Today, I attended a luncheon and heard a presentation from Dr. Caroline Cocker. She is a scientist who was featured in Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” The movie highlighted the censorship that is going on in the scientific community regarding Intelligent Design. Dr. Cocker was a victim of just such political correctness at George Mason University.
She now has written a book about her ordeal (Free to Think) and launched the American Institute for Technology and Science Education (www.aitse.org).
AITSE’s mission to promote scientific integrity in education, medicine, and research. Her presentation today highlighted the problem that lack of integrity has brought to society. She pointed out three areas in particular:
Cheating among students. Anyone involved in schools knows this a serious problem. Dr. Crocker pointed out that 80% of high school students admit to cheating and 50% of them don’t think it is wrong. In college, 70% admit to cheating. She also explained that many professors don’t penalize students for cheating because the professors’ performance evaluations are done by the students themselves!
Cheating is also a problem among medical students. One survey she highlighted indicated that 39% of med students reported that they witnessed cheating by classmates. This, of course, undermines the public’s confidence in the profession.
Skewing research on pharmaceuticals. Dr. Crocker talked, from personal experience, about how drug companies who fund scientific research suppress data that is not favorable for their marketing while using confidentiality agreements to keep the negative information from reaching the public.
Censorship in classrooms. Dr. Crocker explained how she was disciplined and eventually removed from her teaching post for merely giving one lecture in which she exposed college students to a range of scientists’ views on the issue of evolution. The student who claimed to the Dean that she was teaching “creationism” was the same student Dr. Crocker had earlier disciplined for cheating.
Students need to understand that scientists are not as objective as they are often portrayed. Because bias is a challenge in every field of science, Dr. Crocker is calling on scientists to join AITSE and challenge their profession to acknowledge and repair this growing problem. The challenge for Dr. Crocker is that the scientists who call on their colleagues to have more integrity run the risk of being “drummed out the corp” by the very people who are lacking in integrity.
For more details, visit her website at www.aitse.org.