December 07, 2007

More on the Nathaniel Abraham/Woods Hole Creationist Lawsuit

The federal complaint filed in the Nathaniel Abraham/Christian Law Association suit against Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has been made available via Courthouse News Service. It's nine pages in total, and much of it sounds pretty ludicrous to me despite my not being a lawyer.

Most risible of all is the contention made by Abraham and/or his lawyer that the postdoc opportunity posting by the Hahn Lab didn't mention that it was necessary to "believe" in evolutionary biology. Perhaps Abraham hadn't realized that a lab which works in developmental and evolutionary biology and says so all over their website was looking for someone willing to work in evolutionary biology. Or, more likely, Abraham knew this all along and the whole thing was a set-up from the beginning. After all, postdoc candidates get interviewed and I'm sure he would have had the opportunity to ask about whether or not evolution would be a factor in his responsibilities. Of course, the whole notion of "believing" in evolution is laughable to begin with, but that's a rather frequent trick engaged in by Creationists when they attempt to paint a scientific discipline as a religious ideology, so it isn't surprising to see that language in the complaint at all.

I'm also interested in the "casual conversation" that took place between Mark Hahn and Abraham. In what context did this come up? When does a researcher "casually" mention to a primary investigator that he doesn't believe in the underlying scientific principles upon which an investigation is based? It makes me wonder if Abraham wasn't espousing his beliefs to other members of the Hahn lab, thus necessitating the "casual conversation." How casual was this, exactly?

I would be rather interested to hear from people who were in Hahn's lab or had regular contact with it at the time Nathaniel Abraham was present. Was Abraham vocal about his beliefs? Were there circumstances that precipitated the "casual conversation" that resulted in Abraham leaving the lab?

Note that comment moderation is turned on. Anyone who comments on the questions in the preceding paragraph may do so anonymously. I will not publish your response without your express consent in the body of your comment, though I may quote it in a separate entry. If you can provide something verifiable but not identifying in your response (e.g., describing an unusual piece of lab equipment, a distinctive procedure carried out in the lab, etc.), it would also be helpful in separating potential crank replies from those which are authentic.

The complaint as written makes this whole thing sound suspiciously like Dr. Hahn was set up, or at least was used as a pawn in a Creationist effort to stir up trouble more generally. I've heard this strategy brought up as a possibility by Creationists before, so it would be useful to have some evidence that it's going on in a specific instance like this one.

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