Next week there is a big conference here at ASU – hosted in conjunction with University of Cambridge – examining the concept of “Unchallengeable Orthodoxy in Academia and Science.” The general purpose of the conference is:
- To critically examine the precept that American and British universities and the scientific communities in these countries are, and should be places, in which people are free to “think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.” (Quoting 1975 Statement of Yale Committee on Freedom of Expression).
- Specifically, the conference will investigate if there are in fact “unchallengeable orthodoxies” in these communities, and to the extent there are, whether there should be.
- Case studies of restrictions on ideas and research on racial differences, treatment of dissenters about global warming and the exclusion or marginalization of those who believe in creationism or intelligent design.
I am offering the case study on creationism/ID. I’ve been asked to be as neutral as possible and to restrict myself to laying out the claims and counterclaims of both sides without any normative interjections. And I’ve only got twenty minutes to do so. The participants are largely trained in the law, so this should be an interesting experience.
There is a public session on Thursday evening covering the topic of “Academic Freedom and the Treatment of Dissenting Ideas in the Modern University.” More details here.