The Great 21st Century Scientific Watergate

Nature 428, 458 - 459 (01 April 2004); doi:10.1038/428458a

— News in Brief —


Retribution denied to creationist suing arXiv over religious bias


A lawsuit that accused arXiv, a preprint server for physics and astronomy papers, of religious discrimination has been thrown out of court on a technicality.

Robert Gentry, a Seventh Day Adventist and former Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientist, filed a suit in 2002 against arXiv after administrators removed his ten papers detailing an alternative hypothesis to the Big Bang. Gentry, a creationist, claimed that the open-forum preprint server had discriminated against him on religious grounds. The website's curators said that Gentry's papers had been removed because he lacked proper academic credentials (see Nature 420, 597; 2002).

The suit was dismissed from a Tennessee court on 23 March because Gentry failed to show that the server, or its operators — Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the National Science Foundation and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico — had sufficient presence in the state to merit legal action.

Paul Ginsparg, a physicist at Cornell who founded arXiv in 1991, described the ordeal as "irksome" but says that the suit has led to new policies at the website. Since January, anyone wishing to post to the website has had to win a referral from a current member. "We are trying to facilitate communication within professional communities," Ginsparg says. "The endorsement system makes that process more transparent and maintainable."


© 2004