James Tour goes off about having his funding revoked for attacking abiogenesis research

James Tour, synthetic chemist, saying what YECs have known since at least the 1960s:

“Science is controlled by powerful people, by powerful interest groups, by people who hold the purse strings, and powerful people can keep saying, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do this,’ and it pushes these things along, even though it goes against what the hypothesis is seeming to tell us.”

“I have been approached by two different federal agencies that give grants. Both times the people were in my office and told me this. They said, ‘You can stop writing proposals to this agency, because you’re never gonna get funded.’ They were my friends. They were just telling me, ‘You’re wasting your time.’” I would be asked by a program director to write a proposal. I’d send it in. It scored great and everything. Boom. It wouldn’t get funded. I’d call him and said, “It didn’t get funded,” and he’d be shocked. Somewhere above them, it was not being funded. Somewhere above them…They tried to cut off my lifeblood. To a researcher, this is what we live on. This is like somebody burns down your factory. This is it. But the Lord took care of me."

What??? Dr. Tour has plenty of prestigious awards but a Nobel Prize entirely escaped my notice.

I think you need to check your facts on that one. (I met Jim Tour at a Josh Swamidass university event and found him an amiable fellow. But I don’t think he ever claimed to have a Nobel Prize.)


By the way, @BenKissling, has anyone ever told you that your thumbnail photo on Peaceful Science looks like the logo of the “shadowy figure”, Robert X. Cringely, a popular columnist in the old InfoWorld computer periodical back in the 1980’s? (Anybody here remember that? )

Yes, I was a young and dashing [sort of; OK maybe not] Assistant Professor of Computer Science back in that post-Jurassic era. I remember occasionally putting Robert X. Cringely column clippings on my office door.

Meanwhile, if James Tour manages to get a Nobel Prize despite the unfairly biased cut-off of his grant funding—as alleged in the aforementioned video—that would be quite a Tour de force. (And if you want to see that tour, don’t bother with Ticketmaster. They’ve got it all messed up.)


Tour seems very confident that origin of life research won’t succeed. So why doesn’t he just sit back and watch? Why is he playing interference?

How would Tour feel if someone interfered with his research? Well, you just told us the answer to that in your post above. He would not like it at all.

Whatever happened to the golden rule? Tour is being both UN-Christian and unscientific.


Note to self: Blame all rejected grants on vast conspiracy


Is there an Inspector General, or similar, who investigates irregularities in how such projects are funded?

Is there any indication that Tour has made a complaint to such a competent investigating agency?

I’m afraid that a vague rant on a Youtube video does not incline me to take this seriously. Particularly when he is ranting on the show of Eric Metaxas – who has shown himself recently to be an unhinged far right loon.


Didn’t Tour win a Grammy on Sunday?

Me thinks Tour is a bit full of hisself. (Not just because of the Nobel quip.)


A quibble: Tour never said his funding was revoked - he said at least two agencies did not fund particular grant applications, meaning they were never approved in the first place. LOTS of grant submissions fail to be approved, even high-scoring grant submissions from high-profile researchers.

There are lots of reasons grant proposals could be rejected. Politics could be one of those reasons, but so could a lot of other things. There are also many reasons why a friend
In-The-Know might inform him that a given proposal would never be approved, and lots of those have nothing to do with politics.


i wonder if these “friends” were the same ones who secretly told him that no academic scientists actually understand evolution but are afraid to publicly admit it.

Dr. Tour is getting a bit old to have imaginary friends.


I did not know anything about James Tour, and so I had to look him up. There really isn’t enough information provided in the video to judge why his proposal would not be funded. There is the implication that it was bc of his deep religious beliefs but no evidence is provided.
He is an established researcher in materials science (quite highly ranked, actually), but the Wikipedia page makes no mention of a Nobel prize.
There are reasons to not fund someone even if their proposal gets a high score. There is always a limited budget, with more highly rated proposals than can be funded. Priorities for funding this or that area will change, so good proposals in some areas will go hungry, while other areas deemed more important right now will get more funding. Funding goes preferentially to researchers with established history in their field, and abiogenesis research is not his field. All of that seems important.

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This is funny. Lee Cronin also complains he has a hard time getting funding for his Abiogenesis research. Weird.

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To be fair, he shared the prize with George Santos.


Has there ever been a single academic in any field, ever, who did not complain about difficulty getting research funding? If so, I haven’t met him.


Also to be fair, neither Santos nor Tour had any business trying to produce that ill-fated Spider-Man Musical.


You didn’t already know that? And the obvious corollary is that when one adequately funded, the system must be fundamentally fair.

Because it’s been decades with no progress, and continuing to pursue it is an ideologically motivated waste of time and the public’s money. So, exactly what you think creation science is.

No one has told me anything about some alleged 1980s computer periodical. Sounds like something a really old man would say.

This is a pic of me in my happy place at the top of one of the peaks at Keystone Ski Resort.

My bad. Not sure why I thought this.

@BenKissling, do you honestly believe we know no more about the OOL today than we did in, say, 1954? 1960?


This is functionally a statement that you are completely ignorant of the field and are uninterested in even trying to learn.