Nick Matzke posted Entry 2170 on April 4, 2006 04:58 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2165

The ID movement has issued a great deal of rhetoric about “academic freedom” and “censorship” and how they allegedly can’t get research grants, even though they never seem to actually come up with specific research proposals.

Well, the shoe is now on the other foot. Nature today reports on a grant review received by Brian Alters, an education professor at McGill who specializes on evolution education, and who was an expert witness in the Kitzmiller case, much-cited by Judge Jones:

Doubts over evolution block funding by Canadian agency
Study to measure ‘popularization of Intelligent Design’ refused funds.
Hannah Hoag

A Canadian federal agency has denied funding to a science-education researcher partly because of its doubts about the theory of evolution.

Brian Alters, director of the Evolution Education Research Centre at McGill University in Montreal, had proposed a study of the effects of the popularization of intelligent design — the idea that an intelligent creator shaped life — on Canadian students, teachers, parents, administrators and policy-makers.

At a public lecture on 29 March, Alters revealed excerpts from the rejection letter he received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The letter stated that, among its reasons for rejection, the committee felt there was inadequate “justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of evolution, and not intelligent-design theory, was correct.”

But there is a silver lining:

Philip Sadler, a board member of the centre and director of science education at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is more philosophical. “If he was trying to answer the question as to whether all this popularization had had an impact, he just saved the government $40,000,” says Sadler. “He found the evidence without doing the study.”

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Comment #94426

Posted by caerbannog on April 4, 2006 5:30 PM (e)

Hmmmm….. the link http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/440720b returns this message:


The DOI you requested –

10.1038/440720b

– cannot be found in the Handle System.

Possible reasons for the error are:

* the DOI has not been created
* the DOI is cited incorrectly in your source
* the DOI does not resolve due to a system problem

Is there a typo in the link, or has the linked document been removed?

Comment #94429

Posted by Jon Voisey on April 4, 2006 5:31 PM (e)

The link doesn’t seem to be working.

Comment #94442

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on April 4, 2006 5:40 PM (e)

Oops, that is the DOI for the article, but perhaps it has not been registered yet. Alternatively, try:
http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060403/full/4407…

Comment #94495

Posted by William E Emba on April 4, 2006 6:51 PM (e)

NATURE wrote:

At a public lecture on 29 March, Alters revealed excerpts from the rejection letter he received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. … Susan Bennett, an English professor at the University of Calgary in Alberta and chair of the SSHRC committee, could not be reached for comment by the time Nature went to press.

And they know they’re experts on evolution. Heck, if a lawyer can understand the subject so well, why not an English professor?

Comment #94497

Posted by Moses on April 4, 2006 6:57 PM (e)

Dang, my brand-new stainless steel irony meter just exploded.

Comment #94520

Posted by IAMB, FCD on April 4, 2006 7:48 PM (e)

Dang, my brand-new stainless steel irony meter just exploded.

That’s why I always use chrome-moly steel with brass fittings and tungsten guts.

Those meters will withstand ambient levels of irony and B.S. in excess of 5k ppm.

Unfortunately, they don’t come cheap and I blew out my last one on the Creation Safaris website. That should cost me at least three month’s salary to replace.

Comment #94540

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 4, 2006 8:18 PM (e)

Unfortunately, they don’t come cheap and I blew out my last one on the Creation Safaris website. That should cost me at least three month’s salary to replace.

heck, after that one i went back to using divining rods instead.

no moving parts.

less accurate for the small stuff, but works just fine for just about anything IDiots post.

Comment #94590

Posted by Henry J on April 4, 2006 10:21 PM (e)

Re “Dang, my brand-new stainless steel irony meter just exploded.”

Next time maybe titanium? ;)

Henry

Comment #94607

Posted by fnxtr on April 4, 2006 11:09 PM (e)

Today I am embarrassed to be Canadian. I’m going to try to find the SSHRC and give them what for.

Comment #94610

Posted by fnxtr on April 4, 2006 11:17 PM (e)

The media contact at SSHRC is [Enable javascript to see this email address.]

Please write to her and ask for an explanation. I did.

Though there was a grant last year for “Protecting Canadians with Intellectual Disabilities”, that might explain something.

Comment #94642

Posted by Tony Jackson on April 5, 2006 12:29 AM (e)

They probably got Steve Fuller to a review the application.

Comment #94738

Posted by James Hrynyshyn on April 5, 2006 6:02 AM (e)

Here’s another version of the story, from the Ottawa Citizen. This link might prove more reliable, today at least:
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.h…

Comment #94739

Posted by Ian H Spedding on April 5, 2006 6:02 AM (e)

Further evidence to support my suspicion that Social Sciences is an oxymoron. (I know, I know, it’s probably unfair but things like this don’t help.)

Comment #94796

Posted by Roger Albin on April 5, 2006 8:10 AM (e)

Protest emails can be sent to Dr. Stan Shapson, the President of the SSHRC at [Enable javascript to see this email address.].

Comment #94815

Posted by wamba on April 5, 2006 8:48 AM (e)

The committee found that the candidates were qualified. However, it judged the proposal did not adequately substantiate the premise that the popularizing of Intelligent Design Theory had detrimental effects on Canadian students, teachers, parents and policymakers. Nor did the committee consider that there was adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of Evolution, and not Intelligent Design theory, was correct.

Maybe he could beef up his proposal with a copy of the Kitzmiller verdict.

Comment #94823

Posted by Keith Douglas on April 5, 2006 9:15 AM (e)

As a Canadian who’s field also falls under the purview of SSHRC, I’m embarassed by this. The Gazette (Montreal English paper) somehow reported the four referees who rejected the application - I wonder if they are going to be speaking more about this … I wondered about postmodernism, but one of the referees according to that source was an economist, so that seems unlikely. Maybe a collusion (pomo/reactionary)? Mind you, it isn’t as if there was a Calgary political scientist involved … (I don’t think.)

Comment #94877

Posted by yellow fatty bean on April 5, 2006 11:22 AM (e)

Ian H Spedding wrote:

Further evidence to support my suspicion that Social Sciences is an oxymoron. (I know, I know, it’s probably unfair but things like this don’t help.)

See also: “Social Text”,”The Sexual Politics of Meat”, etc.

The content of the”Social Sciences” is, by and large, profoundly silly.

Comment #94878

Posted by Tyrannosaurus on April 5, 2006 11:24 AM (e)

…… Nor did the committee consider that there was adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of Evolution, and not Intelligent Design theory, was correct.

Duh (slap in the forehead!!). What have the evolutionary scientists been doing for the past 150+ years? I guess some committee members have been navel gazing and not keeping current on the science discourse.

Comment #94887

Posted by Peter Henderson on April 5, 2006 11:45 AM (e)

Strangely Mr. Ham has a piece on his blog today about Professor alters:

urlhttp://info.answersingenesis.org/aroundtheworld/…

This is probably a lesson as to why scientists shouldn’t debate creationists (unless they are very well prepared)

Comment #94891

Posted by R. M. on April 5, 2006 11:52 AM (e)

Here is a link to the article in the Montreal Gazette. It mentions all those who were on the committee turning down Brian Alters’ grant application.

Comment #94911

Posted by The Barkmeister on April 5, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

Please, Fatty Yellow Bean, don’t dismiss all the social sciences just because there are a few thousand wackos involved. All kinds of serious work is done by social and behavioral scientists (and by historians who get to pass the final judgement) though sometimes the titles do seem bizarre. For a good edxample, check out Labov’s work on r-dropping. It may sound stupid, but it revolutionized the study of language change. Even the titles you cite could conceal meaningful work. You can’t tell without looking.

Back to the main topic of the post: Does this mean the ID virus has jumped the quarantine line?

Comment #94913

Posted by Mike on April 5, 2006 1:05 PM (e)

Damn! Now where am I going to claim I’m moving to? What’s left? Russia has even less employment prospects than Ohio, and the Japanese don’t like my eyes.

Comment #95005

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on April 5, 2006 5:37 PM (e)

Further evidence to support my suspicion that Social Sciences is an oxymoron.

I once had the pleasure of telling a room full of economists that I didn’t think economics was a science.

And followed that up by telling them that economics was nothing but an apologetic for the existing social order.

I wasn’t invited back the next year. :)

Comment #95038

Posted by Moses on April 5, 2006 8:44 PM (e)

Comment #95005

Posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on April 5, 2006 05:37 PM (e)

Further evidence to support my suspicion that Social Sciences is an oxymoron.

I once had the pleasure of telling a room full of economists that I didn’t think economics was a science.

And followed that up by telling them that economics was nothing but an apologetic for the existing social order.

I wasn’t invited back the next year. :)

In my profession we make fun of economists. They’re fairly decent on the simplified big picture, but then they try to take their principles down to the business level and some of them are flat-out disasterous and will lead you into bankruptcy. Also, too many of their models assume humans are rational. We also make fun of their secret manta: “No bod e noze.” :)

Comment #95109

Posted by William E Emba on April 6, 2006 8:16 AM (e)

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank wrote:

I once had the pleasure of telling a room full of economists that I didn’t think economics was a science.

And followed that up by telling them that economics was nothing but an apologetic for the existing social order.

As a mathematician who takes a strong interest in a wide range of the sciences and the philosophy of science, I’ve come to the conclusion economics has a hard core that is definitely scientific, and a diffuse packaging that is all soft and fuzzy politics. And worse, the two aspects are tightly linked. Unfortunately, the core scientific practitioners suffer from the same inability as most physicists from understanding much, if anything, about the philosophy of science. Physicists, at least, normally don’t have to defend their work as “science”–the trouble about philosophy begins when they try to identify pseudoscience.

Comment #96047

Posted by fnxtr on April 11, 2006 4:03 PM (e)

SSHRC has responded to my question about Dr. Alters funding, to wit:

Thank you for your e-mail expressing concerns regarding the recent media coverage about a grant proposal by Dr. Brian Alters of McGill University.

The theory of evolution is not in doubt. SSHRC recognizes the theory of evolution as one of the cornerstones of modern science and of our understanding of the world. As part of its support for critical enquiry in the social sciences and humanities, SSHRC has funded many research projects on evolution and society over the years. In 2005, Dr. Alters was awarded a three-year research grant of $175,000 to study concepts of biological evolution in Islamic society. Projects of this nature that meet the standards for scientific excellence will continue to be funded.

SSHRC’s funding decisions are made by an internationally-recognized peer-review process that evaluates and makes recommendations on grant proposals. Each research proposal we receive is reviewed by a volunteer committee of independent Canadian experts, who then provide advice to SSHRC regarding the quality of the proposal and whether it should be funded. Peer review ensures that all SSHRC-funded projects meet the highest standards for academic excellence.

In the case of Dr. Alters’ recent proposal, the committee’s decision was not based on doubts about the theory of evolution; rather, the committee had serious concerns about the proposed research design.

Like all applicants, Dr. Alters may appeal the funding decision on the basis of factual or procedural errors in the adjudication process.

For more information about research that we have funded and the process involved in awarding funding, please visit our website (www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca) or contact our public affairs division. Thank you again for expressing your concerns.

Janet E. Halliwell

Executive Vice-President

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Comment #107574

Posted by Mary Box on June 23, 2006 3:35 AM (e)

You can’t be 28836 serious?!?

Comment #107618

Posted by Mary Box on June 23, 2006 11:29 AM (e)

You can’t be 28836 serious?!?

Comment #108650

Posted by priscilla on June 27, 2006 1:54 AM (e)

proverka2007