Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Harvard – look what happens when you give social justice warriors free rein

original article: Harvard’s anti-male committee wants to overturn campus democracy and a free press
February 28, 2017 by Greg Piper

When it became clear that faculty might vote to overturn Harvard’s punitive rules against members of single-sex organizations such as final clubs, the university created a faculty review committee rather than suffer an embarrassing defeat.

Some people thought it was purely “window dressing,” a way for Harvard to make professors feel like they had a say when they really didn’t.

The administration would still get what it wanted, the thinking went: the blacklisting of club members from elite fellowships (like the Rhodes) and leadership roles on athletic teams and student organizations.

But it looks like the faculty review committee might actually serve as a useful check on even worse recommendations coming from the implementation committee that made the original recommendations.

MORE: Harvard is ready to blacklist 1 in 4 students

The Harvard Crimson reports that the implementation committee now wants to ban fraternity, sorority and final-club members from “several more post-graduate fellowships,” not just those requiring the dean’s recommendation.

It’s also refusing to give out copies of the new recommendations, probably anticipating that they would go viral very quickly:

Implementation committee members did not receive copies of the report, developed over the course of last semester, according to several members of the body. Rather, committee co-chairs Douglas A. Melton and Kay K. Shelemay printed copies of the document and placed them in University Hall. Members traveled to the building at select times earlier this month to physically examine the report and offer feedback.

This is similar to the protocol by which members of Congress can review classified material, so you get a sense of how important this committee thinks it is.

MORE: Dean chickens out of blacklist on eve of risky faculty vote

But it’s not just post-graduate fellowships the committee wants to put off-limits:

In another section of the group’s final report, the implementation committee recommended that The Crimson and the Undergraduate Council be subject to the College’s policy, according to the three committee members. Such a step would aim to bar members of final clubs and Greek organizations from holding leadership positions on either The Crimson or the UC.

In other words: This big-headed committee is so determined to snuff out men and women spending time with their own kind, which is allegedly sexist and elitist, that it will destroy democracy and a free press on campus.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sounds the alarm on this “super-blacklist,” which validates Harvard’s earlier inclusion in the group’s “10 Worst Schools for Free Speech” list.

MORE: Harvard punishes men’s team for crude comments of prior team

In earlier eras Harvard tried to out gay men and communists, and now it’s using the same tactics against people who like the platonic company of their own sex, writes FIRE’s Ryne Weiss:

[W]e really wish we could stop covering this car wreck. Unfortunately, Harvard keeps driving towards the wall.

He also notes the classified hush-hush procedure, and muses how the committee would even enforce these proposed rules against final clubs:

Maybe by calling the programs and warning them that the student applying had committed the unforgivable crime of throwing a “Headbands for Hope” charity fundraiser with Kappa Kappa Gamma? …

What is more democratic than a secret, authoritarian body telling you who you can’t vote for? There’s nothing troubling about that at all!

MORE: Harvard designates ‘open forum’ off the record to stifle criticism

The committee’s new recommendations are also a slap in the face to Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, a tinpot dictator who nevertheless had earlier promised The Crimson – which is totally separate from Harvard – that its leaders wouldn’t be ensnared by the rules:

To sum it up: Harvard administrators would purport to dictate who could lead an independent student newspaper, who students could vote for in their student government, and who could hire graduates of the university.

Harvard’s erratic behavior over the past month – creating the faculty review committee only two days after the implementation committee gave its (secret) final report to Khurana – makes more sense now, Weiss says:

Harvard was afraid that the new sanctions-on-steroids regime would leak to faculty, students, the public, and FIRE, and profoundly damage the regime’s public support. Harvard calculated that if it could keep the details secret until the last possible minute, it would give students and faculty too little time to do anything about it. And Harvard administrators really, really do not like embarrassing leaks. We’re talking a “we’ll-inspect-faculty-members’-emails-without-their-knowledge” level of hating leaks. …

MORE: Harvard promises special treatment to women-only club

It seems extremely unlikely that Dean Khurana just coincidentally announced the new panel two days after he was handed these recommendations. He probably saw these recommendations, was aghast, realized the faculty vote was nigh and that they would never go for this, and got a new group.

With this huge embarrassment stemming from her own illiberal impulses, maybe Harvard President Drew Faust will finally decide to zip her lips on how freedom of association is just another way of saying Jim Crow.

MORE: Hanging out with other males is like stopping blacks from voting

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Former Muslim: criticism of Islam not allowed

original article: Muslim convert to Christianity: Oxford lecturer barred me from asking questions critical of Islam
February 28, 2017 by Dave Urbanski

A Muslim convert to Christianity said he was barred by an Oxford University lecturer from asking questions critical of Islam.

Iranian-born Shahriar Ashrafkhorasani — who’s studying to become a Church of England priest — said the lecturer pointed at him during a seminar and said, “Everybody can ask a question except you,” Heat Street reported.

The outlet said Ashrafkhorasani has issued a formal complaint accusing the university of discrimination and bias, adding that the lecturer is Minlib Dallh, a research fellow at Regent’s Park College in Oxford.

Ashrafkhorasani, 33, said after Dallh learned during a seminar coffee break that he’s a convert from Islam who was persecuted in Iran, the lecturer wouldn’t let him ask questions critical of Dallh’s description of Islam as a religion of peace and love, Heat Street reported.

Three students confirmed Ashrafkhorasani’s assertion, the outlet said, citing the Sunday Times of London.

Heat Street said Ashrafkhorasani, a master’s student in applied theology, added that Dallh’s lecture “was at best a very poor Islamic apologetic, and at worst academically dishonest and misleading. While the government is rightly concerned about Islamophobia, there is no concern whatsoever for Christianophobia.”

The outlet noted Oxford’s response: “All complaints made to the proctors’ office are treated with the utmost seriousness and with the interests of the student paramount.”

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School officials threaten, bully pro-life students

original article: Pro-life students say school officials threatened them if they sought legal help
February 27, 2017 by College Fix

Adoption message is ‘offensive’ to one student

When Carmel High School officials tore down a display created by pro-life students that had taken 25 hours to complete – after a student complained it was “offensive” – Carmel Teens for Life was miffed.

The display bore approval marks from the office that regulates student signage, and other signs from Democratic and LGBTQ student groups had been posted and left alone.

But the pro-life group was frightened when officials at the Indiana school threatened to force its leaders to resign, “jeopardizing the club’s existence,” if they didn’t “immediately” sign an agreement that waived their right to seek “legal assistance” in response to the school’s actions, LifeNews.com reports:

School personnel had also demanded the Carmel Teens for Life student members sign an agreement prohibiting club members from using the word “abortion” in any club communications, verbal or written, including on Facebook, school posters and other official correspondence. … The students were not allowed to take the agreement home or to discuss it with their parents.

School officials backed down when religious liberty law firm Liberty Counsel threatened to sue for First Amendment violations, agreeing to let the students rehang their poster – which promotes adoption over abortion – for 10 days. It still claimed that student-made signs are “not allowed to advocate a club’s agenda or cause.”

MORE: Pro-life club told it can’t use ‘abortion’ on club sign

Carmel Clay Schools said school officials “did not believe [the original sign] met club signage guidelines and had not received the proper approval by administration.”

Liberty Counsel claimed the principal and assistant principal had said the sign – actually several smaller signs arranged into one large display – was not allowed to “interfere with what folks are thinking or feeling comfortable with.”

According to the Indianapolis Star, the school district says signs can only include “time, date and place of meetings” for student clubs, not “messages.”

The school district also punished the club because its own rules were ambiguous:

The dispute arose after the students in Teens for Life got a little creative. Club members can hang up to 10 signs and display them in the cafeteria.

The club taped their 10 signs together to create one large banner and hung it in the cafeteria. …

MORE: University ditches ‘diversity grant’ rather than give it to pro-life group

Some basic facts remain in dispute. [Carmel Teens for Life President Mary Carmen] Zakrajsek says administrators approved the sign, which is a school requirement, before it was put up.  Hung during National Adoption Month, the word “abortion” was altered to say “adoption.”

[District spokesperson Tammy] Sander, though, said text was added after the banner was approved, which Zakrajsek disputes.

Zakrajsek also said it was unclear to her that signs could only contain times, dates and places of meetings, not other messages. She recalled seeing a sign for Carmel High School Democrats that included an image of a donkey.

The Indiana Family Institute is using the dispute to promote a state bill to expand students’ rights to freely express their religious views “in homework, artwork and other assignments,” as well as on their clothing, and to create a “limited public forum” for such viewpoints at school events.

abortion, abuse, bias, bullies, bureaucracy, censorship, discrimination, education, first amendment, free speech, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, political correctness, pro-life, prolife, public policy, relativism, scandal

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A Confession of Liberal Intolerance

original article: A Confession of Liberal Intolerance
May 7, 2016 by Nicholas Kristof

WE progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”

To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination.

The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians, not just whether progressives will be true to their own values, not just the benefits that come from diversity (and diversity of thought is arguably among the most important kinds), but also the quality of education itself. When perspectives are unrepresented in discussions, when some kinds of thinkers aren’t at the table, classrooms become echo chambers rather than sounding boards — and we all lose.

Four studies found that the proportion of professors in the humanities who are Republicans ranges between 6 and 11 percent, and in the social sciences between 7 and 9 percent.

Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents).

In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. So it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.

George Yancey, a sociology professor, says he has faced many problems in life because he is black, “but inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.” CreditNancy Newberry for The New York Times

The scarcity of conservatives seems driven in part by discrimination. One peer-reviewed study found that one-third of social psychologists admitted that if choosing between two equally qualified job candidates, they would be inclined to discriminate against the more conservative candidate.

Yancey, the black sociologist, who now teaches at the University of North Texas, conducted a survey in which up to 30 percent of academics said that they would be less likely to support a job seeker if they knew that the person was a Republican.

The discrimination becomes worse if the applicant is an evangelical Christian. According to Yancey’s study, 59 percent of anthropologists and 53 percent of English professors would be less likely to hire someone they found out was an evangelical.

“Of course there are biases against evangelicals on campuses,” notes Jonathan L. Walton, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard. Walton, a black evangelical, adds that the condescension toward evangelicals echoes the patronizing attitude toward racial minorities: “The same arguments I hear people make about evangelicals sound so familiar to the ways people often describe folk of color, i.e. politically unsophisticated, lacking education, angry, bitter, emotional, poor.”

A study published in The American Journal of Political Science underscored how powerful political bias can be. In an experiment, Democrats and Republicans were asked to choose a scholarship winner from among (fictitious) finalists, with the experiment tweaked so that applicants sometimes included the president of the Democratic or Republican club, while varying the credentials and race of each. Four-fifths of Democrats and Republicans alike chose a student of their own party to win a scholarship, and discrimination against people of the other party was much greater than discrimination based on race.

“I am the equivalent of someone who was gay in Mississippi in 1950,” a conservative professor is quoted as saying in “Passing on the Right,” a new book about right-wing faculty members by Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. That’s a metaphor that conservative scholars often use, with talk of remaining in the closet early in one’s career and then “coming out” after receiving tenure.

This bias on campuses creates liberal privilege. A friend is studying for the Law School Admission Test, and the test preparation company she is using offers test-takers a tip: Reading comprehension questions will typically have a liberal slant and a liberal answer.

Some liberals think that right-wingers self-select away from academic paths in part because they are money-grubbers who prefer more lucrative professions. But that doesn’t explain why there are conservative math professors but not many right-wing anthropologists.

It’s also liberal poppycock that there aren’t smart conservatives or evangelicals. Richard Posner is a more-or-less conservative who is the most cited legal scholar of all time. With her experience and intellect, Condoleezza Rice would enhance any political science department. Francis Collins is an evangelical Christian and famed geneticist who has led the Human Genome Project and the National Institutes of Health. And if you’re saying that conservatives may be tolerable, but evangelical Christians aren’t — well, are you really saying you would have discriminated against the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.?

Jonathan Haidt, a centrist social psychologist at New York University, cites data suggesting that the share of conservatives in academia has plunged, and he has started a website, Heterodox Academy, to champion ideological diversity on campuses.

“Universities are unlike other institutions in that they absolutely require that people challenge each other so that the truth can emerge from limited, biased, flawed individuals,” he says. “If they lose intellectual diversity, or if they develop norms of ‘safety’ that trump challenge, they die. And this is what has been happening since the 1990s.”

Should universities offer affirmative action for conservatives and evangelicals? I don’t think so, partly because surveys find that conservative scholars themselves oppose the idea. But it’s important to have a frank discussion on campuses about ideological diversity. To me, this seems a liberal blind spot.

Universities should be a hubbub of the full range of political perspectives from A to Z, not just from V to Z. So maybe we progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish — like diversity — in our own dominions.

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Higher ed’s prejudice problem

original article: Higher ed’s prejudice problem: Glenn Reynolds
February 27, 2017 by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Higher education has a problem with prejudice. It’s not the usual racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia that colleges are always denouncing. It’s prejudice — sometimes expressed in an ugly and open fashion — against Republicans, conservatives and libertarians. And people are starting to notice.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told conservative students to keep talking, even if faculty and administrators insult them, or treat the expression of politically incorrect views as some sort of “threat.” Her advice: “Don’t shut up. Keep talking. Keep making your arguments. You can do so respectfully and with civility, but I think you need to do so with confidence.”

She’s certainly right that many campuses have pretty openly taken sides in American politics, marginalizing campus Trump supporters and treating Trump’s election more like a terrorist attack — with safe spaces, therapy dogs, and canceled exams — than like the exercise of democracy that it was. And even some professors are noticing the problem.

Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, George Washington University professor Nikki Usher cautions her fellow academics not to ignore their Republican students.

Usher writes:  “I worry quite a bit for students who I know feel passionately about Republican politics. They, too, deserve to come to class feeling as though they are welcome to share their opinions, that what they have to say matters, and that the classroom is indeed a space for debate and conversation about differing viewpoints. . . . I fear that Republican students will not only self-censor in my course, but also feel even more marginalized on the college campus than they have in the past.”

She’s right to worry. At campuses across America, faculty and administrators act almost as if there are no Trump supporters at their institutions, when in fact, of course, there are plenty of them almost everywhere. They’re usually just, as Usher notes, afraid to speak out.

Maybe DeVos’s encouragement will change things. And, I suppose, that encouragement is an implicit promise that students who are punished or mistreated for expressing the “wrong” views can count on some backup from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. A little bit of that sort of attention can probably do a lot to change behavior at universities, which are hugely dependent on federal funding.

Meanwhile, some states are going much farther. Noticing that higher education has a huge political diversity problem — faculties and administrators are far to the left of America generally, and the problem has gotten much worse in recent years — at least two states are pushing legislation to require “partisan balance.”

Universities offer excuses for their leftward skew: Conservatives just aren’t that interested, or aren’t smart enough to be professors, or something. As Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle writes, these excuses aren’t very persuasive: “Politically, academia is about as unbalanced as Norman Bates. Attempts to justify it contain eerie echoes of a 1950s CEO explaining why blacks and women simply weren’t qualified to ever do anything more taxing than make coffee and sweep floors.”

McArdle also says — and I agree — that political or ideological hiring quotas are probably a bad idea. Quotas in general are a bad idea. We got them in the early days of racial integration because we didn’t trust schools to hire fairly. Will today’s academic administrators stand in the schoolhouse door to keep out Republicans?

But just because quotas are a bad idea doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem, and academia should take it seriously. One argument for racial diversity has been that taxpayers won’t support a higher education system that doesn’t look like them. That’s an argument for ideological diversity, too. As McArdle writes: “The impregnability of the ivory tower is an illusion, because it depends more than ever on a steady flow of government money. If academia defines itself too explicitly as the enemy of the folks controlling that money, the spigot will turn, and the garden inside will rapidly begin to dry up.”

I hope that our higher education leaders will overcome their fear of people who don’t think like them. All of America will be better off if they do.

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American voters overwhelmingly support school choice

original article: POLL: MILLENNIALS, MINORITIES STRONGLY SUPPORT SCHOOL CHOICE
March 1, 2016 by Andrea Dillon

American voters overwhelmingly support school choice programs, including younger voters and minority groups, a new poll has found.

holdinghands

American voters overwhelmingly support school choice programs, including younger voters and minority groups, a new poll has found.

The poll, commissioned by the American Federation for Children, a national education policy think tank, questioned 1,100 likely voters across the country about their support for school choice policies. According to the results, 70 percent of voters say they generally support school choice policies, and 42 percent “strongly support” choice. Voters of Hispanic descent and voters aged between 18 and 35, often referred to as “millennials,” support school choice policies at higher rates than the general population.

The survey was conducted by polling research agency Beck Research LLC and released on January 28.

Minority Support

Matthew Frendewey, national communications director for the American Federation for Children, says school choice supporters are more diverse than some may believe.

“Setting aside polling on party identification and the respective demographic crosstabs, in terms of strictly polling demographics, African-American voters are typically more open to school choice,” Frendewey said. “That support remains strong when drilling down on specific programs, like charters, vouchers, opportunity scholarships, etc.”

Frendewey says Hispanic families are also becoming more supportive of school choice policies.

“Hispanic families have traditionally trailed African-American support,” Frendewey said. “This was the first poll where we saw Hispanics mirror their support with African-American families.”

‘Extremely Popular’

Mary Claire Reim, a research associate in domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, says the poll’s findings are not surprising.

“School choice is extremely popular among minority and low-income families, because it is these groups who struggle the most to overcome the achievement gap present in our public schools and need alternatives,” Reim said. “Limitations on school choice directly prohibit families who do not have the means to attend private school from pursuing the best possible education for their child.”

Success in Washington, DC

Reim says the success of Washington, DC’s school choice program is further evidence of the popularity of choice among underserved demographic groups.

“Well over 90 percent of the participants in the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, for example, are minority students, and parents and families have reported extremely high satisfaction rates with their schools of choice,” Reim said. “In fact, participation in the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program led to a 21 percent increase in graduation rates. Minority and low-income families benefit immensely from school choice options, which is why growing support for such programs is to be expected.”

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Do you want government to practice compassion so you don’t have to?

original article: How the government has changed the way we value our neighbors
February 23, 2017 by Kate Dalley

Kate Dalley talks about how government programs have changed the way we look and value others in our society. She states that the more the government provides services for us the less we do for each other, and the less we reach out to each other.

Kate explains how back in the 1800’s we looked after each other and relied on each other, because there was no backup plan. She feels we don’t need the government to step in with programs for us as we gain character through service.

listen to the podcast

culture, ethics, government, ideology, nanny state, socialism, unintended consequences

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PP more interested in undercover journalism than in exposing sex trafficking

original article: Troubling New Videos Show Urgent Need to Defund Planned Parenthood
February 17, 2017 by Melanie Israel

Live Action, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending abortion and protecting the right to life, has released videos and findings that demonstrate the urgent need for Congress to defund America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.

According to a report released in January, a Live Action investigation revealed that “Planned Parenthood lied to the media about retraining thousands of staff” with regard to reporting sex trafficking.

Back in 2011, the organization caught Planned Parenthood on film advising an undercover investigator posing as a pimp on how to get birth control and abortions for underage prostitutes.

Planned Parenthood vowed to retrain staff and fire any employees who potentially violated abuse reporting laws. One survey found that over a quarter (29.6 percent) of survivors of trafficking visited a Planned Parenthood during their abuse.

Yet instead of training its employees to spot and report trafficking, according to Live Action’s report, Planned Parenthood trained employees how to identify undercover journalists and discern whether or not they were being recorded.

Live Action also recently exposed Planned Parenthood’s misleading statements about the organization providing prenatal care. Specifically, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards claimed, “Prenatal care—these are the kinds of services that folks depend on Planned Parenthood for.”

Live Action put this claim to the test by calling 97 Planned Parenthood facilities. It turns out that 92 of them provided no prenatal services.

As calls to defund the abortion giant have escalated in recent years, Planned Parenthood has repeatedly cited prenatal care as a vital service that women will lose access to if federal dollars are diverted to other health centers not entangled with the abortion industry.

After being exposed by Live Action, Planned Parenthoods across the country removed references to prenatal care from their websites.

Then, at the end of January, Live Action revealed that Planned Parenthood uses ultrasounds to determine the unborn child’s age and position in the womb for purposes of aborting the child, but refuses to provide ultrasounds to women who want to keep their babies and would like to check on their health and that of their baby.

As one Planned Parenthood staffer put it bluntly on one of Live Action’s recordings, “We only do ultrasounds if you are terminating.”

Peddling Abortion for Profit

In February, Live Action released testimony from former Planned Parenthood employees who claimed that its facilities must hit monthly sale quotas for abortion. Planned Parenthood gave its employees incentives to meet those quotas, such as throwing pizza parties and giving paid time off.

One former employee spoke of how staff were trained “to really encourage women to choose abortion; to have it at Planned Parenthood, because it counts towards our goal.”

It’s not news that abortion is quite profitable for Planned Parenthood, and if the allegations in the testimony are true, it is grotesque that Planned Parenthood uses parties and vacation time to incentivize employees to push women toward abortion over life-affirming options.

Earlier this week, Live Action released additional testimonials from former Planned Parenthood employees who spoke about the abortion giant’s abortion-centric business model that cut doctor-patient visit times in half and led to women being herded in the facility “like cattle.”

Managers also highlighted that despite the often repeated myth, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms and offers little support to pregnant women who are going forward with a pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood reported almost $59 million in excess revenue for fiscal year 2015 and more than $1.4 billion in net assets. It also receives over half a billion dollars from taxpayers each year, as shown in its 2014-2015 annual report. (Curiously, Planned Parenthood has still not released its annual report for 2015-2016).

Time to Act

Congress should disqualify Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion providers from receiving taxpayer funds. Repealing Obamacare using language from the 2015 reconciliation measure is the best place to start.

If the reconciliation bill is crafted as it was in 2015, it would make Planned Parenthood affiliates ineligible from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for one year after the enactment of the bill. Such federal reimbursements constitute a significant portion of the roughly $500 million in government funds sent to the nation’s largest abortion provider each year and should be cut.

The ultimate solution is for Congress to pass, and the president to sign, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., explains that the legislation makes the Hyde Amendment and other current abortion funding prohibitions permanent and government-wide while ensuring that Obamacare (until it is repealed) conforms with the Hyde Amendment.

It also requires health insurance plans on Obamacare exchanges to provide full disclosure, transparency, and the prominent display of the extent to which they cover abortion so as to empower people to opt out.

Trump has committed to signing the bill into law if it reaches his desk. The bill passed in the House of Representatives the week of the 2017 March for Life, and the Senate should follow suit to finally and completely separate American taxpayers from the grisly abortion business.

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Climate scientist leaves academia and government, citing honesty issues

original article: JC in transition
January 3, 2017 by Judith Curry

Effective January 1, I have resigned my tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech.

Before reflecting on a range of things, let me start by answering a question that may have popped into your head: I have no plans to join the Trump administration (ha ha).

Technically, my resignation is a retirement event, since I am on the Georgia State Teachers Retirement System, and I need to retire from Georgia Tech to get my pension (although I am a few years shy of 65). I have requested Emeritus status.

So, I have retired from Georgia Tech, and I have no intention of seeking another academic or administrative position in a university or government agency. However, I  most certainly am not retiring from professional life.

Why did I resign my tenured faculty position?

I’m ‘cashing out’ with 186 published journal articles and two books. The superficial reason is that I want to do other things, and no longer need my university salary. This opens up an opportunity for Georgia Tech to make a new hire (see advert).

The deeper reasons have to do with my growing disenchantment with universities, the academic field of climate science and scientists.

Wrong trousers

I’ve been in school since I was 5 years old. Until a few years ago, I regarded a tenured faculty position at a major university to be a dream job, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Apart from my own personal career trajectory and the ‘shocks’ that started in 2005 with our hurricanes and global warming paper, and the massive spike in 2009/2010 from  Climategate, I’ve found that universities have changed substantially over the past 5-10 years.

At first, I thought the changes I saw at Georgia Tech were due to a change in the higher administration (President, Provost, etc). The academic nirvana under the prior Georgia Tech administration of Wayne Clough,  Jean-Lou Chameau  and Gary Schuster was a hard act to follow. But then I started to realize that academia and universities nationwide were undergoing substantial changes. I came across a recent article that expresses part of what is wrong: Universities are becoming like mechanical nightingales.

The reward system that is in place for university faculty members is becoming increasingly counterproductive to actually educating students to be able to think and cope in the real world, and in expanding the frontiers of knowledge in a meaningful way (at least in certain fields that are publicly relevant such as climate change). I’ve written on these topics before, I won’t belabor this here.

So why not try to change the system from the inside? Well, this is not the battle I want to fight, apart from any realistic assessment of being able to shift the ponderous beast from within.

Or maybe it’s just a case of ‘wrong trousers’ as far as I’m concerned. Simply, universities no longer feel like the ‘real deal’ to me (note: this criticism is not targeted at Georgia Tech, which is better than most). It’s time for me to leave the ivory tower.

A deciding factor was that I no longer know what to say to students and postdocs regarding how to navigate the CRAZINESS in the field of climate science. Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment — funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, professional recognition, etc.

How young scientists are to navigate all this is beyond me, and it often becomes a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide (I have worked through these issues with a number of skeptical young scientists).

Let me relate an interaction that I had with a postdoc about a month ago. She wanted to meet me, as an avid reader of my blog. She works in a field that is certainly relevant to climate science, but she doesn’t identify as a climate scientist. She says she gets questioned all the time about global warming issues, and doesn’t know what to say, since topics like attribution, etc. are not topics that she explores as a scientist. WOW, a scientist that knows the difference! I advised her to keep her head down and keep doing the research that she thinks interesting and important, and to stay out of the climate debate UNLESS she decides to dig in and pursue it intellectually. Personal opinions about the science and political opinions about policies that are sort of related to your research expertise are just that – personal and political opinions.  Selling such opinions as contributing to a scientific consensus is very much worse than a joke.

Stepping back from all this, I reminded myself that I was a tenured faculty member – in principle I could do whatever I wanted. The intellectual pursuits that now interest me are:

  • Assessment of climate science in a manner that is relevant for policy, with full account of uncertainty
  • Explore philosophy of science issues as related to epistemology of climate models, reasoning about uncertain complex issues
  • Decision making under deep uncertainty
  • Sociology of science and experimenting with social media

When I first started down this new path in 2010, I published papers that could be categorized as applied philosophy of science (e.g. uncertainty monster, etc). This seemed to be a path towards maintaining academic ‘legitimacy’ in light of my new interests, but frankly I got bored with playing the game. Why go to the extra effort to publish papers, wrestling with reviewers who (usually) know less than you do about your topic (not to mention their biases), having to pay to get an article published some months in the future, so that maybe 100 people will read it?  Not to mention the broader issues related to coping with the university bureaucracy, government funding, etc.

Once you detach from the academic mindset, publishing on the internet makes much more sense, and the peer review you can get on a technical blog is much more extensive. But peer review is not really the point; provoking people to think in new ways about something is really the point. In other words, science as process, rather than a collection of decreed ‘truths.’

At this point, I figure that I can reach more people (including students and young researchers) via social media. Do I pretend to have any answers to all this? No, but I hope I am provoking students and scientists to think outside of their little bubble.

The real world

So my fall from the ivory tower that started in 2005 is now complete [link to my 2006 AGU presentation agu_integrityofscience_curry] .

slide1

What next?

I am interested in figuring out new and better ways to apply weather and climate data, weather forecast information and future regional climate scenarios to supporting real world decision making to manage risks and associated with weather and climate variability.

I became interested in such applications over a decade ago, and Peter Webster and I founded a company Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN) to do just that. If you haven’t checked out our website (ever or even recently), check it out – cfanclimate.net – I spent my entire winter break revising the website using some good suggestions from Larry Kummer of Fabius Maximus fame.

CFAN started as a university start-up company in 2006, and didn’t have any full time employees until a few years go. We now employ 7 Ph.D. scientists (in addition to myself and Peter), plus software engineers, etc. With my retirement from Georgia Tech, we are spinning up the company into a new phase to explore new forecast product developments and decision support tools, new markets, new partnerships, new regions.

So far, most of CFAN’s revenue comes from the ‘weather’ side (days to seasons), with a few projects on developing future climate scenarios (I wrote about a current project here Generating regional scenarios of climate change).

I find all this tremendously interesting, challenging and rewarding. Not to mention enormously time consuming (CFAN needs to make more money so that we can hire more people to take some of the load off myself and the other managers, all of whom are wearing too many hats). I am learning a huge amount about decision support, management, marketing and sales, finance, etc.

At this point, the private sector seems like a more ‘honest’ place for a scientist working in a politicized field than universities or government labs — at least when you are your own boss.

Social media

So, where does all this leave my endeavors with social media (including Climate Etc.?) Resigning my faculty position and taking on a full time plus position in running CFAN actually means less time for blogging, rather than more (at least in the near term).

I remain very interested in the interactions afforded by social media. However, over the past year I have devoted considerably less time to writing original material for Climate Etc. Apart from being really busy, I have been spending more time on twitter (which is a much smaller time investment).

I will be starting a new blog for CFAN, more focused on weather and shorter-term climate issues (I will cross post any relevant posts at Climate Etc.)

I will also try to write more frequent but shorter posts at Climate Etc., with short excerpts and brief comments on some of the articles that I am tweeting about. I will be relying on guest bloggers to provide more technical analyses. So I definitely intend to keep the blog going, but in context of managing a very busy schedule.

We’ll see how all this plays out, but I figured I’ve earned the right to explore and do what I want.  This is my definition of academic freedom (and I’m not asking anyone else to pay for it).

climate change, corruption, education, environment, science, scientists

Filed under: climate change, corruption, education, environment, science, scientists

Student whistleblower: Diversity class presents multiple ‘isms’ as fact without allowing debate

Student whistleblower: Diversity class presents multiple ‘isms’ as fact without allowing debate
February 10, 2017 by NATHAN RUBBELKE

What does a fictional “Normal University” look like?

It’s a place full of racism, homophobia, toxic masculinity, white privilege and sexism, according to a diversity class currently taught at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

At UMass Amherst, students are required to take two “social justice” classes to earn diploma, and this course — Education 115: Embracing Diversity — fulfills one of those requirements.

In it, students must act out examples of racism to prove America is racist “from A to Z.” Students must also read about how society is dominated by “white privilege” and discuss ways to combat that. They’re charged with creating a mock sexual assault awareness campaign and taught U.S. society pushes male “domination” over women. Another assignment has them coming up with ways to make a university more welcoming to a low-income black lesbian majoring in engineering. New vocabulary words thrown at students include “internalized classism” and “cultural imperialism.” And a “Man Box” assignment teaches students that when men try to prove their masculinity it ends up “with frequently disastrous consequences.”

‘It was just these are the facts and that was it’

The class is led by Professor Benita Barnes, who has a definite liberal bias, a student who took the course told The College Fix.

“She really thinks that everyone [in the United States] is inherently racist or sexist, and I think she just thinks that the school is a subset of that,” said the student, who requested anonymity to speak freely on the course.

Barnes, both a professor and Director of Diversity Advancement, did not respond to a request for comment.

The student described the course as a “hostile” environment where the professor and some students would get agitated when comments were made pointing things out that might be false or when ideas were questioned.

“There were no real discussions. There [were] no debates or anything like that. It was just these are the facts and that was it,” said the student, who provided to The College Fix a stack of assignments from the course, which he took last fall.

According to the syllabus, “Embracing Diversity” is designed for first-year students and dedicated to how students can better see themselves and others “through an appreciation of attending college as a cultural experience, with its own unique set of rules, biases, and expectations.” The course, the syllabus adds, pushes to move “the discourse of diversity beyond mere tolerance, celebration, or appreciation.”

‘Embracing Diversity’

One reading assignment in the class, “Normal University and the Story of Sam,” tells the story of Sam, a low-income black lesbian who attends “Normal University,” an Ivy League-like university whose namesake had a role in the slave trade. Sam faces all sorts of oppression during her freshman year.

Her roommate’s friends make racist remarks, funds are diverted from the campus LGBTQ organization and a protest over the use of bathrooms remind her of stories shared “about the Jim Crow era.” To top it all off, she studies in a “male-centric” engineering department where a woman has never been promoted and tenured.

At the end of the reading, students in the course are tasked with choosing an option to make the university more welcoming for Sam.

This is one of many course assignments obtained by The College Fix that were included in the course and purport a society of racism, sexism and oppression.

The course, according to the syllabus, used a “team-based learning” strategy and included numerous in-class activities that pertained to the class’s five modules.

Here’s a few examples:

Module 2: ‘Men have domination over women thus they (women) become their property’

Covering “Inequality and Oppression,” module 2 included a reading about “Social Justice University.” The case study explained four “folk beliefs” regarding sexual assault and, at the end, tasked students with creating a mock sexual assault awareness campaign for the fake university.

Expanding on one of the four “folk beliefs,” the reading stated “our society has socialized both men and women to believe that men have domination over women thus they (women) become their property as well as are required to bend to their wants and wishes.”

The document goes on to say that when a man acts aggressive or possessive towards a significant other, “women internalize this (bad) behavior as acceptable and end up feeling ‘loved’ as opposed to harmed.”

Module 3: Racism ‘from A-Z’

Dubbed “Race, Racism, and (White) Privilege,” the course’s third module included readings titled “What is Racial Domination?,” “Understanding White Privilege” and “White Institutional Presence: The Impact of Whiteness on Racial Campus Climate.”

An in-class assignment told students “examples of racism can be found in our society from A-Z.” To prove it, students were given 15 letters and had to “identify an act, behavior, law, practice, etc., past or present, that exemplifies racism.”

Module 4: ‘Internalized classism,’ ‘privilege,’ ‘cultural imperialism’

Dealing with “Class and Classism,” a Module 4 class activity required students to define terms like “internalized classism, “privilege” and “cultural imperialism.”

At the end of the assignment, students were asked “what are the possibilities and restraints of what students can do to create a less classist environment on campus?”

The assignment also called for students to apply five of the defined words to the stories of Emily and Matthew, two Amherst College students profiled in the book “Speaking of Race and Class: The Student Experience at an Elite College.”

Emily came to campus unsure how to talk to black students and was once called “White Trash.” However, she forms a diverse set of friends but begins to see people back home as close-minded and judgmental.

“I would never want to bring my gay friend home or my black friend,” she said in her account.

Conversely, Matthew came from an affluent family but also broadened his social group in college.

“He embraced the exposure, the learning, and the people he met and liked, all the while while increasing the awareness of his relative privilege,” the book states.

Module 5: The ‘Man Box’

The course’s final module dealt with “Gender and Sexism” and students watched the film “Guyland: Where boys become men.”

According to a class assignment, the 36-minute film “maps the troubling social world where boys become men” and shows how men try to prove their masculinity “with frequently disastrous consequences for young women and other young men.”

Following the movie, students created a “Man Box,” which the assignment described as “a figurative box made up of acceptable qualities for men to possess and society’s expectations of how men must act.”

Terms inside the box included “objectifies women, emotionless, aggressive and dominant.” The assignment forced student to either pull six traits from the box or add six from a separate list of positive traits. Words on the latter included “honest,” “open minded” and “ambitious.”

abuse, bias, bullies, culture, discrimination, diversity, education, elitism, extremism, hate speech, ideology, indoctrination, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, marxism, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, racism, scandal, sexism

Filed under: abuse, bias, bullies, culture, discrimination, diversity, education, elitism, extremism, hate speech, ideology, indoctrination, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, marxism, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, progressive, propaganda, racism, scandal, sexism

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