who needs academic freedom anyway?

academic freedom’s overrated, right? “justice” is more important! (don’t ask me who’s going to define justice…presumably not you or me.)

here’s the latest from haaaahvaaaahrd:

“The Doctrine of Academic Freedom”
“Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice

“…In its oft-cited Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the American Association of University Professors declares that ‘Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results.’ In principle, this policy seems sound: It would not do for academics to have their research restricted by the political whims of the moment.

“Yet the liberal obsession with ‘academic freedom’ seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has ‘full freedom’ in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever ‘free’ from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?

Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of ‘academic justice.’ When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue….

yup. she really said that. *facepalm*

(note: comments do not require an email. or giving up any freedoms whatsoever.)


  1. At least comment section of the article referred here is predominantly on a sane side. General population haven’t lost their senses. Yet…


  2. Calls for soft-censorship are becoming increasingly common.

    Pigliucci (2013) (on race and IQ): “Point (a) is actually not in play at all, since as I mentioned I do not think anyone — and certainly not the editors of Nature —is suggesting that academics should be prohibited from doing research on race and IQ. That said, of course, the entire academic research system is based on multiple levels of peer review (both of articles before publication, and of grant proposals before funding), one main object of which is precisely to determine whether a given research program is worth the effort and resources (be they printed pages in a journal or dollars from a granting agency). So the question of whether research on race and IQ should be funded and/or published is legitimate, and the burden is on interested researchers to make a case for it, just as it is in all other fields of scholarship.”


  3. “When an ecclesiastic community observes research promoting or justifying heresy, it should ensure that this research does not continue….“


  4. We found out all about what was “racist” and “sexist” to these people back in the heyday of the Blank Slate. If they’d had their way, it still would be the heyday of the Blank Slate. You’re right, Chick, dialogue with people like Korn is pointless. It would be like having a dialogue with Stalin over the virtues of Communism. As for Horgan, he’d be the first one to lick the boots of people like Korn if they ever gained serious power.


  5. “…she’s not, however, going to get any flack from anyone whose opinion means anything to her”

    Yes. Speaking Truth to Power really means telling your friends what they want to hear.

    Also, any modifier to “justice” ends up meaning “injustice.”


  6. @Chuck:

    So you think that’s where we’re at today? As the facts become more undeniable, the witch hunts and censorship campaigns will get more intense?

    When does it all break?


  7. I think a person as she does care about what people think of her intelligence.

    She’s stupid, and she should be called out for her stupidity.


  8. No academic tenure and you get crap like Lamarckism unopposed.

    Mind you in liberal arts all the crap is unopposed anyway, but their brains are full of mush.


  9. You did say, “The children of factory workers and cleaners in parts of the Far East are more than a year ahead of the offspring of British doctors” Somebody is being kind and not even bringing America into the picture. Our schools are so bad that other rich countries won’t even let themselves be compared with us; after all you try not to irk the super power.
    On the other hand, since you can get to be a Harvard professor and say things like, “Anybody who doesn’t agree with me should be prevented from doing research and any research that might have results that could contradict me should be forbidden” … well maybe our children are being prepared for the academic realities they’re going to face.


  10. I think this demonstrates the importance of understanding what morality is, and why it exists. This woman, and so many others like her in academia and elsewhere, constantly shoot their mouths off about “justice” without having the faintest clue about the basis for their “justice,” or any way of explaining why their concept of “justice” applies to anyone but themselves, or why the idea of “justice” ever occurred to them in the first place. If people actually understood morality it would pull the soapbox out from under the feet of the Korns of the world. People might finally grasp that the appropriate response to the pathologically pious is either to laugh at them or pity them, but certainly not to take them seriously.


  11. Take heart, people don’t call for the censorship of baseless ideas that no one believes. This is a very good sign indeed.


  12. @jayman – “Holly Dunsworth went over to West Hunter to discuss her post on dog skulls. The commenters there jumped on her, which I think was both unfair and counterproductive.”

    i missed that — i think i was in the middle of my family crisis (which turned out to be not such a crisis after all — whew!) — i’ll have to read that thread one of these days.

    i don’t like all the snark and bullying on the internet either — and it’s gotten worse over the years. at the same time, though, i understand a lot of people’s frustrations — i share some of them. we have this absolutely relentless stream of political correctness hitting us from every direction, and little opportunity to reply without being shouted down as EVIL WAAAAYCISTS or whatever (although i think that actually might be starting to die down a bit…a bit…or else i’m developing thicker skin (~_^)). and then on top of it you get some idiot calling for abolishing academic freedom?! — which already it isn’t (very free, i mean)! — just makes people see red sometimes.

    not an excuse. just trying to assess the situation.

    p.s. – you should see some of the comments that i don’t approve here…. =/


  13. “we have this absolutely relentless stream of political correctness hitting us from every direction, and little opportunity to reply without being shouted down as EVIL WAAAAYCISTS…”

    Bingo! Direct hit! Fatality!

    I prefer the term “evil empiricist” :)


  14. With all due respect, Jayman, Dunsworth was asking for it. When you call your post “The Mismeasure of Dog” in direct homage to S.J. Gould, and the pop up at a Greg Cochran site, that’s like showing up at an NAACP conference in Klan robes. You can expect a little…static. Besides, I didn’t notice anything worse than a little sarcasm. You should have seen the linguists over there go nuts when I said something nice about Joseph Greenberg…


  15. Using academic freedom to destroy it without noticing the hypocrisy. I think being consciously hypocritical and not noticing hypocrisy are two different things like immoral and amoral.


    1. @Greying Wanderer “being consciously hypocritical and not noticing hypocrisy are two different things” Interesting thought. I never made such a distinction. In fact the immoral-thing makes the best sense if you mean that the amoral person is simply incapable of reasoning, like comatose or something. They have done a pretty good job of demonstrating moral awareness in infants and animals, so if you have the ability to say, “I’m amoral, you aren’t.” But I suppose there is a level of abstraction that is needed to notice the hypocrisy here, and somebody might be able to function at a rudimentary level and lack it. I don’t mean to contradict. Just mulling it over. Thanks for making a point worth reflecting on.


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