Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reiss ousted

I imagined this would only end badly. The Dawkins effect exalts dogmatism in scientific debate, and turns intelligent people temporarily into a hostile rabble. But then it's not without historical precedent in the history of science. At happened among the Nazis, the Soviets and in the world that likes to think it's Free. I quote from the BBC News website report.

"Prof Reiss, speaking at the British Association Festival of Science at the University of Liverpool, estimated that about one in 10 children was from a family which supported a creationist rather than evolutionary viewpoint.He said his experience had led him to believe it was more effective to include discussion about creationism alongside scientific theories such as the Big Bang and evolution - rather than simply giving the impression that such children were wrong.


Reacting to his stepping down, Lord Robert Winston, professor of science and society at Imperial College London, said: "I fear that in this action the Royal Society may have only diminished itself. "This is not a good day for the reputation of science or scientists. "This individual was arguing that we should engage with and address public misconceptions about science - something that the Royal Society should applaud." Roland Jackson, chief executive of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, said Mr Reiss's departure was a "real loss". "I was at the actual discussion and what I heard him say , however it has been reported, was essentially the position advocated by the Royal Society," he said.Mr Jackson said the organisation "should have supported him and used this opportunity to further a reasoned debate".

It seems as if those powerful analysts of nature who clamoured for his departure didn't pause to analyse publicised reports, or quiz their agenda-setting media inquisitors. And now they are shown up to be foolish. Clever trickery, never fails, even on the clever. What a shame.

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