Dembski’s teaching method
At least 10 posts defending aspects of the Christian worldview totaling at least 3,000 words on “hostile” websites
For another course (AP 410), students have to
provide at least 10 posts defending ID that you’ve made on “hostile” websites, the posts totalling 2,000 words, along with the URLs (i.e., web links) to each post (worth 20% of your grade).
Now what’s problematic here isn’t that Dembski is encouraging students to post on “hostile” sites, it is that the assignment doesn’t force the students to engage with their critics in any way. Instead, all the student has to do is cut and paste some text, save the url, and pass it on to Dembski. Money in the bank.
Those of us who use discussion forums and webboards in our teaching know that if any value is to be gained from the exercise students must engage with each other and respond to claims while defending their own through a series of engagements. It is such long-term engagement that is profitable not “drive-by posting”.
In short, my objection is not that Dembski’s students are posting on “hostile” sites, it’s that he is not doing anything pedagogically useful by encouraging them to do so. Dembski appears to be as good a teacher as he is a mathematician or theologian.
Update (8/11): Joel Borofsky, Dembski’s former TA, tries to defend his master but completely ignores the sort of argument I’m making and instead wikers on about what he sees as argumentative fallacies. Come on Joel, defend Dembski’s pedagogy …