Getting a Master’s Degree with William Dembski
So, you may have already heard that William Dembski will give you an undergraduate ‘degree’ in Intelligent Design if you go and troll on pro-evolutionist blogs and websites. Well, that’s not entirely fair – you also have to take an exam and write a 3,000 word essay. (Wow, 3,000 words? Don’t strain yourselves, guys!)
I’m currently getting ready to go into my second year of an undergraduate degree (a real one), and the idea of getting credit for writing comments on a blog is utterly ridiculous. Getting an actual third level education is a difficult ordeal, as spending even a few months at a genuine university will reveal, and I’m frankly insulted that Dembski is conning people into thinking they’re doing something worthwhile with this.
As bizarre as the undergraduate requirements are, however, they pale in comparison to the ‘Master’s degree’ on offer:
This is the masters course. You have four things to do: (1) take the final exam (worth 30% of your grade); (2) write a 1,500- to 2,000-word critical review of Francis Collins’s The Language of God — for instructions, see below (20% of your grade); (3) write a 3,000-word essay on the theological significance of intelligent design (worth 30% of your grade); (4) provide at least 10 posts defending ID that you’ve made on “hostile” websites, the posts totalling 3,000 words, along with the URLs (i.e., web links) to each post (worth 20% of your grade). (Source)
A book review? On The Language of God?
In my country at least, there are two ways of attaining a Master’s degree in the humanities: by examination, in which case you’ll usually still be required to write a relatively substantial essay (upwards of 10k words) or by minor thesis, in which case you’ll also usually have to take a less rigorous exam. In both cases, there’s an element of continuous assessment in that students are usually required to write two or sometimes even three 5k word essays throughout the year, assuming the MA course is one year in length (most of them are). A 2,000 word ‘critical review’ of a single book is the kind of thing I did in my first few weeks in university. I had to do more work than Dembski’s students just to pass a single module of my course, let alone the entire undergraduate degree. By Dembski’s standards, then, I would presumably have already done enough work to be halfway or more to a Master’s degree.
A third-level education is an enormously valuable thing, both in terms of personal development and in terms of what good education adds to society as a whole. Degree mills like this are slap in the face to everybody who actually works hard for what they learn. Worse, the syllabus for this pseudo-course makes it clear that students are being indoctrinated rather than education. Surely there’s nothing wrong with that, though – they’re enrolling of their own free will, after all, and anybody who seeks out this kind of ‘education is almost certainly going to be very sympathetic to Dembski’s views already. That’s one way to look at it. Another is to point out that passing cheap indoctrination off as real knowledge is as detrimental to the educational establishment as passing quackery off as medicine is to the medical establishment.
Oh, and there’s a doctorate course on there as well. It involves making a Sunday-school lesson plan.