(Part 4 of 6, continued from previous message. Copyright 1991 by the National Center for S

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(Part 4 of 6, continued from previous message. Copyright 1991 by the National Center for Science Education. Redistributed in the Evolution Echo by permission of the author.) The Mysterious Book Vandalism Price (1990, pp. 165-166) and Plimer (1989, pp. 10-11; 1991, p. 5) both quote a passage from an article by Ray E. Martin in _Christian School Builder_ (April 1983, pp. 205-207) titled "Reviewing and Correcting Encyclopedias," citing Marty (1983), which reprints a section of the Martin article. Plimer (1989, p. 10) writes that "creationists have been instructed to 'review and correct encyclopedias'" by the article, which advocates removing sections on evolution from encyclopedias by using a razor blade or by glueing pages together. Both Plimer and Price follow up their description of this article by reporting that examples of exactly this sort of vandalism were found in the library of the University of Newcastle: "every reference to evolution had been cut out from books in the paleontology section of the university library," writes Price (1990, p. 166). Plimer (1991) concludes, "At least the Nazis had the common decency to burn books in public!" But the article does not advocate vandalism at all: it advocates censorship of books in Christian schools by the administrators. This is only slightly less offensive, but, unlike vandalism, is perfectly legal. The CSF condemns not only the vandalism, but book censorship by Christian school administrators (Robert Doolan, personal communication, February 8, 1991). Price and Plimer both imply that the University of Newcastle vandalism was performed by creationists, inspired by the Martin article. But the vandalism occurred in 1988 while the article, which does not advocate vandalism, was published a full five years earlier in periodicals not carried by the University of Newcastle's Auchmuty Library. Neither Price nor Plimer point out that this incident is the only one of its kind known to have occurred and was discovered only after the Martin and Marty articles were brought to the attention of the university librarian by Ian Plimer. Plimer (personal communication, April 8, 1991) states that he has heard of four other cases of book vandalism at other institutions, but does not know if those were directed at articles on evolution or were simply "'normal' vandalism." He also reports that the Newcastle vandalism was brought to his attention by an unnamed paleontology professor. (Neither Plimer nor the University of Newcastle librarian has responded to my further inquiries on this subject.) Analysis: Plimer and Price misrepresent the content of the Ray Martin article in order to argue that creationists were responsible for a specific incident of vandalism at the University of Newcastle. It may never be known who was responsible for the damage, but it is unlikely that it was done by creationists inspired by the Martin article; certainly there is no evidence to support the claim. A Smear Letter Shortly after the Gish-Plimer debate in Sydney, Ian Plimer responded to a letter from a creationist. Plimer's response, on University of Newcastle letterhead, stated that In a forthcoming book, further proof will be given with regard to the financial activities of Gish (and two others) in the San Diego-based Institute of Creation Research [sic] and a US-based publishing house which operates essentially as a money laundering organisation for the personal enrichment of the leaders of the creationist movement. Furthermore, if you were at the debates in Sydney (18.3.88) or Brisbane (30.3.88), you would surely have noticed an entourage of young people (principally boys) accompanying Gish and who continually touched him. This is commensurate with testimony from elsewhere which throws enlightenment on Gish's personal life and which makes Jimmy Swaggart look like a moral guardian of the faith. I have a copy of this letter, which Plimer (personal communication, January 9, 1991) acknowledges writing. The letter appears to be a form letter: although it is typed, the name in the salutation is written in. After a description of various correspondence Plimer has received following the debate, the sentence "Your letter falls into the _____ category" has the blank space filled in with the handwritten word "third." Plimer claims that no sexual implication is intended by the quoted passage. According to Plimer, the "testimony from elsewhere which throws enlightenment on Gish's personal life" refers to Gish's membership in "a pro-nuclear lobbying group." Price's book (1990, p. 66) points out that Gish is the chairman of the science and technology section of the Coalition on Revival, which Price describes as a group which "supports increased military spending and proclaims that all of science must be based on the Bible." (The Coalition on Revival is part of the Christian Reconstructionist movement. For details, see Hakeem (1991), McIver (1988), Porteous (1991), and Tucker (1989).) While this is an interesting political point about religious right interconnections, it is a different issue entirely. Plimer further maintains that the letter was intentionally written to be ambiguous and _to look like_ a form letter, but was only sent to a single person, in order to "find out how far creationist tentacles extended." Plimer makes much of the fact that the creationists have been disseminating this statement about Gish through such publications as the CSF's _A Response to Deception_. Duane Gish (personal communication, August 5, 1991) calls these statements "outrageous slanderous falsehood" and challenges Plimer "to produce one iota of evidence" to support his accusations. He states that the money laundering claim is "an outright lie" and that he was accompanied to the Australian debate only by his wife, his host, and his host's wife. (Gish granted permission to publish these scandalous charges against him on the condition that his emphatic denial be included.) Analysis: Plimer's letter, on university letterhead, is a serious ethical lapse. The statements are unsupported _ad hominem_ innuendo, whether Plimer sent the letter to one person or to a thousand.

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