Monday, July 18, 2005

Unethical Human Subject Experimentation?

Remember that great teacher you had in high school-- the one that really made you think for yourself? The one who did not just have you memorize the "right" answer, but fired your imagination and nurtured your analytical skills by asking you to think critically about the subjects you were studying? The one who did not just make you read what a majority of experts now think about a topic but gave you access to the raw data, the original documents, the actual facts on which the experts base their opinions, and then allowed you to make up your own mind?

From what I can tell, somebody like that is being attacked by members of the faculty at Ohio State University. I do not know all the details, so I will reserve judgment on the matter at this point. However, one of the attackers' contentions seems laughable, even bizarre, on its face: that conducting a study of students who are taught the scientific data both supporting and challenging macroevolution constitutes "unethical human subject experimentation." Thought Police to the rescue, I guess.

Here is an excerpt from a statement by members of Bryan Leonard's dissertation committee:

It has been alleged by three OSU professors that Mr. Leonard's dissertation was “unethical human subject experimentation” because it examines the question: "When students are taught the scientific data both supporting and challenging macroevolution, do they maintain or change their beliefs over time?" According to the Columbus Dispatch, these professors acknowledge they have not read Mr. Leonard's dissertation, but they believe that Mr. Leonard's dissertation research must have been "unethical" because there are no valid scientific criticisms of evolution. "As such," they allege, "it involves deliberate miseducation of these students, a practice we regard as unethical." It is important to note that the professors' argument is not with Mr. Leonard but with the Ohio State Board of Education, which, contrary to their views, adopted both a science standard and a model curriculum last year encouraging teachers to teach about "how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.") Ohio Standards, Life Sciences, Benchmark H)" It is absurd to claim that Mr. Leonard is being unethical merely for following the state's official policy in this area.

Regardless of what the Ohio state standards are, presenting both sides of a controversy is a good way to teach, even if (or especially when) one side thinks the other side’s position is without merit. When the Darwinists need to resort to these kinds of ridiculous allegations, you know serious desperation has set in.

Some of the background can be found here and here.


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