Friday, February 02, 2007

Casey Luskin Defends Academic Freedom

Some IDiot sympathizers have proposed a bill in the legislature of the State of New Mexico (USA). Here's the relevant parts of the bill
A. The department shall adopt rules that:
(1) give teachers the right and freedom, when a theory of biological origins is taught, to objectively inform students of scientific information relevant to the strengths and weaknesses of that theory and protect teachers from reassignment, termination, discipline or other discrimination for doing so; and
(2) encourage students to critically analyze scientific information, give them the right and freedom to reach their own conclusions about biological origins and provide that no student shall be penalized in any way because the student subscribes to a particular position on biological origins.
B. For purposes of this section:
(1) "biological origins" means the origin, history and diversity of life and living organisms; and

(2) "scientific information" means information derived from observation, experimentation and analyses regarding various aspects of the material world conducted to determine the nature of or principles behind the aspects being studied. "Scientific information" does not include information derived from religious or philosophical writings, beliefs or doctrines. Scientific information may have religious or philosophical implications and still be scientific in nature."
Everyone with a brain knows what this is all about. It's not about academic freedom: it's about intelligent design creationism.

If it were really about academic freedom then why does it specify "biological origins"? Why not every aspect of education; like capitalism, pre-marital sex, the rights of gays, global warming, and the periodic table of the elements?

Casey Luskin doesn't get it. His knickers are all in a knot because Darwinists Begin Their Attacks on New Mexico Academic Freedom Bill. Luskin wonders why "Darwinists" are so upset because of a bill that singles out "biological origins" and not other science topics; or history subjects; or music theory; or whatever. According to Casey Luskin, this is only about academic freedom—it has nothing to do with intelligent design creationism or attacks by the religious right on evolutionary biology. It even says so right there in Section B(2).

Yeah, right. And I suppose it's just a coincidence that Casey Luskin and the Discovery Institute are so excited about this bill. I suppose they're really strong supporters of alternative views in the classroom. I suppose they favor teaching safe sex for teenagers, for example. After all, that's a good way to encourage students to think critically and reach their own conclusions.

What a bunch of hypocrites. This bill promotes the exact opposite of academic freedom. By singling out one particular topic that's up the nose of religious fundamentalists, it will have the effect of stifling academic freedom in the biology class. Teachers will feel pressured to go out of their way to pay lip service to superstition whenever they talk about evolution. Students can refuse to learn about evolution knowing that this bill will protect their ignorance.

1 comment:

  1. As a New Mexican following this issue, I like to re-frame this as applied to other disiplines. What if a student couldn't be penalized for a test answer that said pi = 3, as the Bible claims, or that the sun revolves around the earth?

    And of course "academic freedom" refers to the right of faculty to teach their students appropriate material without undue influence from administration, not for students to answer however they like and be rewarded for it.