Indiana legislators embarrass their state

UPDATE: Over at the Discovery Institute’s “Evolution News and Views” website, where no commenting is allowed, David Klinghoffer thumps his chest and pretends that the threat of the Fatuous Four legislators carries real weight. Klinghoffer implies darkly that if Ball State doesn’t play ball and allow ID to be taught, the university will lose state funding:

Our inaugural Censor of the Year, Jerry Coyne, is all bluff and bluster. He says that although four state legislators have written to the president of Ball State University gravely requesting clarification of BSU’s ban on intelligent design, nothing will come of it:

“The DI is going to lose on this one, and if the legislators try to pass some ‘equal time’ law for ID in Indiana Universities, they’ll just look ridiculous. The Discovery Institute is simply unable to accept that they can’t push creationism in a public university, and are trying to make trouble.”

That paragraph just by itself is ridiculous. No one wants some enforced policy of “equal time” for ID, merely freedom for scientists and scholars to teach and research about the evidence for design in nature if they wish to do so. That’s a very different thing from “creationism,” and even more different from “pushing creationism.”

The pretense that ID is not creationism, and that teaching ID is not pushing creationism are, of course, lies for Jesus.  And the “freedom to teach ID” is freedom to proselytize Christianity, which is not a freedom at all: not under our Constitution and not in public schools. It’s not academic freedom, either, not when it comes to science classes.  Klinghoffer continues:

Coyne, who played a key role in walking Ball State down this particular plank, is uneducable. Even so I think he may be in for a surprise.

The surprise, of course, is the DI’s insane idea that Ball State will bend on this one because they’re afraid of losing funding. Here’s Klinghoffer’s threat:

So Coyne doesn’t think that Senator Dennis Kruse, Senator Travis Holdman, Senator Greg Walker and Representative Jeffrey Thompson pull any weight with President Gora? I think they do. Senator Kruse is only the chairman of the Senate Education Committee. In 2012 Ball State received $143.5 million of its $352 million budget from the state of Indiana. That is 41 percent. That suggests some influence these lawmakers can bring to bear.

What’s more — more anxiety-making if you are an administrator at Ball State — is that the percentage of state funding has been falling precipitously already for decades, as is true across the country in higher ed. According to the Muncie Star Press, at BSU it’s down from 65 percent in 1987. Still, as of 2012, Ball State was considerably more dependent on public money than some other state universities in Indiana. Purdue University gets only 24 percent, while Indiana University gets 22 percent.

The combination of dependence and shrinking support is an uncomfortable one.

. . . So Coyne wants us to think that, under these circumstances, when four legislators tell President Gora they have “serious questions” about her management of a public university, that’s a light thing, easily brushed off?

Yes, that’s exactly what I think, and I’m willing to bet that that’s exactly what will happen. Four Republican legislatures cannot cut funding to BSU because, in the end, the State won’t mandate that intelligent design can be taught in a science class. That would require cooperation of the rest of the legislature and of Indiana’s governor. And if the state doesn’t want to make itself look ridiculous and anti-science, that won’t happen. BSU, of course, won’t bend to the legislators’ ludicrous demands anyway.

What Klinghoffer doesn’t realize is that Indiana, despite the religiosity and benighted attitudes of many of its citizens, doesn’t want to make itself look as ignorant as the people at the Discovery Institute.

Yesterday I wrote about how four Indiana state legislators wrote to Ball State University (BSU), asking questions about how Eric Hedin’s class came to be removed from the BSU science curriculum after it was found to be ridden with religious proselytizing.  I now have a copy of their letter, which I’ll post below.  This letter was written in collaboration with the creationist Discovery Institute (DI), which is deeply upset that intelligent design was banned from BSU science classes. That banning was a whack on the nose of the camel of Christianity as it tried to stick its nose into the tent of higher education.

Picture 2 Picture 3As I predicted, all four signers are Republicans. Dennis Kruse, to Indiana’s shame, is chair of the state Senate Committee on Education and Career Development. Travis Holdman is on the Senate Commission on Improving the Status of Children. Greg Walker is the chair of the Senate Ethics Committee (!) and on the Committee for Commerce, Economic Development, and Technology.  Jeffrey Thompson, a state Representative, is not only on the House Education Committee, but is in fact described as a “Chemistry, Physics and Math Teacher, Danville Community High School.”

It’s no surprise, of course, that these are Republicans, for that is the Party of Ignorance, but it’s somewhat surprising that all of these are dedicated in some way to improving education and Technology in Indiana. Hoosiers, be ashamed of your state!

As several readers noted, the legislators and the Discovery Institute have gone badly wrong on this one. As reader Erp noted, the course at issue is the Honors Course “Dangerous Ideas,” taught by Paul Ranieri (pdf of the course here). Reader Ant dug up Paul Raniei’s c.v., which you can find here, and Ranieri is hardly the agent of Satan that the DI and legislators make out. In fact, Ranieri, an associate professor of English, is apparently a Catholic. He got his bachelor’s degree at a Catholic college, Xavier University of Ohio, and under his activities as Faculty Advisor you’ll see this:

Screen shot 2014-03-13 at 7.29.40 AM

Ranieri was Chairman of the English Department from 1998-2001 and acting Chair in 2007. He appears from his c.v. to be deeply dedicated to undergraduate education, and his Honors Course seems to be one that simply challenges students’ ideas using the book What is Your Dangerous Idea?, which, as I noted, contains as many defenses of religion as attacks on religion. It isn’t a science course, nor does it seem to proselytize religion. It appears in fact to be what a college Honors course should be: one in which a diversity of competing viewpoints are discussed.  But that doesn’t mean that in a college science course a diversity of competing viewpoints should be discussed, especially when one of those viewpoints—Intelligent Design—has been rejected as science by both the scientific community and the courts.

If the Indiana legislators want all viewpoints to be taught in science courses, by all means let them agitate for alchemy to be taught in Chemistry classes, faith healing and homeopathy in health classes and the medical school, and astrology in the psychology class. For Intelligent Design has no more credibility than these pseudoscientific “alternatives.” The reason that ID rather than homeopathy is being pushed is obvious: ID is a religiously-inspired theory, and teaching it is part of the “Wedge Strategy” to get materialism expelled from public education and replaced with Christianity.

Those legislators and the Discovery Institute are going to lose on this one. They chose the wrong course to use an example, and they’re making fools of themselves. It’s particularly embarrassing for representative Jeffrey Thompson, who teaches science in high school! Let’s see an Indiana newspaper for once come out and decry in plain terms the ignorance of these legislators, as well as their apparent ignorance of the U.S. Constitution.

We can look forward to a lot more angry posts by David Klinghoffer and his colleagues at the Discovery Institute after the dust settles on this one.

Submitted with respect,
Jerry Coyne
Discovery Institute “Censor of the Year” for 2013


  1. AD
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Typo alert first paragraph “This letter was wrote”

    • Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Fixed, thanks.

      • James Walker
        Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        LOL I thought that was deliberate.

        • AD
          Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:09 am | Permalink

          I had some doubts myself, wondering if it was deliberate like the use of “bestest friend”

  2. NewEnglandBob
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 5:58 am | Permalink


    • francis
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink


      • gbjames
        Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:47 am | Permalink


  3. darrelle
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Though I don’t doubt they are amply endowed with ignorance I am not so sure that it is the primary enabling factor for these legislators. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least some of them know full well that they are wrong and don’t care about that, because they also know that about half the people, at least, will believe every bit of it. No matter how blatantly they contort reality or even blatantly lie.

    It is habit to use these tactics, because they get results, and habit for even many of the opponents to pass there use off with a shrug, “it’s just the way politics is played.” That just seems so needlessly fatalistic to me. We don’t just have to accept that this is the way politics is played. It is worthwhile, vital I would say, to call bullshit on this kind of stuff. Loudly. So, you go Jerry!

    Ego, lack of ethics, thuggery, greed and unenlightened self interest are likely strong motivational contenders for these legislators as well as ignorance.

    • Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      If true, it is all the more reason that the party should be declared illegal, and anyone who voted for them disenfranchised immediately. Personally, I suspect they are actually that stupid…

      • darrelle
        Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        Ahh. I see you are a “glass 1/2 full” kind of person. 🙂

        • Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:15 am | Permalink

          That’s right. As in: I’d like to fill 1/2 the electorate full of lead.

          • Jonathan Wallace
            Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink


          • Zetopan
            Posted March 13, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

            Actually, the people that you are referring to already act like they have been on a diet of 100% lead based paint, so no more action is required on your part.

    • Kevin Alexander
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      It’s not necessary that there be any ignorance on the part of these guys. In fact I think they are very knowledgable about what they are doing which is playing to their base.
      Politics is a kind of a science in that the practitioners research the biases (ignorant or otherwise) and then construct policies to fit.

      • darrelle
        Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        Oh, I agree. But, people being people, some of them are certain to just be that stupid. A spectrum where one axis goes from purely ignorant on one end to purely unethical on the other.

        • Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

          I think the line between stupidity and evil is a short and blurry one. But I’m a “glass is cracked” kind of person.

          • darrelle
            Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

            I am not sure if it is appropriate or not, but damn(!), that made me laugh out loud. I’ll have to remember that one.

          • gbjames
            Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

            I’m less pessimistic,ironwing. I’m a “glass is half cracked” fellow. 😉

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted March 13, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

              I think you’re more of a realist – it’s just a glass of water! 🙂

            • grasshopper
              Posted March 13, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

              You may talk about the contents of the glass, but I prefer to concentrate on what’s left in the bottle.

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

            “I am not sure if it is appropriate or not, but damn(!), that made me laugh out loud. I’ll have to remember that one.”

            What darrelle said!

    • Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      If they’re not actually stupid, but only pretending to be stupid in a cynical effort to get votes, I’m comfortable with calling them stupid.

      Maybe this is related to Poe’s Law: Without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere stupidity and a parody of stupidity”.

      • darrelle
        Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        Palin’s Law?

        • Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

          If she’s been faking it, I’m impressed!

          • darrelle
            Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:47 am | Permalink

            Ha! I came up with Palin because Michael Palin seems to work quite well for a direct Poe analogy, and Sarah Palin is like a warning that reality has a way of trumping creativity.

            “ohhhh nnnnooo! Kkkkkenn is cccccoming to kkkkkill me![Kevin Kline’s character taunting (over the top Dunning Kruger sufferer) Michael Palin’s character (an inept criminal mercilessly scorned by fellow gang member Kline’s character), who is driving towards him verrrry slowly in a steam roller with murderous intent, not yet realizing that his feet are stuck in partially set concrete and he can not move.]

            With that movie in mind maybe Kline’s Law would be a better candidate.

      • Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        I also like the revision of Arthur C. Clark’s 3rd Law:
        “Any sufficiently advanced troll is indistinguishable from a genuine kook.”

        • ladyatheist
          Posted March 13, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          Wouldn’t that be a Poe?

    • ploubere
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      The ignorati to be decried are not the politicians but the population that elected them, the ones that are majority in so many places in this country, who don’t like science and don’t understand or much care for the constitution and bill of rights, and want a christian theocracy in charge. The politicians they elect are merely their representatives.

      • darrelle
        Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        I think there is no good reason to limit the decrying to the electorate. I also think that “merely” is leaving entirely too much unsaid about the relationship between politicians and their electorate.

      • Jeffery
        Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        It’s a good reminder for the mid-term elections coming up: DON’T VOTE ANY MORE REPUBLICANS IN! Although a few of them may, indeed, be decent people, and a few of them may have some good ideas (even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then), their party has been so utterly hijacked by religious whack-jobs (who are going to use the elections as part of their ongoing internal “purge” of those who show ANY signs of moderation or cooperation with the “enemy”)that it may safely be said that:

        Republican= theocracy
        Republican= cuts in education, and direct attacks on the quality of education
        Republican= the gutting of whatever “safety nets” the citizenry has of being able to make a decent living, of having affordable health care, and of being able to trust the food and products we need in our daily lives.

        Don’t get me wrong: I’m no big fan of Obama and I know that the Democratic party has its share of nuts and corrupt, corporate “stooges”, but at least they’re not trying to incorporate a 2,000-year-old book of fables into their party platform!

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Paul Ranieri’s class is what Hedin’s could have been if Hedin had been able to teach it outside of a science class. It looks like a really interesting class and it appears that Ranieri knows how to do it right. I had theist professors teach courses on atheism, theism and skepticism and they did it without bringing in their own biases. The DI are out of their league with taking on academia in this way!

  5. John
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    It’s simply frightening to live in Indiana, where ignorance is a Republican core value, and the Republicans control both all of the branches of our government.

    There was a big controversy here recently regarding the lame slogan they picked for our new license plate. I thought they should have gone with “Indiana – Working Hard to become the Christian Iran!”

    • John
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      Oops — delete the word “both”.

    • Kevin
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      I am afraid Texas is better than Indiana. Better at sublimating ignorance through political quagmire. They get first prize on putting disgust in education.

      • Richard Olson
        Posted March 13, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        I was in Texas most of February. I watched every edition of CBS Sunday morning that aired during that time, plus a few hours of other programming. As residents well know political ads in the state aired thick and frequently due to the impending primary election.

        I was struck by, first, the frequency and vehemence of GOP candidates references to God, both in terms of their personal beliefs and how they interpret the deities’ direct guidance with regard to the candidate’s public policy proposals.

        Second, it was soon apparent just how much difference Citizens United makes in an election where conservatives discern a serious challenge by their opponents. GOP ads outnumbered Democratic candidate ads by a serious margin, at least during the 8 hours or so I had the TV set on.

        Third, I am quite well aware of the GOP division between the religious right/libertarian winger sector and the less insane remainder of the party. I am confident I experienced a preview of what looms nationwide as November draws near, and it is going to be more unpleasant than the typical election cycle.

        An awful lot of red candidates go out of their way to make sure anybody paying attention to them is aware that they are Conservative with a capital C Republicans, not that other RINO mainstream bunch of 5th Column socialists.

        It will be a preview of what theocratic America will look and sound like should that occur, and there is more than a decent chance it can.

    • redlivingblue
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      Indiana has some way to go before it catches up with my home state of Alabama. We have new legislation in the works originating from our state legislature to make 10 commandments monuments legal on state property (court houses), 15 minutes of prayer mandatory to start the day in our public schools and my personal favorite, a new dorm at public Troy university that is for Christian students. I encourage all readers of this website to join the FFRF. They are the best hope a reasonable person has to combat the intrusion of religion into our public facilities.

  6. Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    The Discovery Institute, via its flack David Klinghoffer, has weighed in, arguing that the letter from the Fatuous Four is very serious, and that BSU better pay attention lest the university lose state funding. See the update at the top of the post.

    • darrelle
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Wow. Klinghoffer sounds just like a 5 year old. My 9 year old has a term she likes to use for kids that behave like this. She would quickly label him, accurately in my view, a “groveling bootlicker.”

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Their true colours come out when they suggest that BSU should be afraid because they DI will enlist help from politicians and those politicians will succeed in denying funding if their (wrong) views are not taught.

      Welcome to the theocracy.

    • Draken
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      So Ball State’s funding has been cut for several decades, but if it happens this year it’s all Jerry and the FFRF’s fault! You can see it coming.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

        Good but ominous point.

    • Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Does the legislature have the ability to directly do that?

  7. Jeff D
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I don’t know much about the other two (and I commented on Sen. Kruse on March 12th), but I have had the opportunity to observe Travis Holdman up-close and first-hand in committee hearings.

    In addition to being a god-fearin’ upright Christian legislator, Sen. Holdman has some bizarre preoccupations. In the past 2 years, he spent amazing amounts of time on some pet legislation to create special protection to farmers against “trespassing” by activists or journalists who would stand on public property and use high-powered lenses to photograph or videotape activities on farms, such as large-scale hog-feeding operations. A significantly-watered down version of this bill passed and pertains only to actual unauthorized entry onto private farm land (It’s still unclear why existing laws against trespass and criminal mischief are not good enough for Hoosier farmers).

    • wanderobo
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      The agricultural industry, in particular the meat industry, does not want the public to know the kind of base cruelty that exists on hog, poultry, etc farms. They are behind this type of legislation and it is being proposed in almost all agricultural states. In fact Idaho just passed an “ag gag” bill last month that got a lot of coverage.

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        That chicken pdf linked to by Kristof should be required reading in every school, and wherever else you can require reading. I was going to say, printed in every newspaper, but there are hardly any newspapers anymore.

        (I know it’s online–duh–but online articles are too easy to skip without looking at them.)

  8. Mike in Barcelona
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:01 am | Permalink


    Please note that the letter was written “…because serious questions have been raised about whether…religious liberty [has] been respected…”.

    I know these are Republicans, but are they really suggesting this is an issue of religious liberty to teach creationism in a science class? Would they also stand up for the religious liberty of a muslim or hindu in the same situation? I wonder what the DI thinks of the religious liberty issue in connection to ID-creationism? Aren’t they pissing into the wind on this one?

    • Sastra
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      They’re not just pissing into the wind, they’re making an own goal. If ID has no connection to religion, then why is this about respecting religious liberty?

  9. Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    That Paul Ranieri PDF seems to have been removed …

    • Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      It looks like Jerry garbled the link:

      • Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        Uh… no. It ain’t working is it?


        • Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:28 am | Permalink

          The link works for me. Just goes to the course listing.

          • Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

            Maybe the link restricted wrt the country it’s called from. Germany in my case … I’ll survive that though.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

          Not working for me either. It almost looks like they goofed up their Web server.

          • Erp
            Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

            Not working for me either now. However I had copied the relevant info earlier:

            “We could all probably list ideas in times before us that turned out to be good ones, as well as those that turned out to be bad ones. One’s hindsight can be 20/20 clear. We can also name ideas that are dangerous because of the negative effect they could have for the future if they are wrong. However, what about ideas that are dangerous, not because they are assumed to be false, but because they might be true, because they might require a significant rethinking of our moral sensibilities‖? This is a course in integrative, speculative thought about just such dangerous ideas. Interestingly, speculative thought, or thinking in the realm of the possible, is often listed as a characteristic of advanced thinking. So, let‘s relax and speculate…”

  10. Sastra
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    If the Indiana legislators want all viewpoints to be taught in science courses, by all means let them agitate for alchemy to be taught in Chemistry classes, faith healing and homeopathy in health classes and the medical school, and astrology in the psychology class.

    Yes, it’s a smaller point and yes, I’m like a broken record, but please stop using this analogy as part of the analogy. “Hey, if you teach Intelligent Design in a university … then you might as well teach Alternative Medicine in a legitimate medical school ha ha! Wouldn’t that be inconceivable!”

    They DO. Skeptics call it “Quackademic Medicine” and as much a problem as Creationism.

    No, scratch that. It’s WORSE. Faith healing (which includes energy medicine and mind/body medicine) and homeopathy are being taught — today, right at this minute – in prestigious, respected, well-established universities and medical schools across the U.S and even the world. They’re “other ways of knowing” and being integrated into a well-rounded medical education.

    It’s a scandal to science, even if it’s not your particular issue. Please don’t feed into the popular “shruggie” (ie accomodationist) position that it’s not really a problem.

    • Pliny the in Between
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      In some ways it’s worse. Many insurance plans will deny payment for new science-based medical therapies, citing them as ‘experimental’ while paying for CAM treatments. MDs are increasingly required to show outcomes data while CAM artists practice as they please.

    • Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Indeed – in Germany, homeopathy is being taught in many universities. As is cupping therapy. In Traunstein, Bavaria, you can earn a BSc (!!) in Homeopathy from next semester on.

    • Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      You mean like this?

      • Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        I learned last week that there is also a really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, tiny University in Honolululu for that kind of stuff.

        • Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

          I note that their domain name is: IQUIM.ORG

          But then again, having a pubic health background, I notice that kind of thing.

          • Chris
            Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:59 am | Permalink

            Well, or be British where it’s reasonably well-known, but a bit old fashioned, slang.


            My mind is boggling!

            • Posted March 14, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink

              Is it a purse? A pouch? A furry sandwich? NO! It’s the latest in personal intimacy enhancement devices from Apple Corporation: the iQuim! Just turn it on, put it in your trousers, and keep in contact with your loved ones all day long! (batteries not included)

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 14, 2014 at 6:57 am | Permalink

                Anything Apple made would not have user replaceable batteries. It would ruin the aesthetics!

              • Kevin Alexander
                Posted March 14, 2014 at 7:35 am | Permalink

                And the socket wouldn’t fit any of your other devices.

              • Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

                The wireless keyboard and trackpad do!


              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 14, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

                Yeah, but I think those are outliers.

              • Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

                But the iQuim is just another interface device, no?


              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink

                I don’t know – could be an independent device like the iPod – does it hook up to the Interwebs?

            • Posted March 14, 2014 at 6:55 am | Permalink

              customer: my iQuim isn’t working…

              AppleCare technician: well let’s see, did you follow the instructions carefully?

              customer (pulling down trousers): it said to put it down my trousers…

              AppleCare technician: next time… you need to put it down the FRONT.

  11. Hempenstein
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Discovery Institute “Censor of the Year” for 2013

    Hope that’s been entered on your CV in the Honors and Awards section.

  12. NAY
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    All they are asking for is “freedom for scientists and scholars to teach and research about the evidence for design in nature”. Reminds me of a Gary Larson cartoon in which a man has written a long mathematical equation on a blackboard with “(and then a miracle happens)” in the middle of it. His colleague is saying “I think you have to be a little more precise right at this point” (words to that effect). How can you do research on or find evidence for the ineffable? Isn’t that Sophisticated Theology (c)? Again, doesn’t belong in science class.
    Also, a quibble: astrology would be taught in astronomy class, not psychiatry (although you may be thinking such people are nuts).

    • Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Psychology, actually: it purports to be an explanation of behaviour and personality.

      • NAY
        Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:01 am | Permalink


    • H.H.
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      That’s a famous cartoon, but it isn’t one of Larson’s. It was done by Sidney Harris.

  13. Posted March 13, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    One thing that the Discovery Institute may be right about: that the involvement of four powerful Republican committee chairs may mean that if Ball State does not bow to their wishes, it might lose some funding.

    If someone knows why this can’t possible happen, do let us know.

    • Kevin
      Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Obviously it could happen. Humanity is unfortunately not ready to endorse secularism on the scale that would remove religion for all facets of public life. The hope I have is that more people will actually get excited about this opportunity and more people will publicly cry out that Jesus must live and he must live through education and that those who truly believe must not let go of their belief systems because it is so precious to them, arguably the only thing that is precious to them. This would have several effects in the long run, almost all of them humiliating for the state of Indiana.

      • Posted March 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

        typo in my comment: ” … can’t possibly happen, …”

        • Posted March 13, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          Further correction of my comment. Based on Jerry’s post above, only two of the four signatories are committee chairs.

    • Posted March 13, 2014 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Okay, Dr. F. I’ll make you a bet you can’t lose. I bet you $25 that this comes to nothing (my prediction). If it does come to hothing, you pay me $25 but you’ll be happy that it did come to nothing. If BSU gets funding cut and we know that it’s as a result of this ID fracas, I pay you.

      It’s an offer you can’t refuse.

  14. wanderobo
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    JAC: “…ID is a religiously-inspired theory…”

    I’m sure you don’t mean to elevate ID by giving it the power of theory or allowing the religious conflation of the two meanings. Better perhaps: ID is a religiously inspired pile of nonsense.

    • Posted March 13, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Since ID is not science, Jerry was obviously using *theory* in the vernacular sense


  15. eveysolara
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    it’s so funny how they deny that ID is creationism. it’s nothing but bad arguments against evolution because they want Genesis to be literally true.

  16. HaggisForBrains
    Posted March 13, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Typo alert: Update, second last paragraph: “Four Republican legislatures cannot cut funding to BSU”.

  17. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 2:57 am | Permalink

    alchemy to be taught in Chemistry classes, faith healing and homeopathy in health classes and the medical school, and astrology in the psychology class.

    Welllll … alchemy does have a perfectly valid place in discussion of the history of chemistry (along with things like the chemistry of mining, metals processing, pigments and dyes … you could make a case for poisons and some herbal medicines too). While their explanatory theories were pretty much bunkum, they were, sometimes, groping towards an effective, predictive procedure for understanding the interactions and transformations of materials. Certainly there were charlatans and outright frauds too, but that’s not exactly unknown today.
    “faith healing and homeopathy” … now why do they spring to mind in the same breath as “charlatans and outright frauds”? Definite candidates for training medics in how to defuse their adherence in patients, as a step towards treating the “whole person”. I spent a few days a couple of weeks ago re-reading Ben Goldacre’s wonderfully splenetic attack on these mass delusions. Good to see that on a rig with under 20 books in it’s library, someone other than me had contributed that one.
    Astrology in a psychology class – sure – it’s a good study in wish fulfilment and a variety of advertising techniques. Actually, it would be interesting if any (perfectly valid) courses in the techniques of advertising do use astrology as a case study.
    I know these are popular examples of soft, cuddly, New Age dimwittery. But surely there are better examples.

  18. Posted March 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Jerry called it. In what has to be the least surprising revelation in history, all four Indiana law makers involved in question are in fact Republicans.

  19. Posted March 20, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    “If the Indiana legislators want all viewpoints to be taught in science courses, by all means let them agitate for alchemy to be taught in Chemistry classes, faith healing and homeopathy in health classes and the medical school, and astrology in the psychology class.”

    Unfortunately, it isn’t hard to find undergraduate and graduate health classes (and textbooks) that promote homeopathy and faith-healing uncritically.

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