You can read the long version on Leiter’s blog, but here’s the shorter one. So Synthese, a highly-respected journal of philosophy, had some guest editors put together an edition on why arguments for intelligent design (ID) are so unscientific and shoddy. Then some vocal proponents of ID complained to the overall editors, who leaned particularly on one of the contributors, Barbara Forrest, to tone down her rhetoric. Eventually, the volume was published, with the overall editors inserting a prefatory “I’m sorry this is so unprofessional” note of apology. This has made many people in the academic community angry at Synthese‘s overall editors for not having the guts to stand by what they publish.
To my mind, it is sort of of curious to see so much fuss over this. I have read Forrest’s article, and I wouldn’t say it was unfair or unprofessional, though it is a rather long and tedious argument against a small group of shoddy thinkers who would be best ignored. I don’t respect ID enough to think it merits a high-handed smackdown in a scholarly journal. But – on the other hand – the topic of evolution vs. creationism in public schools is a significant one, so I can understand a group of scholars wanting to publicly expose ID’s faults and flaws. I wonder what sort of backlash the Synthese editors were fearing? Would it have been worse than what they’re getting? I doubt it.