Sometimes you run across something so head-shakingly wrong that you have to ask yourself, where did they come up with that? Take this editorial today in the Arizona Daily Wildcat for example. Upon hearing the basis for the new movie “Expelled,” student columnist Taylor Kessinger actually calls for more academic persecution to rain down upon ID proponents:
On the other hand, does science discriminate against proponents of intelligent design? Well, sure, but only in the same sense that a university discriminates against bad students or the stock market discriminates against people who make poor financial decisions.
If anything, the problem is that there isn’t enough discrimination against this idea. (emphasis added)
Kessinger discounts any claim that professors deserve academic freedom by asserting that “freedom of speech doesn’t protect the rights of professors to make claims with no scientific backing without repercussions. Universities don’t stand for professors who waste funds and time researching astrology, parapsychology or other pseudoscientific ideas, and they never should.”
There are two false assumptions under which Kessinger is operating here, and they’re leading him further from the truth and rational discussion than he surely would want. To that end, we’ll do him the favor of pointing out his error. Hopefully his youth will help him overcome his embarrassment and win out over any inclination to intellectual laziness in relying on, say, Wikipedia to do his research for him.
His first mistake is in believing that design proponents who face academic persecution deserve what they get, so to speak. It’s tragic that this discrimination occurs against such renowned and respected scientists as Guillermo Gonzalez, but the tragedy is compounded by the ignorance which leads students to think it’s OK when views outside the consensus are punished — not for (as Kessinger seems to think) being taught in the classroom or taking away funds from other research, but for merely being advocated outside of the university.
Sadly, Kessinger is not the only student who has been taught that it’s good and entirely appropriate to discriminate against intelligent design supporters. I once told a good friend of mine in college about a professor I knew who lost his job over his support of intelligent design. Her response? “Silly ID people — that’s what you get.” Upon further examination, she admitted that she didn’t know much about intelligent design, just what her professors taught her — that it was merely a negative argument against Darwinism without any scientific research.
This second misapprehension is what students are being taught by many Darwinist professors about intelligent design, and this is why some actually support persecuting ID proponents. Much like my friend, the author of this editorial was told somewhere along the way that “[i]ntelligent design simply asserts that structures like the human eye and bacterial flagellum couldn’t possibly have formed by random chance, so an intelligent designer is needed.”
Nevermind that this is not the definition used by proponents of intelligent design. What we have here is the next generation’s inheritance from the likes of Eugenie Scott and PZ Myers, filtered on down to local professors who teach their students to ignore the truth about intelligent design. This ignorance becomes even more obvious in the editorial’s conclusion, which laughably challenges ID proponents to “define intelligent design in unambiguous terms [and] outline exactly what the theory predicts and explain how it can be tested.”
Gladly. Anyone who cares to ask an actual design proponent will hear a clear definition along the lines of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Is that still too ambiguous? Maybe you should check out some of the peer-reviewed ID research. Oh, and you wanted some predictions, right?