Questions, Francis Beckwith, and a Tangible Absence of Answers

By | 2011/05/07

Yes, this is yet another bit related to the Synthese flap. One of the issues still outstanding is whether the list of things the Editors-in-Chief have as misconduct includes notifying third-party complainers that the disclaimer was going into the print edition long before the print edition was available. They certainly failed to inform either the guest editors or the authors that any such thing was happening; those people (I’m one of them) had to wait for print copies to appear on their doorstep to find out.

One piece of hard data is that Francis Beckwith, one of the third-party complainers, submitted his “response” to Barbara Forrest on February 7th, 2011, and the response includes in it explicit reference to the disclaimer in the print edition of Synthese 178:2. This sets the latest date at which Francis Beckwith could have been apprised of the disclaimer’s print status. I didn’t hear about it until Glenn Branch emailed me on March 9th, 2011, to say that a disclaimer had been printed. But I’d like to know exactly how much lead time Beckwith had. The Synthese Editors-in-Chief haven’t been very forthcoming when asked questions about this affair, so that leaves Beckwith to be asked about the situation.

So I asked. This is my email to Beckwith’s published Baylor University email address, sent on April 25th, 2011:

I first received notice of the disclaimer in the Synthese special issue printed edition on 2011/03/09. Would you please tell me the date when the Editors-in-Chief informed you that the disclaimer would be printed in the special issue? I know that this had to be prior to 2011/02/07 given the date of submission of your response that refers to the disclaimer, but I would like to be more precise about this matter.

Thanks,
Wesley

That seems pretty straightforward. It isn’t like it is even going against Beckwith’s interests to be forthcoming about answering it. Now, why would I expect an answer, given the context that I’m a known critic of “intelligent design” creationism and its current — and past — advocates? We got on OK at the 2006 Greer-Heard Forum event, for one. Well, and maybe because Beckwith himself has implied as much. Consider his posts over a previous interaction with Barbara Forrest:

[...] Here’s the problem folks: Barbara Forrest is not concerned about truth or justice. For if she were, she would have, at some point in her “unmasking of me,” contacted me to verify or check certain facts. She also would have given a complete account of certain events that when presented in that way do not “prove” anything odd. [...]

[...] Forrest correctly notes that I am no longer a DI fellow. Does she tell you why? No. How come? She never asked me. Why didn’t she ask me? You’ll have to ask her that. But I suspect that if she can’t find by using Google, she doesn’t bother checking.

[...] But did she ask me for the letter? [...]

[...] But she would have known that if….and here’s the clincher…she had asked me. [...]

[...] But Barb would have known this, if…and here’s the clincher… she had just asked.

It sure makes it sound like Francis Beckwith is a open and forthright kind of guy, even when corresponding with trenchant critics.

Which makes it rather puzzling why I don’t have an answer in hand yet, not even one of the “mind your own business” sort.

Maybe Beckwith is snowed under in emails and the first one simply got lost in the shuffle. So I sent a second one on May 4th, 2011:

On 4/25/2011 4:02 AM, Wesley R. Elsberry wrote:
> I first received notice of the disclaimer in the Synthese special issue printed edition on 2011/03/09. Would you please tell me the date when the Editors-in-Chief informed you that the disclaimer would be printed in the special issue? I know that this had to be prior to 2011/02/07 given the date of submission of your response that refers to the disclaimer, but I would like to be more precise about this matter.
>
> Thanks,
> Wesley

In the comments at

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2009/05/stove_award_competition_heats.html

you note multiple times that Barbara Forrest could have asked you to clarify particular points, with the implication being that she would have received an answer to her question, had she but posed it.

Let me remind you that the question I asked above is still pending an answer. I would appreciate a response.

Thanks,
Wesley

I thought about other possible excuses, like being on vacation. If so, Beckwith has kept up with his blogging while not checking his email, which doesn’t seem exceedingly likely.

Given the continued lack of response, I am having to re-assess the likelihood that Francis Beckwith doesn’t get asked questions by critics because such questions simply go unanswered.

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2 thoughts on “Questions, Francis Beckwith, and a Tangible Absence of Answers

  1. Pingback: Boycott of Synthese Status Page | Evolving Thoughts

  2. Monado, FCD

    I also note that in his complaint implying that Dr. Forrest didn’t know why he left the Discovery Institute, Francis Beckwith did not actually supply the reason.

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