China’s professors cautioned against taboo topics

JISHOU, HUNAN — Beijing’s new leadership has not wasted any time in keeping China’s academics on a short leash. There is now a list of seven forbidden topics for the classroom. They include mistakes made by the Communist Party, freedom of the press and universal rights, according to the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong.(link) I haven’t about it personally yet. It seems to be targeted at outspoken Chinese profs.

Iowa ‘academic freedom’ bill dies a quiet death 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Yet another attempt to weasel creationism/Intelligent Design into public schools has died after an “academic freedom” bill failed to leave a subcommittee in the Iowa legislature yesterday. The bill purportedly would have protected instructors from punishment or job loss if they presented “scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding chemical and biological evolution.” In fact, it was a ploy to enable suitably minded instructors to teach creationism or ID alongside evolutionary theory. Wording that is almost identical appears on a web page sponsored by the Discovery Institute, a pro-ID “thinktank.” Full details are at The Panda’s Thumb. Lest you think the bill might have had merit, allow me to provide a brief introduction to “creation science.” ID is just a variation of creationism, accepting an older age of the universe. Creationism holds that: The account in Genesis is literal and true. God created everything in six days, about 6,000 years ago. Before Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, all animals were vegetarians, death was non-existent, and predation/parasitism were unnecessary. God got pissed at Adam and Eve, and that wily serpent in the Tree, and cursed ...

Finally, a science-related post — Iowa’s anti-evolution bill 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Since a member of my immediate family will soon be moving to Iowa, I have the perfect excuse to blog about a proposal in that fine state to ensure “academic freedom.” On the face of it, “academic freedom” would sound like a good thing, but in today’s world of newspeak, this kind of “academic freedom” is shorthand for “let’s allow the public schools to teach creationism or Intelligent Design ideas alongside the scientific theories of the Big Bang and evolution.” Similar bills have been proposed in several other — mostly Bible Belt — states, and all have the same chance of success. None — except of course in Louisiana, where one actually passed. These bills are merely a veiled attempt by Christian kooks to subvert the US Constitution (and proper science education) by suggesting that creationism and ID are really scientific theories, not religious ideas, and therefore should be taught as valid alternatives to evolution. Trouble is, the Supreme Court ruled decades ago that creationism was religious in nature, and cannot be taught in public schools, and in 2005, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that ID was also religious in nature, meaning the Dover, Pennsylvania, school ...

Academic freedom or academic tomfoolery? 1

The Ben Stein movie, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” champions academic freedom, purporting to demonstrate how faculty who believe in Intelligent Design or Creationism are being forced from their jobs by some kind of “evolutionist” hegemony. The movie, which I have not seen, supports the opinion that someone who does not accept the theory of evolution cannot debate or question the theory in the classroom without fear of reprisal. The rights of anti-evolution faculty and students must be protected, the movie’s creators claim. It’s another version of the “teach the controversy” canard that IDists and creationists have been passing around for the last few years. First, they create a false controversy (many people doubt evolution is valid). Second, they contend that “evolutionists” are forcing this “controversial” theory down students’ throats. Then, they insist that other theories must be given “equal time” somehow in the classroom to give students a full education. This strategy to introduce ID and creationism in the public school classrooms failed miserably in Dover, Penn., after a federal judge (a Republican appointee) ruled that ID was just another form of creationism, that is, it was religion. Therefore, he said, ID cannot be taught in a public school without ...
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