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Anonymity: Its strange rewards

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I do not usually bother with anonymous posts at the Post-Darwinist, but some strike me as interesting.

Take this one on ID-friendly law prof Frank Beckwith’s tenure case:

Beckwith is not a law professor. He does not have the requisite education to be a law professor. He has no juris doctorate. Therefore, he can only teach at the undergraduate level. And even then, he can only teach the “philosophy of law.” Not law itself.

Now, at the time, I wondered why the hoo-haw a person so knowledgeable about the state of law teaching should wish to send me an anonymous post. But people who detract from the reputation of others – particularly those others who may be their superiors in a variety of ways – often resort to anonymity, and very advisedly if I may say so.

Anyway, I looked into the matter. Here is what I found:

bum 1) Five years is the average time a professor spends at an institution before being tenured. Only about 7 in 10 tenure track professors in the U.S. ever get tenured no matter how long they wait. This implies there must be a large number of professors that are awarded tenure in fewer than the 5 year average. Moreover, tenure is in a large part meant to protect academic freedom and Beckwith's positions on several issues are politically controversial, sensitive, polarized, and strongly held by all involved. Beckwith thus NEEDS tenure more than say, a chemistry professor, to protect his employment from politically motivated dismissal. 2) Generally professors denied tenure have a year of protection to secure employment elsewhere as denial in the past was effectively taken as a dismissal. Denial today is much more common and not so apt to be construed as a pending dismissal. Without a contractual obligation with the university for at least another year of employment it's hard to say if he would be accorded another chance or not. 3) When confidential information makes it way outside the confidentiality bounds the obvious answer is that someone leaked it. DaveScot
Ms. O'Leary: There are some questions about this affair I have not been able to answer with Web research. Perhaps you can help me. 1. Why did Beckwith apply for tenure after only two years at Baylor? 2. Would Beckwith have lost his job if he had been denied tenure, or would he have had at least one more opportunity to apply? 3. All aspects of tenure review are confidential. Assuming that confidential information about the proceedings made its way into the media, how did that happen? Were anonymous sources corroborated as they are in political reporting? DharmaBum
I'm not quite sure why anonymity is the headline issue here. (There are many valid reasons why someone may post anonymously, or it may simply be a personal preference.) But I am impressed with Denyse's research refuting the unfounded claims of the poster. sagebrush gardener
From Denyse: Yes, I had assumed it was a joke. In any event, my own take on the situation is that Beckwith was not tarred primarily for being sympathetic to ID folk (not the same thing, of course, as averring that a given ID hypothesis must be true) but for a clear pro-life stance. In the context of law studies, I'm guessing that would rattle more chains than ID. O'Leary
Marcos, Yes, it's a joke. Douglas
Hey Denyse. Look the comment from "Douglas J. Bender" in your blog. Seems like to some people "the state of law teaching" is quite irrelevant: "Yes, but as someone who supports Intelligent Design, none of his education or credentials count for anything. I imagine Washington University in St. Louis is a hot-bed for anti-science drivel and pseudo-intellectual railings. Give me uneducated, untrained, and unintelligent, but devoted and certain, Evolutionists any day over the likes of Dr. Beckwith." I hope it's a joke. I really really do. Marcos

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