RE: Dembski clarification from Baylor

From: glenn morton (
Date: Wed Nov 01 2000 - 01:45:38 EST

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    > I never claimed that Bill was a martyr. Nor did I claim that
    > Bill's press
    > release was tactful and conciliatory. I'm inclined to believe it
    > was neither.
    > (All I asked of Glenn was that Bill be treated respectfully, and
    > that we be
    > careful to get the facts straight. Now I'm asking that Glenn use care when
    > publicly posting his unverified assumptions about what I
    > believe.) In my view,
    > however, Bill's faux pas pales in comparison to the more
    > significant issue, i.e.
    > academic freedom. Glenn has repeatedly mentioned typical employer-employee
    > responsibilities in defense of Baylor's decision. But with
    > respect to faculty in
    > institutions of higher education, employer-employee relations are
    > not supposed
    > to operate like those in businesses. This is why there is tenure
    > (something Bill
    > does not have).

    In that case Bryan, the normal rules of employee/employer apply. They only
    go out the window with tenure. Tenure must be earn (and one is, as I
    understand it, lucky to earn it).

    As an example, on 60 Minutes this past Sunday
    > Prof. Cohen of the
    > University of Michigan took his employer to task before the whole nation
    > regarding the university's acceptance policy. Is Prof. Cohen in
    > danger of losing
    > his job? No. Why not? Not just because he has tenure, but because
    > institutions
    > of higher learning are supposed to value freedom of expression so
    > much that they
    > permit public expression of dissenting opinions by their faculty.

    Tenure was given originally so that there could be academic freedom. But
    never at any institution that I know of was everyone given tenure and that
    kind of freedom. Be too controversial as a grad student and see where that
    gets you.

    > There are
    > limits to freedom of expression of course, but, at least in his
    > press release, I
    > don't think Bill crossed them.

    Here is the point--Baylor admin did. And unless you are the Baylor
    president, your vote doesn't really count.

    The unbelievably harsh attacks on
    > him by certain
    > Baylor faculty members since this past March were far more
    > virulent, and yet of
    > course those faculty members were not disciplined. To be sure,
    > the standards for
    > administrative staff are significantly different than they are
    > for faculty. As
    > director of the MPC Bill was standing in both sets of shoes (and
    > that itself was
    > part of the problem, especially without tenure, effectively
    > eliminating the
    > protections of academic freedom). That makes it much harder to
    > determine where
    > the line between academic freedom and administrative
    > responsibility meet. I
    > think Mike Beaty is a reasonable, fair-minded person, and I
    > assume that he used
    > his best judgment in making the decision that he did.

    Then lets not turn Dembski into a martyr for not being a martyr. That
    American Spectator article illustrated that he was in the process of being
    proclaimed a martyr by the conservative press PRIOR to his actually being
    martyred. That is really bad--it is sentence first, verdict later.

    But I also
    > know that Bill
    > has endured a tremendous amount of public criticism this year,
    > even by those who
    > knew nothing of Bill and hadn't read a page of his work.

    One couldn't help but agree that Dembski had endured lots of criticism. But
    the ID movement, who used to be on the evolution reflector years ago,
    withdrew from forums where their ideas could be criticised and where they
    could defend them. They now post on a private "phylogeny" list where in
    general they only allow in those who agree with them. It was quite obvious
    when they left that their critics were besting them publically so they left
    the list. That is not the way to convince one's opponents that you have
    something worth listening to.

    I am not a stranger to that kind of criticism. When I first began advocating
    the ideas I now advocate, you should have heard the criticisms, the
    misunderstandings of what I was saying and the names that I was called (I
    have been called apostate, heretic, son of satan, full of crap,intentionally
    dishonest etc etc). I stuck to the data, pushed back against my critics and
    while maybe not convincing them, there is a bit of respect at least. Bill
    hasn't endured anything that he shouldn't have expected for advocating a
    different idea.

    But Bill doesn't really want dialogue; he wants acceptance. I know a guy who
    has tried to engage Dembski in a conversation about his work. He can't get
    Dembski to respond. I have tried to engage Dembski on two or three occasions
    about aspects of his work that I think are wrong. I have never gotten
    responses from him. I even called him and invited him to lunch (I would pay)
    but he wouldn't get back with me. If this guy thinks he can have his ideas
    accepted without any defense of them, he is really wrong. He must come out
    and engage his critics like every other scientist has to do. Why is it that
    the ID group wants acceptance without the hard (often hurtful) interchange
    of ideas? I would suggest that it is because they can't defend their work.

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