The crisis of free speech in higher education

I came across an interesting post by Mark Carrigan called the (coming) crisis of free speech in the digital university. The underlying issue is the suggestion that there is a crisis of free speech in higher education. This is related, I think, to the lack of viewpoint diversity, highlighted by the Heterodox Academy, who seem to think that we should be actively aiming to increase viewpoint diversity because

[f]ree speech and the exploration of unsettling ideas is threatened on many campuses.

I’ve written about the Heterodox Academy before and have been mostly unimpressed by what they suggest. If you want to know why, you should really read the earlier posts, but it’s not because I don’t think we should have more viewpoint diversity. My main concerns are that if biases are influencing how research is undertaken then we should improve scholarship, not introduce new biases. Additionally, I don’t actually see how we can actively increase viewpoint diversity, at least not in a way that doesn’t ultimately suppress other viewpoints.

As Mark Carrigan’s post says

The crisis of free speech in higher education is overdetermined. ….

…. we urgently need to reject the idea that the crisis of free speech is a matter of censorious millennials undermining the institutional culture of the university. This is such obvious nonsense as an account of the change underway in our universities that it wouldn’t even be worth engaging with, if it were not promulgated with such vigour by so many influential outlets.

There clearly are things happening on campus that all who value free speech should condemn. There are indications that the institutions themselves are trying to discourage speaking freely, there are some cases where the state itself appears to be suppressing certain views, and there are also even some activities on campuses that are objectionable.

However, many of those who are arguing that there is a crisis of free speech in higher education seem to use isolated events to suggest that the problem is pervasive; that the academy is full of people who are trying to suppress alternative views. The problem with this is that isolated extreme events can then be used to delegitimise any criticism of alternative views, which – ultimately – then acts to suppress the criticism.

I’ve seen similar tactics in the climate debate. Many who are regularly criticised will use extreme cases to suggest that all their critics behave in this way and, hence, that their critics are not only behaving in an unreasonable manner, but can be ignored.

This is my problem with the claims of a crisis of free speech in the academy. I don’t think that it is motivated by a genuine desire to protect free speech, but by a desire to promote certain views that are not as prominent as they would like. Rather than simply finding stronger arguments, they’re attempting to suggest that the academy is full of people who are trying to actively suppress alternative views, rather than there simply being many people who happen to disagree with their views.

I think there are valid free speech issues in higher education, but I really don’t think that the problem is that higher education is dominated by people who want to suppress alternative views. It may well be that some views dominate over others, but that’s probably inevitable; if those who hold under-represented views want these views to be more prominent, they should make more convincing arguments, not try to suppress those who do not agree with them.

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132 Responses to The crisis of free speech in higher education

  1. doug1943 says:

    There are two issues being confused here. One is that conservative ideas are far underrepresented in academia, as compared to their representation in the population.
    The other issue is that on some campuses, and important ones, conservatives are not allowed to hold meetings: their speakers are shouted down and/or physically attacked — the classic tactics of fascism.
    A related issue is that some academics use their classes as left-wing propaganda factories.

    What’s interesting is that the shoe was on the other foot in the 1950s. That doesn’t make what the Left does (and some spineless liberals and administrators tolerate, or justify) right — it’s not. But people on the Right ought to at least reflect on the irony of their (correct) argument that the campus, of all places, should be a marketplace of ideas, even wrong and hateful ones, with error being countered by truth, not by violence, when fifty years ago the very same (correct) arguments were being made by the Left, and dismissed by the Right.

  2. doug,

    One is that conservative ideas are far underrepresented in academia, as compared to their representation in the population.

    Yes, I realise that this is one of the supposed issues. I’m not sure how one is really meant to address this. There isn’t some kind of law that claims that all political ideologies must be proportionally respresented in all sectors of society.

    The other issue is that on some campuses, and important ones, conservatives are not allowed to hold meetings: their speakers are shouted down and/or physically attacked — the classic tactics of fascism.

    That this happens does not mean that suppression of alternative views is pervasive in academia. This was one of the key points I was trying to get across. Using extreme cases to tar your critics is – in my view – a problem. It suggests that you would rather delegitimise your critics and seems, itself, to be a form of suppression.

    A related issue is that some academics use their classes as left-wing propaganda factories.

    Really, do you actually have evidence that some academics use their classes as left-wing propaganda factories?

    the campus, of all places, should be a marketplace of ideas, even wrong and hateful ones, with error being countered by truth, not by violence,

    I agree that campuses should be a marketplace of ideas, but the way to do this is to hone your arguments, not use extreme cases to undermine your critics.

  3. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    =={ It may well be that some views dominate over others, … }==

    I think there are some other imbedded problems here, which are very difficult to tease out. As much as I find some of the examples to be clear over-reach on the part of aggressive millennials, and a lack of responsible behavior on the part of academic administrators, these decisions are being made by many people before they have the full context (for example, in the Evergreen situation – what do we know about the fyll history of animosity between the main protagonists?), Another important issue, IMO, is that there inevitably has to be some measure of overreach when reversing the long history of established power imbalances, and that overreach needs to be seen within that larger context. (Again, looking at the Evergreen situation, while it might be inappropriate for minority members of the community to demand that white people need to leave campus for a day, there is a legitimacy to them claiming some measure of power from stakeholders that have had a monopoly on power in those communities throughout time). It is disturbing if not surprising to see people trivialize the full measure of the issues in play, to advance ideological agendas. Indeed, it does seem to very much reflect what goes on in the climate wars (see the previous thread).

  4. Joshua,
    Since you mention the Evergreen situation., have you seen this letter?

  5. Joshua,
    I should have added that I agree with this

    It is disturbing if not surprising to see people trivialize the full measure of the issues in play, to advance ideological agendas.

    and, yes, it does seem to reflect much of what goes on in the climate wars.

  6. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Thanks. I hadn’t seen that letter. Interesting. I’d love the know the previous history of the main protagonists. There was mention in one of the interviews of a history of animosity during faculty meetings. Dealing with the animosities as some kind of sudden, one-off development seems rather…er…unskeptical.

  7. Joshua,
    Indeed, I also wonder if there aren’t some other factors that are influencing this situation.

  8. doug1943 says:

    Yes, I don’t think that it would be a good idea to have a law that all political/social/economic beliefs should be represented on campuses in proportion to their prevalence in the population.

    I do think such beliefs should be represented — not by a law,but by the consensus of academics — according to their importance in society, taken on a world and century-spanning scale. And I suppose I don’t literally mean ‘represented’ — ie. by an advocate — so much as presented in such a way that students are not unduly influenced by the presenter’s possibly-negative view of them. Pragmatically, though, I suspect only believers can really present their political ideas well. Thus, if it were up to me, I’d want every economics department to have at least one Austrian (or related libertarian), and one Marxist, on their faculty, despite the fact that probably 99% of Americans couldn’t give you a true and coherent account of the ideas of these two schools of thought, and I’d want anyone studying economics seriously to have to engage with these two sets of ideas, as well as learning mainstream economics.

    And I would have history faculties have at least one ‘anti-imperialist’ professor, of the Howard Zinn persuasion, and one who was of the Neill Ferguson viewpoint. And so on.

    College should be where you learn to think for yourself. And there’s nothing better for this than to have to seriously consider viewpoints that are not yours.

    As for your responses to the rest of my argument … well, I tried to be as nuanced as possible. Please look again at how I phrased my argument. (The ‘left-wing propaganda factories’ characterization I stole from an article in New Republic some years back by Jonathan Chait. (sp?) ) There are tons of examples of this, but of course I can give you no exact percentages. (Exactly how pervasive is racial prejudice in small-town Southern police stations? Where is your detailed evidence, your exact numbers?) If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about it’s just because it’s not the kind of thing you pay attention to (and why should you? This is not a criticism of you.)

    By the way, I am sure there are many liberal academics who try to be fair to the views they oppose, and many conservative ones — especially on small religious campuses, who are not fair to the Left.) My main concern is that this intolerance is especially prevalent on the elite campuses where we train the next generation of our ruling class.

    In any case, there is no doubt that a significant current of leftwing opinion on many important campuses believes that it is perfectly okay to silence people on the Right — and I’m not just talking about Ann Coulter or that alt-right gay comedian, but people like Charles Murray or writers for Manhattan Journal. I’ve been sickened to read justifications (admittedly sometimes phrased in weasel words, “we’re for free speech, but …” ) for violence against such people by, say, the National Lawyers Guild (understandable, given their Stalinist origins), and many academics at Columbia University … but cheered up by the honorable stance of the American Civil Liberties Union.

  9. doug,

    Thus, if it were up to me, I’d want every economics department to have at least one Austrian (or related libertarian), and one Marxist, on their faculty

    Economics is – I think – meant to be an academic discipline. Hence, I can understand there being at least one person who can teach/study Austrian economics, and one who can teach/study Marxism. However, I can’t see how one can actually have one Austrian, and one Marxist. This seems to be a key factor. There’s a difference between having people on faculties who study different viewpoints, and actually having people on faculties who hold these different viewpoints.

    My main concern is that this intolerance is especially prevalent on the elite campuses where we train the next generation of our ruling class.

    How do you know that it is prevalent? I’m not disputing that there are examples of this. I’m disupting that this is indicative of it being prevalent.

    In any case, there is no doubt that a significant current of leftwing opinion on many important campuses believes that it is perfectly okay to silence people on the Right

    Again, how do you know this? There is a difference between objecting to someone speaking at an event, and actually trying to have them silenced. The former may even be something that we should oppose, but truly trying to silence someone would be more than simply opposing their presence on a campus.

  10. Willard says:

    > My main concern is that this intolerance is especially prevalent on the elite campuses where we train the next generation of our ruling class.

    I suppose that depends on what “elite campuses” and “ruling class” refer:

    Monday, 13 April 2015 was a typical day in modern British politics. An Oxford University graduate in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE), Ed Miliband, launched the Labour party’s general election manifesto. It was examined by the BBC’s political editor, Oxford PPE graduate Nick Robinson, by the BBC’s economics editor, Oxford PPE graduate Robert Peston, and by the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Oxford PPE graduate Paul Johnson. It was criticised by the prime minister, Oxford PPE graduate David Cameron. It was defended by the Labour shadow chancellor, Oxford PPE graduate Ed Balls.

    Elsewhere in the country, with the election three weeks away, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, Oxford PPE graduate Danny Alexander, was preparing to visit Kingston and Surbiton, a vulnerable London seat held by a fellow Lib Dem minister, Oxford PPE graduate Ed Davey. In Kent, one of Ukip’s two MPs, Oxford PPE graduate Mark Reckless, was campaigning in his constituency, Rochester and Strood. Comments on the day’s developments were being posted online by Michael Crick, Oxford PPE graduate and political correspondent of Channel 4 News.

    On the BBC Radio 4 website, the Financial Times statistics expert and Oxford PPE graduate Tim Harford presented his first election podcast. On BBC1, Oxford PPE graduate and Newsnight presenter Evan Davies conducted the first of a series of interviews with party leaders. In the print media, there was an election special in the Economist magazine, edited by Oxford PPE graduate Zanny Minton-Beddoes; a clutch of election articles in the political magazine Prospect, edited by Oxford PPE graduate Bronwen Maddox; an election column in the Guardian by Oxford PPE graduate Simon Jenkins; and more election coverage in the Times and the Sun, whose proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, studied PPE at Oxford.

    https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/feb/23/ppe-oxford-university-degree-that-rules-britain

    I doubt we could argue that intolerance is prevalent on the Oxon planet.

  11. Tom Curtis says:

    What is missing from this discussion is a recognition that the views being purportedly censored on academic campuses are not “right wing” views, but explicitly or implicitly racist views. Also missing is recognition that they have occurred in response to the triumph of explicit racism represented by the election of Trump, and the re-invigoration of the racist right that occurred as a result. That result seems to indicate that rational discussion of the issues has failed to keep racism as an ideology in check.

    Apparently, for a number of millenials, keeping racism in check is more important than preserving democratic norms. They appear to regard racism as a more pernicious evil than democracy is a good. Even though I regard racism as the most pernicious evil of all, I disagree with that assessment. But we cannot consistently bemoan a lack of opinion diversity or academic freedom in academia while insisting that that particular view not be permitted in academia. Nor, if the view is present, can we consistently expect it to not be acted on, if we hold that non-violent civil disobedience is a legitimate political response (as I do).

  12. Joshua says:

    Tom –

    =={ What is missing from this discussion is a recognition that the views being purportedly censored on academic campuses… }==

    The whole notion of “censored” is questionable, IMO. For example if generally speaking, a given community decides it doesn’t want to accept certain socio-pragmstic conventions as opposed to others (e. g. doesn’t want to accept someone who refuses to use the pronouns people prefer when being referred to), that isn’t censorship, IMO. People who don’t want to accept those conventions have the right and opportunity to enter other communities where their preferred conventions are accepted.

    =={ … are not “right wing” views, but explicitly or implicitly racist views. }==

    I think that is too broad a generalization. As you seem to acknowledge, not all of the opposition has been in response to explicitly racist views… and implicit racism is not easy to identify in an objective/definitive manner, IMO.

  13. Willard says:

  14. Tom,
    The claims of a crisis of free speech are mostly, I think, coming from those who suggest that there is a lack of viewpoint diversity on university campuses. However, if some of these viewpoints are views that are regarded as socially unacceptable, then I don’t see any reason why universities should be expected to find ways to promote those views (by, for example, hiring some staff who hold them).

  15. **Chief Scientist Alan Finkel responds to climate sceptic Senator Malcolm Roberts**

    Senator Roberts pressed the Chief Scientist about the need to be open-minded in science. “Not so open minded that your brain leaks out,” Dr Finkel responded.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-03/chief-scientist-alan-finkel-responds-to-climate/8585568

    It seems that climate scientists and those of this parish have been charged with ladling the brains of denialists back into their leaky skulls armed with teaspoons. A self-less act, not helped by opening of ‘universities’ that promote leaky brains.

    Critical thinking yes. Woolly, bogus thinking allowed to go unchallenged? … No thank you.

  16. JCH says:

    Richard – yes, it is a curry of wild exaggerations… the “Stalinist” origins. LMAO. Fascism from people who have no money, no army, no connections, and no guns. Haha.

  17. Richard,
    Thanks, a good article. Certainly my view that extreme examples are being used to tar the whole academy with the same brush.

  18. John Hartz says:

    Tangentially related to the OP because it focuses on the difficulties encountered in the teaching of climate science to high school students in Wellstone, Ohio — loacted in Appalachia’s coal mining country..

    To Gwen Beatty, a junior at the high school in this proud, struggling, Trump-supporting town, the new science teacher’s lessons on climate change seemed explicitly designed to provoke her.

    So she provoked him back.

    When the teacher, James Sutter, ascribed the recent warming of the Earth to heat-trapping gases released by burning fossil fuels like the coal her father had once mined, she asserted that it could be a result of other, natural causes.

    When he described the flooding, droughts and fierce storms that scientists predict within the century if such carbon emissions are not sharply reduced, she challenged him to prove it. “Scientists are wrong all the time,” she said with a shrug, echoing those celebrating President Trump’s announcement last week that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

    When Mr. Sutter lamented that information about climate change had been removed from the White House website after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, she rolled her eyes.

    Climate Science Meets a Stubborn Obstacle: Students by Amy Harmon, New York Times, June 5, 2017

  19. Here is Richard Dawkins teaching Darwinian natural selection to religious pupils. A master class in how to deal with received ideas, and gently unpick them.

    I guess teachers need to find ways – with the help of Dawkins and others – to continue teaching and not assume that children are impervious to argument.

  20. Steven Mosher says:

    in the not so distant future all your universities are belong to us

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/04/forget-far-right-populism-crypto-anarchists-are-the-new-masters-internet-politics?CMP=share_btn_tw

    Already the nanodegree is a thing. only fools will go to brick and mortar Universities.

  21. Wow. Sounds as if the student is more scientific than the teacher.

    When the teacher, James Sutter, ascribed the recent warming of the Earth to heat-trapping gases released by burning fossil fuels like the coal her father had once mined, she asserted that it could be a result of other, natural causes.

    I do understand a bit of radiative physics and that warming is the likely consequence of increased amounts of radiatively active gasses. However, the young student points out the obvious: correlation is not causation.

    When he described the flooding, droughts and fierce storms that scientists predict within the century if such carbon emissions are not sharply reduced, she challenged him to prove it. “Scientists are wrong all the time,” she said with a shrug, echoing those celebrating President Trump’s announcement last week that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

    “flooding, droughts and fierce storms” are part of the popular lore, not so much scientific predictions.

    Let’s neglect flooding for the moment, because it is so multi-factoral ( snowfall, snowmelt, rainfall, paved surface runnoff, dams, levees, etc. etc. ) ( and multi-seasonal which obviates some amount of belief in temperature dependence ) and so poorly measured.

    But droughts indicate a slight decrease globally from the satellite era derived vegetative stress index. And drought indicates no change over a century from US station based drought indices.
    Theories are fine, but when they are contradicted by observations, scientists draw new conclusions. What’s worse, there doesn’t appear to be much scientific basis for predicting changes of drought in the future. To be sure, global average temperature may be predictable and perhaps some other aspects of climate, but it remains that the units of action of precipitation are low level convergence events ( mostly mid-latitude cyclones, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, and tropical cyclones which emerge from the ITCZ ). These events are not predictable and neither are the decadal or even centennial scale statistics of such events. Variations in precipitation must have confounded primitive peoples with their capricious variations, leading them to ascribe the variations to the anger of the gods. For our part, we understand these variations as equally mathematically valid solutions to chaotic physical equations. We know circulation of the atmosphere can vary and we know that we can’t know how they will fluctuate in the future

    As for fierce storms, the empirical evidence again contradicts this idea. Strong US tornadoes have decreased over the period of record( since 1950). And accumulated cyclone energy indicates no trend for the period of reliable record ( around 1975 ). Again, what’s worse, is that not only is this idea contradicted by the observations, increased fierce storms are contradicted by theory! To wit:

    Manabe and Wetherald, 1979: “The reduction of the merdional temperature gradient appears to reduce not only the eddy kinetic energy, but also the variance of temperature in the model troposphere.”

    Held and Soden, 2006: “The implication is that the exchange of mass between boundary layer and the midtroposphere must decrease, and, since much of this exchange occurs in moist convection in the Tropics, the convective mass flux must decrease. “

    Decreased kinetic energy and decreased convective flux are not the stuff of fierce storms.

    Student 1, Teacher 0.

  22. TE,
    You think this scores a point?

    she asserted that it could be a result of other, natural causes.

  23. And accumulated cyclone energy indicates no trend for the period of reliable record ( around 1975 ). Again, what’s worse, is that not only is this idea contradicted by the observations, increased fierce storms are contradicted by theory! To wit:

    Here’s a tweet from James Elsner.

    Also, I think the theory suggest a reduction in the number of cyclones, but an increase in the intensity and frequency of the strongest ones.

  24. Mosh

    Thanks for that very interesting link to the guardian article.well worth a read.

    The article creates an impression that events are happening over which we have no control and whilst the crypto anarchists may feel they will inherit the earth it seems likely they will in turn be swept away. In this I am reminded of a saying by roman emperor Marcus Aurelius

    ‘Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.’

    How quickly the digital current will surround us is impossible to say and where it will sweep us to is even more unclear. What is certain is that many black swans will be sailing on it.

    Tonyb

  25. “You think this scores a point?” – “she asserted that it could be a result of other, natural causes.”

    No. I didn’t give any points for that, only for pointing out unvalidated forecasts versus empirical evidence.

  26. TE,
    In my view, it rather undermines everything else.

  27. Regarding Atlantic hurricanes, the tweet cites a study of 1980 through 2006.

    Check that result against what the total ACE was from 2006 through 2016.
    A remarkable decline since the end of the period of study.

    The longer term data are less reliable, but in the longer term context, there’s nothing unusual about Atlantic hurricane energy:

    Also, “the theory suggest”.
    There’s not one theory there are many, and they are probably on very shaking ground ( ocean ).
    That’s because general circulation models do not resolve hurricanes.

    There may be theories. There may even be some change due to global warming.
    However, those changes could also easily be fewer and/or weaker hurricanes.
    The physical basis for such ideas?
    Were the Hot Spot to occur, the tropics become more stable.
    That’s consistent with Held & Soden’s decrease of convective transport, though they go on to caveat no predictions about tropical cyclones in the paper.

  28. TE,
    I was mainly quoting someone who actually studies cylones, rather than someone who simply posts comments on the internet. I also don’t think that you can use ACE to suggest that there hasn’t been/won’t be an increase in the intensity and frequency of the strongest cyclones.

    There’s not one theory there are many, and they are probably on very shaking ground ( ocean ).

    Maybe you could quote one that actually suggests that we will not see an increase in the intensity and frequency of the strongest cyclones; ideally without waving your hands wildly.

  29. I’ll maybe also quote a bit from a paper that I discuss here:

    As the climate warms, the system may be unable to increase its total entropy production enough to offset the moistening inefficiencies associated with phase transitions. This suggests that in a future climate, the global atmospheric circulation might comprise highly energetic storms due to explosive latent heat release, but in such a case, the constraint on work output identified here will result in fewer numbers of such events. Earth’s atmospheric circulation thus suffers from the “water in gas problem” observed in simulations of tropical convection, where its ability to produce work is constrained by the need to convert liquid water into water vapor and back again to tap its fuel.

  30. doug1943 says:

    Willard: The American disease has not eaten too far into Britain, yet.

    [Snip. Mind your peddling, and tone down hippie punching, please. -Willard]

    And of course a purely private organization, including a college, should, in my opinion, have the right to invite, or exclude, any speaker, or, for that matter, any professor or student, on any grounds they want, if it’s not in receipt of public money. If you want an environment that allows one political view, or one race, only … that’s up to you. But we’re talking about institutions which are in receipt of public money, or are outright state institutions. Here, free speech should be as absolute as it is in the country as a whole. (And of course people should have the right to protest a speaker’s views, providing they do not disrupt the meeting. But better than a protest would be to challenge someone with views you think are wrong to a debate.)

    [More peddling. -Willard]

    Giving a mob, or, worse, the state, the right to decide what ideas will be heard, and what suppressed, is something that is invariably supported by people who fear that they cannot answer those ideas in a free discussion.

    It’s clearly a very attractive idea, practiced in many countries, and taken up with equal enthusiasm by many on both the Right and the Left, depending on whether or not they think they will be the suppressors. . But it’s a bad idea.

    .

  31. doug,

    But we’re talking about institutions which are in receipt of public money, or are outright state institutions. Here, free speech should be as absolute as it is in the country as a whole.

    What does this mean? Free speech simply means that you should not be prohibited by a government from expressing your views. It gives you no specific rights to do so wherever you like, or on any platform you like. Even publicly funded organisations have the right to make decisions about who to invite to give talks, even who to hire. Of course, once you’ve hired someone, you should then not curtail their speech, and once you’ve invited someone to talk at your institution they should not really be disinvited. But your suggestion that free speech should be as absolute as it is in the country as a whole doesn’t really make sense to me; at least in the sense that I don’t really see what it means in the context of, for example, a publicly funded university.

  32. JCH says:

    A publicly funded university should not be forced to endanger the safety of its student body by being forced to have speakers on its grounds that inspire violence/violent reactions.

  33. Steven Mosher says:

    “The article creates an impression that events are happening over which we have no control and whilst the crypto anarchists may feel they will inherit the earth it seems likely they will in turn be swept away. ”

    Ah no we dont think we will inherit the earth. The point is that the technology being deployed now
    will inherit the earth.

  34. russellseitz says:

    Harvard has recently taken to de-matriculating Politically Incorrect , or just plain sophomoric students before they set foot in the place as freshmen- or freshwomen for that matter.

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/06/salem-on-charles.html

  35. Joshua says:

    =={ Harvard has recently taken to de-matriculating Politically Incorrect , or just plain sophomoric students }==

    Interesting way of describing those students activities. Perhaps Harvard has some responsibility to the members of their community who find mocking the deaths of children offensive?

    Russell – you seem to be quite good at monitoring WUWT. Would you mind pointing me to the WUWT post that spoke about the witch trial aspect of Milo being disinvited from CPAC? How about a WUWT article taking to task the political correct neo-Stalinists who get fainting spells about the politically incorrect usage of the term “denier?”

  36. russellseitz says:

    Activities? Surely you mean speech. If Dean Khurana finds their Facebook manners objectionable , he should avail himself of the opportunity to teach them better ones– like those prevailing in University Hall before his arrival.

  37. russellseitz says:

    Joshua’s WUWT time might be better spent catching up with South Park:

  38. Joshua says:

    Russell –

    I would offer that the students have very effectively leaned some lessons, among them being that there are a variety of constitutional implications to freedom of speech, words have consequences, and maybe doing offensive things isn’t always a great idea. I suspect they will carry those lessons forward, as will many other observers. Of course, for some, the lesson learned is that pools of self-victimization can be bottomless.

  39. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    You probably don’t have time, but this includes a discussion about placing the “campus free speech crisis” in context.

    https://bloggingheads.tv/videos/46331?in=03:35&out=10:17&utm_content=buffer418d0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

  40. Joshua,
    Thanks, I listened while doing some other work. I see he brought up the Bret Stephens (NYT) affair and suggested that people cancelling their subscriptions was an adult version of students no-platforming speakers at universities and suggested that this indicated that this lack of understanding of how to conduct oneselves was propagating out of universities and into the wider community.

    The problem, in my view, with this is that it ignores that many people have spent a great deal of time communicating about climate science and are getting rather frustrated with the same tired arguments appearing time and time again, especially from an organisation that claims that the truth matters. An alternative interpretation is presenting these arguments again is, itself, a tactic in which it is known that some will get frustrated and which can then be used to suggests that they lack the maturity to engage in honest, and civil, discussions.

  41. This gal may be representative of the problem.

    [Snip. – Willard]

  42. TE,
    The link doesn’t seem to work for me (or is incredibly slow). I’m not sure I’m all that disappointed.

  43. Willard says:

    > This gal may be representative of the problem

    More peddling. That’s just great.

    I guess it’s time for my post on how to exploit quantifiers.

  44. russellseitz says:

    A cautionary essay on the volatllty of perceived cultural authority has just appeared in The New Republic ; one that should be read by PC Principals anf those looking forward to careers in climate communication based on what they were taught in politically fraught Schools of Journalism- how to further simplify press releases from NGO’s:

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/06/climate-activisms-freudian-slip.html

  45. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I love this part: =={ and suggested that this indicated that this lack of understanding of how to conduct oneselves was propagating out of universities and into the wider community. }==

    Which relates to my main problem with Haidt’s stuff on this issue. There view of the problem, it seems to me, is completely out of proportion to the actual problem. The impact of “political correctness” on college campuses is dwarfed by orders of magnitude by a parallel phenomenon that has existed for decades – not the least what we see in examples like massive right wing media entities focus hours of programming and billions of dollars on the outrage over a “war on Christmas” or other situations where sensibilities are offended.

    Haidt goes so far as to identify a major cultural shift – away from an “honor culture” and towards a “culture of victmhood,” where the locus of that major cultural shift is found in a tiny, tiny subset of the population. It seems to me to be a rather absurd situation where someone who generally takes a very careful approach to data assessment has, basically, jumped the shark.

  46. Joshua says:

    Russell –

    =={ A cautionary essay on the volatllty of perceived cultural authority }==

    Everybody loves cautionary tales and slippery slopes, especially when there’s an agenda to pursue.

  47. Joshua says:

    Heh. “gal.” One of those things that you just can’t make up.

  48. Joshua,

    There view of the problem, it seems to me, is completely out of proportion to the actual problem.

    Also largely my view.

    It seems to me to be a rather absurd situation where someone who generally takes a very careful approach to data assessment has, basically, jumped the shark.

    Yes, I’ve seen him tweet a few things that seem rather bizarre.

  49. I found this to be an interesting exchange. Maybe some awareness?

  50. Marco says:

    “This gal may be representative of the problem.”

    Why is someone who supposedly leaked a document that indicated Russia indeed was meddling with the elections “representative of the problem”?

    Oh, and please, you could have selected many different links, but you chose infowars?!?!?!?!?

  51. Joshua says:

    =={ Maybe some awareness? }==

    Perhaps, but I doubt it will make any difference unless he examines the analytical weakness that lies beneath the disdainful tone.

  52. Joshua,
    Indeed, I’m would not be surprised if you turned out to be correct.

  53. Joshua says:

    Wow. Just read that “great summary,” which leaves out any details that might complicate a sophisticated analysis. That’s really pathetic. I’m struggling to maintain my respect for his work…getting hard to do.

  54. Willard says:

    > Why is someone who supposedly leaked a document that indicated Russia indeed was meddling with the elections “representative of the problem”?

    With free speech in academia, no less.

    Hence “the problem” – injected without identification.

    Peddling is a word placement discipline.

    Next weekend I’ll try to write something on peddling.

  55. Joshua says:

    =={ > Why is someone who supposedly leaked a document that indicated Russia indeed was meddling with the elections “representative of the problem”? }==

    My guess is that the “deep state” ties everything together. You have to think like a victim to connect the dots. Many things are possible when you’re a victim that aren’t possible otherwise.

  56. John Hartz says:

    Meanwile, back in the real world…

    The last week of May 2017 and first week of June brought one the most extraordinary heatwaves in world history to Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The mercury shot up to an astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) at Turbat, Pakistan on May 28, making it Earth’s hottest temperature ever recorded in the month of May—and one of Earth’s top-five hottest reliably-measured temperatures on record, for any month. Both Pakistan and Oman tied their all-time national heat records for any month during the heat wave, and all-time national heat records for the month of May were set in Iran, Norway and Austria. International weather records expert Maximiliano Herrera details the great heat wave in this guest post.

    Historic Heat Wave Sweeps Asia, the Middle East and Europe by Jeff Masters, Category 6, Weather Underground, June 6, 2017

  57. russellseitz says:

    OTOH, it is hazardous to expose tender minds to an excess of South Park, . whose “mature audiences only” warning has just been justified by the spectacle of students who were admitted to Evergreen State College roaming the campus with baseball bats to defend themseves from victimization by professors posessed of a hateful belief in the 1st Amendment.

  58. Steven Mosher says:

    Science buildings under attack at Evergreen. Closed. windows broken.

    no problem. move along. nothing to see

    Heat waves are happening some place

  59. Steven Mosher says:

    “Which relates to my main problem with Haidt’s stuff on this issue. There view of the problem, it seems to me, is completely out of proportion to the actual problem. The impact of “political correctness” on college campuses is dwarfed by orders of magnitude by a parallel phenomenon that has existed for decades”

    huh?

  60. doug1943 says:

    Replying to ‘And Then There’s Physics’: Here’s the bottom line: a group invites someone to speak on campus. A mob turns up and prevents them from speaking. For or against?

    There will be plenty of apologists around who will say — “Well, the speaker was a racist, or an “implicit racist” [meaning: someone who doesn’t share my politics], so they shouldn’t be allowed to speak.” I think that’s a shameful view, and that anyone who has that view shares a fundamental aspect of the worldview of fascists.

    Going beyond the bottom line: I think universities in particular, have a special duty to insure that their students are exposed to a range of political views, including, especially, those that challenge their existing beliefs.

    Genuine belief in free speech is actually rare, held mainly by the liberal intelligentsia — and it’s dismaying to see it eroding there.

  61. doug,

    Here’s the bottom line: a group invites someone to speak on campus. A mob turns up and prevents them from speaking. For or against?

    Against. However, I have no problem with people choosing to protest a speaker. I also think that using isolated incidents like this to suggest that such behaviour is prevalent in academia, and condoned by academics, is wrong.

  62. Tom Curtis says:

    doug1943, when the Anti Defamation League calls you on racism that isn’t targeted at Jews, I think it is safe to say you are a racist, or in Milo’s case, possibly somebody who is merely willing to play act racism for notoriety, ie, to use the racism of others for personal game, which is equally odious. Ann Coulter has also been guilty of clearly racist claims. If you are aware of anybody else whose speech has been cancelled at a campus due to violence or the threat of violence, let me know.

    This is not just a matter of disagreement over politics, unless you consider racism a viable political opinion.

    I also object to your misrepresentation of my views as being an enabler. I clearly noted my disagreement with the resort to violence to shut down racist speech. Free speech is first, and foremost, a universal permission for rational discussion. It does not extend to incitement of violence (for example). It does not grant permission to resort to irrational or dishonest argument. A purported defender of free speech who argue by quoting out of context, as you have done, thereby undermines their views; or at best turns the “free speech” they argue for into a meaningless shiboleth.

    As a final note, to treat this issue as just a free speech issue, as if racism is inconsequential is truly to enable racism.

  63. doug1943 says:

    “Racism” has now become a term which is largely meaningless.

    It’s a convenient way to avoid thought, and to avoid discussion of unpleasant realities. (And we need that discussion: the condition of Black America is shameful. A rich country like the US should not tolerate it. But to deal rationally with it, we need to discuss its causes. If you believe that your views are the only ones which should be heard, that they are unchallengeably correct, then you have a confidence in your political beliefs which history shows is not warranted for anyone’s political beliefs — not even for their scientific beliefs.)

    In reality, almost all human beings are to one extent or another ‘racist’ in that they make statistical judgements about groups, and, perhaps unconsciously, tend to judge all members of other groups by those statistical judgements. It’s very hard to avoid this, and most people in the world don’t even try.

    Racism — by which I mean tribal conflict based not on beliefs but on some inherent characteristic of people, essentially their ‘tribe’ — in the United States and Europe takes very mild forms, because of the advanced social and political culture of these countries and the fact that the racial conflicts they did have ended in decisive victory for one side or the other.

    In more backward societies, and/or those where more than one tribe has the possibility of dominating, it’s often lethal: witness Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Greeks and Turks, Armenians and Azerbaijanies, Shi’a’s and Sunnis, Sinhalas and Tamils, the Burmese majority vs Rohynga Muslims, Hindus and Muslims in India, the various tribes in Africa. Most Americans are largely unaware of these bloody conflicts because of the cultural isolation of the US, plus the fact that the Left idealize the Third World and avert their eyes from the terrible tribal conflicts there.

    Opposition to free speech comes, today, mainly from people on the Far Left, whose Leninist ancestors have opposed it since they took power in Russia a century ago [before that, opposition to free speech was almost entirely from the Right] , but sometimes also by people who are not Leftists. For instance, hostility to the Zionist project is equated by many Zionists with anti-Semitism, in order to shut down critical discussion of Israeli policies.

    I absolutely agree that incitement to violence should not be protected as free speech. Anyone who does that should be arrested and tried in a court of law. (But even here, there are grey areas: when ‘Sister Souljah’ famously said “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?”, the worst response she was subjected to was a rebuke by Bill Clinton. And rightly so.)

    However, saying that ‘dishonest’ or ‘irrational’ speech should also be suppressed is a very dangerous argument — please think again on that one. The best way to oppose error is with truth.

    Although of course all human behavior will have fuzzy boundaries, including incitement to violence, ‘dishonesty’ or ‘irrationality’ are far too vague as criteria for suppression.

    Irrationality abounds in society, including in the world of education. The Portland School Board was [is?] happy to teach Black children utter nonsense about their supposed Egyptian origins, complete with tales of the psionic powers of their ancestors (http://www.csicop.org/si/show/magic_melanin_spreading_scientific_illiteracy_among_minorities).

    Liberal white guilt plus condescension towards people they secretly consider childlike results in some peculiar phenomena. But the way to combat this nonsense is not to prevent people from preaching it, provided they do so as private individuals or organizations.

    I personally consider belief in a personal God, or pyramid power, or any one of a million examples of New Age woo irrational, but I wouldn’t dream of trying to suppress the speech of those who hold to these irrational beliefs.

    Dishonesty is also too vague a criterion to use to decide who is allowed to speak, and who not. I recall the argument about the ‘trick’ used to smooth out a graph in the leaked Climate Unit emails affair — I’m sure people reading this will remember that episode. Just how was that word being used? As I use it when I show students how to sum an infinite series by doubling it and sliding one set of terms over by one and then subtracting … or in a more dishonest way? I was never convinced either way, but the best way to deal with the issue was to bring it out in the open and debate it.

    How widespread is the hostility to speech which challenges the liberal/Left consensus? I don’t see how anyone who is aware of what’s been happening in American academia (and elsewhere) can deny that it’s a serious phenomenon, but of course honest people can disagree. However, I suspect people who dismiss this are really saying the following: the views being suppressed are wrong and distasteful and made by unpleasant people, so I’m not going to get worked up about it. (Plus that old temptation — pas d’ennemi à Gauche — with which conservatives, in the other direction, are now being tempted by the populist/nationalist/[and, yes, sometimes racist in a real sense] Right.)

    I suppose a civil-libertarian conservative, if there was such a thing, would have thought that way in the 1950s.

  64. doug,

    However, saying that ‘dishonest’ or ‘irrational’ speech should also be suppressed is a very dangerous argument — please think again on that one. The best way to oppose error is with truth.

    I don’t think Tom’s suggestion was that ‘dishonest/irrational’ speech should be suppressed. It was more, I think, that it doesn’t give ‘permission’ for such speech, which I took to mean that if you’re “caught” speaking dishonestly, you can’t invoke free speech as some kind of justification.

  65. Tom Curtis says:

    doug1943:

    ““Racism” has now become a term which is largely meaningless.”

    Nonsense.

    “However, saying that ‘dishonest’ or ‘irrational’ speech should also be suppressed is a very dangerous argument — please think again on that one. The best way to oppose error is with truth.”

    I will note that the use of dishonest or irrational argument does not in itself justify shutting down speech. It does, however, void the protection of that speech when it should be shut down on other grounds (racism, abusiveness, etc).

    Free speech is often treated by “free speech” advocates as though it was a self evident right, but no right is self evident, and certainly not one as abstract as free speech. The reason we enforce free speech is because it has instrumental value. “Free speech” advocates do not like to acknowledge this, for with any right justified by instrumental value, it is possible that in particular instances, the exercise of the right will cause more harm than good, in which case the justification of free speech ceases to apply in that instance. Given the great harm racism has done through history, racist speech clearly cannot be given status for free speech as a general rule.

    Against this fairly obvious point, the case is argued that the best way to “… oppose error is with truth”, ie, that we should not stop the equivalent of the Nuremberg Rally provided we can also have the equivalent of Martin Luther King’s, “I have a dream” speech. But the claim that the best way to oppose error is with truth is an empirical claim. It seems to work OK in science, where there are strict controls on free speech based on a requirement of rationality and honesty (the peer review system). But in the age of Trump, the claim distinctly lacks empirical support outside of the academic setting. In fact, given the apparent immunity of Trump supporters to revision of their beliefs, the widespread spreading of fake news on the internet, and the amount of speech which is paid for, and which consequently need have no relationship to the actual opinions of those making the speech, I would say it has been refuted. The theoretical justification of unrestricted free speech assumed a majority community of rational enquirers in dialogue. That model does not fit the world, and the conclusions from it are not a reliable guide to the best way to preserve democratic debate.

  66. Willard says:

    Giving public monies to a private organization doesn’t transmute its space in a public one.

    If it does, then Greenpeace got waaay too many fines in its existence – most if not all of its protests have been against subsidized companies.

    Please tone down the hippie punching, Doug.

  67. lerpo says:

    “The best way to oppose error is with truth.”

    That is probably not true: ” in several cases, we find that corrections actually strengthened misperceptions among the most strongly committed subjects. ” – http://www.dartmouth.edu/~nyhan/nyhan-reifler.pdf

  68. “The best way to oppose error is with truth.”

    I think that this is typically referred to as deficit model thinking.

  69. Willard says:

    Appealing to “but deficit model” can be fallacious when it attacks a non-cognitive interpretation of statements like “the best way to oppose error is with truth”. Actually, just about any non-hyperbolic interpretation would do. The fact that people often aren’t convinced by true factual statements doesn’t undermine the principle according to which truthfulness helps lead a more meaningful life, or the historical fact that truth increased our survival fitness.

    Another thing that would deserve a post.

  70. The fact that people aren’t convinced by true factual statement doesn’t undermine the principle according to which truthfulness helps lead a more meaningful life, or the evolutionary fact that truth increase our survival fitness.

    Fair point. I had interpreted the comment as a way to convince the person who was in error, but it could simply be that the best to way to counter error is with truth – there’s no real need to convince the person who is in error, you really just need to convince a suitable number of other people.

  71. Oh, and I also agree that truth can have value even if few are convinced.

  72. Willard says:

    Indeed, countering can mean there’s an exchange without any real discussion. But what I’m saying also applies to discussions. A rational enquiry is characterized by its truth seeking speech patterns. Whether we discuss air pollution or racism, we want to get to the bottom of it. Ideally, we could get all the facts that matter on the table. In practice we never do, and we have experimental results that lead us to suspect that even if we did it wouldn’t be enough to change minds for loaded subjects.

    However, countering error with truth doesn’t imply a sufficient claim, but a necessary one, i.e. the only way to counter error is with truth. That is, something like: the only way to counter error is by a process where truth is seeked and facts preserved. Truth finding, to me, is crucial. Truth telling? Not enough.

    But even then there are cases where this inefficiency doesn’t matter. Governments can decide they have a duty to tell its citizens that smoking causes lung cancer.

  73. However, countering error with truth doesn’t imply a sufficient claim, but a necessary one, i.e. the only way to counter error is with truth.

    Ahh, yes, a good point.

  74. doug1943 says:

    So, racist speech should be suppressed? What if I write a book and make the claim that one racial group is more intelligent than another, due to genetic reasons. Should I be allowed to publish that book? Should university libraries stock it? Should i be allowed to teach at university, assuming I’m otherwise qualified?

    My own view is: publish, speak, let’s hear your evidence, and then we can debate it.

    By the way, I don’t believe that Truth always overcomes Error. It’s usually the other way around, in fact, given the nature of human society. This is only true in the very long run, partly because, as the Russians say, You can’t fool life, but mainly because lies are the way that various privileged groups hold on to their power. (In the situation we’re discussing here, various race-demagogues and Hard Leftists, taking advantage of white guilt and the spinelessness of some liberals who ought to know better.)

    But the general course of history has been in the direction of increasing the power of ordinary people, the majority of whom are not served by lies in the long run, and undermining that of the priests, demagogues, etc.

    Of course the real value of the liberal order, allowing free speech, is indeed instrumental. It’s the best way to discover truth, and knowing the truth — about the causes of disease, whether we are ‘blank slates’ or conditioned by our biology, war crimes committed by our own soldiers, the effectiveness of welfare-to-work programs, police brutality, — everything — requires open debate, which means you’re going to be forced to allow people with — to you — terrible, hateful, irreligious, mystical, unpatriotic, illiberal, racist, sexist, classist, etc etc views.

    Given that there are so many interests which want to suppress the truth in aid of their own cause, it’s a terrible idea to lend credence to the idea that some views should be suppressed.

    Of course, political power comes out of the barrel of a gun, and it the liberal order is ever seriously threatened by the left- or right-fascists, then questions of free speech will be subordinated to the necessities of civil war, as we replace the weapon of criticism with the criticism of weapons (as one of my favorite thinkers put it)..

    . But we’re still a long way from that situation at the moment.

  75. doug,

    So, racist speech should be suppressed?

    If is already illegal in some countries to incite ethnic, or racial, hatred.

  76. JCH says:

    If somebody chooses to say things that incite violent reactions that could result in university students being injured, then the university is duty bound to decide in favor of student safety. If you want to make one of my kids unsafe just so Ann Coulter can be an a-hole, then you’re irrational. She has a large number of ways to get her message out. Her speech is not suppressed in the United States. Not in Berkley; not anywhere.

  77. lerpo says:

    Doug suggested that we should not suppress dishonest or irrational speech because, (among other things), “the best way to oppose error is with truth”. I don’t buy it. There is no reason to give someone a platform to lie. Adding a truthful and rational counterpoint (or relying on someone else to do so) doesn’t work, and we ought to aim higher.

    Universities, Facebook, Google, and the media will each draw a different line, and all are interested in a diversity of opinion, but ‘free speech’ is no reason to be indifferent to the truth.

  78. Willard says:

    > So, racist speech should be suppressed? What if I write a book and make the claim that one racial group is more intelligent than another, due to genetic reasons. Should I be allowed to publish that book? Should university libraries stock it? Should i be allowed to teach at university, assuming I’m otherwise qualified?

    Arguing by (too many) rhetorical questions oftentimes leads to caricatures, Doug. And in this case it does too. It conflates research with deliberation. It won’t solve the previous slippery slope between private and public spaces.

    My position in these matters is simple. Take AT’s space. His blog, his rules. The same applies to any private space.

    (Other conditions may apply.)

    If you’re disagreeing with this, then you may not be as liberal as you pretend to be.

    Now, we may need to revist chapters and verses of On Liberty. They lead to other kinds of issues. In any event, beware your wishes.

  79. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    JCH:

    If somebody chooses to say things that incite violent reactions that could result in university students being injured, then the university is duty bound to decide in favor of student safety.

    If someone says things that provoke violet reactions – it is those that choose to violently react that are culpable, not the speaker.

    Ann Coulter has the same right to speak her mind as anyone else.
    She does not force anyone to react in a violet manner.

    Universities are not day-cares; university students are adults. University campuses are covered by the same criminal code that applies everywhere else. There is no need whatsoever for special laws to govern actions that happen to occur on university property.

  80. JCH says:

    Nobody can stop Ann Coulter from speaking her mind. Take a look at her record. Even she realized that Berkley was entirely correct to postpone her speaking engagement until it could be done safely. The school was relying on rock-solid legal precedent. Her speech was not suppressed.

  81. angech says:

    Re the strongest hurricanes are getting stronger tweet.
    James Elsner.
    There is an increased trend in the North Atlantic but it is not supported by his data in all the other basins, hence it is a bit selective of him to tweet thus.
    There is also the problem that measurements have only been well made for a short period of time.
    Given a longer period of time there will always be periods where the strongest hurricanes appear to get stronger for a while.
    It is not necessarily a useful statement.

  82. angech,

    There is an increased trend in the North Atlantic but it is not supported by his data in all the other basins, hence it is a bit selective of him to tweet thus.

    His own paper shows trends in the Southern and Northern Indian Oceans and the North Atlantic.

  83. doug1943 says:

    Let’s not kid ourselves.

    [Snip. I asked twice about hippie punching, Doug. This is not Hyde Park. – Willard]

  84. Willard says:

    Everyone.

    The topic is the crisis of free speech in higher education, or the lack thereof.

    The topic ain’t free speech in general.

    It ain’t your favorite episode of the moment.

    It ain’t leftists or right-wing nuts.

    There are many ways to address this topic that could be fruitful. Using the topic as an excuse to rant or peddle crap ain’t one.

    Thanks.

  85. russellseitz says:

    Willard has my vote to do Principal Quine on South Park >

  86. Tom Curtis says:

    doug1943:

    “So, racist speech should be suppressed?”

    Again, you seem unable to argue your case without misrepresenting mine. For the record, my position is that racist speech should be restricted, and required to meet a standard of rationality and honesty in order to be expressed. Something like the provisions of section 18C and 18D of the Australian Race Discrimination Act places the appropriate restraint. Importantly, no view, no matter how obnoxious, is prohibited from expression by that act. But some views, because of their racist nature, must be expressed without use of inflammatory language, with careful martialing of facts, and with rational argument. If you cannot frame your case within those restrictions, you do not have a case.

    “What if I write a book and make the claim that one racial group is more intelligent than another, due to genetic reasons. Should I be allowed to publish that book? Should university libraries stock it? Should i be allowed to teach at university, assuming I’m otherwise qualified?”

    I will note that such a book clearly springs from a racist underpinning. That is, it was written with the purpose of justifying a pre-existing view rather than following the evidence. I say this because, firstly, genetic and race are not equivalent. Taking as an example, sickle cell anemia, a genetic disease, is prevalent among sub-Saharan Africans for environmental reasons. It is, however, a disease within that population (and others), not a race marker. Consequently when you argue that “one racial group is more intelligent than another”, and even assuming the test data supports this claim, if you have not tested for environmental factors and genetic diseases, you are jumping to an over generalization of what the data has been shown to support. The particular book you probably have in mind is even worse in that it treats all sub-Saharan Africans as a single racial group, whereas on genetic and physiological basis, they are divided into several different “racial” groups. That the lazy group he happens to use just happens to coincide with the “racial” group invented in the attempt to provide a justification to slavery is no coincidence.

    As an aside, when you actually do science rather than apologetics for racism, you find that sickle cell anemia is strongly associated with impaired cognitive function. Curiously, mean cohort IQ scores in Africa negatively correlate with prevalence of sickle cell anemia alleles in the population.

    But in answer to your questions, given that you have reasonably adhered to academic standards, then yes to all your questions. But equally, no administration is obliged to offer you a position, or allow your guest lectures. No library obliged to stock your book. And students can use their free speech to protest your employment, lectures and/or book provided they do not resort to violence or the threat of violence.

    “Of course the real value of the liberal order, allowing free speech, is indeed instrumental. It’s the best way to discover truth, and knowing the truth…”

    If our interest in free speech is in fact instrumental (as it is), than the restriction on free speech to require it to be honest and rational is no restriction on its ability to serve that instrumental purpose. There are good reasons to not impose those restrictions except where the views expressed are themselves able to cause harm (as racist speech has been shown to do).

    Further, in some areas, we know the truth. There is no reasonable possibility that the Earth is in fact flat. Free speech with regard to that issue has no greater justification than that we should avoid unnecessary restrictions on behaviour in general. Likewise, person with any understanding of morality could today argue that racism is good, or even neutral. Again that is insufficient reason for restriction except that racist speech has been shown to do actual harm – and acting on racist beliefs has been shown by history to be the most pernicious evil that has been generally prevalent.

    To my way of thinking, the people who want no restriction on racist speech are prepared to allow the victims of racism to pay almost any price to preserve the possibility, that maybe, just maybe, we might find out that that suffering was justified after all.

  87. Steven Mosher says:

    “http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/rda1975202/s18c.html”

    holy crap remind me not to go to that nazi nation.

  88. Willard says:

    Korea‘s so much better.

  89. JCH says:

    When I heard there is a big defamation lawsuit in South Dakota over pink slime I just figured a Russian German was using a typical racial slur on a Norwegian or vice versa.

    I knew nothing about this until I visited Australia:

    List of massacres of Indigenous Australians

  90. Tom Curtis says:

    Which nazi nation?


  91. Tom Curtis says:

    Press Freedom Index 2017
    (ranking) score:
    Australia (019) 16.02
    Canada (022) 16.53
    United States (043) 23.88
    South Korea (063) 27.61

  92. izen says:

    I have struggled to find what proportion of the ~6% of Americans in higher education attend ‘bible’ colleges. They seem to be classified at ‘Liberal Arts’ private colleges. Very little complaint seems to come from the students who are in these safe spaces for God followers.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/the-schools-where-free-speech-goes-to-die/

  93. doug1943 says:

    It’s very interesting, in a horrible sort of way. The US seems to be rapidly rotting from within … why, I don’t know.

    Europe is already neutered … I suspect the future will belong to the Chinese dictatorship. (And the Chinese are NOT given to Politically Correct cant and liberal pieties, although calculatingly cautious in what they say in public.)

    Let’s hope we can get there without a serious nuclear war. The combination of a powerful American military in the hands of guilty white liberal crybaby-Social Justice Warriors is weird to contemplate. They can only hollow it out so far … but the hardware will remain.

    Anyway, the Chinese are a great civilization and perhaps will evolve into something like a liberal democracy in the next century.

  94. Willard says:

    > Let’s hope we can get there without a serious nuclear war.

    As long as we have Freedom Fighters overeditorializing on the Internet, the world will be safe.

  95. It almost seems as though it’s okay to be alarmist about anything, as long as it’s not climate change.

  96. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    …as long as it’s not climate change.

    Nothing that a non-serious nuclear war couldn’t fix.

    BTW, doug1943 – Having met a few members of the powerful American military, I can assure you that they are not very typically guilty, liberal, or crybaby-Social Justice Warriors. Some of them aren’t even white!

  97. Steven Mosher says:

    Quite frankly Tom after reading that law I would never set foot in australia. no great loss for them I know.
    Quite frankly I feel safer in China and Korea where the laws are clear.
    BTW I spend 50% of my time in China. and a few days every month in Seoul

  98. Joshua says:

    =={ The US seems to be rapidly rotting from within … why, I don’t know. }==

    If only we could go back to the good ol’ days when manly men could say what they wanted… and girly men and girly girls and non-whites knew their place.

    Before all that rot, doncha know… and before we got on this road to serfdom, doncha know.

  99. russellseitz says:

    Doug1943:
    “What if I write a book and make the claim that one racial group is more intelligent than another, due to genetic reasons. Should I be allowed to publish that book? Should university libraries stock it? Should i be allowed to teach at university, assuming I’m otherwise qualified?”

    TC”I will note that such a book clearly springs from a racist underpinning. That is, it was written with the purpose of justifying a pre-existing view rather than following the evidence. ”

    Sounds like Australian customs confiscated TC’s copy of the May 22 Isssue of Nature Genetics before he could refuse to read it.

  100. Tom Curtis says:

    Steven Mosher, you may think that legislation that, so far as official action goes, can only involve you in a mediation process, and at worst (<1.8% of cases) may result in a civil suite makes life just too risky to come to Australia for (as opposed to the famously light penalties for breach of Chinese restrictions on free speech). I think that speaks to your rationality far more than it speaks to any problem with Australian law.
    http://theconversation.com/change-section-18c-critics-should-do-this-crash-course-first-68354

  101. russellseitz says:

    As if on cue, the LA Times has run a remedial First Amendment op-ed for Tom Curtis, from opprssively named civil liberties attorney Ken White :

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-white-first-amendment-slogans-20170608-story.html

  102. JCH says:

    If you think the USA culture is tanking now, wait until the average white male conservative learns he can trade in some of his precious IQ points and get a bigger dick… thank you Charles Murray.

  103. Tom Curtis says:

    russelseitz needs to examine his premises. In particular, his implied premises that what is law in the US is what is morally right; and that what is law in the US is normative for the rest of the world both look rather shonky.

  104. jac. says:

    @Tom Curtis June 8, 2017 at 1:02 am

    Thank you.

    jac.

  105. Willard says:

    Russell might appreciate how 1st amendment specialists and popehats alike resort to the genetic fallacy:

    When words become deeds, they fall under the Law.

    Speaking of which, here’s ours:

    While we don’t limit the range of opinions allowed on WordPress.com, we’re strict about certain behaviors and remove content that violates our Terms of Service, such as spam and threats of violence. If you see such behaviors on a WordPress.com site, you can report them. Finally, always remember that on your own site, you can control who may or may not view your content or participate in discussions.

    https://en.wordpress.com/freedom-of-speech/

    WP’s jurisdiction is Cali.

  106. anoilman says:

    Covfefe: The definition of free speech in lower education.

  107. doug1943 says:

    Russell — Actually, the book I had in mind should certainly be suppressed by TC and his co-thinkers (or co-feelers), if they were logical. It quite openly states that there is a certain human group, related by biology (although not a ‘race’, in the usual way that word is used), who are genetically superior in intelligence to another biologically-related group, their superior genes having come about through natural selection.. Superior…. Intelligence…. for genetic reasons. Should be enough to make any bien pensant run to get the rope.

    Now I personally don’t think that’s an outrageous or evil claim, although I think it may be wrong (and not just in the case mentioned). I could go on a long time about the impact of the social environment, especially including the impact of military conquest by an alien culture, on whatever it is about a people which makes them achieve intellectually, something which I believe is way underrated by people who study this issue.

    However, to me, it’s just a scientific question — assuming there are genes for intelligence, are they perfectly evenly distributed among all human groups, unlike most other genes? Could a loving God have been so unkind? Of course, to the Thought Police, even to raise this question is a heinous Thoughtcrime.

    However, I also know for certain that the Thought Police would NOT ban this book, nor would they prevent its author from teaching at an American university. They would simply be intellectually incapable of processing the information in it. Some of them have probably even read the book, and nodded with approval at its main thesis, while simply blanking out the genes-for-intelligence bit.
    Not because they’re stupid, which I am sure they’re not, but because on this issue they have an irrational, emotional commitment which makes them mix up questions of fact, with questions of morality. (I suppose the thinkers of the Catholic Church, when it suppressed Galileo, were motivated by the same thing. And you often find that Creationists oppose Darwinism with some variant of Dostoyevsky’s line, ‘Without God, all things are permitted”.)

    Which is my main objection to the enemies of free speech — they are preventing the sort of political arguments among America’s future rulers which we need in order to address its social problems.

  108. russellseitz says:

    Justice Holmes famous 1st Amendment ruling is being traduced as usual–

    He wrote you have no right to “ falsely shout ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater.”

  109. Willard says:

    Justice Holmes’ point isn’t really about truth, Russell. It’s about causing harm. Think about how the RTLMC exhorted its listeners to do horrible things. Truth wouldn’t protect your speech in cases where the rights of otters is infringed.

    Truth matters more for the argument according to which absolute free speech is our best bet to seek out truth. I don’t buy that idea:

    This article examines a thesis of interest to social epistemology and some articulations of First Amendment legal theory: that a free market in speech is an optimal institution for promoting true belief. Under our interpretation, the market-for-speech thesis claims that more total truth possession will be achieved if speech is regulated only by free market mechanisms; that is, both government regulation and private sector nonmarket regulation are held to have information-fostering properties that are inferior to the free market. After discussing possible counterexamples to the thesis, the article explores the actual implications of economic theory for the emergence of truth in a free market for speech. When confusions are removed about what is maximized by perfectly competitive markets, and when adequate attention is paid to market imperfections, the failure of the market-for-speech thesis becomes clear. The article closes by comparing the properties of a free market in speech with an adversarial system of discourse.

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/legal-theory/article/speech-truth-and-the-free-market-for-ideas/EAEB9913028B20AD7520D7B7F81316BC

    When media conglomerates like Murdoch’s profit from purveying misleading information while poisononing the well of our common knowledge base, the externalities they shovel into the minds of Freedom Fighters suffice to show we’re far from an optimal path.

  110. doug1943 says:

    “Joshua — If only we could go back to the good ol’ days when manly men could say what they wanted… and girly men and girly girls and non-whites knew their place.

    Before all that rot, doncha know… and before we got on this road to serfdom, doncha know.”

    Indeed … the generations that defeated the British Empire and established a Republic, destroyed slavery, defeated the Nazis, saw off the Soviet Union — not to mention putting a man on the moon, and a few other accomplishments in science and engineering and medicine — those generations were so deeply morally inferior to the current Snowflakes. Just imagine what progress we would have made had the Transgenderized Diversity Trainers been in charge!

  111. Willard says:

    > Just imagine […]

    Counterfactuals are nothing compared to real Freedom Fighters, Doug:

  112. doug1943 says:

    And speaking of earlier generations (racists all!), here’s a nice article about them: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/04/a-revolutionary-itinerary/302192/

    Skip to the last paragraph for the punchline if you can’t stomach the appreciative descriptions of monuments to war.

    If you don’t know who I.F. Stone was, well, he was just another old insensitive racist heteronormative white man.

  113. Joshua says:

    doug –
    =={ those generations were so deeply morally inferior to the current Snowflakes. }==

    You seem to think that I made such an argument. Either I wasn’t clear or you were augmenting what I said with an argument you heard in your own head.

    I didn’t argue that any particular generations were inferior or superior. I was commenting on your “the sky is falling” pronouncements, which indicated that concurrent with vastly greater freedom for vast segments of our population, we are rotting from within.

    I tend to stay away from large-scale pronouncements about clear overall trends in our infinitely complex social structure. And I think that when people are cavalier about making such pronouncements, there should be a very high bar of proof.

  114. doug1943 says:

    Well, Joshua, I don’t fundamentally disagree with a lot of what you say here.

    The future is unpredictable in any detail, and there’s a also a lot to be optimistic about, along with the gloomy stuff. The outcome of recent elections in Iran, for example. The slow opening up of Cuba to economic freedom, which will hopefully lay the foundations for political freedom there some day. The fact, as I know from personal acquaintance, that at least some of the children of the ruling Chinese elite, who will someday themselves be rulers, would like to see a lot more personal freedom in their country. The recent (historically) rapid decline in world poverty, the only real foundation for progress.

    Believe me, I’m all for “vastly greater freedom for vast segments of our population”. It’s why I joined the first sit-ins in Houston at Weingarten’s supermarket in 1961, took part in the “stand-ins” at the local downtown (segregated)theatres, picketed Foley’s Department store because they wouldn’t hire Blacks, registered sharecroppers to vote in Fayette County during Freedom Summer, drove up from Texas to the March on Washington (five of us in a VW bug), raised money on my campus to buy guns and ammunition for the Bogalusa Louisiana Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (not to be confused with the lumpen-based drug-dealer-led outfit of the same name that came later). It’s why I wrote acasdemic .papers proposing ways to get more women into computing during the 1980s, and why my maths students learn about — and hopefully think about emulating — Maryam Mirzakhani.

    It’s the march of civilization, as the naked ape pulls himself up from savagery and backwardness, out of the Kingdom of Necessity and towards the Kingdom of Freedom. And of course I know I’m a product of my generation, “a man of the old formation” as the Russians would say, but, still … civilization is good … to steal some words from George Orwell “There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognised it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for.”

    However … there is no invisible man in the sky guaranteeing human progress, which always runs into the opposing material self-interest of various groups. I would love to see all the nations of the world become like Europe, and beat their swords into research on fusion power and cures for cancer. But this isn’t happening at the moment.

    There is only one nation at the moment capable for defending liberal democracy, and that’s the US. If the US goes down — which doesn’t have to be via some spectacular apocalypse, but could be just the sort of self-indulgent cultural rot that has made Germany, for example, fat and wealthy but incapable of defending itself — if that happens, we may see some very unpleasant developments in the world. (And please note: I think American foreign policy has, since 1945, generally been shortsighted where it hasn’t been criminal — ‘worse than a crime, a blunder’ — and ultimately self-defeating. Nonetheless, military strength prevailed, since, as the man said, all the ultimate questions of humanity are settled not by kind words and votes but by blood and iron.

    So I think you look at the growth of irrationality in the US academy, the capitulation to violent protestors, the willingness to censor ideas that don’t fit the dominant Leftist narrative, refusing to fly the American flag, … and pronounce these developments good — or perhaps non-existent.

    I don’t think so, and I do indeed fear their long-term effects, because a lot of history depends on the character of leaders — the Cromwells and Washingtons and Lincolns and Churchills — and the sort of leaders we seem to be preparing in our elite institutions don’t fill me with confidence.

  115. Mal Adapted says:

    TE:

    Wow. Sounds as if the student is more scientific than the teacher.

    Not to me, it doesn’t. A high school teacher shouldn’t be expected to master the rebuttals for all 195 popular AGW-denier memes listed at skepticalscience.com; what the student needs to learn is that climate science has already answered all her challenges, and if she’s willing to put the time in she can verify the answers for herself.

  116. Willard says:

    Doug,

    It’s been a while since I saw a comment that expresses Freedom Fighters‘s themes so well. I forgot about the personality cult, but it makes sense if we crank up the authoritarian scale. So thank you for that.

    Your hippie bashing is therefore quite fitting. No wonder you can’t resist it.

  117. John Hartz says:

    Directly related to the OP…

    A “Campus Free Speech Act” proposed in Wisconsin might protect college students who feel intimidated from expressing their opinions about the age of the earth in geology classes, according to the bill’s lead sponsor.

    The bill in question, Assembly Bill 299, would require the board of regents of the University of Wisconsin system to adopt a policy on free expression with various provisions affecting students, faculty, speakers, the public, and the institutions that are part of the system themselves, and to appoint a council on free expression to report on free expression issues to the board, the legislature, and the governor.

    Would a Wisconsin bill protect science denial on campus? by Glenn Branch, National Center for Science Education (NCSE), June 9. 2017

  118. Joshua says:

    doug –

    While your bonefides as a freedom fighter are indeed impressive, they are also irrelevant to much comment as I did not write a ad hom. Your personal credentials have nothing to do with my point.

    =={ However … there is no invisible man in the sky guaranteeing human progress,… }==

    Likewise irrelevant, as I never suggested some invisible man in the sky. It becomes difficult ultra to have a convo if you continuously introduce irrelevancies.

    My point is that everyone loves a slippery slope, but they do little to establish facts or evidence. I don’t share your hand-wringing about “rot.” I see a signal of increasing freedom, perhaps, against the noise of the minds of limiting influences that have existed for a long, long time. For example, I look at people free to openly express their sexuality and I see a historitic signal of dramatic proportions.

    I also have seen victims and drama queens and old men yelling at clouds for decades.

    I’ve seen them on the left and the right, and as near as I can tell, although they have been around since the dawn of time, they are no more common than they used to be (in a a relative sense, even as their numbers have increased as the world population has increased).

  119. Joshua says:

    And sorry for the errors…when I comment from my phone I wind up with some weird shit. But I think you’ll get the drift.

  120. John Hartz says:

    Joshua: “Covfefe” happens! 🙂

  121. Joshua says:

    doug –

    I think that is relevant. I thought that Dyson let Maher off way too easily. He started by asking what was different about this situation – where in contrast to other situations where he defended people who deliberately and intentionally cause offense (e.g., Milo), now he is apologizing for having caused offense. The fact that he uses a lack of intention to do so only makes the double-standard worse.

    At any rate, I will say this… I think that society as a whole has benefited from a greater awareness and focus on (1) trying not to deliberately exploit unearned privileged and, (2) the impact of implicit or unintentional biases or exploitation of unearned privilege.

    I have little doubt that in that process of overall progressions, there are individual and even somewhat pervasive counter examples which can be instructive and important, and even signs of a reversal in that trend. But to know whether they are instructive as to a trend, you need to conduct a careful examination. IMO, overreach by some individuals on some college campuses does not likely reverse the larger trend, particularly when considered in contrast with contemporaneous developments taking lace on a much larger scale – such as the access to online media as a forum for the expression of personal beliefs.

    I see little evidence that for all the excitement among right wingers about slippery slopes amid the ivy-covered towers on campuses, there is any trend towards Americans having, in balance, fewer opportunities to express their views. In fact, I would guess that the opposite trend is more likely substantiated by evidence.

    You have to break some eggs to make an omelette. At some level, in the process of shifting power and agency, people who previously dominate the public space for the expression of views will necessarily encounter some disempowerment as people who were previously denied power and agency make gains. What matters most, in the end, is how the signal shows up in comparison to the noise. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that criticisms and critiques aren’t legitimate. Only that sometimes those criticisms and critiques, if they aren’t accompanied by a comprehensive review, amount to old men yelling at clouds.

    What evidence do you have that over the past few decades, there is some kind of net loss for people to openly express their views?

  122. JCH says:

    Free speech:

  123. doug1943 says:

    Just for the record: I am absolutely in favor of libraries stocking books by people who assert a claim for the genetic superiority of one tribal group over another — people like Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel — and also books by people who are intellectually dishonest about racial differences in brain capacity, like Stephen Jay Gould, in the second edition of the Mismeasure of Man.

    All advances in our understanding of the world, even in the physical sciences, have been deeply intertwined with error and bias and even what could be called dishonesty. But no one is competent to be the Supreme Censor. Allow all these views to be expressed, and then refute the false ones. Easy.

    Similarly, irrationality is not going to be done away with by censorship. A large part of the world beieves that there is an invisible man in the sky who is loving and compassionate and gives bone cancer to certain lucky children. I think this insane belief will fade away over time, although very slowly. But not through suppression. The same for wrong beliefs about climate change, race, whatever.

    I’m still not sure what ‘hippie-bashing’ is. If I’ve bashed any hippies here, I apologize. I had some great times among the hippies a few decades ago and wouldn’t want to seem ungrateful.

  124. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    =={ Yes, I’ve seen him tweet a few things that seem rather bizarre. }==

    Haidt is accustomed to brickbats from the left, but he was caught off guard when, in December, Jarret Crawford, an associate professor of psychology at the College of New Jersey and a founding member of Heterodox Academy, posted a letter of resignation on Twitter. “In many ways, and however unintentionally, HXA has become a tool for the political right to decry and smear the left,” he wrote, using an acronym for the organization’s name. “I cannot associate myself with a group that the right, which has debased itself with its embrace of a president who would threaten liberal democracy and equal protection, has clearly begun to embrace as its own.”

    Crawford’s decision was “a buildup of things,” he says, but he was especially unsettled by the emergence of another group, Professor Watchlist, whose aim, in its own words, is to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” (The group has since cut “promote anti-American values” from that statement.) Though Haidt has denounced Professor Watchlist, “it’s hard for me not to see it as a logical extension of Heterodox and its mission,” Crawford says. “If Heterodox is primarily a watchdog of the left on campus, then compiling names of leftist faculty members is an extension of that.”

    ‘What’s sacred at a university?’ Haidt asks. ‘Victims are sacred,’ he answers. Crawford’s suggestion that Haidt and Heterodox Academy are emboldening the right dovetails with the views of other critics who see Haidt as complicit in the rise of the divisive politics he claims to abhor. “Haidt has led the campaign against political correctness, which became the mantra of the Trump movement” says Jason Stanley, a philosopher at Yale University who calls Heterodox Academy a “scaremongering rage machine” that targets “oppressed minorities who are vastly underrepresented in the academy.” To Stanley, the group also gives cover to efforts like a recent bill in Iowa that would require the state’s public universities to avoid any faculty hires that would cause either Democrats or Republicans to outnumber each other by more than 10 percent. (Haidt opposes the legislation on the grounds that it’s “too blunt” and would in effect “require political discrimination against qualified Democrats.”)
    In his resignation letter, Crawford also singled out a tweet Haidt sent that linked to an article from the conservative news site Daily Wire about North Carolina State University’s decision to set up “conversation spaces” for students to talk with counselors about the presidential election. “How universities SHOULD respond to election: social psych to bring ppl together, not clin psych to affirm trauma,” he tweeted. To Crawford, Haidt was belittling the fears of people worried about what will happen to them because of their immigration status, religion, or country of origin.

    Crawford’s criticisms hit Haidt hard. He began to question his own behavior. (He also asked Crawford to take down the letter, which he did.) “I had thought my Twitter stream was civil but provocative. Then I realized that it’s a new game. It’s one thing to be provocative when all the powers controlling universities are on the left,” he says. “But now that the presidency and the Department of Education are controlled by the right, the dangers are very different.”

    – See more at: http://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Gadfly/240311?key=2ZIPoiHsy9X3ZNGVLN4YvrK9ZZs1KWhBz010O-PCftXT1KFIDXHagaaR3q7QmshNZUZBRDV0YzJXemFoekJiQTIyelFpYjBXRVhNdS0zeV9TZVMwbHJHUFo5dw#sthash.jg2l6aDp.dpuf

  125. Joshua says:

    Yo. In moderation.

    [Mod: not only out of moderation, but I’ve also fixed the blockquote error.]

  126. He’s in such demand that he charges $30,000 per speech.

    That’s Jonathan Haidt, in case that isn’t clear.

  127. Joshua says:

    =={ [Mod: not only out of moderation, but I’ve also fixed the blockquote error.]
    }==

    What a mensch!

  128. Mal Adapted says:

    doug1943:

    books by people who assert a claim for the genetic superiority of one tribal group over another — people like Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel

    Your arguments would be more convincing if your facts were correct. Diamond asserted no such claim in Guns, Germs and Steel. GGS is one long argument for environmental, rather than genetic, determinism in human history.

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