Friday, 19 September 2008

If I was Prof Michael Reiss, I'd be annoyed...

Poor Prof Reiss: not only has he been forced to resign for making a generally sensible speech that was leapt on and distorted by anti-religious Fellows of the Royal Society and the media, but the media (in the shape of the Guardian) has actually admitted that it had a part in his downfall. In a column titled "In praise of Prof Michael Reiss": nice touch.

Quotes:

The subtlety of Prof Reiss's position was lost in some media reports, while the headlines in many newspapers- including this one - did not convey the nuance of his message. This appears to have cost him his job.
and:

But Prof Reiss's shabby treatment smacks of an organisation that is frightened of a debate about how creationist views should be tackled by teachers.


You can bet that this is the line that will be taken by those who would wish to pollute science with creationist nonsense. This seems like a spectacular own goal to me.

2 comments:

Dr Aust said...

Yeees... I have to say it is bit rich The Guardian apparently absolving themselves of any responsibility in the whole mess... but fairly typical of newspapers in general.

David Colquhoun said...

It is certainly true that the media misrepresented Reiss, at least in their headlines (can't somebody reign in those damn subeditors?). That is why I defended him at first. I think now that he had to go, not because anything that he said was wrong, but because it was ambiguous. In a position like his you can't afford ambiguity.
http://dcscience.net/?p=255

I still don't know exactly what he meant by his references to respecting alternative world views, but it sounds uncomfortably close to what you are told by homeopaths. At least he should have foreseen that it would cause a furore, and by resigning he at least cut short an episode that was really no more than a storm in a teacup.