Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Academic Freedom

I found a link to this movie on, where I was reading some of the Western Confucian's essays. While it may or may not be as biased as any of Michael Moore's so-called "documentaries," it surely deserves as much attention. I hope it gets it.

In it, Ben Stein records his investigation of the Intelligent Design movement. He makes the claim that their work is suppressed on the basis of the conclusions they reach instead of their data or methodology. The trailer does not make the case, but then, it isn't supposed to; it's supposed to get people to go see the film.

If Mr. Stein is correct, I think that's unfortunate, though hardly surprising. Every subsidy given to academics has had the net effect of making them beholden to government, and government is always far more likely to be freedom's enemy than its guardian. And from my own knowledge, admittedly mostly anecdotal, nearly every academic discipline has its own acceptable orthodoxy and tolerates no dissent outside of narrow variations.

In his novel Bug Park, hard science fiction author James P. Hogan asserts, through one of his characters, that such orthodoxies only truly die when most or all of their adherents do, and that science is stifled greatly thereby. It wouldn't surprise me if Hogan is correct, and that Mr. Stein is merely finding another example of it.

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