Adam Perkins, King’s College London lecturer in Neurobiology of Personality, was scheduled to deliver a talk at his institution. But King’s College cancelled the event because they considered it too “high risk.” What was he going to say that was so “risky” that he needed to be shut down?
He starts off with a bang. “We need free speech in science because science is not really about microscopes, or pipettes, or test tubes or even Large Hadron Colliders. These are merely tools that help us to accomplish a far greater mission, which is to choose between rival narratives, in the vicious, no-holds-barred battle of ideas that we call ‘science’.”
Perkins makes an interesting reference to Darwinian evolution. Although one cannot deduce whether or not he’s a critic, and it would be safe to assume not, it is nonetheless interesting that he chose to include natural selection as a subject where scientific “argument” and “debate” are “allowed.” More.
Well, if Perkins does not want Darwinian evolution to continue to be a dogmatic religion of science, rather than a science, he had better be prepared to allow scientific “argument” and “debate” about it.
Perkins reflects on the episode personally here.
Discovery Institute has started a new website called Free Science in response to events in recent years:
Up until 2013, physics professor Eric Hedin taught an interdisciplinary honors seminar at Ball State University (BSU) called Boundaries of Science.
This was not a straight physics or cosmology class, but an elective interdisciplinary course designed to “emphasiz[e]… the relationships of the sciences to human concerns and society,” and it explored scientific evidence for intelligent design, among other topics related to science and faith. The course bibliography included materials from scholars who both supported and disagreed with intelligent design. These individuals spanned the faith spectrum. Hedin had prepared the class in accordance with university regulations through the usual processes.1
However, biologist Jerry Coyne and the Freedom From Religion Foundation caught wind of this and complained in a letter to the president of BSU, accusing Hedin of proselytizing and teaching Christianity. Their sources were anonymous complaints found on RateMyProfessor.com, which has no verification for whether a reviewer actually took a Professor’s courses or not. But comments about Hedin’s class submitted to BSU by his actual students painted a far different picture.
Violating its own procedures, BSU appointed a special ad hoc committee stacked with hostile faculty to investigate Hedin. Despite receiving a petition signed by more than 7,000 people urging BSU to defend Hedin’s academic freedom, the university ultimately cancelled Hedin’s course. More.
For whatever reason, free inquiry is no longer considered an important characteristic of universities. Ask Bret Weinstein how interested his students were in learning biology as opposed to nearly assaulting him over campus politics he was trying to avoid.
There is a critical difference between free speech in politics and free speech in science. Political theory may not include the right to say what one thinks. Governments can last a long time without it, given enough informants, thugs, and lackeys.
But science simply cannot function as such if no one is allowed to question the status quo. Constant questioning is integral to the discipline. And one certainly cannot allow current stakeholders to control which questions may be asked.
See also: Why science needs free speech
“Erased” paleontologist Bechly gets support from Science and Health Council
Michael Ruse: Christianity and Darwinism as rival religions