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Baylor tenure controversy: Here’s a dollar, google me a scholar – and other news


Recently, Mark Bergin of World Magazine tried a novel approach to the Baylor tenure controversy:

Employing Google’s scholar-specific search engine, which limits results to academic journals, WORLD performed controlled searches for the names of each of this year’s 30 tenure candidates. In general, those faculty members receiving tenure have published with greater frequency since arriving at Baylor in 2002. And specific comparisons between individuals in particular fields reveal similar disparities.

However, Bergin is reluctant to simply leave the matter there – advisedly in my view.

A focus on publications alone tells against long term research that might turn up more substantial findings. Colleagues and department heads might be more aware of valuable longer projects.

And, as Frank Tipler has pointed out, many papers are cited by nobody at all, which implies that the authors published so as not to perish. Publications that nobody cites should not be equivalent to publications cited by several other research studies.

Considerations like these could be part of the reason why the faculty senate is unhappy that President Lilley overruled so many of their decisions.

Now, whether Lilley’s program for improving the university is a bad idea or whether he just hasn’t convinced enough people that it is a good idea, I don’t know. But an army without soldiers isn’t going anywhere. And that is what he has, now that the faculty senate has voted against him.

Reporter Bergin is not convinced that there is an anti-Christian purge afoot, as Bill has thought. I think these things are often difficult to be sure about. Traditional Christians may be less likely to support Lilley’s goal of emphasizing research over teaching. Then it becomes difficult to say whether a purge is aimed at traditional Christians, only that they will be well represented among the purgees. I call to mind a Christian friend who has struggled fiercely over the years, because the university valued only her research but she felt a strong commitment to teaching.

In a way, the conflict reminds me of the ID controversy. People sometimes report that the majority of the ID guys in North America are traditional Christians, as if that was insidious. But, of course traditional Christians take risks to defend evidence for design! And of course materialist atheists and Christian accommodationists oppose them.  Next time you want to surprise me, guys, tell me something surprising.

So there is no need to purge Christians as such; adopting uncongenial policies and positions (like being anti-ID)  does most of the job; a little bit of authoritarianism at key moments (like removing Prof. Bob Marks’s Web site) does the rest.  And it’s all hard to prove.

In the end, Lilley’s main problem is that he hasn’t sold his vision to the peasants. And he can’t fire the peasants. The next few months at Baylor should be most interesting.

Note: Bergin’s informative article is mostly paywalled, but $5 will get you eight issues of WorldMag.

Also, just up at the Post-Darwinist:

Pots vs. kettles: Dinesh D’Souza’s comments on animal rights ethicist Peter Singer make Ben Stein look bland. And he is getting LOTS of comments, too. (Next time I will remember to bring a feather to knock myself over with.)

The Spiritual Brain shortlisted for three Write! Canada awards

Phyllis Schlafly on the Expelled movie and why she thinks commentators hate the term “Darwinism”

Well-known Turkish creationist sentenced to jail – not ID-related, source says

David Warren on how animals differ from machines, and other topics, including bizarre fur seal sex

like removing Prof. Bob Marks’s Web site
Do you refer to the latest incident described at uncommondescent.com? sparc
In 2006, the university denied tenure to religion scholar Francis Beckwith, then a fellow at the intelligent design--advancing Discovery Institute. Beckwith succeeded in appealing that decision when his leading opponent bowed out of the controversy amid unrelated charges of academic fraud.
Last summer, Baylor administrators ordered that engineering professor Robert Marks shut down his evolutionary informatics lab, which researched the shortcomings of Darwinism.
earlier this year, the school's dean of libraries elected not to renew the contract of world-renowned scholar Stephen Prickett, a strong advocate for the Christian identity piece of Vision 2012.
But of course, these incidents had something to do with raising the "research bar, however clumsily, rather than removing committed Christians." JPCollado
But the overall picture suggests Baylor is simply raising its research bar, however clumsily, rather than removing committed Christians
Great. I love schools which are not committed to unhealthy a priori assumptions that disallow research opportunities with lots of potential, however controversial. Like evolutionary informatics, for example. JPCollado
For example, a Google scholar search for mathematics professor David Ryden produces just three published research articles over the last six years, while searches for his mathematics department colleagues Qin Sheng and Brian Raines produce nine and six articles, respectively. Accordingly, Sheng and Raines received tenure while Ryden did not.
So this means that Dembski, by compariosn, would have had a great chance for tenure, right? JPCollado
But an army without soldiers isn’t going anywhere. And that is what he has, now that the faculty senate has voted against him.
"If you think you're a leader, but no one is following you, then you're just going for a walk." russ

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