Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Piled higher and Deeper

Marcus R Ross, PhD

Ordinarily I find Slate to be just plain annoying [read: stupidity and sensationalism masquerading as reporting] on the subject of anything scientific, but just this one time I'm glad I read their article.

So, the $13 question today is: should a YECie be granted a PhD from a reputable secular institution in the field of -gasp!- paleontology?


If a person does the required work, and does it well, the degree should be granted. Plenty of young scientists do well in grad school, under the watchful guidance of experienced scientists, then go on to make fools of themselves once they get out in the real world. It's the responsibility of scientists and scientifically-literate citizens to keep an eagle eye on them and be ready to bash them for any slop in their scientific work.

Under no circumstances should we be applying religious tests to a person's fitness for study at a secular and publicly-funded university. In any subject.

addendum 2-15-2007: Just in case you were wondering, yes I do believe that this is an attempt to legitimize "creation research" in the eyes of the gullible.


Keifus said...

Hell, what's more, I'm sure there's plenty of eager young PhDs chomping to get out there with their shiny degrees and gore some sacred cows. Which is it should be. (Which doesn't mean I think this doofus will get very far, but you know.)

[But I don't think taht's the norm, really. I think most newly minted dorks are either miniatures of their advisors, or (ahem!) highly inertial and basically unmotivated suckers with just the right combination of brains and patience. Though if I could do it all over, I'd have probably pursued a more exciting field. (I am so stifling my good comments here.)]

mecex: I think it's a brand of tequila (or maybe a euphemism for masturbation)
ojpcuqp: orange juice for quick puppies.

hipparchia said...

i'm all for healthy skepticism, goring sacred cows, challenging long-held beliefs, etcerblah, etceterblah, etceterblah. just make sure you're doing good science while you're at it.

[best to stifle those comments, i think]

erulyc: erythrocytes rule!
[love the orange juice]

dogscratcher said...

Found your blog through your comment on my blog that you found through Joe Meert's blog. Also glad I did.

I agree with you about Ross, maybe he is a putz, but if you do the work, you do it reasonably well, you should get the degree.

In the same vein, I myself am thinking about getting an online "divinity" degree. Then I will be able to speak authoritatively about all things religious.

hipparchia said...

hey, dogscratcher!

that would be great. i have a couple of friends who have mail-order divinity degrees, from back in the dark ages, pre-internet. they're pretty cool people, actually.

if you wanted to follow in ross's footsteps, though, methinks you'd have to get a real degree from a real and respected divinity school. then you become a professor for an online divinity school, or start your own.

Archaeopteryx said...


Of course the university had to give him a degree if he had fulfilled the requirements. But he should never have been accepted as a graduate student. I wonder what idiot professor agreed to take Ross as a student knowing his views.

hipparchia said...

yes, i'm wishing there was a good way they could have gotten out of accepting him as a student in the first place, and its creepy that he got the degree, but i'm still against religious tests as requirements for admission.

Archaeopteryx said...

It's easy enough to do. To get a Ph.D., you have to be accepted as a major professor, and there is no way to force a major professor to accept a student. According to the NYT article, Ross' major professor knew he was a creationist, but accepted him anyway. There is where the fault lies.

hipparchia said...

if ross had published "scientific" papers in the literature, demonstrating poor scientific reasoning, there might be a basis for for not accepting him as a graduate student, but not based on his belief or disbelief in a particular scientififc paradigm.

refuse a student based on their faulty reasoning, or bad science: yes. refuse them based on their beliefs: no.

i'm not convinced that the earth is only a few thousand years old, and i think anyone who wants to try to prove otherwise is destined for failure, but i'm all for letting people take a swing at goring sacred cows if their methodology is sound.

and i'm just curious -- would your university really and truly back you up if a creationist wanted to be your graduate student and you said no?

Archaeopteryx said...

No professor is ever under any obligation to take any graduate student under any circumstances--it's completely a subjective, personal decision on the part of the major professor. And anyone who had a degree in paleontology, or who understood geology just a little bit, and who thought that Noah's flood actually happened, is demonstrating, not just impaired reasoning ability, but mental illness.