The Templeton Foundation III: Cash for rose-tinted spectacles

Rose-tinted spectacles.Shortly after I wrote the pieces for the Times Higher Educational Supplement and Association of British Science Writers newsletter last year, Prof. Paul Davies (a well-known physicist and former Templeton prizewinner) contacted me and asked if I would be willing to participate in a documentary about the Templeton Foundation being put together by an Australian team. I was, he said, one of the few people willing to take the anti-Templeton side. I took his request at face value and, initially, I agreed.

Fortunately, I found out before filming started (by accident, a freelance production assistant let it slip in a phone message) that the programme was being fundedby the Templeton Foundation: in fact, it was just one of three films that the company (Piper Films) had been commissioned to do by Templeton. I find it disturbing that neither Prof. Davies nor the producer, Mike Piper, mentioned this at the outset. Even when I asked Piper about it point blank, he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong.

Even more worrying is the fact that the piece that was in production was a seed film to get money to do a full-on documentary for Australian TV. The production assistant who gave the game away to start with told me that, if it were to happen (and this was over a year ago, so for all I know it already has), this project would also be funded (at least partially) by the Templeton Foundation.

I guess if people aren’t saying nice things about you, the Templeton way is to pay them to do it.

Originally posted on Sunny Bains unedited.