Pharyngula

…Houston Friend, a student at ASU who got a bad grade on a paper and wrote in to blame the whole culture for it.

Last week, I got back a graded essay, which happened to be worth a significant portion of my grade. I got a C and was immediately upset because I had been somewhat proud of my work when I was writing it.

I soon perused the plethora of red marks throughout the paper and began to notice generally why I did poorly.

The principle reason I got a C was because I didn’t have enough “evidence,” as this particular paper required a certain amount of references to sources read throughout the semester.

The “plethora of red marks” is an indication that there might be a lot of problems with that paper, and it’s certainly true that we professors have expectations of a certain level of scholarship, that is, familiarity with multiple sources, in undergraduate work. It’s good that Mr Friend recognizes these shortcomings in his work. Or does he?

Mr Friend identifies a bigger problem. It’s not his fault, it’s the academic world, which demands…

The academic world our generation has grown up in gives an enormous amount of credit to empirical, tangible and scientific evidence.

Oh, really? That sounds reasonable to me. What does Mr Friend want?

I think we have been accustomed to perceive intelligence as a product of one’s ability to present concrete evidence, especially scientifically. Not to say this is completely wrong or ineffective, but I think we must consider the possibility of metaphysical realities. And maybe, just maybe, we live in world that can’t always be explained rationally.

I see. He wants to write an irrational paper that lacks empirical evidence and is built on intangible claims, and he wants to get an A for it.

Where does he think he is studying? Liberty University?

Comments

  1. #1 JD
    March 30, 2009

    Allow me to introduce him to the post-modernist generator.

  2. #2 David Wiener
    March 30, 2009

    That’s why I like computer science. No whiners allowed – it works or it doesn’t. For some reason people think that they can get away with this sort of bull in biology. Why is that?

  3. #3 steve_ht
    March 30, 2009

    Well just remember what Ned Flanders said: “It looks like heaven is easier to get into than Arizona State”

    And I say that as an alumnus AND a faculty member …

  4. #4 H.H.
    March 30, 2009

    Damn academics and their insistence on “evidence.” How can they not understand that having faith you will be proven correct at some unspecified point in the future is just as good as being correct right now? Why grade his paper poorly based on the available evidence when future evidence might totally vindicate him? It’s so close-minded!

    On a side note, I see a bright future waiting for this student at the Discovery Institute.

  5. #5 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    March 30, 2009

    This student has a problem with citing work? How was this student able to pass through school with out doing so before this point. Seems he deserves something less than a C.

  6. #6 Gotchaye
    March 30, 2009

    The writer makes it sound like the assignment was “write a paper using five sources” while he/she turned in a paper with two sources. I’m not quite sure how any of the rest of the essay/post is relevant.

    That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have been sorely tempted as an undergrad to put up a smokescreen like this in order to avoid having to set up a Works Cited page (if I thought that it would work).

  7. #7 Kel
    March 30, 2009

    That’s why I like computer science. No whiners allowed – it works or it doesn’t.

    Yeah, computer science was pretty awesome that way.

  8. #8 blueelm
    March 30, 2009

    Sounds like he was graded too generously– since grade school.

  9. #9 Sastra
    March 30, 2009

    As a rule of thumb, if, in the course of an argument, the other person brings up the possibility that we are all in the Matrix, and nothing can be known for sure, and anything might be true — then they lose. In years past, this was the “brain in a vat” argument. You can also substitute religion.

    I have yet to see a biologist defend evolution by saying “well, science isn’t everything. You can’t see love under a microscope! Creationists are into scientism.” But they do it on the other side. How strange.

  10. #10 truckboattruck
    March 30, 2009

    Already taken down??

  11. #11 Hank Fox
    March 30, 2009

    I smell lawsuit.

    Now who would back such a thing? Hmm, let me think.

  12. #12 AJ Milne
    March 30, 2009

    Instead of having “answers” on a math test, they should just call them “impressions,” and if you got a different “impression,” so what, can’t we all be brothers?

    –Jack Handey, natch.

  13. #13 NewEnglandBob
    March 30, 2009

    I guess that this jamoke is the one out of three who will be gone from the university way before graduation.

    What an insufferable attitude of his: “Move over world, make way for ME. You can’t judge me!”

    There is the lazy student who can not be bothered with doing work and there is the drunk/sex fiend (male or female) and there is the homesick ones, but this guy is the one who you want to snicker at when he fails.

  14. #14 Keanus
    March 30, 2009

    By Friend’s logic the absence of evidence is evidence of intellectual prowess. If that’s the case, what the hell is he doing at ASU? He can just make up his claims as he goes along, just like all too many preachers and politicians do on nothing more than faith. Education is just an impediment to success.

    I agree with H. H. He’s a prime candidate for a fellowship at the DI and a senior one at that.

  15. #15 Ian
    March 30, 2009

    That’s why I like computer science…it works or it doesn’t.

    What, you’ve never heard of a kludge? Some things work better than others.

    For some reason people think that they can get away with this sort of bull in biology. Why is that?

    Some religious believers come to biology with a whole different set of standards of evidence and preconceptions about the conclusions to be reached. Less of a problem in computer science.

  16. #16 Abstruse
    March 30, 2009

    The expectations (I’m certain) were clearly laid out in the syllabus. I suppose we should praise him for his lack of reading comprehension.

  17. #17 genesgalore
    March 30, 2009

    just goes to show: things aren’t more complex than we think, they are more complex than we can think.

  18. #18 NoAstronomer
    March 30, 2009

    Well students who complain about their low grades even (especially?) when they didn’t read the course material certainly can’t be explained rationally.

  19. #19 not That Dr Dino
    March 30, 2009

    Houston, we have a problem. Your argument does not even rise to the level of being specious.

  20. #20 RamblinDude
    March 30, 2009

    Sounds like we have a fine lawyer in the making.

  21. #21 MadScientist
    March 30, 2009

    The student’s not a contributor to The Onion is he/she?

    Perhaps he took Adam Savage too seriously on that episode of Mythbusters where Adam exclaims: “I reject your reality and substitute my own!”

    This isn’t just another urban myth making rounds on email is it? If it isn’t then the student deserves an award of sorts; complaining about people wanting evidence is just priceless. I imagine that sort of student would make an excellent manager though; I’m thinking of the sort who demand huge sums of money, grab large undeserved bonuses and claim that they’re improving things but that improvement cannot possibly be measured or explicitly attributed to them although they take all the credit.

  22. #22 Jadehawk
    March 30, 2009

    let me guess. Mr. Friend spend his entire college-prep on apologetics

  23. #23 Josh
    March 30, 2009

    Yeah, I’ve run into students with attitudes similar to those expressed by this asshat. Wahhhhh.

    They tended to inspire perhaps not-so-complimentary descriptors from some of my less personable colleagues. But you want to know one label that we didn’t apply to them?

    Alumni.

  24. #24 gopi
    March 30, 2009

    I think that PZ is incorrect about Liberty University. They have some of the most rigorous and demanding citation requirements of any institution. Every single paper must include copious biblical citations. Every single paper must be logically consistent with Scriptural Truths.

    Actually, this would probably make life easier for formal logical methods papers. It’s so much easier to prove things when your axioms contain contradictions…

  25. #25 elissa
    March 30, 2009

    Not to be picky, but – in the first quote, shouldn’t it be the “principal” reason, not “principle”?
    Maybe his paper was full of typos, as well as being lacking in evidence… either way, he’s a doofus.

  26. #26 SC, OM
    March 30, 2009

    Despite arguing adequately in the realms of reason and philosophy relative to the subject, I hadn?t met the designed requirements that would eventually determine my grade. While I?m sure we?ve all experienced this conflict in one way or another,

    Um, no. What conflict?

    Perhaps he took Adam Savage too seriously on that episode of Mythbusters where Adam exclaims: “I reject your reality and substitute my own!”

    I think that’s in every episode. :)

  27. #27 Marcus B.
    March 30, 2009

    For some reason I’m reminded of that old Calvin and Hobbes strip were Calvin is taking a math test, thinks long and hard about a problem but can’t come up with the answer and writes down something along the lines of “I can’t answer this question since that would be in violation to my religious convictions.”

    There is also one where he has a geography question and writes something like “I’m afraid I can’t tell you about that location, since it would jeopardize our operatives in the area.”

    And of course he was thinking “Hey, it’s worth a shot.” That’s what I think this guy was thinking. He might actually believe the bullshit he tried to pull, but most of all I’m sure it was a “Hey, I might get a higher grade without any more work if I just pull something from where the sun doesn’t shine as an explanation for my lack of adequate performance.”

    For me on the other hand it’s obvious that the world was created five seconds ago and all our memories to this point are fake. Therefore I say that it is meaningless to speculate about anything that has to do with the past. Essays get real short that way.

  28. #28 SteveWH
    March 30, 2009

    As an adjunct philosophy professor whose classes tend to include a significant amount of metaphysics, I would like to point out that even when the purpose of an assignment is to discuss “the possibility of metaphysical realities”, you still need evidence. Lots of it. And empirical evidence does apply in metaphysics, thank you kindly.

    To go just a tad ad hominem, the article smacks of that self-righteous pretension that a little bit of philosophy tends to give undergrads. He writes with the smugness that comes from a 101-level introduction to a topic, but which hasn’t gone deeply enough for him to realize how ignorant we all really are about philosophical matters. That boy needs some Socrates, stat.

  29. #29 Kel
    March 30, 2009

    That’s why I like computer science. No whiners allowed – it works or it doesn’t. For some reason people think that they can get away with this sort of bull in biology. Why is that?

    Though in computer science, instead of checking facts we have to write test code. And instead of citing references, we have to make documentation.

  30. #30 Discombobulated
    March 30, 2009

    truckboattruck@17:

    Already taken down??

    Seems it’s blocked by AdBlockPro. Right-click the ABP icon, choose Open Blockable Items, and unblock the

    IN OTHER NEWS: More hilarious nonsense from Houston Friend

    He cites FoxNews in his Abstinence needs no cure article. I guess citing them is A-OK, but none of that bloody “empirical, tangible and scientific evidence” passes his critical muster.

    This one is kind of scary.

  31. #31 SC, OM
    March 30, 2009

    The professor should tell him he’s getting a material C but a metaphysical A. The latter is intangible and contrary to the grade appearing on his transcript, but no one can prove it doesn’t exist.

  32. #32 TigerHunter
    March 30, 2009

    Excuse me. I need to bash either my head or his head against the wall. I haven’t decided.

  33. #33 Discombobulated
    March 30, 2009

    Oops, SB seems to have blocked HTML entities. That should have been:

    truckboattruck@17:

    Already taken down??

    Assuming you have it, it seems it’s blocked by one of the common subscriptions in AdBlockPro. Right-click the ABP icon, choose Open Blockable Items, and unblock the “div=skyscraper” entry.

  34. #34 SonOfSLJ
    March 30, 2009

    Since I’m a masochist, I just read a couple of the other articles Mr. Friend has written.

    Who would’ve guessed that he admired the film Expelled, has some strange ideas regarding abstinence-only education, and thinks “an argument could be made that [Charles Darwin] is one of the most faith-driven people in recent history”?

    I, for one, was shocked. SHOCKED.

  35. #35 Becca Stareyes
    March 30, 2009

    Wow. Back in my day, we’d just say that the teacher was biased against us. Bonus points if we could play up being a straight-WASP-male (delete inappropriate groups) harmed by reverse-discrimination by a commie/liberal/feminazi/uppity professor. Kids have gotten advanced in their excuses to not do their damn assignments correctly.

  36. #36 Brian X
    March 30, 2009

    Reminds me of the law student here in MA a couple of years ago who refused to answer a question on divorce involving (iirc) a lesbian couple. He failed the bar exam by approximately one question and tried to sue the state bar over it.

  37. #37 Snowbird
    March 30, 2009

    Dicks like this are why I decided to leave academia a decade ago. I was working towards my PhD when I encountered these little shits and decided that it was either strangle them with their own clothing, or go into something more sanguine – like the military. I chose the latter because I figured I’d kill less people with a 50-cal.

  38. #38 Ian
    March 30, 2009

    I had the same thought as MadScientist.

    Every school I’ve been at with a daily paper made it a tradition to put out an April fool’s issue on some other day than April 1. The essay is just on that borderline level of absurd enough to illicit a “WTF?” but not quite enough to be obviously taken as a joke; the point being it’s not funny until you realize you’ve been taken in.

  39. #39 godfrey
    March 30, 2009

    He also appears incapable of distinguishing between “principal” and “principle”, a dead giveaway for lack of concern for spelling. [/spelling nazi] Grades depend on critical thinking, and critical thinking (and spelling, for that matter) depends on memory, to the extent that you need to remember a lot to have enough facts to rub together and make your case. Inattention to detail is for xtians. Just look at their buy-bull!

    DI, indeed.

  40. #40 Brock
    March 30, 2009

    “I had been somewhat proud of my work when I was writing it.”

    Well that right there waves a big flag to me that he’s lying through his teeth. Somewhat proud? Nobody says that with a straight face. If he felt confident because he consulted reliable sources, or had a TA or writing instructor check his work, he’d say so. But instead it’s about his damn feelings.

    I’ve tried the whole “distort reality to justify your own shortcomings” thing, and it some cases I still don’t think the grades were completely my fault (unrelated issues that required counseling). But I could never muster the gall to actually blame others for my bullshit; that’s a line I won’t cross.

    The university should get this kid some help, and if his narcissism doesn’t improve (or if it’s as deliberate as it sounds), he should be laughed off the campus.

  41. #41 machintelligence
    March 30, 2009

    My daughter, who is a biology/chemistry major at New Mexico Tech, has encountered a few home schooled fundamentalist types who want to major in biology although they don’t “believe” in evolution. This strikes me as silly as majoring in physics without “believing” in subatomic particles.

  42. #42 Tom
    March 30, 2009

    This person sounds like the product of a culture that awards people for losing 61 billion dollars and calls the same people our best and brightest. This kid would fit right in.

  43. #43 Felix
    March 30, 2009

    So when the Intelligent Design theory is inevitably banned from discussion in all public schools, let us remember that science has led us to believe at one time that the earth was flat or that eugenics was a necessary study.

    Paul Davies, a cosmologist and ASU professor, wrote a 2007 New York Times op-ed that was later summarized in another Times article. ?Dr. Davies asserted in the article that science, not unlike religion, rested on faith, not in God but in the idea of an orderly universe. Without that presumption a scientist would not function,? wrote the Times.

    Either way, there seem to always be assumptions and unanswerable questions because not everything is observable. Albert Einstein may have said it best: ?The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible,? implying that while there are laws of nature, the universe will never be fully understood.

    All of you upset because I have no scientific evidence here for you, I guess I encourage you to show me proof for proof.

    I don’t think Einstein meant what the author thinks he meant. What part of ‘the universe is comprehensible’ can be understood as ‘the universe will never be fully understood’? Is this author so challenged in reading comprehension?

    Let’s see: ID theory -check
    banned from discussion -check
    science has led to flat earth belief -check
    non sequitur -check
    quote by proxy summary -check
    post-modern relativist conclusion -check

    From another of his pieces:

    Ben Stein?s documentary ?Expelled,? which opened in theaters this time last year, exposed the slow but effective disintegration of ID (Intelligent Design) in education, especially secondary education. The documentary clearly illuminates the fact that ID and evolution are essentially only theories, and that if professors have been fired for even identifying ID as on the same plane as evolution, that?s a concerning injustice.

    What a sloppily thinking shallow person.

  44. #44 Kel
    March 30, 2009

    The professor should tell him he’s getting a material C but a metaphysical A. The latter is intangible and contrary to the grade appearing on his transcript, but no one can prove it doesn’t exist.

    haha, that was great

  45. #45 Tualha
    March 30, 2009

    Wow, what a bad break. How unfair of his university to demand that he support his thesis. Why shouldn’t he be allowed to make up any shit he wants to? You know, like Andrew Wakefield, or Ann Coulter, or Adolf Hitler.

    Whoops. Godwin’s Law. Shit. Commenting is now clos–

  46. #46 Feynmaniac
    March 30, 2009

    Houston Friend coming here to complain in 5,4,3….

    I’ve read his/her other articles and….yawn. Not a profound thinker. Complains about the self-obsessed culture yet manages to include at least one personal story in each article.

    BTW, he/she is a “freshman English literature student” [Source], but that’s only if you care about evidence. Otherwise, she is in her 3rd year majoring in Unicorn Husbandry, which requires no labs whatsoever!

  47. #47 Eumaios
    March 30, 2009

    I teach composition at a community college and encounter this attitude all the time. Last week, one of my students refused to understand that a conversation with his dad doesn’t constitute “proof” in an argument that desperately required statistical evidence.

    I’ve had students stomp out of the room when I repeat my argument mantra: “Our opinions are worthwhile only to the extent that we support them with credible evidence and sound reasoning. Everything else is either superstition or the same hot air we can get from a drunk in a gin mill.” I guess I bruise their self-esteem.

  48. #48 me
    March 30, 2009

    For some reason I’m reminded of that old Calvin and Hobbes strip were Calvin is taking a math test, thinks long and hard about a problem but can’t come up with the answer and writes down something along the lines of “I can’t answer this question since that would be in violation to my religious convictions.”

    I was thinking about this too, also the one where he has to write a paper about bats and the first fact is that “bats = bugs”.

  49. #49 Chemgirl
    March 30, 2009

    Here’s a new idea for Mr. Friend:

    The problem isn’t that “the academic world our generation has grown up in gives an enormous amount of credit to empirical, tangible and scientific evidence”, it’s that the academic world our generation has grown up in raises its students to believe that they deserve A’s by default–and must screw up badly to get lower.

    The default grade is a C. C means competent. You must work for your A’s.

  50. #50 Tziedel
    March 30, 2009

    He sounds like he’s in the pre-Kwok stage of evolution.

  51. #51 defective robot
    March 30, 2009

    “And maybe, just maybe, we live in world that can’t always be explained rationally.”

    Which explains…um…you.

  52. #52 H.H.
    March 30, 2009

    He doesn’t state the subject of his paper, but I think after reading between the lines we can reasonably conclude it was something promoting Intelligent Design. Aside from the favorable review of Expelled posted earlier, he wrote:

    So when the Intelligent Design theory is inevitably banned from discussion in all public schools, let us remember that science has led us to believe at one time that the earth was flat or that eugenics was a necessary study.

    Even though he knew he couldn’t present empirical evidence for ID, he thought he could get by with a little armchair philosophizing.

    Despite arguing adequately in the realms of reason and philosophy relative to the subject, I hadn?t met the designed requirements that would eventually determine my grade.

    How many times have we seen the clowns at Uncommon Descent engage in this same sort of charade? They are so enraptured by their own speculation that they aren’t bothered in the slightest by the fact that there is no evidence to support their conclusions. Looks like this student has just learned that shit doesn’t fly in academia, but he’s certain that’s because of a materialistic bias and dogmatic agenda. Look how he concludes his rant:

    All of you upset because I have no scientific evidence here for you, I guess I encourage you to show me proof for proof.

    So that’s his mindset. “How dare you criticize me for not having proof? Prove to me that proof is necessary!” It’s the same childish relativism embraced by all creationists. He literally can’t understand why anyone has the right to question his assumptions. He’s made up his mind that he can’t be proven wrong and has nothing to learn. A student with this attitude has no business even attending college.

  53. #53 weirdbuglady
    March 30, 2009

    As a college student in the midst of writing several term papers I actually laughed out loud upon reading that.

    “…we live in world that can?t always be explained rationally.”

    Ah yes, so we should blindly accept irrational answers? I guess that’s why religions are so popular. There’s a difference between saying “I don’t know, let’s try to figure it out” and “I don’t know but I’m going to make something up”. One of those options takes more effort.

  54. #54 Jason
    March 30, 2009

    “So when the Intelligent Design theory is inevitably banned from discussion in all public schools, let us remember that science has led us to believe at one time that the earth was flat or that eugenics was a necessary study.”

    Houston should remember that while science did once bring us those things, it is amenable to EVIDENCE. Scientists do not continue to believe those things in the face of evidence (read: 2000 years later, people still push religious doctrine in the face of evidence in order to shape public policy)

  55. #55 Flamethorn
    March 30, 2009

    Posted by: machintelligence | March 30, 2009 10:32 PM
    My daughter, who is a biology/chemistry major at New Mexico Tech, has encountered a few home schooled fundamentalist types who want to major in biology although they don’t “believe” in evolution. This strikes me as silly as majoring in physics without “believing” in subatomic particles.

    One of the signs that the last school I was at wasn’t very good was a physics teacher who didn’t believe in electrons.

  56. #56 Azkyroth
    March 30, 2009

    My daughter, who is a biology/chemistry major at New Mexico Tech, has encountered a few home schooled fundamentalist types who want to major in biology although they don’t “believe” in evolution. This strikes me as silly as majoring in physics without “believing” in subatomic particles.

    It’s arguably more like majoring in physics without believing in kinetic energy.

  57. #57 Jennifer
    March 30, 2009

    BTW, he/she is a “freshman English literature student” [Source], but that’s only if you care about evidence.

    A degree in English literature requires that one learn to support one’s analysis of the literature wish *gasp* evidence. I don’t see Mr. Houston getting very far in any major without learning this basic skill. Bullshit will get you far in an English degree (I say that having one myself), but it won’t take you all the way.

  58. #58 EW
    March 30, 2009

    Hi all…I have been reading for weeks now and just can’t remain quiet anymore.

    I think we are all highly evolved support systems for colonies of single celled organisms. I also think that the fact that we became self aware is a by product of our getting really good at this over many millions of years.

    Is there anyone out there looking at this?

    I am older and have always loved science and am an admitted layman. However, I can still ask…

    -Eric

  59. #59 WY Native
    March 30, 2009

    Having read his article I think it is quite obvious why he got a poor score: he is a mediocre writer and can’t follow the rules as set by the professor. I work in a college Writing Center and I see this all the time. First off he sounds like he swallowed a thesaurus; rather than setting his argument out in clear and concise language he uses “big” words and complex-bordering-on-asinine sentence structure to obscure the fact that he failed to follow the instructions that were more than likely set out in the syllabus. He failed in his objective because he is a smug, entitled pseudo-intellectual. All I can say is: “Suck it up, because high school is over.”

  60. #60 Discombobulated
    March 30, 2009

    An undergrad named Antonio Villalpando wrote a fairly scathing Letter to the Editor about Houston’s column.

    Ah, the Culture Wars: So many millions of man-hours wasted dealing with the results of deliberate mis-education and willful ignorance.

  61. #61 Hyperon
    March 30, 2009

    I think we are all highly evolved support systems for colonies of single celled organisms. I also think that the fact that we became self aware is a by product of our getting really good at this over many millions of years.

    Is there anyone out there looking at this?

    A more sophisticated version of that idea is held by biologists, and is generally regarded as having been first expressed in clear form by Richard Dawkins, in The Selfish Gene.

  62. #62 Feynmaniac
    March 30, 2009

    I think students would benefit if they were required to take basic logic courses in high school. They would be better at proving claims if they had an understanding of what actually constituted proof.

    He sounds like he’s in the pre-Kwok stage of evolution.

    While the narcissism is Kwokesque, the sophistry of “I encourage you to show me proof for proof” and being gullible enough to believe the claims of “Expelled” makes me think he/she more resembles facilis (or “the poster formerly known as facilis”).

  63. #63 Akiko
    March 30, 2009

    Behold, the fruits of our public school system! They learn to expect an A just for trying. They are advanced if they just show up. The Oprah Generation, the Y2Kers, they have lots of self esteem and demand you pump their ego by admiring every stupid things that pops out of their empty heads. That is what their parents and teachers did. Good job!

  64. #64 gg
    March 30, 2009

    If you haven’t seen it yet, an undergraduate wrote a “letter to the editor win” in response to Friend:

    Mr. Friend also makes the mistake of pointing out that he believes that people in this generation are bound to the same knowledge as that of its past and that the future generation will be bound to ours. While mentioning strong and significant steps in the evolution of scientific thought, and subtly ignoring the generational repetition of his own beliefs, which have evolved very little since Martin Luther.

    Mr. Friend also flaunts certain errors in scientific thought, like eugenics, while glossing over major errors in religious thought, such as the Crusades or the Inquisition.

  65. #65 H.H.
    March 30, 2009

    EW wrote:

    I think we are all highly evolved support systems for colonies of single celled organisms.

    That’s one way of looking at things, I suppose. By why stop there? Maybe single celled organisms are all just highly evolved support systems for groups of genes.

    I also think that the fact that we became self aware is a by product of our getting really good at this over many millions of years. Is there anyone out there looking at this?

    Looking at what? How is becoming self-aware related to “getting really good at” supporting colonies of single celled organisms? You need to come up with a testable hypothesis, some proposed mechanism that could be probed and examined. What experiments would you suggest to test your idea? Without evidence, it will remain nothing more than armchair philosophy.

  66. #66 Alverant
    March 30, 2009

    I noticed the link doesn’t display his childish rant in Firefox. I had to resort to IE to read it. I’m sorry I did. Of course he doesn’t mention what the paper is about and he doesn’t post the paper so we can judge for ourselves. That’s the essence of his argument. We should just believe him at his word. No one should hand in a paper like that. I believe the only reason why he didn’t get a worse grade is his prof was worried about the protests he’d get if he went any lower.

    It’s too bad you can’t respond to letters. But you can email him. I wonder if he got any responses.

  67. #67 EW
    March 30, 2009

    Thank you so much Hyperon! I have been afraid to talk to anyone about what I believe. I will read it.

    -Eric

  68. #68 gg
    March 30, 2009

    Here’s a gem from Friend’s Expelled article:

    Well, maybe you will have reason to at least care. The New York Times reported that there were 813 earthquakes in 11 days during late 2008 and early 2009 at Yellowstone National Park.

    Typically, this is a sign of volcanic activity, as Yellowstone resides over a massive volcano. Although the volcano is fairly dormant, dormant volcanoes have erupted before.

    Even though scientists say there?s nothing to worry about, scientists have also been wrong before.

    Let me respond by noting that religious folks have said that the world will end before, and they’ve never been right.

  69. #69 Jeanette
    March 30, 2009

    Sounds like a spoiled brat.

  70. #70 Angela
    March 30, 2009

    Ah, that little article reminded me of an advantage of teaching at the college level: if a student wanted to argue past a certain point about a policy or grade, I can whip out the words: “We’re done here. Take it to the chairperson if you want to keep arguing”. Trust me, no one argues with our chair unless they have plenty of reason on their side.

  71. #71 EW
    March 30, 2009

    H.H.

    You asked many questions of me, most of which I am not qualified to answer.

    As for “armchair philosophy” you are probably correct on some level as I am, by definition, not qualified to test my question. However, I can still ask!

    -Eric

  72. #72 Facile Princeps
    March 30, 2009

    lol , “metaphysical realities”. Metaphysicians everywhere must be facepalming at this paper.
    I wonder what PZ would tell a biology student not providing evidence or science on a biology paper and writing about the “metaphysical realities” of intelligent design.

    I wouldn’t bash Liberty University though. UMM is 3rd tier while Liberty is 4th tier in liberal arts colleges.

  73. #73 Discombobulated
    March 30, 2009

    gg@68:

    I got an earful of the Yellowstone doomsday scenario back in January, too, from some loon on another forum. His reasoning was that it was coinciding with that giant full moon that we had that month (due to the coincidence of the perigee and full moon), and that this would cause the magma to come flying to the surface, and blow North America in half. He even gave a specific date for it!

    He put me on ignore when I pointed out that the moon reaches perigee every 27 days.

    (Yes, I know that there really is a large caldera under Yellowstone.)

  74. #74 D. C. Sessions
    March 30, 2009

    Where does he think he is studying? Liberty University?

    Be nice. Liberty University may be wingnuts, but they at least put some effort into education. Arizona State, on the other hand, would have to actually care much more about education to rise to the level of wingnuttery.

  75. #75 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 30, 2009

    Liberty University may be wingnuts, but they at least put some effort into education.

    Oh come on. They care about education as in indoctrination.

  76. #76 dogmeatib
    March 30, 2009

    “So when the Intelligent Design theory is inevitably banned from discussion in all public schools, let us remember that science has led us to believe at one time that the earth was flat or that eugenics was a necessary study.”

    Actually there is ample historical evidence that pre-Christian natural philosophers (read early “scientists”) worked out and established that the earth was not only round, but came fairly close to the actual size (depending on the culture, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, etc.). There is also significant evidence that these ideas were suppressed because they were “pagan” and couldn’t be trusted. Some evidence to support this is the fact that there is still a segment of wack-a-loon Christians who still believe that the earth is flat based on scripture.

    But hey, there goes that pesky evidence again. I notice he accidentally leaves out that whole part where the church suppresses heliocentrism… truly scary part is this website:

    http://blogs4brownback.wordpress.com/2007/05/18/heliocentrism-is-an-atheist-doctrine/

    Part of me wants to believe it is a Poe, the other part of me wants to crawl under the bed and cry…

  77. #77 RickD
    March 30, 2009

    I hear he completed about an English paper because the professor wanted “coherent arguments”. Why won’t the world adapt to his fractal mind???

    Also, he got a poor grade in German because he didn’t “conjugate verbs”.

    This practice of putting the most important concepts in scare quotes, and then thinking that is grounds enough for complaint, seems “very promising” to me!

  78. #78 Darren Garrison
    March 30, 2009

    I believe the technical term for his writing is “replete with stinkiosity.”

  79. #79 4oz of reason
    March 30, 2009

    Reading that article was like having bad sex- it gets so close at times, but he never quite manages to pull through.

  80. #80 386sx
    March 30, 2009

    “So when the Intelligent Design theory is inevitably banned from discussion in all public schools, let us remember that science has led us to believe at one time that the earth was flat or that eugenics was a necessary study.”

    They don’t have an Intelligent Design theory. All they have are quote mines and comic book arguments against evolution. You know, comic book arguments… like the one where science has led us to believe at one time that the earth was flat. LOL.

  81. #81 JPS, FCD
    March 30, 2009

    Feynmaniac @ 62,

    I had a basic logic course in high school. Its formal title was “Geometry.” [/math snob]

    Of course that was a _long_ time ago — when it was a seller’s market for institutions of post-secondary education.

  82. #82 Demonhype
    March 31, 2009

    “Posted by: WY Native | March 30, 2009 11:10 PM

    Having read his article I think it is quite obvious why he got a poor score: he is a mediocre writer and can’t follow the rules as set by the professor. I work in a college Writing Center and I see this all the time. ”

    My Eng 102 teacher wanted me to work in the Writing Center at my college. Didn’t end up happening (the position open was specifically for the nursing program, so I was unqualified on that point), but even before that I was wondering if it would be worth it. I can take criticism just fine (to the delight of my professors!) but I had reviewed a few of the other students’ work before, and I had NO idea how I could go about helping them without holding their hands as they rewrite every word. Most likely with them taking direct dictation from me, which would be pretty much plagarism. Just sorting out the problems enough to personally rewrite it would be daunting enough. How the hell these teachers do it, I don’t know. It’s a hard job made harder by the “Don’t criticize me, give me an A for being here” mentality.

    One question: What the hell do these types of students think they are paying for? Do you really think college is where you pay thousands and go into massive debt for the privilege of telling the professors how much more you alreaady know than they do? I had one prof who seemed amazed that I welcomed critiques, and that mystified me. I told him straight out that I’m in college to LEARN, not to be fed milk and cookies and told how great I am. If all I want is the latter, I can get that for free from the millions of people out there who have never studied the subject at hand. It doesn’t take much effort to impress the ignorant.

    I’m starting to realize more and more why he was so gratified with that answer. :)

    As for the MATRIX-level justification–my mom said that about ghosts and the supernatural just recently, though she’s never been in college. When I explained exactly how her scientific evidence was actually pseudoscience, she defended the pseudoscience by saying that if her beliefs don’t pass the established scientific standards, then those standards need to change in order to admit her phlebontinum as repectable scientific fact. No joke. I wish it was. ( how I wish to Cthulu it was!)

    Cant’ talk to her since I graduated either. It was bad enough before, but now when I bring up logic or evidence I get the “Look, the COLLEGE girl thinks she’s so much SMAH-TAH than us!” routine. Then the brick wall goes up. She has some major issues.

  83. #83 truckboattruck
    March 31, 2009

    #30, Discombobulated: Thanks for the adBlock tip.

  84. #84 Holydust
    March 31, 2009

    From his little tirade:

    So if you don?t want to be screened out, continue to pursue only what you see, explore only what is observable, and know only what is knowable.

    What is he, in 9th grade? What does he think science IS?

  85. #85 Miranda Hale
    March 31, 2009

    I teach argumentative writing at the college level and have encountered this type of attitude from many students, unfortunately enough. Various students have told me that I’m “mean” and “obsessed with evidence,” even though I couldn’t possibly be less mean, really. It’s just strange how that defensiveness comes out when I ask them to provide real evidence to support all assertions, assumptions, etc. It’s a perfectly reasonable request, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t require it.

  86. #86 Ciaphas
    March 31, 2009

    Maybe he’s in some weird jouralistic version of Fight Club.

    “Your assignment for tonight; you’re going to go out and write an article for the school paper, and it will be full of fail.”

  87. #87 Ciaphas
    March 31, 2009

    Damnit. Must remember that at work my browser does not have spellcheck.

  88. #88 mostlywater
    March 31, 2009

    The first thing that sprang to mind was the NYT op/ed letter from Jake Desantis.

  89. #89 Caryn
    March 31, 2009

    The philosophers of biology at ASU will *eat him alive*.

  90. #90 Barry
    March 31, 2009

    Having attended Arizona State as an undergrad, I can’t say this is at all surprising. I met plenty of students with similar attitudes to that of H. Friend. There is a widespread perception, even amongst the ASU community, that it is little more than a diploma mill. I recall an incident in which I was told by one professor that I was at the wrong university after I had indicated that I was there to learn.

    That said, I have to give credit where due; certain segments of the ASU community are making a real effort. I had a few truly great professors during my time there, and the university is hosting Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, and several other notable scientists this upcoming weekend. I am attending, and looking forward to it immensely.

  91. #91 Escuerd
    March 31, 2009

    The prof actually asked the poor guy to provide evidence? If only this closed-minded professor could see that no ways of knowing are inherently better than any others he would have gotten a higher score. After all, if evidence is required to know something, then surely there must be evidence to support that. Ha! Gotcha there!

    Too bad the evidence-obsessed mafia has such a stranglehold on education, and the intellectual freedom of such promising young minds is stifled by their closed-minded adherence to their unsupported epistemic dogma.

    /sarcasm (Thought it was laid on thick enough, but decided to include it lest I be labeled a Poe.)

  92. #92 Michelle
    March 31, 2009

    I sent this kid an e-mail. I just couldn’t resist. Read and enjoy:

    Dear Houston,

    We have a problem. You seem to be missing the point. Academic papers ARE based on tangible, empirical, rational, irrefutable evidence. Now, you’re allowed to INTERPRET evidence as you wish, and your prowess with logic will determine whether or not any claims you make based on the evidence will hold water. However, making logical arguments with no evidence is like the most skilled equestrian in the world trying to win the Kentucky Derby without a horse. Good luck with that.

    Additionally, you wrote:
    “Albert Einstein may have said it best: ?The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible,? implying that while there are laws of nature, the universe will never be fully understood.”

    Actually, you got the meaning of that quote completely backwards. Please read it again, and try to do it with a bit of comprehension (seeing as comprehension is the point of the quote). Einstein was saying that, while the concept might boggle the mind at first, the simple truth is that the universe CAN be comprehended. It IS COMPREHENSIBLE, which means that it CAN be understood. The cheap, cowardly way out of many scientific inquiries is to say “we can never know” or “it’s too big and complex.” Einstein was saying that, in truth, an honest pursuit of knowledge will lead to true comprehension of the universe. Rational people will search for evidence and scour the details until empirically sound understanding has been attained.

    Seriously, if you’re going to quote Albert Einstein to make yourself look smart, at least make sure that you understood what he was saying! There’s a difference between writing a pretty essay and writing a sound academic paper. Your poor comprehensive skills make it clear to me, as a science teacher, that your professors probably gave you a very fair grade for your work.

    The PRINCIPAL (not principle) reason you got a C is probably the fact that you wrote a mediocre paper. You also misuse words in your attempt to appear more intelligent than you really are. Tossing a fifty-cent word into a paper is lovely… as long as you use it correctly.

    Next time you want an A, try doing some research to back up your academic assertions. And use a thesaurus.

    Regards,
    Michelle

  93. #93 Crudely Wrott
    March 31, 2009

    Dear Mr. Friend,

    For several thousands of years earnest and immature people, just like you! have been asking for the same special privilege and pouting when they didn’t get it. Their promises of immanent miraculous world-changing events based on their unfettered musings are left unfulfilled. Always.

    In a much shorter period of time earnest and immature people, just like you! have been doing diligent research and good science and providing a steady stream of useful and needful enhancements to human existence, bringing benefits beyond measure. On a planetary scale.

    I leave it to you to determine which approach is the more effective. Remember this: the latter is self sufficient, self sustaining. The former is at the mercy of fashion and thus needs accolades. Choose, young man, and live with your choice.

    With love,
    A grandfatherly entity you ain’t never seen the likes of before, boy.

  94. #94 Escuerd
    March 31, 2009

    Michelle:

    Your poor comprehensive skills make it clear to me, as a science teacher, that your professors probably gave you a very fair grade for your work.

    At first I thought you meant “comprehension skills”. But then it occurred to me that “comprehensive skills” was indeed a better choice. Better yet would be “comprehensively poor skills”. ;)

  95. #95 Ann
    March 31, 2009

    Constructive criticism (in academics, work, and life) is what made me aware of my flaws so I can FIX IT and become a better person. Take that away and I’m sure I’d be a moron like Houston Friend here.

    Students in the US routinely score below average compared to students internationally. Schools in developing nations are light years ahead of us and will just keep getting further ahead if we do nothing about the constant pandering to narcissistic, over-entitled douche bags (and their parents).

    Highly skilled jobs are being outsourced to said developing nations while the wingnuts bitch and moan about not offering these jobs to Americans first while failing to realize that America domestic talent is in decline. Why bother paying idiots like Mr. Friend here for incompetence when you can pay someone skilled overseas for half the cost? Duh! All we have is the money to outsource and a current abundance of human resource overseas willing to fill that demand. The money’s going to run out soon.

    To fix this mess, the US school system really needs to seriously embrace critical thinking and criticism!

  96. #96 Crudely Wrott
    March 31, 2009

    And what Michelle said.

    Good luck, kid. Really. Fare well.

  97. #97 Mikeel
    March 31, 2009

    One shouldn’t mock this student too much…the harsh reality observable from this side of the Atlantic is that even smart American students lack a basic grasp of logic and the methodology of their field—substituting insight and analysis with just observation, or worse: repetition.

    While the student in question seems to be besides the point, it is true that often universities will penalize more for the lack of the obligatory “5th source” (or failing to mention examples at every twist and turn) than they will for a blind (faulty) regurgitation of the data given–where the student only scrapes the surface of the question and instead drowns the reader with data that s/he doesn’t really even understand.

    This said, I can sympathize with you Americans–it might be hard to teach the students to question specific scientific studies or results when this would only lead to more religious nonsense about the fallibility of “Big Science”

  98. #98 Rick R
    March 31, 2009

    Barry @ #90- “I had a few truly great professors during my time there, and the university is hosting Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, and several other notable scientists this upcoming weekend. I am attending, and looking forward to it immensely.”

    Dawkins is going to be at ASU? I’m in Phoenix. Do you have any details?

  99. #99 Clemens
    March 31, 2009

    That article just hurt my brains. Sure this isn’t a Poe?

    I soon realised why I did poorly in my maths exam. In our materialistic and capitalistic world, we are drilled do rigorously stick to rules of calculation that are hundreds of years old. If you try to be creative and nonconformist you get punished by Big Maths.

  100. #100 Henri
    March 31, 2009

    Michelle@92 :
    “However, making logical arguments with no evidence is like the most skilled equestrian in the world trying to win the Kentucky Derby without a horse”

    Your natural-scientist stripes are showing…as somebody who’s spent countless of hours studying (formal) logic the quoted statement is borderline offensive =)

    While I know it isn’t what you meant (i.e. your statement had the specific domain of Mr Friend, not a global one *see…logic!*), the above is as if I said “studying maths is fine as long as you always use it with numbers from actual, on the ground, problems”

  101. #101 gribley
    March 31, 2009

    Hideous, to be sure.

    However, before we send him too many mocking emails, let us draw a breath and notice that he is a freshman. Which means he’s barely out of high school. Can you recall the haze of those days? Hell, it took me longer than that to grow out of my high school idiocy (which was, admittedly, not as thorough as Houston’s). Give him a couple more years to grow, and perhaps he will learn from experiences like this one and become a thoughtful human being.

  102. #102 Barry
    March 31, 2009

    #98, Rick R.

    Dawkins is at ASU all weekend, but the symposium is only open to the public on April 6th (next Monday). Dawkins speaks that afternoon. I know the Stephen Hawking lecture is sold out, but there may still be some tickets for Dawkins.

    http://origins.asu.edu/symposium/schedule.php

  103. #103 clinteas
    March 31, 2009

    GO Melbourne !! ;)

  104. #104 mandrake
    March 31, 2009

    What confuses me is that he wasn’t even asked for evidence, but for *sources* – he can disagree with empirical evidence all he wants, he just has to *cite* them.
    This makes me think that what he really can’t provide is “Empirical Evidence that I haven’t just been sitting on my ass all semester.”

  105. #105 clinteas
    March 31, 2009

    Oops,wrong thread,sorry…

  106. #106 Sean Case
    March 31, 2009

    This reminds me of an old cartoon: “I agree with you that your paper doesn’t deserve a zero, but I’m afraid it’s the lowest mark there is . . .”

  107. #107 Nominal Egg
    March 31, 2009

    as somebody who’s spent countless of hours studying (formal) logic the quoted statement is borderline offensive

    There’s nothing even remotely offensive about Michelle’s analogy. Insulting maybe, if you happen to be Mr. Houston.
    Methinks you’ve spent too many hours studying (formal) logic.

    Time to come back to the real world.

  108. #108 kai
    March 31, 2009

    #2:

    That’s why I like computer science. No whiners allowed – it works or it doesn’t.

    Nonono! I’ve had too many students whining at me: ?But it works!? That’s completely irrelevant, any monkey can generate code that works, for some value of works. What the students have to do is understand why it works and create code that is reasonably efficient, understandable and supportable.

  109. #109 Flea
    March 31, 2009

    I was not aware Ben Stein had a son…

  110. #110 Brett
    March 31, 2009

    This reminds me of the local jackass who apparently now heads the College Republicans at my university (the University of Utah), who wrote a hilariously bad editorial in which he tried to imply that liberals were wrong because they relied on “science” among other things, as opposed to those conservatives relying on “common sense” and “logic”.

  111. #111 Ashley Moore
    March 31, 2009

    Or as the philosophy Homer said:

    “Facts! Pff! You can use facts to prove anything even remotely true.”

  112. #112 Carlie
    March 31, 2009

    Oh, why isn’t it at the site any more? I need a printout of that article very badly.

  113. #113 Birgitta (not a biologist)
    March 31, 2009

    Friend’s article is obviously a hoax, a parody! How can’t you see that? He even put in a couple of reasonable sentences to make it more subtle and ironic.

    Ok, maybe not. I took a glance at Friend’s other erticles, and it seems like the self-parodical qualities are unintentional.

  114. #114 Wayne Robinson
    March 31, 2009

    I have heard and read that Albert Einstein’s 1905 paper on Special Relativity was very short, and did not include any references, so perhaps it is possible to get by without citing any sources, PROVIDED you are Albert Einstein. Although, perhaps his lack of quoted references might have irritated the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, because his Nobel Prize was for a completely different work.

  115. #115 Birgitta (not a biologist)
    March 31, 2009

    Carlie,

    see comments #30 and #33. You can also turn off Adblock and re-enable it later.

  116. #116 Carlie
    March 31, 2009

    Birgitta,
    Argh, I have to learn not to try and catch up on threads at 6am. Thanks.

  117. #117 SteveL
    March 31, 2009

    There’s a good reply to Friend’s bs by another student at this link:

  118. #118 Eidolon
    March 31, 2009

    Dogmeat@76:

    I had seen a site such at the one mentioned, but I thought it was Poe like Landover Baptist. I was gobsmacked to see that there really are people who believe the Earth stand still and the sun orbits based on the bible. Abso-fuckin-lutely amazing.

    On topic – my one stint with a Junior College Astronomy class taught me about the “I paid, I get at least a ‘B’” mentality. As Tom Petty put it “I don’t miss it much at all”

  119. #119 Neyne
    March 31, 2009

    Students are great when it comes to excuses and complaining.

    Here at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a colleague from my lab was checking student assignments for the Introduction to Plant Sciences. One of the students (who happened to be an orthodox Jew) was quoting from the old testament throughout the paper, so she crossed each quote with a remark that it is not customary for a scientific paper to quote sources that were not peer-reviewed…

  120. #120 Fernando Magyar
    March 31, 2009

    I think we have been accustomed to perceive intelligence as a product of one’s ability to present concrete evidence, especially scientifically. Not to say this is completely wrong or ineffective, but I think we must consider the possibility of metaphysical realities. And maybe, just maybe, we live in world that can’t always be explained rationally.

    I wish you had posted this a couple of days ago I would have added a link to it in the email I sent to my mom and girlfriend after a long conversation with them where they strongly disagreed with me for defending reason and not opening my mind to that which science can not explain…

    Hi Mom and Kathy,

    I’d like to follow up a bit to our conversations at Luce’s restaurant and later in the evening at home.

    To be honest, I would love it if people would “listen” to what I say and agree with me that I am right. (BIG SMILEY FACE).
    However, as nice as that would be, it kinda misses the entire point of why I say what I do and most importantly why I say it the way I do and why that may sound somewhat confrontational at times.

    I do not in any way relish confrontation, quite the opposite, I do however insist on being true to reason and myself, I can be no other way.

    I think Natalie Angier’s essay, “My God Problem” linked here:
    http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/angier02.htm
    expresses it about as well as anyone that I have had the pleasure to read, I hope you read what she has to say.

    I will say that I go one step further in that I have exactly the same problem that she has with the concept of “God”, with everything that is supposedly mysterious, spiritual, unknowable etc… etc…requiring the reaching of a higher spiritual plane of evolution or some such, for exactly the same reason, (no pun intended).

    I just happen to find reality as it is, much more interesting, more satisfying, more beautiful and sometimes much more terrifying than some alternative superstition, mythology or pseudo scientific belief system that people cling to for whatever reasons they may have.

    I am quite convinced that this life is all we have so I have absolutely zero intention of kowtowing to anyone’s supernatural mythology during my one and only lifetime.

    That is not to say that I will not choose my battles carefully, but there *IS* a never ending battle between reason (critical thinking) and belief systems based on no evidence. I chose reason, I fear, it is the choice of the road (at least for now), much less traveled by, possibly a somewhat lonelier road but one well worth going down to the very end!

    I would very much like that those I love would share my journey.

    Love,

    Fred

  121. #121 Ellid
    March 31, 2009

    Here’s what I sent him:

    “I cannot believe that you publicly whined about receiving a mediocre grade after you didn’t cite any sources nor provide evidence that you had read the assigned texts in your course. I’m in grad school right now for my second MA, and believe me, I would have been thrown out if I’d ever tried such nonsense.

    “Grow up. Otherwise, leave school and let someone with a decent work ethic take your spot. You are exactly what is wrong with this country.”

  122. #122 DaveL
    March 31, 2009

    I think the most disturbing part is this:

    So if you don?t want to be screened out, continue to pursue only what you see, explore only what is observable, and know only what is knowable.

    The above implies that maverick thinkers like him, by contrast, know things that are impossible to know. This is the mentality not of a whiny mediocre student, but of a complete madman.

  123. #123 Hennae Pennae
    March 31, 2009

    Not that I’m taking the lad’s side, but I
    think that he included the Einstein quote
    to illustrate that the comprehensibility of
    the universe, to the extent that we can
    comprehend it, is, itself incomprehensible, &
    is therefore a sample of the sort of higher
    truth he is seeking. & remember, ‘there’s a
    seeker born every minute’.

  124. #124 Carlie
    March 31, 2009

    I… wow. And yet, I had a student spend two hours in my office once arguing that I should raise her grade simply because she had the energy required to ask me to do it, so somehow I’m not surprised.

  125. #125 penn
    March 31, 2009

    I hope the next time this student is sick he pressures the doctor to consider the possibility of metaphysical realities in offering a diagnosis and treatment plan. Too many physicians rely solely on empirical evidence when treating patients. I can the doctor could easily find some woo and snake oil to sell him.

    I certainly hope that the engineers who designed the bridges, cars, and airplanes that this student uses on a daily bases weren’t slaves to empirical evidence. Beam theory is just a theory after all.

  126. #126 Feynmaniac
    March 31, 2009

    JPS, FCD

    I had a basic logic course in high school. Its formal title was “Geometry.” [/math snob]

    Hello fellow math nob! Yes, I think currently mathematics is doing the best job at providing students with logic skills. If you look at LSAT scores people who majored in math/physics finished first while philosophy (where logic is also used extensively) finished second. Prelaw and criminology finished last!!! Math major also scored very well on the MCAT.
    PZ also mentioned a study where out of biology, chemistry, physics and math only math had cross-discipline advantages.

    I think math is a useful means to teach students critical thinking skills because you can study relatively simple ideas and still be doing mathematics. High school calculus focuses mostly on studying functions of single variables. Other subjects tend to be much messier and less precise.

    My suggestion (which has been made by others) is that in addition to math provide a course that deals exclusively with logical arguments, both formal and informal. I would like to see experiments done (if there hasn’t been already) to show if this course would be beneficial to students. I suspect it would be.

  127. #127 Brad
    March 31, 2009

    As a grad student at ASU, I can’t say I’ve experienced much of this undergrad sense of entitlement. It does upset me to be tangentially affiliated with such nitwits though. I have been lucky to be affiliated with quality faculty here.

  128. #128 MikeD
    March 31, 2009

    It’s easy to see what happened to him. Apparently, he’s the product of an evangelical school.

    According to http://varsity.evtrib.com/story/109309 ,
    Houston Friend attended Scotsdale Christian Academy.

    The Scotsdale CHristian Academy looks like an AIG training camp:

    http://www.sca-az.org/html/aboutsca/who_we_are/mission.htm

    We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative, inerrant Word of God.

    Daily Bible-based Christian studies classes, weekly chapels, missions development programs, spiritual retreats, a special spiritual emphasis week and other related activities are all part of a comprehensive plan for spiritual growth for our students. Biblical truths are a part of, and integrated into, all academic disciplines at SCA. We seek to equip students with a Biblically-based world view.

  129. #129 co
    March 31, 2009

    Wayne, @ 114:

    I have heard and read that Albert Einstein’s 1905 paper on Special Relativity was very short, and did not include any references, so perhaps it is possible to get by without citing any sources, PROVIDED you are Albert Einstein.

    The first paper—http://www.pro-physik.de/Phy/pdfs/ger_890_921.pdf—and the subsequent English translations—http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/specrel/www/— do indeed have no citations: they don’t need any! The 1923 edition has a single footnote referencing Lorentz transformations.
    The Sept. 1905 paper—http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/E_mc2/www/—similarly has no citations, and it again needs none. The level at which Einstein conceived this stuff needs only a little physical reasoning and a little algebra. Very slightly more sophisticated steps are obtainable with a little calculus. No one would have needed citations.

  130. #130 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2009

    You do have to love this letter to the editor in response. Particularly the closing line:

    Finally, I would ask Mr. Friend to please not compare science to something as rigid, unyielding and primitive as the idea of god.

  131. #131 www.10ch.org
    March 31, 2009

    @#114 Wayne Robinson
    “I have heard and read that Albert Einstein’s 1905 paper on Special Relativity was very short, and did not include any references, so perhaps it is possible to get by without citing any sources, PROVIDED you are Albert Einstein.”

    Then again, it must have been based on concrete evidence to a certain extent, since it is, after all, science. This student was complaining about the necessity of evidence, not the necessity of references or citation.

  132. #132 phillyrp314
    March 31, 2009

    “Last week, I got back a graded essay, which happened to be worth a significant portion of my grade. I got a C and was immediately upset because I had been somewhat proud of my work when I was writing it.”

    Some people are proud of the last **** they left in the toilet. Doesn’t mean it still isn’t just a piece of ****.

  133. #133 frog
    March 31, 2009

    Wiener: For some reason people think that they can get away with this sort of bull in biology. Why is that?

    Because biology is much, much harder than computer science. The number of variables are gynormic — the functional relations are everything that the universe can think up — but primarily it’s not an engineered system: unlike CS, it wasn’t designed for humans.

    Which means that even the best of biology rarely reaches the level of engineering or physics. The math is much harder, and you end up cheating mathematically very often. Therefore, it’s taught primarily as a descriptive field, not a theoretical field. The only thing that keeps you from cheating in those other fields is that they have very firm theoretical bases which are all mathematically formalized — no BS’ing in words.

  134. #134 catgirl
    March 31, 2009

    Half of being successful in life is simply following directions. If the teacher wants X sources in exchange for a good grade, then give them what they want. It’s not that complicated. I always hated group projects in school because inevitably there would be someone in my group that insisted on changing trivial things like font or formatting, even after the teacher specifically told us how to do it. If the teacher wants it typed in wingdings, then change the font to wingdings before turning it in.

  135. #135 SteveL
    March 31, 2009

    I sent email.

    Dear Mr. Friend,

    I was made aware of your article on “disproving proof” by this blog entry on Pharyngula:

    … [link to this blog entry] …

    Your article does not make it clear what subject your essay was for. Perhaps it was for a soft subject like comparative religion or chinese literature. Certainly if it was a science subject, Professor Myers’ criticism of your position cannot be faulted. In any case, since you appear to seriously espouse an anti-evolution position, perhaps you would be better off at Liberty University rather than in a real educational institution.

    Steve L

  136. #136 co
    March 31, 2009

    The only thing that keeps you from cheating in those other fields is that they have very firm theoretical bases which are all mathematically formalized — no BS’ing in words.

    There’s another thing that keeps us from cheating in physics: reality. That, indeed, is what compels us to choose a specific gauge transformation, say, or a certain form for a Hamiltonian. Otherwise we could use whatever maths we wanted.

    The biologists are trying very hard, with or without help from the mathematical modelers, the biological and physical chemists, and others, to build workable models. In this, they’re having fantastic success, in part because of just what frog (#133) mentions — there are just so many possibilities.
    My view of biology in high school was one of a field containing almost exclusively nomenclature and classification. As I’ve learned more science in general, I’ve become absolutely fascinated by the possibilities to work in biology, and to apply my own skillset in some meagre way to help out.
    The doors to the realm are open, and we only need explore a very little way to find adventure.

  137. #137 Hockey Bob
    March 31, 2009

    With “Friend”s like Houston, who needs enemies?

  138. #138 Blake Stacey
    March 31, 2009

    I have heard and read that Albert Einstein’s 1905 paper on Special Relativity was very short, and did not include any references, so perhaps it is possible to get by without citing any sources, PROVIDED you are Albert Einstein.

    It doesn’t have specific citations in the modern bibliographic style, but it does make many references to prior work, mostly to ideas which were generally known at the time. Today, one probably wouldn’t bother to cite a particular paper for the basic mathematics of relativity (e.g., the definition of a Lorentz transformation), or for the formula E = hf giving the energy of a photon, or for the Maxwell Equations. Unless you’re writing a historical review where pointing to the place where an idea was first introduced is important, common knowledge doesn’t need footnotes.

  139. #139 Hoonser
    March 31, 2009

    It’s not April fools day yet!

  140. #140 Facehammer
    March 31, 2009

    I came aross someone arguing a similar sort of position not long ago. As well as this “science not having all the answers” bollocks, he was especially fond of some disgracefully transparent semantic switcheroo of the “moral beliefs are not based on evidence” (except when they are) “so therefore belief in god does not require evidence either” variety.

    He was so oblivious to my repeated assertion that his ideas were no more verifiably true than something he had made up on the spot that he had the affrontery, the bare-faced cheek to think he had actually “schooled me” and made a point I couldn’t address.

    I’m not a violent or a malevolent person, but damn – if there was a way to give him a slap through the internet, I’d be mashing that button.

  141. #141 ice9
    March 31, 2009

    I subscribe to the “Why not–take a shot?” school of grade-whine, with one codicil: grades are negotiable–in every direction. In this case, Houston would have to ante up the difference between C and D for the right to argue that the paper deserved more.

    However, another rule intrudes: in my class the words “plethora” and “myriad” earn an instant F unless they are part of a dialogue with a high school sophomore.

    I can attest that teaching rhetoric to high school students is dangerous. Many excellent illustrations of fallacy hinge on religious thinking (with Ray Comfort holding the current record for fallacy density in a single paragraph.) Parents complain bitterly when God takes a role in these examples, no matter how simple–such as

    Q: How do you know that the Bible is the word of God?
    A: Because God said so.
    Q: When did God say so?
    A: In the Bible.

    They object–formally, to my principal, in writing, without any contact with me–even when they agree that a.) they agree that the example contains a fallacy; and, b.) they agree that the fallacious thinking is the fault of the answerer, not the Bible or God (capitalization required, btw).

    So even my thoughtful, attentive, capable, high-achieving suburban public school students are deprived of incisive examples because I have to respect the wishes of a few often anonymous students that their philosophy please not be mocked and denigrated. I must keep my job. So the poor logical skills of Mr. Friend are my fault. I admit it.

    Myriad apologies,

    ice

  142. #142 Steven Dunlap
    March 31, 2009

    I am reminded of an episode of Black Adder in which the title character gives up trying to teach his dimwitted side-kick simple arithmetic and declares in exasperation: “To you, Baldrick, the Renaissance was just something that happened to other people.”

  143. #143 JBlilie
    March 31, 2009

    Just sent to the author’s email and letters.editor@asu.edu:

    Dear Mr./Ms. Friend:

    I read your I read your article, “Disproving Proof” (26-Mar-2009), in the ASU web devil with interest.

    (http://www.asuwebdevil.com/node/5380)

    I’m afraid you are unlikely to convince anyone with your little article (I’d call it a whine, but that wouldn’t be very nice.) Your article was a decent attempt at the sophistry and hand-waving that you’ve read in some ID tomes.

    A few points must be made to you. I hope these will help you in your ASU education and in your subsequent life — because your argument is never going to convince anyone who will matter in your life.

    I allude to your article a whine for this reason. You complain (somehow?) that you did not complete the assigned essay in accordance with the instructions given to you: “I hadn?t met the designed requirements that would eventually determine my grade”.

    (What the adjective “designed” means here, other than that your professor had a lesson plan and learning objectives that had to be met, I have no idea.) It is always going to be your responsibility to meet the requirements set before you. You future boss is not going to accept the excuse that you failed to follow directions. The police officer who writes your ticket is not going to let you off because you didn’t pay attention to the speed limit signs. Universities have standards of education, which is why accreditation exists. Otherwise, a diploma (say from Libery University in biology?) would mean nothing and would be worthless: Of no value to you or your employer. One of those standards that are (rightly) required of students is one of the most basic: The ability to follow directions. You freely admit that you failed to meet the expectations of the assignment. It seems to me you should be grateful for a C grade.

    A university education is intended to introduce students to many new areas of knowledge, to teach them how to think logically, teach them how to research or experiement to discover facts, and how to synthesize those facts into new ideas or at least to solve problems and follow the synthesis of others. If a university does not intorduce you to new things, does not challenge your existing (extremely limited) body of knowledge, then it fails in its duties. If you desire an unchallenging “education,” then I recommend Liberty U.

    “I think we have been accustomed to perceive intelligence as a product of one?s ability to present concrete evidence, especially scientifically. Not to say this is completely wrong or ineffective, but I think we must consider the possibility of metaphysical realities.”

    Generous of you to acknowledge the effectiveness of the scientific method. What “metaphysical realities” are you referring to? (Metaphysics isn’t reality, it’s stories about what people think could be reailty. Metaphysics is defined as “speculative” philosophy.) Are you saying that God did it? God is magic and magic explains nothing. If you introduce magic into the discussion then nothing can be learned. This is because if magic is allowed, then ANY EFFECT and EQUALLY WELL be asserted to follow ANY CAUSE. If your recourse is to nothing but “personal metaphysics” then there’s no way to differentiate between magic and magic or between magic and reality. Nothing can be learned or known from this. All discussion that involves magic is useless for anything except entertainment.

    Science has a long and distiguished record of explaining how the world works. Compare the record of science with the record of religion in explaining the world. There is no comparison to be made.

    “I mean, what else is there, right? It is as if the whole spectrum of truth is reliant purely on what is observable or scientifically provable.”

    Again, you are suggesting that people ought to accept your personal flavor of magic as facts. This is nonsense. Please, tell everyone, what else is there? Be specific! Why so reticent?

    Science proceeds by observing the world, hypothesizing connections between the observations (natural laws), and then testing the hypotheses. If a hypothesis is falsified, then it is discarded. The hypothesis that best explains the observations and stands up to repeated attempts at falsification over a lengthy period of time is deemed worthy of the name theory. A theory in science is not a guess, like: My theory is that the Vikings will trade their first-round draft pick. A theory in science is an explanation of natural phenomena (hypothesis) that is falsifiable, consistent with the observed data, and is well tested and agreed upon by knowledgeable consensus. The best theory, the one that best fits the evidence and stands up to many challenges, will be considered to be the best provisional explanation of the data. It is not considered final “proof,” because proof does not exist in science, only disproof: falsification of hypotheses.

    “I encourage you to show me proof for proof”

    As noted, science does not prove anything. All readers would enjoy any proofs you’d like to present. Again, why so reticent? I encourage you to clearly show where religion explains the world better than science does. This would be quite relevatory and I’m sure it would gain you an immediate, honorary PhD from ASU (why bother wiith all the research, evidence, and studying? Just imagine what you want and it will be true!)

    “scientists, scholars and institutions will continue to be the teachers and we will continue to be the student subject to their will”

    Well, at least it appears that you understand the student-professor relationship. The assumption is that the professor has knowledge and logic that the student desires to also have. The college administrators along with the faculty determine the standards to be met. The accreditation authorities determine the value of the standards imposed. If you want to the kindergarteners to teach the kindergarten, you should drop out of ASU.

    You throw in ID casually. This is not surprising, given your desire to allow magic in the place of data. No one wouold worry about ID if it were kept in Comparative Religions 101, where it belongs.

    Is ID science? Absolutely not. ID has no theory, no experiments, no data, no results, and no predictions: the hallmarks of science. They have but a single assertion to make: Biological feature X is too complicated for me to understand how it could have evolved, therefore God had to have done it, QED. This is simply a non sequitur. William Dembski?s, Michael Behe?s, my, or your lack of intellectual skills or knowledge neither requires nor implies anything about the nature of reality. The only thing they offer is their personal incredulity. Incredulity is not science, it is ignorance. Science dispels ignorance by hypothesis and testing.

    The nearest ID has come to science is the publication of some papers (not in established scientific journals of course) that show images of interesting parts of living anatomy and then simply assert that they are too complex to have evolved. We already know that complex structures exist in living things ? it?s nearly the definition of life, so the images are redundant. The rest is personal incredulity: Which demonstrates nothing except the limitations of the author?s intellect or knowledge.
    Science has a long and distinguished track record of demolishing incredulous predictions about what is impossible.

    The reaction of a scientist to a difficult problem is typically: let?s roll up our sleeves and figure it out! In contrast, ID is capitulation in the face of difficulty: I can?t figure it out; it must have been magic! We can apply ID logic to physics: Einstein didn?t figure out a unified theory of physics and neither have any of the subsequent brilliant physicists. Let?s slap the ID explanation on it ? God did it ? and call it a day. No one can seriously present this as science.

    “when the Intelligent Design theory is inevitably banned from discussion in all public schools, let us remember that science has led us to believe at one time that the earth was flat or that eugenics was a necessary study”

    Please provide citations (I know that’s the tyranny of evidence again but we do proceed by evidence) where any reputable body of scientists (not a single crank) has stated that the study of eugenics is necessary for science. Actually, it was religion that insisted that the earth was flat and that the earth was the center of the universe and science, using evidence, showed that these were errors. Again, facts rear their ugly heads.

    “Paul Davies, a cosmologist and ASU professor, wrote a 2007 New York Times op-ed that was later summarized in another Times article. “Dr. Davies asserted in the article that science, not unlike religion, rested on faith, not in God but in the idea of an orderly universe. Without that presumption a scientist would not function,” wrote the Times.

    Either way, there seem to always be assumptions and unanswerable questions because not everything is observable. Albert Einstein may have said it best: “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible,” implying that while there are laws of nature, the universe will never be fully understood.”

    The fact that science does not (yet!) explain everything in the universe is not evidence for magic being true. (As noted, scientists don’t give up and reach for their can of magic dust when they see difficult problems in their path. In fact they relish them.) The onus is on you to provide convincing evidence for your magical “explanations.” Evidence that makes your “explanations” more compelling, more in conformity with the data in the universe, than the explanations of science. Just waving your hands around and saying that you either don’t like the reality revealed by science or that reality is whatever you “feel” it to be is never going to cut it.

    Regarding the assumption that the universe works in accordance with natural laws that are predictable and universal, this is an incredibly safe assumption. We don’t know those laws in detail yet; but we have yet to make an observation that does not conform with them. If you have such an observation to present, you will certainly gain a Nobel prize for it and shake the foundations of everything we know. (Something tells me that whining about failing to follow assignment instructions isn’t going to rise to that level.)

    After reading your little article, one is left seriously wondering whether you are ASU material or not.

    Sincerely, and in the hope of providing perspective,
    JB, working scientist in Minnesota

  144. #144 co
    March 31, 2009

    in my class the words “plethora” and “myriad” earn an instant F unless they are part of a dialogue with a high school sophomore.

    Well, that’s an interesting paradigm.

    (Seriously: good for you!)

  145. #145 Hypatia's Girl
    March 31, 2009

    Given that it appears that the little snowflake was “writing” a “paper” for a philosophy class, I would like to suggest that the “evidence” he lacked wasn’t even so much outside sources, but rather “evidence” that he’d done the damn reading assigned. At least in my experience in philosophy, we don’t tend to give the little childrens too much leeway in choosing a paper at the beginning level. And if he was in anything other than a service course, AND needed to be told that his opinion was not interesting, his position was (that is opinion + reasons) then he should have failed outright.

    Even more so than the objective, external world dismissal (that is that our world is irrational, hey man how do you know you’re not a brain in a vat), the concern here should be that, in my own experience and from the anecdotes of other academics and proto-academics, there is a fundamental lack of understanding that just because you have an OPINION, voicing it does not, and should NEVER be expected to change the mind of anyone. You may be entitled to your opinions, however, others are entitled to require that you give them reasons they should give a fuck as to what those opinions are.

    The little darlings do not understand how desperately uninteresting and unoriginal they are.

  146. #146 JBlilie
    March 31, 2009

    ice9:

    I love it.

  147. #147 Larry
    March 31, 2009

    I can only quote Bugs Bunny.. “What a Ma-roon!”

  148. #148 Tony
    March 31, 2009

    My favorite part is “…let us remember that science has led us to believe at one time that the earth was flat…”.

    No, I’m pretty sure that was a pre-scientific assumption.

  149. #149 Michelle
    March 31, 2009

    Henri@100:

    (I said:
    “However, making logical arguments with no evidence is like the most skilled equestrian in the world trying to win the Kentucky Derby without a horse”)

    (You said: Your natural-scientist stripes are showing…as somebody who’s spent countless of hours studying (formal) logic the quoted statement is borderline offensive =)

    Well, for it having been fairly late at night, after an early morning, and at the end of an evening of racking and sampling home-brew mead, I don’t think it was too shoddy.
    More to the point, I don’t think Mr. Friend could have understood a more subtle analogy, which is why I went for something brazenly plain and mocking.

    Actually, let’s build on this idea. Progress in science can only be achieved with solid empirical evidence, correct? A body of evidence is a vehicle by which logic can cause scientific knowledge to advance. The most brilliant mind in the world can propose the most clever hypothesis in the world, but until quality evidence is gathered and used properly, the idea is stuck in the starting gates. To take this concept one step further, even if the “rider” (our scientist, in this analogy) attempts to leave the gates, he won’t go very far, and will also likely be trampled by the riders (scientists) who have solid pieces of evidence (horses).

    On that level, the analogy works. For Mr. Friend, the object of our amusement, it’s particularly appropriate. He wants to effectively win the race (get an A) without a horse (evidence), and his riding skills (logic, comprehensive, and analytical skills) are mediocre at best.

  150. #150 David Wiener
    March 31, 2009

    Ian@15

    Yeah – there is a *lot* of very bad code that works, but sucks. Once you get into real programming, as others have said, then documentation, procedure, clarity, etc. etc. become very, very important.

    However, it still has to f’ing work. One can train a brilliant, but raw, programmer so that they develop and execute best practices. But if one is a moron, then one will never get past step #1 – write code that works.

    That way we weed out the whiners early on.

    Now we just have to work on the high percentage of asbergers. But that may just come with the territory.

  151. #151 jufulu, FCD
    March 31, 2009

    I’d like to move this from academia to the real world (/snark). The boss (me) gives you an assignment and wants a report on the results. You’d best give me what I asked for because being lazy does not get you rewarded. One of the things that kids do not understand is that school is also job training.
    OTOH, I do hate suckups.

  152. #152 RickK
    March 31, 2009

    Wow. This young man demonstrates what happens when you combine permissive, self-absorbed parenting with post-modernist philosophy. You get someone who thinks they are important in the academic world (or any other, presumably) just by breathing.

    He needs to look in the mirror and repeat many times: “You do not matter. Your arguments and ideas do not matter, unless they contribute something new or are strong enough to stand on their own.”

    Then he should hold his C-graded paper up to the mirror, make eye contact with himself, and say “You f***ed up. Do better next time.”

    Part of me thinks that a nice deep depression is just what this country needs. Nothing like a little hunger to strengthen one’s will to succeed.

  153. #153 David Wiener
    March 31, 2009

    Kai:

    Yeah, many people can be trained to write simple code. But once one gets beyond the basics, there is a steep fall off. I’m not academic, (tho I work at a University right now) and in IT you find out really quickly who can code and who can talk.

    That’s why god invented management; it is the resting place of failed coders.

  154. #154 MrFire
    March 31, 2009

    Tziedel@50:

    …with a generous dash of John A. Davison.

  155. #155 The Other Elwood
    March 31, 2009

    @ 90, I’ll be there this weekend. I’m flying all the way from Pittsburgh, PA and I am sure the time and expense are worth it.

    General Comment: Since when did “C” become some kind of perceived punishment. Isn’t “C” supposed to average, around the 50th percentile? The undergrad geology course I took graded on a bell curve, only the top 7% could get an “A”, the overwhelming majority got “C’s”.

  156. #156 KemaTheAtheist
    March 31, 2009

    “Because biology is much, much harder than computer science.”

    I disagree here, simply because you can’t really compare the two in difficulty. It’s subjective… Evolution can be looked at as an extremely complex process, but then Dawkin’s can write a simple program that demonstrates it perfectly (see the post from a couple of days ago).

    Personally, as someone who is studying both CS and biology, I find biology much easier simply because it’s more interesting to me that CS (I wish I had known that before I went and got my first degree in CS). Evolution is much more interesting than the big-O complexity of algorithm evolveVirtualAnimal(). Someone else might find it to be the exact opposite.

  157. #157 JBlilie
    March 31, 2009

    RickK @152:

    Nicely and succinctly put!

  158. #158 nmcvaugh
    March 31, 2009

    Michelle #149

    at the end of an evening of racking and sampling home-brew mead

    Straight mead or a mellomel? Can’t wait for the blackberries to come into season so I can make a batch. Skol!

  159. #159 guthrie
    March 31, 2009

    Natural philosophers, being the proto-scientists of their day, worked out the earth was a sphere around 2,500 years ago. (well, at least the ones we know about living in Greece did) How long has this meme been going around for?

    They had all sorts of good reasons for thinking the earth was a sphere, such as the shape of the shadow on the moon during an eclipse, the visible shape of the earth, changing daylight hours as you go north or south.

  160. #160 Lambert
    March 31, 2009

    Yet another long winded whiny blog with no opportunity for readers of it to comment. How familiar.

  161. #161 mandrake
    March 31, 2009

    And why do people who believe they’re “thinking outside the box” and “going against the dominant paradigm” insist that we go smack back into… reality based on the Bible, one of the smallest freakin’ boxes there is?
    Seriously, to talk about “things we can’t know” – I’m sure he “knows” his religion is correct. Hypocrite.

  162. #162 Inky
    March 31, 2009

    Just because HE can’t explain it rationally doesn’t mean that a logical explanation doesn’t exist.

    Metaphysical explanations are best left to those under the influence of some substance and in the company of friends and maybe that person you’re stupidly trying to impress.

  163. #163 the pro from dover
    March 31, 2009

    Somewhere, up there, near the Grand Old Designer himself, John Frum and Ray Bolger are happy.

  164. #164 Red Skeleton
    March 31, 2009

    My father in spirit, the great Gutunga from metaphysical reality X says this guy should have gotten an F.

  165. #165 SASnSA
    March 31, 2009

    That’s why I like computer science. No whiners allowed – it works or it doesn’t.

    I hear the Xtians are pretty good at looping code, but not so much at breaking out of loops.

    bool atheist = true;
    do
    {
      printf ("The bible is proof of god");
      printf ("god made the bible so it must be true");
    }
    while(atheist);
    
  166. #166 Michelle
    March 31, 2009

    nmcvaugh@158:
    [QUOTE]Straight mead or a mellomel? Can’t wait for the blackberries to come into season so I can make a batch. Skol![/QUOTE]

    We have both. Last night’s batch was black currant, and it was some of the best I’ve ever had. We racked the blackberry mead last Saturday. In the queue at various stages of readiness, we’ve got pomegranate, black cherry, hibiscus, vanilla, raspberry, and plain old mead.

  167. #167 nmcvaugh
    March 31, 2009

    Okay Michelle – I’m officially jealous (and suddenly thirsty)! The black currant sounds like a great idea. Happy brewing!

  168. #168 TheFishThatFries
    March 31, 2009

    omg, I was quickly reading through his other posts, this guy is totally full of himself, reading his posts he really seems to think he’s the greatest intellectual of all time. Read some of these gems.

    “Chuck Palahniuk, a contemporary satirist and gifted writer” – hahahahahahahaha, I did like fight club (I admit it) and all but I would hardly call it a great book or palahnuik a “gifted writer,” sorry.

    “Ben Stein?s documentary ?Expelled,? which opened in theaters this time last year, exposed the slow but effective disintegration of ID (Intelligent Design) in education, especially secondary education.” – Facepalm

    “Darwin was not religious, but he was a man of faith. Just because his faith was not in a god or gods, certainly doesn?t mean that he didn?t have faith. An argument could be made that he was one of the most faith-driven people in recent history.” – double Facepalm

    I could keep going and going

  169. #169 JRH
    April 1, 2009

    ice9 (@141),

    Your post made my stomach hurt. I have enough trouble fighting my students’ poor logic skills. I can’t imagine battling their parents as well. While you’re teaching them logic can you tell them that no paper should begin in the following way: for time X group Y has been concerned about problem Z? (e.g., since the dawn of time students have been fighting unjust grades based upon facts and reasons)

    Keep fighting the good fight, ice9!

    -John

  170. #170 Benjamin Allen
    April 1, 2009

    God damn it. I did my undergraduate work at ASU and worked for two years with social hymenoptera there. Don’t let this one idiot spoil its reputation. Provided you are in the sciences, particularly the life sciences, ASU is one of the better state schools to do one’s undergraduate work, and even graduate work. The only reason I did not stay there was because my thirst for herpetology cannot be slaked there very easily.

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