Friday, June 30, 2006


Hysteria Over ID Lectures at Leeds as study shows 1 in 10 science students don't accept evolution

The Times reports on the latest round of academic hysteria concerning ID, with a report that 'Compulsory lectures in intelligent design and creationism are going to be included in second-year courses for zoology and genetics undergraduates at Leeds University' - despite the fact that these are to be strictly attempts to discredit these alternative theories (which, if experience is anything to go by, will probably mean that they will attack straw men with a fist-full of fallacies). Why is it that 'Despite the clear anti- creationist stance of these lecturers, the move has set warning bells ringing across the UK science community.'? Because: '"It would be undesirable for universities to spend a lot of precious resources teaching students that creationism and intelligent design are not based on scientific evidence,” says David Read, the vice- president of the Royal Society.' You can see the dilemma - ignore ID and creationism on the basis that they don't merit serious engagement, despite the fact the 1 in 10 science students don't believe in evolution (according to a study carried out by Professor Roger Downie, of the University of Glasgow), or spend time trying to refute them, thereby giving these views more publicity (albeit bad publicity) and a foot in the door as legitimate topics of intellectual discussion. Leeds University has taken the latter option. Professor Steve Fuller has some encouraging words: “The scientific establishment prevents dissenting views,” says Professor Steve Fuller, Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. “I have a lot of respect for those who have true scientific credentials and are upfront about their views.” Commenting on the study concerning a tenth of science students not believing in evolution, Professor Downie said: “This gives a very poor prognosis for their understanding of what science is and their ability to be scientists”. From a philosophical perspective, I'd actually say this may give a rather good prognosis for these student's understanding of science and their ability to be scientists! Seeing this sort of hysteria in academia, it doesn't take a great leap of imagination to imagine a day when science students are required to sign a statement of faith in methodological naturalism as an essential ground rule of scientific theorising before they can be accepted onto a course...

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