Re: [asa] Expelled Explained (firing those you don't agree with)

From: Merv <>
Date: Mon Apr 14 2008 - 20:18:24 EDT

Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> */Merv said:/*
> "If private enterprises want to assume certain fundamental answers so
> they can move on with their mission, that is perfectly understandable
> and expected."
> What is the difference between public and private when both are ran
> by professionals with an agenda to further? I'm not saying the agenda
> is good or bad, but it is specific. I would think that universities
> are very careful as to who their professors are. They'd love to get
> Nobel peace prize winners to boast about. They want to boast about
> cutting-edge research. By and large the mainstream science rejects
> ID, so it would be an embarrassment to a mainstream scientific
> institution trying to make a name for themselves. Just because they
> are public doesn't mean they have to allow anything and everything in
> (under the guise of "intellectual freedom"). I'd imagine it is up to
> the President of the University to lead the University into a certain
> direction, and if people don't like it, they will fire him and get
> someone else to do the job.
> Dick is taking a position on what is good or bad science. I'm not.
> I'm saying it is all about the University and where the leader wants
> to take it, and you have to get like-minded people to accomplish your
> goals. These people want to be famous and try to make
> break-throughs... not get mired in debates over different opinions and
> going in different directions. If you want to make a break-through in
> evolutionary science, you don't hire people who believe in ID; If you
> want to make an ID break-through, you don't hire researchers who are
> evolutionist. You hire and retain/promote the people who have a
> */passion/* for the direction of the institution, and can further the
> cause.
> My post #4 for today...
> Bernie Dehler
We're variously switching lanes on this question between what I'll call
the "legal level" and the "higher pursuit of truth level". The former
one is the more practical question of what should universities be
allowed to get away with in hiring/firing before we say "enough" and
erect legal boundaries. I'm sure David O. can wax eloquent about the
dance of tensions between an institution's right to exercise some
control over its employees (Fisher and Dehler hearken to this), while
yet protecting the right of academics to think freely beyond the
standard leash. I'm spending more time in the philosophical lane asking
"what is the outcome of a society that primarily does....
whichever..." And the verdict on today's squabbles will be given by
our grandchildren. Academia had no use for Galileo at that time, --
tried to shut him down. Now we are the grandchildren that get to
render judgment, and the egg went on the face of the establishment.
Was it a bad thing that Galileo was opposed? With hindsight, it's easy
to see. But the institutions of the time had good reasons for thinking
as they did. If every crackpot had to be given a long hearing what
would become of the study of historically established wisdoms? I know
the question "Does the earth move?" is a different class than "Is Design
is detectable?" And our grandchildren will probably still be having
the same argument with the new vernacular of their day. Metaphysics
will remain Metaphysics, after all. But my more general point is still
illustrated that we can't see right now if marginal and mainstream
thought will be switching places a century hence.

Perhaps it *should* be hard to get revolutionary ideas considered, and
institutions have evolved into their present forms for a reason. They
will fire the maverick at the slight risk of losing a genius. Most of
the time, they probably lost nothing more than a crackpot, but then
occasionally the egg comes sailing back. The risk seems to go with the
territory. So my long attempted answer to your question, Bernie, of
difference between public and private, is that perhaps there isn't much
difference. They are just answerable to different constituencies
(stockholders or owners on one hand, voters on the other.) But the very
philosophy undergirding the notion of a "public" place is to afford at
least some places of protection from the mercenary tendencies of
unfettered capitalism.

I like the way David put it: "We're not about selling consumables,
we're about investigating truth." Amen to that. (definitely a
clarion call of the public sector when it's at its best, anyway.) The
private sector only has use for truth if it is necessary to advance the
mission. If falsehood would serve it better, then it happily ingests
that & dishes it out. Even too much of the public sector is bound up in
the latter form.


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Received on Mon Apr 14 20:21:37 2008

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