The Discovery Institutes Appeal for a Legislative Resolution on Academic Freedom

I did a little research and surprise! the DI is dishonestly spinning the Bryan Leonard case. This isn’t the first time they’ve tried it either. Here is a nice review of the incident by Richard Hoppe at Panda’s Thumb back in 2013 before this DI’s latest “Freescience” propaganda rehash came out.

Discovery Institute still spinning Bryan Leonard

Some excerpts

Read more details at the link. Looks like just one more case of ID-Creationist dishonesty being exposed and the DI trying to portray Leonard as another ID “martyr”.

That’s why it’s good to get both sides of the story.


That is a real thing.

What I want to know is if there is wide spread invasive questioning of students. I am certain there is not, either at the high school, college, or graduate level.

Next I want to know if their is ongoing invasive questioning of students. I do not believe there is, but I would like to know if I am wrong. Examples from over 10 years ago, at the height of conflict, are not helpful.

Finally I want to know if there is already recourse for these students or not. I believe there is recourse already. It seems likely that ID students do not know of such recourses, and might benefit from knowledge of them. The right way to handle invasive questions is to deflect them.

I believe this. It is also wrong. I’m just not sure why it matters.

I am not sure what this has to do anything either. One can be biased against ID, for good or bad reasons, but that is not a reason to be unfair to students. Science has never required a loyalty test.

I would also be cautious about this sort of policing if I were in ID, because it could easily backfire. It is very clear, for example that Biola has very strong bias against hiring professors that are not anti-ID. More than one story, far more recent, has surfaced that insists that TE cannot be hired their. If we are going to press to micromanage mainstream science, that razor is going to be quickly turned around on places like Biola and Bob Jones. Is that really what you want?


Oh yes Bob Jones University. Against interracial dating and marriage until the 1970’s. Real good Christian role model for today’s world. :rofl:

This is off topic, but that was until the year 2000, not the 1970’s.

1 Like

Yes, they were sued in the 1970’s by Nixon Administration. You’re right, it didn’t settle until the 2000’s.

1 Like

I’m sorry if I did. I was just trying to understand.

If any real issues do arise, please let me know in private. If I can agree there is unfairness to a student, I will do what I can to help. In fact, I would expect many of the educators here (@Art, @Jordan, @cwhenderson, @John_Harshman) would likely do the same, though I don’t speak for them, and certainly not an a hypothetical case.

I wonder if better relationships with scientists would obviate the perceived need for resolutions like this. It is my understanding that everyone agrees that students must be treated fairly. Even those that despise ID see students as the victims in these exchanges.


Unfortunately, Bill Dembski felt the sharp end of the stick on that one at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.


I am not asking for pro ID policing or pro-anything policing or anti-anything policing. What the petition asks for is academic freedom. I realize that has a sharp edge to it for religious schools that want to maintain doctrinal purity. But I think that academic freedom should apply in all directions. There are some TE professors who would still be employed under academic freedom. So would Bill Dembski. And several ID professors I can think of.

1 Like

This resolution has no chance in NJ, NY and CA.

Great. Just let me know, at least privately, if any issues with students arise. No one should be asking students to sign loyalty statements or withholding degrees because of their private beliefs. If that happens, I would do what I can to help rectify the error, as would many other people here.

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.

1 Like


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.

1 Like

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: