And in the comments section back here, Alison brings us up to date on how the SSHRC executive, fresh off of its initial foray into saying unspeakably stupid and scientifically anti-intellectual things, shifts one of its collective feet just long enough to insert the other one.
Alison points us at a Vancouver Sun piece that, difficult to believe, makes the SSHRC folks look even dumber than they have until now.
First, the Vancouver Sun indulges in a little scholarly sleight-of-hand:
But the theory of "intelligent design'' is now generating controversy in Canada: A McGill University researcher is at odds with a federal funding agency over the issue, and nine other university professors recently signed an international petition denouncing the dominance of Darwin's ideas about how life evolved on Earth.
Oh, yeah, those "nine other university professors." We'll let Alison take care of that in short order (original National Post article here). At which point, yet another SSHRC member, Larry Felt, makes a complete dumbass of himself:
Larry Felt, a sociology professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland and one of the panellists who examined Alters' application, said he, too, regretted the "misintended and misphrased'' wording of the letter.
"No one is disputing the theory of evolution,'' he said, calling it a "powerful interpretive tool not without some difficulties, but nothing that renders it obsolete.''
Oh ... that doesn't sound so bad ... whoops, hang on:
However, he also said there are features of the natural world including the rapid development of complex organs that "evolution has some trouble accounting for.''
Felt also echoed Halliwell's assertion that intelligent design cannot be easily dismissed as mere ``religious dogma'' or "theocratic garbage'' being foisted upon the world by conservative Christians in the U.S.
OK, so he really is an ignorant dumbfuck. And it's not like Felt even knows when to shut up, as the article continues:
"Credible people are trying to see areas where they (evolution and intelligent design) might come together and not necessarily be in conflict,'' he said. There is a "possibility of synthesis,'' he added, that compels scholars to keep an open mind.
Though reluctant to discuss details of the committee's deliberations about Alters's proposal, Felt recalled there was a general consensus on the panel that the McGill professor's research framework was flawed and would have yielded predictable results that ``dump on the religious right.''
He described Alters' planned study as being framed in "good guy versus bad guy'' language that rejected intelligent design out of hand.
Exactly how is it that someone who is a professor of sociology can be this hideously stupid? How is that even possible? You can almost imagine one of Felt's colleagues kicking him under the table at this point, in order to shut him up. To no avail, of course.
If this article was an attempt at damage control, it failed spectacularly.
BY THE WAY, I think the most annoying part of that entire article is Janet Halliwell's howling dishonesty on display here:
Janet Halliwell, vice-president of the research council, has described the wording of the letter as "misleading'' and said the research council did not intend to cast doubt on the survival-of-the-fittest theories advanced in the 1800s by British biologist Charles Darwin, founder of evolutionary science and author of the 1859 landmark The Origin of Species.
And yet, immediately after that, we read:
But Halliwell also told CanWest News Service there is a growing belief among scientists that certain phenomena in the natural world "may not be easily explained by current theories of evolution.''
So, Halliwell regrets that the wording of the rejection letter was interpreted in any way to disparage biological evolution, after which she ... disparages biological evolution.
BY THE WAY (2), I'm fascinated by this statement of Halliwell's from the article:
The [SSHRC] research council supports "critical inquiry'' that challenges scientific doctrine, she added. ``We don't make any blanket assumptions.''
That challenges scientific doctrine? Is she saying that it's the SSHRC's mandate to challenge the scientific doctrine of biological evolution? Since when did social scientists take it upon themselves to challenge the validity of the hard sciences? Methinks Halliwell has a ridiculously optimistic opinion of her own competence.
OH, LORD, I just noticed this. Check out the Google ads just underneath the text for that Sun article.