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28 April 2011


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Rich Booher

For the sake of my own vanity, I had pointed out the issue about Beckwith's article being received and accepted on the same day on Leiter's blog! []

Jon Cogburn

Yeah, it's really is quite a disturbing point. I hadn't noticed your post till Antonelli mentioned it.

As far as vanity? Meh. . . if everything is vanity and chasing after the wind in any case, what are you going to do? Seriously though credit should go where it's due, and what you noticed just so strongly reinforces what has seemed obvious to so many people: that the Synthese editors subjected Beckwith to what George Bush used to call "the soft bigotry of low expectations." In the context in question, something both ironic and politically dangerous.

Forrest hasn't just testified to the legislature (an extremely brave act in these times of budget cuts!), she's also testified in law courts in cases that have stopped the erosion of science and freedom of and from religion in the United States. So Beckwith's friends and allies WILL use this the next time a state passes a law that tries to be part of a sorites series straight to the dark ages. When the law comes up to court they will try to get Forrest either removed as an expert, or use the brouhaha to undermine her testimony.

Christopher Hudspeth

I'm not clear why the the rebuttal being received and accepted on the same day is so disturbing. Fetzer claimed in response to Wilson on April 24th that "Glenn and I and the Editors-in-Chief--had agreed that it would be appropriate for Beckwith to have the opportunity to respond in a subsequent issue." ( So, even by Fetzer's account the guest editors were aware of and agreed that Beckwith would be afforded a chance to reply. What is so disturbing about the prearranged response being accepted on the day it was received?

mark lance

What is disturbing is that this means not only that he was invited to reply, but that the reply didn't go through any editorial or refereeing process. Here are editors claiming that articles don't meet standards of politeness, and hinting that there were problems of substantive inadequacy as well, and then they let this political hack publish something with no oversight whatsoever, including letting him publish conclusions about what they meant, conclusions that are at odds with what they are now saying and which have profoundly bad political implications.

Jon Cogburn

What Mark said.

Darrell Rowbottom

This does not mean that the reply did not go through any editorial or refereeing process. I can state that categorically.

Have a look at the articles in the special issue I co-edited. The difference between 'receipt' and 'acceptance' dates is just one day. However, we spent many, many months soliciting reviews.

I asked Leiter to publish this information. He refused. I am speechless.


If the papers in your issue spent months in the review process, why did Synthese misrepresent this fact?


What I actually said Darrell is that I didn't see how this fact was relevant to what Antonelli said, and you've yet to explain it. (If your papers were 'submitted' and 'accepted' on the same day that would be relevant.) What I also said to you is that I think the refereeing issue is less important than the Brigandt/Schliesser point. Indeed, in my last e-mail to you I specifically asked, "What am I missing?" about your point, with which you seem so impressed. But rather than answer me you immediately ran to this blog to post your great discovery and admonish me (and misrepresent our exchange). Very classy.

I do think you fall into the category of people whose professional stake in Synthese is leading you to become increasingly irrational. Please take a look again at what Professor Norcross said in reply to you on an earlier thread. And relax. Just because you're impressed by some data point doesn't mean I have an obligation to post it.

Darrell Rowbottom

I believe the dates are automatically generated by the editorial manager system.

So when we had the final versions of the papers, we sent them off by e-mail. The editors then read them, in under a week if I recall. At that point, I presume they were put into the editorial manager software to go through the standard publication process, i.e. so that things could be taken off the editors' hands. (Maybe an editorial assistant put them in. Then the next day, one of the editors just approved them all as 'accepted'.)

Thus I don't think the dates are evidence either way.

Darrell Rowbottom

I am not going to rise to any personal attacks, Brian. I am sticking to hard information.


That's rather interesting. I wonder how often this sort of thing happens with regular issues, and at other journals. I'd thought - naively, as it turns out - that average turnover times calculated from the published receipt and acceptance dates were a good guide to the efficiency of editorial practices of different journals. It would be interesting to know if they actually tend to underestimate turnover rates.


No, Darrell, you are not sticking to "hard information," you are on your own crusade, as you have been for quite some time--occasionally 'information' intrudes. It wasn't "hard information" that I "refused" to publish your e-mail: you just made that up. It is "hard information" that I asked you for more information about the relevance of your claim. I've now inquired with the Guest Editors to see what they know about this question.

Darrell Rowbottom

It was not my intention to misrepresent anything. To clarify, the sequence of events was as follows:

I e-mailed you a request to 'Please publish this information.'

You responded with something along the lines of 'I assume someone will communicate if Beckwith's paper was refereed'. I _took this_ to be a refusal to publish the information.

I then responded that I was 'very disappointed', and came here to post.

Shortly after I posted here, I received a response to my 'very disappointed' e-mail from you, in which you asked what you were missing. This response was probably written at the same time as I was posting here. (Note that you instead claim I posting here after receiving this e-mail. This is something you just inferred.)

Readers will judge for themselves who is on a crusade. You accuse me of being irrational. You appear also to call into question my integrity. (I don't have any stake in Synthese, as far as I'm aware. It's hardly as if my publication record is damaged by just deleting all the Synthese stuff!) Note that one could equally say that your political leanings are motivating you, and clouding your judgement. But I would consider doing so to be highly inappropriate.


Since you can't let this go (no surprise), here are the actual e-mails in sequence.

You wrote (marked with "high importance," since, after all, you thought this was very important):

"One important thing: the fact that date of receipt and date of publication are the same does not entail that the article was not refereed. I know this because there’s only a one day difference on all the articles I submitted for my own special issue. Please publish this information. It is only fair."

To which I replied:

"This doesn’t contradict anything Antonelli said. If your special issue papers had been accepted on the same day as submitted that would be relevant (assuming that they were refereed). If Beckwith’s paper was refereed, I assume someone will communicate that. (In any case, the refereeing issue is the more minor one, compared to the Brigandt/Schliesser point.)"

To which you replied:

"I find it very disappointing that you will not publish this information. You are relying on an inference you have now been told is faulty. I also find it remarkable that you now appear to be suggesting that the papers in my special issue were not refereed."

To which I replied:

"I wasn’t suggesting the second point at all, I was just trying to be clear about what you were telling me. Your information does not contradict the inference suggested (tentatively) by Antonelli; it’s not even relevant as far as I can see. It would be relevant if it were same day acceptance and publication, but it isn’t. What am I missing?"

At which point I discovered you had come here to tattle on me, which tells me all I need to know about you and why I've stopped correponding with you by e-mail, since you're not an honest person.

I would have thought you shared my "political leanings," at least as they are relevant to thsi matter: namely, that (1) evolutionary biology should be properly taught in the schools in the United States; (2) "Intelligent Design" is just creationism for those who have consulted an attorney and a public relations expert; and (3) "Intelligent Design" proponents have a long track record of advancing their agenda without regard to truth or evidence. Maybe you don't share these shocking "political leanings" of mine, but that in itself would be interesting.

Darrell Rowbottom

That's an accurate account of the e-mail exchange.

But the continued personal slurs - now I am 'not an honest person' - only serve to illustrate my point.

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