Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Luskin Retracts, Still Gets It Wrong

Casey Luskin has finally recognized that he completely misread my post about Rob Pennock’s speech at UCSD and retracted his post, but in the process he’s still making a mountain out of a molehill and inventing a controversy where there is none. He writes:

It’s interesting that certain Darwinists seem obsessed to prove that the Pennock lecture wasn’t required for all students. Maybe that’s because even they understand–at least subconsciously–the problem of imposing such one-sided indoctrination on students at a taxpayer-funded university. In any case, whether all first-quarter freshmen at UCSD were required to attend (as stated on the UCSD website), or merely first-quarter freshmen in the 6th College at UCSD , the problem is the same: Students at a state university who are compelled to attend a one-sided polemic against intelligent design without being afforded the opportunity to hear the other side of the debate are being subjected to indoctrination, not education.


I think it’s interesting that he doesn’t bother to name who those “certain Darwinists” are. What I’ve seen, in fact, is that the obsession is on the ID side trying to prove that all freshmen were required to attend the speech. But the reality is that it just doesn’t matter whether it was mandatory or not. It’s not at all unusual for universities to require students to attend certain presentations, if nowhere else than at graduation ceremonies where they invite someone. Luskin and his pals would have you believe that anytime a university invites one person to speak at such an event, if they don’t provide a counterpoint to whatever they say, then they’re “indoctrinating” the students. This, of course, is nonsense.

The ID side has been frantically trying to sell the notion that the UCSD administration took a poll, found out that many of their incoming freshmen didn’t believe in evolution and then scheduled Rob to speak to change their minds. This is utter nonsense. What they have neatly tried to avoid admitting is that Pennock’s speech was part of a whole series of addresses that the university has every single year. It’s called the Convocation Series and it involves a different speaker every quarter from a wide range of fields.

If Luskin were to apply his reasoning (yes, I know I’m using that term loosely) in a consistent manner, then he would have to argue that every single one of those speeches amounts to “indoctrination” because only one scholar is invited to speak, without anyone to dispute what they say. When Frank Rich is there for the next Convocation Series speech, will we hear him complaining that UCSD students “are compelled to attend a one-sided polemic…without being afforded the opportunity to hear the other side”? Highly unlikely. Because it’s only “indoctrination” if you don’t like what’s being said.

The fact is that universities invite scholars to speak on campus all the time. When they invite a cabinet member to address a graduation ceremony are they engaging in “indoctrination” if they don’t also invite an administration critic to provide “balance”? Of course not. And contrary to Cordova’s assertions and Luskin’s implications (he doesn’t come out and say that such a speech is unconstitutional, he just says it’s a “problem” – for him, apparently), there is no constitutional issue here.

Comments

  1. #1 Sastra
    November 29, 2006

    If, for the sake of argument, “the UCSD administration took a poll, found out that many of their incoming freshmen didn’t believe in evolution and then scheduled Rob to speak to change their minds,” why would this be a problem? How would that be any different than providing a WWII speaker if they found out that most freshmen thought the holocaust was a hoax — or simply weren’t really clear on which countries fought and why?

    If the evolution-ID debate is a science issue — as the DI keeps insisting — then the university has no obligation to promote or present what is at best a “fringe” theory on the margins, and every right to “indoctrinate” (translation: “educate”) its incoming freshmen.

  2. #2 Russell
    November 29, 2006

    I wonder if he has a similar view of a university that has courses against pseudo-science, but no courses for astrology or crystal healing?

  3. #3 ivy privy
    November 29, 2006

    Debate on Intelligent Design
    Wednesday, November 29, 2006
    Cornell University
    Undergraduates from the IDEA Club (which no longer has regulations requiring club officers to be Christian) and the ACLU Club will debate the question, “Should intelligent design be allowed in public schools?”
    165 McGraw Hall
    6:30 PM

  4. #4 Phobos
    November 29, 2006

    More basically, Luskin is claiming that ID is a valid “other side to the debate” when it’s not.

  5. #5 Lettuce
    November 29, 2006

    If Luskin were to apply his reasoning (yes, I know I’m using that term loosely) in a consistent manner, then he would have to argue that every single one of those speeches amounts to “indoctrination” because only one scholar is invited to speak, without anyone to dispute what they say.

    Oh, the conspiracy goes much deeper than UCSD!

    I suspect most larger universities have such series, or at least many of them.

    Can’t say what’s going on these days, but certainly this was the case at both the universities I attended in Wisconsin (UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee).

    To be consistent, and fair to all indoctrinated students, Luskin needs to give up everything else he’s doing and get on the case(s)!

  6. #6 mark
    November 29, 2006

    If, for the sake of argument, “the UCSD administration took a poll, found out that many of their incoming freshmen didn’t believe in evolution and then scheduled Rob to speak to change their minds,” why would this be a problem? — Indeed, this should be considered remedial education.

  7. #7 386sx
    November 29, 2006

    To be consistent, and fair to all indoctrinated students, Luskin needs to give up everything else he’s doing and get on the case(s)!

    Excellent point. I hear that sometimes they also require students to attend classes too. It’s interesting that certain Luskins seem obsessed with not giving up everything else he’s doing and getting on the case(s). Veeery intereeeesting…

  8. #8 Coin
    November 29, 2006

    It’s interesting that certain Darwinists seem obsessed to prove that the Pennock lecture wasn’t required for all students.

    Indeed, Darwinists seem to be obsessed with correcting any false statement made by ID/creationists, ever, even quite trivial ones. It’s as if Darwinists think accuracy and truth are goals worth pursuing entirely in and of themselves. Wackos. They should realize, as Carey Luskin does, that it’s the intent of an opinion that’s important, not the accuracy of any of the information you use to justify that opinion.

  9. #9 Dave Carlson
    November 29, 2006

    Good grief, if this whole thing doesn’t convince all reasonable people that Luskin’s opinions on just about everything are completely irrevelvant, nothing will!

  10. #10 Coin
    November 29, 2006

    Good grief, if this whole thing doesn’t convince all reasonable people that Luskin’s opinions on just about everything are completely irrevelvant, nothing will!

    I’m not sure that’s even really a concern by now. Luskin’s just another blogger at this point.

  11. #11 Troublesome Frog
    November 29, 2006

    Now that I think about it, I was subjected to a number of mandatory lectures on linear algebra and digital design without so much as a brief rebuttal in college. Perhaps I should ask for my money back.

    Fourier is a false prophet! Teach both sides of the Caley-Hamilton theorem controversy!

  12. #12 Frank Marshall
    November 30, 2006

    I think that you have a good point, Ed. Colleges cannot assure that campus speeches to captive audiences will be non-controversial. For example, Judge John E. Jones III was invited to speak at the graduation ceremonies at Dickinson College because he was a well-known alumnus, but he chose to defend his controversial Kitzmiller v. Dover decision by means of some controversial remarks about the founding fathers’ “true religion.” No one is required to attend graduation ceremonies, but graduation ceremonies are considered to be such an important rite of passage that the courts have considered the audiences at those ceremonies to be virtually captive. However, I would like to see colleges give more balance to campus speeches at important functions — e.g., I would like to see colleges invite holocaust revisionists to speak.

  13. #13 DuWayne
    November 30, 2006

    Frank Marshall said –
    However, I would like to see colleges give more balance to campus speeches at important functions — e.g., I would like to see colleges invite holocaust revisionists to speak.

    I suppose it would be balance to invite flat earth society leaders to speak as well. Why not throw in some germ theory deniers and we could make a bloody circus out of University education.

  14. #14 Dave S.
    December 1, 2006

    DuWayne says:

    Frank Marshall said –
    However, I would like to see colleges give more balance to campus speeches at important functions — e.g., I would like to see colleges invite holocaust revisionists to speak.

    I suppose it would be balance to invite flat earth society leaders to speak as well. Why not throw in some germ theory deniers and we could make a bloody circus out of University education.

    But then you have to invite the geocentrists too, and those who are “skeptical” of the theory of relativity or the atomic theory of matter – and if you invite the germ theory deniers you have to invite the AIDS deniers too, and if you invite them you have to have both the ‘the HIV virus doesn’t exist at all’ camp and the ‘the HIV virus does exist, but it doesn’t cause AIDS’ camp.

    P.S. – Is anyone else getting a Larry Farfarma deja vu from reading Frank Marshall’s posts?

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.