A lesson on how to talk to sleazy reporters, and more on the Hedin case

UPDATE: More coverage of the Hedin case at

San Francisco Chronicle

Inside Higher Education 

Secular News Daily


During the Eric Hedin incident (the Ball State University professor who proselytizes about Jesus in his science class), I was contacted by  Macaela Bennett, a reporter at the Campus Reform site.  She wanted to talk to me about my views on Hedin and his class, and at first I assented. But over the years I’ve learned that, when I get such an inquiry, I should check out who the reporter is working for.  And some quick inquiry revealed that Campus Reform, which bills itself as having a noble mission, is actually a right-wing rag dedicated to promoting conservatism and exposing what they see as rampant liberal bias on campuses. But you wouldn’t know that from their mission statement:

Campus Reform, a project of the Leadership Institute, is America’s leading site for college news.

As a watchdog to the nation’s higher education system, Campus Reform exposes bias, abuse, waste, and fraud on the nation’s college campuses.

Our team of professional journalists works alongside student activists and student journalists to report on the conduct and misconduct of university administrators, faculty, and students.

Campus Reform holds itself to rigorous journalism standards and strives to present each story with accuracy, objectivity, and public accountability.

More about those “rigorous journalism” standards in a second. The “Leadership Institute,” however, is a conservative organization. As Wikipedia notes:

The Institute was founded in 1979 by conservative activist Morton C. Blackwell. Its mission is to “increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists” and to “identify, train, recruit and place conservatives in politics, government, and media.”. . . While the Institute does not provide instruction in philosophical conservatism, it does encourage its graduates to read classic conservative authors like Edmund Burke and “classical liberal” authors like Frederic Bastiat, as well as more modern conservative thinkers including William F. Buckley Jr., Russell Kirk, Barry Goldwater, and libertarian thinkers such as economists Milton Friedman and F. A. Hayek.

And you can get an idea of what Campus Reform is about by reading their tabloid-style (and ugly) front page, which shows a definite conservative slant.

Based on this, my limited time, and my view that the site lacked objectivity, I decided to back out of the interview, suspecting that my words would be used against me in some kind of defense of Hedin’s right to teach intelligent design. I wrote an email to Bennett saying this:

I’m sorry, but I’ve checked out your website, and I find that Campus Reform is dedicated to providing resources for conservative students.  After perusing the articles and their content, I do not think that you will do an objective job of writing this article, for that will not comport with your organization’s mission. In fact, I can guarantee that you’ve already decided to defend Eric Hedin and impugn my opinions about his unconscionable mix of science and religion.

So I will not talk to you, and none of this email is to be made public or for publication.

Jerry Coyne

Bennett then went ahead and wrote her story, taking my quotes from my website and an inteview I did with the Muncie (Indiana) Star-Press.

Campus Reform added this headline to the story:

Picture 4

That seemed a bit tabloid-y to me, and a distortion of what I said, as if I equated the harms of creatoinism with the mass killing of the Nazis. In the meantime, the Campus Reform reporter had written to the  News Office of The University of Chicago, asking them to comment on my comparison between Holocaust denial and creationism. Here’s her email:

From: Macaela Bennett
Date: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 11:29 AM
Subject: Comment on Professor Jerry Coyne

I would appreciate a comment on behalf of the University of Chicago regarding Professor Coyne’s comment in reaction to Ball State teaching a “Boundaries of Science Class” in which he compared teaching creationism to denying the Holocaust.

Thanks for your time,
Macaela Bennett

I can’t see what purpose there was for them to write to my “bosses” except to make me look bad, using a comparison that wasn’t what it seemed to be. Fortunately, the University of Chicago wasn’t about to get involved in this, and, as Campus Reform noted, “UC administrators did not respond to Campus Reform’s requests for comment on the incident.”

I then wrote back to Bennett, explaining what I meant by the comparison between creationism and Holocaust denial, which was this:  teaching creationism in a science class is teaching lies to students, and is equivalent to teaching Holocaust denial in a European history class. I was concerned that the headline could be read—and I suspect the paper intended it this way—as implying that I thought the harms of teaching creationism were equivalent to the harms of the Holocaust. I don’t, of course.

Angered at Bennett’s attempt to go over my head to my own university, I told her to not contact me further, adding again that nothing I wrote in the email was for attribution or publication.

That request was completely ignored, and the “Campus Reform staff” (what happened to the reporter? ) then produced another article with this logo on the front page:

Picture 3

The article goes on to explicitly quote from the emails I’d written Bennett—the ones that I asked her not to quote. I’ve talked to lots of reporters over the years, and when I say something that I don’t want quoted, I always say “that’s not for publication” right afterwards, and every reporter has respected that. Every one, that is, except Bennett. Campus Reform said this (my emphasis):

Coyne followed up that email with a second email in which he called Campus Reform’s story “distorted” and objected to reporter Macaela Bennett’s decision to request a comment from his employer, the University of Chicago (UC).

“Contacting my University is absolutely beyond belief,” he wrote. “You should be ashamed of yourself. What you ‘do your best’ at is ideology, not reporting. Your behavior comports exactly with what I’d expect for a reporter from Campus Reform.”

Despite a request from Campus Reform, UC administrators declined to comment on Coyne’s remark.

Coyne ended both emails by demanding his comments remain off the record.

“Do not contact me any more–I mean it!” he wrote at the end of the second email. “And none of what I’ve written here or previously is for quotation or attribution.”

Without a specific arrangement in place, Campus Reform’s considers all correspondences between sources and reporters to be on the record.

Well, I stand by what I said, and am not at all embarrassed by their publishing my remarks. But I was surprised that, for the first time, stuff I’d asked to remain off the record had been published. Contacting my University’s press department, they said told me that technically Campus Reform could publish what I said without a prior agreement, but that that this practice was borderline.  The lesson, for me and all of us who talk to reporter, is this:

Do not talk to a reporter without him/her agreeing in advance—before you say a word—that stuff you want off the record will remain so. If they don’t agree, be aware that anything you say, even if you ask for it not to be published right after you say it, is fair game for publication.

At any rate, I’ll have nothing more to do with Micaela Bennett and Campus Reform, whom I consider sleazy and unethical. They can do all their reporting without any comments from me. And I’ve learned something about unprincipled journalists with an agenda. So much for “objective” reporting!


In other Hedin-related news, the Discovery Institute has decided to make him a martyr, and has started a petition (I won’t link to it; it’s easy to find) to defend him for teaching intelligent design. It says this:

“We, the undersigned, urge the administration of Ball State University to support Prof. Eric Hedin’s academic freedom to discuss intelligent design and related issues in the classroom. We call on you to reject demands by the Freedom from Religion Foundation to censor or punish Dr. Hedin for exercising his right to free speech.”

They don’t mention that Hedin’s “punishment” (if he gets sanctioned at all) is not for exercising his right to free speech, but for abrogating the right of his students to be free from Christian proselytizing in a public university, and, especially, their right to be taught real science in a science class without learning about Jesus and discredited science instead.  The Discovery Institute also has a few choice words about the ignorance of yours truly, and accuses Ball State of letting Hedin “twist in the wind” as the investigation of his course continues.

Well, since I know the Discovery Institute reads this website, searching for choice morsels to use against me, let me ask them this: where is the positive research program on Intelligent Design that you once promised us was “right around the corner”? Where are all those peer-reviewed papers substantiating the need for a “designer” (one whom you all know is the Christian God)?  Why are all your views published in books and not the scientific literature?

In their hearts, ID advocates know that they’ve failed to come up with the evidence they need to substantiate their views, and so they’re forced instead to defend teaching creationism in schools, just like their forerunners Duane Gish and Henry Morris.  They are absolutely pathetic.


Finally, over at EvolutionBlog, my friend Jason Rosenhouse has weighed in in the Hedin case. While he finds Hedin’s course a religously-based incursion into science, he adds that Hedin’s proselytizing is “arguably unethical” and should be taken into account during promotion and tenure.  But he also feels, as do P. Z. Myers and Larry Moran, that Hedin should be allowed to continue teaching his Jesus-infused science course:

As bad as this course appears to be, trying to shut him down would be even worse. When the creationists start arguing that it’s a first amendment violation for a biology department to teach about evolution, we want them to be laughed at. I think it’s better just to glare at him in faculty meetings, and let him teach his course.

I disagree. There are no First Amendment grounds for teaching evolution in a science class; there are First Amendment grounds, or so I think, for prohibiting teaching Christian views in a public university’s science class. And I certainly think that, freedom of religion aside, Hedin’s course should be shut down as a course for which students can get science credit, as it’s simply not what it purports to be. It might be reconfigured as a philosophy class, but even then it would, in its present structure, be one-sided and an embarrassment to Ball State.

Although Hedin and the university defend his course by saying that it presents several sides of an issue in a way that will stimulate student thought, they’re clearly wrong: the course gives a one-sided view of the universe as reflecting the actions of a Christian god. There are no readings by those who deny God’s involvement in biology or physics: people like Sean Carroll, Victor Stenger, Steven Weinberg, or Larry Krauss. Nobody at Ball State has even attempted to answer that objection.

As for this course not violating the First Amendment, it’s not so clear to me.  I’m not a lawyer, and neither are most of the people who say that public universities are exempt from First Amendment restrictions that apply to public grade schools or high schools. It would be interesting to see this issue adjudicated, as I don’t think it really has been—certainly not by the U.S. Supreme Court. But there are lower court decisions implying that public-university professors don’t have a right to promote their own religious views in class.

But regardless of what happens legally, Hedin’s course is an embarrassment to his department and to Ball State. It is not a science course and should not be portrayed as one. No professor has the right to force his/her religious point of view upon students. I certainly wouldn’t do that with my own disbelief, and if I did I would deserve to be rebuked and told to stop it.

There have been other students complaining about Hedin’s Christian proselytizing in that class, but those views will come out shortly.


  1. Brian Vroman
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    I work at a small community college in northern Minnesota. Several years ago, we brought in a First Amendment specialist for a workshop, because there had been questions raised about what exactly is allowed with respect to discussing religion in the classroom. This attorney said that while in our capacity as intstructors, we are “state actors,” and thus are restricted by the First Amendment. In other words, endorsing religion is a clear violation. I am a strong defender of academic freedom, but the Constitution is the highest law of the land, and it seems to me that Professor Hedin is in violation of the First Amendment. So I agree with Professor Coyne and the FFRF that Hedin should not be allowed to continue what he is doing.

  2. AK
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Wow, they are in a culture war, and apparently they don’t take prisoners.

    Also, they look really silly in the process. I guess anyone can call themselves journalist these days?

  3. NewEnglandBob
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink


  4. Sidd
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    The general rule, I think, is to never use an analogy when it comes to the public. You meant one particular aspect of the analogy (lying), but an analogy gives free reign to people who want to read more into it.

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    It’s clear this journalist, as a biased defender of Hedin, is desperate to portray him and by extension all IDers and Christians as victims. She and her ilk relish painting the opposing side as vicious liberals bent on usurping their rights. It’s completely ridiculous that they have distorted this story to one of free speech and academic freedom when no one has advocated for the removal of either – just honest teaching of a course using actual FACTS something IDers are completely unfamiliar with!

    This desire to distort the truth seems second nature to people who form opinions on what they’d like the world to be vs. what it actually is so I guess it should come as no surprise that a reporter would prefer to destroy trust and harm her reputation in order to reach this goal of complete fact distortion.

  6. neil
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I wonder how Hedin feels about his sleazy bedfellows? He seems like a decent enough guy despite his failure to see that proselytizing his students is wrong. If I were Hedin, having these types come to my defense would be enough for me to see the error of my ways.

    • Marcoli
      Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      This is an interesting angle. Now I too wonder what Dr. Hedin thinks about the situation stirred up around him.

  7. Barbara
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    As I read about the Ball State University case, I’m reminded of the saying, “Bad cases make bad law.”

    I think lots of different things.

    Hedin was wrong to proselytize in class. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Teaching a class that truly taught critical thinking that compared evolution vs. various creationist ideas would be useful, but Hedin clearly isn’t the person to do it so that’s a moot point.

    Hedin has a right (legally) to teach a purely Intelligent Design class if he could get it through his department, as he’d be right to teach any other nutty idea, though he’d be wrong to do it (morally) because the idea is untrue.

    The department was wrong not to stop the proselytizing. However, accomplishing anything in an academic department depends on personalities and priorities, as you must know well. Letting Hedin’s teaching choices die a small, obscure death in a small, obscure class is not the worst choice.

    Publicizing the problem has the potential to do good by stopping the proselytizing. However, from the very start one could expect that it would do net harm by giving the conservative media a martyr for free speech and academic freedom or for Christianity, depending on the audience. And that’s happening. (True, the case for martyrdom is vastly overstated. Getting the guy fired was never the goal, but truths like that are much too subtle to stop a good story.) Perhaps in the long run this will do net good by causing departments and administrations to step in earlier to stop proselytizing in cases like this. We can hope, doubtfully.

    Perhaps FFR quietly contacting the administration and monitoring the situation for the next couple of years would have done more net good. But it wouldn’t have been as entertaining.

    • Marcoli
      Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      How is it that Hedin has a right (legally) to teach a purely intelligent design class? The Dover case and all legal rulings I know of had clearly determined it was illegal. He and all academics enjoy a wide range of academic freedom to teach a wide range of nonsense, but that practice is not supported by law.

  8. Pete Moulton
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    I wondered if you saw Klinghoffer’s screed, Jerry. Naturally he posted it at a blog where commenting isn’t allowed. Bold Sir David…

  9. ChrisKG
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    One commenter on the Campus Reform called the site, “digital fish wrap.” +1

    • AK
      Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Maybe wrapping a rotten fish in it would mask the stench

      • ChrisKG
        Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        Meant to write, “…on the Campus Reform ‘comments section’ called…”

  10. SA Gould
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Refusing to talk to them worked even better for them, as they didn’t have to worry about looking up long words you might use.

    Even on stories they favor, such as a dead- baby-sign protester who had her sign ripped out of her hands and who was threatened, etc.. there is no follow-thru. “Could not be reached for comment by Campus Reform by *the time of publication,* is a pretty standard ending.

    On the plus side, they used two of your best photos to accompany the story. Too lazy to even find a bad pix?

    • Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      All the pics on the site are horrible. They are all screen shots from videos, public domain or maybe (but probably not) purchased from a stock agency. It reflects how much effort they put into their reporting.

  11. ladyatheist
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    What a coincidence! An unethical “news” organization defending an unethical instructor (I can’t bring myself to call him a professor).

    I can give a pass to some of the people who approved this course because it takes someone who has experience with the coded language of ID and a knowledge of which crackpot authors say what to parse what the syllabus is really about. But now that they know what’s been going on they should put a stop to it.

    I looked up the books on the reading list and found that he omitted several very telling subtitles that clarify the theistic tone of the book. Yet in other instances he included the subtitles. Coincidence?

    • tomh
      Posted June 5, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      ladyatheist wrote:
      I can give a pass to some of the people who approved this course … But now that they know what’s been going on they should put a stop to it.

      Why would they? These are the same people who hired Hedin out of an Evangelical Christian college, knowing full well that all courses he taught at his former college were filtered through faith. For instance, the biology major is described as, “It’s a faith-integrated study of living things.” He’s been doing it at Ball St for ten years, this certainly can’t come as a surprise, they obviously approve of it. The only way to change it will be through legal action.

  12. DV
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Yikes! That was indeed sleazy of Bennett.

  13. Brygida Berse
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I brought it up before, but I will repeat myself: why do people think that teaching nonsense to college students is some kind of a constitutional/civil/academic right of the teacher? If the Holocaust analogy is inappropriate (I don’t think so), how about this: does a medical school professor have the right to teach his students that cancer doesn’t exist and what is generally believed to be cancer symptoms can be easily cured with leaches? And how about an engineering professor lecturing that a suspension bridge can be constructed using Super Glue? Will Jason Rosenhouse, PZ Myers and Larry Moran defend their rights too? If not, why don’t science students deserve the same consideration as medical and engineering students?

    • eric
      Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      why do people think that teaching nonsense to college students is some kind of a constitutional/civil/academic right of the teacher?

      Because (in the US) it is not illegal to say wrong things. It is generally not illegal even if you know you’re lying(though there are some major exceptions, such as lying under oath in a courtroom). The sky is purple. The earth is only 1 year old. Are you now going to prosecute me for communicating those wrong things to innocent young blog readers?

      • Brygida Berse
        Posted June 5, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        At this moment, you are not at work teaching students; you are posting on a website (not a blog!), so you can say whatever you want (as long as you follow our host’s rules).

        Legality aside, teaching things that are demonstrably untrue simply means that a professor is not doing his/her job. Of course it’s not illegal to say that ants are molluscs, but I can’t profess that to the students in the biology class and get away with it. At least not where I teach :-).

        I guess that it is somewhat different in humanities, where many judgements are more subjective. For example, in a French literature class, a professor can claim that Flaubert was a lousy writer and still keep his teaching job. But he shouldn’t teach them that Flaubert lived in the 15th century and that he was heavily influenced by Sartre.

        • Brygida Berse
          Posted June 5, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          in *the* humanities

          (not a native speaker; articles are a pain even after all these years)

          • Diane G.
            Posted June 9, 2013 at 12:46 am | Permalink

            Actually, I thought it read OK without the article, too. But the “leaches” in your first post should have been “leeches.”

            I don’t usually point out misspellings, typos, etc., on casual forums such as this; but you sound like a person who would want to know. 🙂

        • eric
          Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          I agree that he’s not doing his job, and I’d say that because of that, his department and university should reprimand him and make sure he doesn’t do anything like that in the future. Not doing one’s job, however, is not a first amendment violation.

          There is also nothing in the first amendment about teachers teaching wrong things, or even religious things. If that was unconstitutional, then even private school teachers couldn’t do it. The 1st admendment puts a limit on what the state can do or endorse. So to call this unconstitutional, you have to argue that Hedin is speaking for the state. Never have I seen any student, any professor, or any university administrator claim that what the professors say in class is speaking for the state.

          As a practical matter, it is really difficult to see how this could be interpreted as state speech when the state is doing practically nothing to regulate what gets said in class. In HS, the state regulates textbook use – not here. In HS, the state sets the class curriculum – not here.

          Money alone does not cut it for me. That would be like saying that Jerry Coyne is a mouthpiece for (i’m making up an illustrative example here) NSF’s opinions because NSF is giving him grant money. Does anyone really think Jerry Coyne speaks for NSF? Does NSF think this? No. Does U. Chicago think this? No. Does Jerry think this? No. Do Jerry’s students think this? No. So why assuse that just because some % of BSU’s funding comes from the state, that Hedin speaks for the state of Indiana?

          • Notagod
            Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            Were there any other questions you would like to ask yourself?

            • tomh
              Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

              Never have I seen any student, any professor, or any university administrator claim that what the professors say in class is speaking for the state.

              So what? Who cares what they claim, they have no voice in what is legal and what isn’t.

              So why assuse that just because some % of BSU’s funding comes from the state, that Hedin speaks for the state of Indiana?

              Because he’s being paid with taxpayer money. Can you name another public employee, paid with taxpayer money, who can legally proselytize his religion while on duty? Why would public university professors get this special exemption.

          • Brygida Berse
            Posted June 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

            Obviously, teaching creationism has two aspects: one is that creationism is unscientific, which makes it unsuitable for a science class at any university, public or private; the other is that it has a religious component, which opens the question of its constitutionality in a public school. I was only commenting on the former aspect, which in my view is sufficient to warrant its removal from the science curriculum.

            To the latter issue, not being a constitutional lawyer, I can apply no expert opinion, only common sense. I understand your arguments about the university environment being different from that of high school. Obviously, universities should allow all forms of free inquiry and disputing various ideas including novel, unpopular or even bizarre ones. Still, a public university is an agency of the state and it has to follow the rules that apply to state institutions, the ban on promoting religion being one of them. For example, would you be OK with a professor suggesting that every class or exam should begin with a prayer?

            • Marcoli
              Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

              I am going to largely agree with you, Brygida. But this comment is also for various people above who think that academic freedom in the university somehow trumps the constitution.
              Pop Quiz
              Which of the following is probably illegal?
              1. A 3rd grade teacher teaches intelligent design.
              2. A high school teacher teaches that homeopathic water can treat arthritis.
              3. A college professor teaches that global warming is probably a natural cycle, and is not mainly caused by humans.
              4. A college professor teaches intelligent design.

              I suspect that almost everyone here would recognize that #1 is illegal, as it violates the establishment clause of the constitution that guarantees separation of church and state. Sufficient legal precedent exists that makes that cut and dry.
              #2 would be legal, as it presents no religious view. It would be objectionable, since homeopathy is a pseudomedicine, but it would be legal to teach this (as far as I know).
              #3 is also legal, for similar reasons as #2.
              #4 is where some people get stuck. For some reason it is a common view that a university professor is somehow above the constitution. Although no direct case like this has ever been tried, a professor, like any other agent of the state, is constrained by law. If #1 is illegal, and #4 should also be illegal. Academic freedom is a fine thing, but it is not above the law.

              • ladyatheist
                Posted June 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

                This would make an interesting test case.

          • Marcoli
            Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

            eric, I am going to try to change your mind about there being ‘nothing in the first amendment about teachers teaching wrong things, or even religious things.’ Please see my comment further down in this thread.

            • Marcoli
              Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

              Correction: right above this comment.

  14. Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Culture warriors like Bennett only have their intellectual dishonesty with which to wage their war.

    Thanks for clearly and civilly demonstrating the detailed workings of a journalist who is grovelling in a mucky pit of ‘truthiness.’

    And sigh. I am saddened that you are getting so little support from several atheist scientists’ websites.

  15. David Sepkoski
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Well, I just sent emails to both the director of the Leadership Institute and to its VP for outreach complaining about the journalistic standards at Campus Reform (you can contact staff members at the organization here: http://www.leadershipinstitute.org/contactus/staff.cfm). My hope is that the parent organization will find this embarrassing enough to pressure the editors to print an apology for quoting off the record material. I won’t hold my breath, but I’ll report if I hear anything back. If other readers feel like inundating them with emails, perhaps there will be some response.

    • Marcoli
      Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      ‘Journalist’ in name only. They will not realign to those standards of using material with permission any more than would The National Inquirer.

    • Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Thanks David, but I’m not holding my breath, either, especially given that the offending piece was written by the “staff”!

      • David Sepkoski
        Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        Indeed. But I was careful in my emails to be respectful and to make the issue solely about journalistic standards, rather than the content of the views expressed. It looks like the Campus Reform “staff” are a bunch of kids, and it’s possible that one of the grownups will step in. Doubt it, though.

        • ladyatheist
          Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

          Respectful is good, considering your e-mail could be on their website tomorrow.

  16. Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    It looks like they want to “fix inaccuracies.” This was tweeted by Josiah Ryan, whom I assume is a “reporter.” @evolutionistrue Would be happy have discussion on or or off the record on problems with campusreform stories and fix inaccuracies.
    I probably don’t have to say this, but don’t do it, it’s a trap!

  17. michieux
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Good on you, Dr. Coyne!

    It seems that some in your country hold that the right to free speech equals the right to lie, or so P.Z and others seem to think. Perhaps they’re right. I’m not all that familiar with the laws and the constitution.

    Did the framers of that constitution foresee the contradiction between amendments? Looks like a case for SCOTUS to me.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Yes they did. That’s why they created a SCOTUS.

  18. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink


    Right wing sleaze – check. “Discovery” Institute suppression of actual discovery (evolution) and promotion of dishonesty – check.

    Rosenhouse making slightly more mistakes on policy matters of atheism than Coyne [it’s a hard fight, and no one is ever not mistaken] – check.

  19. DrBrydon
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I’ve said this before I think, but why isn’t this an issue for Ball State’s accreditation authority? This is a course in apologetics disguised as a science course. Obviously, professors have the right to express their opinions and prsent their views when teaching, but it’s someone’s job to make sure that a student that signs up for a science course gets valid content out of it.

    • Marcoli
      Posted June 6, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      It might well be an issue for their accreditation. Well, realistically the most drastic thing that would happen is they are told to change the content of the one course. Their entire accreditation would not be at risk.

  20. Suri
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I would love to say lots of bad things about this woman but decency comes first so I ‘ll just say how unproffesional of her! The good news is that she’ll probably have that crappy job for a long time …..and I thought the Daily Mail was trash.

    • AK
      Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      I think the Daily Mail are highly professional.

  21. Filippo
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    ” . . . Jason Rosenhouse finds the course a religously-based incursion into science . . . says that Hedin’s proselytizing is “arguably unethical” . . . feels, as do P. Z. Myer and Larry Moran, that Hedin should be allowed to continue teaching his Jesus-infused science course:

    ‘ . . . trying to shut him down would be even worse. When the creationists start arguing that it’s a first amendment violation for a biology department to teach about evolution, we want them to be laughed at.’ ”

    Does Mr. Rosenhouse believe that the synoptic course description in the catalog sufficiently should sufficiently reveal the course for what it is, so that a student might make an informed decision about whether to take it? Is a student owed at least that courtesy, if not that duty? Does a student have the right to demand his money back due to false representations in the course description?

  22. Posted June 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    You realise that now Macaela Bennett will feel free to cherry-pick from your remarks above to write a new article in which to further distort and discredit your position.

    EG: ‘Professor Coyne wrote on his blog “I was concerned that … the harms of teaching creationism were equivalent to the harms of the Holocaust.” ‘

  23. Hempenstein
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    If I buy a package labelled chicken that turns out to be squid, I expect I have some legal grounds for requesting a refund, and I suspect that most food retailers/wholesaler would be quick to issue a refund.

    Seems by the same token that students having taken this course which was supposed to cover science would have grounds to ask for a refund from Ball, first amendment or not. It’s a case of bait & switch.

  24. ploubere
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Campus Reform is not engaged in journalism, so it’s inaccurate to refer to them as journalists, and futile to expect them to follow journalistic standards. They are an advocacy organization with an agenda.

  25. john
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Substandard ethics and sloppy academics are two impostors frequently found cohabiting.

  26. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    “Leadership Institute”? Looks to be just about exactly what you’d expect, the name gives it away, doesn’t it? 😉

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