July 3, 2018 | Jerry Bergman

A Look at College Indoctrination into Darwinism

A glimpse at how Darwinian professors intimidate, demean and punish students for their religious beliefs, exemplified by a rabid evolutionary professor at Ohio State.

In my last post (20 June 2018) I documented how many colleges have become indoctrination centers for atheism. This article gives a glimpse into one modern biology classroom at a leading state university.

A new book Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood by Derek Hunter[1] includes a detailed section on college campuses. Hunter writes, “colleges have transformed from oases of ideas and questions to” outright indoctrination.[2] His goal as stated on the book jacket, is to reveal “every angle of the liberal anger industry that has created systemic bias and subtle indoctrination to manipulate an unsuspecting public.” A primary means they work to achieve indoctrination is,

with the possible exception of an online university or two, campuses from coast to coast have become petri dishes of progressive politics, the reeducation camps of the American Left charging a fortune per credit hour… You have to wonder what kids are learning and what classes they are taking to have so much time on their hands.[3]

They are probably taking classes on Darwin, even if the course title indicates the course is about something very different. Hunter then lists some real classes offered at real American Universities, such as a course on beauty pageants. One example of the course title and content divide that we will explore in detail is Ohio State University Professor Steve Rissing.

Dr Bergman has published 3 books of true stories of careers ruined by Darwin bigots

Steve Rissing’s Campaign Against Darwin Critics

Steve Rissing is a militant Darwinist Ohio State University Professor involved in pushing his Leftist agenda in his classes. He is a well-known active opponent of anyone who dares to question Darwinism. Along the way he has devoted himself to denying a student who disagreed with him—a black doctoral student named Mr. Bryan Leonard—his rightfully earned PhD degree. As of 2018, Leonard has still not been able to complete the last step for the degree. The trigger for Leonard’s problems began when Rissing and a math and anthropology professor wrote a letter claiming that “There is evidence that Mr. Leonard’s dissertation committee has been improperly constituted and that his research may have involved unethical human-subject experimentation.”

The letter was sent to Carole Anderson, interim dean of Ohio State’s graduate school, in a clear effort to prevent Leonard from completing his doctorate at OSU.[4]  The “experimentation” the letter refers to is actually Leonard’s state approved high-school student instruction! The objectors also claimed his PhD “panel is stacked with creationists and the research might be unethical.”  Professor DiSilvestro, who is on the committee, responded to this charge as follows:

Lynn Elfner, of the Ohio Academy of Sciences, is quoted as saying that the dissertation committee members “are not qualified to judge science. They are avowed creationists.” Actually, none of us call ourselves creationists. I have written on intelligent design, but that hardly makes me unable to judge science.[5]

Candisky noted that none of the three objectors have read Leonard’s dissertation, and based their comments solely on their perception of the testimony that he presented before the Kansas Board of Education! Or, in Stokes’ words, they based their opinion “on clues” in his testimony before the Kansas State Department of Education on May 2005.[6]

The main question that Leonard researched for his dissertation was “When students are taught the scientific data, both supporting and challenging macroevolution, do they maintain or change their beliefs over time? And what empirical, cognitive and/or social factors influence students’ beliefs?”[7] This concern is of much interest to science teachers, and is a question some people would much prefer remains unanswered, or at least is not answered by scientific research. For this reason, Leonard’s topic has produced a storm of outrage by Darwinists (Hoppe, 2005). Bergin concluded that curious college students can face grave consequences for researching the results of teaching the weakness of Darwinism:

Three Ohio State University professors recently launched a public smear campaign against graduate student Bryan Leonard, whose dissertation studied the effects of teaching Darwinism’s weaknesses alongside its strengths. The professors accused Mr. Leonard of unethical behavior for challenging evolution, but they did not refute Mr. Leonard’s thesis. Nor did they read his dissertation.[8]

A tirade 42 pages long of open mocking and name-calling against Leonard inspired by Rissing appeared on the anti-creation web site Panda’s Thumb—and not one of the mockers has read a word of his thesis!

Fake Testing: Rissing’s Opposition to Teaching A Balanced Approach to Darwinism

Rissing has also been active in demonstrating against the Ohio academic standards that help to insure objective teaching of Darwinism. For example, in protest of the standards that allow criticism of Darwinism he demonstrated in Columbus Ohio with a sign,[9] on which was printed the following question in bold letters:

In 2004, Ohio farmers produced $820,000,000 of genetically modified soybeans. Such GM technologies depend on and provide strong support for which biological concept?

  • a.)  Metaphasic interference
  • b.)  Descent from a common ancestor
  • c.)  Ecological succession
  • d.)  One-gene; one-enzyme
  • e.)  Endoplasmic reticulum

The answer, I assume,  is supposed to be “b,” descent with modification, but the correct answer is clearly intelligent design. The modifications of the soybeans in this case were the result of design by intelligence, and are not the result of random mutations selected by natural selection in the wild. Genetic recombination work is done by highly trained intelligent scientists and technicians applying what was learned through such techniques as reverse engineering and knock out genetic research techniques that achieve insight provided by the concept of irreducible complexity. These results were not the product of natural selection selecting mutations, but intelligent recombinant DNA work producing differences that are selected by intelligence for a specific goal and purpose. Another question, evidently written by Rissing,[10] was as follows:

Intelligent design provides useful treatments and prevention insights for which of the following diseases?

  • a.)  Cystic Fibrosis
  • b.)  Diabetes
  • c.)  AIDS
  • d.)  All of the above
  • e.)  None of the above

The answer is evidently supposed to be e) none of the above. In fact the answer is d,  all of the above. Clearly the intelligent design was used to complete the research required to understand these diseases as well as to come up with treatments or prevention techniques. It is difficult to understand how professors at a major university could not be aware of the irrationality of his reasoning as illustrated above.

Another protest sign said:

Evolution through natural selection is a completely random process. True or False.

I am lost as to the purpose of this statement. Anyone with any knowledge of evolution knows the answer is ultimately chance and, for this reason, I do not see the point of this protest statement. The last question reads:

Some Ohio teachers tell their students: A growing number of scientists question that transitional fossils are really transitional.

  • a).  a lie
  • b.)  confusing
  • c.)  obfuscatory
  • d.)  breathtaking inanity

Since this statement is well documented, the answers appear to be an attempt to mock the fact given in the statement. In response to my discussion of Rissing, Darwinist’s ignoring the issue of concern and posted the usual name calling ad hominem attacks. For example, co-founder of Panda’s Thumb, Ed Brayton, wrote that I am a “certified creationist loon” and said nothing to defend the gross irresponsibility of Rissing’s indefensible “questions.”

 Students Comment About Rissing’s Teaching

Some insight into the man can be obtained from his student comments, which eloquently illustrate Hunter’s thesis. Although student comments are limited in their usefulness, some information can be gleaned from patterns that are apparent in this set of student ratings. I have heard the same concerns from his students, indicating that his student ratings may have some validity. All his student ratings can be found on the internet at RateMyProfessors.com. Note that, at best, only 19 out of 98 ratings were positive, most all were very negative. Here are a few samples related to his tendency to rant on political subjects rather than teach biology. Notice the pattern of similar complaints going back many years:

3-27/2018. Bio 1102 structured the course more as an environmental biology course (rarely anything is taught concerning any human anatomy). He assigns many group projects concerning policy papers(?) and he is a confusing lecturer. He spends the first 20 minutes of class reviewing what he already taught and his tests are very confusing. Don’t take his class.

11/7.2011, EEOB 405 I agree with most people here, Dr. Rissing is not a good teacher. His lectures are so scattered that no one knows what’s going on, and when it comes to quizzes, none of the stuff he rambled about in class is on there. you need to go to class daily to get your 5 points, and good luck staying awake and not getting confused. TERRIBLE TEACHER

7/19/2009. Bio 102. Let me break the class down so you are perfectly clear on what you’re getting into. a) 4 topics: breast cancer, global warming, genetically modified foods, stem cells. b) for each topic, 1 five-page paper (group), 3 two-page papers, 1 additional paper c) 10 one page new York times article summaries (one per week). 6 other assignments. 3 quizzes.

5/14/2009. Bio 102. Hard, boring, and useless unless you want to become a government policy maker. I wish I never took this class.

5/4/2009. Bio 102. DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. YOU WILL NEVER REGRET ANYTHING MORE. I AM AN IDIOT FOR TAKING IT. I SAW WHAT EVERYONE SAID AND THOUGHT IT COULDNT BE THAT BAD. I WAS WRONG. YOU WRITE AT LEAST 5 PAGES A WEEK. THE WORK NEVER STOPS. YOU HAVE TO PRETEND YOURE A POLICY MAKER AND WRITE ABOUT GOVT. ITS RETARDED. I STRONGLYY ADVISE YOU NEVEERR TAKING IT.

4/30/2009 Bio 102 Whatever you do, never, ever take a class taught by this man. He goes on rants, and is incomprehensible. There are no midterms, just 3 quizzes that are hard and unfair. Ton of work, papers due every week. Trust me, take human nutrition instead for a sequence.

7/1/2008. Bio 201. This dude is messed up. It is so easy to get an A, but he has some serious problems. First of all, he is the rudest teacher you will have at OSU. If you don’t come to lecture you lose 5 points every day…maybe high-class attendance him feel better about himself because I’m sure his life pretty much sucks….

5/6/2008. Bio 102.  Very boring teacher. Bad teaching style. Lecture is stupid you have to go because you get points for going other than that lecture is useless.

8/4/2005 Bio 102 ratings 5333  Even though he rambles and lectures are boring…come on…no tests of any kind and no expensive books. Go to class and hope for a good group and it’s an easy A.

7/3/2005 Biology 102 ratings 5555 No midterms. No finals. No books. No problem. Go to class everyday, and it’s a guaranteed B (at least). Rants a lot during class, talks about nothing. Says nothing factual, all opinionated lectures. Screams like a madman. But he is a nice guy, rather helpful, and is passionate about his work. Need more teachers like him.

5/16/2005 Bio 102 ratings 4222 He is very arrogant and thinks quite highly of himself- Talks a lot about how great the class is but never really teaches any concrete facts. But, if you go to class, and can write at least 4th grade level BS papers you’ll have an A easily

1/30/2005 Bio 101 ratings 1115 This guy was awful. There’s no other word to describe him than that. He was rude, arrogant, obnoxious, very misleading, and made what should have been a straightforward class (Bio 101) into an absolute abomination. Avoid this jerk at all costs. 1/16/05

Bio 101 1112 He was the worst teacher I’ve ever had in my life. There really isn’t anything more you can say.

12/28/2004 Bio 101 ratings 2114 This man was unreal! In class he would go off on a tangent about something totally off the subject. I learned absolutely nothing in his class. I was always good in Biology, I was in advanced courses in high school and I’m a 2nd year student at OSU and this is my only B!!! if you get stuck with him–

6/7/2004 Bio 101 ratings 111  He’s evil! Stay away from him!! He does not care about his students. He is just there to listen to himself talk. He makes you want to drop after the first week of class. Take the class with Steve Chordas. He is SOOO much better and understanding

6/2/2004 Bio 102 ratings 311  Boring, no point with anything he says, obsessed with his own teaching style which is terrible.

5/23/2004 Bio102 ratings 311  He just keeps repeating the same things over and over…and they have nothing to do with Biology.

4/14/2004 Bio 102 ratings 321  It is extremely difficult to stay awake in class because he always just goes off on tangents. It’s the third week of this class and I still have no idea what the class is about. He’s horrible and is not a good teacher in any way.

3/22/2004 Bio 101 ratings 212  egomaniac! Go to class if you have him. The quizzes are a lot harder than you think. 101 should be easy, but he makes it way too complicated with his random side notes. He tells you that you won’t have to learn terms…forget it. Learn them!

3/21/2004 Bio 101 ratings 221  Everything you hear is true. this guy’s a joke. I often went late to lecture just to take the quiz. He didn’t teach us anything really, and constantly led us by the nose with simplistic Biology material. He’s smarmy and boring.

3/16/2004 Bio 101 ratings 311  This class is a joke. My friend and I alternated going to lecture and taking notes (not that it mattered anyway). Find another teacher! You’ll be so sorry if you don’t.

3/14/2004 Bio 101 ratings 311  This guy is the worst prof at Ohio State. He does not use his book ($78). The quizzes are a 10-question crap shoot and he tries to be funny but he is not! Find another prof for Bio 101 if you can.

3/10/2004 Bio 101 ratings 311  Rissing is the absolute worst teacher on campus. He is the reason Ohio State has a shady academic record. His class is pointless, he teaches unimportant subject matter, he can teach as well as a mute can sing.

3/2/2004 Bio 101 ratings 411  This guy is a complete idiot and his class is a joke. Possibly the worst professor I’ve had at OSU and I’m done with undergraduate. Although, if you had a solid Bio background in high school you should take him because it’s an easy A.

2/16/2004 Bio 101 ratings 111  IDIOT. This guy looks like the psychiatrist on office space that died. He refuses to give any notes, the 10-point quizzes are guessing games. Every class seems like the first day, because he starts them off by defending his putrid class structure.

8/21/2003 Bio 101 ratings 111  This guy is a screw loose. Can’t teach to save his life, lazy and won’t use a decent textbook, screws up his quizzes, and is a liar. Don’t waste your time with him, get a better prof.

1/16/2003 Bio 101 ratings 433  Very full of himself, but if you go to lecture and lab, you’ll get an A, no problem!

10/24/2002 Bio 101 ratings 111  A poor excuse for a teacher. His curriculum is screwy.

Conclusion

Of the few positive ratings, one student was likely being facetious (the rating dated 6/5/05). Biology 201 and Biology 211 are both very basic biology courses. The ratings are from 1 to 5, 1 being the lowest score, 5 the highest. The first score refers to “average easiness” (he rated a 2.8), the second is “average helpfulness” (he rated a 1.9) then “average clarity” (Rissing rated 1.9), and next was “hotness” where Rissing rated 0. Last, on “overall quality,” he was rated 2.1. The “hotness” score was added on 10/21/04, and scores before this date included only the first three ratings. I started at his most recent ratings and went all the way back to 2002 to demonstrate that he has had major problem for most of his career at Ohio State. Ohio State likely keeps professors like this because he is VERY Politically Correct.

I feel sorry for students who must pay $40,000 a year to study under men like this, especially in view of the fact that Rissing is trying to ruin the career of a man that has excellent student feedback and evaluations. They do have a choice, but Ohio State is a very attractive school, given their sports and other attractions.


References

Bergin, Mark. 2005. “Mad Scientists.” World, August 20, p. 23.

Brayton, Ed.  2006.  “Dembski, Bergman and Student Ratings.”  Dispatches From the Culture War, The New Science Bloggers, Posted on June 9.

Candisky, Catherine.  2005.  “Evolution Debate Re-emerges; Doctoral Student’s Work was Possibly Unethical, OSU Professors Argue.”  Columbus Dispatch, June 9, NEWS, p. 1C.

Discovery Staff.  2005.  “Attack on OSU Graduate Student Endangers Academic Freedom.” Center for Science and Culture, June 13, 2 pp.

DiSilvestro, Robert.  2005.  “An ‘Intelligent Design Thesis?’”  The Scientist, Letters, August 29, p. 8.

Hall, Annie.  2005.  “OSU Takes Closer Look at Graduate Student’s Dissertation.”  The Lantern, June 23.

Hoppe, Richard.  2005.  “ID vs. Academic Integrity: Gaming the System in Ohio.”  June 7, 42 pp.  http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/001127.html

Rudoren, Jodi. 2006. “Ohio Expected to Rein In Class Linked to Intelligent Design” The New York Times. p. A12. February, 14.

Stokes, Trevor.  2005.  “Pro-Intelligent Design Thesis Stalls … And Smithsonian has ID Troubles.”  The Scientist,  July 4, pp. 12-13.

Footnotes

[1] 2018, Broadside Books.

[2] Hunter, 2018, p. 7.

[3] Hunter, 2018, p. 8.

[4] Hall,  2005.

[5] DiSilvestro, 2005, p. 8.

[6] Candisky, 2005, p. 12.

[7] Stokes, 2005, p. 12.

[8] Bergin, 2005, p. 23.

[9] Rudoren, 2006. p. A12.

[10] Rudoren, 2006. p. A12.


Author Jerry Bergman, PhD

Dr Jerry Bergman, professor, author and speaker, is a frequent contributor to Creation-Evolution Headlines. He is currently a staff scientist at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). See his Author Profile for his previous articles and more information.

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