[Coral-List] list politics free

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Tue Nov 15 13:11:08 EST 2016


     This list is supported, I believe, by the NOAA program, "CRCP" or
Coral Reef Conservation Program, which was set up in response to President
Bill Clinton's executive order mandating the US government to work to
conserve coral reefs and establishing the US Coral Reef Task Force made up
of US federal agencies that have some hand in coral reef management.  Thus,
the basic purpose of the list is coral reef conservation.  And indeed it is
surely a major goal of many who subscribe or post on the list, though
people are completely free to have whatever opinions or goals they want.
Thus, aspects of politics that have an effect on whether we can make
progress working for coral reef conservation are relevant to our work and
this list, in my opinion.  Politics that are not relevant to coral reef
conservation would be irrelevant to this list, and I think we would be wise
to avoid that.  Maybe one of the major dangers is to get sucked into an
escalating argument about politics that expands well beyond our immediate
concern with coral reefs.

     In my view, education does not mean protecting students from the
truth.  Although there are minorities that we need to protect, there are
also ones, such as the ignorant (and we all start out ignorant and remain
ignorant of some things) or the misinformed, that educators have no
obligation to protect from the facts, in fact education requires the
opposite.  Education also does not mean giving equal support for every
idea.  I don't think shaming students for their beliefs is acceptable, and
students should be free to believe whatever they want, that is covered
under the First Amendment, freedom of speech.  But students can and should
be required to learn a variety of things, and it is up to the professors to
determine what is important for them to learn, and students must be able to
demonstrate they have learned it, whether they agree with it or not (which
remains their choice).  Politics and popular culture today include lots of
ideology about the world, some of which is not supported by the evidence
(and that is not exclusively true of any one viewpoint).  For instance, a
significant portion of the American public believes that there is no such
thing as evolution, and so likely a good number of students believe the
same.  Those who teach biology teach the facts and evidence and how they
fit or don’t fit with theories, but do not exempt students who have
different beliefs from learning about the facts and evidence of evolution.
Other people believe in crystal power, astrology, and a wide variety of
pseudosciences.  Professors have an obligation to teach how to evaluate
evidence, what the evidence is, what the current theories are to explain
the evidence, how well the evidence supports those theories, and whether
any evidence disproves those theories, and they must do it no matter what
the beliefs or statements of various politicians are.  The best professors
inspire their students to learn and evaluate evidence on their own, and a
good professor does more to expose students to different theories and
viewpoints and evidence and less to spoon feed them whatever the
professor’s viewpoints are.  Good education teaches students to think for
themselves and inspires them, and poor education just requires rote
memorization or consists of indoctrination into propaganda.

      College and University students are young adults, and they are at a
stage of contacting the reality of the outside world in a way that they
most likely haven't had to previously.  I don't think it does them any
favors to protect them from the evidence.  Educators can and should treat
students with dignity and respect, while still exposing them to the
evidence and how it supports or disproves various views.  Any students who
are offended by exposure to reality will have to learn to adapt to reality
as adults or withdraw into a shell of denial.

      So some discussion of what coral reef conservation could benefit from
or might or might not be up against seems relevant and prudent to me.

      Cheers,  Doug

On Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 2:22 AM, <mdemetr at biophi.org> wrote:

> Dear Steve,
> They do not block on the list, the list does not work that way. They do
> occassionally run a message that reminds us all to not post political
> information because if we do the list will be taken down by NOAA.
>  I believe in treating all people with respect and dignity, those I agree
> with and those I do not. The fact that you doubt that any students would be
> offended speaks to the fact that academia has become homogeneous in
> ideology. While many students are liberal, there are conservative students
> everywhere and it is our responsibilty to protect all minorities.
> Conservatives and Republicans are minorities on college campus. I would
> guess that more than one student was offended. Microaggressions are real,
> and this was more than a microaggression, Diversity of ideas and beliefs
> are critical to developing students who are capable of making informed and
> reasoned decisions. We are not doing our students any favors by presenting
> them with biased information from an emotional vantage. It is a disservice
> to the scientific process to use fear-mongering in the classroom.
> The nice thing is, Steve, that you and I do not need to agree.
> One thing that I think is challenging for us to remember is that science
> is an endeavor that takes place within a social context. It is not devoid
> of impacts from that social context and the social context included many
> factors such as funding opportunities. For example, cancer research was
> skewed many years ago by the political clout of an investigator that held a
> specific belief (idea/theory) about how our bodies combated cancer. This
> individual was so important that funding moved in the direction of his
> ideas. It took many years for funding to shift back from that narrow focus
> and for other areas to regain funding traction. This was political and a
> social effect and had a huge impact on the discussion and direction of
> cancer research for years. It was overly focused and likely resulted in the
> delay in learning all we could about cancer. Recently we have had a
> particiular focus in some aspects of scientific research on global warming
> that has driven funding in a specific di
>  rection. Opening the funding up to other areas such as currents,
> pollution, microfibers, microbiomes, and a variety of other critically
> important areas may distract us long enough from an overly focused approach
> to learn other important information. If we take advantage of this
> opportunity, science will not be stopped or even impeded, it just may take
> a different course. As Obama said the other day, the sun will rise tomorrow.
> take care,
> Melissa
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Steve Mussman [mailto:sealab at earthlink.net]
> Sent: Friday, November 11, 2016 07:35 AM
> To: mdemetr at biophi.org, coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: Re: list politics free
> body{font-size:10pt;font-family:arial,sans-serif;background-color:#ffffff;
> color:black;}p{margin:0px;}Dear Melissa,
>  Sorry, but I must disagree. There are moderators for this list. If they
> believe a post is inappropriate they will block it. As for the professor
> creating a hostile environment, I doubt there were any students in that
> class who were offended or felt threatened by his words. Any sense of
> despair an aspiring marine biologist might feel was more likely the result
> of the reasonable expectation of a coming wave of anti-science sentiment.
> Regards,
> Steve
> -----Original Message-
> From: mdemetr at biophi.org
> Sent: Nov 10, 2016 3:52 PM
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Cc: sealab at earthlink.net
> Subject: list politics free
> Dear Steve, This list is politics free. Posting political messages puts
> the list at risk. Everyone, please try to keep this in mind as we move
> forward.
> I would comment that the college professor who wrote that open letter has
> created a hostile environment for students who do not hold his political
> beliefs.
> take care,
> Melissa
> Melissa K. Demetrikopoulos, Ph.D.
> Director of Scientific Communications and
> Chair, Division of Program Development and Assessment
> Institute for Biomedical Philosophy
> PO Box 1528
> Dunedin, FL 34697
> TEL: 305-240-1522
> mdemetr at BioPhi.org
> www.BioPhi.org
> Message: 2
> Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2016 07:42:58 -0500
> From: Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net>
> Subject: [Coral-List] What now?
> To: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Message-ID: <442FA152-6AD7-46A6-B0C6-0C4BAD1F230F at earthlink.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain;       charset=us-ascii
> I imagine that many of us are trying to wrap our minds around all the
> implications ......... . To the marine science community, ............... I
> thought that this letter written by a college professor to his coastal and
> estuarine ecology students might provide some much needed encouragement and
> motivation. .................
> Steve
> Sent from my iPad
> ------------------------------
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> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

Douglas Fenner
Contractor for NOAA NMFS, and consultant
"have regulator, will travel"
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA

phone 1 684 622-7084

Join the International Society for Reef Studies.  Membership includes a
subscription to the journal Coral Reefs, and there are discounts for pdf
subscriptions and developing countries.  Coral Reefs is the only journal
that is ALL coral reef articles, and it has amazingly LOW prices compared
to other journals.  Check it out!  www.fit.edu/isrs/

"Belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."- Jim Beever.
  "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts."-
Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Countries reach landmark deal to limit global warming

Policy: hasten the end of dated fossil-fuel subsidies

website:  http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner

blog: http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope

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