Discovery Institute: Cognitive Collapse

WE HAVE IDENTIFIED the main problem of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). They can blog, but they can’t think.

For example, consider their latest blog article. It’s by Casey Luskin, our favorite Discoveroid: AAUP: No Faculty Loyalty Oaths Except to Darwinism. It’s only one paragraph long so here’s the whole thing, with bold added for Curmudgeonly emphasis:

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article reporting how the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) recently passed a resolution that “called on universities not to automatically terminate or refuse to appoint professors who refuse to sign a ‘loyalty oath.'” That sounds reasonable. But the same article explained that the AAUP hypocritically adopted a separate resolution against academic freedom bills in Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana because they “allow science teachers to critique ‘prevailing scientific theories.'” It seems that academic freedom for dissenting views is all the rage among the elite of academia—unless you want to use your academic freedom to question Darwin.

The brevity of the Discoveroid article leaves us wondering: What are they saying — it’s “reasonable” to refuse a loyalty oath, but somehow it’s not reasonable if “dissenting views” like creationism aren’t tolerated? The Discoveroids are okay with traitors on the faculty, as long as creationists are there too? What’s going on here?

Relax, your Curmudgeon has done the digging for you. The Discoveroid’s link takes us to the news blog of the The Chronicle of Higher Education, which describes itself as “the No. 1 source of news, information, and jobs for college and university faculty members and administrators,” where we find the article of interest to the Discoveroids: AAUP Weighs In on Hot-Button Academic Issues. That article says:

At its annual meeting here, the American Association of University Professors passed four resolutions on Saturday that deal with hot-button issues in academic labor, campus safety, the curriculum, and international relations.

Fine, we’re getting closer. Now what’s the scoop on loyalty oaths that Casey got upset about? That’s explained here:

One resolution calls on universities not to automatically terminate or decline to appoint professors who refuse to sign a “loyalty oath.” The AAUP’s action followed a controversy at California State University at Fullerton, which fired Wendy Gonaver, a lecturer in American studies, because she had refused to sign an oath required of all state employees. An agreement was subsequently reached to reinstate Ms. Gonaver.

They link to an article that requires a subscription to read, but as we understand it, all state employees in California, which includes the faculty at Gonaver’s school, are required to take an oath similar to the oath required by the federal Constitution. That’s the oath almost all Americans have taken at one time or another, even when registering to vote or becoming a notary public. The Govaner issue is discussed in this article from the Los Angeles Times: Ousted Cal State Fullerton teacher revises oath of loyalty. She was a Quaker, therefore a pacifist, and had problems promising to defend the US.

We suspect there were other problems with Ms. Gonaver that weren’t discussed by the Los Angeles Times, and she’s probably too politically exotic for our Curmudgeonly tastes, but that’s a side issue. All we need is a rough idea of the “loyalty oath” problem, as background for figuring out what got Casey and the Discoveroids all worked up.

Getting back to Chronicle of Higher Education‘s article about the AAUP’s resolutions, we learn:

Intelligent design and other permutations of creationist thought are the focus of a third resolution. The association urged legislatures not to pass laws that determine what kinds of theories and ideas can be taught in science classes. The resolution says that several states, including Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana, have recently taken up proposals that would allow science teachers to critique “prevailing scientific theories.” Those proposals, said the AAUP, are veiled attempts to allow the teaching of creationism.

That’s the whole thing. The AAUP, being university professors, are opposed to legislation like the Discoveroids’ misleadingly named Academic Freedom Act. And the Discoveroids, in the exercise of their own “critical analysis,” somehow see a contradiction here.

Now that we’ve unscrambled it, we can see that Casey’s blog article is saying, in effect: “Hey, how come those professors are tolerant of pacifist Quakers on the faculty, but not us creationists?”

The Curmudgeon’s answer, Casey, goes like this: First of all, what you Discoveroids are calling “academic freedom” has nothing to do with what other people regard as freedom. The Discoveroids’ idea of “academic freedom” is really a kind of intellectual affirmative action. It’s the intentional dropping of standards to allow scientific ignoramuses on university faculties to teach their “creation science.” That’s not freedom, it’s stupidity, and calling it “academic freedom” doesn’t fool anyone.

As for Casey’s attempt to point out a “conflict” between tolerance of Ms. Gonaver’s pacifism on the one hand, and no tolerance for creationists on the other, well, maybe Casey really doesn’t grasp the concepts. Let’s put it this way — There’s probably something of genuine academic value that a faculty member can understand and teach, regardless of being a pacifist Quaker, but there’s no hope at all for creationists.

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2 responses to “Discovery Institute: Cognitive Collapse

  1. Thanks for that! If I haven’t told you yet – your blog is fantastic!


  2. The Curmudgeon

    You’ve made the Curmudgeon blush. Lots of others can do this stuff, but they don’t because it takes too much time. Articles like this one are always more work than would seem necessary just by glancing at the original item being discussed. But when the underlying concepts are so poorly understood, some effort is needed to figure out and then explain what’s really going on and where the errors lie. Still, someone has to do it.