Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Barrett saga over for now

I have a feeling the Barrett story has come to an end as of yesterday. The Provost at Madison made the proper decision (and the only one he could and still maintain any vestige of academic integrity), which was to say that he wasn't going to censor Barrett's class based on his out of class comments.

This will fade away until the next funding cycle, when the anti-UW crowd will use it to whip up support for more cuts--why not punish students and the state's future for comments of one instructor?

Wisconsin State Journal


lammers said...

I suspect you are correct. There really was nothing else that could be done. Being true to principles often means having to hold our nose and defend things we find repugnant.

One thing does concern me about the Barrett episode. Reading his own statements, I get the impression he has virtually no actual evidence to support his views. "That can't be so" and "It doesn't make sense" are scarcely the hallmarks of critical thinking and objective analysis. It seems to me that he has reached a conclusion a priori and now casts about for data to support that view. Perhaps that is the norm in some disciplines, but to someone in science, it seems to be a recipe for disaster. Far better to gather and analyze the data, THEN come to a conclusion.

Anonymous said...

"punish students and the state's future for comments of one instructor"

I don't see how the students will be punished by this guy not having a job. The UW system is a global laughing stock due to this guy. Next thing you know he'll be comparing 911 victims to Nazis like that other infamous professor out west.


Rebecca Marquez, an un-lazy Mexican. said...

It was stated in the JS article that, "all viewpoints should be covered." I hardly think this is to mean that we should be enthusiastically backing the ravings of a possibly incorrect lunatic that plans on basing an entire class on a conspiracy theory. Although I am not an academic I am all for academic freedom and I understand that it's a slippery slope when people are told what they can and cannot teach or say. But I also know that with that freedom comes responsibility and often enough people are applauded for seemingly upholding the right of freedom of speech when in essence all they are doing is being a jackass. Usually a publicity seeking jackass. Would we also be embracing entire classes on the laziness of Mexicans, the cheapness of Jews, the criminality of African Americans?? I don't think our academic community would be overly excited about drawing national (and now international) attention by backing these ideas because we know these ideas to be untrue. However, these same ideas are strongly held convictions to certain groups. Does that mean I'll soon be able to sign up for the classes? I don't think so! Wake up people. Kevin Barrett is not doing anybody any favors.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, this is not a victory for academic freedom. I have spent some time on Barrett's website and looked at similar conspiracy websites. As Lammers points out, he is interested in what he belives and not what the evidence tells him. He and others ignore lots of evidence and reports that do not fit with their beliefs and there are many logical contradictions. That is not what academia is about. If a student gave us a paper that was so flawed in terms of research or logic we would give it a bad grade. Because this guy has a Ph.D and is one of us, we defend his right to teach in the name of academic freedom. Of course, as Marquez points out, we would not feel the same way if he promoted racist stereotypes or was a creationist. So we are not even consistent.

lammers said...

A good point. I think what needs to be done is to attack him, not on grounds of the particular views he espouses, but rather on the grounds of general methodology and philosophy. Any academic who so utterly fails to use appropriate logic, objectivity, analysis, etc. clearly may well be fairly said to not be qualified to teach at the college level.

Thee Eman said...

If the dink wants to teach fiction, then why not let me teach a class that says Bill Clinton is a homosexual intelectual sociopath with delusions of Godhood? He has just as much facts about what he teaches as I do. Man....You kook fring lefties are way way way out there>>>>>>>>>>>>>>