Saturday, September 24, 2016

#1722: Eric Hedin

Ball State University is a real and pretty good university, but like many universities they will have at least one crank professor who offers their students garbage courses. At Ball State, you should probably avoid the courses offered by Eric Hedin, who seems to be pushing religion and creationism in what superficially looks like a genuine astronomy course (no, not biology, of course): In 2013 he offered an “honors” course called “Inquiries in the Physical Sciences,” which fulfills the science requirement for students as part of the University Core Curriculum (it is, or at least was, cross-listed in the Physics and Astronomy department as Astronomy 151: “The Universe and You”), but provides straight up religious apologetics and science denialism (Jerry Coyne’s response, in that link, is itself not entirely devoid of crankiness, however). Hedin is an intelligent design creationist, and appears to have few qualms about invoking ID creationist science denial to promote Jesus in his science classes – the syllabus for the aforementioned course is here, and includes a wide range of anti-science proponents: Stephen Meyer, Hugh Ross, Lee Spetner, Lee Strobel, Michael Behe, Bill Dembski and C.S. Lewis. In what is ostensibly a science course.

Of course, when questions about the course contents were raised, the Discovery Institute and various creationist legislators weighed in to shout out how persecuted Hedin was for being Christian (though the Discovery Institute backtracked a bit from that one once they remembered that their official position is that Intelligent Design is science, not religion). Hedin’s class seems to have ultimately been cancelled, but he seems to produced enough actual scientific results (not in areas related to evolution, presumably) to receive tenure, despite his obviously tenuous understanding of how science works. But Ball State also decided to hire pseudoscientist Guillermo Gonzalez. Why they did that is unclear; surely it was not to broaden their appeal to religious fundamentalists who hate science but still desire a science degree to give their anti-science a sheen of legitimacy?

Diagnosis: Crank denialist who is in a position to push his pseudoscience at a real university and carrying genuine, academic credentials. Be aware.

1 comment:

  1. I took a moment to have a gander at the reading list for one of Mr. Hedin's courses and was shocked to find a couple of books by Paul Davies on it. I have two books in my library - one written by and another co-written my Mr. Davies - and both books are straightforward popular explanations of science without a hint of religion. Yet, reading the reviews at Amazon of the Davies books on Mr. Hedin's list, both rely on reference to creationism of the Guillermo Gonzales variety. Sometimes it just seems like life is one disillusionment after another...