Penn State’s Course in Denial

Armed only with facts and logic, one philosopher debates Dr. Terry Engelder, Mack Daddy of the Marcellus

Wendy Lynne Lee has made a career out of her deep commitment to social justice. As a professor at Bloomsburg University, Dr. Lee enjoys challenging her students’ assumptions, “equipping them with critical thinking skills, and offering them new and exciting ideas about, well, everything under the Sun.” Lee has been an outspoken critic of Fracking in posts on her blog, The Meaning of a Philosophical Life.

There’s simply no such thing as safe fracking,” she asserts in a January post about Governor Corbett’s penchant for leasing state forest land to gas drillers. “When most of the talk of how much gas is extractible, how many jobs, how safe, how profitable, how transitional an energy source, and how minimal a contributor to climate change has proven to be either exaggerated or patently false, why on earth would we continue to pursue this reckless course?

Secret Emails & Shameless Gas Promotion
Recently, on the progressive website Raging Chicken Press, Dr. Lee wrote about her email exchange with Penn State geology professor Dr. Terry Engelder in a post entitled The Unholy Alliance of Big Energy, Big University, Big State: My Exchange with Terry Engelder.

Dr. Engelder concedes that he was intentionally baiting anti-fracking academicians, whom he labels “intolerant fundamentalists,” when he referred to the Youngstown Ohio New Year’s Eve earthquakes “reporters’ flavor of the month” in a January listserv email distributed under his auspices at Penn State. Dr. Lee mindfully threw down with him, then chronicled the ensuing dialogue. The emails they exchanged, however, are not included in the post, at Engelder’s staunch insistence.

Lee speculates that his reticence is because he’s “a tad bit embarrassed.” She cites a recent conclusion drawn by This American Life reporter, Sarah Koenig, “He believes he’s had an opportunity only a handful of scientists get, to influence the course of history. He compared himself to Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk.

Apparently, Engelder feels he has risen above the swelling ranks of his critics. Indeed, what he calls “symbiosis between the gas industry and Penn State” many others, like Lee, say exemplifies the Corporatization of American Education. What makes his exchange with Lee so fascinating is that she uses sound reasoning to demonstrate how, by “tamping down the facts,” Engelder turns higher education into indoctrination.

Fascinating, yes, but not purely academic when one considers that the salary of this artful propagandist is paid with Pennsylvania tax dollars. Like the Raging Chicken says: If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.

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One Response to “Penn State’s Course in Denial”

  1. Wendy Lynne Lee Says:

    Wow! Thank you so much for this generous exposure to my piece on my exchange with Professor terry Engelder. The more we can do to expose the corrupt relationships between the Corbett government, the agents of the state, the complicit universities, and their morally and intellectually compromised faculty representatives, the more we can do to at least slow down and gum up the works of this fracking train. And we MUST try–the stakes are literally our lives, the integrity of our ecologies, the welfare of our animals, the survival of the endangered species tom which Pennsylvania froests are home–and a rural way of life that’s been sold to the frackers–and sold out by the deluded–like Engelder.

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