out a “prize” for something so malignant as censorship may sound like a lark, it’s not. As CSC associate director John West points out, “This is very serious business. Censorship retards the search for truth and hurts innocent people.”

And says Dr. West, “Among die-hard defenders of evolutionary orthodoxy, it’s now standard operating procedure.” This is how the scientific “consensus” against Darwin skeptics and intelligent-design advocates is maintained — by fear.

The “award” will be distributed this Wednesday, February 12, for Darwin Day.

I hope the prize includes money: it’s cassoulet season and I’m hankering for a good French meal. If not that, then I’d really like a copy of the poster shown above.

The achievements which garnered me this prize appear to consist solely of helping stop Dr. Eric Hedin from pushing religion in his physics and astronomy class at Ball State University in Indiana. So I’m a wee bit hurt that the DI didn’t also laud me for getting the “Creatures of God” plaque taken down at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. The fact that they left out that signal achievement shows that what they’re really peeved about is having Intelligent Design expelled from a university. As Klinghoffer notes, it’s also about my using the power differential between Hedin and me to “bully” him:

Coyne was pivotal in stampeding Ball State University president Jo Ann Gora to issue a campus-wide gag order on teaching about intelligent design in science classrooms. This involved intimidating and silencing a young Ball State physicist, Eric Hedin. That’s censorship. But something that really stands out about Coyne’s effort is the power differential between himself and his victim.

Here’s Coyne, comfortable as could be in what sure sounds like an easy yet highly prestigious position at the University of Chicago. His workload is evidently so light that he has time to blog at Why Evolution Is True what seems like around the clock about frivolous pet topics. While he’s ostensibly a scientist, his main passion is bashing religion. Coyne is protected by tenure. He’s safe.

On the other hand we have Eric Hedin, at a state school, Ball State in Indiana, with considerably less cachet. Hedin is actively publishing in his field, unlike Coyne, but he is not tenured, and so his professional future is really on the line. His prospects are now far more fragile, thanks to Professor Jerry Coyne. Frittering away time blogging about cute animals and posting cartoons insulting various religions — as Coyne does — was not, I’m fairly sure, something that Dr. Hedin would have felt free to do if he was (highly unlikely) inclined to do it.

So we have the powerful, prestigious and above all safe Jerry Coyne, swooping in from the next state to rile up Hedin’s employers, Ball State’s administration. Why? Because Hedin included a bibliography in an interdisciplinary class that listed some books that were favorable to intelligent design (and others that were critical of it).

Coyne was not only successful in shutting down Hedin, and getting intelligent design shut down on the campus as a whole. He was also a bully, exploiting the difference in power to tyrannize and dominate a vulnerable younger scholar.

Perhaps I’m being churlish at this wonderful moment, but I would like to correct two things. “Easy yet highly prestigious position” is not quite an accurate description of my job. I write on this site between 6 and 8 a.m., before work hours (posts are spread throughout the day), devoting the rest of the time to academic duties and writing a book. And I work 7 days a week, certainly more than the “scientists” at the Discovery Institute do. Finally, I am deeply grieved if Dr. Hedin feels “tyrannized,” though somehow I think that’s a bit of DI hyperbole. Nevertheless, I’m proud to be disseminating kittens rather than lies.

But really, Discovery Institute: you like me! Right now, you like me!  And honestly, while I’m the recipient of this honor, many of us share in this victory, for my tyranny could not have been successful without the help of many others. In particular, I’d like to thank the anonymous student at Ball State University, who, filled to the craw with Hedin’s Jesus talk (“No Hindu monkey god could do that”), reported Hedin’s shenanigans to another anonymous informant, who brought them to my attention. I’d also like to thank the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and especially staff attorney Andrew Seidel, for calling Hedin’s behavior to the attention of the President and academic officers of Ball State University. And, most of all, I’d like to thank Ball State President Jo Ann Gora (now retired) for taking a stand against teaching disguised creationism at her University. In fact, Gora deserves this award far more than I do, for she is the one who took action and took an uncompromising stand against ID nonsense and in favor of real science.

Thank you, Dr. Klinghoffer—the award is even more meaningful coming from a fellow Jew—and thanks to all the people at the Discovery Institute. I will cherish this honor immensely, and will put it on my desk right next to my “Emperor Has No Clothes Award” from the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

My people have already issued a more formal thank you, but you’ve made my day!

111 thoughts on “Great news: I’m the Discovery Institute’s “Censor of the Year”!

  1. Somehow, I don’t think that this is quite the reply that the DI were looking for, I’m pleased to say.

    Many congratulations! You must be so proud…

  2. A great honour indeed!

    I find it so annoying when people think that when others work hard and have copious outputs that obviously slacking off is involved. Maybe that person is a high performer! I’ve actually had (crappy) bosses that thought that because I finished something quickly, it must be crap and finding out that it wasn’t, still thought I must be doing something sinister. Maybe, just maybe I’m good at my job!

    1. ha!

      In fact if you hand in stuff a little late you can claim it’s because you’re so busy and slammed etc… and this earns you bonus points for being such a trooper.

      I work for a really good CFO at one point, and he told me to put all my effort into presentation. His logic was that even if the numbers are wrong, a great presentation will give the consumers of the presentation false confidence!! And the opposite is true too. even if your data are great, if it looks sloppy people will assume it’s error laden.

      So I then spent all my spare time prettying up / formatting everything I did from that point on wards and NEVER handed in anything early. My career has soared since then. (Not kidding!)

      Working in a generic office is so close to a Dilbert cartoon it’s ridiculous.

      1. Oh yes, working hard does not get you promoted. There is a lot more to it.

        We used to laugh at one boss who thought someone worked hard because he saw his car in the parking lot at 8AM and when the boss went home, his car was still in the parking lot. This guy he was talking about was a hard worker but he wasn’t putting in long hours – BECAUSE he was a hard worker…he got his work done! When my boss saw his car in the parking lot, the guy was actually at the pub. He was our friend so we used to laugh about it with him & joke that if we worked really slow, we’d look like good workers!

    2. It is like that with sickness. If you never take time off sick then suddenly have one day, everyone comments, whereas those who are always off no one mentions.

    1. Ditto. It IS ! I so concur: a huge poster – sized print just purr.fect for hanging as its happy ‘ greeter ‘ just inside your office there.


  3. O, congratulations ! This is, indeed, most lovely, Dr Coyne !

    Thank YOU for all that you and “ my people “ do for reason and Truth.

    I so wish I had such “ people “ cuz, alone — as no doubt you may discern, this work can be so exhausting and exasperating, so disappointing and isolating.


  4. WOW! The cognitive dissonance it must take to write:

    “This is how the scientific “consensus” against Darwin skeptics and intelligent-design advocates is maintained — by fear”

    That is exactly how religion operates. Tell children when they are 3 years old that their souls will burn in hell for eternity if you don’t accept your church’s dogma/salvation/koolaid/what ever….

    Proff Coyne, please take note: That’s how you use fear!

  5. I, for one, want a copy of that poster! I think we should all email the Discovery Institute to see if they will mail them out.

    Congratulations, Dr. Ceiling Cat!

  6. Whenever the Incident at Ball State comes up along with mention of Jo Ann Gora, I recall that with appropriate diacritical mark on her last name (Göra), we have the Swedish infinitive for “to do”.

    When I was a postdoc in Stockholm, one of the Swedish docents had a sign on his door:


    (If you don’t have anything to do, don’t do it here.) I instantly had to have a copy of it and still have it around here somewhere. Apparently Klinghoffer doesn’t understand the concept.

    1. I love that saying! I have a colleague that will come talk to me when I’m busy — I cram in a lot of work in a day so I have some free time so my time is calculated & I don’t want to chat when I have stuff to do!

  7. I’m tempted to make that picture the background on my laptop. Someone should print posters of it for students, it would make a change from the Che Guevara that seems to be found in every student dorm.

  8. Klinghoffer is a coward, making claims of “censorship” at a site that doesn’t allow open discussion at all.

    If only hypocrisy were physically painful.

    1. I actually like that he stated that it wasn’t an honour. So funny. You know everyone laughing about it and seeing it as an honour is going to drive him to hysteria!

    2. UD: “Hey now, we are allowed to regulate our content! It’s our right! That’s not censorship!”
      Other: “Does that go for BSU too?”
      UD: “Uhhh…stop that!”

    3. Yup. I just popped over to there site for the first time and noticed that there was no commenting system. Sometimes my browser blocks some of the commenting systems so I thought maybe it was my computer.

      What a joke! They need to grow a pair.

      And they must get woefully pathetic traffic. That story has been up all day and it has 3 facebook posts. THREE. Wahahaha

  9. I suspect DI is just trying to get a free ride by grabbing onto your coattails.

    In other words, they’re using your notoriety to promote their own agenda.

  10. What is really amusing about the whole “censor of the year” bit is that it is the obvious “tell” that the Dishonesty Institute is bluffing with a hand full of nothing. If they actually had anything more than an argument from ignorance and had actual science to propagate this whole crying about censorship would be unnecessary.

    If what they had to “sell” was demonstrable and sound there would be no realistic way to stop them from selling it, especially not by a couple of lone “censors” or some small outfit. Instead what we are treated to is failed intelligent design creationism journals, like all the “creation science” journals before them, which exemplifies how useless it really is. Even they can’t do anything with it.

    Rather than complain about how they are censored they’d be showing us the utility of intelligent design rather than engaging in what amounts to propaganda and politics. What they have given us to observe is a near 100% “closed to comments” Evolution News ‘n Views and the failed but limping along Uncommon Descent which is in itself an example of unparalleled censorship in the comments section.

    At the end of the day, when whining about not getting a free pass is all you have, best to blame it all on some tenured professor in Chicago. The Dishonesty Institute won’t ever say it, so I will …

    Thanks for taking all the blame Dr. Coyne, Klinghoffer’s next paycheck depends on it.

  11. My congrats to Professor Ceiling Cat.

    Coyne was pivotal in stampeding Ball State University president Jo Ann Gora to issue a campus-wide gag order on teaching about intelligent design in science classrooms. This involved intimidating and silencing a young Ball State physicist, Eric Hedin. That’s censorship.

    Unlike many other theists, the academic-inspired Intelligent Design advocates at the DI can’t confuse criticism with “being denied my freedom to say/believe/think whatever I want.” They have to at least pretend to give a nod to the critical importance of meeting the basic standards of a scientific field. Indeed, that is their whole schtick. They know how science works ’cause that’s what they’re doing. Really.

    So it has to have occurred to them that there are many courses, books, themes, and ‘theories’ which it would be perfectly reasonable to seek to have removed from science classrooms at the university level. You could only teach it if the purposes of doing so is to show how and why and when it was rejected, explain that it’s wrong. And there’s a large set here. Klinghoffer himself would probably express concern if a professor — even a vulnerable younger scholar without tenure and with a shy and engaging manner — was to teach a course on the 4 humors, astrology, Ancient Astronaut, or the true history of the faerie folk as fact, as legitimate “theory” engaging the brave mavericks on the border of new discovery. No, there are cranks, pseudoscience, discarded theories and debunked bunkum.

    No, of course the DI doesn’t think they belong in that group. Oh no. But they would at least understand and have to acknowledge that attempts to remove a class like that is not “censorship.” It’s the right thing to do.

    If Eric Hedin complained to the university president that he’d discovered a colleague was teaching alchemy in the chemistry department then none of the hypocrites at the DI would go “gee, that sounds like bullying to me.” And they wouldn’t care who was older or had tenure or prestige. And they wouldn’t blame Eric Hedin’s actions on “fear.”

    They understand the issue.

  12. Congratulations. The accolades just keep piling up. Perhaps with your visit to Kenosha we can drum up support to have a resolution passed to make Saturday Jerry Coyne Day throughout our fair city.

  13. Jerry, if you are to be a censor, then most certainly Censor of the Lustrum, not just of the year.
    And the most brilliant since Appius Claudius Caecus in 312 BCE.

    But it would be asking too much of the good Doctor Klinghoffer and his fellow institutionalised disk-hoverers to look up the office and real attributes of the censor, this most prestigious of Roman magistrates.

    Congratulations, libations and suovetaurilia (after a thorough lustration) are called for.

      1. 🙂
        In the sum, it makes no difference if he gets both, as the census divinitatis adds up to exactly zero (except sensu Plantinga, which amounts to the square root of -1).

  14. Is anyone else disappointed that the “award poster” doesn’t make a fart sound when you click on it ?

    Sadly, the grand ‘ol days of ID humor are far behind us.

  15. Woo-hoo, and congratulations!

    But full disclosure: I was kinda pulling for Zack Kopplin, who should at least have been given an honourable mention if only to encourage the up and coming generation of jack-booted stormtroopers of the International Darwintern and our secret global conspiracy to promote immorality, cannibalism, the heartbreak of psoriasis, and all other ills and evils know to mankind… 🙂

  16. Do they operate under some sort of freedom of religion statute?
    From what I’ve read it seems that they operate by funding people who are willing to use pseudo-scientific doublespeak and deception to further a religious agenda.
    It’s an institute soliciting and promoting fraud.

    1. Funny how they claim that ID isn’t religious, but then complain about assaults on religious freedom when you attack ID.

  17. Snarky as I am, I also suspect this annual award was invented simply over DI’s fury regarding their Ball State defeat. I doubt there ever was a review of who the honoree would be this year. Most likely, they invented this award on the spot.

    I will forever think of this yearly recognition as the “Annual Professor Ceiling Cat Award”.

  18. “the award is even more meaningful coming from a fellow Jew”…insert instant rimshot sound here!

    Sheesh! They can’t even get insults right.


  19. Wrong move, DI. There is no such thing as bad publicity. You have now set into motion many a budding IDer being intrigued by a personage who will be regarded as an irresistible ‘anti-hero.’ They will dream about Jerry, wanting to grow up to be such a splendid bully and censor.

    (The carbon life forms at DI are so rancid, stale, and horribly past their due date, that the blue mold growing on their brains made it impossible for them to not apply a strategy as null and void as the space between their ears).

    Congrats, Jerry! 🙂

  20. I want my academic freedom to teach flat earthism , the evidwnce for a flat earth is overwhelming but geologists are censoring them in the classrooooom

  21. “Image of Jerry Coyne adapted from photo by Emma Rodewald/Wikipedia user Fuzheado under Creative Commons license CC-BY-SA-3.0. Usage not intended to imply endorsement.”

    Well, yeah!

  22. “silencing a young Ball State physicist, Eric Hedin”

    He earned his Ph.D. in 1986, so wouldn’t he be about 50? How old are the DI people if they think 50 is “young”?

    1. Oh ho! I seem to remember something about Hedin’s not-so-productive history.

      Well, it wouldn’t be DI if they didn’t lie, now would it?

  23. Congrats to Dr. Ceiling Cat.

    My dad used to say that “a hit dog always howls!”

    The IDiots must be glued to your blog….moth to the flame.

  24. Wait a minute. Where’s the goatee? The horns? The hoofs? The tail? The pitchfork?

    They did sorta show the redish complexion, but still. Me thinks the DI has majorly CENSORED that photo!

    1. Thanks to the priming from last week’s discussions, I read, “goatee,” as, “goatse.” My confusion and horror can only be imagined by those who know not what I refer to….


      1. Muuhhhaaaahhhah!

        I have to admit that as soon as I wrote “goatee” that I thought that precisely your reaction might occur in some reader’s minds for just that reason (the recent mention of “goatse”).

  25. Is that really Klinghoffer yapping that our host spends too much time on the web? Now I need treatment for my irony burns.

    1. Maybe when you’re getting your irony burns treated, you’ll see Klinghoffer there getting treatment for his hurt butt.

  26. Let me add my sincere congratulations to the pile!
    The bitterness at being caught out in Ball State really shows. Any plans for how you’ll win again next year?

  27. Because science and education is about censoring, not critical choice.

    Congratulations! While noDnoI™ always fail our expectations, drCC™ do not!

  28. Professor Ceiling Cat strides the countryside like a feline Godzilla. Nothing can withstand the merest flick of his mighty tail. Look on his whiskers and despair, creationists!

  29. This is how the scientific “consensus” against Darwin skeptics and intelligent-design advocates is maintained — by fear.

    Indescribable fear! Let us speak here only in hushed tones of the nameless dread, the sheer gut-curdling horror of being mocked — mocked!! — on teh intertubez… which according to the whispered tales of elders can shred a defenseless Christian mind in seconds.

    Aii! Ceiling Cat ph’tagn!

  30. Jerry – I hope that you add this prestigious award to your CV since apparently you are not ‘publishing anything in your field.’ IDiots seems way too flattering.

  31. Coyne was pivotal in stampeding …

    If I point-out your laughably mixed metaphors, does that count as censorship? Where’s my award!

  32. I had missed your Museum success, Jerry. Splendid! The DI really don’t like you Jerry. That’s truly wonderfuel.

  33. The DI says: His workload is evidently so light that he has time to blog at Why Evolution Is True what seems like around the clock about frivolous pet topics.

    How petty and condescending, not to mention unkind.

    More and more it seems the DI has nothing to contribute, so can only hurl childish insults.

  34. The Discovery Institute has to be the most misappropriately named institution on the planet. Just what have they “discovered” in all the years of their existence? Have they done one thing that has added to our knowledge of biology and cosmology?

    Could we have a contest to give them a more appropriate name?

  35. Yes, the tears were rolling down my cheeks as I read of the “stampeding, intimidating, and silencing” of the poor, non-tenured Eric Hedin by the “tyrannical” JAC- from LAUGHING!

  36. I love that they felt compelled to include this regarding Prof Coyne’s image:
    “Usage not intended to imply endorsement.”

  37. Ha ha! Klinkleklankle called your website a “blog.”

    Ouch! That must have left a mark!

    (Kink says, “Hai!”)

  38. A search of the Discovery Institute website reveals this award has never been given before. Jerry is the very first recipient.

    Ironically, the (Jewish) author of the DI article is also the author of a book “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus”.

    (Does he just not like things or people with the initials JC?? Probably not.)

  39. Jerry making use of his right of free speech to point out official endorsement of religion, pseudoscience and poor pedagogy is “censorship”?

    So the only way that he’d make the poor Disco ‘Tute not feel all censored and oppressed is for him to self-censor? Orwellian Newspeak is alive and well in Seattle.

  40. Congratulations Jerry. Well deserved! Love the bit about around the clock writing on “frivolous pet topics”. Correction noted, but that description is too funny!

  41. Congratulations! As Oscar Wilde said, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Your being talked about shows you are making an impact!

  42. Congratulations. I do share your disappointment that they didn’t recognize ALL your achievements; perhaps in your thank-you letter to them, you can point those achievements out for consideration in next year’s nominations?

  43. Congratulations!

    Its nice to see that your efforts in keeping religion out of the curriculum gets recognized 🙂

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