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A Note from the Canaries

Michael Egnor

2020 is turning out to be an American annus horribilis. After political turmoil in January we had a viral pandemic that killed a hundred thousand Americans and crashed our economy, destroying 40 million jobs. In its wake we’ve had civil violence on a scale not seen since 1968. It seems that our nation — our civil contract — is falling apart. Let us hope and pray it is not. 

Perhaps the most terrifying characteristic of this collapse is the precipitous loss of ordinary civility and ordinary conventions of interpersonal conduct. Diversity of opinion is not tolerated, and dissenters from the mob are routinely hounded out of their jobs. Groupthink is mandatory in many sectors of our society, particularly (ironically) in academia. Simply to speak up to question orthodoxy is to invite professional and even personal ruin. It is undeniable that there is a totalitarian flavor to this forced orthodoxy. 

Orwellian Science

For those of us in the intelligent design movement, this is not new. This emerging Orwellian society is just a grand version of the Orwellian science we ID folks have been dealing with for the past couple of decades. In science, and especially in evolutionary biology, there has been a progressive loss of ordinary civility and ordinary conventions of scientific conduct. Challenging Darwinian groupthink in the biology community — merely asking questions about the adequacy of Darwinian theory to explain all of life — is professional suicide. Diversity of scientific opinion is not tolerated, and dissenters from the Darwinian mob have been hounded out of their jobs. Simply to speak up to question Darwinian orthodoxy is to invite professional and personal ruin — subjecting Darwinian orthodoxy to an objective discussion of the  evidence is unthinkable in most public schools — and scientists — professional colleagues who should be devoted to academic freedom and open discussion — will testify that you should be silenced by legal force

Forced Darwinian orthodoxy was the first glimmer of a much larger project now gaining stride. We in the ID movement have been fighting censorship, mandated orthodoxy and professional destruction of dissenters for quite a while. Most Americans are well-intentioned and support the ID perspective, but have not been motivated to work actively for the cause of academic freedom. It is now clear that forced orthodoxy in science and in our society as a whole threatens all of us. ID proponents have been the canaries in this coal mine. Now that the spread of this cancer is obvious to all, we ask others in the scientific community and in America as a whole to join us in the struggle to preserve freedom of speech and thought and respect for diversity of opinion in our schools and universities and in our nation. 

Photo credit: Andreas P. via Unsplash.

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

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academic freedomannus horribiliscensorshipCOVID-19Darwinian orthodoxydiversityeconomyevolutionary biologyfree speechintelligent designOrwellian sciencepandemicpublic schoolsUnited Statesuniversities