Articles tagués censorship

John Templeton Foundation – censorship – backstage

My e-mail message concerning the censored comment I left at the Templeton Conversation « Belief » page, received a prompt response, thanks to Charles Harper I suppose. Previous experience showed that other people wasn’t quite responsive.

Gary R, Chief External Affairs Officer of JTF was the main contact. He granted permission to display his messages, so below the fold you will find the whole thing, to be able to make a personal judgement of the behavior of JTF and of how I see it.

One of the sentences of the original commentary seem to be the most problematic.

JTF’s activity seems to fit the definition of scienligion, a softer than the ID creationism, denying the characterization of creationism, say as Miller, a roman catholic christian, who’s credo is a God creator of the universe

Gary R qualifies it as erroneous information about the JTF, without pointing to it specifically in his first message, but we came to it relatively quickly.

It’s a fact that JTF worked against Creation Science and Intelligent Design creationism, the first one being completely ridiculous, the second one using an approach too political for theJTF‘s standards [#] and not good science. That doesn’t mean that JTF don’t promote creationism. Science isn’t the main aim of JTF, Science and Religion is.
One can call them theistic evolutionists, evolutionary creationist, soft creationists, crypto-creationist or whatever other term he likes to differentiate them in the continuum of creationist approaches, the fact that they promote religions asserting the existence of a creator god remains constant and it will not change any soon. The visible part of the iceberg being the efforts to prove, or at least avoid the lost of the last traces of credibility of the idea, that the universe have a sense, a teleological (philosophical, religious) position, implying a beginning and purpose to reach an aim, purpose of a deity creator of the universe. This is the typical monotheistic religions message, say christians, who’s credo clearly states this belief at the very first sentence: « We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is, seen and unseen… « 

The way JTF is perceived seems to be more important for Garry R then its real nature. His main concern is how people will perceive the foundation if they understand that they promote creationism. The concern is visible by the way the motto of the foundation changed recently, going from « Science and Religion » to « Big Questions ».
One would expect from such a powerful organization an educational effort to explain people the distinction between the different forms of creationism, to differentiate their way to consider the creation of the universe.
Instead, as this episode showcase, they try to avoid by any means the characterization as creationists, even in a sentence differentiating them from their last-in-date colleague, the ID movement.

The way Gary R dealt with my comment is quit immoral (by atheist’s standards at least, lying for Jesus may be considered moral for some people). As I understand the word « conversation » it’s all about bringing different versions together. JTF‘s a posteriori presented editorial standards exclude the expression of opposite opinions.
Somehow Gary R seems to be able to cut the majority of my message as moderator, but he, or some other of the JTF‘s people, is unable to reply to it, discuss it, converse. Maybe after all their open-mindness have nothing to do with open-minds, but just with the closed-mindness characterizing usual proselytes.
Censorship to avoid the expression of undesirable opinions is a common trait of propagandists/communicators with a narrow ideological field, lacking arguments to support their position if scrutiny concerns not only the front of the decorum but also what lies behind. Now, after this episode my feeling that JTF is of that kind of propagandists is quite stronger.

Crude censorship would be to just no accept the comment. That’s what I expected.
Gary R made it worse by editing it. Without warning that he did so, neither in the comment, or to me. He just arranged the decorum as he likes it.
Expecting what? That I wouldn’t see he done so? That I would accept his manipulation and leave the truncated and meaningful comment under my name? That I would accept the worse of censorships, the display of accommodated opinions?

When one become aware that such censorship is practiced in a conversation page, the assertion of Gary R « we are happy to represent all points of view in this discussion » (emphasis mine) seems ridiculous; how many comments aren’t displayed and how many are truncated, arranged by Gary R?

The second message from Gary R made me laugh.

You must know that the terms « creationist » and « creationism » have very distinctive meanings in the US. They describe an anti-science movement that denies evolutionary theory and challenges the well-established findings of evolutionary biology. JTF works very hard to counter the influence of this movement, and I can’t allow a posting on our website to say that we are « creationists.

At least he makes it clear that « creationism » is what bother him.

But that wasn’t the funny part. Let me explain: My first contact with JTF, was through a french non for profit association, the Université Interdisciplinaire de Paris (Interdisciplinary University of Paris, nothing to do with academia anyway) and in particular Jean Staune, it’s perpetual General Secretary, whom Charles Harper consider to be a fascinating and deep person of principle and vision.
Things become funny when one knows the ideological anti-darwinism of Staune, who calls himself super-evolusionnist adhering even to neo-lamarckism (denier of evolutionary theory), the way he purposefully ignores any part of the scientific literature opposing his views (anti-science) and critic of darwinians views imputable to fanatism and ideology for him, including (?) the one of Ken Miller.
JTF seems to be UIP’s principal founding agency actually. If JTF works hard to counter this kind of movements in the USA, they seem to be quite helpful and willing to expand them in France/Europe.
Now, that’s funny, isn’t it?

Maybe Gary R ignores that kind of activities of the JTF. I don’t. Maybe he don’t see clearly that the foundation finance (relatively heavily) such denials of evolutionary theory and well-established findings of evolutionary biology and he truly thinks that this is not so. I don’t.

Maybe he should be kept more informed about how the foundation’s money is used, quite useful in his position as Chief External Affairs Officer. Maybe he would then be able to understand that I didn’t mischaracterized JTF, even by his standards.

At his third message, Gary R introduce « editorial standards » that weren’t displayed on the conversation page. He misrepresents the fact that editorial standards may include censorship as a technique to avoid controversial opinions to be expressed. « Censured », « censorship », the words are used between quotes, probably to avoid to be in full contact with them, as « creationism ». Well, he is not convincing. Hypocrisy.
The truth is mostly that (emphasis mine):

JTF works very hard to counter the influence of this movement, and I can’t allow a posting on our website to say that we are « creationists. »

I intentionally left the « we are ‘creationists' » part, as it may be replaced by whatever statement that don’t fit the decorum the JTF display.
Dear Gary R, please accept as a small souvenir of this brief contact the following definition:

censorship |ˈsensərˌ sh ip|
the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts : details of the visit were subject to military censorship.

from the New Oxford American Dictionary.
You may want to reconsider the title of your position as Chief External Affairs Officer and Website Censor, for better visibility.

Lire la suite »



9 Commentaires

John Templeton Foundation censorship

update added at the end of this post


  1. Honorable people doesn’t practice censorship and/or heavily truncate comments left on their website.
  2. John Templeton Foundation’s people practice censorship and/or text truncation
  3. John Templeton Foundation’s people aren’t honorable

A couple of days ago I posted a commentary to JTF’s website, at the « Does science make belief in God obsolete? » page. The commentaries are moderated before publishing and mine was published almost 24 h later. It was slightly modified, the title (which I hadn’t provided) being added: RE: Kenneth Miller. OK, I had Ken Miller’s answer in mind, but I gave my comment a more general take.

That isn’t a problem. But latter, they edited my text, taking out what they didn’t like, leaving a reconstructed paragraph that I never wrote!

Quite the same kind of censorship one could expect from DaveScot at Uncommon Descent. Now, on your screens from John Templeton Foundation people. Enjoy.

Out of context! Truncated to their convenience. Not even the warning one could expect from an editor when editing is necessary, and they do have my e-mail address, you know, just the usual « required field ».

Can one trust that kind of people? I think not.

I was wondering, how comes the JTF is supporting local (French) neo-creationists censoring negative comments. Now I know, same kind of people.

Do I need to say that I’m pissed-off?

For before/after screen captures go here

Just sent this mail :

To: Webmaster

Cc : Pamela P. Thompson (as Vice President for Communications), Clio A. Mallin (as Communications Coordinator), Charles Harper (hoping that this will not be considered as a minor mistake) and Kenneth Miller (my comment being labeled by JTFs staff as RE: Kenneth Miller)


A recently posted comment at the « » page of JTF’s website, a « Templeton Conversation » about « Does science make belief in God obsolete? » was heavily edited.
I didn’t received any notification about the changes of the content of my message (and yes, I did checked the spam folder of my e-mailer, just in case).
The result is quite afar from my argument. You can check Before/After screen capture at

The behavior is unacceptable. A conversation isn’t possible if you reserve the right to edit comments as you like to make them soft and hide critics. The name of such behavior is censorship. Worse than censorship. It would be just censorship if you just had deleted the comment. There is also manipulation of my phrases out of context.

There are two alternatives:
1 – You restore my comment at it’s initial content, and in this case there is a possible conversation.
2 – You delete the reconstructed comment as it does not correspond to my opinion. ASAP.

Whatever your decision, the case was posted at the Web already, and I’ll take care to publicize the way the JTF conceives the term « Conversation ». []

Please, keep me informed,

Antoine Vekris

PS copy will be included at

Update 23 april 2008, 20:00 CEST

Charles Harper replied to my message and he forwarded it to the competent persons. Thank you Dr Harper.
Gary, from the JTF, contacted be to explain the situation he created by editing my comment. He is the one guilty and he apologies for. He deleted the comment (option 2). I would like to thank him publicly for doing so. Below the fold my reply to his message. Lire la suite »

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7 Commentaires