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My University Sacrificed Ideas for Ideology. So Today I Quit.


el midgetron
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Dear Provost Susan Jeffords,

I’m writing to you today to resign as assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University.

Over the last decade, it has been my privilege to teach at the university. My specialties are critical thinking, ethics and the Socratic method, and I teach classes like Science and Pseudoscience and The Philosophy of Education. But in addition to exploring classic philosophers and traditional texts, I’ve invited a wide range of guest lecturers to address my classes, from Flat-Earthers to Christian apologists to global climate skeptics to Occupy Wall Street advocates. I’m proud of my work.

I invited those speakers not because I agreed with their worldviews, but primarily because I didn’t. From those messy and difficult conversations, I’ve seen the best of what our students can achieve: questioning beliefs while respecting believers; staying even-tempered in challenging circumstances; and even changing their minds. 

I never once believed —  nor do I now —  that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion. Rather, I sought to create the conditions for rigorous thought; to help them gain the tools to hunt and furrow for their own conclusions. This is why I became a teacher and why I love teaching.

But brick by brick, the university has made this kind of intellectual exploration impossible. It has transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division.

Students at Portland State are not being taught to think. Rather, they are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues. Faculty and administrators have abdicatedthe university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions. This has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly. 
 

continues -

https://bariweiss.substack.com/p/my-university-sacrificed-ideas-for
 

The above letter was written by Peter Boghossian who is one of the intellectuals behind the Grievance Studies Affair. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grievance_studies_affair

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A hoax revealing that academic journals had accepted fake papers on topics from canine “rape culture” in dog parks to “fat bodybuilding” to an adaption of Mein Kampf met with applause and scorn in the fall. Fans of the project tended to agree with the hoaxers that critical studies scholars will validate anything aligned with their politics. Critics said that the researchers acted in bad faith, wasting editors’ and reviewers’ time and very publicly besmirching academe in the process: the story was covered by nearly every major news outlet.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/01/08/author-recent-academic-hoax-faces-disciplinary-action-portland-state

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So, was he being paid to be a professor?  Or being paid to conduct social experiments on his students?  It seems he used his position to further his "research."  What's you're take on this el midgetron?  You don't seem to have an opinion.

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He was a legitimate professor. I don’t think anything he did that I’m aware of constitutes “conducting experiments on his students”. The hoax papers targeted the peer review process of “academic journals” with faux liberal arts papers and were not distributed to his students. 
 

I don’t really know that much about him. I do remember hearing about the hoax papers but only connected the dots it was this professor after I looked up who he was.

I’d give him an +A

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Dr. Alan Sokal did this first back in 1996 with the Sokal affair so it's not a new thing. 

A lot of these liberal arts academic journals have been junk and full of nonsense for decades with their only purpose being to boost the egos of liberal arts professors and justify their positions.

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3 hours ago, el midgetron said:

But in addition to exploring classic philosophers and traditional texts, I’ve invited a wide range of guest lecturers to address my classes, from Flat-Earthers to Christian apologists to global climate skeptics to Occupy Wall Street advocates. I’m proud of my work.

This bit raises a bit of a red flag to me.  It's hard to read that and not think that the pseudo- / fringe- side got the most coverage (and live access to the class), while the 'traditional' side just got 'explored' and was not invited to attend...  Perhaps I'm misreading, but it sounds a lot like this lecturer may have encouraged controversy for the sake of it, and thus gave a platform to those perhaps not deserving of it..  Flat earthers?  Jeebers....

I think it would need a lot more information to fairly judge who is more correct here...

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3 minutes ago, ChrLzs said:

This bit raises a bit of a red flag to me.  It's hard to read that and not think that the pseudo- / fringe- side got the most coverage (and live access to the class), while the 'traditional' side just got 'explored' and was not invited to attend...  Perhaps I'm misreading, but it sounds a lot like this lecturer may have encouraged controversy for the sake of it, and thus gave a platform to those perhaps not deserving of it..  Flat earthers?  Jeebers....

I think it would need a lot more information to fairly judge who is more correct here...

Surely if you’re getting people in for your students to debate you’re not going to get people that are agreeable with the established system are you?

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1 minute ago, Sir Wearer of Hats said:

Surely if you’re getting people in for your students to debate you’re not going to get people that are agreeable with the established system are you?

Surely if it's to be a fair debate, you give each side equal access in the debate process.  So yes, is my answer, you get both people who are agreeable and disagreeable.. (with perhaps a weighting towards people who are knowledgeable, even.. :D )

 

But that's not how the statement reads.

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I've heard this discussed before this article and this resignation.

Basically he sets out to question whether it is right to question the established view of things- he maintains that social/political history is a 'fact' and that there are no valid alternative perspectives. He brings in "flat earthers" and such like to demostrate that alternative perpectives are ludicrous.  Slavery, for example, (though I don't know whether he was concerned with slavery, I am just using it as an example)  should properly be examined from the point of view of macro economics and politics, the view of the individual slave is irrelevant to academic study.

It seems he objects to students being taught from alternative perspectives. To my mind, history for example, is not absolute. "Facts" are social constructs, they do not speak for themselves. 

It's good to see his sort go.

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39 minutes ago, The Silver Shroud said:

I've heard this discussed before this article and this resignation.

Basically he sets out to question whether it is right to question the established view of things- he maintains that social/political history is a 'fact' and that there are no valid alternative perspectives. He brings in "flat earthers" and such like to demostrate that alternative perpectives are ludicrous.  Slavery, for example, (though I don't know whether he was concerned with slavery, I am just using it as an example)  should properly be examined from the point of view of macro economics and politics, the view of the individual slave is irrelevant to academic study.

It seems he objects to students being taught from alternative perspectives. To my mind, history for example, is not absolute. "Facts" are social constructs, they do not speak for themselves. 

It's good to see his sort go.

Possibly one of the dumbest things I've seen in print.

This quote from him seems to contradict everything you say :-

"Students at Portland State are not being taught to think. Rather, they are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues. Faculty and administrators have abdicated the university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions. This has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly. "

Edited by itsnotoutthere
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1 hour ago, itsnotoutthere said:

Possibly one of the dumbest things I've seen in print.

This quote from him seems to contradict everything you say :-

"Students at Portland State are not being taught to think. Rather, they are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues. Faculty and administrators have abdicated the university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions. This has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly. "

"Facts" are social constructs, they do not speak for themselves. One of the dumbest things you have seen in print maybe, yet that sentence reflects one of the cornerstones of modern sociology: Facts do not speak for themselves. They speak for or against competing theories. Facts divorced from theories or visions are mere isolated curiosities.Thomas Sowell

Edited by The Silver Shroud
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12 minutes ago, The Silver Shroud said:

"Facts" are social constructs, they do not speak for themselves. One of the dumbest things you have seen in print maybe, yet that sentence reflects one of the cornerstones of modern sociology: Facts do not speak for themselves. They speak for or against competing theories. Facts divorced from theories or visions are mere isolated curiosities.Thomas Sowell

It is a fact that I am stubborn no theory required.:P

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fact
 
NOUN
  1. a thing that is known or proved to be true.
     
    Every dictionary.
Edited by itsnotoutthere
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That this is Portland is no surprise. Remember those Antifa rioters last year? Most live in the PSU dorms. They love to go out and fight.

The University will do whatever brings in the money, and if that means supporting a mob of Antifa thugs, and teaching rainbows rather then science, then that's what they'll do.

I went there briefly to start on a Masters, but ended up giving up when kids came along and I was struggling with the advanced math classes.

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5 hours ago, ChrLzs said:

This bit raises a bit of a red flag to me.  It's hard to read that and not think that the pseudo- / fringe- side got the most coverage (and live access to the class), while the 'traditional' side just got 'explored' and was not invited to attend...  Perhaps I'm misreading, but it sounds a lot like this lecturer may have encouraged controversy for the sake of it, and thus gave a platform to those perhaps not deserving of it..  Flat earthers?  Jeebers....

I think it would need a lot more information to fairly judge who is more correct here...


The part you quoted was followed by this explanation-

Quote

I invited those speakers not because I agreed with their worldviews, but primarily because I didn’t. From those messy and difficult conversations, I’ve seen the best of what our students can achieve: questioning beliefs while respecting believers; staying even-tempered in challenging circumstances; and even changing their minds. 

I never once believed —  nor do I now —  that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion. Rather, I sought to create the conditions for rigorous thought; to help them gain the tools to hunt and furrow for their own conclusions. This is why I became a teacher and why I love teaching.

 

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I can see inviting both sides to a debate. But these were not formal debates. These were the teacher demonstrating (teaching) logical thought when confronted by illogic. He was teaching, not trying to change opinions.

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34 minutes ago, DieChecker said:

I can see inviting both sides to a debate. But these were not formal debates. These were the teacher demonstrating (teaching) logical thought when confronted by illogic. He was teaching, not trying to change opinions.

 

This is the crucial difference. It's about teaching students how to think, not what to think.

 

The trend these days is shutting people down before they even speak.

Even with emotive issues, such as genuine racism, you have to let people air their views, so they can be critically and intelligently taken apart.

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8 hours ago, ChrLzs said:

Surely if it's to be a fair debate, you give each side equal access in the debate process.  So yes, is my answer, you get both people who are agreeable and disagreeable.. (with perhaps a weighting towards people who are knowledgeable, even.. :D )

 

But that's not how the statement reads.

In the physical sciences at the college level you don't invite the flat-earthers and anti-evolutionists in.  You stick to debates on the scientific merits of an issue.  You aren't furthering science education by listening to crackpot lecturers and the scientifically illiterate.

Doug

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22 hours ago, itsnotoutthere said:
fact
 
NOUN
  1. a thing that is known or proved to be true.
     
    Every dictionary.

 

20 hours ago, LV-426 said:

 

This is the crucial difference. It's about teaching students how to think, not what to think.

 

The trend these days is shutting people down before they even speak.

Even with emotive issues, such as genuine racism, you have to let people air their views, so they can be critically and intelligently taken apart.

 LV-426 is pointing out how it is better Peter Boghossian resigned.

Set aside the ethics of trying to "trick" people with a bogus paper- (anyone can do that, Sacha Baron Cohen makes a living out misleading well-intentioned people that he disagrees with).

"Facts" are not known to be "true", not in sociology and not even in science (quantum theory and sub-molecular physics are fields where accepted scientific 'facts' are explored).

But you need a framework which is acceptable to most people, otherwise you end up with beliefs which are non-falseifiable. Once you have a framework which is accepted, then you can argue.

Take religion as an example: we all know there is a God. Different faiths depict him/her/it differently, but basically he is all knowing, all powerful and we all need to get on his right side if we want a happy life.

Or, we all know religion is an ancient superstition, founded without science, and we would all be better off if it was forgotten about.

I drop a glass and it breaks on the ground. Is that due to something Newton discovered, or is it just a 'fact'- heavy things fall down?

Inviting someone to explain that glasses fall to the ground because they feel an irresistable impulse to throw themselves to destruction does not further any academic debate (which is why it is not helpful inviting Flat- earthers to a physics lecture).

"Facts" need a framework, agreed and accepted, otherwise they are just opinions.

And an academic needs to argue his stance, not just trick people and then walk away in a huff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, The Silver Shroud said:

LV-426 is pointing out how it is better Peter Boghossian resigned.

 

I wasn't making that assertion at all.

If that's your own view, please state it as your own rather than misrepresenting mine.

 

I haven't looked closely enough at the details of this particular case, but I do know that it is indicative of a worrying trend towards rewriting history with a bias on present-day values.

How is that equitable? Would it be appropriate for a future society, that has fundamentally changed, to judge our actions today on its own contemporary values?

How will your or my own standards hold up to scrutiny in a couple of hundred years?

 

For example, take a historic figure such as Henry VIII.

It isn't the place of modern academia to make moralistic judgements on his acts, unless they are directly relating them to values in the 16th century.

We all live in the present. We all know that such a misogynistic and tyrannical figure would be reviled today.

Teach students the historical facts. Teach them about the English Reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries. Teach them about the roles Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn played in events.

Teach them historical facts to expand their knowledge. They can then use that education as they choose, whether it's something as trivial as a pub quiz, through to becoming teachers themselves. Or, should they wish, they can discuss modern relevence with peers in an appropriate setting.

 

Don't teach students to tear down statues. Teach them to view statues with historic knowledge, and a relevence to their importance in how history shaped the modern world.

 

That is what I mean by "how to think, not what to think."

Edited by LV-426
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Let me guess, he got told to stop spreading conspiracy theories and using the N-Word as punctuation?

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50 minutes ago, Autochthon1990 said:

Let me guess, he got told to stop spreading conspiracy theories and using the N-Word as punctuation?

By all means, guess away!  However, both of those guesses are incorrect. 
 

We know why he resigned, he offered a detailed explanation  in his resignation. 
 

Can you offer anything to justify accusing him of using the N-word? Or is that just what you have been trained to do? 

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On 9/8/2021 at 10:29 PM, ChrLzs said:

This bit raises a bit of a red flag to me.  It's hard to read that and not think that the pseudo- / fringe- side got the most coverage (and live access to the class), while the 'traditional' side just got 'explored' and was not invited to attend...  Perhaps I'm misreading, but it sounds a lot like this lecturer may have encouraged controversy for the sake of it, and thus gave a platform to those perhaps not deserving of it..  Flat earthers?  Jeebers....

I think it would need a lot more information to fairly judge who is more correct here...

Since he taught the class daily and was the traditional view don't you think it seems more like the fringe just got explored and only as tool to explore how to recognize and critically examine it?  

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On 9/9/2021 at 2:50 AM, The Silver Shroud said:

"Facts" are social constructs, they do not speak for themselves

Conclusions reached with limited or selective facts are social constructs.  

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14 minutes ago, el midgetron said:

By all means, guess away!  However, both of those guesses are incorrect. 
 

We know why he resigned, he offered a detailed explanation  in his resignation. 
 

Can you offer anything to justify accusing him of using the N-word? Or is that just what you have been trained to do? 

No we know why he SAYS he resigned, I'm betting it has something to do with trying to hoodwink the peer review process that all academics are supposed to treat with respect. 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Boghossian#Research_misconduct_investigation

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