In defense of peer-reviewed science
Last week, BYU’s student newspaper, The Universe, printed a full-page advertisement on behalf of the “Firm Foundation Expo,” a 3-day expo that bills itself as “faithfully exploring LDS topics of our time.” In the advertisement, all of the 70+ speakers are portrayed as distinguished and as experts in some area or another.
One of those speakers is Dean W. Sessions, the author of the “Universal Model.” Mr. Sessions claims to have disproved several straightforward tenets of modern science, including the basic interior structure of the Earth (which he argues has a core of ice and liquid water) and the mass of the Earth (which he recalculates at about a third of what is known in order to fit his model). He will be speaking about his model on each day of the event.
We, members of BYU’s Department of Geological Sciences, cannot accept Mr. Sessions “Universal Model” as it runs contrary to multiple lines of empirical evidence and generations of scientific query. It would not pass expert peer review.
Students and the BYU community are reminded that organic evolution, anthropogenic climate change, radiometric dating and a 4.56 billion-year-old age of the Earth are all seriously taught on campus by professors, who are in good standing with the church, in fields directly relating to these subjects. Students may learn more about these subjects through a variety of courses offered by the Department of Geological Sciences as well as from other departments.
We, the undersigned, support the honest development of knowledge by way of the scientific method and as vetted through expert peer review.
We are concerned that the presence of the aforementioned advertisement in The Universe may legitimize Dean Sessions’ “Universal Model” in the eyes of some within the community.
Bart Kowallis, PhD, Associate Dean of CPMS; Ron Harris, PhD; Jeffrey Keith, PhD;
Jani Radebaugh, PhD; Eric Christiansen, PhD; Carl Hoiland, PhD; Thomas Morris, PhD; Sam Hudson, PhD; Stephen Nelson, PhD; Geology master’s degree students:
Kimberly Sowards, Colin Hale, Michael Jensen, William Meservy, TJ Slezak, Collin Jensen, Matthew Randall, Aaron Holmes, Braxton Spilker, Danielle Spencer, Rebecca Esplin, Hannah Checketts, Brian Packer, David Tomlinson, Kevin Stuart, Hanif Sulaeman, Han Deng, Joel Barker; Geology bachelor’s degree students: Torri Duncan, Jason Klimek, Brett Young, Austin Eells, Hanna Howell, Chelsea Samuelson
Budget cuts and health care
Trump coming into office has really shaken our country, especially with his proposed budget cuts. Two of my peers have been directly affected by the proposed cut to the National Institute of Health (NIH) funding. The NIH provides funding for 2,600 institutions in addition to thousands of universities and provides over 300,000 jobs for scientists in disease research. Trump’s proposition would cut funding by 20 percent or $6 billion. One of my peers has dreamt of being a scientist. It is hard to get funding as a young scientist and this makes it even harder. In a field that is already competitive and hard to break into, there is now the factor that new ideas will not have the chance to be heard. Now she and other young scientists must rethink their career because of this.
At the receiving end of this research, this funding directly impacts people who have been affected by cancer, mental illness and any other type of illness. My other peer’s entire family is affected by diabetes. They depend on this research for a better understanding of the disease and improved treatments. The hope of a cure is now delayed.
Planning a budget is a complicated issue but it is important to protect the funding that is vital for health care. This proposed budget cut will put filter more money into the defense plan, but what good is higher defense if there are no people to defend?