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Aug 19 2013

It was the week before classes, and all through the house…

The faculty were melting down. It’s going to be a busy week — I have syllabi to finalize and multiple meetings to attend and cranky fish to fuss over (Morris has toxic water everywhere, full of minerals, and we’re dependent on the RO system to clean up the crap…and they’re shutting it down and flushing it with chlorine this week. What? Yikes!). And then I have other things I’m stuck with.

Tomorrow evening at 7:30 I’m doing a book event on KFAI radio. There goes my afternoon and most of the evening.

This weekend we have our Bridge to Biology program — a huge number of our incoming first year students in biology get taken out to the Lake Itasca Field Station, where we try to lose them in snipe hunts get them enthused about science and biology. I’ll be out there with a microscope and cameras and embryos (I hope, if the RO system doesn’t poison everything).

Oh, yeah, I’m preparing all my class stuff. I’m teaching cell biology and cancer biology this term. Any students reading this? You can get a jump on everything by reading the first couple of chapters of Life by Sadava et al., we shall be marching through the first third of this book in the cell biology class. In cancer biology, we’re going to focus on The Emperor of All Maladies by Mukherjee for the first few weeks, so read that whole thing now. Then once you all know what horrible things cancer does to people, we’ll dive into the mechanisms. You’re fortunate, too: last time I taught this, we used Weinberg’s Cancer Biology text, which is really aimed more at graduate level work; this time around we’re using Hesketh’s Introduction to Cancer Biology. The first two words in the title will make it a less daunting exploration, I hope.

24 comments

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  1. 1
    rodw

    Couldn’t undergrads use Weinberg if a prereq was a Cell Bio class that used Alberts or Lodish?

  2. 2
    jaybee

    I’m sure PZ faces accusations that he is brainwashing kids out of their faith, etc, and he has said in the classroom he strictly grades on understanding of the material, not personal religious beliefs. Great.

    But it seems to be in bad form to be giving students direction from a personal blog which is hostile to religious beliefs. It opens up PZ to criticism that personal beliefs are in fact imposed on his students.

  3. 3
    Jackie the wacky

    jaybee,
    Could you be any less honest?

  4. 4
    Kevin

    I looked up Life on Amazon — and found that people who bought this also purchased generic aspirin…wha??? (No, I was doing a little research project online and wanted a price for generic pain relievers — so you won’t get that same result.)

    But a 1200-page book? Wow. No wonder you’ll only be able to cover 1/3 of it.

    This time of year always makes me nostalgic. Even though I haven’t been in a college classroom since the Nixon administration.

  5. 5
    Kevin

    jaybee: Your concern is noted. So you can fuck off anytime.

  6. 6
    jaybee

    Jackie @3: please explain your accusation. accusations are cheap.

    Kevin: your “your concern is noted” is a tired cliche.

    PZ often uses insults, but it is invariably backed with the reason why he is pissed at someone. You two seem to have copied the insult part without copying the reasoning part.

  7. 7
    PZ Myers

    jaybee, you silly person: many of my students read this blog, but they are by no means required to do so. I also put the essential information on the class moodle site.

    rodw: my students are capable of coping with Weinberg, but in an introductory undergraduate course, it was overkill. This is also a class in which we address history (see the Mukherjee book listed up there), ethics, personal histories, and media perspectives, so a grad-level text was just a little too much.

  8. 8
    pHred

    All I can say is that I am not *bleeping* ready and I am developing a pathological hatred of Blackboard. ARGH!!! ARGH!! I also passionately wish I taught at an institution where I only had two courses per semester rather than three!!!

  9. 9
    Jackie the wacky

    jaybee,
    First of all PZ does not teach “kids”.
    Second, science is not a personal religious belief. Atheism is not a religious belief. Not accepting and sharing god beliefs is not being “hostile” Calling creationists out on their lies is not being “hostile”.

    There, I took the time to spell it out for you. Although if you needed it explained, I doubt you’ll understand the explanation. “You’re concern is noted” is not the tired cliche’. Being a concern troll is.

    Calling you a liar was not meant as an insult. It was meant as an accurate description of what you did. Just like calling out racism and sexism is not just being insulting and is not worse than racism and sexism, calling you a liar or a concern troll is not worse than you’re lying and concern trolling.

  10. 10
    Jackie the wacky

    *your*

  11. 11
    jaybee

    Jackie, do you call everyone you disagree with a liar?

    First of all PZ does not teach “kids”.

    Really, calling his students “kids” amounts to being a lying liar? You are trying too hard to find me guilty.

    Second, science is not a personal religious belief

    I never said it was; I can’t see how this makes me a liar. PZ also writes about many things, perhaps primarily, other than science in this blog.

    Atheism is not a religious belief. Not accepting and sharing god beliefs is not being “hostile” Calling creationists out on their lies is not being “hostile”.

    No matter how much you or I agree with PZ’s stance on religion, you are fooling yourself it what he writes isn’t perceived as hostile to religion. You are simply wrong; not a liar, just wrong.

  12. 12
    Jackie the wacky

    No, jabee, just the liars.

    You are a lying bullshitter and you are continuing to lie and bullshit, only now you are also whining and derailing. Take it to the dome and have it out there. I’m wasting no further time on you.

  13. 13
    apedant

    Is Mukherjee an accessible read for someone who hasn’t studied science since the age of 18 or biology since 16? I only ask because since a couple of acquaintances’ diagnoses I’ve been meaning to read up and answer a few questions about the mechanism and treatment of cancer.

  14. 14
    Kevin

    @13:

    Mukherjee won’t go into that level of detail. It gives a pretty comprehensive history of cancer as a diagnosis and the various overarching types of treatments that have been developed over the years. But as a resource for specific questions about specific cancers and their treatments … that’s not the book. I recommend you start with the National Cancer Institute web site for that type of informatino.

    The Emperor of All Maladies is a fascinating read nonetheless. I highly recommend it. It lifts the curtain behind the process of scientific discovery as well, showing players to be … well … human beings with egos and pre-set opinions and all the rest.

    Good book for a lot of reasons.

    @jaybee: The reason some phrases become “cliche” is that they express the exact sentiment needed with no other embellishment required. You can still fuck off, and like others, I won’t concern myself in the least if you don’t take my advice.

  15. 15
    throwaway

    you are fooling yourself it what he writes isn’t perceived as hostile to religion.

    Do go on and give some examples then.

  16. 16
    ChasCPeterson

    It was the week before classes, and all through the house [t]he faculty were melting down….I have syllabi to finalize and multiple meetings to attend and cranky [research-related noun, etc.]

    *dances a li’l jig of schadenfreude*
    This is the first Fall semester since [counts on fingers and toes] 1993 that I do not have classes to teach. I feel your pain, but now can laugh at it: haaaa ha haha haw!

    On the other hand, I’m unemployed.
    </jig>

  17. 17
    jaybee

    throwaway @ 15:

    Really, you doubt PZ is perceived as hostile to religion? I’m no nexis/lexis, but googling on “pz myers” “hostile to religion” turns up some links. With more time invested and trying broader search patterns, I’m sure others could be found.

    http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2006/07/its-got-nothing-to-do-with-hostility-to-religion
    http://ravingatheists.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9588
    http://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/an-atheist-defines-militant-atheism/
    http://postbiota.org/pipermail/tt/2009-December/006821.html
    http://armchairdissident.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/matt-nisbett-farts-again/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3APZ_Myers/Archive_2
    http://episcopalian.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/more-still-on-pz-myers-the-atheist-who-desecrated-the-eucharist/

    “Kevin” called me a concern troll — sure it can be an accurate assessment, but it can also be a lazy way to dismiss a point without engaging it. Let me give a bit of background why I care.

    A woman I dated for four years did graduate work in physics. Her adviser was a YEC despite being a capable researcher. This adviser held weekly bible readings and had prayer circles with the students in the lab. It was strictly optional of course. But some students got more attention and guidance, some proposals got funded, and some didn’t. All that is normal, but she always had the lingering doubt whether her lack of belief was holding her back. I’m not at all saying this professor is actually guilty of doing so, but she wouldn’t have felt undermined if her adviser simply kept his religious and professional views in separate domains.

  18. 18
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Why the unholy hell would an atheist even care about being hostile to make believe stories anyway? Especially since religious belief is often one of the reasons for so much pain and suffering.
    Until the toxic effects of religion are significantly reduced, I welcome hostility* towards religious beliefs.

    *and I do not mean in any violent way or in any way that results in human suffering.

  19. 19
    jaybee

    I replied to throwaway hours ago, but I guess the number of links made the spam filter classify it as potential junk. I’ll repost the second part of my reply, though.

    “Kevin” called me a concern troll — sure it can be an accurate assessment, but it can also be a lazy way to dismiss a point without engaging it. Let me give a bit of background why I care.

    A woman I dated for four years did graduate work in physics. Her adviser was a YEC despite being a capable researcher. This adviser held weekly bible readings and had prayer circles with the students in the lab. It was strictly optional of course. But some students got more attention and guidance, some proposals got funded, and some didn’t. All that is normal, but she always had the lingering doubt whether her lack of belief was holding her back. I’m not saying this professor is actually guilty of doing so, but she wouldn’t have felt undermined if her adviser simply kept his religious and professional views in separate domains.

  20. 20
    John Phillips, FCD

    Seeing that PZ doesn’t hold prayer meetings in his lab, and how unprofessional was that and what did it have to with the course, the only way he knows a student’s religion is if they themselves broach it, so where’s the problem. Sounds to me like you’re just looking for any way to have a dig, hence the comments from the others after your first post. Also, if you had followed PZ for any length of time, you would know what his attitude is to students with religious beliefs, i.e do the work expected and they’re good to go.

  21. 21
    Martha

    Ah, this post made me really happy to be on sabbatical. You can laugh at me the second week in January when reality returns…

  22. 22
    jaybee

    John Phillips,

    I’m sure you realize that analogies don’t need to be 100% corresponding in every detail to be valid. That PZ doesn’t have prayer circles is missing the point. I’m sure you can think of other situations where you can appreciate that it is important to not just to be free of conflicts, but to be free of the appearance of conflict. I think this is one of those cases.

    What about the 18 year old fundie who is required to take a biology class to graduate, struggles in class (for whatever reason), maybe is too cowed to come to office hours for help, and is left with a lurking feeling that part of their problem was with religious differences of opinion? Even if PZ is 100% fair in his grading and the way he conducts his class, the student can still be undermined by those doubts.

    Also, if you had followed PZ for any length of time…

    I’ve read PZ’s blog for, I don’t know exactly, but seven years or so, maybe more. I have his book. I’ve bookmarked dozens of his standout posts over the years. That doesn’t change what I’ve stated.

    I know others disagree with me. I’d have dropped this after PZ’s reply, despite disagreeing with him, except I don’t like being called a liar and told to go fuck myself over earnest points.

  23. 23
    cartomancer

    Surely a veteran of the savage octopus plural wars ought to be more circumspect in choosing how to refer to more than one syllabus…

  24. 24
    John Phillips, FCD

    Actually, the prayer meetings wasn’t missing the point, it is very much the point. I.e. a professor holding such non-professional meetings in his work place is directly abusing his position especially if he gives the impression that he expects his students to participate, as would PZ be if he told his students they must use his blog. But PZ writing on a blog in his own time, a blog that students are free to visit or not, and unlike a student failing to turn up for a prayer meeting PZ has no way of knowing if they visit here or not, is a totally different matter.

    My point about following PZ for any length of time is you would have seen his standard refrain to his students if asked. Admittedly, some students can imagine all kinds of evil doing on the part of their profs if they don’t do well, but such students will pick on any perceived position by the prof that is different to theirs. Using your criteria, only another fundie could teach a fundie lest they blame any failure on perceived differences between them and the prof rather than on themselves. Now if PZ treated his class as an extension to his blog, I would agree with you, otherwise, IMO, you’re being nonsensical or just looking for nits to pick.

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