Re: [SACC-L] Spurious "I am not a scientist but play one for my PhD"?
- Yes, this is indeed interesting. At first I imagined, with Brian,
that the U of RI must have been really unhappy with Ross. However,
his dissertation advisor Fastovsky persuaded me that we cannot (and
should not) ultimately control our students' beliefs. Our job is to
teach them our science and evaluate how well they've learned it. So
I agree with Deborah that Ross was not academically dishonest.
I've had a few similar experiences like this. One young man, a
Mormon, in my Peoples & Cultures of Mexico course, was exceptionally
bright, genuinely curious and interested in the course material, and
also quite amiable. We liked each other and he stopped by often to
chat about the course, anthropology and life in general. As I
discussed the various anthropological theories about peopling the New
World and origins and evolution of indigenous Mexican peoples, he
would tell me (privately, never in class) of Mormon beliefs (that
they were the lost tribes of Israel, etc.) and admitted that his
beliefs were not at all shaken by anthropological knowledge.
Yet, as with Ross, his written exams and papers were impeccable. He
had the science, ethnography and history down cold and was one of the
top students in the class. I had real difficulty accepting that he
could write anthropology so well and not believe a word of it.
Nonetheless, at semester's end I could only grant him the A grade he
earned. The day after final exams were over, I found on my office
desk a copy of the Book of Mormon with a note from him, thanking me
for the course and expressing sincere hope that the Book might
someday guide me to achieve the enlightenment that he so richly enjoyed.
For most of my adult life I've held on to the belief that no truly
intelligent person could remain unaffected or unchanged in the face
of empirical knowledge and science. Such a belief might indeed be
what keeps many of us afloat in the teaching profession. However,
some years and distance from the classroom have made me less certain...
On Jun 4, 2007, at 5:23 PM, Deborah Shepherd wrote:
> Very interesting. This was bound to happen sometime. I don't see
> any way to accuse Ross of academic "dishonesty" in how he got his
> degree so long as his research was "impeccable," only in what he
> may do in the future based on his authority, holding that degree.
> On another note, I'm sure Liberty "University" is extremely happy
> with this faculty member!
> >>> blynch@... 6/4/2007 7:19 AM >>>
> Here is another variation on the theme of supposedly "peaceful
> coexistence" of science and religious belief. How could the doctoral
> committee behind this story be happy with the outcomes?
> This just showed up in the RI paper (Providence Journal) though the
> story is now at least several months old.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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