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← Letter from Sir Richard Roberts asking Reiss to step down

Letter from Sir Richard Roberts asking Reiss to step down - Comments

lozzer's Avatar Comment 1 by lozzer

He publicly expressed his ignorance of his lack of understanding of what is science and what is not.And now he's paying heavily for It.Good.Send out a clear message that creationism and It's proponents will not be tolerated especially when the countries population have a lack of understanding of evolution already.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 10:46:00 UTC | #234958

neale's Avatar Comment 2 by neale

This is extremely worrying, just when you think we're making progress someone pops up with a mouthfull of nonsense. It's depressing enough to hear science students from religious backgrounds profess a greater knowledge when it comes to explainations of how life came to be, entirely another thing when the call for ignorance comes from the top.

My ghast has never been so flabbered.

Does anyone know what he actually said?

I suggest the good professor stays out of it if possible, I can imagine the steam shooting from his ears, but a reaction from him will be seen by religious types as an attack by atheism. This is a debate about honesty and reason. It has nothing to do with atheism. I'm confident we can rely on the society (crosses fingers).

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 10:46:00 UTC | #234959

jaytee_555's Avatar Comment 3 by jaytee_555

He's got to go.

And moreover, so have any RS links with the Templeton Foundation. Would the BMA give a lecture platform to anyone in the pay of the tobacco industry?

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 10:47:00 UTC | #234960

Raiko's Avatar Comment 4 by Raiko

Asides from "what on EARTH?!" this is probably the only proper response to Reiss' performance within the Royal Society.

Reiss makes you want to invent conspiracy theories about doing this on purpose to be asked to leave and then perform and whine in "Expelled 2 - Return of the Steininator".

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 10:48:00 UTC | #234962

notsobad's Avatar Comment 5 by notsobad

They must be ready for the brigades of religious people whose main occupation is to get professionally offended.
This sentence, "We gather Professor Reiss is a clergyman, which in itself is very worrisome." will make them busy.
And as it usually is, some deists/agnostics/atheists will get worried and offended on their behalf too.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 10:52:00 UTC | #234966

geehigh's Avatar Comment 6 by geehigh

Yep. Professor Reiss of course can cherish his own personal ideas, but when he goes public with the added cache of his Royal Society job, it looks like his words carry the full approval of the RS.

The prof has made a big boo-boo here and I can't see how his position is tenable.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 10:55:00 UTC | #234967

larhule's Avatar Comment 7 by larhule

someone call Ben Stein!

...then when he walks in the room, drop the 16 ton weight on his head!!!

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 10:57:00 UTC | #234969

geehigh's Avatar Comment 8 by geehigh

Yeah, be a nice change for him to report on something that actually happened ;)

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 10:58:00 UTC | #234970

flying goose's Avatar Comment 9 by flying goose

'One of my sins is a belief in intuition. And see how ridiculous - they all shout that I'm a marvellous diagnostician - and as a matter of fact it's true that I don't often make mistakes in diagnosing a disease - well, what is this immediate grasp of a situation as a whole supposed to be if not the intuition they find so detestable?'
'Another thing is that I am obsessed by the problem of mimicry, of mimesis-the outward adaptation of an organism to the colour of its environment. I think it throws an astonishing light on the relationship between the inward and the outward world.
"Well, I dared to mention this in my lectures. Immediately there was a chorus: 'Idealism, mysticism, Goethe's nature philosophy, neo-Schellingism.'
"It's time I got out. I'll stay on at the hospital until they throw me out, but I'll resign from the Institute and the Health Department. I don't want to worry you, but from time to time I have the feeling that they might come and arrest me any day."

"God forbid. It hasn't come to that yet, fortunately. But you are right. It would do no harm to be more careful. As I've noticed it, whenever this regime comes to power it goes through certain regular stages. In the first stage it's the triumph of reason, of the spirit of criticism, the fight against prejudice and so on.
"Then comes the second stage. The accent is all on the dark forces, the false sympathisers, the hangers-on. There is more and more suspicion-informers, intrigues, hatreds. You are perfectly right that we are entering on the second stage."

Perhaps the above passage from Dr Zhivago is a darker analogy for that letter.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 10:59:00 UTC | #234971

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 10 by thewhitepearl


Wrong thread! :)

On to the article:

Perfect. They are sending out the exact message they need to. Hopefull this will be the last thing that is spoken about this wanker in regards to science.

Other then an article about his removal of course.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:06:00 UTC | #234973

the way's Avatar Comment 11 by the way

I wonder how much he was paid to sully both his integrity and reputation and that of the Royal Society's as well.
The Creationists are not short of bucks so I believe.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:06:00 UTC | #234974

flying goose's Avatar Comment 12 by flying goose

"We gather Professor Reiss is a clergyman, which in itself is very worrisome." will make them busy.

Rising to the bait.

How very Stalinist

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:07:00 UTC | #234975

beanson's Avatar Comment 13 by beanson

With the world currently seeing a huge resurgence of irrationality and anti-science superstition in the form of fuckwitted religious zealots the Royal Society really needs to appear whiter than white in it's Rational credentials.

Why on earth they suffered a religious fuckwit to hold such an exalted position within their ranks in the first place is baffling enough but really it's beyond the pale that they should stand by while he pontificates on the 'respect' that fuckwitted religious views 'should' command in the scientific arena.

He (and every other cheering superstitious fuckwit) needs to be shown that the 21st century will not tolerate childish innanities. He must be sacked- or the RS will have a major stain against it's reputation and we inheritors must hang our collective heads in shame.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:10:00 UTC | #234976

Peacebeuponme's Avatar Comment 15 by Peacebeuponme

TWP - cheers!

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:18:00 UTC | #234982

my lord of misrule's Avatar Comment 14 by my lord of misrule

So the powerful elite of the RS are ganging up on their hapless employee. Who made a mistake, haven't they. Bunch of monotheists, thats what they are. Their diety is no less jealous then the desert god the christians believe in.

adherence to the cause, or you're out.

you shall have no other gods but me.

A is for anarchy, not atheism, Atheism is just another bloody regime.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:18:00 UTC | #234981

carbonman's Avatar Comment 16 by carbonman

adherence to the cause, or you're out.

Er, yes, when the 'cause' is fair and accurate exposition of matters scientific, and one belongs to the country's foremost authority thereon. It's as though the chief constable had gone public and advocated his hobby of burglary.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:37:00 UTC | #234993

SoManyStars's Avatar Comment 17 by SoManyStars

I've yet to see a bunsen burner in R.E. so off with you Reiss.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:39:00 UTC | #234994

Raphael Vassallo's Avatar Comment 18 by Raphael Vassallo

Is there a Youtube or other link to what Reiss actually said?

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:52:00 UTC | #235006

my lord of misrule's Avatar Comment 19 by my lord of misrule


If he said what he is accused of maybe, but the evidence even from posters on this site seems to suggest otherwise.

"We gather Professor Reiss is a clergyman, which in itself is very worrisome."

says it all, insidious,

They are just bully boys and they are no better then their theistic bully boy forebears.

Here's one who wont be tugging my forelock to those knightly bullies.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:55:00 UTC | #235010

atp's Avatar Comment 20 by atp

Personally I find it totally irrelevant that Reiss is a clergyman. It is what he's saying in the position that he is that is the problem.

I strongly believe in freedom of thought, and not attacking a person for what he are. if Reiss could put away his religious bagage and do his job proper, that would be fully acceptable.

Obviously he couldn't, and that is why he should consider leaving his position.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:58:00 UTC | #235011

my lord of misrule's Avatar Comment 21 by my lord of misrule

Obviously he couldn't, and that is why he should consider leaving his position.

It that something that is proven.

'NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right' Magna Carta

We believe in natural justice in this realm of England.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:04:00 UTC | #235019

anxiousmofo's Avatar Comment 22 by anxiousmofo

You can find Reiss' comments here:

It's muddled, and I don't agree with him (why, for example, should the concerns of students who don't accept evolution be treated with respect or as if they are serious? why is it a good idea to allow students to raise doubts about evolution in the classroom?) - however, he is not advocating teaching that intelligent design or other kinds of creationism are true, or on an equal footing with evolution.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:05:00 UTC | #235020

Homo economicus's Avatar Comment 23 by Homo economicus

In case you missed it, Reiss' clarification from the Royal Society Website:

"Some of my comments about the teaching of creationism have been misinterpreted as suggesting that creationism should be taught in science classes. Creationism has no scientific basis. However, when young people ask questions about creationism in science classes, teachers need to be able to explain to them why evolution and the Big Bang are scientific theories but they should also take the time to explain how science works and why creationism has no scientific basis. I have referred to science teachers discussing creationism as a worldview'; this is not the same as lending it any scientific credibility."

Also it may help to read the articles that have led to the Laureates calling for Reiss to step down, which I have covered and linked to in my blog.

The point is that Reiss said that creationism should be challenged when brought up in class by students (not teachers) with science.

I would not want him sacked for that suggestion. If anything that is what I wish was happening now!

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:09:00 UTC | #235023

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 24 by DamnDirtyApe

That was fast!

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:09:00 UTC | #235024

my lord of misrule's Avatar Comment 25 by my lord of misrule

treat everyone with respect whatever their views, especially if there are children in your care.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:11:00 UTC | #235026

Raphael Vassallo's Avatar Comment 26 by Raphael Vassallo

I haven't understood one thing. The article states that: "Reiss, an ordained Church of England minister, has since alleged he was misquoted."

But he wrote the article himself. Is he claiming it was distorted through editing? Is there an unedited copy floating around?

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:15:00 UTC | #235031

Matt H.'s Avatar Comment 27 by Matt H.

It is so sad that the Royal Society has come to this. The UK's most respected science organisation has been seen to advocate the teaching of creationism in the science classroom. I know the RS as a whole do not subscribe to such a view, but the Director of Education is supposed to represent the organisation, as well as that spokesperson who happened to agree with him. This can not be tolerated, and the right thing to do would be to dismiss him from his post.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:16:00 UTC | #235035

Raphael Vassallo's Avatar Comment 28 by Raphael Vassallo

Thanks Homo economicus

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:19:00 UTC | #235036

the way's Avatar Comment 29 by the way

Comment by anxiousmofo

he is not advocating teaching that intelligent design or other kinds of creationism are true, or on an equal footing with evolution

I agree with you, however as with Archibishop Rowan Williams and his "advocating" sharia law, for intelligent men in such high profile positions, they must have known that their comments would be misinterpreted, spun, or they were both deliberately courting controversy.

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:20:00 UTC | #235037

Donald's Avatar Comment 30 by Donald

Is there a Youtube or other link to what Reiss actually said?
The following article reports Reiss's own words:,3099,Talk-at-todays-meeting-of-the-British-Association-for-the-Advancement-of-Science,Reverend-Michael-Reiss-BA-Festival-of-Science
Here is a link to the words Reiss provided to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in advance of his talk:

Reiss's words include, for example:
Just because something lacks scientific support doesn't seem to me a sufficient reason to omit it from a science lesson.
Most scientists and science educators believe science teachers should not discuss creationism in school science lessons. I disagree.

Reiss, as an ordained Chrich of England Minister, has his own agenda of tryng to support religious belief. He has written essentially the same thing in numerous newspapers articles as well as the BAFoS talk.

His writing is a masterpiece of equivocation. He carefully crafts his words to leave encouragement for religious believers to insert religious discussions into science lessons.
I made an earlier comment about his ambiguity/equivocation and the reasons for it:,3099,Talk-at-todays-meeting-of-the-British-Association-for-the-Advancement-of-Science,Reverend-Michael-Reiss-BA-Festival-of-Science#245959

Mon, 15 Sep 2008 12:31:00 UTC | #235044