The University of Colorado Boulder is home of Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) and Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN). In climate science, there is no equal.
So it is particularly insulting that a decade-long drive to apply political litmus tests for professors formerly hired based on their research has paid off with the affirmative action hire of a prominent climate denier to “balance out” the “liberal bias” of… well, science:
[Steven] Hayward is perhaps best known, however, for his An Inconvenient Truth…Or Convenient Fiction?, a documentary film that served as a “point-by-point PowerPoint rebuttal” of Al Gore’s 2006 movie about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth.
Now, Hayward at least admits the existence of warming, but he's also one of the main flackers of the "climategate" hit-job and offered $10,000 for any climate scientist to write a 10,000 word article on the weakness of climate change science. He's also spent a lot of time working for Scaif and industry funded think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute.
What makes this such a dangerous precedent is that until now, professors were hired based on merit. But conservatives have learned that when it comes to objective reality, they can’t compete in the free-market. The only way a conservative can be a creationist and a biology professor is to change the emphasis to what is “balanced” and “objective” rather than what’s factual and true.
All one needs to do to see where that path leads is take a look at journalism. Once journalists became more concerned with being “balanced” than reporting the truth, Fred Hiatt could justify giving George Will free reign to make stuff up, the New York Times could give a coveted reporter spot to Judy Miller, centrists faced with the fact of asymmetry are forced to perform the most absurd mental gymnastics to blame both sides.
Once a university is expected to hire based on political partisan leanings rather than a diversity of scholarship or quality of research, conservatives can start ramming climate deniers, creationists and gold-standard economists through the door. We’ll need a southern-apologist view of Civil War history to balance ethnic studies. Why isn’t anyone on staff at the hospital a believer in the link between abortion and breast cancer? Where’s the holocaust denier in the history department?
Hiring should be done as it is now: based on one’s publications, work history and merit. In journalism we’ve already seen what happens when we stop following the facts, recording the truth, or letting reality rather than some unobtainable centrist ideal be our guide.