Five years and one week ago to this date, Jerry Coyne attacked Francis Collins, opposing his nomination to head the NIH:
I am funded by the NIH, and I’m worried. Not about my own funding (although I’m a heathen cultural Jew), but about how this will affect things like stem-cell research and its funding. If appointed, Collins will have wide latitude in how to disperse the $30 billion annual budget, and can steer it towards or away from various projects. I’d be much more comfortable with someone whose only agenda was science, and did not feel compelled to set up a highly-publicized website demonstrating how he reconciles his science with Jesus. (Truthdig has published Sam Harris’s evisceration of Collins’s wacko book.)
We are just recovering from the theocracy of G. W. Bush, and I was happy that federally-funded stem-cell research was allowed to go ahead. Now what will happen? This is NOT a presidential appointment designed to smooth the waters roiled by our previous administration.
Collins may indeed be a good administrator, but this appointment is a mistake.
Five years and one week later, we can all clearly see that Coyne was wrong and had no rational basis for being “worried.”
Dr. Coyne is supposed to be a scientist. He preaches, and preaches, about the need to adopt the scientific method and the need for evidence. Yet in 2007, he had no evidence to back up his wacko concerns and FIVE+ years later, he still has no evidence to back up his wacko concerns.
What’s more, during the entire FIVE+ year span since he publicly aired concerns about Dr. Collins, has he ever tried to gather data to test them? No.
So, has he ever admitted his worries were not supported by the evidence? No.
Has he ever acknowledged he was wrong? No.
FIVE+ years later, the question is not “Should Dr. Collins head the NIH?” That was always a wild-eyed question that only resonated among the anti-religious bigots. The question in 2013 is different: “How in the world could Dr. Coyne have been so embarrassingly wrong?”
In 2009, I knew there was nothing to worry about. How could I be so right and he be so wrong?