December 02, 2005

Wrathful Dispersion Theory

Q Pheevr takes up the latest educational controversy:

Linguists here in Canada have been following closely, with a mixture of amusement, bemusement, and, it must be admitted, a little trepidation, the deliberations of our neighbours to the south, who are currently considering, in a courtroom in Pennsylvania, whether "Wrathful Dispersion Theory," as it is called, should be taught in the public schools alongside evolutionary theories of historical linguistics. It is an emotionally charged question, for linguistics is widely and justifiably seen as the centrepiece of the high-school science curriculum—a hard science, but not a difficult one to do in the classroom; an area of study that teaches students the essentials of scientific reasoning, but that at the same time touches on the spiritual essence of what it means to be human, for it is of course language that separates us from our cousins the apes.

You should go read the whole essay now. Although we urged linguists to boycott the hearings on "Intelligent Design", we can't in good conscience fail to respond to the challenge of the "Wrathful Dispersion" movement, especially since some of its supporters have been weaving quotes from Language Log into their arguments.

Posted by Mark Liberman at December 2, 2005 06:59 PM