Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More on "Academic Freedom"

Scientific American has a great story on what folks like the Discovery Institute mean when they say "Academic Freedom". I previously posted that they mean nothing of the kind ('Academic Freedom' Day), nice to read more support for my position.

"The Latest Face of Creationism in the Classroom: Creationists who want religious ideas taught as scientific fact in public schools continue to adapt to courtroom defeats by hiding their true aims under ever changing guises" By Glenn Branch and Eugenie C. Scott, 16 Dec 2008 Scientific American.

Take a good look at it and you will come to agree that the last thing on the DI's mind is actual academic freedom. This particular rallying cry is nothing more than the latest tactic. These people will stop at NOTHING to advance their agenda! This is another proof of that no tactic, no matter how reprehensible, seems to be beyond them. You tell me, is this ethical behavior of any sort? Is this form of lying even appropriate for an organization dedicated to pushing Evangelical Christian views on the rest of us? Another instance of the ends self-justify the means! Well not to me.

Since the Dover Trial, they have been scrambling. This is nothing more than their current rallying cry. Just a year ago it was "Teach the Controversy" and then they tried and failed with "Strengths and Weaknesses", now they are putting their eggs in a basket labeled "Academic Freedom".

Here is the paragraph that hit home for me:

"The appeal of academic freedom as a slogan for the creationist fallback strategy is obvious: everybody approves of freedom, and plenty of people have a sense that academic freedom is desirable, even if they do not necessarily have a good understanding of what it is. The concept of academic freedom is primarily relevant to college teaching, and the main organization defending it, the American Association of University Professors, recently reaffirmed its opposition to antievolution laws such as Louisiana’s, writing, “Such efforts run counter to the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding evolution and are inconsistent with a proper understanding of the meaning of academic freedom.” In the public schools, even if there is no legal right to academic freedom, it is sound educational policy to allow teachers a degree of latitude to teach their subjects as they see fit—but there are limits. Allowing teachers to instill scientifically unwarranted doubts about evolution is clearly beyond the pale. Yet that is what the Louisiana Science Education Act was evidently created, or designed, to do."
This is an emotional appeal because, well to borrow a phrase, everyone loves "Freedom". It's an emotional reaction when people question why anyone, least of all scientists, would be against academic freedom. But I ask you to read the article, look up the text of the Louisiana so-called "Science Education Act" and see how being able to introduce pseudo-scientific ideas, like Intelligent Design and Creationism "
. . .promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."
As found in Dover such topics undermine science, and in reality is the public High School science classroom the appropriate venue to hash out what is science and what is not? And while this bill claims "
. . . shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or non-religion"
It certainly doesn't prohibit the use of religious beliefs in promoting these unscientific view points. There is the bottom line! The public HS curriculum is not the place to be having these debates. The science teachers at the HS level should be teaching science, not engaging in a political debate!

This is NOT academic freedom, and this is not the purpose of academic freedom! But the DI, and their ilk, are certainly not above misusing the term in order to push for an agenda they cannot achieve through honesty or integrity. No, they have to LIE! Oh you might want to call is a 'misrepresentation' as Scott and Branch call it in this article, but what I got taught in parochial school is that deliberately misrepresenting something is a lie!

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