Monday, 2 April 2007

Who cares about standards?

There is a tendency to look the other way, not to get involved. It happens with individuals, it also happens in wider society and its institutions.
Historically universities enjoyed an autonomy that was well deserved in a world often beset with ideologies of the religious and political kind. Yet there also can be a fine line between freedom to act and freedom from standards.
After having contacted the thirty-two heads of Griffith University's schools and/or departments about the matters referred to in the Examiners' report, individuals in the following offices have been informed: the Vice Chancellor's Committee, the Australian Universities Quality Agency, the Carrick Institute, the Federal Department of Education, the Federal Ombudsman's Office, the Queensland Department of Education, and the Queensland Ombudsman's Office.
A couple of them were contacted in the past and had expressed a reluctance to address the issue. Let's see what all of them have to say as an opinion, as of now.
This is the text of the letter:
Dear ...,
I would like to submit the following information regarding questionable behaviour at the School of Information & Communication Technology, Griffith University, Brisbane.
It centres around an evaluation of my honours thesis in 1999, and despite several representations since (including an appeal) none of the contentious points had been addressed nor was a satisfying solution achieved.
To summarise, the examiners of the thesis criticised content that did not even exist, neglected significant passages that did, disregarded established sources of references to suit their agenda, and displayed a profound lack of knowledge about the subject matter.
An overall description can be found on my website [1], the details of their mistakes are listed on another page [2], and certain curious events leading up to the evaluation are mentioned in an open letter to one of the lecturers, Dr Terry Dartnall [3].
Since then I was able to achieve what had been my goal from the very beginning, namely develop a model of the mind as well as design a computer simulation representing a prototype of an artificial mind. The model can be seen as a conceptual tool set that allows human behaviour to be analysed from the scale of an individual up to society at large. Although the endeavour was successful, since its completion in August 2003 my lack of professional status presented a very real obstacle to getting the work to a wider audience.
The difficulties are not merely restricted to the personal level. As can be seen on one of the web pages [4], since 2003 there are now over 140 events from politics to science which confirm the validity of the mind model. One particularly pertinent example would be the Iraq war, the seriousness of which had been ascertained from the very beginning. See my comments on the Iraq Study Group Report [5]. Regardless of one's political persuasion the global dangers and the sheer costs evoked by such an ill-considered adventure should not have to be emphasised.
I feel the performance by certain persons at Griffith is inexcusable; moreover, the continued silence by the very people involved is nothing less than shameful. This letter is not designed as a request for action by your office. Rather, I wanted to bring this matter to your attention.
Yours sincerely, etc.

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