Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Dembski’s Latest Whine

Bill Dembski noticed this article about a new chair endowed at the UCLA law school for a professor of sexual orientation law and that triggered a thought:

How much more difficult will it be to get an endowed ID chair at a major state university?

Okay, it’s a rather silly thought, but it’s a thought. The differences should be obvious even to Dembski. In what department would he like to have a chair in ID endowed? A science department, I’m sure. But it would be rather bizarre to endow a chair in a science department dedicated to a non-scientific idea that can’t even hypothetically be tested. This would be like endowing a chair in meteorology dedicated to the idea that hurricanes were sent by God as punishment for sin.

Comments

  1. #1 Raging Bee
    February 28, 2007

    This would be like endowing a chair in meteorology dedicated to the idea that hurricanes were sent by God as punishment for sin.

    Don’t laugh — that’s probably next on their wish-list. (The anti-gay-marriage crowd are starting to run out of talking-points, y’know.)

  2. #2 Ben M
    February 28, 2007

    I hope Dembski doesn’t imagine that he can donate a million dollars and put his preferred mole into a real biology department. Donors can *recommend* candidates to fill an endowed faculty position, and they can specify the position’s field of research, but that’s the end of their responsibility. The normal faculty hiring procedure is used to find a professor; the professor goes through the normal tenure and evaluation process; the professor has the normal academic freedom to study any side of a question.

    Universities *do* turn down endowment offers for fields that don’t exist, or from donors who insist on keeping their thumb on the scales. If Dembski can pull off an endowment contract that specifies “Intelligent Design Studies” at all, he may see the faculty hire a biomimetic materials engineer, or an anti-ID philosopher of science, or something—it’s not like there’s a pool of pro-ID biologists with good research CVs.

  3. #3 itchy
    February 28, 2007

    The biggest difference is that the UCLA position is for “sexual orientation *law*,” not sexual orientation itself. If Dembski were asking about a hypothetical professor of ID law (not ID itself), there’d be a parallel.

    And the answer probably would be: Not until we end up with very frequent cases involving ID (and — ironically vexing for Dembski — evolution). In fact, the chair probably would be titled evolution law, not ID law — unless, of course, we get ID proponents suing proponents of the infinite other non-scientific theories that one could imagine.

  4. #4 Kristine
    February 28, 2007

    But I thought that DW announced that a great new “ID-friendly” department “at a major university” was “coming”?

    And is anyone else creeped at the “sodomy” thread in the comments? Jeepers, somebody somewhere may be engaging sodomy, in violation of ID genital specs. Call out the national guard! (Voice from somewhere: “Please do!”)

    Beyond weird.

  5. #5 Coin
    February 28, 2007

    The biggest difference is that the UCLA position is for “sexual orientation *law*,” not sexual orientation itself. If Dembski were asking about a hypothetical professor of ID law (not ID itself), there’d be a parallel… And the answer probably would be: Not until we end up with very frequent cases involving ID

    Well, would it be correct to assume that there already exist colleges with church-and-state-separation law chairs?

    Overall, even given Dembski’s penchant for slinging a link, making a point through implication, and leaving his commenters to fill in the details, it’s just not clear what parallel Dembski is trying to draw here. There are lawsuits occurring related to sexual orientation, therefore law colleges are making sexual orientation related chairs. There is no scientific research occurring related to ID, therefore science colleges are not making ID related chairs. Both of these things individually make sense, but there doesn’t seem to be any relationship whatsoever between these two facts. There seems to be literally no thought process at work in Dembski’s attempts to link the two beyond SEXUAL=LIBERAL=BAD, ID=CONSERVATIVE=GOOD.

  6. #6 Sastra
    February 28, 2007

    I seem to recall that someone in Scotland once gave a genererous donation to a local college for a chair in the “study of the paranormal” or something like that. What happened is that they eventually gave the post to (I think) Nicholas Humphrey, skeptic and atheist, who happily preceded to do studies and write books on why people believe in the paranormal, even though it doesn’t exist.

    Be careful of what you wish for.

  7. #7 Matthew
    February 28, 2007

    What would this theoretical ID chair do?

  8. #8 Thony C.
    February 28, 2007

    “This would be like endowing a chair in meteorology dedicated to the idea that hurricanes were sent by God as punishment for sin.”

    Are you trying to say that hurricanes are not sent by god as a punishment?

  9. #9 Thony C.
    February 28, 2007

    “I seem to recall that someone in Scotland once gave a genererous donation to a local college for a chair in the “study of the paranormal” or something like that.”

    It was Arthur Koestler who left the money in his will to any British university that was prepared to endow a chair in para-normal studies. If I remember correctly the University of Endinburgh took the money to a loud howl of protest from all sides.

  10. #10 Kristine
    February 28, 2007

    What would this theoretical ID chair do?

    (Tee hee.) He would make sure that no one is having sex not according to (designed) spec.

    In addition, the chair would have a humor-meter to measure the amount of giggling around him, and mete out punishment accordingly.

    He would hire this guy.

    And then they’ll reveal the age of the earth. And Denyse will perfect the art of the hyperbolic overstatement. While still referring to herself in the third person, and having her photo (“Buy my book!”) appear on milk cartons.

    Etc.

  11. #11 MarkP
    February 28, 2007

    I figured Dembski was attracted to the sexual orientation issue because he is in need of a new way to screw people.

  12. #12 Anonymous
    March 1, 2007

    Ben M. said ( February 28, 2007 10:44 AM ) —

    I hope Dembski doesn’t imagine that he can donate a million dollars and put his preferred mole into a real biology department. Donors can *recommend* candidates to fill an endowed faculty position, and they can specify the position’s field of research, but that’s the end of their responsibility.

    You don’t understand that money talks. I heard that a college offered to rename itself after anyone who made a large donation of a specified amount (I think it was $5 million and this was many years ago) to the college.

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