A young-earth creationist has received a doctoral degree in geoscience, and some scientists are already demanding that his degree should be taken away from him. The owner of the Ph.D. is named Marcus Ross, and his dissertation was about the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that, as he wrote, vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago. Although his thesis advisor describes his work as "impeccable", some have "argued that his religious beliefs should bar him from earning an advanced degree in paleontology", according to the New York Times (subscription required).
The article cites Michael L. Dini, a professor of biology at Texas Tech University, who got into hot water in 2003, when he denied writing letters of recommendation to students who rejected the evolution of humans, regardless of the students' grades. According to him, scientists "ought to make certain the people they are conferring advanced degrees on understand the philosophy of science and are indeed philosophers of science. That's what Ph.D. stands for."
That's an odd complaint. Dr. Ross wrote an impeccable dissertation that the University of Rhode Island thought merited a Ph.D. Does professor Dini think that you can just breeze through a doctoral education without understanding the subject? At what university did he take his degree, and can I go there?
News of Marcus Ross' degree also reached the ears of Paul Z. Myers, a professor of biology at University of Minnesota, Morris. On his blog, Pharyngula, he calls Ross a "trained parrot" and wants the university to "review their doctoral programs". Of course, he doesn't specify exactly which steps the university should have taken to prevent this travesty to be inflicted on Science. Should Marcus Ross have been forced to sign a statement, pledging eternal loyalty to Evolution and an Old Earth? Should he have undergone a polygraph test, ensuring that he didn't harbor any counter-consensus ideas? Myers think that Ross carrying out research he didn't agree with justifies labelling him a "fraud":
He was doing "research" on the distribution of mosasaurs 65 million years ago, but what he was actually doing was echoing ideas he disagreed with to fit the expectations of his advisors – he was a complete fraud.
Is that how Myers think you get a doctoral degree? Just by "echoing ideas" As for Ross not believing the statements about millions of years from his own dissertation, that's the beauty of science – it doesn't matter whether you believe in it or not. As long as Ross' data and arguments hold up, it doesn't matter one bit what his beliefs are.
Is it a coincidence that Myers wants to force creationists to advocate their creationist beliefs in their scientific work? After all, he is also the one who thinks that researchers who are friendly towards intelligent design should be denied tenure. So if you privately have a telic perspective on the origin of life, you're a fraud, and if you openly advocate this perspective, you will be denied tenure. Head I wins, tail you lose.
Don't forget, PZ Myers and Michael Dini are both scientists. Or, as you also call them, peer reviewers.