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PZ Myers supports academic freedom for Marks

PZ Myers of Pharyngula has stood up on the side of academic freedom at Baylor University for Robert Marks, II.

Baylor episode is getting wider circulation Posted on: September 4, 2007 3:07 PM, by PZ Myer
“The story of the Robert Marks debacle has now made the pages of The Chronicle of Higher Education. If the account is accurate, I’m going to do something you’ll only rarely see: I’ll take the side of the creationist. . . . The problem is that Baylor was more than a little ham-fisted in intruding on Marks’ academic freedom. I categorically reject Marks’ whole philosophy and I’d probably call him delusional, but … it is the professor’s job to talk freely about wacky ideas if he wants. A web page that can be shared (and laughed at) is a reasonable part of the commitment to public communication, and I don’t think Baylor should restrict it. Even if the professor is a bit of an embarrassment, and the subject is a sore spot for the university. . . .”
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PZ Myers has previously demanded: “The IDists love to quote me, because I am rather militant in my opposition to their lies. . . .The only appropriate response should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing of some teachers, many school board members, and vast numbers of sleazy, far-right politicians … I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots.”

Were Myers to fully support objective science, would he not insist on the most rigorous examination of Evolution to ensure that it is the most robust parsimenous theory possible, without even the perception of a flaw? Would he not welcome the strongest critique Marks could make? Who knows, Myers may yet affirm our full unalienable rights of speech, religion and academic freedom as preserved by the First Amendment, with equality for all – even for theories diametrically opposed to his.

Gentlemen, Start your engines – and lets make level the playing field so that the best theory wins.

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14 Responses to PZ Myers supports academic freedom for Marks

  1. “Gentlemen, Start your engines – and lets make level the playing field so that the best theory wins.”

    DLH, you must be quite an optimist.

  2. Meyers: “I’d probably call him [Marks] delusional… A web page that can be shared (and laughed at)… …the professor is a bit of an embarrassment, and the subject is a sore spot for the university. . . .

    What a devastating critique of Dr. Marks’ (and Dr. Dembski’s) work on evolutionary informatics. ;-)

  3. magnan
    Why not? If we expect the worst in people, we might be disappointed.

    However, if we hold the highest standard of excellence in science before people, there is the potential that they will begin to move towards that standard.

    True science is an application of:
    * “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Pvbs 27:17;
    * “. . . to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” Pvbs 25:2; and
    * “. . . rebuke a wise man and he will love you.” Pvbs 9:8b.

    A true scientist would welcome Marks’ research as an excellent opportunity to test theories and as a challenge to do better. Other responses but reflect on that person’s character. (Thus it is also prudent to temper optimism. Some examples are described in Pvbs 9:7-9.)

  4. I’d be interested to see the source code of some of PZ’s software engineering efforts, in order to adjudicate his expertise in this area.

    And please don’t tell me that one needs to be an expert in evolutionary biology in order to adjudicate the claims made in defense of the creative powers of Darwinian mechanisms. Engineering is hard science. Darwinism is mostly storytelling and speculation about the unobservable and unrepeatable past, based on hopelessly outdated 19th century conjecture about how stuff works.

  5. “it is the professor’s job to talk freely about wacky ideas if he wants.”

    No doubt referring to the wacky ideas quoted on the opening page of the web site by such delusional characters as John Maynard Smith, Leon Brillouin, Michael Polanyi, Wolpert and Macready and George Gaylord Simpson!

    I’d like to echo GilDodgen’s call for a good examination of PZ’s software. Maybe that’s what he should be worried about.

  6. People usually do laugh at or mock what they cannot/ do not understand.

  7. Who will lay odds that PZ doesn’t even know how to work on cars?

  8. Seems to me like PZ has had a scare put into him by Ben Stein. This is a highly unusual (and quite transparent) response by this militant atheist.

  9. “Who will lay odds that PZ doesn’t even know how to work on cars?”

    LOL!!! I thought the same thing born! I’d bet money he couldn’t replace an alternator if his life depended on it.

  10. When PZ Myers defends the right of professors to communicate freely he’s basically saying “There but for the grace of God go I”. He must have been looking in a mirror when talking of being an embarrassment to a university. It’s a wonder Myers can find the time in between ranting on the internet to teach any classes or otherwise fulfill his employment obligations. I suspect he could easily remove and replace an alternator on a car. Stupidity isn’t one of his character flaws. What I don’t think he knows how to do is remove the certainty chip from his shoulder and replace it with objectivity.

  11. What ticks me off is that PZ, of course, is free to teach about ID…and does. But, if a teacher is sympathetic to ID and actually addresses it without the politically correct spin, they’re taken straight to court.

    If I lived in MN, I’d take PZ’s intro. to biology course just for kicks. I’d control myself…I swear…though, I’d probably have down several sedatives before each class.

  12. whoops..have TO down several…[typo]

  13. Well, well, perhaps PZ is mellowing out a bit :)

  14. DLH: ” If we expect the worst in people, we might be disappointed.

    However, if we hold the highest standard of excellence in science before people, there is the potential that they will begin to move towards that standard.”

    The problem is that we actually get the kind of intolerant abuse and social excommunication that is to be expected from indeed assuming the worst in (these) people. Kind, mild words and gentle reasoned argument gets nowhere with some people.

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