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Friday, May 16, 2014

The Provost and the President of the University of Saskatchewan made a mistake

The decision to fire Robert Buckingham gets more and more interesting every day. On Wednesday, the Provost fired Buckingham and told him that ...
You are to receive your final pay on May 30, 2014, as per the normal payroll cycle. You are to leave campus immediately and are not to return to your office, the School of Public Health or the university. All benefits and pension cease as of today.

Please contact ... Human Resources ... to make arrangements for the return of university equipment and your office keys, as well as to arrange a time that is appropriate to collect any remaining personal effects.
(see the letter below)

I don't care how you spin this, the Provost made a very serious error and there's no way he should continue in his job. You can help him make the honorable decision to resign by signing the petition organized by University of Saskatchewan faculty at: University of Saskatchewan: Have Brett Fairbairn, Provost of the University of Saskatchewan, Resign.

The more serious question is whether the President, Ilene Busch-Vishniac, should resign. Watch this video of her apologizing for making a mistake and taking responsibility for it: "That should never have happened.". It seems to me that this is more than just a bureaucratic slip-up.

Here's a radio interview with Robert Buckingham and Ilene Busch-Vishniac on CBC's As It Happens: University of Saskatchewan President apologizes & admits school's reputation damaged. The President says that a mistake was made but she's not worried about her job. Apparently the university will launch an investigation to see what went wrong and who is responsible. (These things usually take several months.)

It really shouldn't take more than a few seconds to see that the Provost, at least, screwed up.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a bit of confusions about what kind of an offer is being made to Buckingham. He resolutely (and correctly) defends the idea that Dean's should speak out against university policies that they disagree with.

The Saskatoon newspaper, The StarPhoenix reports that ...
(Busch-Vishniac says), ""We, frankly, blundered. That should never have happened. Tenure is certainly one of the values that every university in the world holds dear. That's as true here as is it is anywhere else and I have no excuse for what happened."

She promised that "people will be held accountable" for the decision, but did not say whether her own job is on the line. "That's for the board to decide," she said."
It's difficult to see how someone who truly believes that academic freedom is important could have made such a mistake. It sounds an awful lot like someone who didn't really believe in academic freedom but is backpedaling furiously in order to avoid being fired.

I think she should be fired because she has done enormous damage to the reputation of the University of Saskatchewan and she has lost the confidence of the faculty. She can't continue to govern under those circumstances.


  1. Really...?
    That must also mean that evolution is true if 2 leading "scientists" in the world agree on the mechanism of this fairytale.... ? I'm sorry to disappoint you....We have not seen it yet but it possibly exists in the minds of the wishful thinkers... they call themselves scientist but they believe in magic...

    1. Excellent response to the post at hand. Can't wait to read another once your meds kick in.

    2. So Quest, I gather you have come here to finally give your answer to the issue you yourself raised: what evidence you would regard as convincing for ape-human common ancestry. And whether you understand how evolutionary biologists infer this.

      And the answer is ... ?? C'mon, we're waiting.

    3. Pest, we answered your stupid chicken and egg question about the origin of life.

      But I've asked you 20 times how, exactly, you learned John Witton is in prison. You never answer. How?

    4. Joe and Dino-genes,

      "You have convinced me" .... Hehehe

      You are welcome.... ;)

    5. Start watchin about 5:50

    6. Quest, I braced myself and watched it all, but, to my disappointment, Tomkins said nothing about John Witton.

    7. The video of course does not discuss Quest's bizarre assertion that Jon Witton is in jail, and therefore that Quest could not be a Witton sock puppet. Case closed on that one.

      It consists of
      (1) Arguments that chimp/human similarity is Much Lower Than That, but without explaining what similarity there is between other apes and humans. However you measure the similarity, they are less close.
      (2) Arguments about telomere sequences at the point on human chromosome 2 that corresponds to the boundary of homology between two chimp chromosones. It never discusses the central fact, that the order of genes on human chromosome 2 corresponds to a block of genes from one chimp chromosome followed by a block from the other.
      (3) Stuff about long noncoding RNAs.

      It never discusses the main methods that evolutionary biologists use to infer common descent. Quest has never been willing to discuss this, and now he tries to fob us off on this video which does not discuss it either.

      But the video does tell us one thing -- Quest is a YEC. And YECs have zero credibility on any scientific issue. They reject all the evidence from geologists and astronomers for an Earth over 10,000 years old.

      If "Quest" wants to deny he is a YEC, he could do so straightforwardly. Bur as we know, Quest does not straightforwardly discuss anything.

    8. Wait, Pest posts a video and it doesn't answer how he knows Witton is in jail?

      I'm shocked. I really thought this time, he would answer the question.

      By the way, Joe Felsenstein has been elected to the US Senate.

      How do I know?

    9. Let me repeat the chicken (or chickens) scenario;
      You see, THE BIG JOE AND DINOGENES, they want the problem like me to go away.... Why..? They are supposed to have so much proof they were supposed overwhelm US ALL... What do the got...? The boys are so separate that they accuse me of being a YEC.. Why? I HAVE NEVER CLAIMED TO BE A CREATIONIST IN THE FIRST PLACE, why would they try to frame me.../ YEC....? ME...? ARE YOU TALKING TO ME...?
      Joe Frankenstein; get your new have failed... so miserably that I have secured a small fund for losers who have no arguments on the theme but continue to believe their shit.. YOU CAN actually qualify to win the main price; THE JERRY COYNE DECIVER PRICE...IT'S# 4
      1. Can proteins self-assemble in the the pi-soup? (no cell membrane)
      2. The reason why I ask is that proteins tend to "avoid" the connection" or an "attraction". So, what makes them so "loving" in a cell?
      3. It is not may question but my brother has been asking me this question for months. Since I have no answer, I thought I would ask you, since you are such a smart guy; you and Larry that is.

      "Enzymes are needed to produce ATP. However, energy from ATP is needed to produce enzymes. However, DNA is required to make enzymes, but enzymes are required to make DNA.
      However, proteins can be made only by a cell, but a cell can be made only with specific proteins. So, how is this ALL possible in view of evolutionary prospective?"
      4. Why are sooooooooooooooooooooooo blind....? I think I have the answer... but nobody wants to hear..

    10. "Quest" wrote, really losing it:

      Let me repeat the chicken (or chickens) scenario;
      You see, THE BIG JOE AND DINOGENES, they want the problem like me to go away.... Why..? They are supposed to have so much proof they were supposed overwhelm US ALL... What do the got...? The boys are so separate that they accuse me of being a YEC.. Why? I HAVE NEVER CLAIMED TO BE A CREATIONIST IN THE FIRST PLACE, why would they try to frame me.../ YEC....? ME...? ARE YOU TALKING TO ME...?
      Joe Frankenstein; get your new glasses.

      Now that's less than a denial: "I have never claimed to be ..."

      Well "Quest" cited a outrageously YEC video as authority, a video that was so loony it spent its first part arguing that maybe the pyramid-building Egyptians moved massive stone sculptures on wheels. (What's the weight going to be on those axles?).

      Does Quest care to actually, you know, like deny that he is a YEC?

    11. I agree... here is proof...

    12. Pest, how the $%&* did you learn Witton is in jail?

    13. Who made me YEC...? Is it a set up you just don't have arguments against mine...?

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  4. Why do you guys feed this incoherent troll?

    1. First, I'd really like to know if Witton is in jail and if so, is his cellmate larger than he is.

      Second, sparring practice. Creationism is not a "scientific controversy" and arguing with creationists is not at all like a scientific debate. So you must refine a totally different skill set.

      The situation here is common: creationist lies, gets caught lying, then changes the subject to something provocative, in hopes that we'll move on and "forget" he got caught lying. Most scientists have no preparation for that and NO counter-strategy. What counter-strategy do you suggest?

      As an experiment, I'm trying the counter-strategy where I catch creationists lying and then never move on, never let the subject be changed, just keep rubbing their noses in it. I'm testing it to see how well this strategy works.

    2. But wouldn't it be better to pick your battles? Match wits with someone who can write a coherent sentence? Who cares if he is Witton? The comments in nearly every recent post are almost unreadable because of this inane troll who thrives on attention.

    3. Larry already banned Pest for making threats, but his software has no ban function, so supposedly each comment from Pest must be manually deleted. I wish Larry were more vigilant about banning the already banned.

    4. Quest has not been banned. I am only deleting posts that are particularly offensive. Comments that are just stupid and/or irrelevant are not grounds for banning.

      I STRONGLY recommend that people not respond to such comments.

    5. So the posts from Quest that we are reading are only the ones that have survived the editorial process? I can't conceive of how stupid the deleted ones must be.

    6. Sorry Larry,

      I'm trying to be a "born again citizen" now.... I have seen some of the wrongs I have done....I will not change my stand of abiogenesis, for obvious reasons, but your willingness to discuss both sides of the spectrum make me
      want to make changes....

      You are still my hero....

      BTW: next time I write something offensive, just point that out and I will personally remove it....

    7. Pest, how did you learn that Witton is in jail?

  5. On topic - the Provost finally resigns.