Update, April 2: I hope you all had a wonderful April Fools Day, unmarred by water shortages, supervolcanoes, and threats to your world view. This was a fake, but I should have a real job announcement to make soon – and it won’t involve any quack apologetics.
After months of searching in a desperate economy, I am incredibly relieved to have been offered a permanent position. Not just relieved, but tremendously excited – I’ve managed to find an incredibly exciting, challenging, and meaningful job. As of today, I am the newest adjunct fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture!
My role will be to expand the Institute’s existing “Teach the Controversy” campaign to include other scientific debates. Eventually this will encompass everything from protecting linguistics professors who discuss the number of words that Eskimos have for snow, to advocating for free market policy solutions in the design of the next big particle accelerator (to ensure that any wormholes created only lead to awesome alternate universes), to making sure that the broab is included as part of an alternate functional diagram in neuroanatomy textbooks. For now, though, I’ll be getting my feet wet sticking close to my field of expertise: the Expanding Earth hypothesis.
The Expanding Earth hypothesis was one of a number of ideas proposed during the heady days following the discovery of sea-floor spreading. While the modern theory of plate tectonics eventually emerged as the most popular scientific paradigm, not all of the alternative viewpoints were thoroughly falsified. Some of them still address some inconsistencies in the data – inconsistencies that would be glaring if we weren’t all working with plate tectonics blinders on. I will be working – through both “new” and “old” media – to make sure those inconsistencies are given a fair hearing in the public sphere.
This might seem like a bit of a departure from my previously-expressed views, but it really isn’t. I have long thought that we in the geoblogosphere do ourselves a disservice with too much talk about “EEdiots” – we’re accomplishing nothing but alienating people who might otherwise listen, and we look like judgmental buffoons. This isn’t about my personal beliefs or the merits of any particular position, it’s about the fundamental value of academic freedom and spirited, respectful debate. I firmly believe that minority viewpoints and “alternative” theories can have great pedagogical value – even if most students reject them in the end, they will learn so much when they are allowed to explore all sides of the argument for themselves!
My new commute is lovely on a bicycle, but today, I have also pledged to fight through downtown Seattle’s traffic and parking to participate in Drive to Work Day. American society was built on the automobile, and now our nation’s auto manufacturers are in crisis. Now, more than ever, it is vital that we act to preserve our car-centric culture, and I hope you will all join me in taking action to strengthen your bond to the automobile.