I received from interesting comments from an acquaintance who writes about science regarding this article from today's New York Times. The article is strange fare for the front page, where it appeared, since it takes as its subject a single doctoral student at the University of Rhode Island. But it's pretty thought-provoking.
This student is a Young Earth Creationist, which means he thinks God created the Earth roughly (or exactly?) as described in the Bible, and did so no more than 10,000 years ago. Meanwhile he's a paleontologist who researches creatures that vanished in the Cretaceous Era, which ended about 65 million years ago. The guy does some rhetorical gymnastics when pressed, which is exactly what is required of him, I think:
"I am separating the different paradigms.”
He likened his situation to that of a socialist studying economics in a department with a supply-side bent.
But would that econ student write a dissertation that argued--nay, took as a baseline assumption--that supply side is right on the money? If so, we'd call him hypocritical, wouldn't we? The science writer says: "I don't know how he can live with the split: doing the science that says one thing but somehow believing another. My word for people like that is 'phony.'"
[Revised 6:12 p.m.]
The author is solely responsible for the content.
Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.