Welcome to my Weblog February 6, 2008Posted by John A. Davison in general.
*PLEASE READ All OF THIS BEFORE GOING FURTHER.*
I will present my views on a variety of subjects. Chief among them is my Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis and my paper published in Rivista di Biologia is now available here for further discussion.
You will notice that I do not use the usual format of constantly introducing new threads. I find that six threads serve to satisfy both my interests and my purposes. This format serves to be a sort of Journal, continuing to record what I hope will be my legacy as a scientist and citizen. Like Frank Sinatra –
“I did it my way.”
By scanning down this page you will find the topics with which I am most concerned. To see what is currently going on, go to Recent Comments which will direct you to which of the six threads are currently active. Enjoy and participate if the spirit moves you! My current policy requires registration which I have found useful in preventing undue harassment and meaningless spam.
I occasionally edit earlier messages to bring them up to date so it is a good idea to review recent messages for information about how they are being received.
I have strong convictions about internet communication so I will present them now. I have no respect for anonymous auhors unless there are sound reasons why they must remain unknown. Those reasons should be verified. All too often anonymity has proven to be license for vitriol and denigration. I further hope this blog can set a standard against which those blogs and forums that must ban their critics can be compared. We all know which blogs they are so I will not embarrass them and their sponsors by naming them. I will not delete any comment unless it is obscene or contributes nothing to the discussion. If I do respond, I will mention the author’s anonymity and ask why that should be necessary. I hope these conditions do not inhibit a free exchange of ideas which is the sole purpose of this weblog.
I have strong opinions on the subject of what has been called “global warming.” I regard the changes that are occurring on this planet as threatening our very existence as both a species and a civilization. I look forward to the opportunity to defend and promote that position.
I am also a great admirer of Albert Einstein and subscribe without reservation to his determinism –
“Everything is determined…by forces over which we have no control.”
As far as I can determine we are all victims in a determined, “prescribed” cosmic scenario. Some of us have been luckier than others.
I hope this brief introduction will serve to set the stage for what to expect from me on – “John A. Davison’s Weblog,” now renamed – “The Proceedings of the Natural History Society of South Burlington (Vermont).”
Please note that I have renamed this weblog –
“The Proceedings of the Natural History Society of South Burlington (Vermont).
It is based on the title of the journal in which Gregor Mendel published his 1868 paper –
“The Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brunn (Austria).
Mendel realized that his paper would not be accepted in the leading botanical journals of his day so he wisely chose to publish it in a journal for which he was an editor. I am doing the same thing that Mendel did. From now on I too will publish my papers in the journal for which I am an editor. I am sick of having my science and that of my distinguished predecessors rejected out of hand by Editors and their hand picked Editorial boards all still swimming in the same atheist tank with Richard Dawkins, Paul Zachary Myers and every other of the thousands of Darwinian zealots with which evolutionary science is still so very impaired. Darwinism was dead on arrival in 1859. Only Darwinian mystics still imagine it wasn’t.
The following summary may help explain why I have this blog as it describes my terminal history at the University of Vermont. I resigned in December 2000 to continue my interest in the great mystery of organic evolution free of the atheist inspired Darwinian bias still is so prevalent in the halls of academe, especially here in the United States and Great Britain. This essay was presented on my old University webpage prior to my resignation. That webpage was subsequently frozen by the University Administration.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AN ANTIDARWINIAN AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
John A. Davison, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
In 1984 I published the first of a series of papers offering
a new hypothesis of organic evolution: “Semi-meiosis as an
Evolutionary Mechanism” appeared in the Journal of Theoretical
Biology. 1984 also happens to be the title of George Orwell’s
novel, the significance of which will soon become evident.
I have always enjoyed teaching Introductory Biology and that
experience has been instrumental in causing me to question the
neo-Darwinian view of the evolutionary process. After leaving the
staff of Biology 1 and 2, I introduced a new course designed expressly
for non-science majors: Zoology 8 (The Animal World). This course
proved to be popular and enjoyed enrollments of around 100 students.
The last two lectures were concerned with the mechanism of evolution,
and in those lectures I introduced the semi-meiotic hypothesis and
contrasted it with the neo-Darwinian view.
Sometime in the fall of 1991 the chairman called a secret meeting of
the tenured faculty at which he introduced a petition which served to
eliminate Zoology 8 from the departmental offerings. He then exited
the room leaving a majority of the faculty to sign the petition.
I knew nothing of this until the newspaper appeared and Zoology 8 was
missing. I was unable to have the course reinstated. As the course
was outside the departmental curriculum, this action was a clear
violation of not only my academic freedom but also that of those
students who had chosen to study with me.
After the chairman left the university, he was succeeded by
a member of the department who was a signatory to the Zoology 8
petition. At that time my salary became fixed and it has remained
so ever since. The new chair is also an Associate Dean of the
College of Arts and Sciences, a precedent which I regard as dangerous.
The chair also arbitrarily relieved me of my two advanced courses,
Biology 202 (Quantitative Biology) and Biology 255 (Comparative
Reproductive Biology). These courses were electives which had been
approved by the department and the Graduate College. I was able with
some difficulty to get these courses reinstated only to discover that
Biology 202 had been deleted from the catalog, resulting in an
enrollment of 3 in contrast to 30 the previous year. The chair
also capped the enrollment of Biology 255, an action I was able
to reverse by informing the registrar. The chair refused to take
responsibility for these actions. The chair introduced the hitherto
unknown practice of “peer review”, in which a colleague enters the
classroom unannounced and later reports his impressions to the chair.
The peer the chair chose to review me was a signatory of the Zoology 8
petition. You can imagine the rest! The chair also demanded of all
faculty that they surrender to her on two weeks’ notice copies of
course syllabi and examinations. I am happy to report that I refused
to comply. By now I hope you will have noted the identity of these
policies with those of the dystopian government of Orwell’s 1984:
the Thought Police, Big Brother is watching you, etc.
In October 1997 a new president was inaugurated at the University
of Vermont. Long before her arrival on campus I informed her of
all of the foregoing and more, all of which was fully documented.
I was confident that these policies would cease. I never received
any acknowledgement of my correspondence thus qualifying as
an Orwellian unperson.
I warned the new president that if I should receive a zero raise
for the fourth consecutive year, I would do everything in my power
to expose the policies of this administration to the intellectual
world. That unfortunately has now become necessary, and constitutes
the sole motivation for this memorandum. What we are witnessing here
is the enormous influence monolithic neo-Darwinism can have in at
least one state university.
Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing
to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.
— George Orwell, 1984
May 25, 2000
We are now well into the new millennium and my salary remains frozen
at the 1995 level. The department launched an inquiry (the Thought
Police) into what was being taught concerning the origin of life.
I happily supplied the pertinent material from my most recent effort,
An Evolutionary Manifesto: A New Hypothesis for Organic Change.
No action has as yet been taken but based on my experience, I must
anticipate the worst. My chairperson, Judith Van Houten, has denied
me the services of the departmental webmaster. Luckily, I was able
to find other help for the recent revision of the Manifesto. She
also felt it necessary to cancel my course code for the copy machine.
I registered a complaint and that has now been rectified.
Being by nature curious, I am interested in the reasons for this
special treatment. The following must be considered speculative
as I can only base my interpretations on my experience here at the
University of Vermont. It seems that chairpersons here are given
unbridled authority to deal with their faculty as they choose.
In Van Houten’s case she is also an Associate Dean in the College
of Arts and Sciences so she is in effect her own immediate superior!
This raises a serious question as to the function of the academic
hierarchy of Chair, Dean, Provost, President, the Board of Trustees
and the Governor who is ex officio a member of that board. Is there
really any need for this bureaucracy to exist? What is its function?
The issue resolves into a failure to understand what university life
is supposed to be all about. A university should foster freedom of
thought and make life as pleasant as possible for the faculty, the
students and the community it serves. The University of Vermont has
failed to implement those ideals. Quite the contrary, it has chosen
to treat its faculty as if they were employees. I am reminded of the
following anecdote. A few years before running for the presidency of
the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed president
of Columbia University. In his opening speech to the faculty
he addressed them as “the employees of Columbia University”.
A member of the faculty rose and interrupted him with the following:
“Mr. Eisenhower, we are not the employees of Columbia University.
We are Columbia University.”
Of course, to be perfectly objective about this I really cannot
place all the blame on Van Houten. It may well be that others in
the bureaucracy are responsible for the intolerance that has come to
prevail here. I can only say that, in my personal experience, it is
of relatively recent origin. In any event, if there really is some
sort of chain of command (I see no evidence that there is) then the
responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of each member of that
chain as follows: Joan Smith, Dean of the College of Arts and
Sciences; Geoffrey Gamble, Provost; Judith Ramaley, President; the
Board of Trustees; and Howard Dean, Governor of the State of Vermont.
It is painful for me to have to report that orthodoxy still reigns
supreme here at the University of Vermont. The people of this great
state deserve better from their educational servants.
John A. Davison
Today, a decade later, December 20, 2010, Joan Smith is no longer with us, Judith Van Houten is no longer Chair of the Department of Biology, the Provost, Geoffrey Gamble, resigned the same day I did to become President of Montana State University, Howard Dean is no longer Governor, Judith Ramaley has gone elsewhere but the University of Vermont remains, like most institutions of higher learning, what it has always been, intolerant to any departure from orthodoxy.