Intolerance in Academia Takes the Life of a Darwin Skeptic

by Jerry Bergman, PhD

Things are much worse since the publication of Slaughter of the Dissidents: The Shocking Truth About Killing the Careers of Darwin Doubters. (2008. Revised version 2012. Southworth, WA: Leafcutter Press.  482 pp.) 


Michael S. Adams

A concern raised with the first edition of this book was the use of the term slaughter in the title. I referred to the fact that careers and lives were slaughtered. I am also aware of several murders and suicides which were not included because I lacked detailed information about the case. The Adams case is an exception and was added because I have a wealth of information.


In a 2009 story about Michael Scott Adams (October 30, 1964 – July 23, 2020), Marvin Olasky wrote, “Mike Adams is a rarity at a secular university—an outspoken Christian and a conservative with tenure.” 1 Olasky adds that he is “probably the most outspoken Christian conservative professor in the United States now teaching at a state university.” 2 In his interview with Olasky, Adams related in detail the hostile environment existing at a public University.

The story ends with the academic world literally driving him to suicide at least according to the police report. Others have made a case that it was murder, noting that it is curious why someone facing retirement in a few weeks with a huge settlement over five years would suddenly take their own life. The fact is “As public and as vilified a figure as Mike had become, foul play was unfortunately a possibility.” 3

Adams had a long history of experiencing a hostile work place. As far back as 2009, “When it became known that I was a registered Republican and conservative Christian, they didn’t like me … Now it’s ratcheted up.” His experience shows again that the iron intolerance again at this university is not uncommon. Adams closed the interview with “it’s open season on Christians and conservatives on campus. I’ve referred to UNC [University of North Carolina] as the University of No Conscience, and also the University of No Christians.” This designation also appears to apply to the university where Adams taught. It is also supported by the research in this book.

The Problem of Discrimination

In an examination of over 150 college departments and upper-level administrations at 32 elite colleges and universities, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture found that the ratio of registered Democrats to registered Republicans was more than 10 to 1 (1,397 Democrats compared to 134 Republicans). In the nation as a whole, registered Democrats and Republicans are “roughly equal in number, yet not a single department at any of the 32 schools managed to achieve anything even remotely approaching parity between the two. The closest any school came to parity was Northwestern University, where 80 percent of the faculty members were registered Democrats and a mere 20 percent were registered Republicans.” At some of the other schools researched, the ratio of Democrat to Republican faculty was as follows:

  • Brown University: 30 to 1
  • Bowdoin College: 23 to 1
  • Wellesley College: 23 to 1
  • Swarthmore College: 21 to 1
  • Amherst College: 18 to 1
  • Bates College: 18 to 1
  • Columbia University: 14 to 1
  • Yale University: 14 to 1
  • University of Pennsylvania: 12 to 1
  • Tufts University: 12 to 1
  • UCLA: 12 to 1
  • UC Berkeley: 12 to 1
  • Smith College: 11 to 1

At four colleges the researchers could not identify a single Republican on the faculty:

  • Williams College: 51 Democrats, 0 Republicans
  • Oberlin College: 19 Democrats, 0 Republicans
  • MIT: 17 Democrats, 0 Republicans
  • Haverford College: 15 Democrats, 0 Republicans

Another study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs found that “American academia is overwhelmingly dominated by liberal secularists” and this fact systematically proves bias [against conservatives and religious persons] in the hiring and promotion of faculty members.” 4

According to Gallop polls, about 80% of Americans believe in some form of creationism in contrast to only 3% of leading science academics. 5 Another study found 40% of all Americans accept the view that humans did not evolve from some ape ancestor, but rather God created mankind in his present form no longer than about 10,000 years ago. The study found, of biology professors, only 0.02% accepted this view. Professors Lang and Rice wrote “Over 150 years after On the Origin of Species – less than 20% of Americans accept that humans evolved by natural and unguided processes… It’s hard to think of any other discipline at odds with the mainstream scientific consensus.” 6

Thus, fully 80 percent of Americans reject the evolution worldview. In contrast, the latest Pew research study found 97% of the academic scientific community accepted unguided evolution as the dominant scientific theory, not only of human origins, but of all biological diversity. Among Nobel Prize laureates, both in the sciences, and in literature, exists a very high degree of irreligiosity compared to the populations in which they were reared as children. 7

A survey by Professor Larson and Journalist Witham published in the world’s leading science magazine, Science, found 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), America's most elite body of academic scientists, are agnostics or atheists, and only 7% believe in a personal God. 8 This is close to the exact reverse of the figures for the American public as a whole. This difference in the American public and college professors is also reflected in party affiliation. A recent Gallup poll found 60% of Republicans, 40% of independents, and only 38% of Democrats self-identify as creationists. 9

In contrast, of the 534 members of the 2019 U.S. Congress 471 (88%) listed themselves as Christians (72 as Baptists, 42 as Methodists, and 26 each as Anglican, Presbyterian and Lutheran). A total of 80 were listed as unspecified, and 18 refused to answer. A survey analysis noted many atheists and agnostics are in this latter group. Thus, the Pew study found that Congress is religiously a very close cross section of the American population. The largest contrast was there is a significantly greater percentage of Catholics in Congress compared to the U.S. population (31 percent vs. 21 percent). In short, college faculty are politically and religiously totally unlike either the American public or the U.S. Congress.

Professor Adams’s Educational Background

Adams earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology, and a doctorate in sociology from Mississippi State University, where he was a member of Sigma Chi. After he was awarded his doctorate in 1993, Adams, then an atheist, was hired by UNC-Wilmington to teach criminal justice. Later, in 1998, Adams abandoned his atheism, and also nearly abandoned teaching when he took a leave of absence to study law at UNC-Chapel Hill.

After returning to UNC-Wilmington, Adams was awarded the Faculty Member of the Year by the Office of the Dean of Students for the second time in 2000. He was a very popular and excellent teacher. After his involvement in a well-publicized free speech controversy, Adams became a vocal critic of the skin color and sex diversity movement in academia. He repeatedly faced problems for his thoughts, many of which most non-academics would agree with. 10

For example, when university cost-cutting programs were discussed, he wrote “Don't shut down the universities. Shut down the non-essential majors. Like Women's Studies.” The University of North Carolina Wilmington responded with, “These comments may be protected, but that is not an excuse for how vile they are. We stand firmly against these and all other expressions of hatred.” This is hardly an expression of hatred, and his opinions are shared by a lot of other people. 11 His many friends vehemently declared he was not in any way a racist, a woman hater [“misogynist”] or the other names he was called that are common used today against certain conservatives.

Dr. Adams has since made appearances on HannityThe O’Reilly Factor, and the Glenn Beck Program radio show. His first book, Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel, was published in 2004. His second book, Feminists Say the Darndest Things: A Politically Incorrect Professor Confronts “Womyn” On Campus, was published in 2008. In addition to lecturing on the First Amendment, Adams was actively involved in legal challenges to campus censorship.

Represented by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), he won a landmark First Amendment case before the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. 12 In this case, which the University lost, it cost them over 700,000 dollars and dragged on for 7 years. 13 Decided in 2011, Adams v. UNCW held that professors publishing columns and giving speeches have the full protection of the First Amendment when discussing matters of public concern. 14 Hence, for annual review, tenure, or promotion materials, the university does not have license to discriminate on the basis of the professor’s viewpoint. His case was widely regarded as a victory for academic freedom. 15

Opposes Evolution and Supports Creation

The creation issue often comes up in Adams’ writing. He devoted an entire chapter on the subject in his book on academia. 16 This chapter responded to Texas Tech University biology professor Michael Dini who noted that medicine was “first rooted in the practice of magic … until it was replaced by science.” 17 Dini then wrote that biology is the “science most important to the study of medicine” adding evolution “as the ‘central, unifying principal of biology,’ which includes both micro- and macroevolution and that applies to all species” including humans. 18 Dini then opined, without citing any evidence, that someone who rejects “the most important theory in biology cannot properly practice medicine” and physicians who ignore “Darwinism are prone to making bad clinical decisions.” This rationale was given as his reason for refusing to write a letter of recommendation for a pre-med honor student. He admitted all of the details of human evolution were not yet known, but human evolution from some evolutionary ape ancestor is a proven “fact.” 19

Adams responded to this event by advising that, instead of suing, demand specific proof of the assertion that the origin of all species can be traced to primordial soup. 20 Professor Adams, in harmony with his [Adams’]own advice, asked Dr. Dini for proof. The response was silence. Adams concluded that biology “has been hampered by the widespread and uncritical acceptance of Darwinian principles.” 21

After Adams wrote a column “criticizing the theory of evolution” he received a note in his college mailbox that said, “God is only a theory and evolution is a fact” to which he answered by noting that Darwin himself called his idea, not fact, but “my theory.” 22 Adams’s response, instead of humbling her, only made her mad. 23 One fact about Adams’ that has not received much attention

was his strong support for the fair treatment of students on his campus and elsewhere. The first state law guaranteeing students the right to counsel in campus disciplinary matters was passed in North Carolina in 2013 as a result of the procedural abuses aimed by UNCW (yep, them again) at the SAE fraternity chapter on campus. Mike’s help was invaluable in supporting that effort and other right-to-counsel laws, which you can read about in this 2018 article co-authored by Mike and fellow professor and due process stalwart KC Johnson of Brooklyn College. If your son or daughter ends up getting accused of some campus offense and actually has the right to hire an attorney or other advisor to stand with him or her at the hearing (a right that was vanishingly rare before 2013), Mike Adams deserves a share of the credit. 24

Harassment Rears Its Ugly Head Again

In June 2020, public pressure to remove Adams from his tenured teaching arose from a Facebook group named Justice for UNCW [University of North Carolina Women] which soon had 8,000 followers. Two petitions called for Adams’ removal from his tenured position. 25 Then actor Orlando Jones joined the call to fire Adams. 26 The most serious violation presented was as follows:

In a May 29 Twitter post, Adams wrote, “This evening, I ate pizza and drank beer with six guys at a six seat table top. I almost felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina. Massa Cooper, let my people go!”

Many saw the use of the racially insensitive slave master term as offensive and demanded that he be fired by the university.

Adams previously defended his post to WECT, saying the slave master analogy he was making had to do with the Governor’s [Democratic governor Roy Cooper’s] oppression during the shutdown, not race. 27

The result of the comment, one expressed by large numbers of people as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, was the following petition signed by 267 professors and graduate students claiming that he had violated the UNC system code.

“We, the undersigned, wish to join the thousands of people calling on you to do the right thing and all of the UNCW students, past and present, who are demanding that you champion justice and equality at your institution. It is time that UNCW no longer pays lip service to the ideals of inclusion and anti-racism - it is time for UNCW to demonstrate, through action, a TRUE and sincere commitment to your “moral obligation to stand up against acts of hatred and violence.” 28

The professors and graduate students from across the United States petition in part claimed, "Professor Adams hides behind the veil of 'free speech,' but through his rhetoric on Twitter and his column he has harassed, threatened, and spread hateful speech against students and faculty." 29 After reading a number of his opinions, including his concerns about Darwinism, it is clear that claims of racism and hate are grossly irresponsible accusations. Even if such claims were true, his speech should have been protected under laws governing censorship. Laws are not needed to protect uncontroversial speech. Nonetheless, ignoring free speech laws, the university caved into the demands. As a result, Adams was forced to retire effective on August 1, 2020. He was to receive a settlement of $504,702.76 to be paid out over the course of 5 years to cover his lost salary and retirement benefits. 30 The dean noted that he had three choices:

1) Have him continue as a faculty member and accept the ongoing disruption to our educational mission, the hurt and anger in the UNCW community, and the damage to the institution. 2) Attempt to terminate him, and face drawn out, very costly litigation, that we might not win, which was the case when Dr. Adams sued UNCW and won a First Amendment retaliation lawsuit in 2014. That legal process lasted 7 years and cost the university roughly $700,000, $615,000 of which was for Dr. Adams’ attorneys’ fees. Losing a similar lawsuit today could cost even more. 3) Negotiate a settlement when, as part of a conversation with me about his conduct and future at UNCW …. This approach allows us to resolve the situation quickly, with certainty, and in the most fiscally responsible way. This is the best option for our university and our community." 31

Actually, he had a fourth choice: Defend Professor Adams’ academic freedom, and stress the need for tolerance for creationists, Christians, conservatives, and Republicans. Ideally, the dean could have required his faculty to attend seminars on tolerance. I have not read every word Adams wrote, though I have read two of his books and many of his e-mails and tweets, and, based on what I have read, it is clear that political correctness has claimed yet another victim. He was only age 55 when he died. Ms. Esther O’Reilly, an American writer and conservative cultural critic said this about Mike:

Let Mike’s death be a warning. Let his life be an inspiration for those who knew him as he was: a flawed but good man, a generous friend, a gentlemanly foe, and a quintessential American conservative. He is mourned. He is missed. He will not be forgotten. 32

Other comments are clear: “Loved Adams when I had him [as a professor], he definitely kept these kinds of comments to himself when he taught me. But reading those reports of what he has said... there's NO EXCUSE for that.” And another comment: “Don't know what all these negative votes are about; Prof. Adams is the best.” The open hate against him is clear. Check out the gleeful comments about his death and the ghoulish celebrations about his end, beginning while his body was practically still warm: “The man is sick. What doesn't tenure protect???” 33 However, his many very positive student comments on are clearly superlative and illustrates why he was twice given the Deans’ Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Mike Adams - University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC
Professor: Mike Adams
Department: Criminal Justice

Best teacher I have had in four years of college. He will give you accurate information, and his lectures are very engaging. Wish he taught more courses; we need more teachers like him.

Dr. Adams is a phenomenal professor although he only has three grades, leaving little room for error; he is a great guy and will make you laugh. Very good class.

This class is a bit more difficult and requires a lot of reading. You need to really understand the material to do well on the tests. If you are interesting in law school I would highly recommend this class. Dr. Adams is one of the best professors at UNCW and knows the subject matter very well. Lectures are very interesting.

Dr. Adams is by far my favorite professor at UNCW. I loved his class! His lectures are not boring at all, he's so funny and animated throughout his class. His tests can be hard if you don't take good notes, but overall his class was pretty easy. Love him so much, highly recommend any class he is teaching!

Professor Adams is by far the best professor I've ever had. His class is amazing and he makes sure you know the material and can apply it to different situations. The book is very important to help clarify any questions you may have. I would recommend making flash cards for the test with the rules each case established on the back.

Hilarious and smart as they come. This man is the best professor at UNCW. Hands down. Super nice guy!

Not only is Mike Adams a great professor, but this class is just really fun. The cases and content of this class are bizarre but very entertaining. There are three tests that only consist of 10 questions but if you prepare, you should be fine. Would recommend to all.

He makes us like know facts and stuff and that's not totally fair. But I still like liked him and stuff cause he was funny.

DO NOT TAKE if you're not a great test taker!! Your grade is solely based on three tests. Each worth 33% of your final grade. All of the tests are 10 questions true or false when you are learning so much more. He won't tell you what the test will be on or the specifics. I was afraid to ask questions but if you ask the "wrong thing" he won't answer.

Amazing professor. He knows his stuff and gives outstanding lectures. Show up and pay attention to what he says and take good notes and you will no doubt succeed. DOES NOT TALK POLITICS in the classroom. Do not be late, and read the syllabus thoroughly but if you ask a question that’s on it he will print you a new syllabus hot off the press. 10/10[?]

Don't be caught up in what you have heard, his politics don't enter the classroom. Currently in law school and only his courses adequately prepared me for the legal classroom. No matter what some say, he cares about his students and he is always there to help. Criminal procedure and Evidence can’t be missed. He is also a pun master.

Simply amazing and inspirational. I recommend EVERYONE take at least one of his classes. You won't regret it.

Mike Adams is a wonderful professor. I would take him again in a heartbeat.

Extremely intelligent guy, really knows the material. He has a reputation for being a STRICT conservative and writing controversial articles, but he never brings it into the classroom (smart man). I definitely recommend taking him if you really want to learn. I took Law of Evidence which was really difficult but enjoyable because of his personality.

I think Dr. Adams is the best professor I have ever had. I have had him multiple times, and I would take him more if I weren't graduating so soon. Attendance is a MUST; he hates tardiness, and there is no homework. He only has 3 tests, but if you really take notes and pay attention you'll do fine. He is such a knowledgeable prof and a nice guy.

I took Mike Adams' class because I read his articles and heard about how horrific he was. And the truth is that he is by far the best professor I've ever had. He is hysterically funny and ridiculously smart. He cares about his students and if you make an effort, he duly notes it. This class alone made me want to go into law. Highly recommend him.

I ended up making a B in the class, but I struggled a little bit because I should have taken more CRM classes before taking CRM 381. He is a great teacher though and he is always entertaining. Literally the nicest guy I have ever met.

Dr. Adams is an amazing professor! He is clear about what he expects from you. He's funny & does a great job making boring material interesting with funny stories that make the material understandable! Show up, be ready to read and take detailed notes & if you do that & study hard, then you will do great! He's so smart; he's incredible to learn from!

1 Olasky, Marvin. 2009. “Odd Man In.” World. November 26, pp. 26-28.

2 Olasky, 2009, p. 26.

3 Shibley, Robert. 2020. In Memoriam: Professor Mike Adams, 1964-2020.

4 Price, Joyce Howard.2005. “Study Finds Liberals Dominate Faculties, Most Don’t Go To Church.” The Washington Times. April 4, pp. 1, 23.

6 Lang, Gregory I. and Amber M. Rice. 2019. Evolution unscathed: Darwin Devolves argues on weak reasoning the unguided evolution is a destructive force, incapable of innovation. Evolution, March 13.

7 Beit-Hallahmi, B. 1988. The religiosity and religious affiliation of Nobel prize winners. Unpublished data. See also Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi and Michael Argyle. 1997. The Psychology of Religious Behaviour, Belief and Experience. London & New York: Routledge.

8 Larson, Edward J. and Larry Witham. 1998. Leading scientists still reject God. Nature, 394:313. July 23.

9 Newport, Frank. 2008. Republicans much more likely than Democrats to believe humans created as-is 10,000 years ago, June 20.

10 Friedersdorf, C. 2015. “Stripping a Professor of Tenure Over a Blog Post,” The Atlantic, February 9.

11 "UNCW issues statement after professor tweets controversial statements," WWAY TV, June 5, 2020; retrieved July 24, 2020.

13Amici Curiae Brief of FIRE, et al., in Adams v. Trustees of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington,” Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. July 2, 2010,

14 Adams, M. 2015. Academic Freedom on Trial: Adams v. UNCW and the Welcome Erosion of Garcetti, Academic Questions 28(1):54–65. February 10.

15 Bonilla, P. 2019. “Two Victories for Academic Freedom,” Academic Quest 32:169–177. Summer.

16 Adams, Mike. 2004. Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel. Confessions of a Conservative College Professor. Augusta, GA: Harbor House.

17 Adams, 2004, pp. 90-91.

18 Adams, 2004, p. 91.

19 Adams, 2004, p. 93.

20 Adams, 2004, p. 94.

21 Adams, 2004, p. 94.

22 Adams, Mike. 2013. Letters to a Young Progressive: How to Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don’t Understand. New York: Regnery, p. 171.

23 Adams, Mike. 2004. Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel: Confessions of a Conservative College Professor. Boyne City, MI: Harbor House.

24 Shibley, Robert. 2020. In Memoriam: Professor Mike Adams, 1964-2020.

25 Fowler, H., 2020. "Petition demands firing of NC professor for 'racist' tweets on George Floyd protesters," The News & Observer, June 5, 2020; updated June 7.

26 Weller, F., 2020. "Actor Orlando Jones lashes out at UNCW for failing to fire Mike Adams," WECT News 6. June 13.

29 Weller, F., 2020. "Hundreds of criminology professors, grad students join nationwide call for UNCW to fire Mike Adams," WECT News 6. June 15.

30 Jaschik, S. 2020. "University Paid $504,000 to Get Rid of Professor," Inside Higher Ed. July 6.

31 Sartarelli J. 2020. “Message from Chancellor Sartarelli re: UNCW Statement July 2, 2020,” UNCW News. July 2.,-2020.html.

32 O’Reilly, E. 2020. “Cancelled To Death: The Mike Adams I Knew,” The American Conservative, July 30.

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