some support for Krugman's op-ed; and some dissent

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Fri Aug 05 2005 - 14:11:34 EDT

In support of Krugman's view, I note that several of my friends in the ID
movement (I won't spell out which ones, though in some cases they have made
public statements) do not believe in "global warming" (the generally
accepted conclusion that human activity has raised the avg temperature of
the planet slightly more than otherwise it would have been raised in the
past few centuries), and several do not believe that AIDS is caused by the
HIVirus. In other words, they take a similar sceptical stance to evolution,
warming, and AIDS.

Krugman is right that to some extent the origins controversy is driven by
who has access to recognized authority and who does not. (I believe this is
also Denyse O'Leary's obviously journalistic interpretation of the
controversy.) In other words, sociology of knowledge can IMO help us
understand why this is so controversial right now. Krugman might not agree,
but I think this cuts both ways. Try a thought expt: how many research
university science depts would hire a highly competent young researcher
(that is, someone judged to be so if his/her view on ID were not known), if
that person was known to support ID? I think you can connect the dots.

Some conservatives (in the partisan political sense) in humanities
disciplines have felt disciminated against for many years, and have given
that as one of the main reasons for their decisions not to enter academe
despite their strong qualifications to do so; they tend to go into business
or affiliate with one of the various conservative "think tanks" instead. I
agree with their perception that humanities faculty do tend to hire those
who share their own views on issues that matter to them; that is, I think
that such discrimination is real, and that it does shape the composition of
academic departments at some institutions; certainly it is true that
academic humanities departments are usually overwhelmingly "liberal" in
their political views, far more so than either the general public or even
the highly educated portion of the general public. Inferring a cause for
this effect can be a bit tricky, but subtle (or not so subtle)
discrimination does seem to me high on the list of possible causes.

The battle to control public opinion about science and religion is not new.
 My article about the 1920s in the May-June issue of American Scientist is
about precisely this.

Received on Fri Aug 5 14:13:10 2005

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