Monday, September 24, 2007

Free thought most safely undertaken far away from University

Three recent high-profile stories relating to the world of American academia:
Lawrence Summers, the controversial former president of Harvard University, has been replaced as the planned speaker at a UC Board of Regents dinner next week
after complaints from faculty members. [1]

Columbia University said it does not plan to call off a speech by Iran's president despite pressure from critics including the City Council speaker, who said the Ivy League school was providing a forum for "hate-mongering vitriol." [2]

The Columbia Political Union voted late Monday night to cancel Gilchrist’s [Minutemen Project founder] Oct. 4 appearance, the New York Post reports.

The student group said in a statement that "it has become clear this event cannot take the form we had originally hoped it would and could not effectively accomplish the goals we had hoped it might."

Last year critics questioned Columbia’s commitment to free speech after Gilchrist was physically and verbally attacked by student protesters. [3]
Holocaust denial is given academic legitimacy at an Ivy League institution, while asserting national sovereignty and entertaining the idea that the "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" aphorism extends beyond the toilet-seat battle are so hateful that educational omertas must be enforced upon them.

What else really needs to be said about the state of secondary education (at least on the soft-sciences side) in the US?

That Columbia President Lee Bolinger launched into the Iranian President does not negate the contrast. If Gilchrist or Summers (though since he wouldn't be dealing with the subject relating to his 'hate speech', this does not even apply to the latter) had to absorb the same sort of harsh introduction that Ahmadinejad did as a condition of being allowed to speak, would that opening of debate had made their respective appearances worthwhile in the eyes of the pressure groups (and faculty) that lobbied for their excommunications? To the contrary, such 'inflammatory' rhetoric only made the whole Ahmadinejad ordeal an even more ridiculous dog-and-pony show than it already was.


John said...

Bollinger managed to really showcase the contrast between the hatred which wants to nuclear-bomb a group for ethno-religious reasons, which is greeted as a legitimate contribution to expression of public opinion, and the decent and reasonable discrimination of Gilchrist against the illegals rushing the border, which vicious leftist students were allowed to violently prevent from discussing his views, representing the great majority in America.

dave in boca said...

I see the problem of higher education succumbing to academicide infecting every aspect of both soft and hard scientific endeavours.

Richard Feynman's famous warning about Cargo Cult Science simply has been forgotten by anxious and ambitious strivers trying to make a name for themselves on the publish or perish, paper reference treadmill. The "helping professions" use Oprahfication & Dr. Philarious to trivialize everything to a reductionist sandbox.

I am reading Joseph Campbell's authorized biography and a fellow named Sam Keen, editor of Psychology Today & a committed activist, marvelled at the fact that Campbell was a conservative Republican.

Keen had enough intellectual honesty to remark that "rads always think they can remake the world in their image within a decade, while Joe realized that deep within, the eternal myths keep recurring and we rads are simply mayflies..." or words to that effect.

A good read and salutory for its broad understanding of Campbell despite its authors' ultra-left beliefs [or New Age pablum, if you will.]

Audacious Epigone said...

The cargo cult science Dave is referencing basically refers to putative scientific researchers who take advocacy positions rather than an empirically objective approach. That is, they are propagandists, marketers, apologists--all things that true science should be above. The study by John Ioannidis is timely given Dave's criticism.