1 of 3
1
My government professor is promoting woo
Posted: 22 October 2010 09:09 PM   [ Ignore ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4742
Joined  2007-10-05

I am taking a U.S. Government course this semester, as required of all college students by Texas State law. The course is pretty much a waste of time, as the professor spends almost as much time talking about himself as he spends talking about our government. This morning, however, he crossed the line with me. He spend 45 minutes of class time promoting a turmeric extract called curcumin as a cure for cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and a host of other ailments. Several students walked out while he was discussing this, but four or five were enthusiastic about curcumin and wanted more information. I asked if there were any studies other than the one published in 2003 that he showed the class, and the professor pointed to a Word document on the class electronic blackboard. I discussed this with my wife his evening, and she adamantly suggested I send the department chairman an e-mail informing him of my professor’s behavior. Rather than rehash the e-mail I posted it here. (Names redacted.)

Dear Mr. ****,

This morning in my U.S. Government class Prof. R*** G*** spent 45 minutes of our class time promoting a substance called curcumin as a cure for cancer. I have two major issues with this behavior.

1) Prof. G*** is not qualified to give medical advice. Despite this, he promoted curcumin as a cure for cancer, and even said it is safer than chemotherapy. Several students got very excited about this and gave feedback indicating they will purchase this product and use it. A cursory Google search shows there have been no clinical trials testing the safety and efficacy of curcumin on humans.

2) Because he spent so much time promoting an alternative medical substance over proven, tested treatments, Prof. G*** only got through half of today’s planned lecture. He has wasted much class time this semester talking about things other than U.S. Government during his lectures, but today’s talked crossed the line from harmless time wasting into potentially dangerous and deadly medical advice.

In addition to talking about curcumin in class, Prof. G*** has posted links to articles promoting the substance on Blackboard. The articles are buried under United States Government (210F-17697-GOVT-2305-130>Lectures>Unit 3 Lecture: Chapter 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12>Review of two interest groups. He also posted a file titled “Here are a few websites that illustrate all the research that has been done with curcumin.” The first five links in the document take you to a web site selling curcumin, not to any scientific research on the substance.

Further, Prof. G*** told us that people in India who eat large amounts of curry in their food never get cancer or Alzheimer’s Disease because of the curcumin in curry. A cursory Google search shows this is patently false.

I am not getting what I paid for in this class. I signed up to learn about our United States Government, not the professor’s personal life and certainly not to listen to a college professor promote untested alternative medicines over science-based medicines. This is highly unethcial behavior for a college professor. I trust you will treat this matter with the urgency and seriousness it deserves.

Sincerely,

DarronS***

[ Edited: 22 October 2010 09:11 PM by DarronS ]
 Signature 

“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 October 2010 11:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7664
Joined  2008-04-11

That is awful! Please let us know the results of your email. They should also refund your tuition for that class. While taking the class certainly satisfy the requirement for the school, you have been short changed. I can’t believe that you are the first to have complained about his unprofessional behavior. Will he be able to retaliate and fail you?

 Signature 

Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1071
Joined  2007-06-20

I had a Physics Prof who did psychic demonstrations like bending keys, reading minds and other stuff without any disclaimer.  About half the class thought it was real.  He only revealed it was all fake at the end and used it as a teaching moment about critical thinking and how we should not believe everything you see or hear…even from your professors.  Are you sure your prof is 100% into this stuff?  Or could he be trying to make some point about something related to class?

 Signature 

There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.

—James Madison

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 05:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4742
Joined  2007-10-05

I wish he were just testing our critical thinking skills. A couple of weeks ago he spent a few minutes telling us that the lights in the night sky over El Paso, TX, are alien spacecraft watching Earth and our government knows about these aliens but does not want the citizens to know about them. When I called him out on this he refused to back down. I told him he couldn’t prove it and his reply was “Well, you can’t disprove it.” When I called him out on this logical fallacy he said “No, you are the one claiming it is not true so the burden of proof is on you.”

I should have walked out and dropped the class that morning.

Asanta, I was thinking the same thing about asking for a refund. As for retaliation, he could, but I don’t think he would. Other than being full of woo he’s a nice guy and doesn’t seem like the type to hold a grudge. What raises my ire me is he is teaching young, impressionable college students dangerous thinking habits, and we are not getting the government education we paid for. This latest example of promoting alternative medicine over science-based medicine is the most egregious example of our professor’s behavior, but far from the only example.

[ Edited: 23 October 2010 03:40 PM by DarronS ]
 Signature 

“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 06:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1396
Joined  2010-04-22

Well, he is teaching a U.S. government class, so if the shoe fits . . .

raspberry

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1071
Joined  2007-06-20

Sorry to hear it.  I guess I Was just trying to give him the benefit of the doubt after what I went through with my Physics Prof. 

If he has tenure you may be out of luck.  But I wouldn’t stop with just the email.  Write a letter to the editor of the campus paper as well as the city newspaper.  If any local TV station has a consumer’s affair segment where they send a reporter out to confront rip offs, you might want to drop them a line, although with so many TV reporters being true believers in woo, try to make sure you get a truly skeptical one if possible. 

You may never change his mind, but using rational arguments in class you might just “plant a seed” in the mind of one of your fellow students so that they eventually become skeptical of such nonsense. 

You could always challenge him to ingest asbestos-laden tobacco from a plutonium container.  grin  If he truly believed he had a cure for cancer (even though it is not one disease), he wouldn’t be scared to do such things.

 Signature 

There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.

—James Madison

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15354
Joined  2006-02-14

That’s terrible. I expect he has tenure, and if so there’s probably not much they can do about him so long as he doesn’t go kill someone. But yes, I do think that informing the Chairman (and maybe a Dean or two?) is a good idea. At least it should become part of his record in case the decision to dismiss him does eventually come up.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 06:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4742
Joined  2007-10-05

This is a community college. I don’t think they have tenure at community college. I just checked, he has only been teaching at this college for four years.

As noted above, I have already sent the department chairman an e-mail. I am going to follow up with the dean and, as suggested, a letter to the district newspaper. At least I can alert other students to steer clear of this professor.

[ Edited: 23 October 2010 03:39 PM by DarronS ]
 Signature 

“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 07:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15354
Joined  2006-02-14
DarronS - 23 October 2010 06:47 AM

This is a community college. I don’t they they have tenure at community college. I just checked, he has only been teaching at this college for four years.

As noted above, I have already sent the department chairman an e-mail. I am going to follow up with the dean and, as suggested, a letter to the district newspaper. At least I can alert other students to steer clear of this professor.

Another background issue here is that if this guy’s standards of evidence are as abysmal as they appear, they may be equally abysmal as regards his own topic of interest. In that case he is perhaps not the sort of person you’d want teaching you about anything ...

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2457
Joined  2008-06-03
dougsmith - 23 October 2010 06:34 AM

I expect he has tenure, and if so there’s probably not much they can do about him so long as he doesn’t go kill someone.

I’m sorry but I did get such a laugh out of that line!  LOL We have a tenured public school teacher I would LOVE to get rid of. My son had her for 1st grade and she was just moved to teaching 5th grade so I’m worried he’ll get her again next year. I’m trying to make sure he does not get her. She raised her voice to the children, and made horrible remarks to parents (in front of the children) about gays, race and other topics. Several parents, each year, try to get this lady an early retirement (she is about that age) but are told “sorry, she has tenure, we can’t do anything.”

Darron - sorry to hear about the nonsense with your professor. Your letter was a great idea and I hope it is well received. Follow up and request a meeting if you do not hear back. In person is often more effective.

 Signature 

Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7664
Joined  2008-04-11
Jules - 23 October 2010 02:07 PM

[She raised her voice to the children, and made horrible remarks to parents (in front of the children) about gays, race and other topics. Several parents, each year, try to get this lady an early retirement (she is about that age) but are told “sorry, she has tenure, we can’t do anything.” .

WOW gulp I wish my union had that kind of power. What does she have to do to get fired….burn a cross on the arms of the kids or have sex with them? If I were to do ANY of those things after a verbal and written warning, I would be out on my ass and probably unemployable….no matter how wonderful my nursing skills are.

 Signature 

Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4742
Joined  2007-10-05

After further consideration and talking this over with my wife, I am going to request a meeting with the department chairman to explain my grievance against this professor, then I’m going to drop the class and take the placement test for credit. I am also thinking of showing to class this coming Friday armed with some research on curcumin and show the class why they should not take the professor’s word for the herb’s efficacy.

 Signature 

“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 06:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7664
Joined  2008-04-11
DarronS - 23 October 2010 06:11 PM

After further consideration and talking this over with my wife, I am going to request a meeting with the department chairman to explain my grievance against this professor, then I’m going to drop the class and take the placement test for credit. I am also thinking of showing to class this coming Friday armed with some research on curcumin and show the class why they should not take the professor’s word for the herb’s efficacy.

Ask for a refund. The class is falsely advertised.

 Signature 

Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4742
Joined  2007-10-05

Yes, I am going to ask for a refund. I probably won’t get it, but I’ll do everything I can and make as much noise as possible even if I have to go to the chancellor and the school board.

There is no excuse for a college professor pushing herbal cancer treatment over proven, tested medical treatment.

 Signature 

“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 08:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5550
Joined  2010-06-16

They’re probably thinking, “Why do we allow mature adults in?  They just stir things up, not like compliant kids who don’t know any better and aren’t aware of their rights.” LOL

Occam

 Signature 

Succinctness, clarity’s core.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 October 2010 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7664
Joined  2008-04-11
DarronS - 23 October 2010 06:30 PM

There is no excuse for a college professor pushing herbal cancer treatment over proven, tested medical treatment.

That is not exactly the point. He was hired for his expertise in history. Even if he had a degree in medicine (which he doesn’t), he was not hired to teach that subject.

 Signature 

Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 3
1