Where is the Freedom to Question?
“Standing up for what is right is not easy for us who study the world using reason, because we must overcome the additional burden that we are living in a time in which reason, as defined by Herbert Marcuse (1941), is ‘unquestioned conformity to the dictates of efficiency, convenience and profits.’ I ask you…what does CU stand for: “Conformity Unquestioned” or “Courageously Undaunted?”
This quote is taken from a letter written by AITSE’s newest Consortium member, Cornell University’s plant cell biologist Randy Wayne, PhD. Dr. Wayne taught a course on Biological Principles (Biog 1110), which, besides giving a general introduction to biology, also encouraged students “to think skeptically about scientific and medical issues.” The university arbitrarily canceled it. According to Dr. Wayne, “It is possible that the soapbox upon which I stood in front of hundreds of students was removed because I teach my students to be thoughtful and have an active skepticism about the popular and lucrative trends in science and medicine, such as genetic testing for athletic performance and bipolar disorder.”
Dr. Wayne’s words sound encouragingly similar to AITSE’s mission…to improve science education and encourage scientific integrity. [To] offer clear, reliable and balanced education with the goal of liberating science and technology from ideology, politics and the restrictions of consensus… What is not so encouraging is Cornell University’s decision to cancel the course.