Archive for Thursday, November 24, 2005

Religion professor’s e-mail outrages critics

November 24, 2005

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— Critics of a Kansas University course on intelligent design say an e-mail written by the professor proves the course is meant to mock religious fundamentalists.

KU Provost David Shulenburger said Wednesday he regretted the words used in the e-mail, but he backed the professor and the course, maintaining it would be taught in a professional manner like all other courses.

In a recent message on a Yahoo listserv - a venue where groups of people post questions and comments on a particular topic - Paul Mirecki, chairman of KU's department of religious studies, described his upcoming course "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationisms and other Religious Mythologies."

"The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category 'mythology,'" Mirecki wrote.

He signed the note "Doing my part (to upset) the religious right, Evil Dr. P."

"My understanding was that was a private e-mail communication that somehow was moved out of those channels and has become a public document," Shulenburger said.

The course follows the Kansas Board of Education's recent adoption of new public school science standards that critique the theory of evolution.

State Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, said the comments concerned her.

"His intent to make a mockery of Christian beliefs is inappropriate," she said.

Mirecki said he wrote the message in a private e-mail and that an outsider had accessed the listserv.

"They had been reading my e-mails all along," he said. "Where are the ethics in that, I ask."

When asked about his reaction to the outrage voiced by conservatives, Mirecki said: "A lot of people are mad about what's going on in Kansas, and I'm one of them."

Plenty of controversy

Mirecki's course is planned for next semester.

It will explore intelligent design, the idea that life is too complex to have evolved without a "designer," presumably a god or other supernatural being. It will cover the origins of creationism, why it's an American phenomenon and why Americans have allowed it to pervade politics and education.

The course has ignited a firestorm, with Mirecki at the center of the controversy.

"This man is a hateful man," said state Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe. "Are we supposed to be using tax dollars to promote hatred?"

But he also has supporters.

Tim Miller, a fellow professor in the department of religious studies, said intelligent design proponents are reacting to having their beliefs held up to scrutiny.

"They want their religion taught as fact," Miller said. "That's simply something you can't do in a state university."

Hume Feldman, associate professor of physics and astronomy, said he planned to be a guest lecturer in the course. As a scientist, he said he believed the department of religious studies was a good place for intelligent design.

"I think that is exactly the appropriate place to put these kinds of ideas," he said.

John Altevogt, a conservative columnist and activist in Kansas City, said the e-mail was the source of the latest controversy over the course.

"Absent this memo, there would be no controversy," Altevogt said. "He says he's trying to offend us. The entire tenor of this thing just reeks of religious bigotry."

Indoctrination attempt?

Mirecki said intelligent design proponents were not education proponents.

"They're not for education," he said. "They're for indoctrination."

O'Connor said the recent moves by the state board of education were not about indoctrination.

"How is that indoctrination if you give permission to teach what somebody believes is the truth," O'Connor said.

She asked if Mirecki is allowed to teach his hatred, why can't others teach what they see as the truth.

"He wants me to say 'thank you' by giving more money," O'Connor said. "Who is the ignoramus here? Who is the uninformed one here? The professor with the degree or this high school graduate?"

Brownlee said she was watching to see how the university handled the e-mail.

"We have to set a standard that it's not culturally acceptable to mock Christianity in America," she said.

Comments

AA 9 years, 5 months ago

What the KU Vice Chancellor David Shulenburger said on the KU website on 22/11:

At KU, we instruct our teachers to create a classroom environment that encourages intellectual inquiry and civil discussion that helps students master the subject matter. This religious studies course will be held up to the same standard. All views will be respected and rights to freedom of expression will be fully observed. This university welcomes students of all religious faiths and prides itself on maintaining a climate of openness and tolerance.

Mirecki's email has undercovered his strategy, made a mockery of the KU statement and backfired into "THE nice slap in the big fat face" of KU.

Good luck for the future Mr Mirecki - who's going to be the laughingstock now?

ksbearsfan 9 years, 5 months ago

A point that is being missed is that this does not just involve Christianity. He is mocking all religions that support a higher being. Whatever happened to religious freedom. The freedom to worship and belive without being mocked in public places such as a university? I support both creationism and evolution being taught along with the faults of both. And as for proof, I have yet to see absolute proof that evolution is 100 percent accurate as well as the Big Bang theory.

Shardwurm 9 years, 5 months ago

My daughter is a senior trying to decide where to attend college. Think this will influence our decision?

Yep.

What other courses are taught in this manner?

Jeff Barclay 9 years, 5 months ago

I'll bet a year's legislative funding that the Provost will never okay a class called, "The Koran, Paradise and other Middle East Mythologies."

Mr_Christopher 9 years, 5 months ago

Shardwurm, your daughter might want to look into Bob Jones University instead. They teach Intelligent Design form a different perspective and they embrace diversity as well.

That or Jerry Falwell's college. Christian Colleges have a long tradition of embracing diversity while setting an example for tollerance.

I bet NO one at Bob Jones has ever made a snippy comment about secular humanists or those who accept evolution. No way!

Best of luck to you both!

Kookamooka 9 years, 5 months ago

I like Paul. He is right. The "right" are wrong. It's pretty simple.

rtwngr 9 years, 5 months ago

Wendt, you should be careful when referring to historical fallacies. Within the last decade, as a result of more open relations with Russia, several things have come to light from the cold war after WWII. One of those things is McCarthy was right about communists in the United States. Where McCarthy erred was his tactics and the fervor it generated. As it turns out there were paid informants all over the country and they existed at almost every level of government. There were communist sympathizers in the media that were complicit with the Kremlin. These facts were gleaned from documents turned over during the Clinton administration.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 9 years, 5 months ago

"this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category 'mythology,'"

I knew from the start that Mirecki used the term "mythology" simply to infuriate the fundamentalist nuts. How old is this guy? Twelve? He's acting just as childish and intolerant as the Kansas B of E and the other religious wackos. How can anyone expect to get legitimate, unbiased information from his classroom if he has such a hateful attitude toward the topic? It would be like Kay O'Connor teaching a class on evolution. Mirecki may have the material to put together an interesting class, but his behavior in this matter is an embarassment. Sad, really.

Dani Davey 9 years, 5 months ago

ksbearsfan said: Whatever happened to religious freedom. The freedom to worship and belive without being mocked in public places such as a university?

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you from religious discrimination by the government, and guarantees that the government cannot discriminate against you. The free exercise clause of the First Amendment means that the government can't criminally charge you for something because it is religious and they can't deny you a job because of your religion (be it Christian, Buddhist or Athiest). However, it does not protect religious beliefs from being mocked by private individuals. I, or Dr. Mirecki, or anyone else, can believe whatever we want and we have every right to vocalize our beliefs, just like Christians do because of another little provision in the First Amendment commonly known as "free speech."

I'm all for religion. I believe in God. I pray. But I don't feel the need to shout it from the rooftops or infuse my beliefs into any kind of public setting. My beliefs have never been mocked and I suspect it's because I don't.

As a counter-question to ksbrearsfan, or anyone else, when did religion leave churches and private homes and enter places like public schools and universities?

ksbearsfan 9 years, 5 months ago

Excellent point, from the start it had the feel that the only reason for this is to infuriate people. Can you really expect to get an unbiased lecture on intelligent design from this guy?? And the use of the word mythology is a blatent attempt to tick people off. Can you imagine going up to a person and asking them how that myth of a religion they pracitce is going for them? They would be insulted. What a double standard this is setting.

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

Mirecki says: "Mirecki said he wrote the message in a private e-mail and that an outsider had accessed the listserv.

"They had been reading my e-mails all along," he said. "Where are the ethics in that, I ask.""

Rule number one in the world of the internet: Do not put anythinhg in an email you wouldn't want to see published in a newspaper.

Guess this brilliant academecian let his giant ego overcome his common sense.

Now who is the IDIOT?

devobrun 9 years, 5 months ago

ralphsantos, Yer response to me at noon yesterday was appreciated.
I can think of no better examples of mythology in science than both ether and evolution. Indeed, I think some day they will both go in similar trash cans. The ether was a story that was told of a substance that supported force, or action, at a distance. It explained electricity, magnetism, light, gravity. It was devoid of all physical properties except its ability to support the phenomena of action at a distance. J.C. Maxwell and others showed that the ether was unnecessary by describing action at a distance as a result of fields. Thus, field theory supplanted the ether. The ether was a mythology used in the interim. It was and still is a story of how force can happen even if objects don't touch. It is classic mythology. And so is evolution. Evolution is a story that is told to explain all kinds of stuff around us. It is just one of the stories. Creation is another, ID is another. There are creation mythologies in every civilization and culture. They are all (including evolutuion) mythologies.
So, what separates field theory from the ether? What would separate an origin science from the other mythologies? Proper testing. You invoked Karl Popper. Good for you, I agree. Evolution suffers from a severe problem in that it relies on time scales that are impossible. We can't go back in time, nor can we wait millions of years. Thus, proper testing is out.
Gathering evidence is part of conjecture. Refutation requires testing of the hypothesis generated in the conjecture phase...... with the intent of disproving the hypothesis. The small parts of evolution that can be tested are science. The extrapolations into large scale statements are premature at best. Evolutionists have overstepped their ability to test. Thus, they have entered the realm of theology, philosophy, and mythology. I think that evolution mythologies will someday go away like the ether. Unnecessary and quaint. Someone may actually come up with a biological origin hypothesis that can be tested. Until then, the argument over the primacy of men's ideas will continue without end, or fecundity.

Spareme 9 years, 5 months ago

Don't you just love the hypocrisy of Kay O'Connor?

She claims Merecki is hateful, but where was she when Pat Robertson was telling the town of Dover that God will not help them should they encounter a disaster. Now that's HATE. She's calling Merecki an ignoramus, I'd consider that pretty hateful.

These conservatives claim that God is some how on their side and that God will abandon anyone that disagrees with them.

God does not waste his energy on politics, nor does he turn his back on those who disagree with your politics.

Religion belongs in a religions study class and NOT in science class.

Senator O'Connor you profess to be a Catholic so why don't you listen to what the Vatican said, Intelligent Design is NOT science!

I disagree with Kay but I don't hate her. Too bad these conservatives can't practice in their daily lives the religion they preach to the rest of us.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

Proponents of ID/Creationism have shown that they don't understand the meaning of "theory" in the context of science, and they have now demonstrated their ignorance of the meaning of "myth" and "mythology" in the context of religious studies.

That just shows that if you want to live your life based on a credo of superstition, you need to embrace ignorance.

devobrun 9 years, 5 months ago

And the argument continues.... My idea vs. Your idea. Neither with any use or application. "The secular progressives are Nazi's." "The fundies are wacko's."
How far will this get before people calm down and use their head instead of their emotion? Will someone get violent before the fog of war lifts? I sure hope not, but this is getting stranger all the time.
Prof Mirecki is using university resources ( and thus my tax $) to support a lie. He lied about his intentions. This questions his and the university's intellectual integrity. Doctors Milecki and Shulenburger should submit resignations on the basis of the lie and the support of it. At least an investigation should be started into the apparent falsehoods being told by these two.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

I'm glad that you have a cool head about this, Devo, and are merely demanding that these people to resign because they have staked out positions different from your own.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 9 years, 5 months ago

just_another,

Mirecki's quote shows that his use of the word "mythology" was to insult people. If that's the case, apparently even HE doesn't even know the meaning of the word.

"this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category 'mythology,'"

I think Mirecki needs to forget the sour grapes and seek counseling to help him get over his anger. Kay O'Connor and the Kansas B of E should seek counseling as well.

pcsdrewboy 9 years, 5 months ago

State Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, said the comments concerned her."His intent to make a mockery of Christian beliefs is inappropriate," she said.

Whoa, hold a sec here. I thought the whole point of Intelligent Design (as espoused by its' biggest propenents, at least) was purely an areligious theory, not tied to Christianity at all?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

It would appear that Mirecki is angry, as are many, at the improper injection of religion into the teaching of science, but the choice of the word "mythology" is entirely appropriate for this class. He shouldn't have to change the long-standing accepted usage of word just to satisfy the ignorance of those who might be unreasonably offended.

devobrun 9 years, 5 months ago

Yer right, Bozo. The profs positions are opposite mine. I think lying is wrong, they don't. Where are you regarding lying, Bozo?

greyhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

KBF "Can you really expect to get an unbiased lecture on intelligent design from this guy?? "

I should hope not! To be a professor is most literally to profess.....to do any less is a great disservice to the students (and/or their parents) paying ridiculous amounts of tuition and hoping to learn something. Don't forget that these are college students, the vast majority of whom are over 18, adults, able to enter contracts, get married, join the armed forces and risk their lives at the whim of a president and a willowy Congress, and presumably have the intellectual skills to evaluate ideas presented to them in class. Or have admissions standards fallen such that we now have to protect students from ideas?

Prof. Mirecki's internet posting was ill-advised and his language choice most regrettable. But, it's a fact he made the posting. Big deal.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 5 months ago

I applaud Dr. Mirecki for the thoughts in his email. I am happy they are being made public.

It is time to tell the truth about the Kansas Taliban and to confront them head-on.

As to those deciding against KU for their childrens' educations: this is what you should be doing. If you don't like what is taught at KU, by all means don't send your children there. Bob Jones University, Mid-America Nazarene, or some other madrasa is more appropriate for you anyway.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

His intentions are to explore creation myths, including ID/creationism, which is a topic of great local, national and international interest. That he is aware of how this will offend its proponents doesn't make him dishonest. That he chose not to (intentionally) make public comments about that likelihood showed merely that he didn't wish to inflame the debate any more than necessary. Posting his very accurate comments about the likely reaction on a listserve was not a very internet-savvy thing to do.

KansasPerson 9 years, 5 months ago

There is something I'm not following about this and I hope someone can set me straight.

The professor says that his comments were in a private email, but elsewhere in the article it says that his comments were in a post to a listserv.

So, two possible scenarios: (1) Professor sent someone a private email with these comments, and that recipient then forwarded the comments to a listserv. Or, (2) Professor wrote the comments directly to the listserv.

On the listserv I sometimes read, it's not private like an email would be. Yes, you have to register for it, but it's not like it's hard to do. Basically anything on a listserv is out in the public eye -- or so it has always seemed to me. But he's saying that the fundamentalists have been "reading his email all along" and that it's not ethical.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

Some listserve's are intended to be very private. I don't know about this one in particular, but it sounds like someone with access didn't respect the privacy Mirecki had expected. Different people will judge the "ethics" of that choice differently.

memoirs_of_a_sleepwalker 9 years, 5 months ago

Critical thinking: the other Kansas/ national deficit.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 5 months ago

In this age, everyone should be aware that there is no such thing as online privacy.

Sue and Tim, I know who you are...

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

Here's my suggestion to Shalenbuger for digging KU out of the mess he has gotten the university into:

Change the venue of the class. Make it a no-credit symposium, open to the public, free of charge, held in the evenings at the Dole center. Let us see for ourselves how Mirecki conducts himself and this class.

ksmattfish 9 years, 5 months ago

I got an idea. Go to church and teach your BS, err... ID there.

I don't pee in your church, please don't pee in my child's education.

Jamesaust 9 years, 5 months ago

"'His intent to make a mockery of Christian beliefs is inappropriate,' Karin Brownlee said."

What Christian belief involves hocus-pocus? Such an assertion insults all Christians. I realize that fundamentalists aren't "book learnin'" types but if they were to produce the equivalent of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which theological point does evolution conflict with? God created life out of his wisdom, from his free will, and evolution was his mechanism. To look down upon evolution, if to look down on God's own creation, and so also God.

"Kay O'Connor said. 'Who is the ignoramus here? Who is the uninformed one here? The professor with the degree or this high school graduate?'" Oh Kay! Why do you keep asking questions that are self-answering?

Horace 9 years, 5 months ago

Your attitude appears to be very unprofessional Prof. Mirecki. As a former student who thoroughly enjoyed your Intro to the Bible class I'm embarassed and disappointed. Using your class to grind political axes is not what higher education is about.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 5 months ago

As much as I find Dr. P's words offensive, I also realize that on a weekly basis I'm writing private e-mails to others that would offend some if made public. We need to keep this in context: someone leaked a private e-mail into the public forum. It's possible for some to have polarized views in public, but to keep those views out of their professional life. Hard and uncommon, but possible.

devobrun 9 years, 5 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus said: "That he chose not to (intentionally) make public comments about that likelihood showed merely that he didn't wish to inflame the debate any more than necessary". So why didn't he include evolution in the title? There's plenty of mythology, history, and philosophy in each branch of science. I'm sure there are mythologies in evolution just as there are in physics (e.g. ether). Whose side of the debate didn't he want to inflame?

Questioning conservative (religious, economic, and moral) philosophies is popular in the university today. It has been for a long time. Fine. But why can't we touch Marxism, Ecology, Evolution, etc. These topics are off limits as far as testing is concerned. They are sacred and canonical. Evolution can't be wrong, can it? Lots of really smart people believe it, right? It's very thoughtful, erudite, evidentiary. Ah, evidentiary science, the abstract, the profound, the nuanced.
Gotta love this argument of dogma vs. godma. These types of arguments have been around forever. I thought that the university profs had learned that there is never a denouement to these things.
Show some fecundity, evolutionists. Or join the long line of religious zealots who insist on their ideas as truth. Truth, ha, ha ,ha.

ralphsantos 9 years, 5 months ago

I have to commend OldEnuf2BYurDad for his capacity to register his understandable sense of offense while not descending into pointless vitriol or calumny. If only such levelheadedness were more common...

playnwrite 9 years, 5 months ago

This isn't a good development to anyone who has been hoping that this issue would go away (mostly) by the B of E reactionaries being voted out in the next election. Now a professor has responded to the corruption of high school education by corrupting higher education. What else can it be called when a class has been designed as a "slap in the face" to a particular constituency? The waters are muddied, the reactionaries have a legitimate issue and can now use this as a campaign issue. Perhaps a prerequisite to teaching this class should be having to pay to sit through a semester of a class designed as a slap in the face to your favorite belief.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 9 years, 5 months ago

Why isn't there a class called "The Myth of Islam"?

Oh, that's right....it would be politically incorrect.

Frank Dorsey 9 years, 5 months ago

Must all teachers espouse the views they are teaching?

ralphsantos 9 years, 5 months ago

devobrun,

describing "ether" as mythology in physics is wrong. It's an artifactual concept from an obsolete conception of the world. Calling it myth implies that there is a substantial body of physicists who believe in it today. That's not the case.

I can't speak for Marxism, but as far as ecology or evolution go, to say those subjects are sacred or untouchable not only is profoundly wrong, but bespeaks a profound ignorance of the matter. It ignores the active study going on in both fields, as well as alternative theories like punctuated equilibrium in the case of evolution.

Furthermore, I can't help but think that many ID proponents regard scientific theory as some kind of soap bubble, which suddenly disappears into nothingness with a single pinprick. There is such a thing as scientific theories being supported by evidence. Newtonian mechanics is an obsolete theory. It breaks down when objects are at the atomic scale, or when you're travelling near the speed of light, and it assumes space is flat. Does that mean I can jump off of the Empire State Building and not get killed? No, I will still accelerate at 9.8 meters per second per second until I die when I hit the pavement. Evolution isn't as robust or precise a theory as Newtonian mechanics, but to point at the gaps in the fossil record while ignoring the bulk of all the data for which the premise of natural selection does provide a good explanation is a remarkable feat of rhetorical selectivity.

On the other hand, what can one test or predict in Intelligent Design? Can one make a prediction about existing phenomena? Can one describe how the action of an intelligent agent can be compared against a prediction to determine the validity of the premise of ID? Does it say anything about how the unnamed intelligent agent does what it does?

I suppose that it must look like dogma if one refuses to engage the subject matter at all. However, it still remains that ID proponents try to pass the stuff off as scientific theory while not providing anything which bears much of a resemblance to scientific theory. If an ID proponent would invoke a little Karl Popper and state some kind of test that would convince them that ID isn't valid, we might get away from "dogma vs. dogma" and have something which begins to resemble a scientific debate.

kuhusker 9 years, 5 months ago

File this under "uninsted irony:"

"This man is a hateful man," said state Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe. "Are we supposed to be using tax dollars to promote hatred?"

Senator O'Conner was one of the leading proponents of a state constitutional amendment in Kansas which banned same-sex marriages and civil unions.

kuhusker 9 years, 5 months ago

File this under "unintentional irony:"

"This man is a hateful man," said state Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe. "Are we supposed to be using tax dollars to promote hatred?"

Senator O'Conner was one of the leading proponents of a state constitutional amendment in Kansas which banned same-sex marriages and civil unions.

Daisymae 9 years, 5 months ago

The religous right is the most dangerous group of individuals on earth. In their narrow, twisted logic they can justify any means to meet their ends. This includes blowing up legal abortion clinics and invading countries on a lie. Their beliefs are no more archaic than the muslim fanatics they so profess to hate.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 9 years, 5 months ago

Must all teachers espouse the views they are teaching?

No, but they should be objective. Could you imagine Fred Phelps teaching "Queer Theory?" (That's an actual course at OSU. Felps doesn't teach it.)

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 5 months ago

Daisy:

You don't think your associating all on the "right" with terrorism isn't narrow-minded? Are you so radically lacking insight that you actually think that those of us who lean to the right are ALL making bombs in our basements to toss at abortion clinics? Do you think that being a conservative or religious makes us all supporters of all of Bush's policies?

That's how it always is. It seems that it's always the pot who is first to call a kettle black.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Mirecki's e-mail wasn't private. That's absolutely as blatantly false as most of the other statements made by the Mirecki and the Provost's office. Mirecki wrote it and posted it directly onto a public forum. Go see for yourselves.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kusoma-discuss

If you've already got a yahoo account you can go right in, if not, just sign up for one and then go right in. You'll also find one where he talks about having his disciples from his little hate-group go forth to message boards like this one and fill them up with his bile.

I wonder how many of those posting today are independent thinkers posting for themselves and how many are Mirecki's sheep? The mole comment above is quite common on there.

How Orwellian:

public = private hate = value neutral silliness = serious scholarship lies = truth

a center designed to be a haven for religious students run by an atheist who clearly appears to hate the people the center is supposed to shelter, and all obviously empowered by a Chancellor who's as hateful as the faculty clown who brought KU's environment of religious hostility to our attention. Look at the postings above if you don't think so. Look at them any day faith is discussed on this forum, but I suppose this is private also.

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

"We need to keep this in context: someone leaked a private e-mail into the public forum. "

If you believe that your emails are private, you are living dangerously.

Mirecki never meant for this subject to be private. He is the one who "leaked" the new class to the press, and who blatantly lied about the objective of the class and his motive for teaching it. Someone had documentation that revealed the lie. What is unethical about setting the record straight and exposing Mirecki's unethical behavior?

zzgoeb 9 years, 5 months ago

The professor's words may seem offensive, but a salient point here comes from the so-called "Christians." Without going to a concordance, I can paraphrase two of the most important things the young rabbi said, that seem perfect for this situation. He reminded us to "turn the other cheek", along with "loving our enemies"; seems like the exact opposite of O'Connor, et als reactions. Also, he said "render what is God's, to God, and what is Ceasar's to Ceasar". This speaks loudly about what religion as science vs philosophy is, and the idea that the conservatives will "be the boss" as taxpayers and how KU and all education is funded.

The young rabbi also wasn't really supportive of the rich and powerful Pharacies(sp?). Perhaps "good Christians" should try to be more "Christ-like" when coming to the forum, what a university is; a place to discuss ideas.

Also when religion becomes a political faction, can it really still be tax-exempt? Hmmm?

BOE 9 years, 5 months ago

ralphsantos:

" I have to commend OldEnuf2BYurDad for his capacity to register his understandable sense of offense while not descending into pointless vitriol or calumny. If only such levelheadedness were more common... "

Seconded.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Posted by tanzer (anonymous) on November 24, 2005 at 3:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

-snip-

2. The list serve requires approval by the group leader before you can read. Not a completely public forum in that respect.

Yahoo groups have no requirement that a gruppenfuhrer approve who can read the posts, but thank you for bleating out Mirecki's (deceitful) response. Now back to the flock.

ralphsantos 9 years, 5 months ago

zzgoeb,

It's worth pointing out that the young rabbi's words are equally applicable to both sides of the debate. I think this is exemplified by DaisyMae's post. Her feelings may be genuine and heartfelt, and in fact I share a bit of her concern in that I'm convinced there are some powerful neocons out there doing some reprehensible and dangerous things, but even if that is the case I can't support her rhetorical tactics.

Broad, unqualified demonization of the opposition might give vent to strong emotions, but all it does is cause opponents and more open-minded individuals to tune you out, and it often does little to convince anyone of anything because one usually ends up misrepresenting the nature of the opposition, the nature of the issue at hand, or both. Not that a hollering match once in a while isn't fun, but it never helps to keep a debate moving forward, but instead just lets things slide into the sort of polarization and mud-slinging we all moan about when we look at politics these days.

For the many of us who gripe about how politics is so polarized and negative and wonder why civil discussion has pretty much disappeared need look no further than this stream of posts to understand why: we let it happen. And the answer to fixing it is to simply not let it happen: work at being civil, arguing to the issues, respecting all participants in an argument.

Mad props to that young rabbi.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

First of all, I'm so sick of this "left-wing" "right-wing" crap! Throwing labels at eachother contributes little to the discussion, so someone please explain to me what good it does because I honestly don't see the point?

Second of all, I don't see how calling creationism and ID "myths" is so deceitful and wrong. Essentially, and mind you this is solely MY opinion, all religions have a creation myth that shouldn't be taken literally. Ancient people thought alot differently than we do. They translated their perceptions of the world around them into metaphors. And since science was relatively new or mostly non-existant, they used these metaphors to explain how the world around them was created. I'm not implying that these people were completely ignorant, it's no small feat to concoct stories that have stayed with us for thousands of years. And I think to completely discredit them would be stupid because these views helped to shape the world we're living in today (both good and bad).

So basically, I think it's a good idea to present these ideas as mythologies, nor do I think that by doing so discredits or mocks any of the religions that may be discussed. I don't think Mereki has a political ax to grind by doing this. The only people implying a political agenda are some of the people posting on this board.

I agree that he wasn't very tactful with word choice in his email, but I don't think he expected this email to become public. I agree that he was very naive for thinking that anything on the internet could remain private.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Posted by observer (anonymous) on November 24, 2005 at 4:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

John, it does require approval to read, messages do not have to be approved if you're a member, But you must be a member to raed. Typical mis-information from right wing

Again, this is completely misleading. Anyone with a Yahoo account can go read that group's postings anytime they want without anyone's permission.

However, this is exactly how you can anticipate that this course will be taught. If they won't tell the truth about Mirecki's intent, his misuse of terminology, or even the nature of where he posts his message (as if it somehow rationalized his bigoted and childish attacks on people of faith) how can anyone trust him to utter one honest word in the classroom?

Again, anyone who reads this can go read Mirecki at;

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kusoma-discuss

Go ahead, test it, see if one of Mirecki's acolyte's stops you and you'll have an idea of observer's integrity. Check message 1674, then look a little farther where he gives folks like observer their marching orders.

Let me ask again, how many of the messages above were posted by independent thinkers and how many were posted by Mirecki's narrow-minded acolytes?

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

I've never met Mirecki, so I think I may fall into the "independent thinker" category.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

John1945,

I tried the link you provided, I have a yahoo account, and I'd have to actually join the group before I could read any of the postings.

Densmore 9 years, 5 months ago

(1) The best scientific evidence at this juncture strongly supports the theory of evolution. (2) ID requires a belief in the supernatural and thus should not be discussed in a science class. (3) There should be courses available in other disciplines that address ID. (4) Mirecki is not the person who should lead a study of ID for reasons which are all too obvious today.

Folks, this is just sickening and I am personally p/o'd. Yesterday, "ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie," spoke up against the use of the term "Mythologies" in the course title and suspected that this was an intentional "up yours" to the religious right. A few others supported him/her, but for the most part, my fellow liberals attacked his/her posts, despite the fact that "ascot" made it clear that he/she believed in evolution and not in ID. If liberals and moderate republicans want to gain the moral high ground, we better cut this cr@p out and start being intellectually honest. Why shoot our collective selves in the foot by supporting this jerk Mirecki? This liberal alumnus wants him out of there.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

John1945,

So did you join the "Open-minded Atheists & Agnostics" forum? It's okay to admit it, you know? Just curious.:)

DaREEKKU 9 years, 5 months ago

I want to take that class!!!! I've been dying to read a good piece of fiction lately. That's the beauty of university! We can do whatever the hell we want, and I'm loving every minute of it! I'm just that much more inspired to become a professor and do stuff just like this to get people pissed off and questioning because that is what education is all about. They've already perverted my school system with magical myths of creationism, I'll be damned if they will take university. Have fun trying in vain to get the course removed!

Densmore 9 years, 5 months ago

Observer:

Your cr@p about ethics is ridiculous. You want to talk about ethics? How about the "ethics" of having a guy who wants only to play political spitball? The University of Kansas should not participate in a pissin' contest. ID cannot and will not find its way into a true scientific forum. We don't need to pre-wire a course to preserve evolution as the only viable scientific explanation of our existence.

Did I mention that I am one p/o'd liberal alumnus?

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Calliope:

from Mirecki's own description of the course:

"I will teach the class, with several other lefty KU professors in the sciences and humanities."

And I think your writing speaks for itself (as does observers).

I personally suspect that one of Mirecki's own followers accidentally sent the e-mail out to the wrong person (perhaps a parent, etc) and so I find it rather humorous that they're looking for moles. That's quite typical of the behavior of extremists with a lot to hide.

At this point I suspect there are many, many "moles" monitoring the SOMA board. I'm also betting that Mirecki's message will find many homes on the Internet where he will become the poster child for academic bigotry and intolerance.

Calvert's prediction that he would become a laughingstock will become a wild understatement of fact, and KU will also join a long list of other institutions where political correctness has gone horribly awry.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Densmore,

Again, with the labels.... Mirecki shouldn't have used the words he did, and I agree that, upon reading his quote again, he used the word "mythology" in a context to slam the "religious right". He doesn't have any business using labels either. But, despite his lack of proper etiquette, I think he was making a reference to the school board officials that okayed creationism to be taught alongside science...this is just my opinion of course.

And as far as ascot's comments are concerned, I didn't see any "fellow liberals" attacking he/she. I think ascot made a good point. Of course there are so many posts, I might've missed it, and I apologise if I did. But honestly, I don't think anyone was attacking ascot for posting views that might not have agreed with his/her views.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

John 1945,

"And I think your writing speaks for itself (as does observers)."

What does that mean? Are you making a reference to one of my posts in specific? I'm curious to know.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Densmore makes a wonderful point. I've been watching all this play out for years and I keep waiting for someone from the scientific community to simply stand up and defend his theory. Insulting someone else doesn't make your point any stronger.

Either evolution can defend itself, or it can't. To say a theory is flawed is not exactly a complete condemnation of it. Many flawed theories provide significant insights to other phenomena that then lead to new insights.

Is everyone sitting around these biology departments daily re-reading Origin of the Species? I don't think so. They're out trying to find the answers to those problem areas where they don't know the answers.

Mathematicians knew that you could take 4 colors and draw a map and never have the same color next to itself, but they couldn't prove it mathematically until just a few years. They didn't go out and attack someone's religion because they didn't know. They didn't try to cover up their ignorance by telling everyone how perfect they were and they sure didn't need an embarrassment like Mirecki to "defend" them. They just waited, and sure enough someone wrote a computer program that banged away at various proofs until it came up with one that worked. That's science, not dressing up in a monkey suit and ridiculing someone's faith. That's bigotry and the guy in that suit was no different than the nuts who put sheets on and little pointy hoods.

Densmore 9 years, 5 months ago

Observer:

I was referring to "ascot's" comments from yesterday and the several liberals who responded in a negative way to his/her remarks. Go back and read it if you are interested. If you can't identify the liberals, you have not spent much time in this forum.

I don't give a damn if no one else gives a damn that I am a p/o'd alumnus. This is not about free speech. This is about the erroneous and/or disengenous defense of Mirecki by many folks yesterday, trying to shout down anyone who suspected that Mirecki was being intentionally inflammatory. Does Mirecki have the right? Of course. Is it in the best interests of Kansas University that he teaches this course? No!! Is it in the best interests of those who oppose the introduction of ID into the public school curriculum? Hell no!! Fight the good fight, by thunder, or get out of the way and let someone else lead the charge.

If you support Mirecki, you are no better than the extreme right-wing nut jobs that fought for the inclusion of ID discussion in our public school science classes.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Observer,

Hi.:) I have to respectfully disagree that the Bible is a complete fable. It actually does have alot of historical content in it that corresponds to archaeological findings. Of course, I'm not including the creation part of it. The Garden of Eden hasn't been discovered yet, and it probably never will be.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Densmore,

I support the content of the course, and I don't see how that correllates with your label of a "right-wing nut job". Mirecki could be a total @sswipe for all I know, but I'd still go to that course because I'm interested to know what the content of the course is, and I don't think that interest makes me a bad person. I can make up my own mind about what's the truth and what isn't the truth thank you very much. I won't be asked to agree with everything he proposes, and I probably won't agree with it, but I think it'd be an interesting class to take nonetheless.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Calliope:

I was referring to one of your posts where you indicate that you were independent of Mirecki, and I think that's obvious from your writing. It's also pretty obvious to pick out the SOMA people once you read a few of their posts.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Oh, so that was kind of a compliment then? Because if it was, you included observer. I pride myself for being an independent thinker, so thank you if it was a compliment...but even if it wasn't, I thank you anyway.:)

Densmore 9 years, 5 months ago

To Calliope and anyone else who took offense at my remarks:

I did not mean to label you or anyone else who is interested in the course or the matter of ID as a "right wing nut job." I believe that evolution is a good theory, but only a theory. I believe that ID is outside of the realm of science and I attribute the introduction of discussion of ID in our public school science classes to the right wing nut jobs. And let me be clear. I do not mean to imply that right-wingers are all nut jobs. We have nut jobs on both sides.

I believe that most right-wingers would not support the discussion of ID in a public school science class. Right or left wing, if you suppport the discussion of ID in a science class, I think that you are a nut job, or just freaking stupid. ID should be a matter of discussion, but not in a science class.

Mirecki should not teach the class. Let the class be taught by an advocate of ID. It is only fair.

cwrist 9 years, 5 months ago

"We have to set a standard that it's not culturally acceptable to mock Christianity in America," she said.

But she has no problem with people making fun of Arabs, Jewish people, and other religions? That's telling...

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Calliope:

It was indeed, a compliment to you, but not to observer. Just as it's clear that your views our nuanced it is equally as clear that observer is simply a follower.

to bennyoates; Mirecki is simply a reflection of an incompetent administration. His e-mail made clear that he was encouraged in his behavior by Bob Hemenway. I agree that the class should be re-assigned to someone from a different academic department, or perhaps team taught from different perspectives, but I think we're at a point where Hemenway needs to do the honorable thing.

Hemenway is such a long flight of stairs down from his predecessor that it's an insult to this university that he continues to cash his paycheck.

I struggle to picture Gene Budig sending his provost out to behave in such the deceitful manner we've seen from Shulenburger this week. Under Budig, Mirecki would not still be chair of the department and Mirecki would have issued a public apology by now, not sending his puppets out with this nonsensical red herring about the nature of his hateful e-mail.

I agree, teach the course, but make sure that it has some integrity for objectivity. Then fire Hemenway and demote Mirecki.

Densmore 9 years, 5 months ago

cwrist:

Yes, she is a real piece of work. But even a piece of work can be right on occasion. Yesterday, she was right about "why stab someone with a stick in the eye" or whatever the h*ll she said. She is also right that it should not be culturally acceptable to mock Christianity. Presumably, as a Christian, she would not support the mocking of non-Christians, but maybe I am giving her too much credit. In any event, this is not about her, it is about Mirecki. She could be the biggest loser in Kansas-that does not excuse Mirecki's idiotic behavior. Mirecki should not teach the class.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

I'm not sure where I saw it, perhaps on the SOMA site or in another article, but either Brownlee or O'Connor made the point that the university would not tolerate such a comments if they had offended Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc. Their point is not to offend those groups, but to give the same respect to all religious beliefs.

The Department of Religious Studies was created for such a respectful envirnoment, but Mirecki and his predecessor, Tim Miller have turned the place upside down, creating an enclave of hatred and bigotry where a safe haven once existed. Yet another black eye for Hemenway's incompetent administration.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Calliope:

You could attend a Klan rally, or a meeting of the American Nazi party and it might be interesting, but do you want to legitimze that kind of a meeting with your participation?

If the Klan invited a black person to its rally would it trasnform the nature of the rally?

I don't know about you, but if those nuts came to my town, I'd be the one across the street with a picket sign, and I may be out in front of Mirecki's or Hemenway's office with one before this is over. They have a right to make their decisions and we have the right to protest their bigotry.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

DENSMORE,

I truly understand where you're coming from. You must not think that Mirecki is right for the job because of his tactless comments on his email, and I kind of agree with you in that respect. But I don't agree that an ID advocate should teach the class. From what I understand, this class will focus on creationism and ID as "mythologies", and if this is the intent, and if it's to be done in a non-derogatory/mocking way, then it should be done by someone who is pretty neutral to such belief systems. Mirecki may not be the one to do this, but I think the idea behind the class is very valid.

Does that make me an idealist?:)

OBSERVER,

I don't like those people either. Just because you don't conform to their fundamentalist viewpoint, then you're damned. I grew up with a father who thinks that way, so I know how they think, and I still love him despite his extreme views. In a way, I'm thankful that I was exposed to such viewpoints because it allowed me to cross back and forth over different thresholds of thought. I'm pretty stubborn, so I never swallowed that philosophy in whole.

JOHN1945,

I appreciate your compliment, I truly do, but I don't think it's fair to judge observer like that. I don't know him/her personally, and you probably don't either, but I think that things can be easily taken out of context on a bboard like this. I respectfully suggest that the two of you try talking civilly to eachother throughout the rest of this discussion. You don't have to agree with one another, but you guys don't have to resort to namecalling or labelling either. You're both intelligent adults, and I think the two of you should compose yourselves as such. :)

Densmore 9 years, 5 months ago

Excellent point John. Why go to a course about the Holocaust if it were taught by a Nazi that believed that there had been no such event, as opposed to the course being taught by an objective historian.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

John1945,

I hardly think that such a class is the equivalent to a Klan party. In my opinion, such a comparison is absurd. Despite Mirecki's comments, I doubt he'll be attending class in a white hooded cape. I understand how strongly you feel against his comments, but I honestly don't think the student body, which is comprised of young, intelligent adult, will allow a hate-monger to teach them. If Mirecki is smart, he'll be cautious about the approach he takes with his class, especially after this article.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Densmore,

Both you and John1945 seem like very intelligent people, so forgive me that I find it so surprising that you would equate a course like this to a Klan meeting! Again, I agree with you that Mirecki may not be the right person to teach this, but I seriously doubt that he'll approach the subject in the same manner as a KKK Wizard (or whatever they call the head KKK guy). C'mon! This is being taken completely out of context! I seriously doubt that this class, even if it's instructed by Mirecki, is going to brainwash students into setting churches on fire! That's unbelievable. Give the student body a little credit....

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Densmore,

Do you think an ID advocate would be an "objective" historian? And if so, why?

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Calliope:

Let me answer one of your previous questions, I did monitor the SOMA site a day or so ago when this erupted. I haven't been back recently, but it's very easy to access.

I wanted to verify for myself whether the e-mail was valid and it was very easy to discover. I went to Mirecki's site. He links to SOMA, Americans United and Kansans for Science (which I believe he helped found). I then went to the SOMA site and they have a button for discussion and pushing on that took me to their forum. Since I already had a yahoo account I simply signed in.

Several people joined about the same time and I assume they followed the same path. I think it'd be funny if they got wierd with all those new members, because some of them are probably journalists who might not take kindly to some authoritarian type getting wierd with them.

Now, on to observer. I read many of the posts on the site, including all of the recent ones and there were certain arguments they were making and certain phrases that were both repetitive and very specific to their site.

One example is the comment somewhere above about the "mole". You wouldn't know about that unless you were a part of that forum. There are other examples, but I'm not going to give all of them away, but let's just say that I don't think observer can lay claim to any great objectivity whe it comes to Herr Mirecki.

I did capture the e-mail and a listing of the various other messages. Most of it was pretty boring and extremely predictable. But to hold this place out as not being public is just silly. No one approached me, or sent me any e-mails, or anything else. You do an automatic registration and you can probably join any yahoo group. As I said, I had my account from elsewhere and just logged in.

Haven't been back, so I don't know if they've thrown up any security entrance now, but when that e-mail was submitted it was a very public forum. But who cares? If it had been full of racial epithets would you give him a pass?

Densmore 9 years, 5 months ago

Callliope:

Yes, in a perfect world, a course on ID taught by a "neutral" instructor would be best. However, ID is about belief and not about science. It would be more appropriate (or less onerous) to have a believing advocate teach the course, so as to allow the belief to be presented with the strongest voice possible, than to have it taught by one who does not believe. After all, you would not want a course in Freudian psychology taught by a non Freudian psychiatrist. Fair is fair. Give them a forum, just so long as it is not a science class.

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 5 months ago

Devobrun: I think you forgot to credit Hegel for your last sentence.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

From above:

  1. The list serve requires approval by the group leader before you can read.

Calliope:

That's not the type of condition the Young Democrats or Young Republicans put on their sites. Approval before you can even read!!!!! Whoa baby, we're not dealing with rational minds with nothing to hide here. They thought that site was their pointy hood, and most of them go by false names (which is probably why they can't figure out who their "mole" is).

This is a group of extremists. Both Mirecki and Tim Miller have looonnnggggg records of demeaning conduct towards evangelicals.

In a decent university with a competent administration, these two would not even be allowed to have contact with students, and certainly not in a department where the disagreements would almost always touch on their particular bigotry.

I think that it's perfectly honest to compare them to the Klan, different bigotry, same stupidity, just as rabid.

Would it help to post his entire message, I have it?

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Incidentally, have you noticed that now the discussion has gone beyond a few simple talking points that the followers have disappeared and thinkers like you and Densmore are the only ones left standing? Hmmmmmmmm, what does that tell you about the nature of Mirecki's acolytes?

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Densmore,

I think that having the course taught by an ID advocate would be just as bias. I don't think it would be fair at all. I have had a class in Freudian psychology taught by a non-Freudian psychologist, and it was very informative because part of the class was to discuss Freudian psychology and compare it to other perceptions of pyschology that didn't necessarily adhere to the Freudian perspective. I think the same can be done in this class. The instructor doesn't have to be a believer in ID or Creationism to teach a thought-provoking class.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

John1945,

This is a forum of discussion, go ahead and post whatever you've got.

WENDT,

HI!!! I was wondering where you were at.:) Welcome to the hot debate. We're having oodles of fun.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Wendt:

As always the charmer with a fresh viewpoint. I've had my day in the sun here. You take over and correct the damage.

Do you still have your car, or did you have to take a taxi home?

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

John1945,

In all honesty, I think you're making a conspiracy out of nothing.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Mirecki e-mail to the Yahoo Groups discussion group as e-mailed to me. It is an accurate copy.

Sent: Saturday, November 19, 2005 Subject: I.D. & Creationism class to be taught at KU this spring! To my fellow damned, Its true, the fundies have been wanting to get I.D. and creationism into the Kansas public schools, so I thought "why don't I do it?" I will teach the class, with several other lefty KU professors in the sciences and humanities. Class is: REL 602 Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationisms and other Religious Mythologies. Tuesdays 7:00-9:30pm. Smith Hall room 100. Open to undergrads and grads. Enrollment limited to about 120. 3 credit hours. The fundies want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category "mythology". I expect it will draw much media attention. The university public relations office will have a press release on it in a few weeks, I also have contacts at several regional newspapers. Of course, I won't actually be teaching I.D. and creationisms, but rather I'll be teaching ABOUT I.D. and creationisms as modern mythologies, indicating that these ideas have no place in a public school science class, but can certainly be analyzed in humanities classes for their function in society. Basic approach is my usual: anthropology with a focus on religious thought and behavior. Any ideas for textbooks, guest lecturers and panels would be appreciated. So far, six faculty have eagerly signed up to lecture. I can probably pull Chancellor Hemenway into this also, especially in the light of his public comments supporting evolution. Doing my part to (expletive deleted) of (sic) the religious right, Evil Dr. P.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

I haven't made a conspiracy out of anything. If you're referring to my comments about some of the postings here, go to the SOMA group and take a look at their recent postings they were babbling all about posting here and writing letters to there.

It's not a big deal, I'm surprised there aren't bunches of conservatives on here doing the same thing. Maybe Wendt, Densmore, you and I should all just get together in a bar some place and BS where we won't be annoyed by the children and the censor.

Densmore 9 years, 5 months ago

Calliope:

You are right. The onus, however, is clearly on the ID'ers. So, let's cut them some slack. Let them put their best foot forward. Only then will I feel comfortable with the debate.

I stand by my earlier comments, Mirecki should not teach the class.

Now it is time to retreat to my Thanksgiving bottle of single malt. I hope you all have a fine weekend. Mine will be perfect if we down the 'Clones.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Bill, take a look at your post and then take a look at Mirecki's drivel. I'm not going after you. Hell, you should teach the class. I've seen you post more substantive information about evolution than the rest of these wowsers combined.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

John 1945,

As I said before, his word choice is tactless. But I really don't see anything wrong with "teaching ABOUT I.D. and creationisms as modern mythologies, indicating that these ideas have no place in a public school science class, but can certainly be analyzed in humanities classes for their function in society". He's speaking out against the school board's decision (the people he labeled as "fundies") to inject religion into the public school's science classrooms. I don't excuse his tactlessness, but I think analyzing the concept of I.D. and various creation myths from different religions is very valid.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Night Densmore. Bill, you and Calliope solve this problem before we get back tomorrow. I've got to get the house cleaned up.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Densmore,

I respect your viewpoint, and I hope you have a happy holiday.:)

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

John1945,

Goodnight.:) Happy house cleaning!

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

"but I think analyzing the concept of I.D. and various creation myths from different religions is very valid."

I'm OK with that, but then again I don't care. I just don't like bigots. Night now.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Wendt,

Hi. Is your name Bill, or is that just a name John1945 calls you?

yourworstnightmare 9 years, 5 months ago

Three things are abundantly clear from this story and blog:

1) It pays to confront the Kansas Taliban head on. They shrivel in the light of day. Their "arguments" hold absolutely no water when challenged.

2) Creationist IDiots are either lying, ignorant, or both. One minute ID is not about religion, but all of a sudden, reasoned attacks on ID become attacks on christians. Huh? Geez, this level of inconsistency is really appalling, even by fundamentalist christian standards.

3) Kansans really don't appreciate their university. In fact, it is loathed by many. Many Kansans would rather there be no university at all in their state. I have never lived in a state with such a hatred toward their university and against education in general.

reaper 9 years, 5 months ago

Hey all you fundies. Got news for you. The "theory" of gravity has not been 100% proven either, and also contains "inexplicable gaps". So, why don't you all march of the nearest cliff to demonstrate your "logic" like the bunch of lemmings you are.

fractious_reader 9 years, 5 months ago

I'm going to go with the Vatican's assessment on creation.

["Vatican City - The Vatican's chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" is not science and does not belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.

Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs is "wrong" and is akin to mixing apples with oranges."]

Who here believes in the the sun god apollo or rah? I sure don't. Religion of today is the mythology of the future. Religion changes as a function anthropological evolution. As we understand our universe better, the farther we have to reach to insert "god" as a plausible explanation. The truth will either be a single god, multiple gods or no god, and no amount of belief with change the truth; whatever that my prove to be. However if the truth lies in Heaven or Hell, then I prefer to be forgotten and vanish into oblivion. I would find an eternity of that foolishness intolerable.

zach 9 years, 5 months ago

It is a Constitutional right for each to believe what they desire. But that is on an individual basis. When teachers seek to push their personal ideologies upon students, especially as a representative of an institution receiving taxpayer money, they open up their ideaologies to public scrutiny, not just to the board committees that oversee the school's curriculum. That applies to socialist ideology, theories of evolution, Intelligent Design, etc. The Intelligent Design hypothesis is not a religious idea, it is a scientific postulation based on objective evidence. It is the socialist's position to try and make it go away by wrongly associating it to religion. That's because the evolutionists and socialists do not want people to understand how it scientifically fills in many of the gaps that evolution theory cannot explain. Thus their attempt to treat Intelligent Design merely as religious theory is based on a political strategy, and not any real attempt to educate students.

reaper 9 years, 5 months ago

No.

It's merely dressed up "irreducible complexity" arguement already well refuted.

ID can be summed up as, "I don't understand how this could happen therefore it must be god".

Same line of "thought" that brought us Thor for thunder and Ra for the sun.

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

Let's recap what happened here. An employee of the State has planned to conduct a campaign to discredit the acts of an elected board and to impact politics and voters in Kansas while disguising it as a college class, using public resources. He also recruited other state employees to join him in his ruse. He did this while not revealing his political affiliation and intent.

This sounds like conspiracy to commit fraud.

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

Startin' to sweat a little, aren't ya?

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

To Mirecki and his minions: You know, if you really want to try to do CIA-style stuff, you are going to have to do some major work on your level of sophistication.

Mirecki's behavior could be endearing, really, like the way pathetic beings can be, when one appreciates the immaturity and amateurism with which this whole campaign has been conducted. But, then, when one contemplates that this all was planned and initiated by a PhD who is paid by the taxpayers of Kansas, and sincere college students who expect to receive a top notch eduction for their money, this whole thing is, to say the least, appalling.

Mirecki should take early retirement so as to spare Hemmenway the difficulty of firing a professor.

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Godot,

I think your "cospiracy to commit fraud theory" is a bit out of context. The world of academia is well known for its "politics". Anyone who's ever worked for a university or attended a university knows that it's an environment centered around exchanging ideas and views. Every professor, to some extent, is guilty of expressing their political views in the classroom albeit directly or indirectly. It's solely up to the students to take it or leave it. So what you call "fraud" is actually, in a sense, a part of the University experience, and there's nothing illigal about it, and it's nothing to sweat over.

I like your handle btw. "Waiting for Godot" is one of my favorite plays.:)

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

You might want to google "is it legal for government employees to use government resources for a political campaign?"

Mr_Christopher 9 years, 5 months ago

"Lighten up, Francis..."

I signed up for numerous email newsletters and alerts from fundamentalist, extreemist christians. Might as well keep your finger on the pulse of nutcases, no? Anyhow, what they write to one another makes this class thing look like child's play.

Fundamentalist christians openly and routinely portray evolutionists, secular humanists, legitimate scientists and non-believers as Marxists, terrorist sympathizers, satan worshippers, child molesters, stupid, immoral people.

To the religionists and ID proponents who find this whole ordeal offensive, look in the mirror and then lighten up...Your ID has nothing in common with science, it is obviously creationism couched in "scientific" terminology, you misrepresent scientists in your papers and book, you misrepresent evolution, you mislead the public, you make false claims, you dodge questions. Your classroom "text" Pandas and People is nothing but distortions and falsehoods. Read the Dover trial transcripts to see that book taken apart under oath. Every point in the book is verifiabley false.

Your act is getting so old and nothing good comes from it. You polarize communities, you turn neighbor against neighbor while acting as if you are somehow being victimized. You're self imposed martyrdom is a bore. You'd be wise to predict and accept a little ridicule from time to time.

Mr C

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Godot,

Mirecki is not running a political campaign. You make it sound like he's trying to run for office or something. He's teaching a class at university that questions I.D. and Creationism.

YetAgain 9 years, 5 months ago

What a lovely debate! Mirecki seems to be either the worst &(%%#* of an instructor a university has ever hired, or the best, apparently. Several points stand out, however.

  1. Miriecki is not running a political campaign or violating any laws relative to government employees using government resources. He's a professor at a university who is teaching a class under the well established precepts of "academic freedom." He has a right to his opinion and a right to express it in his classes, and if he does so in a professional and well-grounded academic manner then BRAVO!

  2. His students are adults and don't have to agree with him - all they have to do is understand his point of view. If they refuse to do that, their loss, no matter what side of the debate they are on. Pilgrim is flat wrong about students flunking if they don't accept the prof's point of view. I didn't agree with a prof trying to teach his version of creationism - but I got an A in his class anyway because I took the trouble to learn and understand his point of view. And, by the way, I HAD to take that class....I'm not hearing that anybody has to take Miriecki's if they don't want to.

  3. Universities, by their nature SHOULD be hotbeds of debate. And professors in departments disagree all the time. Loudly and strongly! I've been in enough of them to know this for a fact. That's ok. It keeps the brain cells moving on all sides.

  4. ID has successfully avoided the crucible of academic debate up to now. It's high time this fnally happened, and if it's as great a thing as it's supporters claim, they should welcome the fire because it will survive. The angst among the ID supporters about the possibility of close examination and critical review suggests that they know they have alot to worry about. Miriecki is exactly the kind of person who should be doing the examination. Your friends won't point out your flaws and good theories don't need friends. They do need honest enemies. Evolution has always had quite a few of those, but the ID folks haven't been numbered among them.

  5. Having taught at the university level, I'm (un)happy to say that almost none of the freshmen in any of my classes have had any understanding at all of the concepts of scientific method, peer review, or how to write even a marginal research paper. So enough of the upper level debates in high school...let's just try teaching some decent basic science.

Miriecki is doing exactly what he should be doing. Conspiracy theories are nonsense. The man has an opinion and the principle of academic freedom gives him the right to speak it. People shouldn't waste their money on a univeristy education if they think they shouldn't have to be exposed to ideas they might not agree with.

Shalom!

failed_ged 9 years, 5 months ago

The religious folks readily accept the talking burning bush, the parting of the sea, three brothers getting cooked in any oven and surviving without a single bit a chard flesh, the sky raining with fire pellets, and other mythical accounts of christian history, so why can't they accept an equally bizarre thing like evolving from squirrels and monkeys?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

" You just memorized the professor's opinion, regurgitated it on command, then promptly forgot it."

Isn't that what you expect universities (and society in general) to be, Pilgrim?

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

What I think is cute is that when this story came out and the debate was going on hot and furious Mirecki's acolytes disappeared because the debate went beyond the talking points they'd memorized.

Then the next day when no one's looking, they slither back in and start writing again. What cowards these bigots are.

Incidentally, no one is arguing that he doesn't have a right to be a bigot. he can hate who he wants, when he wants. The question is whether or not a man who has expressed such bigotry should be allowed access to courses where he would have power over those individuals he has expressed this hatred for.

Fortunately for Mr. Mirecki, his Chancellor appears to be an even bigger bigot than he is and Mr. Mirecki's e-mail clearly indicates that he has been empowered by the Chancellor's fear-mongering.

KU=Hate U

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

Come on, John, the only bigotry involved is yours. You and your fellow cultists have made it your life's work to cram your superstitions down everyone else's throat. We ain't buying it, and the best you can do is to claim that anyone who rejects your crackpot ideas is a "bigot."

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for offering an example of the mentality of Mirecki's acolytes. You offer nothing in terms of an argument because you are incapable of thinking for yourself. Instead you spew out a silly ad hominem for which you offer no evidence.

Instead of wasting time drooling over Mirecki's next pile of bile why not take a course in logic?

Better yet, go up just before you and the rest of Mirecki's cowards slithered back in and see how civilized people discuss issues.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

I think this was also Irregonegaray's tactics at the Science hearings when asked for evidence his basic approach was to run around the room with this same "So's your mother" argument.

The evidence for Mirecki's bigotry has now been presented in every major paper in the state. he's become the laughingstock that John Calvert said he would become and before long his e-mail will be posted all across the Internet where he'll become the poster child for reilgious bigotry and all your whining and "No, you're one" silliness won't mean squat.

KU=Hate U

LarryFarma 9 years, 5 months ago

Mirecki's bigoted email was the last straw. Before I was agreeable to the idea of the course being taught if the reference to "mythologies" was removed from the courses title, but now I think that the course should just be cancelled. It should not be approved for university credit. This whole affair has done great damage to the academic integrity of the Univ. of Kansas.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Chancellor Hemenway's failure to control his faculty's inappropriate behavior casts doubt on the integrity of every course at KU. Mirecki is simply symptomatic of Hemenway's ongoing incompetence and inability to lead.

Never mind this course. Why would they allow people like Mirecki and Tim Miller to head a department that was designed to be a safe haven for people of faith? That's the real outrage.

I believe that the department is located on private property specifically so there will be no church-state issues. Yet I've seen his students comment that Mirecki tells them that he's limited by church - state restrictions. If it is indeed private property, then that would be yet another of the (many) falsehoods this "serious scholar" promotes.

LarryFarma 9 years, 5 months ago

The hypocrites who argue that Mirecki's motives should not be an issue here have made a big deal about the alleged religious motives of the proponents of intelligent design. Mirecki's course should not be offered for university credit.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

Unlike the BOE, Mirecki is offering an elective course to a maximum of a few dozen people, not cramming his beliefs down the throats of thousands of school kids who have no options but to listen to them. And unlike the BOE, who have absolutely no demonstrated understanding of science, Mirecki is an established expert in his field, that of religious studies, and he understands the meaning of "mythology" in that context. Something that Larry and John clearly lack.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Yet another ad hominem from the appropriately named Bozo. And almost 2 hours since his last post. Did it take Paul that long to give you your next talking points?

Let's make it clear. Academia is full of bitter kooks with an axe to grind and a hatred of this country. They teach courses like this everyday. Who cares? Part of the rite of passage of a university education is to learn to see through the silliness of "serious scholars" like Mirecki and grow up.

The problem here is an institutional problem. We have a religious bigot being allowed to have great power over a category of people whose views he has expressed a great intolerance for. The outrage here is that this man should not be allowed to be anywhere near the Department of Religious Studies. Anthropology perhaps, but not Religious Studies.

If the university had competent leadership, he would not be the head of that department. If the university had competent leadership, he would have stepped down by now. Instead, Hemenway pulls out, yet again, another straw man and insists that Mirecki has the first amendment right to say what he said. I agree.

No one has the right to tell you what to think. If Mirecki wants to hate someone, whether it be blacks, Jews Christians, or people with red hair, he has that right.

If he wants to reserve a room in the Union and spout his bigoted views, or stand outside along with Fred Phelps where the audience may come and go as they please, he has that right.

However, the right to free speech ends where action begins. Mirecki should not be allowed to have control over any student's grade or career. The university has the responsibility to protect students from faculty members who exhibit an unreasonable hostility or contempt for their beliefs. Mirecki has clearly entered that zone where the university must remove him from contact from those he might harm.

Frank Dorsey 9 years, 5 months ago

To broach a subject from earlier in this thread: The difference between a Holocaust denier and Mirecki (I can't believe I'm even speaking to this ludicrous comparison) is that the Holocaust denier doesn't have evidence on his side. Actually, despite it's intentionally inflammatory imagery, maybe the Holocaust denier would be a good analogy to the person who points to the minor discrepancies in the theory of evolution, despite the vast wealth of evidence supporting it, and says it's not true. ID is a myth. It uses a supernatural explanation for a natural event. I know that with the re-written science standards in Kansas, this would probably be considered 'science.' But not for the entire scientific community.

Has anyone looked at Mirecki's credentials? He got his doctorate from Harvard. He worked with Strugnell on the translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He published a lost gospel. He can read ancient Greek and Coptic. I think that he may have bias, but what professor doesn't, one way or the other. He's imminently qualified to objectively teach the class. I will admit that I'm a fan of his, but mainly for his intelligence and academic accomplishments. I think it does a disservice this intelligence of his students to claim that they are just lackeys who do his bidding, like a bunch of flying monkeys, off to harass Dorothy.

I have a degree in Religious Studies from KU. I was always very impressed with the instructors' ability to teach a class with a complete lack of bias. They were all very respectful of others' opinions and approached disagreements with calm, intelligent discussion. I was aware of Tim Miller's reputation, and so was very surprised at his even handed approach to the History of Religion in America. I would bet that he could tell most Evangelicals vast amounts of info about their religious history.

These are very intelligent people who are very aware that they are teaching sensitive material. Oh, and I don't think they are "bitter kooks with an axe to grind and a hatred of this country."

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Frankdormat:

Thanks for an intelligent contribution to the discussion. I personally haven't compared Mirecki to a Holocaust denier, but I do consider him to be a bigot and his letter clearly indicates that he has an axe to grind and that he is extremely intolerant of the views of others.

He may be quite capable of teaching this course in the most objective manner possible, but his past comments, which appear to be a misrepresentation of what can and cannot be taught in that department, lead me to think otherwise.

The university also has the responsibility to assure that students are not placed in harms way when a potential problem exists.

I know of perfectly wonderful professors who were instructed not to have contact with specific students when it was discovered that they might have some conflict of interest, either positive, or negative, with regard to that student.

Mirecki's comments indicate that he is intolerant of an entire category of people and you also indicate that Miller has a similar "reputation". While they may be excellent choices for a department of anthropology, they clearly a) should not be allowed to teach in the religious studies department, or b) they should be extensively monitored to make sure that no unprofessional conduct occurs and irregardless a, or b, neither should be allowed to head that department. That is an outrage.

Again, thank you for the civility and informative nature of your post.

Frank Dorsey 9 years, 5 months ago

They are not teaching religion, they are teaching about religions from an anthropological perspective, which lends to the objectivity. They examine the role of religion, mythology, etc., in the lives of people. I believe some of their classes can be taken as Anth. credit.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say "placed in harm's way". Is this a quote from the student handbook or from some University policy? I'm also unclear as to what a "positive" conflict of interest would be. Is this just a difference of opinion? I don't think exposing students to ideas is harmful, if this is what you mean. Fascistic ideas, presented from the anthropological perspective, placed in historical context, can be informative, even though one may find them objectionable. The same is true of supernatural ideas of various people throughout history, including very recent.

The term 'bigot' denotes intolerance. Although Mirecki may hyperbolically malign some in what he assumed was a friendly environment, he does tolerate other views. As I stated earlier, any disagreements with material he presented in his classes were respectfully dealt with, despite his personal opinions. This is the epitomy of tolerance.

I did not imply that Professor Miller was intolerant of others' views, or "an entire category of people" as you stated. He would strongly challenge them. But this was never in a classroom context, where he was always even handed.

I honestly believe that you would find either professors' classes very interesting and thought provoking.

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

His emails are supposed to be public record, if done on public time or on a publicly owned computer. You need to read a little further than a "quick look."

Mirecki went several steps beyond "thinking," and took it to include several other collegues, definitely the Provost, and maybe even the chancellor. This goes beyond "thought."

Going back to an earlier post, it is time to bring some balance to the unchecked power of academics who use their position and influence provided to them by taxpayers to influence government itself.

lucid_vein 9 years, 5 months ago

A lot of people are presuming "hatred" will be taught in the class, because they found an expression of anger in an email. I don't see how his email should reflect on the content of the course. His emotions and politics, and how impartially he presents the material in classroom, can be wholly unrelated.

I've been in many lectures where the professor expressed contempt for some ideas, and yet taught the material accurately. Some ideas are contemptible, when upon examination they are found false and yet people keep pushing those ideas.

All creation stories worldwide are mythology. Myth is a social science term to denote a metaphorical story that relates meanings instead of physical facts about nature; it's worthless as history, but that doesn't make it "wrong" it just makes it non-literal. Myth doesn't mean falsehood anymore than theory means guess. That creationism is mythology and that ID is creationism are both established facts, and teaching this is the only honest thing to do, regardless of the teacher's emotions about the subject matter.

lucid_vein 9 years, 5 months ago

I just wrote in my comment above: "That creationism is mythology and that ID is creationism are both established facts, and teaching this is the only honest thing to do, regardless of the teacher's emotions about the subject matter."

I want to amend that to this statement: "That creationism is mythology and that ID is creationism are both established facts, and teaching this is the only honest thing to do, regardless of the teacher's emotions about the political knavery of some contemptible people trying to obstruct science education in America. Tolerance of evil is wrong."

Calliope877 9 years, 5 months ago

Yet Again, Frankdormat, and lucid_vein,

Your posts are absolutely refreshing! Thank you very much for contributing them in a civil manner. You've made so many of the points I was struggling to make earlier, so now I feel I have nothing else to contribute to the discussion...you've already done it for me. Thanks! :)

John1945 - Hello.:) Did you have fun cleaning?

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

To Calliope:

Yes.

and to Observer:

Yes. And a dyed in the wool Jayhawk fan. Losing Roy Williams was yet another of Hemenway's moments of unbelievable incompetence. Keep Mirecki if you want, demote him, but keep him and fire Hemenway. What a complete boob.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

That's not what Roy said, but you may be right about Self

I support both academic freedom and tenure. I am not opposed to this class. I am opposed to it being taught by someone who has repeatedly shown great hostility to people of faith. I do not think he should be fired, but I believe that he is in the wrong department and should be transferred. Hemenway shoudl be fired. Once again he has completely bungled an event that could have been de-fused in the first hours.

Ironically, the greatest victim of Hemenway's stupidity is Mirecki who will forever be the poster child for religious bigotry at KU. If I were he, my resume would be circulating as I type.

LarryFarma 9 years, 5 months ago

Posted by tanzer on November 24, 2005 at 3:17 p.m. -- " The list serve requires approval by the group leader before you can read. Not a completely public forum in that respect. "

            Letters submitted for publication in newspapers and magazines must also get approval (by the publisher or editor) prior to publication.     Does that mean that newspapers and magazines are not completely public forums ?

            Now that Mirecki has been caught with his pants down,   he and his apologist,  Provost Shulenburger,  are bellyaching that the publicizing of Mirecki's post was an invasion of privacy.     Hogwash.

          Sometimes,   even things said in complete private have gotten people into deep trouble (for example,  former Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz was forced to resign because of a racist joke that he said in private).     I am not saying that this is right,  but it happens.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Actually the original copy of the e-mail I received said "On behalf of Paul Mirecki" and what followed was the message. Until the website was documented and the message authenticated a couple of days later, that was the version circulating around the Internet.

So dear folks, the excuse that he was spied upon doesn't wash in any case since the original e-mail that made the rounds was from one of his own supporters who was obviously quite proud of the announcement.

Certainly the Provost's credibility is worth about nothing at this point since the press, even sympathetic press, can't trust anything he says. Chalk up another victim of Hemenway's incompetence.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

I've taught at the university level, and many a career has been dashed when "private" correspondence became public.

Never, never write, or say, anything you wouldn't want to read in the newspaper and your life will be much simpler regardless of what you do.

For instance, how many of you would be embarrased if the anonymity of this forum were stripped away and your name was published beside your comments? How about if it happened 5 years from now when you were employed in a sensitive position? If the answer is yes, you should probably re-think what you're writing.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Huh? What squirrels and monkeys? Hemenway may not be the most talented administrator...uh, well, anywhere, but I'm not giving him the out that he's subhuman.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Let me elaborate on that last post.

While I have concerns about Mr Mirecki, none of them involve bringing in the state to sanction his political views, and he has every right under our constitution to hate whomever he want for any reason he wants.

While several states have passed idiotic hate-crime legislation, I refuse to penalize anyone for thinking anything. Acting, of course, is another story and we already have sufficient legislation to penalize overt acts.

LarryFarma 9 years, 5 months ago

According to a post of John1945, 11/24/05, 9.09 PM, Mirecki's email also said, "I will teach the class, with several other lefty KU professors in the sciences and humanities." Note the word "lefty." This should make it clear that Mirecki has no intention of presenting an open-minded, impartial course. This part of Mirecki's email should have been publicized, too -- if anything, this part is more important than the part that was publicized, because this unpublicized part does not just reveal prejudice, but reveals intentions too. I am surprised that this scandal is not front-page news around the country. I think that it is by far the most sensationalistic news item I have seen on the current controversy over intelligent design. Muckraking journalists are missing a big opportunity. This course is a travesty. It should not be approved for university credit. Mirecki, the provost, and the chancellor have shown an appalling lack of academic integrity.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

The Provost is leaving anyway. Re-assign Miller and Mirecki to anthropology, clean up the Religious Studies program in line with its original mission and fire Hemenway (without whom the rest of this stupidity would not have occured). Had Gene Budig been in charge these past few days things would have been vastly different. He may have been cold and distant, but at least he knew how to manage.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 5 months ago

John-- An "ad hominem" attack would require that I was attacking you personally in order to distract from the actual argument at hand. This is not the case. It is precisely your (and your cohorts') attempts to dismantle science education in public schools in order to advance your religious beliefs that is at the heart of this whole controversy. If you don't like being part of the problem, then don't be part of the problem.

And nowhere have I seen any indication that Mirecki is prejudiced against people of faith. I know a lot of people of faith who won't be insulted by his statements or his class. His comment was about people who want to use the public schools to proselytize, and not about people of faith. But I can see why that would leave you feeling offended.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

Go back, get better instructions, that one's a dog also.

I could care less about using the schools to proselytize.

Indeed, that seems to be what Mirecki wants to do from the looks of his letter. I can tell you that you will not find anything that I wrote that wanted to propagandize a class. Far from it. My goal was always to make the class think and if they got too cozy with one idea, I changed it until they started thinking again. That's education, and that's also what science is supposed to be about, looking at all the possibilities. There are no perfect theories. (Incidentally, don't post anything substantive about biology. It's simply too boring and I need to stay up awhile.)

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

Calliope877 wrote: Godot,

"Mirecki is not running a political campaign. You make it sound like he's trying to run for office or something. He's teaching a class at university that questions I.D. and Creationism."

Mirecki's email proves that his motive is political. And he is not only using state resources, he is using his position and influence to attempt to effect political change.

I refer you to the Hatch Act. As far as I can tell, there isn't any special exception for professors under the guise of academic freedom. Being a professor does not mean that one does not have to obey the laws that apply to other government employees.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

I don't see Mr. Mirecki as a Hatch Act violator. I just took a quick look at it online and I just don't see the connection.

I am concerned with the direction he has taken his department. I am concerned about his conduct with students, and I am offended by his bigotry. He needs to be transferred to another department along with Tim Miller, and the Chancellor needs to be fired.

LarryFarma 9 years, 5 months ago

Scratch the Hatch Act.

I think that trying to bring in the Hatch Act (which limits political activities of public employees) was a good idea, but unfortunately this act does not apply in this case ----

"Employees who work for educational or research institutions or agencies which are supported in whole or in part by a State or political subdivision of the State are not covered by the provisions of the Hatch Act." --- from http://www.osc.gov/ha_state.htm

However, Kansas may have state laws limiting the political activities of faculty members of public educational institutions.

LarryFarma 9 years, 5 months ago

Posted by Godot on November 27, 2005 at 12:50 a.m. -- "His emails are supposed to be public record, if done on public time or on a publicly owned computer."

          The mere fact that he posted the message on an Internet forum accessible to the general public is sufficient to establish that his message is public.   And he made no effort to hide his identity.     He could have posted his bigotry in an anonymous message under an anonymous  screen name,  but he chose not to.

          Some people have very strange ideas about their privacy rights on the Internet.   Some people even think -- or say that they think -- that it is rude to send emails to people who don't know you!!     But everyone we know,   we didn't know until we met them for the first time.

         I just want to add that the big issue here is not evolution vs. intelligent design --- it is academic integrity.

John1945 9 years, 5 months ago

You keep missing the even simpler point. The e-mail that was circulated came from one of Mirecki's acolytes. Or, the even simpler point, anyone can join that group and read the e-mails. If you think it's so private, post your credit card info on their and see how long it takes to max out.

Finally, you don't have to be a KU alumnus to recognize a bigot when you see one, or know that he shouldn't be allowed to teach that class.

Time for new talking points. No one is buying this "it was private" crap.

LarryFarma 9 years, 5 months ago

The way they are bellyaching about this alleged invasion of privacy, one would think that someone wiretapped Mirecki's phone lines or bugged his office or home.

Reason McLucus 9 years, 5 months ago

If Dr. Mireck wants to teach such a course he should also include Darwin's fable. The idea that once upon a time there was this magic puddle which produced one and only one cell which they through millions of miraculous mutations produced all the current life forms. He also might want to examine why some people need a very specific explanation for the origin of life.

I have no problem with uncertainty about the issue. I don't know exactly how life came to exist, but I do know it didn't occur in the manner supported by creationists or the manner supported by Darwinists. Both explanations have serious logical flaws.
Creationists ignore the fact that God wouldn't have gone to the trouble of designing life forms that could begin life as a single cell and develop into complex animals and start out by making everything fully developed.
Darwinists ignore the fact that a system capable of producing biological life from scratch would produce a large number of different life forms rather than just one and the process might be repeated at later dates.

devobrun 9 years, 5 months ago

reasonmclucus, I must warn you that the evolutionists on this board do not have a clear, cold, hard definition of evolution or science. When you question evo on one level, they will defend themselves on another. Their science is slippery.

   Arguing against creation/ID is actually arguing against one of the best defences that the evos have, the straw-man.  As long as the straw-man of religion exists, they can continue to be heard as grand defenders of science. They can knock down that horrible straw-man and save us all from the terror of a bad idea. God love 'em for keeping me safe from ideas that might hurt my other ideas.

  One thing is for sure.  Neither "science" will ever have an engineering branch.  None of these guys will ever use creation/ID or macro-evolution to make any $ unless it comes from some taxpayer.

lucid_vein 9 years, 5 months ago

reasonmclucus wrote: "If Dr. Mireck wants to teach such a course he should also include Darwin's fable. The idea that once upon a time there was this magic puddle which produced one and only one cell which they through millions of miraculous mutations produced all the current life forms."

I know the idea that evolution addresses the changes in life forms over time and not how the first life forms came into being is a difficult concept. The religious background of many persons makes them think all life forms were "made" as they are; and so since in their minds it's about a god originating things, then the "the very first original origin" and the "origins of new species" become the same thing. However, if you want a scientific understanding of these issues, you must learn to distinguish "Darwin's fable" (one of the single most strongly supported and unifying theories in science ;- ) and "abiogenesis" (your "magic puddle").

reasonmclucus wrote: "He also might want to examine why some people need a very specific explanation for the origin of life."

Yes, good point. Why do people need answers and why can't they be satisfied with "I don't know"? Fundamentalists want final answers that are beyond question, scientists want explanations that best fit the known facts and are willing to amend them with new evidence. Both are responding to the universal human need to know who they are, what their lives are about.

reasonmclucus wrote: "... Both explanations have serious logical flaws..."

I can't make any sense out of your logical arguments against both creationism and "Darwinists." But it's a standard creationist practice to reduce scientific questions to philosophical or logical matters, and disregard the necessity for evidence. You can sit in a chair and think all you want, but until you do research of the physical evidence, you won't know one way or the other.

lucid_vein 9 years, 5 months ago

devobrun wrote: "I must warn you that the evolutionists on this board do not have a clear, cold, hard definition of evolution or science. When you question evo on one level, they will defend themselves on another. Their science is slippery.

Sounds like a perfect description of the Discovery Institute Fellows. Whatever you see on this board, there are "hard" definitions of both evolution and science among scientists; not so with specified complexity, irreducible complexity, or other failed attempts of the IDists to imitate science. Addressing the criticism that they have little or no scientific peer-reviewed articles, they list a bunch on non-science journals to give the impression there's a lot peer-reviewed science in the ID movement (there's virtually none, because it isn't science). They claim widespread support among scientists and give a list of 400 persons with assorted degrees (few are biologists). They want you to believe there's a raging "scientific controversy" regarding evolution (there is only a religious controversy). In response to DI's pathetically small list, scientists named Steve were asked to affirm their support for the evidence of evolution; most are biologists. "Project Steve" constitutes 1% of all scientists; so, currently at 637 signatures, that's a statistical equivalent of 63,700 scientists favor evolution. (See http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/3541_project_steve_2_16_2003.asp).

Like all creationists, IDists spout quotes from scientists, cherry-picking so that only phrases that sound friendly to ID are used, making it seem ID is a popular idea with scientists. Evasion and casuistry constitutes the entirety of "ID theory."

devobrun wrote: "Arguing against creation/ID is actually arguing against one of the best defences that the evos have, the straw-man. As long as the straw-man of religion exists, they can continue to be heard as grand defenders of science. They can knock down that horrible straw-man and save us all from the terror of a bad idea."

That's barely coherent, and "persecution" is a pathetic argument. Creationism is not representative of all religion. Arguing against religiously motivated casuists is not arguing against religion. Religious sentiments motivate the attack on science, but that doesn't mean religion is bad; most scientists who accept evolution are theists they're just not creationists.

devobrun wrote: "One thing is for sure. Neither "science" will ever have an engineering branch. None of these guys will ever use creation/ID or macro-evolution to make any $ unless it comes from some taxpayer."

True regarding ID and young-earth creationism; "goddidit" is as productive now as it was 1000 and more years ago. But you're wrong regarding evolution: From bioinformatics to crop yields to disease control to human psychology, all are heavy in $$ and all aspects of evolutionary thought heavily them. Go here for more info: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA215.html

devobrun 9 years, 5 months ago

by lucid_vein The reason that you find my argument regarding the straw-man pathetic is because you don't understand where I'm coming from. Any time you begin arguing creation with me, you've lost the argument. I find creation and evolution to be equally philosophic. Neither are science to a level that makes much sense to me. Thus, when you defend evo by challenging creation/ID, I just laugh.

So, I read your link. Bioinformatics is bioinformatics, not evolution. Quit changing the definitions. The 9 examples in the link are all endeavors which exist on their own. OK, number 8 on the list is just the usual science-speak. I'm an electrical engineer. 30 years, 2 companies, patents, university and high school teaching experience. I never once needed string theory to teach, design build or operate any of my physics-based equipment. Grand theories like evo and strings are pre-science at best. Philosophies with little or no fecundity.

If you answer this, please refrain from referring to creation/ID. I have no interest in it.

lucid_vein 9 years, 5 months ago

Posted by devobrun: "The reason that you find my argument regarding the straw-man pathetic is because you don't understand where I'm coming from."

I see. Then the point of what you said is that evolution needs religion to lend it support? But the notion that evolution is an attack on religion is pure idiocy; the reason people think it is an attack is because their sacred presumptions don't always jibe with the facts in nature, so rather than making their religion more truthful, they choose to be wrong and protect their egos instead. In essence: "I can't change my mind about anything or I've always been wrong about everything."

Posted by devobrun: "Any time you begin arguing creation with me, you've lost the argument. I find creation and evolution to be equally philosophic. Neither are science to a level that makes much sense to me. Thus, when you defend evo by challenging creation/ID, I just laugh."

Creationism and evolution may both be "philosophic" at one level, but creationism has zero evidence and evolution has enough to keep 10,000's scientists busy finding more evidence every year. If you don't understand the significance of evidence, or deny that it exists, then you don't understand science.

Posted by devobrun: "So, I read your link. Bioinformatics is bioinformatics, not evolution. Quit changing the definitions. The 9 examples in the link are all endeavors which exist on their own. OK, number 8 on the list is just the usual science-speak. I'm an electrical engineer. 30 years, 2 companies, patents, university and high school teaching experience. I never once needed string theory to teach, design build or operate any of my physics-based equipment. Grand theories like evo and strings are pre-science at best. Philosophies with little or no fecundity."

So, you're yet another engineer with little or no knowledge of biology. That's not news to me.

No one said bioinformatics was evolution. The link says "Descent with modification is one of its most basic assumptions." I took your statement in the previous post to mean that evolution is not and never will helpful in the commercially productive sense, which is false. I don't know what the mention of string theory has to do with this topic. It's a lame analogy (if that's what you intended), because string theory is vastly more speculative than evolution is. Your notion that science is about making $$ just completes your demonstration of how little you understand the subject.

Posted by devobrun: "If you answer this, please refrain from referring to creation/ID. I have no interest in it."

Uh huh. You're just interested in defending "real" science ... like engineering ...

LarryFarma 9 years, 5 months ago

HEY, FOLKS !! There is now a serious shortage of posted questions and comments for the Lawrence Journal-World's Wednesday chat on the controversy !! Time's a-wastin' !! To post yours, go to -- http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/nov/29/chat_wednesday_about_ku_and_intelligent_design/?evolution

devobrun 9 years, 4 months ago

lucid_vein, No, the point of what I said is that evolution needs testing, especially the part about macro-evolution. All science needs testing. The varacity of any science is not in the elegance of the theory or the amount of evidence used in the formulation of the theory. The strength of a scientific statement is entirely located in the quantity and quality of the testing. Testing, not evidence. The difference is clear. Why are biologists so fuzzy about the difference between the two? No lucid_vein, I don't understand the significance of evidence. Without testing, it is history, it is law, it is literature. It isn't science! You said: No one said bioinformatics was evolution. That was one of the bullet points in the talkorigins website. Your getting more slippery by the message.

So you think that string theory is more speculative than macro-evolution. Opinion.

Finally, the $ is a measure of the fecundity of the science. It doesn't define the science. Science isn't about making $. However, if the science has no direct application after 130 years, it makes one wonder if Ernest Rutherford was correct when he said about 90 years ago that so far Physics is the only science, and that everything else is just stamp collecting.

So, just to clarify, engineering is the applied form of physics, and physics is science. After my years in electrical engineering I now teach high school physics.

lucid_vein 9 years, 4 months ago

Posted by devobrun: "You said: No one said bioinformatics was evolution. That was one of the bullet points in the talkorigins website. Your getting more slippery by the message."

My statement is absolutely correct, as can be seen by reexamining my posts and the talkorigins page I referenced. Saying bioinformatics is largely dependent on ideas in biological evolution, and saying it IS evolution, are plainly different; only an idiot or a gamesplaying ideologue could get confused over something so plainly obvious.

Here's the bullet point about Bioinformatics at talkorigins.org: "Bioinformatics, a multi-billion-dollar industry, consists largely of the comparison of genetic sequences. Descent with modification is one of its most basic assumptions."

Here's my quote from my post, which represents clearly my exact position on the topic: "From bioinformatics to crop yields to disease control to human psychology, all are heavy in $$ and all aspects of evolutionary thought heavily [influence] them. Go here for more info: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA..."

There's no need to be slippery regarding any aspect of the theory of evolution, your idiotic presumption that there's something to hide, or that it's some kind of philosophical flimflam regarding any aspect of it, betrays your ignorance of the topic; and it is indeed pathetic for a science teacher to let his ideology blind him to scientific facts.

devobrun 9 years, 4 months ago

lucid_vein, Ouch, I must have hit an acupoint with that one about the definition of evolution.

Let me be more straightforward about my objections to evolutionary biology. It seems to be operating in a social/cultural/political world of hubris. Im sure that there are serious, conservative scientists in the field. However, the public perception which is promoted is quite a bit more bombastic than the science can support. My daughter brought home a book she read for a nursing class in college this past weekend. So I'm reading it. "Genome" by Matt Ridley. I realize that Mr. Ridley is a journalist and not a scientist. I realize that the book is intended for a popular audience.
However, the message is so arrogant and outrageous that I can't believe what I am reading. It is a story of grand proportions and struggles of the early forms of life. It is a fairy tale. How can serious scientists allow such fancy to come out in the name of science?

I look for statements or tests or rational arguments in this field. All I find is crap. There must be something that I can read that doesn't sound like mythology. Look, I have a PhD in EE. I can read a scientific paper. I have patents, papers, experiments and science out the wazoo in my past. I know the difference between speculation/conjecture/evidence and refutation/testing/experimentation. So far all I have found is a little bit of testing, lots of evidence, and massive quantities of speculation. Each book I get sits on my desk like a turd. I can't get thru them because I rarely read fiction.

Is there a grownup in the field, or are they all the biology equivalent of trekkies, or worse, computer coneheads?

rwfromkansas 9 years, 4 months ago

I say this as a Christian conservative, but one who leans TOWARD evolution.

I am appalled by Mr. Mirecki's comments. Yes, ID is pretty much fiction. Though not as embarrassing as those morons who say the Earth is only 6,000 years old, those who advance ID really have limited evidence.

However, Mr. Mirecki needs to learn some manners and begin to act in a professional manner.

He was writing on a forum intended for any KU person, not just faculty, who are agnostic in some fashion. It is not like somebody stole his notes off of his computer or wiretapped his phone. There simply is NO right to privacy when you post something on the internet. The internet is a public space, and if you post something, don't be surprised if people read it and quote it.

How can a professor not understand basic rules of grammar? His post is so riddled with errors it is simply beyond comprehension! It truly is amazing.

Examples:

"nice slap in their big fat face"

When you speak of more than one person, you should kind of use the PLURAL noun FACES.

"The university public relations office will have a press release on it in a few weeks, I also have contacts at several regional newspapers."

When you have two independent clauses, you obviously have a semicolon, not a comma!

He also apparently does not realize that periods go INSIDE quotes. Several sentence fragments exist in his post as well.

If that is how he writes on his own time, I can't imagine how incredibly horrible he is in the classroom. Those poor students are in the hands of an incompetent moron who needs to go back to middle school English class.

He expresses his opinion regarding ID in a way that is simply unsavory and not fitting a man of learning. That is the real story in all of the fuss, that a supposed educator apparently does not have much of it himself.

I am not against higher education, as one poster said Kansans are. I have no problem with higher education. It is vital to develop higher thinking skills and well-rounded individuals. What I object to is a professor who goes into a class with an agenda instead of doing his best to keep the material balanced to help students develop those skills. What this professor is doing is actually a BAD thing. Despite his protestations to the contrary, this class was added to fulfill his political agenda. His post makes that abundantly clear. The course would not be balanced. Therefore, it would not have served the critical thinking skills of his students. It would have served to indoctrinate. That is not the purpose of higher education. If he can't understand that, he should leave teaching as soon as the sun comes up tomorrow.

rwfromkansas 9 years, 4 months ago

He also writes regarding the course: "This thing will be a hoot."

I am sorry, but does that sound like somebody going to teach the course in an objective manner?

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