Thursday, May 17, 2007

Postmodern Physics

Professor Tipler of Tulane University, hits upon a topic that I wrote about a few weeks ago. It is possible to obtain a Ph.D. in physics from a prestigious American university without a working knowledge of Einstein's theory of relativity. He goes on about the Standard Model of particle physics. He has this to say:

  • "a degree in physics from an American university is no guarantee that the student with this degree understands basic physics. The physics faculty’s increasing ignorance of basic physics is starting to show up in their research, as I describe at length in my recent book, The Physics of Christianity (Doubleday, 2007). I show that, across all disciplines, a collapse of belief in Christianity over the past several decades among university faculty has been accompanied by a collapse in the belief that there is fundamental truth which should be imparted to students."

He attributes the problems with physics faculty's increasing ignorance, and a collapse of Christian beliefs in fundamental truths. I have a less nefarious hypothesis. I teach chemistry and I know faculty that are purposely watering down course material. Why? It's because university administrations, parents, and students believe that the university degree is a credential to the good life. So barriers are lowered and all are happier, including faculty whose performance and thus pay is now judged by student evaluations of teaching. The more credentialized adults the better, right? Let's all rejoice as we pump out ever more degreed nitwits, whose studies consists primarily of underage drinking, and picking up an STD or two.

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