JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Gone Feudal: Oregon State Uni (OSU) sack and target skeptics (and their children)

In an extremely worrying development, we can add Nick Drapela’s name to the list of skeptics fired for the heresy of speaking out. This email from Gordon Fulks came around today, and I want to spread the message. I have written before about the scientist of upstanding integrity and action that is Art Robinson – When he ran for Congress, three of his children doing PhD’s were targeted at OSU. The details of Joshua, Bethany and Matthews work are described on the Oregon State Outrage blog. These exemplary students were close to finishing their work towards PhD degrees in nuclear engineering when all three suddenly faced major obstacles and the likelihood of losing all their work to date. (See the Outrage blog for updates). But the outrageous behaviour continues. Legal action may not be the answer (In Robinson’s case the Uni apparently wants them to sue, so it will be obliged to have “no comment” while OSU would get taxpayer funds to extend the case at length.) What we need is facebook, twitter, letters and emails – a campaign to let the State of Oregon (and especially university donors) know their university has regressed to a feudal religious [...]

The moment to test what we-are-made-of, is here

UPDATE: Art Robinson says: “It worked,”…’ The university “made some re-arrangements with the campus and replaced a couple of deans and did some special things to help my students.” Joshua received his doctorate and Matthew is on track to getting his, according to Robinson, but Bethany “couldn’t take the heat” and left after receiving her master’s degree.’  OSU claims they didn’t respond to his complaints. It must be a coincidence that all three were targeted, then all three were allowed to continue. Sure.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, as the power of big-government comes under threat the attacks on skeptics and free citizens grow worse than ever. We are all busy, but we cannot let this one get past. Art Robinson is one of us, one of the original skeptics, back when hardly anyone else was. He’s been a key player, dismayed, like the rest of us at the way science was being used for political purposes. Indeed, he was so dismayed, he ran for congress as a Republican last year.  Against an allegedly full-on smear campaign from the incumbent Congressman Pete DeFazio, Art managed to get 44% of the votes in a long-held Democrat seat.

Oregon State [...]

The truth shall make you free

Art Robinson is a rare man. He’s risen above and laid bare the creeping failure in the infrastructure of modern science over the last 50 years. He describes how the control of the quest for knowledge itself has been usurped from individuals and private industry and taken over by the government.

At the end of the day, what does being a scientist mean if there is nothing other than a certificate? Where is the code of conduct? Where are the professional associations which stand up and decry those who breach the basic requirements? What sense of duty and honor is left in science when high ranking members can make statements that are dishonest and yet keep their jobs and their reputations?

I was struck with Art’s description of a true scientist–where the most important attribute is honesty, where humility is inevitable in anyone who understands how little we comprehend, and where being a scientist is a lifelong search, rather than a 9 – 5 job.

The 10 page paper  How Government Corrupts Science is worth reading in full.

Below are some select parts that especially struck a chord with me.

How Government Corrupts Science

Isaac Newton was the greatest [...]