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Choosing Higher Educational Institutions:

A few loose thoughts, in response to the recent posts about this:

1. Most students, especially undergraduates -- even most smart and politically engaged ones -- generally know a little of the thinking in their own political camp, and less in the opposite camp. A few know a decent amount of the thinking in their own political camp, and a small amount in the opposite camp. All of them would therefore most benefit intellectually (all else being equal) from going to a place where they can hear important views from both sides, both formally in class and informally in interactions with classmates.

2. Entering undergraduates and law students should thus seek a place that is not only respectful of conservatives and libertarians, but (a) has a real mix of opinion among professors and students, and (b) has an intellectual and social climate that makes students and professors willing to speak out whether they are liberal, conservative, or libertarian. I suppose this puts me closest to Ilya, though I doubt that David or Orin would disagree with Ilya and me much on this.

3. I'm not sure about this, but I suspect that when people are entering a Ph.D. program, the matter is quite different. Here their work is likely to be much more closely and aggressively evaluated; and while in undergrad and law school you can just, if necessary, give the professor what he wants on the exam, doing that with your Ph.D. work is much more burdensome. I suspect that you would therefore want to go to a program where many on the faculty really respect the school of thought to which you belong (in the sense of thinking that it has a great deal of merit, even if they don't agree with many of its bottom-line conclusions), where some actually adhere to this school of thought, and where some strongly disagree with it and can thus help you improve your arguments.

Commenterlein (mail):
I agree with pretty much all of the above, and would add that the choice of major is almost more important for conservative undergrads worried about discrimination than the choice of university.

While I agree with most commenters on the previous threads that there is little actual discrimination against conservatives who argue their points well, there are differences across subjects. You are more likely to find a dogmatic leftwing professor who discriminates in, for example, Enlish Lit, AA Studies or Gender Studies than in Economics, Engineering, or Mathematics.

The truth is that the political persuasions of the professor and the students simply doesn't play any role at all in most subjects. Furthermore, most undergrads simply aren't into politics, and feel no desire to discuss politics with anyone, either inside or outside the classroom.
3.30.2006 1:55am
Alec:
I couldn't agree more about Undergrad. Studying economics at University of Chicago has opened up a way of thinking that didn't exist growing up and going to High School in Connecticut (not that either way of thinking about issues is right but both exist and ought to be considered).
3.30.2006 2:28am
llamasex (mail) (www):
My lord, are you people ruled by your politics. I might lean one way or another, but how I feel politically doesn't bleed into everything I do. It seems kind of sad not being able to separate yourself from the conservative label.
3.30.2006 2:30am
Public_Defender (mail):
Yes, students should look for a school that will respect their ideas. But don't mistake mindless validation for respect.

Sometimes conservatives have valid complaints about the academy, but sometimes they are just whining. There is, among some conservatives, an Al-Sharpton-like desire to be the victim.

In my law school, the property professor argued that "crummy housing is good for people with crummy incomes." The tax professor derided liberals who used the phrase "tax subsidy" (because the phrase assumed the money was the government's first). The corporate law professor held a debate about whether corporations should even be allowed to give to charity. The con law prof gave serious attention to the ideas in conservative dissents on the US Supreme Court (many of which later became law). The torts professor argued that "not every bummer is a tort." I could go on.

But conservatives called a class meeting because they said they felt oppressed by the "liberal" environment. In reality, they were just whining because sometimes their ideas were challenged. I wonder how these fainting flowers did once they entered practice.

Yes, some professors are overbearing, but my experience tells me that many conservative complaints about the academy are just victim-status-envy whining.
3.30.2006 4:20am
Public_Defender (mail):
As to law schools, a student is lucky if most of the professors disagree with his or her position. The ability to persuade people who are not inclined to agree with you is one of the most important skills a lawyer can have.

Using the feminist example from an earlier post, a student with strong feminist beliefs would be lucky to have those ideas constantly tested in law school.

As a liberal who argues in front of generally conservative judges, I am grateful to my conservative law school colleagues and professors. Making an argument that would have worked well under the Warren Court won't do my clients any good.

If a law school is biased against conservative ideas, conservative law students will benefit, and liberal law students will be the ones who lose out.

(sorry for the double post)
3.30.2006 4:45am
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Most students, especially undergraduates -- even most smart and politically engaged ones -- generally know a little of the thinking in their own political camp, and less in the opposite camp.

True of Lefties but not Righties. We are drenched in left-wing garbage from the get go. Certainly this was true 35 years ago when I started college. Perhaps less now with alternative media.

Commies could benefit from attending Hillsdale much more than I could have benefited from attending Berzerkly.
3.30.2006 7:20am
keatssycamore (mail) (www):

In reality, they were just whining because sometimes their ideas were challenged. I wonder how these fainting flowers did once they entered practice.


In my reality, they just continue whine when things don't go their way. "So the law's obviously not in my favor, but YOU work for Legal Aid, so you can't be right." Can't tell you how many times I've had one of these types (and I will admit the 'my thinking only consists of conservative dogma' type is rare, though not as rare as one might wish where I lawyer) challenge me, in ways much more personally insulting than the question David Berstein's girlfriend got back in College.
3.30.2006 7:28am
Smithy (mail) (www):
At this point, conservatives on campus are a persecuted minority, much the way African-Americans were 30 or 40 years ago. Steps were taken to rectify that, including special admissions rules and the creation of departments like African-American studies. Perhaps that is extreme in this case -- I'm not entirely comfortable with what would be tantamount to affirmative action for conservatives. But why not have classes in conservative studies? At this point, conservative thinking has been driven out of the academy for the most part, whether it's in science, literature, or economics. Why not have courses that challenge the liberal orthodoxy regarding the theories of evolution and of the big bang? Why not have economic courses that give supply side economics a fair hearing? I just can't see how this would hurt anyone, and it would go along way towards making campuses more diverse, both intellectually and in terms of the student body.
3.30.2006 9:12am
dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot:

a student with strong feminist beliefs would be lucky to have those ideas constantly tested in law school.


Actually, any person with strong feminist beliefs would be hard pressed to have those ideas tested at any institution. You are not going to find any institutional questioning of any political manifestation of one of the protected classes for fear of litigation... This applies to feminists, members of national or ethnic- identity organizations, etc...

That's not really a problem with the institutions themselves, but the legal reality of the "hostile environment"
3.30.2006 9:19am
Public_Defender (mail):
Actually, any person with strong feminist beliefs would be hard pressed to have those ideas tested at any institution. You are not going to find any institutional questioning of any political manifestation of one of the protected classes for fear of litigation... * * *
That was not my experience as a law student or undergrad. Dogmatic views of all stripes (especially mushy dogmatic views) were challenged vigorously.

Of course, the price of the right to criticize feminism is criticism from feminists. But if you can't take that, you don't belong in law school.
3.30.2006 9:31am
David Maquera (mail) (www):
I agree with Eugene's thoughts. I grew up in a very rural, conservative part of Michigan and was the product of a very strict religious home and secondary education system. Therefore, attending the University of Michigan as an undergrad (poli sci major) from 1987-1991 was quite an eye opening experience. There is no doubt my personal and political beliefs were challenged but in the end it made me evaluate my personal, political, and religious belief systems. Consequently, I think I am a more thoughtful conservative as a result of my undergrad experience at a liberal institution like U of M and better able to discuss with my peers why conservate ideology is better for this country than liberal ideology. Go Blue!!!
3.30.2006 9:45am
Shangui (mail):
At this point, conservatives on campus are a persecuted minority, much the way African-Americans were 30 or 40 years ago.

No. Conservatism is a set of idea that can be argued about and shown convincing or wanting. Ideas can have and can lack merit. People can change their political ideas and often do. Skin color is different in kind. Do you not see this?

Even if I disagree with them, professors and students on the left have logically based arguments about why certain conservative ideas are wrong, immoral, etc., just as conservative thinkings have similar arguments about left-leaning ideas. This situation is not analogous to the attitudes that kept African Americans out of many schools 40 years ago.

Why not have courses that challenge the liberal orthodoxy regarding the theories of evolution and of the big bang? Why not have economic courses that give supply side economics a fair hearing?

Do you really consider the consensus of 99% of the world's scientists to be "liberal othodoxy"? Do you think we should give equal time to theories of a flat earth and geo-centric universe? In an anthro or history of science class, yes, but not in astro-physics. As for supply-side econ., have you taken an econ. class at a college or university? They tend to teach the laws of economics and involve such things as math. Your view on what college in the US is like is so radically out of touch that there's just not much point in having the discussion.
3.30.2006 10:02am
dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot:

That was not my experience as a law student or undergrad. Dogmatic views of all stripes (especially mushy dogmatic views) were challenged vigorously.

Of course, the price of the right to criticize feminism is criticism from feminists. But if you can't take that, you don't belong in law school.


That was unclear of me... I hadn't consumed enough coffee yet to have any buisness trying to express myself...

My point was to differentiate academia from the Rest Of The World (which I sloppily referred to as "any institution")... While I agree that in school (UG and LS) it is a point of cultural pride to challenge ANY poorly-defended idea, once you escape into the real world of practice those kinds of challenges often don't fly... Challenging someone's feminist perspective in the workplace, even in a workplace where political and legal discussion is part of the daily grind, is a quick way to get yourself labeled anti-woman and a corporate liability...

On a side note, what is feminism? Is it a political distinction? A gender identity? An interest group? I'm not sure exactly what we're actually discussing here...
3.30.2006 10:34am
anon6:
I agree with Shangui's second point. Smithy, scientists in biology and physics teach what the weight of the evidence shows them; this happens to be evolution by natural selection in biology and the Big Bang (probably w/cosmic inflation)in physics. There is nothing political about good science, its just hacks like you who don't like the results, that politicize science.

Also, have you ever taken an university level economics class? I was an economics major in college, so I have taken many with various different professors, and I have two observations: 1) economics professors have faith in markets, and supply side economics does get a fair hearing in economics classes 2) economics professors tend to be conservative, given their faith in markets.

Finally, I think that "conservative" is being used to loosely hear. If by conservative you mean the beliefs libertarians or classical liberals argue for, then we are talking about a very thoughtful, respectable political philosophy. The important thing to note is that this is a belief system that comes from logical reasoning and argument, and is not immune to criticism. I think this is what most of the VC writers mean when they speak of "conservatives".

When people like Smithy use the word "conservative" they most likely mean it in the political sense--something akin to the modern day republican party. Modern day republicans are not conservative by libertarian standards (i.e. respectable standards), but rather by some set of unjustifiable beliefs that are held dogmatically in the face of criticism.

Politics and political philosophy don't mix, as odd as it sounds. Politics is all about zealotry, mindless groupthink. It leads to statements like: "Why not have courses that challenge the liberal orthodoxy regarding the theories of evolution and of the big bang?" Political philosophy is all about careful reasoning towards the best possible set of institutions and beliefs. It assumes very little and arrives at its conclusion based on reasoning and evidence.

So, no, there's not a lot of conservatives on most campuses if you mean conservative in the political sense, as I have defined it above, but this is because intelligent, thoughtful people would not agree with the ridiculous actions of the modern day republican party. There are plenty of conservatives on campus in the libertarian/classical liberal sense though.
3.30.2006 10:57am
anon6:
I said:

Finally, I think that "conservative" is being used to loosely hear.

I meant:

Finally, I think that "conservative" is being used too loosely here.

Whoops.
3.30.2006 10:59am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Why not have courses that challenge the liberal orthodoxy regarding the theories of evolution and of the big bang?

What on earth are you talking about. Teaching science is not conservative or liberal, it is science. The big bang are not "liberal orthodoxies", they are scientific orthodoxies backed up by 500 years of scientific advancement and freeing ourselves and our minds from mythology, superstition, and the restraints of orthodox religion. People have literally died and been persecuted for science and for the pursuit of knowledge.

I for one, will refuse to sit by if any attempt is made to introduce such nonsensical and dangerous ideas into our schools, especially at the university level. It is bad enough that people have been intimidated into not teaching evolution at the secondary level, but actually teaching these invalid alternatives as if they were anything other than nonsense is absolutely beyond the pale.

What harm will it do? It will make our universities the laughing stock of the entire world. It will ignore scientific and mathematical laws and replace it with faith, superstition, ignorance, myth, and fantasy.

I would love to go into my Mechanics of Materials test next week and say that a steel beam bends in a certain way because God made it that way, but that just ain't gonna cut it.
3.30.2006 11:19am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Anyone who goes into Law School and is worried about having their views challenged or feelings hurt better seriously reconsider whether they belong there.
3.30.2006 11:22am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

My lord, are you people ruled by your politics. I might lean one way or another, but how I feel politically doesn't bleed into everything I do. It seems kind of sad not being able to separate yourself from the conservative label.
Excuse me while I spew coffee all over my screen. If there is anything that describes the left it is that their politics "bleeds into everything [they] do." I am so sick of seeing leftist politics drip into everything. My wife took a "Music of the World" class, and in the midst of a discussion of Native American music, the professor launches into a diatribe about how the Native Americans respected the environment, unlike Christian Europeans, who just trashed everything for short-term profit. This is both historically inaccurate, and completely irrelevant to a music class.

My wife and I lots of these experiences of leftists using classrooms to engage in political bashing that was sometimes completely irrelevant to the class, or where it was so tangential to the topic that it was obviously just political indoctrination outside the professor's field of expertise.
3.30.2006 11:36am
Smithy (mail) (www):
If there is anything that describes the left it is that their politics "bleeds into everything [they] do." I am so sick of seeing leftist politics drip into everything. My wife took a "Music of the World" class, and in the midst of a discussion of Native American music, the professor launches into a diatribe about how the Native Americans respected the environment, unlike Christian Europeans, who just trashed everything for short-term profit. This is both historically inaccurate, and completely irrelevant to a music class.

That's outrageous. I hope you complained. Was this at an extension school of a university? If so, you might want to go to the David Horowitz web site that lets people list complaints about liberal professors.
3.30.2006 12:28pm
Shangui (mail):
That's outrageous. I hope you complained. Was this at an extension school of a university? If so, you might want to go to the David Horowitz web site that lets people list complaints about liberal professors.

And well you're at it, make Smithy even more happy by complaining about evolution being taught in your bio classes and the big bang being taught in astro-physics. But I'm betting that as an astronomy fan, DB has a lot more sense than that. Sorry Smithy!
3.30.2006 12:37pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


If there is anything that describes the left it is that their politics "bleeds into everything [they] do." I am so sick of seeing leftist politics drip into everything. My wife took a "Music of the World" class, and in the midst of a discussion of Native American music, the professor launches into a diatribe about how the Native Americans respected the environment, unlike Christian Europeans, who just trashed everything for short-term profit. This is both historically inaccurate, and completely irrelevant to a music class.



That's outrageous. I hope you complained. Was this at an extension school of a university? If so, you might want to go to the David Horowitz web site that lets people list complaints about liberal professors.
No, this was a regular class, taught by a full-time faculty member. At the time, Horowitz's web site did not exist (this was some years ago). And complaining to the university about this would have been equivalent to a concentration camp inmate appealing directly to Hitler about the inhumane conditions. University governance is either hard left or subscribes to an approach that is roughly, "We can't take any more flak from the leftists on the faculty, so we'll go along with them." Summers at Harvard was as close to confrontational and responsible university governance as it gets these days, and it sounds like Summers brought his own little personality quirks to the party as well.

Shangui writes:
And well you're at it, make Smithy even more happy by complaining about evolution being taught in your bio classes and the big bang being taught in astro-physics. But I'm betting that as an astronomy fan, DB has a lot more sense than that. Sorry Smithy!
It is certainly true that biology, properly taught, emphasizes what we know and don't know about evolution. Interestingly enough, the University of Idaho actually sent down an edict prohibiting the teaching of heresy in science classes. Now, it is pretty clear why. One of their microbiology professors, Scott Minnich, has written in defense of Intelligent Design. He has never taught about it in classes, nor has he attacked evolutionary theory in his classes.

I hope that this doesn't disappoint you, Shangui, but Big Bang is far less supported by evidence than evolutionary theory. Yes, we have the background radiation, and the universe had to have a beginning somewhere. But if you spend as much time reading about cosmology and astrophysics as I do, you start to realize how much of the current science in this area is speculative. There's been quite a bit of discussion of late in places like Astronomy--and this has been confirmed to me by people doing graduate work in this area--that string theory is untestable--the very criticism that some make of Intelligent Design.
3.30.2006 1:16pm
anon6:
"... string theory is untestable--the very criticism that some make of Intelligent Design."

String theory is untestable right now, due to our lack of the technology needed for testing it, but it should be testable eventually. Intelligent Design will never be testable. Furthermore, we have some good reasons to believe that string theory may be correct (the math works), but we have no reason to believe that ID is correct; on the contrary, we have lots and lots of evidence that would lead us to believe that ID is absolutely wrong and has no scientific basis.

Stop trying to mislead people into believing whatever weird psuedo-scientific principles you believe in.
3.30.2006 1:41pm
Shangui (mail):
I hope that this doesn't disappoint you, Shangui, but Big Bang is far less supported by evidence than evolutionary theory. Yes, we have the background radiation, and the universe had to have a beginning somewhere. But if you spend as much time reading about cosmology and astrophysics as I do, you start to realize how much of the current science in this area is speculative. There's been quite a bit of discussion of late in places like Astronomy--and this has been confirmed to me by people doing graduate work in this area--that string theory is untestable--the very criticism that some make of Intelligent Design.

And it if ultimately proves untestable than it should be dropped. But as has been pointed out, ID is untestable by definition. I'm not disappointed you say that there is a lot of speculation in these areas. That is my understanding as well. So long as you continue to feel that such speculations should be subject to rigorous testing and experimentation using the scientific method, then we agree (on this issue at least).
3.30.2006 1:48pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

String theory is untestable right now, due to our lack of the technology needed for testing it, but it should be testable eventually. Intelligent Design will never be testable. Furthermore, we have some good reasons to believe that string theory may be correct (the math works),
The article I was reading in the January issue of Astronomy (and confirmed by those who are working in the field) is that the only actual prediction that string theory has made--was off by 55 orders of magnitude--and a fair number of scientists are no longer confident that string theory will ever be testable.

but we have no reason to believe that ID is correct; on the contrary, we have lots and lots of evidence that would lead us to believe that ID is absolutely wrong and has no scientific basis.
Lots and lots of evidence to believe that it is "absolutely wrong"? That sounds like a religious statement to me. Look, I agree that ID has testability problems, and that's why it is properly understood as a critique of evolutionary theory, not a proper theory on its own.

Stop trying to mislead people into believing whatever weird psuedo-scientific principles you believe in.
The "weird pseudo-scientific principles" in which I believe:

1. If you can't reproduce it on demand, it isn't fact, but theory.

2. Theories are fine, because science isn't about ultimate truth, but about practical prediction. As one of my chemistry professors pointed out one day, while deep in a discussion of electron clouds, shells, subshells, "This all just a theory. There could be angels dancing on the heads of pins for all we know. But it lets us predict what's going to happen, and that's what science is all about--predicing what is going to happen."

Real scientists (as opposed to high school science teachers) are generally aware of the limitations of non-testable theories, and appropriately humble. Religious fanatics (and that includes some of those who argue that evolutionary theory is proven) get rather confused about the difference between theory and fact, because they are convinced that they have found Truth with a capital T. Be very wary of fanatics.
3.30.2006 1:53pm
Defending the Indefensible:
Clayton Cramer:
And complaining to the university about this would have been equivalent to a concentration camp inmate appealing directly to Hitler about the inhumane conditions.
Did you seriously just compare a university with a concentration camp?
3.30.2006 1:55pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

So long as you continue to feel that such speculations should be subject to rigorous testing and experimentation using the scientific method, then we agree (on this issue at least).
But criticisms of a theory do not need to testable or perfect to perform a useful function in both the research and teaching of science. This doesn't mean that a valid criticism of a theory requires you to throw out the theory--but it does mean a little more humility in the teaching of the theory is legitimate.

Evolutionary theory has changed in some rather substantial ways since Darwin as holes and flaws have been pointed out. Mutations, for example, explain the genetic diversity required for natural selection. Treating it as some sort of holy canon (the way that many biology teachers in junior high and high school teach it) is bad science education, as well as offensive to a very large minority of the population.

It is perfectly legitimate to have a paradigm into which you try to fit the data--but there are times when the dominant scientific paradigm becomes orthodoxy that stifles development. Uniformitarianism replaced catastrophism to explain geological change--and it became so stifling that when geologists first tried to explain the coulees of eastern Washington as the result of flooding at the end of the last Ice Age, the uniformitarian paradigm resisted that far too long.

A friend of mine was working on his master's in areology in the early 1980s, when everyone was trying to make sense of the Viking mission data. It became apparent that physical processes on Mars were dominated by catastrophism, not uniformitarianism, and this was a problem.

Gould's "hopeful monsters" hypothesis to explain the absence of transitional species wasn't new. Back about 1940, there was a Berkeley biology professor making much the same argument. But the orthodoxy that had developed in biology found this so disturbing, because it didn't fit their gradualist model, that he was effectively run out of the profession.
3.30.2006 2:04pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Defending. Of course he didn't. Don't be deliberately obtuse.
3.30.2006 2:05pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
And complaining to the university about this would have been equivalent to a concentration camp inmate appealing directly to Hitler about the inhumane conditions.

Sad but true, I suppose. That's what universities are today: the intellectual equivalent of concentration camps, a place where intellectual homogeneity is the ultimate goal.
3.30.2006 2:24pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
It is interesting that liberal scientists are so quick to embrace string theory -- which is not only untestable in general, but has also failed the few tests to which it can be subjected -- and simultaneously quick to dimiss creation science. Yes, yes, I realize that creation science may not meet your definition of science and I do see the point about that. But the theory of evolution is chock full of holes and creation science and ID are both excellent critiques of a theory that is, at best, flawed.
3.30.2006 2:27pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Defending the Indefensible:

Did you seriously just compare a university with a concentration camp?
Did you seriously not understand the analogy? Let's try this again, reducing it to a form that you can understand.

An apple is to an orange as a car is a truck.

So an apple is a car?
3.30.2006 2:31pm
anon6:
String Theory is an ambiguous term and could stand for any number of theories (M-Theory, Superstring Theory, etc.), so I'll leave the string theory semantics discussion at that; I will say though, that if string theory (all its variations) are proven untestable, it will likely be dropped from the scientific community, whereas ID will be held onto dogmatically by its believers. Physicists don't care whether nature works according to string theory or any other theory, they just want to find out how our physical universe works. ID (sic) theorists only want to find out how they can invoke God to explain natural phenomena.

You said: "Theories are fine, because science isn't about ultimate truth, but about practical prediction. As one of my chemistry professors pointed out one day, while deep in a discussion of electron clouds, shells, subshells, "This all just a theory. There could be angels dancing on the heads of pins for all we know. But it lets us predict what's going to happen, and that's what science is all about--predicing what is going to happen." "

Obviously its possible that there are angels dancing on the heads of pins, but its not very likely given what we have discovered about the world. Any thoughtful person knows that there's no such thing as absolutely certain knowledge. Keeping this in mind, there are things that are more likely to be the case, given the evidence we have, than others. Nowhere did I say that "evolution is proven", since scientists don't "prove" things; that's what mathematicians and logicians do. Scientific claims are guided by the weight of the empirical evidence. You could believe in ID based on blind faith and intuition, or you could believe in evolution by natural selection because it is based on mountains of empirical evidence. Go ask a "real scientist" if evolution is the best explanation that is supported by the evidence.
3.30.2006 2:33pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

But the theory of evolution is chock full of holes and creation science and ID are both excellent critiques of a theory that is, at best, flawed.
Sorry, but I find creation science to be a dreadfully poor critique. I've read quite a bit of creation science material over the years.

1. It is just about always written by people, at best, who are working outside their area of expertise. I've read too many works by mechanical engineering PhDs making such obvious mistakes about evolutionary theory that they jump off the page at me. (One immediately obvious exception is Duane Gish, who has a PhD in biochemstry.)

2. Many of the more interesting claims--fossilized cowboy boot--show a fundamental misunderstanding of the science involved--or are simply impossible to track down, such as the human footprints alongside dinosaur footprints.

3. Creation science is awash in a fundamental misunderstanding of the Bible--which is odd, since they are trying to defend the Bible. Even 19th century opponents of evolution knew better than to defend the Creation as 4004 BC, pointing out that the "begats" in the Old Testament were not intended to indicate father-son, but simply a descendant.

4. I have received far too many fundraising letters over the years from organizations that tell courts, "This is not religious--it is secular" while asking me for money to support their cause because it spreads the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Either position might be legitimate, but both combined means that they are either lying in court, or lying in their letters.
3.30.2006 2:38pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
I don't mean creation science as it pertains to the life on earth, but as it pertains to the creation of the universe itself. I agree that a great deal of what is written about life on earth from a creation science point of view isn't quite up to snuff.
3.30.2006 2:46pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Obviously its possible that there are angels dancing on the heads of pins, but its not very likely given what we have discovered about the world. Any thoughtful person knows that there's no such thing as absolutely certain knowledge. Keeping this in mind, there are things that are more likely to be the case, given the evidence we have, than others. Nowhere did I say that "evolution is proven", since scientists don't "prove" things; that's what mathematicians and logicians do.
Sad to say, many of those arguing for not even allowing discussion of the ID criticisms in classrooms insist that "evolution is proven." They use that phrase repeatedly, and insist that there is no serious question about whether it has been proven, not simply at the level of speciation, but at the macro level of phylum differentiation. For example, here. And here.

Scientific claims are guided by the weight of the empirical evidence. You could believe in ID based on blind faith and intuition, or you could believe in evolution by natural selection because it is based on mountains of empirical evidence. Go ask a "real scientist" if evolution is the best explanation that is supported by the evidence.
I agree that evolution is the best explanation supported by the avialable evidence. But some of the ID criticisms--for example, Behe's point about the irreducible complexity of the flagellum--raise serious questions. Simply declaring, "We don't have to answer those questions, or even seriously ask them" isn't good science. Showing students that this is not just a rote memorization thing, but that real science involves asking questions and trying to work through explanations is a good thing. The reactions of the "ID is evil" crowd suggest that someone doesn't have much confidence in the ability of students to weigh the evidence appropriately.
3.30.2006 2:48pm
Chukuang:
complaining to the university about this would have been equivalent to a concentration camp inmate appealing directly to Hitler about the inhumane conditions.

Did you seriously just compare a university with a concentration camp?
Did you seriously not understand the analogy? Let's try this again, reducing it to a form that you can understand.
An apple is to an orange as a car is a truck.
So an apple is a car?


Um, no. He said, "Did you...compare..." and that's exactly what you did. He didn't say that you said A is B, but rather that you said doing X in context A would be the same as doing Y in context B. That sure sounds to me like an comparison. And as you well know, bringing in Nazis in a case like this really isn't going to either help your argument or keep the discourse civil. Then you have people like Smithy saying "Sad but true, I suppose. That's what universities are today: the intellectual equivalent of concentration camps, a place where intellectual homogeneity is the ultimate goal." Yea, intellectual concentration camps. That's what they are. That makes so little sense as an analogy I won't even bother. Oh, what the hell. Do you mean that ALL US college students are conservatives that were brought there against their will and brainwashed by the liberal administration and not allowed to leave until they they have lost any shred of conservative thinking? And that 's being generous as an interpretation of your analogy.
3.30.2006 2:55pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Um, no. He said, "Did you...compare..." and that's exactly what you did. He didn't say that you said A is B, but rather that you said doing X in context A would be the same as doing Y in context B.
And that makes A the same as B? How?


That sure sounds to me like an comparison. And as you well know, bringing in Nazis in a case like this really isn't going to either help your argument or keep the discourse civil.
Civil discourse. That's a fascinating criticism from a leftist.


Then you have people like Smithy saying "Sad but true, I suppose. That's what universities are today: the intellectual equivalent of concentration camps, a place where intellectual homogeneity is the ultimate goal." Yea, intellectual concentration camps.
Clearly they aren't. The goal of concentration camps was not intellectual homogenity; it was extermination while getting some labor out of the victims. The goal of the larger German society was intellectual homogenity.

Do you mean that ALL US college students are conservatives that were brought there against their will and brainwashed by the liberal administration and not allowed to leave until they they have lost any shred of conservative thinking? And that 's being generous as an interpretation of your analogy.
No, that's not what I said, but it says little for your ability to read. If you don't agree with Smithy's claim, take that argument up with him. I don't agree with it. My point was that there is effectively no adult supervision at most universities (certainly not at Sonoma State) because universities are run by those with share the leftist mindset, or are afraid to challenge it. I was very clear on this. You chose to not read it accurately because it lets you feel superior--which is what being a leftist is all about--smug moral superiority.
3.30.2006 3:06pm
Chukuang:
Civil discourse. That's a fascinating criticism from a leftist.

I've been called many things. That's the first time I've been called "a leftist." Pretty funny.

And that makes A the same as B? How?

My whole point is that he did NOT say you said they were the same. He said you made a comparison. And you did. You do understand the difference, right?

No, that's not what I said, but it says little for your ability to read. If you don't agree with Smithy's claim, take that argument up with him. I don't agree with it.


Here I owe you an apology. I did not at all mean that you said these things, but that Smithy did by misreading your original analogy. This was my point about the Nazi analogies making for uncivil discourse. I was indeed less clear than I should have been and I can see why you misunderstood my intent.

But Mr. Cramer, you really need to stop throwing around "leftist" as a random insult. By point to Smithy was that that his analogy is ridiculous. There's nothing in my post that would indicated that I have any particular political point of view and in fact I'm not what you would probably consider a "leftist." For that you owe me an apology.

And I'm sad to say, that the left has no monopoly on "smug moral superiorty."
3.30.2006 3:30pm
Kathianne (mail):
Having refused to attend a 'required protest' for removing the Shah in 1975, I had to petition the head of the political science department at U of I to keep the grade I'd earned. I argued my right not to participate in an assembly I didn't wish to. It worked out alright, but I don't think that sort of compulsory assignment is correct. How often it happens today? I haven't a clue.

As for my children or students, I would hope their university professors would challenge them to think, not parrot back what the professors' points of view are. The most important point, that the students' political views are not weighed into their grades, but rather their ability to make logical arguments for holding their opinions.
3.30.2006 5:02pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

My whole point is that he did NOT say you said they were the same. He said you made a comparison. And you did. You do understand the difference, right?
I did not comapare a university to a concentration camp. I compared the similarity in viewpoint between the administration and the faculty to the similarity between the head of a government and the people that work for that government. You missed the analogy quite badly.

But Mr. Cramer, you really need to stop throwing around "leftist" as a random insult. By point to Smithy was that that his analogy is ridiculous. There's nothing in my post that would indicated that I have any particular political point of view and in fact I'm not what you would probably consider a "leftist." For that you owe me an apology.
So you aren't a leftist? Excellent. Just out of curiosity--why the interest in defending someone else's gross misreading of the analogy?

And I'm sad to say, that the left has no monopoly on "smug moral superiorty."
It has such a monopoly on college campuses, in my experience.
3.30.2006 6:18pm
Walk It:

I see some of the regulars are crying wolf in here again.

Haven't they read that story and figured out the meaning by now?
3.30.2006 10:30pm