Muncie Star-Press’s biggest stories of 2013 omit the Ball State ID affair

Reader Amy sent me the list of this newspaper’s top stories of the year. As you may remember, Muncie, Indiana was where Ball State University (BSU) canned Eric Hedin’s “science” course on Intelligent Design (ID), a victory in the battle against creationism. That story was covered extensively by the Muncie Star-Press and got national attention, not to mention riling up the Discovery Institute when President Gora of BSU unequivocally declared that ID would not be taught at BSU.

Here, then, are the paper’s top stories:

Top storiesWhat kind of paper would judge the opening of a Panda Express more important than a serious clash over science right next door?

A lame paper, that’s what.

The Discovery Institute, on the other hand, has ranked the Ball State affair as #4 in their “top 10 evolution stories of 2010”.  I’m not going to give the link, since I’m tired of giving them traffic, but you can find them at The Sensuous Curmudgeon‘s post.  The Curmudgeon is covering the DI’s entire “top 10” list, which is largely a tale of how they’ve failed push their agenda. Combining that with the failure of Texas creationists to get their views represented in public-school biology textbooks, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History’s removal of a donor’s plaque calling animals “God’s creatures,” I’d say it’s been a good year for evolutionary biology.

If you want a lift, reread President Gora’s short statement on the intellectual worthlessness of Intelligent Design, which contains this statement:

Teaching intelligent design as a scientific theory is not a matter of academic freedom – it is an issue of academic integrity. As I noted, the scientific community has overwhelmingly rejected intelligent design as a scientific theory. Therefore, it does not represent the best standards of the discipline as determined by the scholars of those disciplines. Said simply, to allow intelligent design to be presented to science students as a valid scientific theory would violate the academic integrity of the course as it would fail to accurately represent the consensus of science scholars.


  1. Sean
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    I guess papers can measure the popularity of each story by counting unique clicks now.

    If that’s their criteria then it’s not the paper who are lame, it’s the readership!

    From visiting my in-laws up that way, it makes big swaths of the biblebelt look tame!

  2. NewEnglandBob
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    I noticed number 5, Gora’s retirement. I hope that the next university president uses reason and critical thinking in the same way.

  3. gbjames
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    The good people at the Muncie Star-Press are likely embarrassed by the incident and how it played out.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Personally, I would have put #7: Cats and dogs have an up-and-down year (what is with the hyphens?) in the #2 spot after the whole Muncie ID debacle. Hey, I want to read about the cats and dogs and the headline seems intriguing; it’s more interesting than dealerships opening!

    • Larry Gay
      Posted December 30, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      The hyphens collapse three words into a single word to help you know instantly you are dealing with a single modifier. So that you can move on without hesitating. I will defend hyphens to the death.

      • NewEnglandBob
        Posted December 30, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        Did you mean “to-the-death” ?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        I think in this instance the hyphens weren’t needed. I tend to use them only when there is a strong chance that the meaning will be misunderstood without them. When I was an editor, they were frowned on completely.

        • Larry Gay
          Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

          Pistols at dawn.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

            Ha ha! Steven Pinker says we don’t duel anymore. 🙂

            Mind you these same people that didn’t like hyphens were also against the oxford comma and it’s all their fault that I stopped using it (I was taught this was the correct way to punctuate while at university).

            • NewEnglandBob
              Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

              Maybe it should be “pistils at dawn”, so it doesn’t require dueling.

            • Reginald Selkirk
              Posted December 30, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

              I could have guessed that Pinker is not a duelist.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink


            • Larry Gay
              Posted December 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

              We all understand one another, thank goodness. However, English lends itself to ambiguity because of lack of internal cues, like endings and capitalization of all nouns as in German. I read a lot of German and find I miss the fun you find in English where several interpretations are often possible. English tends to avoid ambiguity by using simple sentences. Long German sentences can be very tedious. I use hyphens to make the internal structure of English sentences clearer.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 30, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

                Yes, in part I blame my bad use of commas and other punctuation on German because German uses such things sparingly and for specific reasons that are beyond doubt (it’s why I love German). I also am trying to break myself of the habit of capitalizing nouns in English (another habit I got from German). I like to think it’s my great great grandmother (who was German) coming through. 🙂

              • Posted December 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

                You are, no doubt, aware of the plans to unify language in the EU?


              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 30, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

                Ha ha, yes an oldie but a goody!

      • Posted December 30, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps you can take an ever-so-small measure of solace that I agree with you: compound adjectives require hyphens. Period.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 31, 2013 at 1:40 am | Permalink

        I totally concur.

        • Larry Gay
          Posted December 31, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

          Bravo. We (the rationalists) are on the side of the Muncie Star-Press. How did that happen?

  5. Jacqueline Bichsel
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Let’s also not forget another major victory this year, although not so much for evolution as for free thought in general: FFRF’s victory in overturning the “parsonage exemption” clergy privilege.

    This means ministers are no longer allowed to exclude housing allowances from taxable income, which will result in billions more in tax revenue for the U.S. in the coming years.

    I haven’t seen a whole lot of coverage on this landmark ruling, and I think its importance cannot be understated.

    • gbjames
      Posted December 30, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      It can be overstated. The ruling applies only in one district and is (sadly) a likely candidate to be overturned on appeal.

  6. Posted December 30, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I’m gonna take a wild guess and suggest that the ID affair was the only one that got picked up in national syndication. To omit that is quite the insult to Seth, the reporter who got all those scoops. Were I him, I’d be shopping my resume to larger, more respectable news sources.


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