I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Staff is damaging U. of Vermont's reputation

The University of Vermont is one of eight original "Public Ivies"[1]:

In 1985 author Richard Moll coined the term "Public Ivies" in his book The Public Ivies: America's Flagship Undergraduate Colleges. At that time, Moll identified eight universities as public institutions that "provide an Ivy League collegiate experience at a public school price." The eight universities Moll named were the College of William and Mary, Miami University of Ohio, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Texas, the University of Vermont, and the University of Virginia[1]

Who knew? However, it now appears that UVM's hard-earned reputation is being damaged by the Ben Stein scandal. A Feb. 6 editorial in the Burlington Free Press said,

Fogel's Stein flip-flop embarrassing for UVM

The University of Vermont took a hit coming and going in the flap over Ben Stein as this year's commencement speaker, inviting, then withdrawing the invitation over his views questioning evolution. The invitation shows a stunning degree of tone deafness on the part of UVM President Dan Fogel to the social and political currents on his own campus. The decision to withdraw the invitation opens the university to charges that the university is less than open to controversial views

The Discovery Institute's Casey Luskin wrote in the US News & World Report,
.
Unfortunately, the bluffs and authoritarian tactics of Darwinists create a climate of intolerance that leads to discrimination against academics and educators who dissent from neo-Darwinism.

The latest example took place last week when economist, comedian, and Darwin skeptic Ben Stein withdrew from offering the spring commencement address at the University of Vermont because, as the Chronicle of Higher Education put it, "his invitation drew complaints about his views on biological evolution."

The main instigator of complaints against Stein was University of Minnesota Morris biologist P.Z. Myers, who in 2005 demanded "the public firing and humiliation of some teachers" who support ID or doubt Darwinism. This time, Myers incited his blog's followers against Stein, proclaiming that "it's a real slap in the face for the university to drag in this disgrace who has been a figurehead for a movement that is trying to replace science with superstition."

The truth about Stein's withdrawal has leaked out in media interviews where UVM's President Dan Fogel made it clear that ID proponents deserve second-class treatment. Parroting Myers's rhetoric, Fogel was quoted saying, "It's an issue about the appropriateness of awarding an honorary degree to someone whose views in many ways ignore or affront the fundamental values of scientific inquiry."

Fogel's statement is simply a pretext for discriminating against scholars who hold a minority scientific viewpoint. The reality is that Fogel has demonstrated plain old intolerance for academics that support ID.

Like many persecutors, Fogel appears blind to his own prejudices. He thus added, "This is not, to my mind, an issue about academic freedom." But Fogel's actions refute his own words: The very fact that he won't give an honorary degree to a scholar because of that scholar's support for ID demonstrates the lack of academic freedom for ID proponents in the academy.

Instead of just graciously accepting Ben Stein's withdrawal, Pres. Fogel made matters much worse by publicly stating reasons why Stein does not deserve an honorary degree.

Later, a UVM biology professor, Nick Gotelli, said in an op ed,

Naturally, the biology department and many others would never invite Stein to speak on our campus. However, one of the best ways to refute intellectually bankrupt ideas is to expose them to the light of day. There is nothing I could say to my biology classes that would discredit Stein's ideas more than his own words on evolution, science, Nazis and the Holocaust. For this reason, universities and campuses throughout the United States occasionally invite "controversial" speakers, and we at UVM fully support this kind of free speech.

But inviting a campus lecturer is different from choosing a commencement speaker and awarding an honorary degree. The real issue is not political correctness, but scholarship. I will leave it to my colleagues in the economics department to weigh in on Stein's scholastic achievements as an economist. As far as the sciences go, I am unaware of a single publication by Stein that has appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. In the sciences,

The Discovery Institute's David Klinghoffer responded to the preceding op-ed by sending Potelli an email proposing an ID debate at UVM and proposed ID experts David Berlinski and Stephen Meyer as alternatives or additions to Stein. Potelli sent Klinghoffer a nasty refusal. The copies of their emails are here on Sleazy PZ Myers' blog. Klinghoffer said,

Ben Stein may not be the best person to single-handedly represent the ID side. As you're aware, he's known mainly as an entertainer. A more appropriate alternative or addition might be our senior fellows David Berlinski or Stephen Meyer, respectively a mathematician and a philosopher of science.

So Klinghoffer called Potelli's bluff by offering him the opportunity to discredit not just Stein but real ID experts Berlinski and/or Meyer, and Potelli chickened out. Klinghoffer's discussion of the incident is here.
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3 Comments:

Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

This is good publicity for intelligent design. The more the proponents of conventional evolutionary theory attempt to censor other views, such as intelligent design, the more damage they do to their own fading reputations. The American prople are not stupid, so they won't buy into censorship and attempts to suppress ideas.

And as usual, the addicts of conventional doctrine try to misrepresent intelligent design as necessarily denying that existing species have descended for earlier ones; to thus misrepresent it as creationism.

Monday, February 23, 2009 5:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Instead of just graciously accepting Ben Stein's withdrawal, Pres. Fogel made matters much worse by publicly stating reasons why Stein does not deserve an honorary degree.

Fogel wanted to appease the militants and possible threats made by people of influence while sending a message by using humiliation to any future speaker at the University who dares not to go along Darwinism. DI continues to give PZ Meyers much credit for stirring up an angry crowd to try and silence people.

There are two sides, one it does give intelligent design good publicity and validate the movie "Expelled" even more.

The down side is, these types of success stories for militants encourages them more to do it, than PZ Meyers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 1:15:00 AM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

I think Michael is right. And apparently college presidents now see it as their duty to capitulate to some sort of mobs.

Who was that university president who got into trouble by speculating that men might more often have a high degree of mathematical talent, than do women? Was it Summers?

Anyway, a howling mob of the "Politically Correct" attacked the fellow; and he rapidly retreated, apologizing desperately.

I don't know whether or not he was right. But it seems that universities are now places where it's forbidden to raise or discuss certain ideas, which some pressure-groups have declared to be Taboo.

So what is the function of a university now supposed to be? Indoctrinating students in some sort of Official Line?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 5:22:00 PM  

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