How a question during a lecture led to an inquisition during a faculty meeting, and ultimately to the termination of a tenured position. Worthy of Kafka...
Oh, for the good old days of the Science Blood Sport of being able to prove the "other guy" wrong. Meeting were fun when someone make an outrageous claim and you called out his nonsense by showing how and why his claims were wrong. I got great delight in showing how many millions of dollars worth of experiments data were flat wrong due to an experimental design error.
Science progresses when BS is exposed.
Sometimes you don't win with a factual analysis in the short run but can be proved correct in the long run. I ended up in a scientific dispute where I proved the other guy wrong by a factor of 2 with 3 blackboards full of differential equations. I lost and the other guy's faulty analysis was used. The project was built and failed and my analysis turned out correct and which cost the institution 17 million dollars on a project.
I’m a leftist, but this kind of thing has gone too far for sure. I hope she wins her legal battle. I honestly don’t even know how to wrap my head around this, it’s as logical as Herschel Walker.
What a bizarre situation to be unfolding in the very institutions that are supposed to be facilitating truth seeking.
As is too often the case today, the moment you are accused of a wrong (real, wrong or perceived) you are not only "on the defensive" and, in actual fact, you need to disprove the accusation made, instead of your accuser unambiguously showing an objective material wrong has occurred and manifestly proving the accusation. Mud sticks as they say........
I think Pandora's box is well and truly open regardless this type of behavior and that not only will it percolate through society beyond university (it has in fact), it will also become normalized behavior for the younger generation, who will become our school teachers, lecturers, colleagues, politicians and further normalize it.
The meanings of woke, diversity, etc has changed and I do not know what call myself. I am also a leftist, real left not what Americans call left now, but I do not understand this beavior as “left”. But I have a question for Dr Krauss, that has nothing to do with wokeness ( I think!). It relates to the author’s statement :
“Because you are a science teacher yourself, you are probably aware that the discovery of the telescope, especially beginning in the times of Galileo, and the astronomy that occurred there, astronomy has advanced tremendously in the last couple of hundred years, and if you didn’t have a telescope, if these cultures didn’t have a telescope, I am not sure how these stories would be able to contribute to the courses in the actual sciences at Mount Royal.”
I do not know about indigenous cultures but ancient Greeks and Romans did make scientific contributions to astronomy before the invention of the telescope. I am thinking of the geocentric Ptolemaic system (wrong but useful) and the salvaged Antikythera mechanism, among others. So I think it is generally wrong to say we should not study ancient cultures because .. Einstein :)
Forgive me if I’m confusing the issue, but two questions:
Why didn’t those who claimed to be offended list specific cases to illustrate how indigenous science has made contributions?
Why didn’t they illustrate how those contributions dovetail with or enhance our current scientific knowledge base and their potential to expand future discovery?
I do not wish to denigrate any society’s scientific contributions, in fact I find the foundations of science exceedingly fascinating (the foundations of the Pythagorean Theorem are over 4,000 years old and still relevant to geometry, distance calculations, the mathematics of multi-dimensional space and just about any type of statistical comparisons one could desire) however, without connection, without showing how a perspective can open new avenues of exploration, is not relevance lost?
I would absolutely adore a class presenting all aspects of “The Worldwide Foundations of Science” covering everything from Stonehenge, to the Mayan Calendar, to the engineering of the Pyramids, to Aboriginal Celestial Navigation, to the Antikythera mechanism, and I’m sure, there are so many more examples I’m not aware of but would love to learn about, and who’s exposure could possibly present inspiration for fundamentally new perspectives that could advance science.
Bullying, both passive aggressive and overt, political correctness, and vilification of differing perspectives advances and ultimately achieves nothing except the suppression of freedoms we all hold dear. Whatever happened to logic and respect?
One would be surprised how long this sort of rubbish has been going on ... its not particularly recent ... without going into details, around 1995, I had the "temerity" to call a senior colleague at the Queensland University of Technology incompetent ... which he truly was ... only to be accused of racism (he was of middle eastern origin, I am white Australian and not at all racist), and was hounded until I left my tenured position, with little support from higher Faculty ... the issue had nothing to do with his origins, only his competency, which I stated tirelessly, but no, I "must" be racist ... some people can be so "precious". Whilst I do feel aggrieved, it is Education and pursuit of new FACTS that suffers, and that is the real tragedy of this phenomena.
Krauss writes: "indeed... open season on any idea.. that is the idea!"
Agreed, agreed, agreed.
But it's too easy to just point the finger at woke culture, as valid as doing so can be. Woke culture is making the classic mistake of over extending it's reach, biting off more than it can chew, and the backlash swinging of the pendulum is already well underway. We can let them hang themselves with their own rope.
The more interesting and productive process is to challenge our own ideas, as that's something we can do more about.
Canceling is not limited to woke culture. The shaming and banning etc of inconvenient ideas happens in every community, including those who most loudly proclaim their loyalty to reason. As example, even though I'm not religious, I've been banned from every atheist forum I can recall for being too inconvenient.
Challenges are welcome only so long as the community in question assumes they are winning the argument. If that comes in to question, the ban button often makes it's appearance.
Scientists and philosophers, experts in the use of critical thinking, are only marginally better at entertaining challenges to their core assumptions. Try asking academic philosophers why they almost entirely ignore nuclear weapons, the most pressing threat to civilization. You might not get banned, but I promise you will be promptly dismissed and ignored. And these are very intelligent well educated people who have devoted their lives to the study of critical thinking.
Canceling is not an exclusively woke culture thing. It's a human thing. Most of us are content with inconvenience to other people's ideas, few of us are welcoming to inconvenience to our own core assumptions. Everybody wants to belong to some tribe, which we typically wish to proclaim to be superior to some other tribe. If the philosophical glue which holds a tribe together is faced with an effective challenge, the result is roughly the same everywhere you go.
What is science? According to Lee McIntyre, a Scientific Attitude is the essential prerequisite. One must seek and respect observable evidence and be willing to adjust one's theory (or narrative) accordingly as evidence is discovered. Frances clearly demonstrates a scientific attitude; her indiginated adversaries at MRU clearly do not.
The behavior of administrators in this case is all too common. Lawrence aptly describes it as puruing, "a cowardly path of virtue signaling," rather than protecting the academic freedom of faculty members. Granting a "heckler's veto" to dissidents who happen to be espousing causes aligned with administrative purposes has been rejected by U.S. federal courts.
The idea that a mere question (speech in its purest form) would sustain a charge of hostility is ludicrous. At Berea College, during his hearing, a tenured faculty member asked a Title IX administrator is "feminism" was a Constitutionally protected category. The administrator was unable to answer; the Campus Conduct Hearing Board cited the question itself as evidence of the faculty member's hostility to diversity and inclusion.
The circus left town, but the clowns remain...
Maybe selling the entire country on the notion that it's "college, or a life unfulfilled" was not such a good idea, after all. Not to divert the issue, but hearing from kids complaining that they are failing when they should pass, by teachers who have become notorious for making kids take classes over at an additional expense, to the better educations who limit the student body because they can maximize their profits from higher tuitions, to the massive debt most kids will start their lives with, college seems to be the worst decision you can make. Yet it's almost mandatory in today's climate. All with the first two years dedicated to this core nonsense, which is basically a high school level education to make up for the abysmal public schools in so much of the country.
I just watched Rafael Jaime, UAW president and PhD student at UCLA organizing a strike of the graduate students who he feels should be paid commensurate with the cost of living that has skyrocketed, and he cites recent pay raises for administrators, some of which top $100k raises for certain individuals. He also mentions the woke culture, though just briefly so I couldn't tell what side of the fence he is on. Usually the students would be for freedom of speech, but not all. Point being that it is very dangerous when idiot ideologs gain power, not to mention power mongers, though that seems to be ubiquitous all over.
I believe this is the result of the Koch Bros. flooding colleges and universities with hand picked administrators and professors for over 30 years up until the one guy kicked it. I believe this was intentionally done to fracture our learning institution's abilities where historically, the left comes from. Why fight battles when you can just poison the water supply? There's a documentary out there, and it's disgusting. The list of how much money they made the institutions dependent on them for, to "suggest" hires, but then turned into actual lists of professors and administrators they demanded be hired. The names were all researched by CATO, The Heritage Foundation, and other usual suspects. The climate that exists today is the result of what happens when you put unqualified people with particular combinations of skills/beliefs/psychology in power. And the longer they are there, the more damage they can do with every decision they make.
With Frances, as with so many others, they're just caught up in the result of idiots and/or power mongers in control. Where do these courses even come from? What purpose do they serve except to apologize for the genocide we refuse to admit to? This should be the easiest guy to make go away, instead his complaint is given attention that in and of itself is harmful to the alleged offender. A climate made so by the very same decision makers who took this complaint. And not to sound callous, but there was no harm in laughing this guy out of the office. He has a job teaching a bogus course he can literally make up on the spot, he won't be that upset. And so what if he sues? What's his case? "Someone asked me a question that itself questioned the science of my beliefs..."
On another side note: Dave Chappelle is again in a battle against cancellation for a hilarious bit on asking questions. Straight up saying there are just some questions you are not allowed to ask, and proving it by asking one of the mother of all questions. And then just watching the fireworks...
Don't make the mistake of thinking these two issues are separate. That's the foot in the door to the cancer we are talking about.