When the facts get in the way

18th February 2005 at 00:00
As Dr James Conroy's head of department, I feel it is my duty politely to disabuse my former colleague, Professor Stephen Baron, of the unfortunate delusions to which he has fallen prey since he left the employ of Glasgow University.

The curious edifice of false dichotomies and conspiracy theories raised up by Professor Baron may feel compelling within the novelistic fictions of The Da Vinci Code but it has, alas, no foundation in the truth of Dr Conroy's appointment as dean-designate of the university's education faculty, in which neither the Vatican nor "denominational contexts" played any role whatsoever.

Professor Baron suggests that enquirers into this episode adopt the viewpoint of the "disinterested observer" and he is to be commended for the soundness of this methodology. However, as Professor Baron himself no doubt continues to counsel his research students, it is the task of the observer thus positioned to gather evidence in support of a hypothesis and to formulate only those conclusions the observable data will support.

Unless limitations of space have prevented him from presenting the full range of his findings (in which case, let him submit them in full for peer review), I suggest Professor Baron faces up to the disconfirmation of his alarming but ultimately groundless interpretation of events.

Robert A Davis Head of Department of Religious Education University of Glasgow

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