Intellectual monocultures

I came across an article that I’ve been thinking about for a few days. I thought I would simply post some thoughts. They may not be well-formed, and my views could certainly change. I should say that I got it from a tweet by Tom Levenson, who posted a bit of a Tweet storm about it. He also had a Tweet storm about Andy Revkin’s interview with William Happer, that is worth reading.

Anyway, I’m already off-track. The article that I’ve been pondering is called the threat from within. It’s about a speech by John Etchemendy, former Provost of Stanford, in which he discusses threats to universities. The bit that stuck me was the following

But I’m actually more worried about the threat from within. Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.

There are some things I agree with. I think universities are places where our views should be challenged. They should also be places where we encourage people to have interests beyond their own narrow domains. We should want to think about the world around us and be exposed to a wide range of different views. However, I think the above is a far too simplistic view of the issues and conflates many different, and largely unrelated, issues.

A key aspect of a university is, obviously, research. A goal of research is to understand the system being studied, ideally in a way that minimises the impact of biases, or personal opinions/views. Typically research involves collecting information about the system being studied, analysing that information, developing models of the system, and rejecting those that don’t fit the information collected. In the physical sciences, there is often an expectation that we can use this information to constrain our understanding and, in many cases, can constrain our understanding quite tightly. In other words, there is an expectation that we might eventually develop an understanding about which there is overwhelming agreement. This is not a bad thing and, in some sense, is the goal.

Maybe in other areas, this is not necessarily the case. There may well be systems for which it is not possible to develop a well-defined understanding about which everyone would agree. However, it still seems that the understanding of such systems should be constrained by the information available. If there isn’t a single well-defined understanding, does that mean that the information simply can’t constrain our understanding, or does it mean that the information actually indicates that there are indeed multiple valid understandings. Something that has always bothered me about disciplines that are heterogeneous is that it’s not clear if this is because those involved are being strongly influenced by their ideologies, or because the data is actually consistent with these various interpretations.

Of course there will always be people who challenge our current understanding. This is a good thing. However, a well-developed understanding can often be built up over a long period of time, and can involve an enormous amount of information. Challenging such an understanding is therefore very likely to be difficult and, in many cases, is more likely to be wrong than right. Therefore, even though we should accept that some will challenge consensus views, there’s no real reason to embrace it, or give it any special place. Those challenging accepted views need to do the work of convincing others; it’s meant to be, and should be, difficult. If it were easy, it would probably indicate that our original understanding was not very robust.

Those are my thoughts for the moment. As I said at the beginning, this is mainly something I’ve just been pondering. I do think that universities should be places where our views can be challenged, and so preventing people from speaking is something that should typically be avoided (with some exceptions). However, the criticism of intellectual monocultures within some disciplines, in my view, ignores that the goal of research is to develop, and constrain, our understanding. A high-level of agreement more likely indicates that a consistent picture has developed, rather than indicating some kind of fundamental problem with that discipline. Academics love arguing with each other, so even if there is a strong agreement about the basics, they’ll almost certainly still be fighting about the details.

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117 Responses to Intellectual monocultures

  1. I don’t think this post is all that coherent, so apologies. Something I had intended to include, but didn’t manage, was a discussion about problems in research areas. What seems common is to take what is a real problem (such as the replication crisis in psychology) and blindly apply it to all research areas; ignoring that there is vast difference between how research is undertaken in some disciplines compared to the others. The article above seems to do something similar; using what might be a genuine concern (preventing some views from being expressed on campus) to imply a problem within academia as a whole, including within research areas. Universities are complex organisations, and such simple inferences are unlikely to capture all this complexity.

  2. I think there is a question regarding monoculture versus advancement of science: So, if you consider the difficulties that might arise if a state univ research professor tried to receive grant-funding for science to produce evidence that theory of evolution is completely wrong, I think there would be trouble. Most of this research “science” is taking place in private religious colleges. I think it’s simply a non-starter in a state-funded university. A couple of questions arise:

    Am I right that this kind of research is impossible to support in a state-funded (reality-based) university?

    Does this create an intellectual monoculture? Is the dearth of studies to show the earth is flat and only thousands of years old a form of censorship and intellectual monoculture?

    There are reasons why the tobacco industry had to fund its own studies regarding the dangers of cigarettes. I don’t think any health science university was likely to run studies and research designed in the manner that the tobacco industry liked.

    It’s one thing to work to create a better mousetrap or to study how mousetrap works, it’s another to devote your life’s work to showing that mousetraps don’t catch mice.

  3. Joshua says:

    =={ A key aspect of a university is, obviously, research. A goal of research is to understand the system being studied, ideally in a way that minimises the impact of biases, or personal opinions/views. }==

    Along similar lines, a goal of the academy, speaking generally, should be the presentation of analysis that is produced after a systematic approach to considering the impact of bias, personal opinion, etc., Of course, opinions should be presented as well, but when an academic of such stature is presenting such a broad characterization of academe, in such a public and politicized forum and context, I would think that basic consideration of alternative views should be at least acknowledged.

    So…

    Etchemendy says:

    I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for.

    I would like to know how Etchemendy sees greater tolerance along racial, ethnic, or gender lines without, apparently, considering those phenomena as in any way directly related to his observation of a growth in “intellectual intolerance…political one-sidedness.”

    If we agree that problems can grow out a lack of “intellectual” or “political” diversity on campuses.

    That said, I think it is reasonable, and actually important, to at least consider whether one person’s lack of “political diversity” reflects person’s increased political enfranchisement. By what measure is an increased racial, ethnic, and gender diversity reconciled with an observation of an increase in “intellectual monocultures.” If right-wingers have been disinvited from speaking engagements, at least in part because the viewpoints African Americans or LGBTQ’s have increasingly been a part of the decision-making process of who speaks on college campuses, is that evidence of “growing intolerance at universities?”

    I don’t know. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. But it is troubling to me to see such a facile engagement with the issues at hand, one which creates a false distinction between racial/ethnic/gender diversity and intellectual diversity.

    And to compound the problem, Etchemendy flat out ignores the political context of his speech, as an influential figure associated with an influential university within a society where “political correctness” and “free speech on campuses” are highly politicized topics, to decry the “amplification” of “political views” .., because, doncha know, to do so would “violate” one of the Academy’s “core missions.”

    Sameosameo.

  4. RickA says:

    What many of the University protest groups want today is a safe space from free speech.

    Truly appalling.

  5. Rick,

    What many of the University protest groups want today is a safe space from free speech.

    Truly appalling.

    Alternatively, they want the right to protest? Also, the point of my post was that even if this is a valid issue, it doesn’t imply a general intolerance. That some disciplines tend to agree about many of the fundamentals related to their area doesn’t suggest an intolerance to alternatives; it’s more likely that the evidence largely precludes the alternatives.

  6. Joshua says:

    Yes. Indeed, RickA.

    What those groups want is to limit free speech. You nailed it.

    Just like Anders’ moderation policy. He wants to limit the free speech of “skeptics.”

    It is clearly just another example of the nexus between totalitarianism and leftist ideology. What we need are more rightwingers on campus, not this intolerance and monocultures that we have now.

    If only we could go back to the good old days, say 40 years ago, when there was so much diversity in the voices heard on campus, and where rightwingers could post comments on whatever blog they wanted.

  7. Joshua,
    I think you’re making a point that always bothers. People who criticise research disciplines for not – supposedly – being rigorous enough, but who do so in a way that lacks any rigour.

  8. smallbluemike says: “Am I right that this kind of [creation] research is impossible to support in a state-funded (reality-based) university?

    True creation research is probably not possible, that would be saying here is problem that cannot be solved so I invoke a deity to make some arbitrary tweaks. That would not be a falsification hypothesis. To accept that as a “solution” would be the end of science.

    Research that is critical of evolution is naturally possible. You also do not know the answer in advance, thus the proposal does not state: “We will destroy Darwinism”. It will state: “This is an interested problem.”

  9. It is clearly just another example of the nexus between totalitarianism and leftist ideology.

    You might get that impression because contrary to the precious authoritarian snowflakes people on the left do not make such a fuss about decisions universities have the freedom to make. The typically conservative management of universities, trying to appease conservative donors, also disinvite left wing people.

  10. Nick Stokes says:

    Here is one legislative proposal for combatting the monoculture.

  11. Nick,
    Wow, that is amazing. So, if you want a faculty job, just register with the part that is currently under-represented. Presumably, once they’ve hired you, you can always change back.

  12. Susan Anderson says:

    Funny thing, in the good ole US of A, there is a move on to register faculty political affiliations and enforce a “more equal” representation in hiring. Do you think re-inviting Milo Yiannopoulis will make this OK?

    Fact is, the truth *does* have a liberal bias. And in general, people with an open cast of mind, liberal thinkers in particular, are fond of fighting with each other rather than the real enemies. There’s a kind of unilateral disarmament going on; get the money out of politics on the Democratic side and let Republican far right kleptocrats and haters have the bank.

  13. Mark Bofill says:

    Anders,

    (this part is pointless, just thought it was funny)

    There may well be systems for which it is not possible to develop a well-defined understanding about which everyone would agree. However, it still seems that the understanding of such systems should be constrained by the information available. If there isn’t a single well-defined understanding, does that mean that the information simply can’t constrain our understanding, or does it mean that the information actually indicates that there are indeed multiple valid understandings.

    LOL. Forcefully reminded me of this old Big Bang Theory episode (The Codpiece Topology)

    …Leslie: You agree with me, right, loop quantum gravity is the future of physics.
    Leonard: Sorry Leslie, I guess I prefer my space stringy not loopy.
    Leslie: Well, I’m glad I found out the truth about you before this went any further.
    Leonard: Truth, what truth? We’re talking about untested hypotheses, uh, it’s no big deal.
    Leslie: Oh, it isn’t, really? Tell me Leonard, how would we raise the children?…

    I’m no sort of academic or physicist; not making a point with this. It’s just a sitcom. Just thought it was amusing.

    (this part contains what I’ve got to seriously say)
    So – I’m a right wing, conservative, so on and so forth, such-and-so. I find great value in talking with my buddy Joshua here, not despite the fact that we have radically different world views but specifically because of it. (Well, that’s not the only virtue of talking with the man, but) It’s not something I tolerate, that I get to talk with Joshua. Rather, I view it as a privilege that I try very hard to selfishly protect. This is because I believe (and I might be full of it, but) that it really makes no difference where you are standing on the landscape. By virtue of the fact that one stands in some spot, some things are clearer than others from that point of view. Some things can be very well, some less well. Some things cannot be see at all from a given spot.
    Joshua (and people unlike myself in perspective) help me see.
    How does this analogy map to the subject? Heck I don’t know, exactly. Does this mean I’m arguing that we have to give equal time or resources to creationists? No, not arguing that. Even supposing that’s implied in some insane way by what I’m saying, all things (and this thing in particular) in moderation. To a reasonable extent, not to an absurd n’th degree.
    But I don’t know that we have to worry overmuch about building a consensus, or a lack of consensus. I don’t think generally consensus needs to be built in science, I think it naturally rolls out of people making up their minds about what makes sense. In particular what works. If radiative physics (as used in making things that actually work) says that CO2 warms the atmosphere, well then. Sign me up; it works. I want the scientific theories and engineering practices that uhm oh I dunno. Can be used to make things that do what they are supposed to do in the real world I guess. I have this impression that there was an entire generation of physicists who really really profoundly did not want quantum physics to be real. Is there any dispute about the validity of quantum physics today? I don’t think so at least. Why? The darn crazy stuff works.
    That’s about as much of a limb as I’ll elect to climb out on at this time.
    Most interested in your responses, all.

    Regards.

  14. Mark,

    I don’t think generally consensus needs to be built in science, I think it naturally rolls out of people making up their minds about what makes sense. In particular what works.

    Yes, indeed. I wasn’t suggesting that the goal is to develop a consensus. The way you’ve put it is better than I did. If everyone is genuinely trying to understand a system, then the consensus will develop naturally. That it develops does not indicate some kind of intellectual monoculture. It more likely indicates that our understanding is being more and more strongly constrained by the evidence.

  15. RickA says:

    Joshua:

    I sense you are making fun of me – and thats ok.

    But what else do you call it when a group advocates for disinviting someone the university has invited to speak, other than wanting to limit free speech?

    Or having a special room on campus where they can be free of Trump supporters, or republicans or [fill in the label].

    Some of these protest groups really do want to limit free speech – and that is wrong.

  16. Rick,

    But what else do you call it when a group advocates for disinviting someone the university has invited to speak, other than wanting to limit free speech?

    My own view is that arguing against someone speaking on a campus is not really a free speech issue, given that the person is quite free to speak elsewhere. However, I don’t approve of people being disinvited from speaking. On the other hand, I also don’t object to people arguing that they should be disinvited. The whole point of free speech the freedom to say what you want.

    Some of these protest groups really do want to limit free speech – and that is wrong.

    As far as I’m concerned, this would only be true if they were advocating that the government prevent certain things from being said, or certain people from speaking publicly. Objecting to people speaking at some venues is not, in my view, a free speech issue – at least not formally.

  17. Barry Woods says:

    What of the scenario where a group of students invite a person to speak… and other groups of students, protest, and try to get the university to stop it.. or make so much fuss, the invited speech gets cancelled, because of the violence that the protesters might cause, if the speech were to go ahead? ((thinking, exmuslim speakers, middle east conflict, religious scenarios)

  18. Greg Wellman says:

    Rick, freedom of speech doesn’t include freedom from criticism for that speech, nor does it include supplied venues and possible speaking fees. So if a group of students objects to the administration using their student fees to pay a speaker who was, say, an architect of the Iraq war, they’ve got a right to make that point forcefully, and the U Admin might decide they have a point. Even if unpaid, members of the U community have a right to ask the Admin to not supply a venue to a hate-speech provocateur like Milo Y. I think you’ll find that most or all of the people you hear about being disinvited from colleges are people who have no problem getting published in major newspapers or websites – hardly people suffering from a lack of free speech. Disinvitation is a way of *voting*, a way that people who have far less power to push back against the views of those who do.

  19. Greg Wellman says:

    dang it, grammatical error in last sentence due to editing the form of the sentence and failing to proofread – I’m used to sites where one has an edit window 😦

  20. Barry,
    What about it? The point of my post is not to validate things like that, but to suggest that you shouldn’t use things like that to suggest that there are fundamental issues about intolerance within academia as a whole. My own view is that people should be free to protest, but that violence is unacceptable. I also think that people/groups should be free to invite others to speak, but that they deserve to be judged on the basis of who they choose to invite.

  21. Barry Woods says:

    Also a Independent article.. exMuslim and human rights activist being banned.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/nus-no-platform-safe-space-policy-goes-too-far-threatens-free-speech-warns-peter-tatchell-a6999801.html

    “No-platform” policies have increasingly become the subject of fraught debate over the past few months, with a host of high-profile speakers including feminist writer Germaine Greer and human rights activist Maryam Namazie asked not to appear at student events for fear that their opinions would be upsetting to some students.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/muslim-students-from-goldsmiths-university-s-islamic-society-heckle-and-aggressively-interrupt-a6760306.html

    “Ms Namazie, who was initially banned from speaking at Warwick University but ended up speaking on campus, was giving a talk on Monday following an invitation from the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (ASH).
    Members of the Islamic Society had expressed their opposition to her talk entitled “Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS [Isil]” – arguing Ms Namazie should not be allowed to speak given her “bigoted views”.”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/12029884/Human-rights-campaigner-heckled-at-blasphemy-lecture.html

  22. Joshua says:

    RickA –

    =={ But what else do you call it when a group advocates for disinviting someone the university has invited to speak, other than wanting to limit free speech? }==

    I think that generally what they want to do is take away a platform, at an institution where they feel they have some agency and stake, for someone who they believe promotes bigotry or misogyny, or religious intolerance, or otherwise discriminatory or unfair practices, to promote that bigotry, misogyny, etc….

    I don’t think that their goal is to limit free speech.

    So part of my reaction to your comment is from the absurdity of saying that their intent it to limit free speech.

    Part of the background here for me is my perspective that many people on the right (and the left also, but that’s a somewhat side issue) try to leverage or exploit important concepts like freedom of speech in order to promote an identity-related agenda.

    And related to that, is watching people on the left who have spent considerable %’s of their lives – at considerable personal sacrifice – promoting the freedom of speech for people who have historically been denied a voice, and whose voices have historically been devalued, then being branded (n discussion of issues such as these) by people on the right as intending to limit free speech when instead, their intent was to protest the promotion of misogynism, racism, etc.

    Part of the background here for me is the awareness that often the context for this discussion is when someone like Milo deliberately markets a brand of “free speech” that is specifically intended to offend people who have historically been voiceless or had their voices been devalued – in service of a larger political agenda and not actually in order to advance our society’s exploration of the appropriate limits of free speech.

    And part of the background there for me is the knowledge that there is necessarily a tension around the issue of free speech, and that exploiting that tension for partisan or tribal purposes only undermines the advancement of free speech.

    In the end, I think that protesting someone like Milo speaking at Berkeley runs a meaningful risk of placing the fulcrum on this issue in the wrong balancing point. (And certainly I don’t condone the violent protest). But how do you get to the meaningful discussion when people are more interested in exploiting the inherent tension related to free speech in order to advance an ideological agenda, and when along those lines, people make absurd arguments that the goal of the protesters is to limit free speech?

    Even if I were to agree that there is a possibility that the net effect of their protest is to limit free speech, and to limit free speech in a way that I think is not sufficiently balanced by the opposite pull of holding people accountable for deliberately (or even otherwise) offensive speech, that doesn’t mean that I would sign on for the absurd notion that their intent is to limit free speech. When I see such an absurd argument being made, my conclusion that effectively what I’m seeing is identity-aggressive behavior.

    =={ Or having a special room on campus where they can be free of Trump supporters, or republicans or [fill in the label]. }}==

    Once again, such a simplistic analysis seems like like sameosameo to me. It doesn’t strike me as a serious question or an honest attempt to explore the issues at hand. It doesn’t look to me like a scientific approach at understanding the dynamics, the causal mechanisms, etc. There is more going on to the concept of “safe spaces” than merely a goal of limiting free speech. That seems completely obvious to me, even if I recognize the logic of arguing that through the creation of such spaces we are running a risk of limiting important dialog or limiting the breadth of intellectual development of students. I think those questions merit analysis, through a scientific approach, and they merit serious discussion.

  23. RickA says:

    Greg said “My own view is that arguing against someone speaking on a campus is not really a free speech issue, given that the person is quite free to speak elsewhere.”

    Lets extend that to all Public Universities, or to an entire state, or to the entire USA.

    Is it ok to bar speech in the USA because the person is quite free to speak in a different country?

    Or in Minnesota because the person is quite free to speak in a different State?

    Or in all USA public Unversities because the person is quite free to speak at a non-public University?

    I don’t think so.

    It is a free speech issue plain and simple.

    The University doesn’t have to invite a particular speaker – but when they disinvite because a group of people don’t want to hear the views that will be expressed, that is a free speech issue.

    Flip it around and try to set up a space on a University campus free from people of color (instead of free from White people, as is being tried now on University campuses) and see what happens.

    A total and complete violation of the equal protection clause.

    Truly appalling.

  24. Barry Woods says:

    leaving aside muslims, trying to shutdown ex-muslims (some brave women) from speaking..

    This paper from an associate Philosophy Professor, might be worthy of a blog post,… !

    Climate change denial, freedom of speech and global justice – Trygve Lavik
    Department of Philosophy, University of Bergen,
    http://www.ntnu.no/ojs/index.php/etikk_i_praksis/article/view/1923/1928

    “… In this paper I claim that there are moral reasons for making climate denialism illegal. First I define climate denialism, and then I discuss its impact on society and its reception in the media. I build my philosophical arguments mainly on John Stuart Mill and Thomas M. Scanlon. According to Mill’s utilitarian justification of free speech, even untrue opinions are valuable in society’s pursuit of more truth. Consequently one might think that Mill’s philosophy would justify climate denialists’ right to free speech. A major section of the paper argues against that view. The main arguments are: Climate denialism is not beneficial because its main goal is to produce doubt, and not truth. Climate denialism is not sincerely meant, which is a necessary condition for Mill to accept utterances. Climate denialists bring harm, by blocking necessary action on climate change.”

    “….Furthermore, there are better reasons to outlaw climate denialism than Holocaust denialism. Holocaust denials are harmful to the surviving family members in particular, and are damaging to human dignity in general. The big difference between Holocaust denial and climate denial is that the former is a crime against previous and present generations, while climate denialism is a crime against present and future generations. If the widespread practice of climate denialism prevents actions to stop the burning of fossil fuels, the result will be runaway climate change that will kill tens of millions. In other words, climate denialism may kill people in the future, in a way that Holocaust denial, of course, cannot. Hence, climate denialism brings more massive harm into the world than Holocaust denialism.”

    Where would he draw the line?, Richard Tol, Matt Ridley, William Happer, Lindzen, Spencer – Me? all the way to Nigel lawson or Delingpole.

    He does seem to be of the George Marshall (Greenpeace, Rising Tide, Climate Outreach) school of thought (the ecologist ages ago), when the holocaust metaphor was, like the jews, we are ALL in denial of the holocaust about to befall us, because we can’t comprehend the enormity of it, denial in the classic psychology reasoning,

    The Psychology of Climate Denial – George Marshall
    http://ecoglobe.ch/motivation/e/clim2922.htm
    “…In Beyond Judgement, Primo Levi, seeking to explain the refusal of many European Jews to recognise their impending extermination, quotes an old German adage: ‘Things whose existence is not morally possible cannot exist.’
    In the case of climate change, then, we can intellectually accept the evidence of climate change, but we find it extremely hard to accept our responsibility for a crime of such enormity. Indeed, the most powerful evidence of our denial is the failure to even recognise that there is a moral dimension with identifiable perpetrators and victims. The language of ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’, ‘human impacts’, and ‘adaptation’ are themselves a form of denial familiar from other forms of human rights abuse; they are scientific euphemisms that suggest that climate change originates in immutable natural forces rather than in a direct causal relationship with moral implications for the perpetrator. ” – Marshall

    The ethics professor paper, is quite a read!
    http://www.ntnu.no/ojs/index.php/etikk_i_praksis/article/view/1923/1928

  25. Rick,

    Is it ok to bar speech in the USA because the person is quite free to speak in a different country?

    No, because a government preventing someone from speaking would indeed be a free speech issue. As for all your examples, of course a form of government, whether federal or state, preventing someone from speaking would be a free speech issue. Universities, however, are not elected bodies.

    It is a free speech issue plain and simple.

    Of course you can hold this view, but I think you’re wrong.

    Flip it around and try to set up a space on a University campus free from people of color (instead of free from White people, as is being tried now on University campuses) and see what happens.

    I’m not aware of people trying to set up a space free from white people, but trying to exclude people on the basis of race is illegal in most countries.

    The University doesn’t have to invite a particular speaker – but when they disinvite because a group of people don’t want to hear the views that will be expressed, that is a free speech issue.

    Again, I don’t agree, even if I don’t think people should be disinvited. Arguing against someone speaking at an institution is not the same as arguing against them being allowed to speak anywhere. To me, what you’re doing is trivialising a serious issue (free speech).

    Truly appalling.

    As far as I’m concerned, anyone who calls someone else’s views “truly appalling” is trying to prevent them from speaking freely 😉

  26. Barry,
    I’m not really at all clear what point you’re trying to make. Maybe you could actually make one, rather than simply posting links and quotes.

  27. Willard says:

    BarryW’s peddling crap to rip off his shirt once again, AT.

    He could talk about Etchemendy’s piece, but no, he has to go for “but Denier” and indulge into a slippery slope.

  28. RickA says:

    Joshua:

    I agree that these questions “merit analysis, through a scientific approach, and they merit serious discussion.”

    But when did freedom of speech become the right to be free from offense?

    I remember back in my days on campus that a group of religious speakers would come to campus every year. Brother Jed, Sister Cindy and brother max. Perhaps some will recall them – as they went all over the country preaching to students on campus. They offended students and the students in turn tried to offend the preachers. Women wearing bikinis, mock stripteases, Frat houses performing mock crucifixions and so on.

    Great fun! I always caught the show.

    The whole crowd would chant Jeb’s lines about being a for-ni-cat-or and being on the wide road to de-struc-tion, and so forth. Brother Max used to talk about opening up the bible to a certain passage and smacking his wife over the heat with it – very offensive.

    Nobody forces a student to go to a speech or listen to a preacher on campus – so why try to prevent the speech from even occurring on campus?

    Today, I am sure some student would be offended and try to ban the speech from campus (at least at a few campuses).

    Protest away – that is the students right.

    But there is no right not to be offended, or not to even hear certain thoughts, no matter how offensive.

    How far we have strayed from what the 1st amendment used to mean.

    It has been flipped around and now white is black and black is white.

    Students have asked for a safe space from white people.

    Students have asked for a safe space from men.

    Students have asked for a safe space from white men.

    Students have asked for a safe space from republicans.

    And so forth.

    There is no space safe from free speech, except your home and your dorm room, where you can kick anybody out (except your roommate) for any reason you want.

    When you are out and about on campus, you may hear something which offends – and that is what college is all about.

  29. Joshua says:

    RickA –

    When CPAC disinvited Milo, was their goal to limit free speech?

  30. Willard says:

    > I find great value in talking with my buddy Joshua here, not despite the fact that we have radically different world views but specifically because of it.

    Great, MarkB. Then I suggest to create a blog post with snippets of what you’ve talked about so far. That way, it won’t occupy just about every single thread.

  31. Willard says:

    RickA,

    Look.

    Not.

    Again.

    The.

    Sloganeering.

    With.

    One.

    Sentence.

    Followed.

    By.

    Two.

    Carriage.

    Returns.

    OK?

    Please.

  32. Joshua says:

    willard –

    == That way, it won’t occupy just about every single thread. ==

    FYI, I picked a dead thread for our discussion, after inquiring if it was OK.

    Please feel free not to read our discussion..

  33. Ahh, yes, Joshua asked if he could use that thread and I said it would be fine. It seems to have been fine.

  34. Mark Bofill says:

    Joshua,
    IDK. I understood Willard’s point to be ‘Really? If you find such value in talking with Joshua how come we don’t see more evidence of it?’
    *shrug* If this is what Willard is asking, it’s a fair question. The simple answer is that it’s valuable, but it’s hard. It’s not easy to step outside the comfort of echo chambers with like minded people, and I’m no exception to this. If he has some larger point, I don’t get it. And of course, as always I may be dead wrong in the first place.
    Thanks.

  35. Willard says:

    > It seems to have been fine.

    It was fine, and it could stay there.

    OTOH, a Mark & Joshua thread would indeed be a good idea. And I already said so. Since the offer has been ignored, I repeat it.

    I am far from against this kind of exchange:

    https://cliscep.com/2016/11/28/hacking-our-own-emails-part-deux/

    I even promise not to edit the comments, as Mr. Pile did…

    Oups! Did I just made a BarryW comment?

    ***

    Please leave the “if that’s what you mean” mind trick at Lucia’s.

  36. Barry Woods says:

    ATTP. My point. That paper was discussing free speech and making a case for banning it in the context of climate denialism. So in context of this post.. and fascinating (sorry if the quote was too long)

  37. Barry,
    And my post was about using selected examples to make broader points that may not be – probably aren’t – justified.

  38. izen says:

    @-RickA
    “Some of these protest groups really do want to limit free speech – and that is wrong.”

    There have always been people who wanted to limit free speech at universities. Once upon a time it was McCarthy blacklists and segregation.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivian_Malone_Jones
    The new censors seem just as vindictive as their opponents when the roles were reversed.

    Private money funding University departments, or Faculties that are attached, or at best semi-detached from top name institutions may be another baleful influence on the diversity of views tolerated in academe. Kochs, Adelson and the Donor trust do not fund these bodies without an agenda embedded in the establishments regulation.
    http://time.com/4148838/koch-brothers-colleges-universities/

  39. Joshua says:

    willard –

    It seems that I misunderstood, but I still don’t understand. Could you re-explain what your point was here?:

    =={ That way, it won’t occupy just about every single thread. }==

  40. People in Berkeley are not to criticize Milo, but conservatives just destroyed his career without any tears about the first Amendment.

    This is a really powerful piece on Milo and his immature followers. People in the climate “debate” will recognize a lot.
    https://psmag.com/on-the-milo-bus-with-the-lost-boys-of-americas-new-right-629a77e87986#.30vi6c78x

  41. Willard says:

    Some of the Freedom Fighters really do want to let go of basic human rights – and that is even more wrong. See? Strawmen are as cheap as they’re easy to stuff.

    For all those who don’t know John Etchemendy (his collaboration with Jon Barwise will probly make history), he’s a great guy:

    One of the toughest challenges Etchemendy confronted was the issue of sexual assault. In 2010, Etchemendy told the university community that Stanford would confront sexual violence on campus head-on, but that the process of cultural change would be difficult. It has, in fact, been at times heartbreaking. Through it all, however, Stanford has persevered to create one of the most extensive Title IX educational, support and adjudication programs in the nation.

    http://news.stanford.edu/2017/01/24/provost-john-etchemendy-leaves-remarkable-legacy/

    I don’t think Etchemendy expressed the view that we should allow the freedom to sexually harass people. Freedom of Speech is not an absolute, and drawing a line is a cultural thing. Since it’s a cultural thing, we might as well take include the input from everyone, up to a point of course, which makes all this quite delicate.

    OTOH, here’s one issue that seems to escape the analysis I’ve seen so far of this “monoculture problem” (anyone who thinks that the Left is monocultural displays ignorance more than anything) – populism makes the divide between the ideological extremes wider, to a point in fact where it is hard to imagine we could ever stretch the Overton window furthermore. To take one obvious example, nobody should mind that we think and talk about immigration. It is after all the most crucial question of our times and an immediate consequence of our warring past. There are diminishing returns in trying to understand and articulate teh Donald’s crap about walls and stuff. On a philosophical level, there’s nothing wrong there. Humanities have seen worse debates. But really – don’t we have better things to discuss in 2017 than (say) Spencer’s views?

    So it’s not the fact that we discuss some topic T that matters much here. It’s the fact that T becomes the focus of public debates. This choice is and always will be political. And this will be fought against by interest groups. As is their right, and as it should be.

    I see nothing wrong with that.

  42. Willard says:

    > Could you re-explain what your point was here?:

    You’re having one and only one conversation with MarkB, Joshua. It would help readers to read it at one and only one place. More so when the conversation turns on the conversation itself, which could be considered the main point of the conversation.

    I was tempted not to answer, BTW – asking a question is not a valid response to a request.

  43. izen says:

    There are a number of academic (?) institutions in the US that are intentionally mono-cultural. They proclaim it as a benefit that they exclude those with diverse views. They market as a virtue that they will, and do, fired professors and expel students that contravene a strict code of behaviour and speech. The very cultural groups who’s actions are raising such ‘CONCERNS’ in some about limits to ‘free speech’, are those that are explicitly excluded from these colleges and schools.

    Among the supporters and funders of these private educational institutions these strict conformist approach and actions are seen as morally laudable.
    Wheaton college would be typical example.
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/12/16/professor-suspended-after-saying-christians-muslims-have-same-god/77418168/

  44. john says:

    A comment on University Students and the view point of people about the Institution.
    In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the students were seen as anti Vietnam War.
    We had long haired kids protesting.
    So the University System was seen as anti establishment.
    I think there has been a carry over from those days as viewing anything coming out of research as being tainted because University’s or any learning center or for that matter any paper published has to be tarnished with the Anti Establishment viewpoint carried over from the 60-70 era.
    The carry over from the dismal past is a dismal group of people who can not understand that perhaps the people just presenting the facts may be correct.
    Judging from the present situation where Alternate Facts are in vogue my frank assessment is the USA is a basket case.

  45. I’ve worked in or for half a dozen different universities over the decades and I’m happy to say that in none did I ever see an intellectual monoculture. In fact, I’ve seen outright flat-Earth style idiocy tolerated (to a point) in the name of academic freedom.

    In my experience most academics are quite willing to consider radical and subversive ideas as long as they’re pursued with appropriate groundwork and scepticism. One interesting example is my alma mater where, a few years after the Fleischmann and Pons debacle some of our chemists poked around the cold fusion issue. They too got strange results, and I remember one seminar in particular that inspired a lot of discussion from all sides, but it was all about using science to address the apparent phenomenon being observed. In the end I think that the project reached an inevitable sputtering conclusion, but the to-and-fro was respectful and productive in that it pushed to a resolution.

    There’s a difference between maintaining a monoculture of thought and paradigm, and rejecting notions and claims that are not based in evidence, testable science, or logical and rational deconstruction of prior knowledge. We should reject monocultures of thought, but we should even more vehemently reject demonstrable woo and factless ideology for the regressive erosion of science that they represent.

  46. Coincidentally PZ Myers reflects a similar thought with his latest post:

    What we want, at real universities, is for our students to question everything intelligently.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2017/02/24/where-did-these-people-go-to-college/

  47. JCH says:

    Since john opened it up, the source, what drives Happer’s dysfunction, is the takeover of the physics building at Columbia in 1968. The hippies got inside his head and he has never been able to get them out. George W. Bush had a similar problem… still trying to win the 1960s.

  48. RickA says:

    Joshua asks:

    “RickA –

    When CPAC disinvited Milo, was their goal to limit free speech?”

    Yes.

    CPAC wants to limit Milo’s speech and therefore limit there own embarrassment at being associated with a NAMBLA supporter.

    Why do you think CPAC disinvited Milo?

  49. john says:

    JCH you lived it so did I.
    I still hold the contention that the present situation within the Administration in the Executive wing of the USA is untenable and I strongly have a sense that there will be an Impeachment to ensure that the decent people of the USA are not let down.
    There is a very untenable trend within the present Administration that is not sustainable.
    I look on and just shake my head and hope that those of good reason and good values do the correct by not only the USA but the rest of the world too by removing this blight on civilized discourse and level headed judgement.

  50. john says:

    Getting back to the discussion about Milo.
    i do not think the person should be regarded but nothing else but a person who is wasting good Oxygen that should be used for better purposes.

  51. Willard says:

    What better purpose than to laud Digimon:

    [N]owhere in the Pokémon canon exist the moments of maturity, complexity and artistic achievement that Digimon, at its best, has offered its fans. The investment required to wade through poor releases and boring anime and seek out moments of sublimity is the sort of journey only a true aficionado can appreciate, and it is that ravenous, determined and intellectually curious nature that marks out the Digimon fan. Digimon fans are the Wagnerians of video game and anime culture.

    Wagnerian. I kid you not.

  52. JCH says:

    CPAC cannot limit anybody’s right to free speech because they are not the government. The government cannot ram a proverbial sock down your throat; everybody else can. Obviously, there are many instances where the government can as well. Try exercising your right of free speech in my brother-in-law’s court room. Haha.

  53. He’s right about Digimon of course

  54. Marco says:

    I wonder why no one took on RickA’s assertion that Milo was invited by “the university”. He wasn’t. He was invited by the College Republicans.

    It is perhaps also of relevance to know that people like RickA seem to believe that free speech means that everyone who has something to say must be *given* a platform.

  55. Marco says:

    On to the “intellectual monoculture”, the topic of the blogpost. I am very much ambiguous on this issue for two intertwined reasons: first, when using rational arguments to make decisions are promoted, as they by necessity must be at a university, lots of opinions suddenly will not find the same platform they may have in the broader society, because those opinions cannot be defended by rational arguments that fit with the facts and observations. Second, good science requires you to challenge your own and other’s beliefs (with the caveat that you should remember that the challenge can be just as wrong as the belief you try to challenge). Some people cannot do so, especially when it hits one of their core beliefs. For example, I had a creationist fellow student, who could not handle challenging his own beliefs on darwinism. It was “god”, period.
    Both these aspects do have the danger of leading to a “monoculture”. Most important danger in that is that the element of challenging your own ideas then becomes less ‘important’, because you meet fewer people who hold different opinions.

    Probably I could write this ten times clearer if I had the time (and desire and energy and whatnot), so I hope someone can ‘translate’ the above into something more coherent.

  56. Marco,

    > I wonder why no one took on RickA’s assertion that Milo was invited by “the university”.

    a) because I was late to the party and
    b) yabbut the University failed to prevent the riot.

    > It is perhaps also of relevance to know that people like RickA seem to believe that free speech means that everyone who has something to say must be *given* a platform.

    That might work better as a query than a speculation.

  57. > CPAC wants to limit Milo’s speech and therefore limit there own embarrassment at being associated with a NAMBLA supporter.

    Why should ACU be compelled to place their own group interests in controlling their reputation and message below Milo’s individual rights?

    Or to put it another way, why was I not invited to speak at CPAC? I have plenty to say to that gathering.

  58. Marco says:

    Brandon, I’ve had a similar discussion with RickA before at Greg Laden’s place. That was my only remaining conclusion from that discussion.

  59. John says:

    Quote”I think the above is a far too simplistic view of the issues and conflates many different, and largely unrelated, issues”

    In my experience, the above is Quid pro quo.

  60. Willard says:

    Tit for tat, AT.

    The reason behind CPAC’s desinvitation seems obvious. Paraphrasing Milo himself, there are relationships between younger libertarians and older Conservatives that can help a young libertarian escape from a lack of support or understanding at home. That’s perfectly true and every libertarian knows it.

    A sordid spectacle is a small price to pay to huckster a dying platform to a younger electorate. Nobody cares if Milo’s fight for Freedom coheres or not with conservatism as long as the provocation is strong enough to bait their opponents. Contrarianism transcends age to sleep with reactionaries for klout. Then morning comes, satisfaction subsides, and the realization resurfaces: lulz may not be enough to sustain a healthy relationship.

    I like the word “disinvited.” I once was disinvited. It was fun.

  61. Joshua says:

    RickA –

    =={ Why do you think CPAC disinvited Milo? }==

    I think they disinvited him because they didn’t want to be associated with his brand any longer. They didn’t want to be associated with someone who was discovered to have touched a 3rd rail, in arena of political correctness. They didn’t want to be politically incorrect. They didn’t want to subject their organization to criticism.

    They were more than happy to promote Milo’s “free speech.” They held a conference to promote “free speech” among Milo and those who align with his politics. Their focus is the promotion of “free speech.”

    They didn’t morph from “free speech” advocates to anti-‘”free speech” advocates merely because Milo’s comments about men having sex with boys hit the airwaves. They morphed from a group that wanted to be associated with Milo to a group that didn’t want to be associated with Milo because of new information they were provided. They will be more than happy to carry on with their conference where many other people will be promoting very much the same ideas that Milo promotes. They are overjoyed, no doubt, with the amount of media coverage they are getting of those ideas. It is exactly what they want.

    Take a listen here in case you are getting angina about a trend in our society towards political intolerance:

  62. RickA says:

    A couple of things.

    1. ATTP – Public universities are the State and therefore the first amendment does apply to them.
    2. Milo didn’t come up in connection with “the University” – he came up in connection with being disinvited from CPAC.
    3. Brandon – the question was not why was Milo invited to speak at CPAC, but why was Milo disinvited to speak at CPAC. I think you can see these are very different questions.
    4. Joshua asked me if I thought it was CPAC’s goal to limit free speech by disinvinting Milo and I answered yes and gave my theory why. I acknowledge that it is not a violation of the first amendment because CPAC is a private non-governmental organization – but disinviting a speaker from speaking, because of the content of the speech (or fear of what that content will be) is surely limiting free speech – whether it is a violation of the first amendment or not.
    5. My concern was more directed at groups wanting to be protected (i.e. have a “safe space”) on public universities from groups, thoughts, opinions and speech which they are offended by. In my opinion there is no right not to be offended – which is actually the opposite of a right to free speech. Truly appalling.

  63. Rick,

    1. ATTP – Public universities are the State and therefore the first amendment does apply to them.

    Indeed, but that still doesn’t mean that a public university disinviting someone is violating their free speech. Free speech is such a fundamentally important issue and – in my view – getting all uptight about someone being disinvited from speaking at a public university trivialises something that we should be taking seriously. To be clear, though, I do think that people shouldn’t be disinvited from speaking at a univesity. However, one has to bear in mind that even public universities have the right to decide who to invite in the first place.

    5. My concern was more directed at groups wanting to be protected (i.e. have a “safe space”) on public universities from groups, thoughts, opinions and speech which they are offended by. In my opinion there is no right not to be offended – which is actually the opposite of a right to free speech. Truly appalling.

    I think you need to be careful here. There is a difference between people not wanting to be exposed to views that they find uncomfortable (they should be willing to be exposed to these views) and feeling threatened on campus (they shouldn’t). In other words, there is a difference between someone discussing a diversity issue that others find uncomfortable and someone actually trying to discriminate. As far as I understand it, some of the safe space issue is more related to the latter than the former.

    I also think you should probably consider the irony of continually going saying “truly appalling”.

  64. RickA says:

    Joshua:

    I agree with you. Thanks for answering me.

  65. RickA says:

    ATTP:

    Thank you.

    I will think about the irony of continually saying “truly appalling”.

  66. Rick,
    You’re, of course, free to say “truly appalling” 🙂 but I would expect it to be the kind of thing those objecting to Milo speaking would have been saying as justification for their position.

  67. Joshua says:

    RickA –

    You said that CPAC’s intent was to limit free speech. Then you said:

    =={ but disinviting a speaker from speaking, because of the content of the speech (or fear of what that content will be) is surely limiting free speech – }==

    CPAC clearly did not disinvite Milo because of the content of his speech. They can’t hear enough of the content of his speech.

    As to whether people at Berkeley protested Milo speaking there because of the content of his speech is a bit complicated. In one sense, yes, obviously, it is the content of his speech. But it is also because they don’t want to give a platform for that speech andalso because, just like CPAC, they don’t want their institution to be associated with someone like Milo.

    Bottom line: If you see someone advocating for the government to limit Milo’s freedom to express his views, IMO, that is being “against free speech.” Perhaps there might be some other valid examples….I might have to think about that.

    As I said above, I am certainly uncomfortable with people throwing traffic fences through windows because Milo was scheduled to speak. I think that the implications of people protesting against someone like Milo speaking on a campus are interesting, and merit discussion. I think that it certainly makes sense for an institution to at least consider disinviting, and accordingly sometimes disinvite someone to speak if a significant % of the members of that institution don’t want that person to speak. I have little respect for holding the issue of free speech hostage to agenda-driven tribalism.

  68. Joshua,

    I have little respect for holding the issue of free speech hostage to agenda-driven tribalism.

    Can you clarify what you mean by this. I think this might be similar to what I was trying to say in one of my earlier responses to Rick, but am not quite sure.

  69. Willard says:

    > the question was not why was Milo invited to speak at CPAC, but why was Milo disinvited to speak at CPAC. I think you can see these are very different questions.

    Yet answering the second depends upon how you answer the first. Milo was desinvited because he branded himself against CPAC’s conservativism, something that has been done in a previous speech. This response rests on the hypothesis that Milo was invited because he aligned himself with CPAC.

    All this is tangential to Etchemendy’s points, which pertain to intellectual tolerance. Reconstructing free speech as the metaphysical possibility to speak everywhere about everything won’t make the expression “free speech” more relevant. Tolerance does not imply tolerating everything everywhere every time by everyone.

  70. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I don’t respect leveraging or exploitation of “free speech,” or other important issues, in order to play tribal games about how “we” are better than “they.” I think it can reflect ignorance (in a non-pejorative sense), apathy, or a lack of accountability.

    I should point out that I don’t think that a tendency to do that is disproportionately associated with any particular ideological or political orientation. We are all so inclined.

  71. Joshua,
    Thanks, I agree – that’s roughly what I was trying to get at, although I think the way you’ve framed it is better than how I did.

    I should point out that I don’t think that a tendency to do that is disproportionately associated with any particular ideological or political orientation. We are all so inclined.

    Indeed.

  72. Willard says:

    From freedom of speech to freedom of expression:

    Teh Steve gets limited by teh Reince.

    Truly appalling.

  73. I think free speech is best discussed in the context of first amendment rights: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    The range of protections established by this amendment are combined in one amendment for good reason. Because of the power grab that has been asserted by so many presidents, it is probably reasonable to extend the prohibition to the president and executive branch. The violations of these rights have historically come from the legislative and executive branches with the judicial branch stepping in to protect these rights. In all of these contexts, it might make sense for Milo to take the case that his rights have been violated to the courts. I would not be optimistic about his prospects because providing a platform to exercise rights is not mentioned. There is a lot of caselaw regarding what constitutes the public forum where speech is protected. Again, in that analysis, I expect Milo would be free to visit the campus and grounds of a state university or the public right of way (sidewalk) outside CPAC to speak to his tiny heart’s content. Others would be free to attend and speak over him and essentially make his speech unintelligible. Our system is messy. I think messiness is inherent in the checks and balances approach to governance.

    For anyone who is really concerned about first amendment rights, I will suggest that barring a significant number of mainstream press outlets from WH news events is a violation of the freedom of the press and rights established by the first amendment. That narrowing of press coverage does seem to fit with questions about intellectual monoculture.

  74. “For anyone who is really concerned about first amendment rights, I will suggest that barring a significant number of mainstream press outlets from WH news events is a violation of the freedom of the press and rights established by the first amendment. ”

    Jeez, you started out so well by actually quoting the actual document.

  75. BBD says:

    Perhaps what happened in Arizona is more clearly an attempt to restrict free speech.

  76. last I looked one could peaceably assemble.. but there is no right to riot

  77. BBD says:

    Steven

    Moreover, by including protesters under racketeering laws, the police would be empowered to arrest organizers in the planning stages of an event. “Wouldn’t you rather stop a riot before it starts?” Kavanagh, a former police officer, asked the senate during a floor debate.

    This goes rather further than post-facto legal penalties.

  78. I see no right to plan a riot either.

  79. BBD says:

    But what if somebody else causes the damage and the organisers – who did not plan a riot – are prosecuted unfairly?

    And what of the suppressive effect this kind of problem may have on the right to public assembly and free speech?

  80. BBD says:

    Steven, this stuff is drifting towards thoughtcrime. I would have hoped that it was obvious.

  81. russellseitz says:

    Barry Woods should be carefull of what Trygve Lavik wishes for:

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/02/how-long-could-you-survive-on-5-cents.html

  82. Willard says:

    Teh Donald Will Make Intellectual Tolerance Great Again:

  83. JCH says:

    Winning the 1960s. To some people it is a cause.

  84. Keith McClary says:

    “The law, SB 1142, also expands the definition of a riot to include any damage to property, …”
    This will be stretched to include trampling the grass or spilling yogurt on the sidewalk. There is a pattern of criminalising trivial offences. Then they add “crossing state lines to …”.

  85. russellseitz says:

    Digimon fans are the Wagnerians of video game and anime culture.

    Invite some to your next Science March

  86. Willard says:

    I don’t always invite Wagnerians, but when I do expect them to gravely scream “what about the pooooooor”.

    Still no word from Daddy Donald defending Milo:

    http://www.thewrap.com/steve-bannon-daddy-donald-trump-silent-milo-yiannopoulos-meltdown-pedophilia/

  87. Joshua says:

    =={ Still no word from Daddy Donald defending Milo: }==

    Another person who hates “free speech.”

  88. If this anti-protest bill becomes law in Arizona all you have to do is place one agent provocateur in a protest and you can arrest protesters and seize all their property. That is an authoritarian assault on the right to protest peacefully. Fits to a previous Republican bill to legalise murdering protesters by cars. America is going in a dangerous direction.

  89. What if BBD

    What if unicorns.

    No thought crime. Basically if you are planning to riot. then u might think twice.

  90. last I looked there was no right to trespass or litter.

    Here..

    A few weeks back I went back to Korea to watch. really cool. it was different in 87

  91. > […] I’ve had a similar discussion with RickA before at Greg Laden’s place.

    Fair enough, Marco. My two questions to him were obviously designed to probe your conclusion; his unresponsive reply did little to challenge its correctness.

  92. Last time I looked I could not be prosecuted for the crimes of Steve Mosher. In democracies all over the world this is still the case.

    In Nazi Germany you could be prosecuted for what family members did. Trump is a fan of murdering innocent family members: “We have to take out their families”. I am really happy that the Germans have learned a lot from their history. I wish other countries would have done the same.

  93. > What if unicorns.

    Rumour has it that paid provocateurs also cause chemtrails, Steven M. But only the leftist variety — to which category we can now add Milo. (I’m not so sure about his acolytes.)

    Geez, when you get banished in politics, you get banished all the way.

  94. Willard says:

    Still no word by Judy on whether she judges if Happer fits her own prescription or not:

    https://judithcurry.com/2017/02/25/brussel-declaration-on-principles-for-science-policy-making/

  95. BBD says:

    That is an authoritarian assault on the right to protest peacefully.

    For whom Steven is acting as an apologist.

  96. Willard says:

    Those who fear monocultures have seen nothing yet:

    A world of alternative facts for everyone.

    Teh Donald has connections with Cambridge Analytica.

  97. russellseitz says:

    Willard, it is a capital Climateball mistake to understimate what Steve’s Moonie firends may find on Korean you Tube

  98. Joshua says:

    Alternative fact about the Oscar’s… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/SethMacFarlane/status/836083833330028544?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

  99. Joshua says:

    More, little known “alternative facts.”

    “The global temp records have been fraudulently “adjusted” to hide the pause and thus can’t be trusted.” vs. “There has been a “pause in global warming.”

    “We must pay attention to the ‘uncertainty monster’”vs. “There has been a pause in global warming.”

    A relatively short-term decrease in the longer-term rate of warming in SATs means that “There has been a pause in global warming” vs. “It is important to consider OHC as well as SATs when we evaluate the impact of ACO2 emissions.”

    “Karl put his thumbs on the scale.” vs. We are not saying that Karl ‘manipulated data.’”</a"

    "Hardly any 'skeptics' doubt that ACO2 emissions warm the climate, they only doubt the magnitude of the effect." vs. "There has been a pause in global warming" (despite the continued emission of ACO2).

    "Trump will refreshingly reduce the politicization of the science related to climate policy." vs. “Trump has selected Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.”

    ‘There’s nothing wrong with alternative facts.” vs. “We don’t know if Trump was lying about inauguration crowd sizes, voter fraud, crime rates, etc., etc., blah, blah.”

  100. Joshua says:

    Just thought of one I missed:

    ‘Alarmists’ are wrong when they say that the’pause in global warming’ has ended – the recent warming was just due to an El Nino” vs. “There has been a pause in warming since 1998.”

  101. Joshua says:

    My all-time favorite…. in a slightly different form:

    “We could get down to reasonable debate about the science if those “alarmists” would just stop all that name-calling.”

  102. BBD says:

    Willard

    Teh Donald has connections with Cambridge Analytica.

    Robert Mercer. Bannon. Trump. Farage.

    The Graun Carol Cadwalladr makes for grim reading if you haven’t already seen it.

    Clearly we’ve just seen a successful test of the system.

    I’ve never been afraid of these bastards before, until now.

  103. Barring Reporters From Briefings: Does It Cross a Legal Line? ““It has been held impermissible,” Judge Oetken wrote, “to exclude a single television news network from live coverage of mayoral candidates’ headquarters and to withhold White House press passes in a content-based or arbitrary fashion.”

    Last Friday’s developments at the White House crossed that legal line, said Jameel Jaffer, the director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

    “That was unconstitutional,” he said. “If you exclude reporters from briefings that they otherwise have a right to attend because you don’t like their reporting, then you have engaged in viewpoint discrimination.” Viewpoint discrimination by the government in a public forum is almost always unconstitutional.

  104. Willard says:

    Three buildings are being evacuated at Concordia University’s downtown campus after a letter threatening to set off bombs targeting Muslim students was emailed to several media outlets today.

    The letter, emailed to the CBC as well as several other media outlets, suggests bombs will be set off at the engineering, computer science, and visual arts integrated (EV) and Hall buildings.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-police-threat-concordia-1.4004671

  105. Joshua says:

    Heh… “absolutely appaling”… Shirt ripping…always has a similar ring to it.

  106. doug1943 says:

    It’s very depressing to read intelligent people inventing rationalizations for making the Universities free of disturbing speech and thought. For those interested in historical analogies, you may wish to read Sidney Hook’s ‘Heresy Yes, Conspiracy No’, which was a very similar Jesuitical attempt by a notional leftwinger to justify the anti-Communist witchhunts and loyalty oaths of the 1950s.

    Of course, the people whose free speech is being quashed today would almost certainly have supported the free speech suppression of Communists in the 1950s. Certainly most of their political ancestors did. But past rightwing McCarthyism does not justify present leftwing McCarthyism.

  107. doug,

    It’s very depressing to read intelligent people inventing rationalizations for making the Universities free of disturbing speech and thought.

    Just to be clear, which “intelligent people” are supposedly doing this?

  108. JCH says:

    The restive at Middlebury can be pacified. It just takes contributions from a social scientist:

    The American Institutes for Research’s own description of its counter-insurgency program included: “assassinating key spokesmen, strengthening retaliatory mechanisms and similar preventative measures” and efforts to “neutralize the political successes already achieved by groups committed to the ‘wrong’ side. This typically involves direct military confrontation.” The AIR program also tested crop destruction and artificially-induced starvation in order to pacify restive populations, described as a “behavior control plan enhanced by crop destruction.” Referring to its staffers like Charles Murray, the AIR proposal promised: “The social scientist can make significant contributions to the design of all [these] operations.” [ 2 ]

    Murray nailed intelligence and the size of the male member. I mean, look at the President… hung and dumb.

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