Monday, February 21, 2005


The Philospher, Stoned

Here, at Red State Rabble we’ve always numbered ourselves among the dime-store philosophers, drugstore cowboys, men's room conversationalists, dreamers, and seekers of truth, with a capital T, who are out there, I mean really out there, trying to make sense of the world.

That’s why we were so excited when Eugene Stohs, who introduced himself as an adjunct instructor in philosophy at several colleges here in the metropolitan Kansas City area, spoke at the first science standards hearing on the subject of academic freedom.

“In the interest of good science and progress in science,” Mr. Stohs informed us “it is important that science teachers and science students have the freedom to examine and to describe both the evidence for and the evidence against any current science theory.”

Who in their right mind, we wondered, could possibly be against academic freedom, and a sober examination of all the evidence?

“I support the Harris committee revision (intelligent design -- RSR) proposals,” concluded our Plato of the people, “since these revisions allow greater academic freedom.”

And, frankly, that’s where he lost us.

In 1940, the American Association of University Professors adopted a statement on academic freedom and tenure that states, “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results.”

“Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject,” the AAUP statement continues, “but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.”

“As scholars and educational officers,” the AAUP statement cautions, “they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others…”

Curiously, the account of academic freedom produced by our philosopher friend Mr. Stohs at the Schlagle High School science hearing, while including some blather about red shift, failed to consider the quaint notion that teachers should be careful not to introduce controversial matter that has no relation to their subject, or that they might have the responsibility to be accurate and exercise restraint.

Then, there is the question of what constitutes evidence, or does not constitute evidence, against evolution.

The Discovery Institute has done its best to gather “scientists” who find the evidence for evolution unconvincing. To date, the lists produced have leaned heavily on attorneys who took a geology class in college, a small handful of bible college biologists, and the odd crank or two. These individuals, brilliant researchers that they no doubt are, have neither produced any research to support their claims, nor contemplated conducting any.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which “seeks to assist the general public, especially the religious communities, to understand the scientific robustness of the contemporary theory of biological evolution,” on the other hand, serves some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, including 10 million individual scientists.

A striking contrast, eh?

Like we said, Red State Rabble loves the dreamers, but then maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason why Mr. Stohs is adjunct.


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