The Discovery Institutes Appeal for a Legislative Resolution on Academic Freedom

Me too. If you know of any student being penalized for their beliefs let me know as I know a large group of attorneys who know how to fight government intrusion on personal liberties.

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First, I don’t think of myself as a special case. Almost all of those stories I have related came from before I was an ID advocate or took any position on the question of evolution. I suspect if we asked there would be stories that just about everybody could tell.

Second, even if that is not the case, why should it matter if it is widespread or not? Do you want to see anyone unfairly treated? It’s a matter of justice.

Think about other examples of unfair, unjust treatment by one group against another. Should it be made illegal only if it’s widespread? And for heavens sake, what do you mean by invasive?

@Agauger I am sure that you encountered the rampant misogyny against woman in science. Perhaps with the me too movement, this will improve.

You already have academic freedom in public colleges and universities. The petition is trying to “correct” a problem that doesn’t exist except in tiny isolated cases. It’s also pushing the falsehoods there are scientific controversies over evolution and climate change. There are certainly controversies about specific details but there is no serious scientific debate over evolution or climate change being real.

The mentioning of evolution and climate change are the dog whistles in this resolution. Take these words out and the resolution is meaningless and useless. Their is no way that university systems of CA, NY and NJ or any large state with a large public university system is going to support such a resolution. It is not even disguised well. Everyone is going to see this as a Dover like “getting the camel’s nose in in the tent” maneuver by DI and the Christian Right.

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It is just not clear if these are ongoing issues.

The example of marriage is a serious violation right now. I don’t doubt that this happened to you, but it would not happen now. If it did there would and should be repercussions. This, however, is not relevant to the DI bill at hand.

The research study about Christians being stupid, is wrong headed, but it is not discrimination. People are free to express stupid ideas. We don’t have to like it. In the University setting, we respond by demonstrating they are stupid ideas. What good would legislation do? Nothing.

The other complain is about discriminating against ID. I do not doubt it happens. I also think, however, that most students are smart enough to keep their mouths shut. It does not appear to be a common problem. Correctly informing students (which I hope you do @pnelson) that ID activism is career suicide, will do a great deal to protect them. Hopefully they will be wise enough to listen, and avoid ID activism. However, even the cases that you raised, only one seemed to actually rise to the level of a problem, and this was in 2005. Has this happened, say, in the last 2 years?

If it is wide spread, it means that it merits escalation because there is a systemic problem, that might even need legislative action. I am not sure it is widespread. It seems rather like a non-issue in science right now, that there are already structures in place to prevent abuse of students this way.

Unfair and unjust treatment is usually legal. What BioLogos did to me was unfair and unjust. It was also totally legal. There is no reason to pass legislation fro BioLogos to treat me more fairly, and it would not work either.

Invasive questions are easy to define. I can ask:

  1. Please explain what neutral theory is and how it is used to interpret the relationship between Human and Chimp genomes?

  2. Please explain to me the scientific reasons why biologists conclude that Behe’s Irreducibly Complex argument is invalid? (see Muller’s Two Step: Which Irreducible Complexity?)

  3. Please map out the mathematical errors you see in the use of Algorithmic Complexity to detect design?

These are all fair questions that test their comprehension of the core material of information theory, genetics, and biology. Anyone who answers these questions wrongs has major gaps in their understanding of mainstream science. I cannot, however, ask (from a pedagogical position of power):

  1. Do you personally believe that humans and chimps share a common ancestor?

  2. Do you personally believe that Behe’s IC argument is invalid?

  3. Do you personally reject information arguments for design?

From a pedagogical point of view, the first list of questions is fair game, and we can appropriately judge students on their response to these questions. We cannot, however, make them answer questions about their personal beliefs. The second list of questions are invasive. It is not fair to ask them, or to judge students based on their answers to them.



Yes I did, there are a lot of things about scientific culture that make it male dominated. Swamidass mentioned testosterone. Boy, is it true. After my undergraduate degree I wanted to become a marine biologist, and was even accepted at Scripps Institution for Oceanography. I would have studied diatoms. And then I was told I would never get on a ship because I was female. That changed my plans.


Science isn’t a democracy and all scientific ideas don’t warrant equal time just by showing up. Scientific ideas have to earn their place in classrooms by undergoing extremely rigorous testing and vetting. This petition isn’t about justice. It’s a less than subtle attempt for ID-Creationism to bypass this vetting and be given a seat at the scientific table it hasn’t earned. My earlier upstream comments about flat-Earthers and Geocentrists being given protection too were somewhat tongue in cheek but also contained a good bit of truth.


I think the ID community also needs to be careful not to put the cart in front of the horse. Scientific research needs to precede inclusion in teaching curricula, a step that we are glad to see you taking.


Was the voice recognition software written by someone at the Discovery Institute? :wink:


I agree. Science has a lot of reforming to do in this, especially in the public engagement on origins.


Do you think sex discrimination within the natural sciences has lessened in the last 10 or 20 years? I am not under the illusion that there is no sexism, but has it improved, or even improved a lot in your estimation?


You asked if I thought bias against women had improved in the sciences in the last few decades. That’s hard for me to answer. I am not an undergraduate or a grad student or a post doc now. Those are the stages most vulnerable. However there are also structural problems that are inherent in the system. Women have to decide if they will marry and have children. Typically that choice happens during the time most critical for their career as a graduate student or a post doc. I think tenure and hiring committees should credit at least one paper for every baby. Joke. It probably should be two papers. I was told more than once that I should be married to Science. Oh for a good wife. Joke

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This is really important and true @Agauger.

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By the way, thanks for all the civility here. This time I’m not joking.


For what’s it worth I tip my cap to you for your perseverance and success in a male dominated scientific world. I’m a huge supporter of STEM programs for women and actively encourage females students in all the sciences. I must say I’ve extremely proud of my two undergraduate nieces, one pursuing a degree in engineering and the other in biology. Women scientists rock! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


And I second that. The woman engineers and scientist that I worked with had to be twice as good as their male counterpart to be recognized. I salute you and glad you are a role model to young woman in science.


IIRC it is standard practice for many places to extend the 7-year up-or-out tenure decision per baby.


First of all, thanks @Agauger, for your engagement here, even though I’m sure there are times when it isn’t a great deal of fun holding a minority position.

Josh is correct, I would be very willing to advocate for individuals that are singled out unfairly.

I think Josh is also correct in advising against attempts to influence legislative action. From what I have seen in this thread and have read in other sources, the unfair treatment does occur, but very rarely. I don’t think it would turn out well for ID proponents to get that deeply into a fight.


Perhaps you didn’t notice, but I just got complimented by @Timothy_Horton and @Patrick. That was fun! Thank you to all of you.