The Chronicle Welcomes Michael Ruse
Written by: Michael Ruse
Science and Religion expert Michael Ruse is one of our favorite Cambridge authors. He’s nuanced, compelling, and unwilling to settle for simple, doctrinal arguments on either side of the creationism debate. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Brainstorm blog recently added him as a writer, where “[y]ou might see him writing about science and religion (especially creationism and evolution), college football, film, and other similarly uncontroversial matters.”
Ruse’s latest post “Why I am Weeping for Florida State University” ties in neatly to Weisbrod and Asch’s piece on college football coach bonuses. His Science and Spirituality will be available this Spring.
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As we start the New Year, Florida State University is in the headlines for two reasons. The first is that on New Year’s Day, in the Gator Bowl, FSU beat West Virginia. It was the final game of our coach, Bobby Bowden. The lead headline in the New York Times Sports Section is “Bowden Goes Out on Top of Shoulders.” The magazine Science also has news about FSU. “Recession Hits Some Sciences Hard at Florida State University.” We have just fired 20 tenured faculty and another 15 tenure-track faculty. And don’t think that these were just second-raters or indeed presume that any of them were. Included was Dean Falk, one of today’s leading paleoanthropologists and, among other things, the expert on the brain of Homo floresiensis (the hobbit). She got a pink slip on her 65th birthday. (Disclosure: Dean is a good friend. In this post I am absolutely not making a judgment about whether, given the firings, she was legitimately included or not. If you read the Science article, you will see that decisions were made on the judged vulnerability of departments, and she is a member of one such department, anthropology.)
I don’t know which item of news depresses me the more. At the best of times (and God knows when those are), I look upon collegiate sports in the USA, football and basketball particularly, as deeply corrupting. At FSU we are just emerging from a major scandal about football players taking courses that were rigged. Bowden lost some of the many victories with which he is credited. (Again: In this post I am making absolutely no judgments about who was responsible. These issues are still being contested.)
But of course the actual dishonesty is just a tip of the iceberg. Frankly, what any of this has to do with education beats me. I do know that there are aspects that I — and I of all people am not Mr. Politically Correct — find deeply offensive. Start with the Red Indian (and I use that term advisedly) who starts each game by plunging a burning spear into the ground and go on with the “chop” that the fans give throughout the game. Add in the drinking — Mike’s Beer Barn supposedly sells more kegs than any other outlet in the USA — and don’t forget, as is becoming all too certain, the damage we are doing to young men’s brains in the name of entertainment.