Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Now We Know Why Biologists Shouldn't Be Home Schooled

OK, full disclosure. As denizens of the educorporate training facility in our neighborhood we would occasionally...how to say this politely...engage in a little one sided jocularity at the expense the local population of students for whom science class was the highlight of the day.

What the kids today call...um...nerds we believe. Yes, our local contact informs us that nerds is the preferred term. Well, not among the nerds of course, but hey, when your name is Henry Botando, you have red hair and you solve calculus problems in your head, it's not like you have a lot of pull is it...Piggy? You think you can speak? You think you can, four eyes? And you Jack, you couldn't even kill the piglet, what right to you have to the knife? Because you can sing? Fat lot of good that does us. Look around you boys, I say. Who is your rightful leader? Who is the strong one? Who doesn't hesitate? Who is...

Sorry. Having a bit of a flashback. Where were we?

Oh yeah, Nathaniel Abraham.

Nathaniel Abraham filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Boston saying that the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution dissed him in 2004 because of his Christian belief that the Bible is god's big book of facts. "How was I to know the building was full of scientists," Abraham said. "I just liked the pretty fishys."

Abraham, who is seeking $500,000 in compensation for a violation of his civil rights, says
that he lost his job as a postdoctoral researcher in a biology lab shortly after he told his superior that he did not accept evolution as scientific fact. "Well, in my defense I have to say I was working in the biology lab," Abraham told reporters. "I didn't think it would be that big of a deal."

Woods Hole officials released a statement saying, "The Institution firmly believes that its actions and those of its employees concerning Dr. Abraham were entirely lawful," and that the center does not discriminate on the basis of religion. Later an official from Woods Hole admitted that the fact that Dr. Abraham's degree came from the Face of Jesus in Your Toast College and Cafe "should have been a clue."

In a 2004 letter to Abraham, his boss, Woods Hole senior scientist Mark E. Hahn, wrote that Abraham said he did not want to work on "things that are, like all sciency and stuff" of the National Institutes of Health grant for which he was hired, even though the project clearly required scientists to use the principles of evolution in their analyses and writing. "Well, no job is perfect," Abraham said.

When asked to explore why zebrafish mutants that lack notochords exhibit relatively normal neural development, including differentiation of floor plate and motoneurons, Abraham's eventual report stated that it was due to the fact that "Jesus watches over the little sparrows just like he watches over you and me."

"It wasn't something we felt was up to the standards of Woods Hole," Hahn said.

"Was it because I didn't mention the fish?" Abraham asked. "I probably should have mentioned the fish."

Abraham did not return a telephone call seeking comment because telephones aren't mentioned in the bible. He now works at Liberty University, a Christian Profit Center in Lynchburg, Va., founded by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, who recently evolved into a dead person. "We understand he's researching whether Adam and Eve would have been able to tame the dinosaurs after the fall," Hahn told reporters.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of cases pitting creationists against scientists in academic settings, or what people are calling Smackdown in Monkey town. Last year, a University of Rhode Island student was awarded a doctorate in geosciences despite opposition after it became known that he was a creationist. "People ask me how I could get through a whole program in geosciences and not learn anything at all," the student said. "Easy. Just listen to the voices in my head instead of the professor"

Earlier this year, an Iowa State University astronomer claimed he was denied tenure because he did not believe in evolution. "Well, that and the fact that he believed the stars were god's dandruff," said a university representative.

"It is inconceivable that someone working in developmental biology at a major research institution would not be expected to deal intimately with evolution," Eugenie C. Scott, executive director for the National Center for Science Education said. "A flight school hiring instructors wouldn't ask whether they accepted that the earth was spherical; they would assume it."

Oh Great. Now we've got another reason to be afraid to fly.

"Woods Hole would have assumed that someone hired to work in developmental biology would accept that evolution occurred. It's part and parcel of the science these days," she said.

"Oh. You wanted me to do Science," Abraham said. "Well, why didn't you say so? Sorry can't do that stuff. $500,000 please."

Later that day, unidentified assailants pushed Abraham into the girl's bathroom..

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