Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Barrett coming to Campus

The campus greens have invited Barrett to come to campus in October. I am posting the information left in a comment below.

As much as I believe in academic freedom, dragging out Barrett all over the place is not the way to demonstrate the seriousness of our scholarship and bolster our reputation as a solid academic environment.

The major speakers that get invited to campus are almost invariable of this fluff. Perhaps if we had a series of well-respected academics, instead of provocateurs, we might draw the academically-minded, instead of the party-minded new students. . .

The UW Oshkosh Campus Greens are sponsoring the following event in the University Theater on Thursday, October 26 from 6pm - 9pm. The plan is to show Loose Change 2 at 6:00pm. The movie is 1 hour 29 minutes and discusses several ideas regarding the events that took place on 9/11.

Kevin Barrett will then offer a presentation at 7:45pm about Academic Freedom and outrageous actions of many state politicians.


Anonymous said...

Oh Joy! Kevin Barrett is coming to campus. You've got to love a profession where the biggest nitwit out of 8000 people teaching for the University system gets the most attention. In the dark of night I sometimes feel like I should end my efforts to be a hard worker and good role model who presents reasoned arguments to our students. Instead I could claim to be channeling the thousand year old spirit of a Algerian bedouin who predicts that the world will end on October 9th, 2006 because the moon will crash into the earth. My teaching might get some attention then. The UW system's Greens (bless their hearts) might even invite me to other campuses!

Anonymous said...

Winneblogo, I agree that bringing in real academics would be a vast improvement and help our reputation. sadly that is not what happens

Maybe we should all start channeling Algerin bedoiuns....

jut said...

While I have not read the "Winneblogo Doctrine" on criteria for bringing in a guest speaker, I am surprised that you and every other faculty member are not enraged at the asinine response delivered by Steven Nass and his followers. And if you are, why hide from it?

After all, isn't the University setting supposed to be one that allows for the discourse of alternative and differing views?

Why would you be afraid to discuss an idea that is entertained by millions of people worldwide? Because it is too controversial?

Why would you want students at UW Oshkosh to not be aware of what is happening to their university system? Clearly ( we can see that there has been quite a bit of serious news regarding this.

Now, if you think that a forum which incites discussion, debate, and passion for beliefs will result in a campus of "party-minded new students", I think you have been fooled.

Anonymous said...

Well, some of the people involved in the 9/11 Scholars for Truth Movement are also part of the Holocaust denial movement. Their association should raise real questions. There are plenty of questions to be asked about the Bush Administration's handling of 9/11, but efforts like Loose Change and people like Barrett who freely associate with those who deny the holocaust, and who have the support of zero structutal engineers, only serve to distract the public from worthy questions. I am surprised that a group as thoughtful as the Campus Greens would fall for this. Most rational people realize that people like Barrett actually help Bush by discrediting any opposition.

lammers said...

Jut wrote:
"After all, isn't the University setting supposed to be one that allows for the discourse of alternative and differing views?"

Not all views are created equal. This specific view is an explanation and interpretation of observed facts, i.e., that planes crashed into the WTC and it fell down.

When attempting to explain and interpret observed facts, we are obligated to present evidence, to make a rational argument that is consistent with other known facts.

As I pointed out in a letter to the Northwestern, I do not think Barrett has much evidence. "It stands to reason" and "Everyone knows" scarcely are persuasive. Until he can marshall evidence that is consistent with the known facts of physics, engineering, etc., it is all simply wishful thinking on his part, a flight of fancy and imagination. And to protect such fantasies under the umbrella of "academic freedom" is actually a betrayal of academic freedom.

Yes, we have broad rights of inquiry as academics. But with those rights come grave *responsibilities.* A responsibility to be honest, to present our data, to marshall evidence, and to lay it all out in systematic fashion.

And as near as I can tell, Barrett has totally abrogated those responsibilities on the altar of publicity, and abused his standing as an academic for a political agenda. He is *not* one of us and is not entitled to our protection.

It is scarcely a major newsflash that many folks in the Muslim world share Barrett's views. Many people think the world is flat, or that they can communicate with the dead, or that they'[ve been abducted by UFOs, too. These are all "views" -- but do we accord them the same courtesy we are asked to give Barrett's views? Why not? No supporting evidence.

If we allow such sloppy "scholarship" under our umbrella, thinking we must defend it to defend academic freedom, we will all live to regret it.

babblemur said...

Sounds like several "Guilt by Association" fallacies being applied here:

Barrett -> 9/11
Holocaust Deniers -> 9/11

Barrett = Holocaust Deniers

I watched the Loose Change film - it is really fascinating. I don't buy it hook, line, & sinker, but it definately is an exercise in "critical thinking" - something we should be encouraging on campus. We shouldn't fear strange and bizarre theories and concepts - we should study them and prove them wrong (or right, or unprovable).

Lake Winneblogo said...

Thanks for all the comments. I agree with Lammers. Keven Barrett is a kook. Steve Nash is a kook too. Barrett is also a publicity hound, who desires most of all to be in the media spotlight. I haven't forgotten his sarcastic public letter to the Governor. Was that real academic activity?

If you want to have a real discussion about 9/11, invite experts, not crackpots.

We can make all sorts of accusations by innuendo and association, but these are not testable hypotheses.

I know academia hosts all sorts of odd-ball characters, but is Barrett really the figure we would choose to represent us?

Anonymous said...

I guess I believe there is something to guilt by assoication. I think people who deny the holocaust are disgusting and not credible. If these same people join another crazy conspiracy group, it would raise questions for me about that group. Lammers is right. Not one. Not a single structural engineer supports any of the theories put forth about controlled demolition. The other theories about airplanes as holograms and cellphone calls to loved ones being made up is ridiculous and insulting. I sometimes feel that Karl Rove is behind this "Loose Change" movement, because the distraction from the credible questions we should be asking about 9/11 could not be helping Bush any more. This is disgrace that it is on our campus.

Anonymous said...

I should show up on that night and ask about some other things that have been troubling me. I.E. the fake moon landing, who REALLY shot JFK and that whole thing about vaccinations actually being mind control drugs. What a joke and embarrassment to UWO and the UW system at large.

Anonymous said...

To Lammers

Thank you. You put it perfectly, especially on the point of academic responsibility and the need to have valid evidence.

good job

wongfilmfan said...

I, too, hoped the Campus Greens would have not chosen Barrett. Controversial speakers help to bring in an audience, but I don't think Barrett has much intellectual capital with the left. There are many better choices that could speak for the Greens.

The Northwestern's repeated use of the "professor" to describe Barrett is less than accurate and only worsens things. He is a hired gun and hardly representative of the UW System faculty who have to defend their research within critical spheres of professional conferences and journals.

While I respect his right to freedom of speech, I do wonder whether his repeated statements to associate himself with UW should have led to his dismissal rather than just a warning. This suggests Barrett is unable to separate his personal beliefs from professional responsibilities. Would IBM or some other company allow a temp worker to act as the voice of the company?

Anonymous said...

One of the many reasons the public is lacking in sympathy for the university is that a temp worker like Barret can get away with what he is doing.

Barret is a temp who publically taunted the governor and used then defended his right to do because he teaches one class for a state-funded university. He brings tons of negative publicity for the institution that employs him and that negative publicity that threatens the future well-being of the university. And academics rally to defend his right to do so.

Any one else behaiving in this manner in a company or government post would be fired in no time, especially if they were a part time employee. People cannot understand why this guy still has a job. They resent the fact that he can behave badly and still be paid with tax payers money while hard working people are losing their jobs to outsourcing.

And my colleagues wonder why the public does not support us? Grab a clue.

Anonymous said...

most of you people are truely closed minded idiots. Kevin is a patiot and is brave to come out with his information. Anybody with a half a brain and an open mind can see that 911 was an inside job by looking at the evidence. Steel and concrete buildings do not end up pulverized with out controlled demolition. Kerosene fires will not melt or even weaken steel. The beneficiarys of our attack on Iraq was the oil industries, the military industial complex and israel. Saddam wasn't stupid as to the combined efforts of the us and the government of israel in the first gulf war, he sent most of his scuds to israel and not at our troops. WAKE UP!!! Our govenment and the zionists in israel are behind 911.