Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Ball State University sides with Darwinian Inquisition and against academic freedom

Evolution News reports:

In a blatant attack on academic freedom and the unfettered consideration of scientific viewpoints, the president of Ball State University (BSU) in Muncie, IN, has imposed a gag order on science faculty forbidding their discussion of the theory of intelligent design (ID) in science classrooms.

Ball State has been the focus of media attention since an extremist atheist group, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, demanded an investigation into whether Ball State physicist Dr. Eric Hedin had informed his students about the theory of ID. Dr. Hedin’s interdisciplinary honors course “Boundaries of Science” included a “Partial Bibliography” listing books favorable to, and others critical of, intelligent design.

Now BSU’s President Jo Ann Gora has declared that ID is a “religious” idea at variance with “the consensus of science scholars” and may not be discussed in science classes, since that would be a violation of “academic integrity.”

“Students and the public are owed a genuine evaluation of the merits of ID, touching as the theory does on ultimate questions of life’s origins,” responded Dr. Stephen Meyer, director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. “However, when scientific discussion is censored by a university, fair-minded evaluation becomes impossible.”

Dr. Meyer is the author of the recent New York Times bestseller Darwin’s Doubt, a rigorous summary of the current state of the argument for intelligent design.

“In the Orwellian world of Ball State’s president, academic freedom apparently means only the ‘freedom’ to support the majority’s view,” said Dr. John West, associate director of the Center for Science & Culture. “This is exactly how the academic ‘consensus’ against the theory of intelligent design is maintained — by intimidation, fiat, and legal threats.”

ID theorists hold that a variety of features observable and testable in living creatures and in the fossil record are best explained as the product an intelligent cause rather than an unguided process such as natural selection. Dr. Meyer’s book, for example, begins by examining the abrupt origin of complex, diverse animal life in the Cambrian era, 530 million years ago.

Not unexpected, given what we knew about the panel charged with evaluating Dr. Hedin’s course.

But I do have some good news today. Tune in at 2 PM to read my report on yet another new peer-reviewed paper hostile to Darwinism.

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Atheist Inquisition led by Jerry Coyne seeks to censor pro-ID physicist at Ball State University

Evolution News reports.

Excerpt:

There is a very disturbing affair going on at Ball State University that everyone needs to know about. The public university in Muncie, Indiana, has been under pressure from a rabid national atheist group and from atheist activist Jerry Coyne to discipline an assistant physics professor for teaching about intelligent design. Coyne and the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) claim it’s a legal, constitutional matter, no less: teaching about ID violates the First Amendment! “It’s religion taught as science in a public university, and it’s not only wrong but illegal,” writes Coyne. “This will now go to the lawyers.”

Ball State has announced it will indeed scrutinize the situation. FFRF staff attorney Andrew L. Seidel complained in a legally vacuous letter to Ball State president Jo Ann Gora. Amazingly, the university responded with this ominous public statement:

The university received a complaint from a third party late yesterday afternoon about content in a specific course offered at Ball State. We take academic rigor and academic integrity very seriously. Having just received these concerns, it is impossible to comment on them at this point. We will explore in depth the issues and concerns raised and take the appropriate actions through our established processes and procedures.

Being the subject of such controversy, with your employer issuing public statements about how higher ups will be “explor[ing] concerns” about your “academic rigor” and “integrity,” is obviously the last thing an academic in Eric Hedin’s shoes wants. It’s enough to make the blood drain from your face.

Click here to sign the petition to defend academic freedom at Ball State University.

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New FAA regulations will cause shortage of airline pilots

From the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

U.S. airlines are facing what threatens to be their most serious pilot shortage since the 1960s, with higher experience requirements for new hires about to take hold just as the industry braces for a wave of retirements.

Federal mandates taking effect next summer will require all newly hired pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of prior flight experience—six times the current minimum—raising the cost and time to train new fliers in an era when pay cuts and more-demanding schedules already have made the profession less attractive. Meanwhile, thousands of senior pilots at major airlines soon will start hitting the mandatory retirement age of 65.

[...]Another federal safety rule, to take effect in early 2014, also will squeeze the supply, by giving pilots more daily rest time. This change is expected to force passenger airlines to increase their pilot ranks by at least 5%. Adding to the problem is a small but steady stream of U.S. pilots moving to overseas carriers, many of which already face an acute shortage of aviators and pay handsomely to land well-trained U.S. captains.

[...]Estimates differ on the problem’s magnitude. Airlines for America, a trade group of the largest carriers that collectively employ 50,800 pilots now, cites a study by the University of North Dakota’s aviation department that indicates major airlines will need to hire 60,000 pilots by 2025 to replace departures and cover expansion.

Mr. Darby’s firm calculates that all U.S. airlines, including cargo, charter and regional carriers, together employ nearly 96,000 pilots, and will need to find more than 65,000 over the next eight years.

[...]Dave Barger, chief executive of JetBlue Airways Corp., said in an October speech that the industry is “facing an exodus of talent in the next few years” and could “wake up one day and find we have no one to operate or maintain those planes.”

The same thing is already happening with doctors because of Obamacare. And there is also a broad-based effort to put policies in place that cause private sector businesses to raise their prices, for example, by raising gas prices because of blocks on domestic energy development. Why would a socialist government pass taxes and regulations that cause consumers to become dissatisfied the private sector?

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Will allowing free discussions of scientific theories hurt innovation?

Some people are complaining that allowing students and teachers to question and debate scientific theories will harm economic growth and raise unemployment.

Evolution News explains:

One common piece of rhetoric being lobbed against academic freedom legislation is the claim that the bills would kill jobs and have a negative overall economic effect. An anti-academic freedom op-ed in The Tennessean stated that Tennessee’s academic freedom bill would have “adverse economic consequences for the state” and asked “What high-tech employer will want to open up shop in a state that allows ideology and prejudice to trump science education?”

If you actually read that op-ed, you will find that the authors make the following arguments against academic freedom:

  1. scientific theories favored by the secular left should not be subject to falsification by scientific evidence
  2. the only reason why some people oppose secular left ideologies like naturalism (e.g. – in the origin of life) and socialism (e.g – man-made global warming) is because of religious beliefs
  3. some religious clergy accept ideologies like naturalism and socialism, so therefore everyone should have no problem with naturalistic speculations about the origin of life and doomsday predictions about catastrophic global warming – since there is no scientific reason to oppose these theories
  4. scientific theories should be accepted or denied based on the pontifications of organizations like the AAAS or teacher associations, not on the basis of repeatable experiments and measurements
  5. lawyers should be able to settle disputes about science using their ability to file lawsuits against school boards
  6. although the new law explicitly forbids bringing religion into the classroom, it would bring religion into the classroom
  7. environmental regulations, chevy volts on fire, green energy solyndra grants, cap and trade, drilling moratoriums, drilling permit delays and carbon taxes don’t hurt the economy, but allowing students and teachers to ask questions about scientific theories would hurt the economy

Now look at that last argument (#7). Is there any evidence to show that allowing academic freedom and free discussions about scientific theories and scientific evidence would hurt the economy and raise unemployment?

More from Evolution News:

In late 2010, two-and-a-half years after it passed its Science Education Act, Louisiana won the “State of the Year Award” from Business Facilities magazine, in part because of its burgeoning high-tech industry. As the magazine noted:

“The diversity and growth potential of Louisiana’s top projects in both high-tech and traditional manufacturing, as well as healthy total investments, overall job creation and innovative incentives made Louisiana a clear winner of our annual State of the Year Award,” said Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers.

[...]To determine the winner, Business Facilities reviews each state’s top five projects in terms of overall investment and job creation. The magazine also evaluates the state’s execution of its economic development strategy, and the diversity and growth potential of its target industries.

“We were particularly impressed with the diversity of Louisiana’s strategy for developing high-growth sectors, including digital media, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, and modular nuclear power plant components,” Rogers said.

The Business Facilities editor noted that Louisiana “has emerged unbowed from a series of disasters that would have brought less-determined locations to their knees — including a major hurricane, an oil spill and the national economic downturn — and charted a course for the future that positions the state to be a national leader for years to come.”

So despite a massive recession, manmade and natural disasters, and — most terrifying of all — an academic freedom law, Louisiana’s economy appears to be doing better than most all other states that don’t have academic freedom laws. It appears that in the experimental laboratory of the real world, the Darwin lobby’s claim that academic freedom bills harm the economy is resoundingly disproved.

To me, it seems intuitively true that students will be more interested in any topic where there are two sides presented fairly. No one likes to be preached at – it’s boring. I realize that some people who are lazy-brained ideologues will try to bypass a fair investigation of scientific disputes and just jump right to agreeing with their government-paid educators, but that’s not a good way of becoming educated. A better way to be educated is to consider the evidence for and against propositions, and not jump to believe whatever the people in authority say that you should believe in order to be considered “smart”. It’s better to really be smart rather than just to be told that you are smart because you agree with everyone.

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Canadian Conservative MP Joe Oliver declares war on green radicals

Canada 2011 Federal Election Seats

Canada 2011 Federal Election Seats

Terence Corcoran writes in the Financial Post about the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver.

Excerpt:

Through most of 2011, Canadian energy officials in politics and industry watched with bewildered helplessness and some shock as Washington allowed environmentalists to seize control of TransCanada’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline issue. They stood by aghast as President Barack Obama, a captive of U.S. green activists and Hollywood movie stars, caved in to political pressure and postponed a decision to approve the project, a potential economic bonanza that promised to deliver thousands of jobs to Americans and billions of barrels of Canadian oil sands production to Texas.

No such green hijacking is going to take place in Canada, at least not without an official fight. On the eve of hearings, which begin Tuesday in Kitimat, B.C., into the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline — to carry the same oil sands production from Alberta to the West Coast and on to China — the Harper government clearly aims to do what Barack Obama cannot or will not do in America, namely stand up to the growth-killing professional green movement.

It is a cliché in journalism to declare metaphorical wars at the drop of a news release. In this case, it looks like war is exactly what Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver launched Monday in an unprecedented open letter warning that Canada will not allow “environmental and other radical groups” to “hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.”

What a welcome war this is. Never before has a Canadian politician challenged the hitherto saintly protectors of the environment in such direct language. More importantly, Mr. Oliver took straight aim at a troubling trend in Canadian environmentalism — the foreign funding of Canadian green activist groups with the express purpose of shutting down Canadian resource development — first documented in the National Post by Vancouver investigative writer Vivian Krause.

“These groups,” said Mr. Oliver, “seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interests to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources.”

That’s one reason why the Canadian economy is booming.

We elected a President who gave $535 million to Solyndra, blocked the Keystone XL pipeline, placed a moratorium on Gulf oil drilling and subsidized the Chevy Volt to by $250,000 PER VEHICLE. Note that all of the Chevy Volts sold have now been recalled for repairs. We could have been like Canada, if only we had not elected environmentalists and socialists.

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