Ethics Hero Prof. Dorian Abbot Rescued By Ethics Hero Robert Zimmer, University Of Chicago President


Dorian Abbot, a professor of geology at the University of Chicago, was troubled when a colleague in his department gave an internal seminar that included the idiotic and unethical quote, “If you are just hiring the best people, you are part of the problem.” The setting being a university, Abbot set out to provoke some enlightened discussion on this assertion, creating a video slide show including graphics like the one above.

His primary messages in the presentation were, he wrote, that “we need to think through the consequences of diversity efforts on campus lest they harm promising scientists of all demographics; adjusting departmental demographics at elite universities doesn’t solve any problems, but may make some worse, and that ” the current academic climate is making it extremely difficult for people with dissenting viewpoints to voice their opinions.

Yes, “The Horror.” Such opinions obviously meant that the professor was evil and a danger to everyone on campus.

The professor writes,

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Sunday Ethics Insomnia, 11/29/2020: No Wonder I Can’t Sleep!

1. I hate 99.9% of the petitions offered at but I’m signing this one . It reads,

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.

[Pointer: Pennagain]

2. “Hello, Newman...” According to the Postal Service’s own records, more than 150,000 mail-in ballots were not delivered in time for them to be counted on election day. This is, of course, as I and anyone else who was paying attention expected and predicted, because the USPS is undependable

I am surprised that the number was that low.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/16/2020: For Some Unexplained Reason, Police Officers Are Feeling Unappreciated

1. Even humor sites have to do better than this...FARK is an amusing news aggregator that headlines links to interesting stories from around the web with facetious comments, puns and snark, most of the time avoiding gratuitous political slant, This headline, however, was an outright deception:  Sure the police might have some bad apples, but a review of 2,400 cases only found misconduct 54% of the time.

If you read the story, you will find that those were not just cases, but cases in which innocent people had been convicted of crimes. A study showing 54% of all cases showing police misconduct would be a damning result, but if someone is wrongly convicted of a crime, there is likely to be misconduct somewhere in the process. For those cases, 54% strikes me as low. Moreover, while the headline implies that all of the misconduct found in the study was attributable to police, that’s not true either. The study found that in  the cases studied, 54% showed misconduct by police or prosecutors.

FARK’s headline was just gratuitous and unjust police-bashing. Not funny.

2. For the record…it’s 5:58 am, and I’m still furious over the cretinous response from the Boston sportswriter I discussed in item #4 of last night’s late warm-up. Continue reading

The Professions Most Likely to Cheat on Their Taxes?

Gee, where do "Treasury Secretaries" fall on the list?

A study of I.R.S. data by a University of Chicago graduate student, now Doctor, Oscar Vela,  produced the following list of the professions most likely to file fraudulent tax returns, at least according to his analysis. Make of it what you will. The Time Magazine website blog post about the list is worth reading, first for the blogger’s highly questionable theories explaining, for example, why lawyers aren’t on it, but mostly to see conclusive proof that Time is hiring English-as-a-second-language night students, relatives of Ko-Ko the talking gorilla, or stroke victims to write their blogs. Sample sentence: “His conclusion was that as much as we would like to think so we pay taxes out of  the goodness of our hearts, or even because we are fearful of fines or worse.” Henry Luce just did a back-flip in his grave.

Dr. Vela’s theory is that the professions that are required to maintain a perception of integrity are less likely to cheat. Let us say that I am dubious. Why then are scientists so high on the list?

Here it is: Continue reading