1 of 2
1
Professors could be sued for stating evolution as fact
Posted: 25 March 2005 04:03 AM   [ Ignore ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  102
Joined  2005-03-14

 

This is absolutely the most ridiculous, horrible thing that I have ever heard of. All I can say is, I'm glad I live in Canada.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  901
Joined  2005-02-23

It is horrible.  Do you guys have any more room up there for progressive Americans?

-Matt

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 04:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  819
Joined  2004-12-21

Alan


Here is the text of the Bill.  Please point out the horrors.

http://www.flsenate.gov/cgi-bin/view_page.pl?Tab=session&Submenu=1&FT=D&File=hb083700.html&Directory=session/2005/House/bills/billtext/html/

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2957
Joined  2004-12-02

[quote author=“Wotansson”]Alan


Here is the text of the Bill.  Please point out the horrors.

http://www.flsenate.gov/cgi-bin/view_page.pl?Tab=session&
Submenu=1&FT=D&File=hb083700.html&Directory=session/
2005/House/bills/billtext/html/

    WHEREAS, the freedoms to teach and to learn depend upon the creation of appropriate conditions and opportunities on the campus as a whole as well as in the classrooms and lecture
halls, and…

(emphasis added).

This one phrase is loaded.  Who gets to decide what the “appropriate conditions and opportunities” are going to be? Take a wild guess.

I’m not even going to try to cover the range of stupidity that is going on here in the oh-so-cleverly named “Academic Freedom” movement.  This is, to put it mildly, an insideous attempt of the ultra-conservative religious to hijack higher education in the same way they hijacked a perfectly good political party.  There are bills being prepared or pending in at least a dozen states right now.  Here is the URL of an article (a bit long but worth the read) that gives a good idea of the professors’ perspective.
 

The current neocon/religious version of conservatives have learned a neat trick.  Give something a name everyone could agree with and then use subtle verbage to subvert the process.  Let’s see, there is “Healthy Forests”, “Clear Skies”, and on and on.

Sorry for the tirade.  I try to avoid overt political debate, but this one hits close to home for me.

George

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  819
Joined  2004-12-21

George said:

Quote:

WHEREAS, the freedoms to teach and to learn depend upon the creation of appropriate conditions and opportunities on the campus as a whole as well as in the classrooms and lecture
halls, and…
(emphasis added).

This one phrase is loaded. Who gets to decide what the “appropriate conditions and opportunities” are going to be? Take a wild guess.


Ok, perhaps a loaded and nebulous WHEREAS but concerning the specifcs of the Bill what is the objection and horror?

Stay Well

Wot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1229
Joined  2004-12-22

Wotassan,

I do believe in most districts ciriculum is either decided or approved by the School Board, and in the last 20 years while you were sleeping, most School Boards are firmly in the hands of the R.R.


I could of course be wrong = p

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  819
Joined  2004-12-21

Iisbliss said:

I do believe in most districts ciriculum is either decided or approved by the School Board, and in the last 20 years while you were sleeping, most School Boards are firmly in the hands of the R.R.


I could of course be wrong = p


So you have no reasonable, logic or rational comment to make and therefore resort to a personal criticiism about the quantity of my sleep. The R.R is in control of the ciriculum at the colleges and universities? I think you wrong on two counts. I am trying hard to be alarmed by this Bill. Alarm is not my natural state, although I do enjoy it.  Say something reasonable and rational about this Bill which can be supported by fact. Help me to get alarmed - these are my state universities.


Stay Well
Wot

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1229
Joined  2004-12-22

Well I am not sure how Florida operates, I only know about Texas.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2957
Joined  2004-12-02

[quote author=“Wotansson”]George said:

Quote:

WHEREAS, the freedoms to teach and to learn depend upon the creation of appropriate conditions and opportunities on the campus as a whole as well as in the classrooms and lecture
halls, and…
(emphasis added).

This one phrase is loaded. Who gets to decide what the “appropriate conditions and opportunities” are going to be? Take a wild guess.


Ok, perhaps a loaded and nebulous WHEREAS but concerning the specifcs of the Bill what is the objection and horror?

Stay Well

Wot

I just read the bill and the article George pointed to.  Plus I have a peripheral interest in this issue and have been watching it grow.  I suspect that this could easily play out with the extreme right starting to dictate the hiring and tenure practices at state universities and colleges in order to create these appropriate conditions in the classroom.  The bill is full of weasle words that leave the door open for ultra-conservatives to start mucking with the culture of higher education. 

Wot, I consider myself to be an independent too (think I read one of your posts claiming that), though I am very definitely in the progressive camp.  If you want to eschew the left then I could understand why you don’t see the dangers here.  But in this issue I am firmly with the left.

Incidentally, I did read a humorous take on this whole issue - the right whining that there aren’t enough conservative professors.  It went something like this.

There seems to be a strong correlation between general intelligence [something I don’t particularly believe in BTW; I favor the multiple different kinds of intelligence] and the likelihood of getting a PhD.  There is a very strong correlation between getting a PhD and becoming a professor.  There is also a very strong correlation between left-leaning political tendancies and being a professor (that article gave some numbers).  Now what is cause and what is effect?  Is being left-leaning (actually progressive rather than liberal) the cause of higher intelligence? Or could it be the other way around?  If you follow this kind of logic, is it any wonder that the majority of professors tend toward the left?

g

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  901
Joined  2005-02-23

142 (5)  Students have a right to expect that their academic

143 institutions will distribute student fee funds on a viewpoint-

144 neutral basis and will maintain a posture of neutrality with

145 respect to substantive political and religious disagreements,

146 differences, and opinions.

To me, the alarm comes from text like this.  On the surface, the notion of enforcing this sort of neutrality sounds fine, but in practice, this is a classic example of the “wedge” approach which is now being taken by the far right to instill conservative values into educational institutions.

A bill like this opens the way for Intelligent Design proponents to sue for requiring ID to be taught in postsecondary biology classes.

It also would allow Hindu and Muslim groups to sue claiming that their creation accounts must be reflected as well, after all, enough people the world over believe them too.

Except for the importance of this issue, it would be hilarious.  The conservatives have derided our “pluralism” for a long time, but now that they have the power to enact laws, they are enacting laws which will only help to thicken the pluralistic quagmire.

This is exactly the sort of thing that Sam wrote the book to address.  For too long, irrational ideas have been given a pass.  At some point, we need to be able to call stupid ideas, well, stupid.

-Matt

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 01:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  819
Joined  2004-12-21

Perhaps I am too idealist which could be truly dangerous at my age.  So in my idealistic stupor I still think that the universities are places where the mind of the student is expanded and that universities exist for the primary purpose of educating the student - not for the primary benefit of faculty of administration.  Confessing to this idealistic heresy,  I think that Creationism, Evolution, Intelligent Design , Big Bang, Theism, Ateism, etc. should rightfully be presented by an educated and knowledgeable faculty to students as THEORIES. Ok, I believe in evolution on a personal basis but evolution, just as the other theories, cannot be concretely proven.  Isn’t the function of the university to present the possibilities to expand the mind of the student?

Guest said:

I just read the bill and the article George pointed to. Plus I have a peripheral interest in this issue and have been watching it grow. I suspect that this could easily play out with the extreme right starting to dictate the hiring and tenure practices at state universities and colleges in order to create these appropriate conditions in the classroom. The bill is full of weasle words that leave the door open for ultra-conservatives to start mucking with the culture of higher education.


This may have some substance as a real possibility but it is the same “foot- in-the door” philosophy that is used by the NRA to oppose any gun control legislation. I guess it has value but I think it is a little shakey in the rationality department.

Then Matt said:

This is exactly the sort of thing that Sam wrote the book to address. For too long, irrational ideas have been given a pass. At some point, we need to be able to call stupid ideas, well, stupid.

I agree completely and we need to recognize that many university professors use their platform of academic freedom and the protection on tenure to spout off some pretty stupid things. Do these folks get a pass?
Nobody gets a pass from rationality.  Not meaning to bring Prof. Churchill in as a case in point - hell, sure I did.

Then g said:

There seems to be a strong correlation between general intelligence [something I don’t particularly believe in BTW; I favor the multiple different kinds of intelligence] and the likelihood of getting a PhD. There is a very strong correlation between getting a PhD and becoming a professor. There is also a very strong correlation between left-leaning political tendancies and being a professor (that article gave some numbers). Now what is cause and what is effect? Is being left-leaning (actually progressive rather than liberal) the cause of higher intelligence? Or could it be the other way around? If you follow this kind of logic, is it any wonder that the majority of professors tend toward the left?

I think this is a little thin.  Is this what is meant by the liberal elitist attitude? It would seem to absolutely equate intelligence with education. I have know quite a few stupid-shit PhDs who made no sense at all, even to themselves.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  901
Joined  2005-02-23

<levity>
As so many have observed, degrees stand for something!  Here is a guide to help people who might not know:

BS - BullS***

MS - More S***

PHD - Piled Higher and Deeper

</levity>

In all seriousness, no professor should get a pass on teaching something irrational.  However, establishing a legal basis for students to directly sue a professor seems a little extreme.  If the system of academic challenge is so broken that people feel the need to sue, well, perhaps the system of academic challenge should be investigated and fixed.

As for teaching ID, etc.:  No! No, no no no no no!  In a science course, it is only appropriate to teach science!  Just because someone wants to call something science, does not make it so.  Where are the peer reviewed ID papers?  Where is the original ID research?  Where are the positive and verifiable assertions about the world from ID?  These things don’t exist because ID is not a science, it is a political strategy, and inasmuch as it tries to masquerade as science, it is a dishonest and insidious strategy at that.

-Matt

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 March 2005 03:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2957
Joined  2004-12-02

[quote author=“Wotansson”]Perhaps I am too idealist which could be truly dangerous at my age.  So in my idealistic stupor I still think that the universities are places where the mind of the student is expanded and that universities exist for the primary purpose of educating the student - not for the primary benefit of faculty of administration.  Confessing to this idealistic heresy,  I think that Creationism, Evolution, Intelligent Design , Big Bang, Theism, Ateism, etc. should rightfully be presented by an educated and knowledgeable faculty to students as THEORIES. Ok, I believe in evolution on a personal basis but evolution, just as the other theories, cannot be concretely proven.  Isn’t the function of the university to present the possibilities to expand the mind of the student?

Bolded items = history or theology. Italisized items = science.  There is no theory of theism.  There is a history of this idea that can be taught as history, not a theory.  It cannot be taught as a competing theory.  Underlined item: what do you mean “believe”?  Bolded/italisized: depending on what YOU mean by concrete proof, this is simply a silly thing to say.  The evidence for evolution is overwhelming.  To make a statement like that one would have to be ignorant of that evidence.


[quote author=“Wotonsson”]
I agree completely and we need to recognize that many university professors use their platform of academic freedom and the protection on tenure to spout off some pretty stupid things. Do these folks get a pass?
Nobody gets a pass from rationality.  Not meaning to bring Prof. Churchill in as a case in point - hell, sure I did.

Bolded item: I hope you did not mean this.  What evidence can you produce that “many” professors behave in this fashion.  I know a great “many” professors in “many” different fields and from “many” different universities.  I know some (a very few) who might fill this description, but its damn few.

Italisized item: Are you at all familiar with the tenure and promotion process?  It still works pretty well.  Very few poor quality (and that is what is implied by this line of reasoning - poor quality professors) make it through the process.  Whatever knowledge they espouse at any time in history is based on the best scholarship they can muster or they won’t get in the club.  It is true that history is repleat with “knowledge” that later proved to be erroneous or incomplete.  But it was, never-the-less, useful in guiding thinking and investigation that ultimately led to better understanding.  The notion that higher ed teachers start from ideological agenda as a rule, is the very thing that will destroy education in this country.  Please be very careful with your words and your thoughts on this issue.

[quote author=“Wotonsson”]
[deleted quote by g, tongue in cheek I think]
I think this is a little thin.  Is this what is meant by the liberal elitist attitude? It would seem to absolutely equate intelligence with education. I have know quite a few stupid-s*** PhDs who made no sense at all, even to themselves.

Despite the humorous overtones, in fact, it is the case that better educated people tend toward progressive agendas.  This has, interestingly, included generally conservative folks who could see that some attention to more equitable wealth distribution would minimize the likelihood of a revolution.  BTW: were you the judge of whether or not they made sense?  Or were you refering to the judgement of peers?

George

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 March 2005 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  819
Joined  2004-12-21

George said:

Wotansson wrote:
Perhaps I am too idealist which could be truly dangerous at my age. So in my idealistic stupor I still think that the universities are places where the mind of the student is expanded and that universities exist for the primary purpose of educating the student - not for the primary benefit of faculty of administration. Confessing to this idealistic heresy, I think that Creationism, Evolution, Intelligent Design , Big Bang, Theism, Ateism, etc. should rightfully be presented by an educated and knowledgeable faculty to students as THEORIES. Ok, I believe in evolution on a personal basis but evolution, just as the other theories, cannot be concretely proven. Isn’t the function of the university to present the possibilities to expand the mind of the student?


Bolded items = history or theology. Italisized items = science. There is no theory of theism. There is a history of this idea that can be taught as history, not a theory. It cannot be taught as a competing theory. Underlined item: what do you mean “believe”? Bolded/italisized: depending on what YOU mean by concrete proof, this is simply a silly thing to say. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. To make a statement like that one would have to be ignorant of that evidence.

Perhaps I made a poor choice of words and should had expressed my “belief” in evolution as an acceptance based on the evidence. My appology. Interesting to note that the Bill wuold seem to support your statement concerning the separation of subject matter
.

(3)  Students have a right to expect that their academic
131 freedom and the quality of their education will not be infringed
132 upon by instructors who persistently introduce controversial
133 matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to
134 the subject of study and serves no legitimate pedagogical
135 purpose.

Can I tell the legislature that George supports the Bill?
I was disappointed that you chose to offer no comment on the mission of the universiity to expand the mind of the student.

Then George said:

Wotonsson wrote:

I agree completely and we need to recognize that many university professors use their platform of academic freedom and the protection on tenure to spout off some pretty stupid things. Do these folks get a pass?
Nobody gets a pass from rationality. Not meaning to bring Prof. Churchill in as a case in point - hell, sure I did.


Bolded item: I hope you did not mean this. What evidence can you produce that “many” professors behave in this fashion. I know a great “many” professors in “many” different fields and from “many” different universities. I know some (a very few) who might fill this description, but its damn few.

Italisized item: Are you at all familiar with the tenure and promotion process? It still works pretty well. Very few poor quality (and that is what is implied by this line of reasoning - poor quality professors) make it through the process. Whatever knowledge they espouse at any time in history is based on the best scholarship they can muster or they won’t get in the club. It is true that history is repleat with “knowledge” that later proved to be erroneous or incomplete. But it was, never-the-less, useful in guiding thinking and investigation that ultimately led to better understanding. The notion that higher ed teachers start from ideological agenda as a rule, is the very thing that will destroy education in this country. Please be very careful with your words and your thoughts on this issue.

Again I think the Bill supports your concept.

(1)  Students have a right to expect a learning environment
120 in which they will have access to a broad range of serious
121 scholarly opinion pertaining to the subjects they study. In the
122 humanities, the social sciences, and the arts, the fostering of
123 a plurality of serious scholarly methodologies and perspectives
124 should be a significant institutional purpose.


Then George said:

Wotonsson wrote:

[deleted quote by g, tongue in cheek I think]
I think this is a little thin. Is this what is meant by the liberal elitist attitude? It would seem to absolutely equate intelligence with education. I have know quite a few stupid-s*** PhDs who made no sense at all, even to themselves.


Despite the humorous overtones, in fact, it is the case that better educated people tend toward progressive agendas. This has, interestingly, included generally conservative folks who could see that some attention to more equitable wealth distribution would minimize the likelihood of a revolution. BTW: were you the judge of whether or not they made sense? Or were you refering to the judgement of peers?


If you are trying to say that PhD or MA have a more progessive agenda it is a notion at best.  Is the redistibution of wealth as a revolution-preventative measure a progressive agenda? Sounds like it is motivated more by fear than rational thought.

Point is that many professors (based on my experience below), are more concerned with their own egos and agendas than any mission to educate or broaden the student. I guess this is ok for the private university but is unacceptable for the state/tax supported institution. If by their peers you mean other university professors, this would be like asking the fox to guard the hen house. My opinion of academia is based on my own experiences as a university student, 3 family PhDs - 2 fit in the category described above and are social and intellectual misfits and only concerned with their own egos,  academics who abuse the concept of academic freedom and tenure such as Churchill and the USF professor (name escapes, currently under arrest) who used his protected postion to channel funds to Arab terrorists.

There seems to be a mentality which views academic as a sacred cow which should not be modulated by even the most reasonable law or guideline.  Any attemped governance results in screeching from academia and a sky-is-falling mentality.  Academic freedom should not be viewed as a pass from rational though, productive work, justification,
laws or the obligation to educate the client/student

Stay Well

Wot.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 March 2005 02:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2957
Joined  2004-12-02

Wot,

I have no idea what your personal experience was.  I’m sorry about your family members.  All I can say is, it sounds like you have a deep seated belief that public education is rife with professors who abuse their power and do little more than spew personal opinion at students.  If that is the case then I have nothing more to say.

I have taught at three universities, two major, one regional.  I have known only two cases in 20 years that rise to the level you seem to think is everywhere.  Both of those cases ended with either censure (essentially a tenured faculty being given the worst courses to teach) or failure to get tenure (which results in them leaving).  Everywhere I’ve taught, and in all of the universities that I have visited the prevailing attitude has been student-centered.  That doesn’t mean we are there to serve a client/customer. Rather, we are working to give students the best educational experience and the best understanding of the various disciplines that we can.  In some cases, course work involves ideas and information that challenges some students’ a priori beliefs and that is uncomfortable for them.  If they are immature (and most freshmen fit in that category) they will react with feelings that they are being attacked. 

I have had this situation myself when I taught a robotics course which involved reading a book that spoke of an “evolutionary process” of robot development.  The student, a fundamentalist christian, felt this was inappropriate material for a computer science course and felt “irritated” when I would not rescind the book from the readings (I told him he need not read those parts he felt were offensive to his beliefs, but that he would still be responsible for the other chapters.)  At the time, I know the student was put out by my stance on evolution at work even in an engineering design sense.  But I do not feel that I, in any way, abused power to force feed this student evolution.  As a side note, this student, after several years, returned as a grad student and specifically took one of my graduate classes so, in his words, we could reconnect.  I don’t think he has changed his opinion about evolution, but he seemed to like all the other material I had to offer.

Bottom line.  You are expressing views that are based on what sounds like a limited sample of college (and PhD) experience.  I assert that if you take the wording in this bill (or any of the dozen others that are currently being introduced around the country) literally, then you are naieve about the intent of these people.  Please read the article I posted to get a bigger picture.  Currently, the atmosphere maintained in the vast majority of state universities is one of openness and debate.  Students do have rights from the traditions of academy and the professoriate.  Since I doubt you spend much time in faculty meetings or in the faculty club where these matters are actively discussed, you might not be aware of this.

And no, don’t tell them I support the bill.  I am a professional (a word that seems to have been trumped by “accountability”) as are the vast majority of my colleagues.  We do not need a legislative body of individuals, many of whom hold no more than baccalaureate degrees (in my state the proportion of those with 4-year degrees is much less than 50%!) telling us what our duties and responsibilities are.  If someone tells me I cannot teach about the evolutionary process in engineering design, I will likely find another job.  I suspect a fair number of senior colleagues will do the same.  Then tell me, who will fill the vacuum?  What will be the worth of a state university degree in the future?  If you think this is an idle threat, you should plug into the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) email list or read Chronicles of Higher Education to see how other professors feel about this.

George

PS. This thread has gotten too wide to read comfortably on my browser, so its a good thing I will not say any more!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 March 2005 04:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  819
Joined  2004-12-21

George

Unfortunately you subscribe to the arrogant and elist notion of academia. How dare the legislators, who many hold no more that a lowly bachelor’s degree, dare to set missions or guidlines for the obermensch PhD? This attitude invites control and corresponding legislation.  You have met your enemy - and it is you.

Stay Well

Wot

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1
 
‹‹ Schiavo Poll      Gun control - a suggestion ››
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed