To Be Fair, MIT Was Probably Corrupted By Being Too Close To Harvard….

MIT

Dorian Abbot, an associate professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, wrote in an op-ed on New York Times exile Bari Weiss’ Substack last weeky that MIT, just a few bocks beyond Harvrad on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Mass., had informed him that his Carlson Lecture was being canceled to “avoid controversy.” He wrote in part,

“In the fall of 2020 I started advocating openly for academic freedom and merit-based evaluations. I recorded some short YouTube videos in which I argued for the importance of treating each person as an individual worthy of dignity and respect. In an academic context, that means giving everyone a fair and equal opportunity when they apply for a position as well as allowing them to express their opinions openly, even if you disagree with them. 

“As a result, I was immediately targeted for cancellation, primarily by a group of graduate students in my department. Whistleblowers later revealed that the attack was partially planned and coordinated on the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program listserv by a graduate student in my department….

“That group of graduate students organized a letter of denunciation. It claimed that I threatened the ‘safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the department,’ and it was presented to my department chair. The letter demanded that my teaching and research be restricted in a way that would cripple my ability to function as a scientist. A strong statement in support of faculty free expression by University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer put an end to that, and that is where things stood until the summer of 2021. 

“On August 12, a colleague and I wrote an op-ed in Newsweek in which we argued that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as it currently is implemented on campus “violates the ethical and legal principle of equal treatment” and “treats persons as merely means to an end, giving primacy to a statistic over the individuality of a human being.” We proposed instead ‘an alternative framework called Merit, Fairness, and Equality (MFE) whereby university applicants are treated as individuals and evaluated through a rigorous and unbiased process based on their merit and qualifications alone.’ We noted that this would mean an end to legacy and athletic admission advantages, which significantly favor white applicants. 

“Shortly thereafter, my detractors developed a new strategy to try to isolate me and intimidate everyone else into silence: They argued on Twitter that I should not be invited to give science seminars at other universities and coordinated replacement speakers. This is an effective and increasingly common way to ratchet up the cost of dissenting because disseminating new work to colleagues is an important part of the scientific endeavor. 

“Sure enough, this strategy was employed when I was chosen to give the Carlson Lecture at MIT — a major honor in my field. It is an annual public talk given to a large audience and my topic was “climate and the potential for life on other planets.” On September 22, a new Twitter mob, composed of a group of MIT students, postdocs, and recent alumni, demanded that I be uninvited

“It worked….”

Observations:

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/22/2020: Let’s Stop Moping Around! Get Up! Get Out! Attack The Day! [Now With Leonard Bernstein!]

 

Update: I decided we needed a less pokey version, so now we have Leonard Bernstein’s, and the whole thing. THAT should cheer you up…

Boy, am I sick of everyone telling me how depressed they are.

1. Translation: “I’m an idiot.”  Now Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is saying  that the city will close the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” It turned out to be exactly what anyone with any sense predicted it would be, with three shootings so far and a rape, along with a leader ( war lord?) who had the gall to complain when the Seattle EMTs didn’t immediately respond when shots rang out. The mayor  had said that the anarchist outpost would lead to a “summer of love,” marking her as a Sixties-romanticizing dolt, but now she says she was obviously joking-–yes, the Joke Excuse. She never said it was “in jest” before the completely predictable violence broke out.

I apologize for not highlighting her as an Incompetent Elected Official of the Month, but she was competing with Bill De Blasio.

2. Fearmongering. It should be apparent by now that the news media does not want the country to re-open, does not want the economy to begin recovering before the election, and is pushing its anti-reopening goal through fearmongering, in part by focusing on isolated cases of individuals getting hit by the Wuhan virus particularly hard.

This morning HLN kept repeating a long feature about a thirtyish Broadway star who has been disabled by the virus for 80 days, and another man not in a high-risk group who has been suffering for 100 days. The Times and the Washington Post are full of apocalyptic reports about the number of cases rising. Another news outlet said, “The U.S. reported more than 33,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday – the highest total since May 1 – while the surge of infections in several states is outpacing growth in coronavirus testing.”  ARRRGH! We;re DOOOMED!

One commentator called this “needless” frightening the public. Wrong. It is  needed because it is a part of the ongoing effort to defeat President Trump.

The Centers for Disease Control predicted that cases would increase as the country reopened, not that it has much credibility at this point. Remember? The lock down was never intended to stop the spread of the disease, but to slow it down,  flatten the curve, stock up on supplies, fix the CDC’s testing botch, and find treatments. That was mostly accomplished. The nation cannot continue to let the economy deteriorate: depressions kill people too.

Meanwhile, the death rate is declining even as the number of cases spike, and there’s a reason for that. In all outbreaks, a disease claims the most vulnerable first. This is known as Farr’s Law, named after William Farr,  a British epidemiologist and early statistician  who recognized the importance of death statistics and identifying causation. Not only has the current epidemic claimed many of the most vulnerable in the U.S., thanks in great part to the catastrophic decision of states like New York to send infected seniors to nursing homes, millions of Americans have antibodies.

The combination means that even if there are lots of new cases going forward, the death toll is likely to be far less severe than it has been. Do not hold your breath waiting for the media to explain this.

Just for fun,  check and see how many news organizations have mentioned Farr’s Law. Continue reading

Lunchtime Ethics Snack, 1/17/2020: Dirty Money, Dirty Baseball, And “Parasite”

Yum or Yecchh?

1. And the baseball cheating scandal is still roiling! I feel sorry for ethics enthusiasts who are missing out on this fascinating episode because they shut down when baseball is mentioned. One emerging issue that focuses on “woke” (and in some quadrants, sadly, female) leadership models has become evident. The two managers fired in the sign-stealing scandal were part of the “new wave” of “collaborative” baseball managers that teams embraced in recent years. They are sensitive to the players’ needs; they don’t give orders as much as set flexible boundaries; they are not confrontational, and they absorb and guide the culture of the clubhouse rather than dictate it. Then we learn, in MLB’s report on its investigation, that when Houston’s A.J. Hinch discovered (in 2017) that his bench coach and his players were operating an elaborate sign-stealing operation that he knew violated the rules , he made it known that he disapproved, but never ordered them to stop. Now baseball commentators are saying that the Astros need to hire an “old school” manager (like the ones who have been put out to pasture over the last five years) who will be leader, who will lay down the law, and who won’t shy away from confrontation for fear of not being “collaborative.”

Duh. How did anyone come to think effective leaders should do otherwise? Leaders need to lead. Leading doesn’t have to be autocratic, but a leader who acts like Hinch did in this matter is no leader at all.

In another revelation regarding the scandal, the report by Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred states that when Manfred put teams on notice in a Sept. 15, 2017 memo that using electronic means to steal and relay opposing teams’ signs during games would henceforth be  severely punished, Houston General Manager Jeff Luhnow “did not forward the memoranda and did not confirm that the players and field staff were in compliance … Had Luhnow taken those steps in September 2017 it is clear to me that the Astros would have ceased both sign-stealing schemes at the time.”

This is gross managerial negligence, and it puts Lahlow’s self-serving statement that he had no involvement in his team’s cheating in perspective. Continue reading

It Looks Like Ahmed’s “Cool Clock” Was A Hoax After All. Now What?

Ah, Barack, Barack, Barack.  I keep telling you that responsible leaders don’t inject themselves into local matters and trivial issues, warping attention and priorities, politicizing issues that shouldn’t be political, making things worse. But your learning curve is still, on this as regarding so much else, flatter than a Jeb Bush’s poll numbers. Why? Why?

It is increasingly looking like Ahmed Mohamed didn’t build a clock after all. Whatever he brought with him to school, it shouldn’t have gotten him arrested, and whatever got him arrested, it shouldn’t have gotten him a White House invitation when so many other worse examples of school abuse of kids, some spurred by your own excessive rhetoric about guns, didn’t even cause a momentary hitch in Obama’s golf swing. As it stands now, what may have been a  dishonest stunt by a smart Muslim kid has paid off big time, and either the kid is trapped in a lie that keeps getting worse, or enjoying the fact that he is making a lot of people look like  fools, including the President of the United States. This is increasingly looking a real life version of the famous Simpsons episode in which Bart’s practical joke involving an imaginary child named “Timmy” who has fallen down a well causes a media frenzy that traps Bart.

Ahmed is a child: his conduct can be forgiven. The adults in the episode, however, shouldn’t be.

Let’s catch up with the narrative, which I last visited here. It always looked like an example of confirmation bias gone wild, with just another example of school administrators showing no judgment and being cruel to students  appropriated by Democrats, progressives and the media to serve their agenda of framing legitimate distrust of radical Islam as racism and bigotry. Now, however, it appears that all of them were taken in by a stunt of the sort that most of us, if we think back, can recall from one or more of our own classmates: the faked science project. Continue reading

D.C. Ethics: Q: What’s Worse Than Delta Airlines Dumping Passengers For The Convenience of The University Of Florida Basketball Team? A: American University Ruining A Ballet School’s “Nutcracker” For The Convenience Of Chris Matthews

The victims of Washington DC values and priorities. AU must be so proud...

The victims of Washington DC values and priorities. AU must be so proud…

Full disclosure: In the past I have been an American University (in Washington, D.C.) employee, teaching legal ethics for a couple of semesters at its Washington College of Law. If I was still an adjunct professor there, I would resign and lead a protest against the despicable, callous, unethical actions of  A.U administrators, and, as I will explain later, I know just how to do it. Later. First, the tale of AU’s disgrace:

President Obama, understandably desperate to address his falling poll numbers in the wake of the dawning realization that 1) his administration is a mess, 2)  he doesn’t really do anything, 4) the health care law he has been selling is dysfunctional, dictatorial and expensive and 5) he lies, is hustling to shore up his base, conveniently identified as anyone who can watch his 24-hour cable shill, MSNBC, for five minutes without laughing or getting nauseous. Thus his staff whistled up loyal sycophant Chris Matthews, he of the “thrill up my leg” Obama fixation, for an exclusive interview this week. This is a blatant political appearance, make no mistake about it. MSNBC is not a legitimate news organization, is intentionally and by design biased in favor of all things related to President Obama, and in Matthews, the President could not possibly have a less objective or more fawning foil. Continue reading

“Is We Getting Dummer?”*: Special Election Edition

BOCA RATON, FL :

“A woman attempting to vote in West Boca Raton this morning was initially prohibited from entering the polling place because she was wearing a t-shirt with the letters MIT. BocaNewsNow.com has heard from multiple sources that an election supervisor at the polling place ultimately realized that MIT stands for “Massachusetts Institute of Technology” — a school where students tend to know how to spell — and was not a campaign shirt for the Republican candidate, who spells his name MITT. Campaigning is not permitted within several yards of a polling place. The woman was ultimately allowed to vote.”

This, mind you, was an election supervisor.

This certainly helps me understand why it is just thinly-veiled voter suppression to insist that voters be able to identify themselves at the polls, because nobody would ever try to try to vote under a false identify when our democratic process is being guarded by our best and brightest.

Once again, let me state that any electoral result is preferable to having another election hinge on the integrity of the system in Florida.

* A quote from “IQ 83” by Arthur Herzog

Perplexing Oxymoron of the Month: the Unethical Ethics Fellow

You may want to fine tune that ethics program, guys....

From news reports: “A former Harvard University fellow studying ethics has been charged with hacking into the computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  to steal more than five million academic articles….Aaron Swartz, 24, was indicted on six counts including wire fraud and faces up to 35 years in prison and a million dollar fine if convicted.”

What?

Questions abound:

What do they teach in Harvard ethics classes?

What kind of grades did Swartz get?

Does this prove that the course of study was junk, or does it prove that he was studying the right subject, since he obviously has a lot to learn?

Is it reasonable to say, “Imagine how unethical he would have been if he wasn’t an Ethics fellow”?

Does this prove that one can be an Ethics Fellow and an Unethical Fellow at the same time?

Should an Ethics Fellow who proves himself to be unethical  be allowed to cite his credentials as an ethics fellow?

If those who can’t do, teach, is he still qualified to teach ethics?

Finally, if becoming an Ethics Fellow at Harvard can’t be relied upon to set the “stealing 5 million academic articles is wrong” alarm, what’s the point?