Muncie Star-Press editorial supports teaching of intelligent design

I wouldn’t have believed this possible for a serious newspaper, but maybe I’m naive about the state of politics in Indiana, and of the need of a newspaper to cater to its readers.  What is palpably true, though, is that the Muncie Star-Press, in its latest editorial, “Our view: BSU prof deserves fair treatment”, has come out on the side of ignorance and anti-science.

Brief repriese: Muncie is the home of Ball State University, which is currently investigating Eric Hedin, a professor who taught a science course (one of only three available for Honors students) whose readings and curriculum were slanted toward the view that phenomena in the universe give indubitable evidence for the Christian god. I’ve documented this extensively; if you want to see the evidence, just search on this site for “Hedin”.

There is no doubt that this course was not a genuine science course, nor a course that, as it claimed, challenged students to think. There is no challenge in having an overwhelmingly Christian group of students have their views confirmed, for there were no readings presenting the other side—the side that there is no scientific evidence for divine intervention in the universe. There could, for example, have been readings from Victor Stenger, Richard Dawkins, Sean Carroll, Steven Weinberg, and Lawrence Krauss, but instead the students got John Lennox C. S. Lewis, and other religious accommodationists.

Not by the farthest stretch of the imagination did Hedin present any “challenging” views. Indeed, in one class of 25 students, all were religious save one. What is perhaps most odious is the huge number of readings on intelligent design (ID): a discredited, religiously-based theory that Hedin apparently supports. By not presenting criticisms of ID, which are many and convincing, Hedin was in effect purveying lies to students in a public university. That appears to violate violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution

So what does the local paper do? Publishes an editorial supporting Hedin and asserting, contrary to all evidence, that he was conducting a fair and balanced course.

Per the editorial’s title, of course Hedin deserves fair treatment. I am fully in favor of the university’s investigating the course fairly, looking at its aims and its syllabus, and seeing if the course was truly a science course that challenged the students to think, but also taught solid science.

And I don’t think “fair treatment” means that Hedin, if found remiss, should be fired. My view is that the course needs to be restructured to get rid of Christianity (if it’s to remain a required science course), or moved to philosophy or religion, with addition of balancing views.

But the editorial goes farther, and claims that Hedin’s course really did fulfill its aims:

The course description for “Boundaries of Science” hints at the possibility religion might be discussed:

“In this course, we will examine the nature of the physical and the living world with the goal of increasing our appreciation of the scope, wonder, and complexity of physical reality. We will also investigate physical reality and the boundaries of science for any hidden wisdom within this reality which may illuminate the central questions of the purpose of our existence and the meaning of life. This course is designed to allow students to take a more in-depth look at the beauty and complexity of the universe and life and to give food for thought about deeper questions which remain central to human existence.”

We don’t think there’s a problem here, so long as students enrolled in the course know exactly what they’re getting into. In fact, a healthy discussion about science, especially the origin(s) of the universe, ought to include religion. After all, isn’t a college education supposed to challenge students to go beyond facts and look at theories, and their merits or fallacies? Isn’t higher education supposed to include an understanding of controversial, perhaps unproven, ideas?

Yeah, like astrology, homeopathy, and flat-earth “theory,” all of which are exactly as credible as ID.

HONR 296 – Inquiries in the Physical Sciences
Study of introductory principles within the physical sciences, emphasizing the relationships of the sciences to human concerns and society. Study of social and ethical consequences of scientific discoveries and their applications to critical issues confronting contemporary society. Open only to Honors College students.
Does this, or the description given by the newspaper, really tell the students “exactly what they’re getting into”?  I don’t think so. Where’s the mention of God, religion, or anything numinous that the paper says can be easily discerned from the course description?
And, importantly, there was no “healthy” discussion of science in that course, but one heavily weighted toward God.  If there were, for example, a healthy discussion of the origin of the universe, shouldn’t it also include works by Krauss, Carroll, Stenger, and Weinberg, all whom have made substantive contributions to the problem? Is it just a coincidence that none of those authors see a role for God in the process? Where, exactly, is the “challenge” to the students here? There is none: the readings all confirm their preconceptions that “God did it.”
And the Muncie Star-Press knows this, for their reporter has been covering the case, and Hedin’s textbooks and recommended readings are online.  This pretense that Hedin was “challenging” the students is arrant nonsense, and the newspaper knows it. It’s dishonest and infuriating.
The editorial continues:
A scientific understanding does not automatically preclude the existence of God. Although it might. It also might help develop or reinforce one’s belief in a higher being.
Well, maybe, but this is a science class, for which students get science credit, not a philosophy or religion class. God has no place in such a course, any more than in a chemistry class which touts God as having designed the molecules and moved the electrons, or a physics class in which the professor explains that nature’s laws must have come from God. Here the newspaper is pandering, trying to show its religious readers that science is compatible with God, and that Hedin was simply reinforcing that innocuous idea.
Perhaps the dumbest part of the editorial is this:
 Lest anyone think Hedin is a closet Christian in the classroom, one ought to take a look at the titles (or better yet, read) the publications he has helped author. Here’s a couple of them: “Combined Aharonov-Bohm and Zeeman spin-polarization effects in a double quantum dot ring,” and “Spin-polarized electron transport through nanoscale devices.” Sounds pretty scientific to us. Of course, what is published and what is taught can be wildly divergent.
Yes, Hedin’s science papers don’t mention God, because if they did they wouldn’t have been published! But the evidence is clear: what he published and what he taught—according to both his syllabus and student reports of his statements—were wildly divergent. Take a look at Hedin’s syllabus, for instance, brimming with Christian accommodationism and apologetics.
Or what about this statement from one of Hedin’s students, a nonbeliever:
The biggest was when I asked him why the Christian god is the answer to whatever science cannot explain. He said that it was not just his beliefs, it was a simple fact that it must be the Christian god. He then said, and this is a direct quote, “It’s not like it was some Hindu monkey god.”
Great Ceiling Cat! That sounds pretty much like closet Christianity to me! But of course the Muncie Star-Press, which knows this all very well, has seen fit to ignore it.  Hedin’s closet Christianity is a matter of public record.
The editorial ends with a call for fairness (and an explicit request that Hedin’s career not be damaged):

We hope Ball State and the rest of academia do not lose sight of this: Hedin’s reputation and possibly his career could be sullied, or upheld, by the findings of this investigation. The stakes are high for Ball State as well.

That’s why this investigation must be thorough, impartial and, we hope, as open to the public as legally allowed.

Truth, whether in scientific inquiry or investigations into professors, can be elusive, but it must be pursued nonetheless.

They should also not lose sight of the facts that 1. Hedin was pushing Christianity in a science class; 2. This was a violation of the First Amendment; 3. The brand of “science” Hedin was pushing is a discredited form of creationism; 4. No alternative viewpoints to the religious one were presented, either in class or the readings; and 5. In a course for science credit, students should not be taught creationism nor told that the Universe reflects the face of God. That is not science but theology.

The students of Ball State University were shortchanged by Hedin’s course, which is simply Christian scientific apologetics— natural theology.  And the citizens of Muncie, and the state of Indiana, are being shortchanged by a cowardly newspaper which, trying to pander to its constituency, implicitly endorses the teaching of creationism in its public-university science classes. This is an example of how a newspaper’s desire to be “fair and unbiased: has gone awry. There is no fairness in teaching woo and discredited science to students.

I close with this cartoon produced by reader “Pliny the In Between”, reflecting his take on HedinGate:

Untitled.001

This cartoon is infinitely more savvy than the misguided editorial of the Muncie Star-Press.

39 Comments

  1. ladyatheist
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    “The students of Ball State University were shortchanged by Hedin’s course”

    The paper shows absolutely no regard for the students. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  2. blend1979
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    I would be pissed if I had signed up for and paid for a science class, and instead got creationist bull crap. And why on earth, if HIS god could create the universe couldn’t a “Hindu Monkey God?” Prejudiced and Christian. Relegate him to teaching philosophy. Not science, it’s obviously not his forte!

  3. Posted June 23, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    How would christians react if a raelian or muslim would proselytise their religion in a “science” course?

    • Gordon Hill
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure creationism is a Christian exclusive.

      • Posted June 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        True, creationism as such isn’t a christian thing only. However, Hedin was clearly favouring chistianity while rejecting other religions such as hinduism.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Or a Scientologist? (though the fee for such a course would be much higher)

      • matt
        Posted June 23, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        hahaha. YEP.

      • Posted June 23, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

        We can give a practically infinitely long list of non-christian religions; but all show the hypocrisy of christians when it comes to “teaching the controversy”.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    One of the most damning things in Hedin’s course is in the course objectives: “to give a scientifically accurate introduction to the origin and development of the physical universe (cosmology)”. When looked at against the reading list, the Intelligent design agenda replaces this objective.

    While some may argue that the objectives (as they continue) would prompt students to realize god may be involved when they read: “….the formation of the Earth as a uniquely suitable environment to support life”, I maintain that students would not know this is not scientifically accurate and would have their heads filled with inaccurate ID crap then go off and perpetuate it (some as teachers since BSU also produces teachers).

    • ladyatheist
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Considering how little is known about other planets at this point, “uniquely suited” is an arrogant claim.

      I really object to the objectors who claim the students should be able to tell what they’ve gotten into when they see the syllabus. There are no prerequisites for the course, so you can’t assume anything on behalf of the students other than high school graduation. And considering the level of ignorance of the Star Press’s readers, that is not much of a qualification for discerning anything in Indiana.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        Yes, from the way this story was reported, it seems like the Star Press journalists received their science education from BSU. 😉

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

        Considering how little is known about other planets at this point, “uniquely suited” is an arrogant claim.

        Ah, yes. The last few months the creationists that trolls astronomer sites have dropped the somewhat reasonable “rare environment” and replaced it with the deepity of “Eden Earth” and “perfect environment”.

        No doubt this retreat was prompted by the find of habitable planets. And perhaps by the failure of the idiotic Rare Earth model, where you stack all factors that you deem adverse. Its last outstanding factor of “need large moon” was found wrong recently, as an earlier model of orbital tilt was erroneous. For example Mars could have half billion year intervals between chaotic changes, enough for intelligent life to appear. (It will be interesting to see if Curiosity can observe the length of the habitable period of early Mars.)

        Neither “perfect” nor the myth provides any measure of course. A key person behind the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog (HEC), Mendez, modeled net primary production and found that current Earth, a bit chilly and dry, has ~ 0.7 NPP of its maximum possible, something I think is consistent with historical data.

        Unfortunately we can’t look at such factors for the reason you describe. However, I am fairly certain that people will start to look at “optimal habitability” as soon as Earth equivalent habitables turns up. We know Earth is marginally small, both for having plate tectonics and for having an atmosphere that outlasts the lifetime of the habitable zone (HZ). E.g. if Earth would be supplanted to the HZ of an M star, its relatively thin atmosphere with an estimated lifetime of about 10 billion years would give out before the star leaves the main sequence.

        This would be fun to estimate now, seeing the creationist strategy. I am not aware of any effort among astrobiologers yet, so I’ll try to give an order of magnitude estimate of the frequency of “perfect habitables”. I’ll define it as habitables larger than Earth so potentially with a larger volatile supply, situated around M stars as the most frequent and long lived stars.

        A recent, low, estimate says that ~ 1/6 of M stars will have a habitable. (More likely ~ 1/2 of stars will have 1-3 habitables.) Of the 10 planets listed in the HEC, which means having an ESI > 0.5, all are larger than Earth due to selection effects. (Easier to find large planets.)

        The first problem is the poor ESI data with its cutoff. I’m not going to do anything fancy. The statistics already approximates a normal distribution due to the complexity. So I can estimate the likelihood of a tail ESI as good as Earth’s (ESI > 0.9, say) as ~ 1/10 from eyeballing the bin chart. (Meaning we are unlucky not seeing one such planet already.)

        The second problem is the size bias. But early statistics puts planet masses M as roughly a 1/M distribution, meaning the distribution mass goes as ln(M). With logarithmic cutoffs often used of 0.1 Earth mass (Mars sized) and 10 Earth mass (~ 2 Earth radius), we get larger habitables as ~ 1/2 of samples.

        I would thus answer creationists that eventually we expect to see more optimal planets for life, in a generic but observable sense, with a ~ 1/20 frequency of habitables, or around 1 % of M stars. Which would give us ~ 1 billion such planets in the Milky Way alone.

        This is a sloppy, optimistic estimate in most senses, for one we haven’t yet seen a planet competing with Earth on the ESI index however selection biased that index is. But I don’t think it is many orders of magnitude out of whack either. So as always with creationists, they are full of it.

        Of course, the shorter response would be: “Yes, yes, “perfect”, that is what life on perhaps billions of planets around the MW all say.”

        *********

        HEC ALERT! The HEC has updated, I think, with the label “Something wonderful is going to happen”. I would keep an eye on the site the next few days.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted June 24, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

          “habitables larger than Earth so potentially with a larger volatile supply” – habitables larger than Earth so potentially with a longer lasting volatile supply.

          I screwed up, it is mainly the increased depth of the gravity well that prolongs the atmosphere lifetime. Of course, starting out with likely a relatively larger supply, a denser atmosphere, is nice too.

  5. Richard Page
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Were I a student, having read the course description, I might have expected a lively, broad ranging discussion about science, the limits of science, and whether it’s capable of distinguishing what’s ‘purposeful’ or ‘meaningful’ in the lives of human beings. I would not expect to be relentlessly proselytized. Case closed.

  6. Posted June 23, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    //

  7. Posted June 23, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    If there is no conflict with religion, why are so many Christians (and newspapers) ready to take a pet ID theory to the mat against scientific orthodoxy?

    • ladyatheist
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      what a coincidence!

  8. RFW
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen mention, somewhere, in passing, that one problem in Indiana is that the newspapers are owned by fundies. Which is to day that this editorial comes as no surprise.

    • Gordon Hill
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      They’re owned by Gannett which has a large number of papers, including USAToday, and TV stations, each running with some editorial independence.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Well that is a problem, but it only a small part of a larger problem: Indiana is in Indiana
      Evansville: public art display to consist of 30 crosses

      “We told (the church) they could not have any writing of any kind of them,” Ziemer said of the crosses. “So they are statues. They might be a religious symbol to someone or they might be attractive statues to someone else.”
      \irony Uh sure, there are probabaly a lot of people in Evansville, Indiana who do not consider a cross to be a Christian symbol.

  9. Gordon Hill
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Probably a subscription protection op ed.

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m not a Hoosier, but a good friend is. He’s also a rock/fossil hound, and told me about this, which shows that at least some people there appreciate science.

    Nearly 30yrs ago, a heavy-equipment operator at a limestone quarry there found a bone that he suspected might be significant, while cleaning out a sinkhole. Operations were stopped in that area of the quarry, and they have remained on hold since then while paleontologists and students sift thru the contents of the sinkhole each summer. Some otherwise unknown species have been discovered there. On Wikipedia, see Pipe Creek Sinkhole.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Awesome! Thanks for the info!

      • Hempenstein
        Posted June 23, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        My pleasure. Since you liked that, you’ll probably like this too. (NB: Looks like you can get similar info for other states from the same site.)

        But that Pipe Creek site also got me thinking about the Cambrian Explosion conundrum/kerfluffle. The biggest problem with all such things is that the time spans involved are humanly incomprehensible. The Pipe Creek site seems to go back ~5M yrs. If one could get the Cambrian goddiites to focus on that for starts, Cambrian period is something like an order of magnitude longer than the present age of Pipe Creek, and it happened something like two orders of magnitude farther back from present. Still humanly incomprehensible, but it’s a start.

  11. Sastra
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    “In this course, we will examine the nature of the physical and the living world with the goal of increasing our appreciation of the scope, wonder, and complexity of physical reality.”

    Well there’s a lie right there. Hedin’s objective was to ‘examine the nature of the physical and the living world’ with the goal of decreasing /i> the appreciation of the physical world by insisting that such scope, wonder, and complexity requires the supernatural. Nature is too barren, too limited, too insignificant to contain such scope, wonder, and complexity. Bring in magic!

    Not only did Hedrin’s “challenging” science course fail to challenge the students beliefs and fail to include opposing theories — but it also fails to speculate at all about any mechanism, process, or method for the positive claim it’s making. That. Is. Not. Science.

  12. peltonrandy
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    It is obvious that the editorial writer who wrote this is not very scientifically literate, has little, if any understanding of the nature of science, and certainly knows virtually nothing about what constitutes a scientific theory and what is masquerading as science.

    I found a number of objectional statements in the editorial. If you all will indulge me I offer you what I wrote in the comments section in response to the editorial.

    “In fact, a healthy discussion about science, especially the origin(s) of the universe, ought to include religion.”

    Says the editors of this newspaper. Just how scientifically literate are you. This statement is completely false. Science and religion are completely incompatible methods. Science divorced itself from religion some 400 years ago. This divorce should stand because the two have irreconcilable differences.

    “After all, isn’t a college education supposed to challenge students to go beyond facts and look at theories, and their merits or fallacies?”

    Yes. But this is a strawman. No one is arguing against this proposition. The problem is that Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory. It is not even a well-framed scientific hypothesis. There is no scientific controversy over evolution or the Big Bang Theory. What there is is a political controversy. By the way, the writer(s) of this editorial appear to have a misunderstanding of the relationship between fact and theory. Theories are composed of facts. They do not stand independent of one another as this comment suggests. Theories are the framework in which related facts, observations, tested predictions, experimental results, and scientific laws are interpreted. Theories draw out and make clear the connections between each of these.

    “Isn’t higher education supposed to include an understanding of controversial, perhaps unproven, ideas?”

    Sure, but in the proper place. Evolution is not a controversial idea in science. It is controversial only as a political question. So if you want to discuss the controversy do so in a philosophy class or a political class to discuss contemporary public policy issues. But not in a science course where students are receiving academic science credit. Furthermore, intelligent design is not merely an unproven idea. It is one that has no evidence whatsoever supporting it, and has in fact been refuted, rebutted and completely discredited by the scientific community. It has no legitimate place alongside well-established scientific theories that have been repeatedly tested and successfully gone through the gauntlet of scientific scrutiny, including peer review. Intelligent design has utterly failed to pass muster.

    “A scientific understanding does not automatically preclude the existence of God. Although it might. It also might help develop or reinforce one’s belief in a higher being.”

    It is true that a scientific understanding does not preclude God’s existence. But it likewise lends no support for existence of a supernatural entity. And it does provide plenty of reason to doubt the existence of any God, whether it be Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah, Zeus,Vishnu, Ra, or any of the more than 1000 Gods humans have worshipped and believed in and disgarded throughout human history. Any person who uses the knowledge and method of science to develop or reinforce their belief in a higher being is misusing science and practicing very poor theology. The two are completely incompatible. Using science to support belief in the supernatural shows deep lack of understanding of science and theology, as well as reveals the believer to have fallen victim to a host of cognitive biases and logical fallacies, among them cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, and motivated thinking.

  13. Posted June 23, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    If this surprises you, then you are unfamiliar with editorial staffs at small newspapers.

    They see it: “hey, let’s be fair and teach BOTH SIDES”; the idea that the “other side” is nothing more than quackery (e. g. similar to astrology, etc.) doesn’t even occur to them.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      This whole “there are two sides to every story” baloney is usually only said by the losing side 😉

  14. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    In fact, a healthy discussion about science, especially the origin(s) of the universe, ought to include religion.
    .
    This is one of my pet peeves. In my experience, the phrases in fact and the fact of the matter is are more often followed by an opinion than a fact.

  15. Posted June 23, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    For Professor Coyne, this is the place in the narrative where “strident” and “new militant atheist” come into the conversation.

    In years past, Hedin would be called out, shoulders within and without the university would hunch, with palms up, and that would be the end.

    Now, science people follow these episodes with purpose and analysis.

    Where are the atheists’ hunched shoulders and palms up??

    Pursuit, of the real truth ….say, that is ‘military-like’ and ‘strident’.

    • ladyatheist
      Posted June 23, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      You mean we’d say “Eh, whaddayagonnado?” I don’t get it.

  16. John
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    What you have asked of BSU, regarding Hedin’s course, is not unreasonable under any view I can imagine, except one. That of the frightened, reactionary subset of the Indiana population, who knows plenty about religion and diddly about evolution. Those who flippantly demand a degradation of their educational system (by teaching ID)need to get out of the 1930’s and face the world as it is. ID will be taught off the grid as long as people buy it, that’s human nature, but I hate to see a misguided population degrade their educational culture, on purpose, because they refuse to face a few cold facts about life in Earth. To some extent this conflict must be assigned to the so-called “culture wars” the press talks about; it has little, or nothing, to do with logic or common sense.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted June 25, 2013 at 3:26 am | Permalink

      I wonder if people in Indiana think about the reasons why hot-shot technology start-ups are mostly found in other states, especially on the east and west coasts.

  17. Posted June 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m afraid my pedantry kicks in here- “alternate” means “every other”. The correct word is alternative.

    Sorry. I know this is very boring.

  18. abandonwoo
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    .

  19. eric
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    The editorial ends with a call for fairness (and an explicit request that Hedin’s career not be damaged):

    We hope Ball State and the rest of academia do not lose sight of this: Hedin’s reputation and possibly his career could be sullied, or upheld, by the findings of this investigation

    That particular horse has probably already left the barn. Yes, the findings will impact his teaching career at BSU – what he’s allowed to teach, etc. But I expect that when it comes to the larger adacemic community – how other Universities and department heads might see him as a potential hire – people’s minds have already been made up, and BSU’s official findings will be unlikely to change them one way or another.

  20. morkindie
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I went to Ball State, and this is no surprise at all.
    Ball State is a liberal island compared to the city of Muncie.

    • Jeff D
      Posted June 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      I’ve lived in Indiana for most of the past 42 years, except for a 9-year sojourn in New York City. As noted by another commenter above, one of the problems is that “Indiana is in Indiana.”

      Most geographic regions within Indiana are full of churches, and also full of apparently earnest, serious fundagelical folks, many of whom never acquired much scientific literacy, or if they ever had it, they lost it. YEC and OEC views are pretty popular in Indiana. Except in a few communities (see below), it is much more controversial to publicly criticize nutty ideas with religious or superstitious origins than it is to openly defend or embrace them. And this is despite a “thriving” biotech sector in Indiana’s economy.

      Muncie does seem to be a bit different from other Indiana college towns. West Lafayette (Purdue main campus) and Bloomington (Indiana University main campus) have adult populations that are significantly more cosmopolitan, college educated, secular and naturalistic in outlook, and scientifically literate, compared to the rest of the state. The same can be said of the northern suburbs of Indianapolis and a few upscale parts of downtown Indy. The northern counties near Notre Dame University seem to have something else going on: high median or average levels of educational attainment combining with serious Roman Catholicism to produce some strange synergies or dys-synergies (think Alvin Plantinga).

      I suspect that the editors of the Muncie Star-Press are simply playing to the majority of the East Central Hoosiers whom they perceive to be the newspaper’s base readership. And Gannett doesn’t care.


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