Recently in Academia Category

Anti-Science Dogmatism

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From Galileo to the present, dogmatism has been the greatest threat to science.  In this post last month I noted the distortion of criminology by political correctness.  The threat is not limited to the sciences we usually think of as social sciences, though.  Biologist Heather Heying has this op-ed in the WSJ:

The revolution on college campuses, which seeks to eradicate individuals and ideas that are considered unsavory, constitutes a hostile takeover by fringe elements on the extreme left. Last spring at the Evergreen State College, where I was a professor for 15 years, the revolution was televised--proudly and intentionally--by the radicals. Opinions not fitting with the currently accepted dogma--that all white people are racist, that questioning policy changes aimed at achieving "equity" is itself an act of white supremacy--would not be tolerated, and those who disagreed were shouted down, hunted, assaulted, even battered. Similar eruptions have happened all over the country.

What may not be obvious from outside academia is that this revolution is an attack on Enlightenment values: reason, inquiry and dissent. Extremists on the left are going after science. Why? Because science seeks truth, and truth isn't always convenient.

The left has long pointed to deniers of climate change and evolution to demonstrate that over here, science is a core value. But increasingly, that's patently not true.

Attorney General Sessions Speaks at Georgetown

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The Washington Post carries this article about Attorney General Sessions' talk today at the school where I'm an adjunct professor, Georgetown University Law Center.  The talk was about free speech on campus.

There are a dozen different things to be said about this.  I will content myself with four.

First, Georgetown is a private university and may invite whomever it wants to appear on campus and whomever it wants to be in the audience.  In today's climate, Georgetown deserves credit for inviting Jeff Sessions (although it should scarcely be remarkable that a law school, of all places, would invite the Attorney General of the United States).

Second, there are complaints that not everyone who would have liked to be in the audience was accommodated.  Well, gosh  --  I would have liked to attend for sure, and I teach there, but I wasn't invited either.  Good for the University that it gave my potential seat to a student.  The fact that not everyone can fit in the room should be too obvious for words, but apparently it isn't.  It was, you see, all a conservative plot.

Third, the event was hosted by my friend and colleague, the brilliant libertarian leader Prof. Randy Barnett.  Randy argued the Supreme Court case against the government's prohibition of medical marijuana in Gonzales v. Raich, and thus is an opponent of Sessions on one of today's key criminal justice issues.  What a tribute to Randy that he offered a platform to a man with whom he has such a major disagreement, knowing that he would take plenty of heat for it to boot.

Fourth, some protesters brought signs saying "Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech." This is arrant nonsense, first because the AG said nothing that a rational person could characterize as hate; and second because hate speech most certainly is free speech, as these law students, before almost anyone else, surely must know.  See, e.g., the ACLU's famous defense of Nazis marching in Skokie, Illinois.

Shouting Down Jim Comey

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Readers may remember my mentioning that Jim Comey and I were AUSA's together in the Nineties.  I have a high regard for his integrity, even while questioning his judgment and effectiveness in the investigation of Hillary Clinton's astonishing negligence with classified material (see my US News & World Report op-ed).

But for whatever one may think of Comey, no one could seriously doubt his right to speak at the Howard University convocation to which he was invited.  No one, that is, except the protesters who tried to silence him by shouting such things as, ""Get out James Comey! You're not our homie!" and, "No justice, no peace, no f---ing police!"

This is what it has come to in academia:  Harvard invites a traitor and felon to share his supposed wisdom as a Fellow and Columbia hires a cop killer, while "students" at Howard drown out Barack Obama's choice for FBI Director because of his support for the "f---ing police."

It's past time for anyone left in academia with a conscience to put a stop to the unhinged, pro-criminal slant of what goes on there.  But don't hold your breath

Teaching Kids to Hate Cops

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LifeZette posts this mind-boggling story:

The Chicago Public School system is introducing a new curriculum for eighth- and 10th-grade students....

As part of a 2015 reparations deal, Chicago public school students will be [exposed] to a new six-lesson curriculum "about Jon Burge, a former CPD detective accused of using torture, primarily on black men in his custody between the 1970s and 1990s, to force confessions to crimes," reported The Columbia Chronicle.

Burge was allegedly responsible for torturing over 200 suspects in police custody between 1972 and 1991. The Chronicle makes it clear, however, that the true motivation behind the new course of study is not to educate Chicago's youth about Burge as much as to teach the myth of systemic racism in law enforcement.

"The first lesson calls for students to discuss opinions or experiences with racism and police brutality. This precedes discussion of Burge's human-rights abuses and the police officers whose actions helped him hide his crimes," reported The Chronicle.

It doesn't get any better.

It's the Culture, Stupid

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Last month, law professors Amy Wax of U. Penn. and Larry Alexander of U. San Diego published this op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Their thesis was that the breakdown of "the basic cultural precepts that reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s" was "implicated" in a host of modern maladies, including crime:

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.
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That [late 40s - mid 60s] culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

This would seem to be self-evident and ought not be controversial.  But Wax and Alexander work in the Bizarro World of contemporary academia.
I am not making this up:

Chelsea Manning will be joining Harvard University as a visiting fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, according to the school's website.

Manning will speak on issues of LGBTQ identity in the military, Institute of Politics Fellows co-chairs Emily Hall and Jason Ge wrote in an announcement posted Wednesday.

"We welcome the breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media," Bill Delahunt, IOP acting director, said in the announcement.

Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, was convicted in 2013 for leaking a huge cache of classified and sensitive documents. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison after a military judge found her guilty of six Espionage Act violations and multiple other charges relating to the dissemination of more than 700,000 classified military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks.

After President Barack Obama commuted her sentence [three days] before leaving office, Manning has worked to re-brand herself as an activist for queer and transgender rights.

Kent Scheidegger is probably the leading habeas corpus expert in the country. What do you think the chances are of his getting offered a fellowship at Harvard?

UPDATE:  This morning brings a report that, after a storm of criticism, Harvard has withdrawn the Visiting Fellow offer, but will still invite Manning to the University for a day and allow her/him to speak to students.

Reconsidering Campus Sexual Assault

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The handling of complaints of sexual assault on campus has been a mess.  The charge that victims have been treated insensitively and had their complaints too lightly dismissed has often been valid.  The countercharge that campus administrations, whether voluntarily or coerced by the U.S. Dept. of Education, went too far the other direction and degenerated into witch hunts has also been valid at times.

Melissa Korn reports for the WSJ:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday said the department plans to roll back the Obama administration's guidance on how colleges and universities should handle sexual assault cases.
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The federal government will solicit public comment and establish a new regulatory framework to help schools adjudicate the cases, Mrs. DeVos said.
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi, writing in the City Journal, identify the primary problem in criminology today: criminologists.

Walter Miller, one of the few mid-twentieth-century criminologists whose work was unapologetically conservative, suggested that ideology can turn "plausibility into ironclad certainty . . . conditional belief into ardent conviction . . . and reasoned advocate into the implacable zealot." When shared beliefs take hold, as they often do in the academic bubble in which most criminologists live, ideological assumptions about crime and criminals can "take the form of the sacred and inviolable dogma of the one true faith, the questioning of which is heresy, and the opposing of which is profoundly evil."

Miller's observations have proved prophetic. Led by the work of Jonathan Haidt, a growing number of scholars now acknowledge that a lack of ideological diversity in the social sciences skews research in favor of leftist claims, which become the guiding principles of many fields, challenged only at the risk of harming one's career. Liberal assumptions go unchecked and tendentious claims of evidence become fact, while countervailing evidence doesn't get published or faces much more rigorous scrutiny than the assertions that it challenges.
This is a major problem that requires more attention from policymakers than it has received.  Nothing is more toxic to science than dogma.  The validity of academia's output depends on assumptions and conclusions being challenged.  If academia has articles of faith that cannot be challenged without risk to one's career, then its output does not deserve confidence. 

Academia is heavily dependent on government funding in various forms.  Government needs to start insisting on diversity of viewpoint in the faculty and freedom to challenge sacred cows as conditions of funding.  Bias against conservative viewpoints in hiring, publication, and tenure decisions should be regarded as serious misconduct and sanctioned accordingly.  (Bias against liberal viewpoints should also, if that actually happened.)

Think for Yourself

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James Freeman of the WSJ points us to some advice for students from 15 Ivy League professors.  Freeman calls the advice "a flagrant micro-aggression."

Racism Goes Solar

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Yesterday's solar eclipse has something to teach us about America's rancid racism.

Now you might think I'm pulling your leg, and that no one could be so far gone as to think that an eclipse of the sun has anything to do with race.

This is because you are not thoroughly acquainted with legal academia.
Q:  Wanna know why the particular law school you attended is a leftist haven?

A:  Because they're all leftist havens.


Jim Norman reports for Gallup:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Overall confidence in the police has risen slightly in the past two years, with 57% of Americans now saying they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in law enforcement -- matching the overall average for the 25-year Gallup trend.
The reversion to the mean is good news, but there are some disturbing trends in the crosstabs.

Though the overall numbers have rebounded, the years of national turmoil have only deepened the divide in the confidence that Americans of different ages, ethnicities and political beliefs say they have in the police. The loss of confidence is most apparent among Hispanics, liberals and those younger than age 35.
Over half a century after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the divisions by race and ethnicity should have diminished, but race-baiting by "activists" whose careers depend on division make things worse instead of better.  In addition, our young are attending educational institutions that have become more uniformly left wing over the years.  I believe this produces a Reverse Kingsfield Effect where young people enter college with some degree of common sense and walk out "with a skull full of mush."

Just How Warped Is Legal Academia?

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I ask this question because, at random, I looked at the two most recent entries on Sentencing Law and Policy.  Here they are:


Good News from Legal Academia

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I am pleased to pass along this morning's announcement from the President of Harvard University naming Prof. John Manning as the new Dean at Harvard Law, effective July 1.  As you will see, it would hard to find anyone with more outstanding credentials to lead one of the Big Three law schools.  I thought these two paragraphs in the announcement were particularly noteworthy:

Early in his career, in addition to his service in the Justice Department, Manning was an associate in the Washington office of the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He served as a law clerk to both Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Robert H. Bork of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

John's service at DOJ consisted of a stint during the Reagan years in the Office of Legal Counsel, then under George H.W. Bush in the Solicitor General's Office.

John is listed as an expert on the registry of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Federalist Society.

Coulter Speaking at Berkeley

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Kent has noted that Ann Coulter will be speaking at Berkeley after all, the University's Chancellor now saying that he has found a "protectable venue."

I write separately about this because of the enormous importance I see in this issue.  My perception was only heightened when I attended the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program's "Disinvitation Dinner" this week in New York City, keynoted by the infamously disinvited Peter Thiel. http://www.businessinsider.com/peter-thiel-chased-off-stage-by-angry-protestors-at-uc-berkeley-2014-12

The blindness and cowardice in so many of our universities is a big part of the problem, but not the main part.  That would be the fascist bullying the universities are called upon to confront  --  but find the task so vexing because of the very ideologically-rooted, hard-edged intolerance they have bred.

The resulting thugs have a name:  Brownshirts.  We have seen them before, and we know where this leads.  It's not just that university needs to find "protectable venues." It's (1) that the university must understand that its whole campus and indeed its whole raison d'etre is to be a "protected venue," and (2) that the protection at some point is going to have to involve the use of substantial physical force against the thugs.  Brownshirts know one language, and it's time we spoke it to them.

Allowing the United States to become 1930's Germany is a price civilization cannot afford. 

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