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Cancel Mob Attacks U Chicago Geophysicist Dorian Abbot For Questioning Diversity Hiring Dogma

Cancel Mob Attacks U Chicago Geophysicist Dorian Abbot For Questioning Diversity Hiring Dogma

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“Cancel culture” is a plague that has infected academia and campuses for a long time, and has moved from campus to the general culture. But it has been particularly prominent in the news in 2020 over issues of racial politics, particularly the Black Lives Matter Movement and Critical Race Theory (sometimes called “antiracist”) indoctrination.

Cancel culture is not criticism. It’s the use of mob dynamics to silence debate through threats to career, employment, and reputation:

At a conceptual level, the difference is clear. Criticism marshals evidence and arguments in a rational effort to persuade. Canceling, by contrast, seeks to organize and manipulate the social or media environment in order to isolate, deplatform or intimidate ideological opponents. It is about shaping the information battlefield, not seeking truth; and its intent—or at least its predictable outcome—is to coerce conformity and reduce the scope for forms of criticism that are not sanctioned by the prevailing consensus of some local majority.

It’s a subject that is of interest to me for obvious reasons.

Prof. Dorian Abbot, Geophysicist and “Snowball Earth” Nerd

There is a case unfolding at the University of Chicago that particularly poignantly demonstrates the cancel culture phenomenon, and the threat it poses to free and open discussion at universities. It involves Geophysical Sciences Professor Dorian Abbot.

I don’t know Prof. Abbot personally, but in researching him, there’s nothing to suggest he’s a particularly political person, at least not publicly. He strikes me as a nerd, in the good sense:

Dorian Abbot uses mathematics and computational models to study climate, habitability, ice, and exoplanets. His research includes both studying ancient climates on Earth as well as climates and life on planets beyond the solar system.

His resume and body of research are impressive, and that’s putting it mildly. It’s also pretty interesting. One of his subjects of interest is “snowball Earth“:

“IF THE CLOUDS WERE TO STOP DOING THEIR WARMING, THEN WE WOULD BE A SNOWBALL EARTH.”

I’m sure I’m totally oversimplifying and distorting the subject matter, but if there is even a small chance the Earth could turn into a big snowball, I’d like to know about it.

He also seems to have fun at what he does, as this video shows from a 2019 conference at Oxford:

ExoClimes is great, thanks Uncle Ray!!

ExoClimes Oxford, 2019. Hosted by the Great Ray Pierrehumbert.

So all is good at U. Chicago, right? Somewhat nerdy, fun-loving prof, devoted to research and teaching, lives happily ever after.

Well, not if some people had their way.

The Cancel Mob Takes Offense And Goes On Attack

As has become so common on campuses, it just takes one statement out-of-sync with the most woke of woke on campus to cause outrage! and unsafeness! and the mob forms to try to cancel you because you are a danger!

I first heard about what happened to Prof. Abbot from a tweet from Colin Wright of Quillette.

So I began to look into it, and the story is another sad commentary on campus mob action.

Prof. Abbot’s big thought crime was expressing disagreement with some aspects of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” he considers counterproductive (and which may be unlawful). Prof. Abbot didn’t express disagreement with diversity as a goal, or extraordinary outreach to minority hiring prospects to expand the pool, or actions to make sure the hiring process was free from explicit or implicit bias. He supports all those things.

Rather, after all that diversity initiative had been accomplished and a hiring decision had to be made, Prof. Abbot expressed the view that the most qualified remaining candidate should be chosen, which is consistent with U. Chicago policy.

Expressing the view that the most qualified candidate should be hired apparently was too much, it required that Prof. Abbot be cancelled.

A Change.org Petition supporting Prof. Abbot, which currently has over 6800 signers, tells the story:

Professor Dorian Abbot, a tenured faculty member in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, has recently come under attack from students and postdocs for a series of videos he posted to YouTube expressing his reservations about the way Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts have been discussed and implemented on campus.

In these videos Prof. Abbot raised several misgivings about DEI efforts and expressed concern that a climate of fear is “making it extremely difficult for people with dissenting viewpoints to voice their opinions.” The slides for each of Prof. Abbot’s videos can be found here, and his own account of events and his opinions can be found here. Nowhere in these materials does Prof. Abbot offer any opinion that a reasonable observer would consider to be hateful or otherwise offensive.

Shortly after uploading the videos, Abbot’s concerns were confirmed when 58 students and postdocs of the Department of Geophysical Sciences, and 71 other graduate students and postdocs from other University of Chicago departments, posted a letter containing the claim that Prof. Abbot’s opinions “threaten the safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the [Geophysical Sciences] department” and “represent an aggressive act” towards research and teaching communities. (We have redacted the names of the student and postdoc signatories in order to protect their right to free expression and ensure they are not subjected to the same treatment they have meted out to Prof. Abbot.)

The letter also issued 11 demands, many of which would serve to ostracize and shame Prof. Abbot, while stripping him of departmental titles, courses, and privileges. The signatories further demand that the Department of Geophysical Sciences formally and publicly denounce Prof. Abbot’s views, and change hiring and promotion procedures so as to prioritize DEI.

The notion that Prof. Abbot’s opinions represent acts of aggression and threaten anyone’s safety is hyperbolic and absurd. It is unsettling to see such linguistic distortions being used by graduate students at an elite university—let alone the University of Chicago, which has enjoyed a reputation for protecting free speech. The plain purpose of such extreme rhetoric is to stifle debate by dishonestly casting reasonable disagreement as violence and harassment.

Putting aside the evident bad faith of Prof. Abbot’s would-be censors, these demands run counter to the University of Chicago’s widely touted “Chicago Principles”, which outline the “University’s commitment to a completely free and open discussion of ideas” that “guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.” These principles are widely considered the academic Gold Standard for their commitment to free and open inquiry and ones we wholeheartedly support. Indeed, we look to the University of Chicago, and its famous principles, as our lodestar when it comes to academic free speech.

Here is some of the text of the demand letter (archive). First, it contains the now-usual falsehood that someone disagreeing with you makes you “unsafe” (emphasis added):

To the Department of the Geophysical Sciences Faculty:

We, the undersigned members of the Department of Geophysical Sciences Community at the University of Chicago, have come together to address the videos released by Professor Dorian Abbot on his public YouTube channel from Friday, November 13th, 2020 through Sunday, November 15th, 2020. The first of these videos was distributed to members of the department during the weekly virtual lunchtime seminar (“Noon Balloon”). Although these videos were removed from Professor Abbot’s YouTube channel on November 16th, their impact on the Department of Geophysical Sciences community cannot be ignored.

The contents of Professor Dorian Abbot’s videos threaten the safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the department and serve to undermine Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives driven by the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Coordination Team (EDICT). In these videos, he uses anecdotal evidence and poor statistics not supported by peer-reviewed literature about diversity. Although his views may not be unique within the department, his videos are a deliberate rejection of opportunities to participate in conversations within the Department of Geophysical Sciences and University of Chicago as a whole, and represent an aggressive act towards the research and teaching communities of which Professor Abbot is a member.

The list of demands is totalitarian and anti-intellectual, and meant to destroy Prof. Abbot’s job and career even if he is not fired. It is meant to humiliate and ostracize, and to hold Prof. Abbot out as an example of the severe professional consequences for questioning diversity hiring practices.

The sanctions to which Prof. Abbot would be subjected if the demands were met include a stripping of access, titles, teaching responsibilities, and other punitive measures, include, among other things:

  1. Take steps to protect students and postdocs currently working with Professor Abbot, in either Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant positions, including but not limited to enabling students to opt out of Teaching Assistant positions in his classes without loss of department funding and to remove Professor Abbot from their academic committees without repercussions. For students who cannot continue working with Professor Abbot, we ask that the 50% UChicago faculty rule for committee membership be waived to allow outside advisors so that all students are accommodated. The department will commit to working with impacted students to avoid any repercussions on the advancement of their degrees at UChicago.
  2. Give undergraduate students who are uncomfortable continuing classes with Professor Abbot a timely, accessible option to complete their course and receive course credit without having to continue under the instruction of Professor Abbot. The appropriateness of Professor Abbot as the face of our department in “Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast”, one of the most enrolled courses at the College, should be reevaluated. In addition, undergraduate students currently conducting research with Professor Abbot should be given opportunities to work with other professors within or outside the department. Finally, any undergraduate students currently or slated to receive financial compensation for their work with Professor Abbot should continue to receive that compensation, even if under alternative supervision.
  3. Immediately rescind Professor Abbot’s position and privileges as Department Website and Social Media Committee Chair for using students’ images in his personal video without their permission.
  4. Explicitly, whether publicly or internally, make clear that the contents and implications of these videos are unsubstantiated, inappropriate, and harmful to department members and climate.
  5. Develop and publish a public-facing values statement and code of conduct, both to show that Professor Abbot does not speak for the Department of Geophysical Sciences and to document the effects of statements like Prof. Abbot’s on research, teaching, and climate within the department. This measure will help navigate similar issues in the future. 
  6. Develop an agreement system between all faculty and their graduate students/postdocs that enables the group members to work on EDI- and outreach-related work without fear of retaliation from the advisor and committee.
  7. Formally petition the Physical Sciences Division (PSD) Administration to review the faculty hiring practices detailed in the 1970s Shils Report and to amend University policies to enable PSD departments to allow EDI statements in all faculty job applications.
  8. Implement accountability measures to address patterns of bigoted behaviour in both the department’s hiring/promotion/tenure process and teaching opportunities. For example, faculty who persistently engage in bigoted behaviour should be prevented from taking on teaching roles, new graduate students/post-docs/staff, and committee responsibilities.

What is so disturbing is the large number of graduate and post-doctoral students who signed the list of demands. I warned in 2017 that STEM would not be immune to the social justice (and racial) warfare tearing through universities:

If you think this is just a Humanities and Social Sciences problem, stay tuned. In 3-5 years, if we’re still here, we’ll be writing about how the social justice warriors have corrupted the STEM fields. It’s happening now, it’s just not in the headlines yet.

These are supposed “scholars” and researchers, but the list of punitive demands shows that they are not worthy. While I’ve not seen a ‘scientific’ survey of it, I’ve observed that in so many of these cancel culture campus cases, the graduate students are the most aggressive, mean-spirited, and angry.

In the link to the Google Doc, the names have been redacted by Wright “to protect their individual rights to free expression.” (I don’t agree with redacting names, but that’s a debate for another time.) Anyway, here’s how the 58 Geophysical students listed appear (there are over 100 more from other departments):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fCOezNmxmaeVLSirrYp9y2nzy7m9Yr-rgPulwW-eNDw/edit

 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fCOezNmxmaeVLSirrYp9y2nzy7m9Yr-rgPulwW-eNDw/edit

That’s a lot of students and post-docs in one department. Imagine being a student and NOT having your name on the list of signers. Such is the dynamic in these things, some students are true believers, but many if not most students sign as a means of social acceptance and to avoid social ostracism.

The Horror – Prof. Abbot Supports Diversity AND Hiring The Most Qualified Candidate

What was so horrible about what Prof. Abbot said? I asked him about the videos, which are no longer available, and he explained that he pretty much just read the slides he presented (linked in the Change.org petition above, and here). The slides present views of diversity that are broader than racial and gender classifications, and that seek to avoid discrimination against any group.

Prof. Abbot explained more about what happened in his My Perspective document:

I and some colleagues who I don’t want to name and involve right now have been concerned about certain aspects of the way Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts have been discussed and implemented over the past 3-4 years, especially during 2020.

In particular, many of us are concerned about the way that anyone who tries to dissent on certain issues is immediately assumed to have racist or otherwise bigoted motives, which prevents the intellectual exploration of that issue, particularly the implications and consequences of proposed policies. On 11/6/20, a colleague in my department gave an internal seminar that included the quote: “If you are just hiring the best people, you are part of the problem.” Many people took this to imply (although that may not have been the intent) that we should not hire the most qualified people, which has traditionally been the way the University of Chicago approaches appointments (Shils report). After discussions with colleagues, I decided that it was important to reassert our traditional approach on this issue. I asked to speak at the same internal seminar, but was told that I couldn’t because I had already spoken this year. Instead I recorded a reading of these slides , posted it to YouTube, and sent it out in the Zoom chat for our internal seminar after the speaker had finished on Friday, 11/13/20. Before sharing the video I showed it to colleagues and they thought it would be a good way to start the discussion.

A good way to start a discussion?!? How noble. How academic. How naive. This is the modern campus. Some discussions are more equal than others.

He continued:

When I posted the slides I got emails from 15-20% of the members of my department thanking me for speaking out and giving examples of how they have felt unable to discuss anything that disagrees with the “outspoken majority.” I got a substantive comment about selection bias in the postdoctoral fellowship example from my slides, so I made another video giving other examples and showing the results of this paper. I also made a video explaining the purpose of a modern university and the way we should approach appointments according to the Shils report. On Saturday, 11/14/20, friends started telling me that there were a large number of people on Twitter misrepresenting what I was arguing, saying untrue things about me, and even demanding that I be fired….

On Monday, 11/15/20, the University’s Title IX office reached out to me and asked for more information about the hiring and admissions actions I objected to. I can’t discuss the details, but they told me that some of them should not be happening on campus. They agreed to investigate these issues and continue the conversation.

Finally, Prof. Abbot explained his position on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”:

My position on DEI efforts: I am in favor of many DEI efforts. Around 2010 I learned about the Harvard implicit bias test from a DEI program on campus. I took it and found that I had an implicit bias against women in science. I tried to consciously fight that unconscious bias and purposefully worked with many women in science. Five years later when I retook the test, it no longer revealed an implicit bias. I also strongly support expanding applicant pools as much as possible. I believe that diversity is healthy and good for a university because it tends to lead to more perspectives and debate that fully explores intellectual issues.

That said, I would tend to emphasize a larger variety of types of diversity, including political, religious, and viewpoint diversity, than are currently being emphasized in most DEI efforts. What I am against is setting up systems where group membership is a primary aspect of a candidate’s evaluation. I believe we should avoid discriminating against anyone for any reason. After trying to remove our biases and increase the pool of applicants as much as possible, I believe we should continue to select the most qualified applicants, as outlined in the Shils report. I don’t demand anyone else agree with me on these issues. The critical point to me is that everyone should feel comfortable advocating any position on them without being attacked, bullied, and delegitimized.

Outpouring Of Support

There has been an outpouring of support for Prof. Abbot, although it’s not clear how much of that comes from inside U. Chicago.

In addition to the Change.org petition, Chicago Law School professor Brian Leiter, who has a big audience among law professors, wrote on his blog:

Dorian Abbot, a geology professor here at the University of Chicago (whom I do not know), had the temerity to express doubts about his department’s “diversity” efforts…. I agree with some of what he has to say, and disagree with other parts.  But his views are not “hateful,” “harmful” or out of place in a university that values free discussion on important issues.

For dissenting from “diversity” orthodoxy, Professor Abbot has now been subjected to a disgraceful public denunciation by postdocs and graduate students in Geology (and other UChicago science departments (complete with fictitious claims about “aggression” and “safety”).  The public version of the letter omits the names of the benighted grad students and postdocs.  But some faculty and postdocs have gone public with their delusional responses:  for example, Assistant Professor Graham Slater’s Twitter thread is here  (do review the actual slides to see how unhinged this take is), and the reaction of a geology postdoc at Chicago, Michael Henson (also here)….

There’s very little extramural speech that ought to have any bearing on hiring or promotion decisions in universities, but open contempt like that above for academic freedom and lawful expression–which are foundational to the academic enterprise–probably should count against someone.  (We’ve touched on this issue before.)  If people like Slater and Hanson carry on like this now, what kind of damage will they do to their departments and disciplines once they have tenure?

The London-based Free Speech Union, issued a letter of support.

Acquiescing to the signatories’ demands would only exacerbate the climate of fear that Prof Abbot describes, and which countless other academics have also noted. That other University of Chicago faculty have corroborated Prof Abbot’s claims regarding this climate of intolerance – but are afraid to express their support for him publicly – means that the University of Chicago is already failing to uphold its cherished Principles.

The Foundation for Individual Rights In Education offered support.

Some “big names” also have tweeted support:

The University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer issued a statement today, without naming Prof. Abbot, confirming that diversity of views is welcome, even on the topic of diversity.

From time to time, faculty members at the University share opinions and scholarship that provoke spirited debate and disagreement, and in some cases offend members of the University community.

As articulated in the Chicago Principles, the University of Chicago is deeply committed to the values of academic freedom and the free expression of ideas, and these values have been consistent throughout our history. We believe universities have an important role as places where novel and even controversial ideas can be proposed, tested and debated. For this reason, the University does not limit the comments of faculty members, mandate apologies, or impose other disciplinary consequences for such comments, unless there has been a violation of University policy or the law.  Faculty are free to agree or disagree with any policy or approach of the University, its departments, schools or divisions without being subject to discipline, reprimand or other form of punishment.

That said, no individual member of the faculty speaks for the University as a whole on any subject, including on issues of diversity. In turn, the University will continue to defend vigorously any faculty member’s right to publish and discuss his or her ideas.

The University is committed to creating an inclusive environment where diversity is not only represented but individuals are empowered to fully participate in the exchange of ideas and perspectives. As University leaders we recognize that there is more work to be done and are strengthening initiatives to attract faculty, students and staff of diverse backgrounds.

As least President Zimmer had the class not to couple a statement defending a faculty member’s right to free expression with the type of ritual denunciation of the professor’s views that is now common.

The Process Is The Punishment

Prof. Abbot has received support, and it’s pretty clear that the University as an entity is not going to take punitive action against him. But the harm is done.

The process is the punishment. Having to stand up to the mob and attempts at cancellation is draining. Knowing that the people you work with have it out for you is depressing and makes for an infinitely hostile work environment. Even without adverse employment action being taken, the cancel culture bell cannot be unrung.

The damage also is done to the University. Those faculty without tenure learn to stay silent. Graduate students who disagree will not want to subject themselves to attack. Private expressions of support, while better than nothing, reflect a toxic public atmosphere in which dissent is punished and staying quiet will be the option for most people.

Prof. Abbot provided me with the following statement:

“I’m just a science guy who tries to be a decent, honest man. I’m not a culture warrior. I stumbled into this accidentally by trying to advocate what I thought were the shared values of our culture, like treating other people with respect and dignity as well as viewing others primarily as individuals, not faceless members of groups. I’d rather be doing science, but this situation has made it clear to me that we have a serious problem on campus and some people are going to have to stand up to it or it will just get worse.

I’m trying to approach the whole thing with joy, eager to learn, and with an open heart, full of forgiveness toward the students and postdocs who have denounced me, but also firm in advocating what I believe to be the morally correct position. Who knows where it will lead, but I think I will meet interesting people and maybe I can help be a part of something positive.”

It’s not easy to stand seemingly alone.

The best I can offer Prof. Abbot is the inspirational message I received from a reader at the height of the Cornell Law School mania directed at me, “The spines of thousands are being strengthened by hearing of your fight”:

The spines of thousands are being strengthened, by hearing of your fight.

You are NOT ALONE.

Before tonight, I never heard of you. If you had equivocated prior to this point, you would have still been destroyed by the people who want you to pander to them; and you would have dissolved into obscurity.

But, you fought for righteousness. The rule of law, the Constitution and Bill of Rights. For the Ethos of Dr Martin L King, … you fight for Content of Character.

You stood, seemingly alone, in the breach.

But you are not alone. We are with you.

I am with you – Fangs Out and Full Speed, I am coming; and with you even now.

Bow, kneel, grovel… you will dissolve into obscurity.

Make them seemingly kill you; and the eggs and smears and brutality they throw at you, will be a mantle of Honor you wear into eternity.

I wish Prof. Abbot well, and we will continue to follow this story if there are further developments.

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Comments


 
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 10
The Friendly Grizzly | November 29, 2020 at 10:06 pm

Maybe, just MAYBE, it’s time for whites to stop apologizing.

    I haven’t started.
    .


       
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      The Friendly Grizzly | November 30, 2020 at 6:18 am

      Nor I. I’m talking of “leaders”.

      I also think it’s time to refuse “diversity training”. If done in solitary, it will put a stop to this racket. They can’t fire all of us.

    I never started. Screw these people.


     
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    CommoChief | November 30, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    As an alternative I propose bringing back dueling. Limit to a .22 cal 3 inch barrel at 20 paces. Second shot optional.

    Now if the snowflakes are really offended they can make a challenge or STFU. As a bonus it would certainly cool down some of the overheated, vitriolic falsehoods from various MSM outlets.

    Tie in the failure to accept a challenge as evidence of moral/ethical shortcoming and therefore a durable offense at employer option. Automatic firing for public employees. Loss of media ‘credentials’ for media who refuse a challenge.


 
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notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | November 29, 2020 at 10:22 pm

Cancel culture forgot to cancel themselves first.

Because of that they have zero validity.

Hey makes more sense than the racist fascist bigoted discriminating cancel culture moron tools which Communists always make sure they eliminate by murder first.


 
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notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | November 29, 2020 at 10:25 pm

 
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Dantzig93101 | November 29, 2020 at 10:51 pm

Dear University of Chicago enrollees:

You are expelled.

You have until 5pm, December 1, 2020 to get yourselves and your belongings off campus.

You will receive a pro-rated tuition refund. You are entitled to one free transcript if you wish to transfer to a university that is more inclined to tolerate your thuggish behavior.

Sincerely,
Vernon C. Wormer
Dean of Students


     
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    JusticeDelivered | November 29, 2020 at 11:33 pm

    I am really tired of this stuff. Expelling students is good, but make sure that any staff or administrators who were involved are also terminated.

    He should sue the college for a hostile work environment.

rof. Abbot didn’t express disagreement with diversity as a goal, or extraordinary outreach to minority hiring prospects to expand the pool […] He supports all those things.

Well, more fool him. Is it too much to hope that after what he’s going through he might rethink those opinions?

(We have redacted the names of the student and postdoc signatories in order to protect their right to free expression and ensure they are not subjected to the same treatment they have meted out to Prof. Abbot.)

They have the right to free expression. They don’t have the right to escape the consequences of that expression. People have the right to know what kind of people they are, and to draw the appropriate conclusions about associating with them and eventually about employing them. Especially about employing them, since they’re likely to turn the work environment toxic.

Also, sauce, goose, gander.

We’d better accept we live in 2 countries how, and we’re are complete at odds with how we see our government.

There really is no ‘middle ground’ with these fascist useful idiots and their handlers.

The US is not destined for a future as 50 states (57, if you’re obama). Unfortunately, the future is NOW.

Divide the US now, and do it peacefully.

I am in favor of many DEI efforts. Around 2010 I learned about the Harvard implicit bias test from a DEI program on campus. I took it and found that I had an implicit bias against women in science. I tried to consciously fight that unconscious bias and purposefully worked with many women in science. Five years later when I retook the test, it no longer revealed an implicit bias.

Ah, this explains a lot. The “Harvard implicit bias test” is bunkum. It’s no more reliable than palm reading or astrology. Retesting the same subject does not produce the same results. He should have taken it again immediately, rather than 5 years later, and the chances are good that he would have seen the same change in his score without all that effort at self-brainwashing.

The beleaguered professor is hopelessly naive as are many Americans about the Chinese spies posing as students. Remember that China has five times as many people as the USA so China can easily send 2/5 of its top students here without missing them. But, each Chinese student takes up limited space that prevents an American student from moving ahead in a college and career.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/02/01/politics/us-intelligence-chinese-student-espionage/index.html

https://www.npr.org/2019/06/28/728659124/fbi-urges-universities-to-monitor-some-chinese-students-and-scholars-in-the-u-s

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1104291

Confucius Institutes have been used to recruit spies and monitor Chinese students for compliance to Chinese values.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/01/09/colleges-move-close-chinese-government-funded-confucius-institutes-amid-increasing


 
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LukeHandCool | November 30, 2020 at 12:51 am

I wonder what percentage of these students are actually hysterical and delusional enough to actually believe their safety is threatened by an opinion they don’t like?

And what percentage know it’s all bullsh*t but love this tired, old outrage charade which still sends terror through the ranks of the adults in charge?

I’d be willing to bet my last dollar that of all those involved there is only one single person who feels his (professional) safety is threatened, and that is Professor Abbot.


     
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    LukeHandCool | November 30, 2020 at 12:58 am

    On a somewhat related note …

    Sometimes I hear people say things to the effect that Jews overreact to supposedly small acts of anti-Semitism.

    But just like this recent cancel culture phenomenon shows us, left unchecked, this sh*t spreads like wildfire.

    I never thought I’d see it, but I fear we’re becoming a society given to mass hysteria.


       
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      The Friendly Grizzly | November 30, 2020 at 6:24 am

      I never thought I’d see it, but I fear we’re becoming a society given to mass hysteria.

      War of the Worlds
      Cranberries cause cancer
      Coffee causes cancer

      Covid.


     
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     4
    henrybowman | November 30, 2020 at 2:33 am

    “hysterical and delusional enough to actually believe their safety is threatened by an opinion they don’t like?”

    Meanwhile, on the other hand:

    “There is a difference between safety and comfort. A transgender student’s presence in the facility does not make other students unsafe. A student’s discomfort does not trump a transgender student’s right to use the school facility that is consistent with their gender identity. It is best to discern whether it’s a comfort or a safety issue.”

    So, you see, progressives are capable of distinguishing between “uncomfortable” and “unsafe” when it’s to their advantage to do so.


       
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      Dathurtz | November 30, 2020 at 6:11 am

      We must always remember that people on the left don’t actually believe what they say they believe. They “believe” whatever is useful.


       
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      drednicolson | November 30, 2020 at 1:08 pm

      They lure you into agreeing with their glittering generalities, then pull the rhetorical rug out from under you by arbitrarily redefining the terms.

    It is probably a combination of the two. Undoubtedly the ringleaders know it is BS and are just fomenting terror. But I think the “snowflake” effect is real and at least some of the dimmer followers actually believe it.


     
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    Brave Sir Robbin | November 30, 2020 at 10:35 am

    I once knew a Chinese graduate student. He insisted most Chinese students were “spies.” He would point them out to me and tell me what they were supposed to do, such as, “He makes sure we all comply,” “He is trying to find out who is favorable to China, and who is not,” “He studies the professors and makes reports on them,” and so forth. At the time, I thought he was silly and playing games, though he insisted he was quite serious. He was a bit older and claims to have spent several years in a re-education camp under Mao. He was virulently but secretively anti-communist and insisted he was under close watch. He said he “converted to communism” to get out of the re-education camp. He had become useful because he had learned seven languages in camp listening to a hidden short-wave radio. The radio was discovered, and he thought he would be harshly punished, but they then discovered his language skills, and it was his knack for languages that really got him out and into the US for graduate school. The government wanted him to gain a cultural grasp of the the US to correctly translate and interpret media from the US.

    No idea if any of this was true. It’s just what this one particular student told me.


 
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henrybowman | November 30, 2020 at 2:18 am

“Expressing the view that the most qualified candidate should be hired apparently was too much, it required that Prof. Abbot be cancelled.”

I saw a graphic (can’t find it now) that said something similar to:

THE RATCHET OF TOLERANCE
We demand you give us protection from harassment.
We demand you give us your acceptance.
We demand you give us celebration.
We demand you give us special privileges.
We demand you give us superiority.
We demand you give us your subservience.


 
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TX-rifraph | November 30, 2020 at 5:38 am

The cancel culture is not about substance. It is about process — power over people. It is about control. The substance is irrelevant and it can change in a minute.

Put an end to the process or submit to tyranny. Analyzing details is ignoring the threat and a distraction that the radicals want us to do.

These Marxist revolutionaries are simply applying Alinsky’s rules. And we attempt to persuade them with logic. Defend yourself with logic when in a street fight and see how that works out.

What are the snowflakes who signed this letter going to do when the names are circulated and no one in industry will hire them? Work for universities and the government, poisoning the next cohorts’ minds. Unless universities and governments take their demands literally and hire less qua3people with more desirable DEI traits.

Science suffers enough from the reality that “truth: is almost never provable absolutely but is just the theory that best fits experimental data and makes predictions that can be verified. That leaves it open to question by valid assertions that its predictions are contradicted by new data or that it makes no testable predictions. But science does not need the distraction of ideological purity or the handicap of tryong to achieve social goals not hiring the best people, who will migrate to other places or other professions.


     
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    Brave Sir Robbin | November 30, 2020 at 10:45 am

    “What are the snowflakes who signed this letter going to do when the names are circulated and no one in industry will hire them?”

    Why do you think no one will hire them? It is the conservative who will be shunned, not the fascist. How much proof do you need of this? This is how it works. How many people in how many sectors of life currently feel forced to hide their conservative values and opinions? How many hid their support for Trump by refusing to give him their support in polls, or by not putting bumper stickers on their cars or signs in their yard? The fascists control society’s institutions now in almost all respects. The rank and file may not in some cases be with them, but their leaders are, and they have installed, and will continue to install, enough people to suppress dissent. Publishing their names would be a resume enhancement in today’s America. Why do you think they are so open and blatant?

He supports all those things.
******************************
and its biting him in the ass now.

Well, the beleaguered Professor Abbot mentions Chinese students (versus American Asian students) by name as being discriminated against in the hiring process, and, in doing so, strongly implies that those Chinese students are more qualified than other students who might receive a position.

I ask the reader to realize that his graphic showed that his college (which presumably receives and benefits from significant federal tax monies – even in student loan guarantees) recently hired EIGHT post-doctoral students. EIGHT is a very low number of positions, and American students SHOULD have preference in the hiring process over foreign students. Put differently, I am quite sure that China gives preference to its own students over American students in its hiring processes.


     
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    artichoke | November 30, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    One reason for hiring foreigners is that it escapes DEI requirements. I know that this certainly contributes to the trend of H1B hiring at companies.

    What about non-“diverse” US populations, the ones who look like those who built these scientific disciplines in the first place? Why should they be discriminated against among Americans? Sure others can belong on the same basis: interest and competence in the department’s areas of study.

Google FBI student spies and see what comes up….

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wired.com/story/china-spy-recruitment-us/amp

Grad Student Demand Letter
While I know many grad students are also employees, my question revolves around “Who the h*** do you think you are to ‘demand’ anything?”

You are the students, not the teachers. Sit down and shut up and you might learn something.


 
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artichoke | November 30, 2020 at 1:19 pm

“The contents of Professor Dorian Abbot’s videos threaten the safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the department and serve to undermine Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives driven by the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Coordination Team (EDICT).”

Seems to me that’s a feature not a bug. The initiatives of this self-described EDICT committee should be undermined, to the extent that everyone understands they are just initiatives not edicts!


     
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    artichoke | November 30, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Want to clarify I don’t want to undermine anyone’s actual safety, although belonging should depend somewhat on interest and competence regarding the subject matter.


 
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Frank Hammond | November 30, 2020 at 2:17 pm

So a few random letters from unemployed Grad Students can force the University Administration to do a 180 back flip? I write letters all the time – to Macy’s – Kohl’s – Kroger, etc complaining about lack of service and how I was mistreated at their stores. I never get a reply. The stores don’t give a damn about my opinions.

Maybe College Presidents should hire the rude customer service reps from the Retail world to deal with these spoiled brat Grad students.


 
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CommoChief | November 30, 2020 at 2:46 pm

I look forward to seeing these folks with their knickers in wad as the very suggestion that the ‘best qualified’ person should be selected as they make future life choices:

1. Your child’s medical provider
2. Your medical provider
3. Your Attorney
4. Your accountant
5. Your mechanic
6. The engineer who designed the bridge you drive over

Surely the signatories of this letter would be willing to submit all future choices to random selection from a blind pool of candidates?


     
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    Brave Sir Robbin | December 1, 2020 at 11:55 am

    You do not get it. They will get the best. They are more moral and smarter and therefore important than you. They are members of the elite. They get to pick who provides you with these services. Because you are less important, or even evil and stupid, the quality of those services does not really matter.

The more that I consider Professor Abbot’s presentation, the more it annoys me in many ways. He is tone deaf and needs to consider his future messaging more carefully.

What minority geology student wants to sit in a geology department presentation and see slides depicting minorities on slave blocks, Trail of Tears, WWII Japanese (?) internment camps, or prisoners? The pictures of blacks and Indians remind of negative events and show (or imply) victims, criminals, or service seekers. The pictures of whites and Asians are mainly neutral or positive (except the white boys bullying another white boy but even that portrays power). So, Abbot presents blacks as slaves and criminals whereas he presents Asians as pretty girls.

He seems to imply that the students who were selected for the post-doctoral positions are less qualified or unqualified when compared to non-selected applicants. In other words, he openly insults the students in his department who are women and/or minorities by describing them to their colleagues (and the general public on the internet) as being less qualified and/or unqualified compared to the males, whites, Asian Americans, Jews, and/or Chinese students in his department.

He seems to attempt to tie the fact that more men applied to the idea that the male applicants are more qualified applicants than the women applicants. Interestingly, studies show that men are more likely to overestimate their own accomplishments whereas women are more likely to underestimate their own accomplishments. Perhaps this is one reason leading to more male and fewer female applicants? In any case, the number of non-selected applicants is irrelevant to the quality of selected applicants.

Professor Abbot’s presentation might influence whether women or minorities would apply to a post-doctoral fellowship picked by him because, even if he picks them, he might openly disparage their qualifications at the beginning of their career when they would be trying to get their first real teaching job. That is, after all, what he did in this case. If I were the college administration, I would instruct him to STOP openly insulting the qualifications of current women and minority student employees (post docs). He seems rather spoiled and self-centered in his thinking that his own opinion matters more than the selection committee whose selections he has quite unfairly and openly impugned.


     
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    artichoke | November 30, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    We need more people who insist on their rights to be tone-deaf. Anyway one person’s beautiful music is another person’s unlistenable dreck.

    You say he implied that current postdocs are less qualified than some who were not selected. Did you disprove that? It’s probably true.

    Please be bothered and get more bothered about all this.

Professor Abbot presents NO evidence that current post docs are less qualified than some who were not selected. He does seem to lament that more ladies were picked than gents….


     
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    artichoke | November 30, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    You write “… the number of non-selected applicants is irrelevant to the quality of selected applicants.”

    Under reasonable statistical assumptions, this is incorrect.

Furthermore, it appears from his slide show that, when others sat on a post doc selection committee with him and argued against selecting Chinese students (presumably for a variety of compelling reasons well-articulated by the FBI), Professor Abbot openly judged those people as being racist against Chinese….The irony here is that Abbot shows the same judgmental attitude as those who judge him….


     
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    Milhouse | December 1, 2020 at 12:43 am

    when others sat on a post doc selection committee with him and argued against selecting Chinese students (presumably for a variety of compelling reasons well-articulated by the FBI),

    Oh, bullshit. You are not arguing in good faith. I am 100% certain that those who argued against those students did not raise security concerns, and those were the furthest things from their minds. On the contrary, had he raised such concerns that would have inclined them towards selecting those students. And no, this doesn’t need evidence; it’s completely obvious to anyone who didn’t just arrive from Mars.

I know him. He is liberal, like most academics, but he is not full blown socialist. Thankfully, he has a fairly strong tenure at a very rich, private university.

As long as the number of selected applicants are qualified, the number of non-selected applicants is irrelevant.

The Ivy League rejection letters say so…. Ha ha.


     
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    artichoke | November 30, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    I give you more credit if all your comments, including the first long screed, were sarcasm like this. I thought you actually believed that stuff!

So, he thought that he could abort the baby… Fetal-American and have her, too. You’ll be the first one “cancelled”. Lose your Pro-Choice quasi-religion (“ethics”).

Diversity (i.e. color judgment) dogma, not limited to racism, sexism, transgenderism, denies individual dignity, individual conscience, intrinsic value, and normalizes color blocs, color quotas, and affirmative discrimination.

Diversity of individuals, minority of one.

Omitted from The Friendly Grizzly | November 30, 2020 at 6:24 am:

Leisure suits cause cancer.

Fernwood 2 Night S01E02.


 
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Egghead | December 1, 2020 at 2:47 am

Artichoke: Rather than being sarcastic, I explained that Professor Abbot ‘cancel cultured’ 1) the selection committee as being racist against Chinese (discriminating against Chinese in his words) and 2) the qualifications of women and minority post doc students BEFORE they responded in kind. He acted just like them FIRST which I find very ironic.


 
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Egghead | December 1, 2020 at 3:59 am

Milhouse: Professor Abbot’s slide about Chinese students is accusatory, offensive and ill-informed. A simple google search of Chinese spies or Chinese student spies reveals the depth of the problem. I assume that Professor Abbot is qualified to use google?

Many STEM professors conduct research that supports national security and fully understand the depth of the problem of allowing Chinese nationals unfettered access to research labs, data, and materials. Chinese student spies have been known to regularly xerox huge amounts of research materials and data (often before it is published) and send huge boxes back to China. Creative indeed.

It is also well-documented that China uses Confucius Institutes to monitor and control Chinese students (and American academics) in the United States. Independent thinking indeed.

China already has so many people studying here (350,000) that Chinese nationals could easily take up many competitive slots. As an American citizen and taxpayer, I think the main point is that American schools should benefit American students and American interests and American national security – rather than benefiting foreign nationals and foreign interests and endangering national security. If Professor Abbot would argue or prefer to award post doc fellowships (etc.) to Chinese nationals over American citizens, then I question his judgment.


     
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    Milhouse | December 2, 2020 at 12:31 am

    That is all bullshit. You are arguing in bad faith. You know very well that the only reason those faculty members voted against giving the position to the Chinese students was because they weren’t black; or, if they were male, it was because of that. Security had nothing to do with it, and in fact would have been considered a factor in their favor. These people don’t care about loyalty to the USA, or about preferring Americans to foreigners; they care only about “social equity” or some garbage like that.


 
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Egghead | December 1, 2020 at 4:40 am

Put differently, if we went back in time, should we award Abbot’s geology PhD slot to a more qualified Chinese national? If not, why not? Abbot can only argue on behalf of employing Chinese nationals because it did NOT and does NOT affect his own career trajectory. But, Abbot appears to be willing for Chinese nationals to supplant today’s American women and minorities.

Artichoke: Kelly Clarkson winning the first American Idol illustrates the concept of how neither the number or quality of unselected applicants affects the quality of selected applicants.

The Ivy League rejection letters openly concede that many qualified applicants are rejected each year.

The rejection of qualified applicants does NOT affect the quality of qualified applicants who are accepted.

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