Translating the Blogs: What they’re really saying

This section of the blog will deal with looking at other blog posts and trying to show you, the reader, what is really being said. All changed from the original material will be [bracketed].

Blog: Evolution News and Views

Author: Casey Luskin

Post: Darwin Defenders get Ben Stein Expelled from University of Vermont’s Commencement Address

It also seems highly unlikely that Stein’s withdrawal was completely voluntary—after all, Dan Fogel, the President of the UVM, has been making it patently clear that supporters of [magic] deserve second-class treatment at his school. Fogel has been all but parroting PZ’s rhetoric that “it’s a real slap in the face for the university to drag in this disgrace who has been a figurehead for a movement that is trying to replace science with superstition,” as Fogel stated::

”This is not, to my mind, an issue about academic freedom or the openness of the campus to all points of view. Ben Stein spoke here last spring to great acclaim,” UVM President Dan Fogel said. “It’s an issue about the appropriateness of awarding an honorary degree to someone whose views in many ways ignore or affront the fundamental values of scientific inquiry and I greatly regret that I was not attuned to those issues.”

Like many [scientists who accept natural selection as an adequate explanation for the mechanism of evolution], Fogel is so blind to his own intolerance that he doesn’t see the contradictions in his own argument: He claims this isn’t about [teachers lying to their students about scientific controversy], but he’s refusing to give an honorary degree to Stein simply because Stein supports [magic].


But does Fogel’s view support [teachers lying to their students about scientific controversy]? Fogel’s pretext is the usual one used to discriminate against [magic] proponents—he claims that Stein’s “views in many ways ignore or affront the fundamental values of scientific inquiry”—but this is just plain old intolerance for those scientists and scholars who think that [magic] is an idea worth taking seriously. Thus Fogel’s argument is self-refuting: the fact that he won’t give honorary degrees to someone simply because they support [magic] demonstrates the lack of academic freedom for [magic] proponents in the academy.

Fogel makes the same mistake in this non-credible denial that academic freedom is the issue:

“But I have to say, the issue here, and this is important, is not freedom of expression. Ben Stein has come to our campus to speak, and some of the faculty that are colleagues here wrote to me to say that they have no objection to him coming here to speak. It was the legitimate concern among members of the community regarding the implications of granting an honorary degree to someone whose ideas fundamentally ignore the basics of scientific inquiry.”

Again, Fogel’s denial that this bears upon [teachers lying to their students about scientific controversy] has a huge credibility gap: Fogel claims this isn’t about freedom of expression, but it seems clear that scholars aren’t free to express support for [magic] or they are charged with “ignor[ing] the basics of scientific inquiry.”

And thus ends our exploration. Head over to PZ Myers blog (posts herehere and here) for the backstory.


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