Monday, April 09, 2012

John Derbyshire Fired By National Review

John Derbyshire has been fired by the National Review for controversial remarks he made in a post for Takimag. Whether he should have been fired or not I have no idea since I cannot get the Takimag link to work. I do know that he, once upon a time, wrote an extraordinarily insightful post on George Gilder and Intelligent Design, to wit:
George’s own Discovery Institute was established in 1990; the offshoot Center for Science and Culture (at first called the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture) in 1992. That is an aggregate 30 years. Where is the science? In all those years, not a single paper of scientific standing has come out of (nor even, to the best of my knowledge, been submitted by) the DI or the CSC. I am certainly willing to be corrected here. If the DI or CSC have any papers of scientific standing — published or not — I shall post links to them to NRO for qualified readers to scrutinize.

Scientists discover things. That’s what they do. In fast-growing fields like genomics, they discover new things almost daily — look into any issue of Science or Nature. What has the Discovery Institute discovered this past 16 years? To stretch my simile further: Creationists are walking into that room full of pilots and aeronautical engineers right at the peak of the Golden Age of flight, never having flown or designed any planes themselves. Are they really surprised that they get a brusque reception?

If his firing is warranted, that is too bad. At times, he could be smack on the money.


  1. Very sorry about the firing of John Derbyshire by National Review. I've enjoyed his writings and commentary and hope that he can continue in other periodicals. His comments are a little brash at times, but he is generally cautious. I have followed him long enough to know that he is not the bigot that people have characterized him to be. He was just a little bit too clever in his Taki comments. His style fits in fine with Taki but National Review caters to a more open audience. He really left NR no choice, unfortunately. I wish him continued good health and extend him and his family well best wishes.

  2. I think it was George Murphy who used to note at the ASA site, that at the Discovery Institute, still, nothing has been discovered.

  3. Derbyshire's whole piece can be found here.

    I'd say he makes some statistically valid points, but interprets them as crassly and uncharitably as possible. Other points seem to be driven more by availability bias, and looking at relative risks versus absolute risks when the latter are more appropriate.