An excerpt from argument for banning “fake science,” spurred, apparently, by the creation conference at Michigan State (which went off last Saturday, apparently):
The University of Kentucky was even less fortunate. In 2007, astronomer Martin Gaskell had applied for the directorship of a new observatory at the university. His application was turned down, and the position was given to someone with less training and experience, in part because Gaskell had given public lectures endorsing intelligent design and claiming that there was little or no evidence for evolution. Though the job was in astronomy and not biology, the hiring committee was justifiably wary of hiring someone who rejected major elements of modern science. As one biology professor told his astronomy colleagues, “even though a person might be adequate in biology, if they basically believe that the sun revolves around the Earth, we wouldn’t hire them.”
But Gaskell sued for religious discrimination. The University of Kentucky settled, agreeing to pay Gaskell $125,000.
The article is interesting, and characteristic of our times. In reality, the Gaskell case was a disgrace for the University of Kentucky, and they should be glad they could get off with paying compensation.
In the real, non-progressive world, both science paths that have proven fruitful and those that have not would at one time have seemed “fake science.”
Galileo’s defense of Copernicus surely seemed that way back when, in the actual circumstances, no one could know for sure whose thesis was correct. And the Earth-centred solar system had the massive weight of scholarly and public opinion, plus anyone’s common sense observation, on its side.
Pasteur’s insistence that spontaneous generation did not occur in nature went against what experts knew about microbial life forms, that they just “appeared.”
Today, Pasteur might not have been allowed to demonstrate his thesis before a science academy.
Shades of Mark Armitage! I remember a science writer informing me years ago that it would be impossible to find dinosaur soft tissue today.
Not so much impossible, it turns out, as that the guy who found it got fired for his religious beliefs.
Yet Isaac Newton was never fired for his off-the-wall religious beliefs.
Sorry, it’s no secret: You can have conformity or creativity; not both.
Note: The importance of Pasteur’s discovery is sometimes missed. It means that sterile procedure in medical and other science has a sound basis. If pathogens can really come into existence ex nihilo, why bother with sterile procedure? Indeed, when people were sure that was so, they didn’t bother with it. Today, it is simply assumed that a pathogen discovered in an operating theatre or on the ward was introduced. Possible sources are examined. No one holds that it just came to be, from nothing. Just think what a difference that makes to medicine…
Think what a difference self-satisfied smugness makes to the life of the mind. And then, please, someone, open a window…
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