Sunday, July 29, 2018

Identity Politics Destroying Science?

“Theese eeese pure eediocy!”

--a German professor’s response at a faculty meeting regarding accreditation recommendations to put an outreach program to attract female STEM students inside of an outreach program to attract female STEM students. The previous sentence is typed as intended.

By Professor Doom

     While people “on the inside” of science can quickly answer the title of today's essay  with “duh!” and anyone paying attention realizes identity politics destroys everything it touches, a recent article answers the question by identifying how the destruction is wrought.

     Identity politics has taken over many departments on campus. To be more clear, identity politics has taken over the administration of many campuses, and they control the hiring. Thus white males, for example, are shut out of many “leadership” positions, and many fiefdoms on campus (Hi Diversity Institutes!) strictly hire based on gender and race. Because admin controls hiring, this leads to “want ads” even for scholars where race, gender, and political beliefs are prerequisites for scholarly positions.

      In certain departments (Hi African Studies! Hi Gender Studies!) it was easy enough to find scholars the right shade or possessing the right genitals, but when it comes to the sciences it’s more difficult.

The STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math—are under attack for being insufficiently “diverse.” The pressure to increase the representation of females, blacks, and Hispanics comes from the federal government, university administrators, and scientific societies themselves. 

     --Emphasis added. Any scientific society which believes possession of certain genitals is necessary for advancing scientific knowledge is highly suspect, and I wish the author had identified such societies.

      As long as I’ve been in higher ed, there’s always been a big push to increase representation of “protected minorities,” even as far back as the 80s admin made it very clear that we could only reject such candidates if we could provide good reason (while white males—among other races but always that gender--could be rejected out of hand, for being white and/or male).

     Absent from this push has been any study showing that there’s a clear advantage to having such bigotry in the hiring process…no faculty wishing to  keep his job ever dares ask that question, of course.

“All across the country the big question now in STEM is: how can we promote more women and minorities by ‘changing’ (i.e., lowering) the requirements we had previously set for graduate level study?” Mathematical problem-solving is being deemphasized in favor of more qualitative group projects; the pace of undergraduate physics education is being slowed down so that no one gets left behind.

     I’ve discussed in detail how much of what’s called “college” today would be considered 9th grade material even a generation ago, and many campuses swirl students around in such pseudo-college courses until the student loan money runs out. Such fraud does wonders for administrative bank accounts but it does nothing for identity politics, which demands the hiring of scholars with certain skin colors or genitals.

     So, STEM programs are doing the only thing they can: water down the program. “Qualitative group projects” is a double-red flag. Science cares little for “qualitative” work…it deals in facts, or at least our best representation of facts. Similarly, “group projects” are just a device by which incapable students’ incapabilities can be hidden by placing them in groups where the competent students can do the work.

“If there’s an accident at that chemical plant, we’re screwed. There’s not one person there who knows what they’re doing.”

--an old friend, an engineer, describing the situation at a nearby industrial complex. I’ve several engineer friends who’ve said the like these last few years.

       The gentle reader should keep in mind this stuff has been going on for some time now. Today it’s relatively uncommon to see new bridges collapse or other catastrophes due to stupid mistakes made by the professionals coming out of these diluted STEM programs…but I suspect we’ll see a greater frequency of this in the coming years.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), a federal agency that funds university research, is consumed by diversity ideology. Progress in science, it argues, requires a “diverse STEM workforce.” Programs to boost diversity in STEM pour forth from its coffers in wild abundance. 

     Ultimately the source of the racism and sexism on our campuses is coming from the money. The NSF will give you money and lots of it to hire a female scholar…a male scholar is worth nothing.

The tortuously named “Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science” (INCLUDES) bankrolls “fundamental research in the science of broadening participation.” There is no such “science,” just an enormous expenditure of resources that ducks the fundamental problems of basic skills and attitudes toward academic achievement. A typical INCLUDES grant from October 2017 directs $300,000 toward increasing Native American math involvement by incorporating “indigenous knowledge systems” into Navajo Nation Math Circles.

      I’m not trying to be a jerk or anything, and absolutely stone age cultures have relevant things to say about human understanding of mathematics but…this is just pouring money into administrative pockets, while perhaps, maybe, giving calculators to Navajo children (which, incidentally, will do quite a bit of harm to their mathematical abilities).

     Again, the question comes to mind: where’s the evidence this “diversity” would help science?

Somehow, NSF-backed scientists managed to rack up more than 200 Nobel Prizes before the agency realized that scientific progress depends on “diversity.” Those “un-diverse” scientists discovered the fundamental particles of matter and unlocked the genetics of viruses...

     Considering this sort of track record, the “dog not barking” of nobody asking for evidence diversity here would be a good thing for science is deafening. This sort of lunacy also affects medicine:

The National Institutes of Health are another diversity-obsessed federal science funder. Medical schools receive NIH training grants to support postdoctoral education for physicians pursuing a research career in such fields as oncology and cardiology. The NIH threatens to yank any training grant when it comes up for renewal if it has not supported a sufficient number of “underrepresented minorities” (URMs).

     How is this not racist? They are literally denying opportunities based on skin color. There are quite literally human lives at stake here, and still nobody is asking the question about “why do we suspect increased diversity will be a good thing?”

      I grant the answer is obvious enough: because there’s more money for diversity.

      The research money can only go to diversity-approved research projects. This will obviously warp our medical research. Maybe it should be warped, but shouldn’t we have a better justification than “there’s more money for it”?

      Just as the bulk of student loan money does nothing for education, and simply flows into administrative pockets, the same thing happens with the “diversity” money:

TEM departments are creating their own internal diversity enforcers. The engineering school at UCLA minted its first associate dean of diversity and inclusion in 2017, despite already being subject to enormous pressures from UCLA’s fantastically remunerated Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and other bureaucrats.

     Diversity deanlings typically make $100,000 or more even at small schools. The salary of the above Vice Chancellor is over $444,000 now, and doesn’t include the fantastic perks these guys get (or golden parachutes and retirement programs after a handful of years which would make dictators of small countries blush with shame).

“Diversity” is now an explicit job qualification in the STEM fields. A current job listing for a lecturer in biology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst announces that because diversity is “critical to the university’s goals of achieving excellence in all areas,” 

     Because these racist/sexist hiring policies are (technically) illegal, there are now workarounds to making job postings racists and sexist in their hiring requirements. It takes little effort to see I’m not imagining things:

The University of California at San Diego physics department advertised an assistant-professor position several years ago with a “specific emphasis on contributions to diversity,” …All five candidates on UC San Diego’s short list were females, leading one male candidate with a specialty in extragalactic physics to wonder why the school had even solicited applications from Asian and white men.
How Identity Politics Is Harming the Sciences
     I’ve often wondered if I could get a good administrative position if I self-identify as a protected gender/race. I’ll probably never go through with an experiment testing that hypothesis, however.

     Bottom line, the destruction being wrought on the sciences is being done with the same tool which has done so much harm to higher education: money, great quantities of money handed over for no good reason at all.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Racist Banana = Spend $121,000,000 On Diversity

By Professor Doom
     The student loan scam had led to a deluge of money raining down on our campuses. There seems to be nothing stopping our leaders in higher ed from pouring that money on a wide array of useless expenditures.

      I know, Social Justice Warrior lunatics have taken control of many of our campuses and they want that money spent on their ideology but…sometimes I wonder if the emphasis on faux “Diversity” is just being used as a cover to splash more money into administrative pockets.

      A recent incident at American University demonstrates what I’m talking about:

     The link above has pictures, but the story above basically says some chucklehead is hanging bananas from “nooses” (I’m serious, that’s the word they use) on campus, and it’s being taken as a racial incident. I really feel the need to point out how most of these RACIST cases are just hoaxes, perpetrated by the very people who are claiming to be “oppressed” by such things as bananas. Because they’re hoaxes, admin sees to it that they don’t spend much time in the news (as increased scrutiny endangers the hoax being revealed). It’s important to understand these hoaxes are to admin’s benefit, and they’ll get rewarded with millions of student loan money for “addressing” the “problem.”

…telling students to get angry about a murky incident – and perhaps renew their racial demands of the administration – but not pay too much attention if American hides the results of its investigation.

     A clown hangs bananas and admin buries the investigation, all the while screaming about how they have a problem with racism. How shall they ever deal with this horrid crime of suspended fruit?

     Wow, $121,000,000 because a banana is racist. Imagine if, instead of pissing away this money on several dozen Vice Presidents of Diversity, each with another dozen support staff, and a glorious block of palaces housing it all, the university spent that money on scholarships for a roughly 20,000 students?

      There I go, thinking like an educator. Instead of helping education, the school will spend the money on a stupid Vision For Excellence plan:

The private university in Washington, D.C., plans to shell out $121 million in the next two years on its “Plan for Inclusive Excellence.”

--the link doesn’t seem to work. Just as well, I’ve killed way too many brain cells examining these plans.

     One big part of the plan is to rip out more of the “General Education” requirement that used to be part of an education. Instead of students learning something academic like mathematics or history, what will they get instead?

That includes a mandatory full-year course for all freshmen starting this fall, The American University Experience.

     Holy navel gazing! A year of courses with the university’s name in the title! I bet you’re curious what will go on in this garbage scholarly course, so let’s follow the link and see.

The American University Experience (AUx) is a full-year graded General Education course specially designed for students transitioning into their first year of college at AU. AUx will become a mandatory course for all first-year students in the fall of 2018 as part of the new AU Core Curriculum.

--emphasis added.

     I often use the word “lunatics” after the word “Leftist,” but this probably isn’t fair. They know their ideas are terrible and no sane person would follow them, which is why once they have power, they make following their rules mandatory.

     Yes, it’s a bit hypocritical of me to criticize this new course’s mandatory requirement, since often students have mandatory math classes to take…but we’ve watered down the mandatory math courses to the 9th grade level. I think a college graduate should master the content of a 9th grader, so I rationalize,  I guess, that mandatory mathematics isn’t so bad. What kind of content are we talking about in this insult pair of courses? Let’s examine the first in detail:

The American University Experience I (AUx1): Drawing on many academic disciplines including student development theory,…

     I’ve been in higher education all my life and will be satisfied if I end it doing honorable work there. I’ve never heard of “student development theory” as an “academic discipline.” They’re obviously obfuscating here, and so I can’t help but suspect this is a mandatory indoctrination course. The rest of the course description is the usual student orientation stuff that used to be covered in a few hours, given optionally for all incoming freshman (as opposed to this mandatory four month course). Buried at the very end of the course description:

…and diversity, bias, and privilege.

         So, 90% of the course description is what’s covered in the first week of class, at most, and hidden in the back of the description is what the course is really about, with months of mandatory indoctrination. Yuck.

       I have no hope that the second course in the sequence will be any better:

The American University Experience II (AUx2): Race and social identity-which include but are not limited to ethnicity, gender and sexual expression, class, disability, and religion-are…

     Yuck, again. It’s so funny, courses in a sequence are that way because you can’t possibly get through the second course without mastering the material in the first course. That was back when education was run by scholars. Now it’s run by people who are simply seeking power; there’s nothing in the second course that requires any prior knowledge to understand, just ideological crud.

      Sure looks like a waste of time to me, but naturally the university believes otherwise and already has a study to show it:

Assessment by university researchers demonstrates how AUx helps students thrive in college. In 2016 and 2017, researchers found that AUx helped students to better navigate university resources, feel included on campus, and identify mentors… 

     As I’ve identified before, every idea proposed by our “leaders” in higher education always works according to their own studies; they control the research at all levels and have far too much vested interest to have any other result.

      But look carefully at what’s being achieved above. The actual purpose of higher education is to prepare students for more. All this course sequence does is prepare students to be servants of the campus, and gives them no education in any measureable way.

       Is this all about indoctrination? Or is it all about putting more money into administrative pockets? More likely it’s a merger of corporate and state interests on campus, which I believe is best described as our new word for the day:

      Edu-fascism: the molding of higher education to enhance both administrative profits and ideological training.

     I suppose we can argue if edu-fascism properly describes what our student loan money is being used for but, bottom line, it’s not being used for education. End the student loan scam.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Professor Investigated For Saying The Moon Landing Was Fake

By Professor Doom

     Higher ed really has a problem now. Across the country, our kids are being forced to learn there are 52 genders, that only white people kept slaves…all sorts of odd things.

           “When Alexander the Great captured Alexandria, it was called Memphis at the time, he found the Great Library there, and took the knowledge back to Greece, to form the foundations of Western Civilization.”

--I had to listen to lecture from a department head in African Studies with over 20 years of experience and he received praise, not investigations, for saying things like this. The above is the kind of knowledge he imparts to students (it was a canned PowerPoint lecture), and to faculty who were there for indoctrination. I took notes because of the consistent jaw-dropping inaccuracies. --This really happened and almost certainly still happens every day on our campuses.

      The blather being fed to our students in our indoctrination courses is often at odds with, well, factual reality. Despite this, I’ve never seen admin do anything about it, and even when there is a student complaint, the professor is protected from harm as long as he follows the party line. Academic freedom, you see. To a small extent I even support such gibberish in at least a few classes…students should be challenged, and even things “we all know” are absolutely true should still be open to question, should still be questioned from time to time.

       Indoctrination, even when patently obviously wrong, is never questioned. What about other things?

     William Patterson University is a mid-size university in New Jersey. “Mid” is probably the word for everything about this place, not that there’s anything wrong with that. There are worse things to be than middling, after all.

     Well, there is something exceptional about the place, and that’s today’s talk. An old professor (he started teaching there in 1967) in a sociology course apparently touches upon a host of forbidden topics in his course:

“…allegedly said during a course on social problems last semester that Nazi secret police only engaged in torture during the “last part” of World War II, that Irish people were the first slaves in the U.S. and that the moon landing was faked because it is impossible to wave a flag there.”

     I imagine many readers find the above to be shockingly counter-factual information, but I encourage the gentle reader to consult more than just the school textbooks to see if maybe there’s something to any of it.

       For example, the “moon landing is a hoax” thing. German rocket scientist Von Braun had doubts a rocket large enough could be built to get a human to the moon. We can easily show him wrong by examining the technical specifications for the Saturn V rocket and see with our own eyes that it would work but…NASA lost the schematics so there’s no way to check that. They give a rationalization for this, but we have the schematics for the first airplane, the Columbus voyage, and other major events for the human race. But NASA lost the data for this massive achievement by humanity. Oopsie.

      Similarly, there are radiation belts between the Moon and Earth which should have, well, killed the astronauts, as well as wreaked havoc with the photographic film and electronic components. So, there’s some question as to what exact route the trip to the moon took. But apparently it wasn’t a problem back then, and there was no need to keep track of the flight path.

       The launch from the Moon to the orbiter was an amazing feat, done at a time when computers weren’t up to the task.  Alas, our government lost the data, so we have to trust them on that, too. D’oh! It’s troubling that we know more about the exact path of explorations of the new world 500 years ago than we do about this momentous occasion for humanity in our very recent past. We’re talking reams of evidence being “lost” here.

      There’s quite a bit of things the government has lost regarding the Moon trips, and while there is plenty of evidence that we totally went to the Moon, of course, it does beggar the imagination that a government so incompetent as to lose everything could manage a mission so complicated that nobody else has managed to match it in the last 50 years (again, compare this to how long it took for “the second guy” to make Columbus’ voyage, fly a plane, climb Mount Everest, reach the North Pole, or literally every other amazing journey humanity has made in the last 1,000 years). Fully accepting NASA’s story about going to the moon requires us to accept that they are completely incompetent, and simultaneously brilliantly competent. I see room for questions there.

      None of these issues prove we didn’t go to the Moon, of course, and even if the televised landing was faked…it still doesn’t prove we didn’t go to the Moon. The only reason there’s visible evidence that we at least landed something on the moon (we can see it with telescopes and such) is because NASA is physically incapable of losing such evidence. Bottom line, I hate that so much of the evidence that the government is telling the whole truth has vanished. Anyway, we’ll just have to trust the government when it comes to unbelievably amazing achievement. Considering our government’s track record for telling the truth, I very much respect people who question the Official Narrative.

     What other crazy things did the professor say?

…said that 175,000 Jews served in the German Army, which he said was the "safest place" for Jews to be during the war.
---while the paper presents this as yet another falsehood spoken by the professor, there were many Jews in the Wehrmacht, though most people don’t know this. Even while being bombed into rubble, Germany is still better at keeping records than NASA, apparently. It doesn’t fit the narrative, so we aren’t taught such things in school.

      Anyway, unlike the usual crap that goes on in indoctrination courses, the professor is challenging the narrative of the government, the same government supplying so much money to the university. Admin doesn’t like that one bit:

The university investigated the professor in 1994 after he allegedly made claims in class that minimized the death toll from Nazi concentration camps, the university newspaper, The Beacon, reported at the time.

     The professor is tenured, so there’s not much admin can do. Isn’t that great?  Nevertheless, I do wish they would take a look at what’s going on in other courses. There’s another issue here, vastly more important than what this guy is talking about in his classes, inadvertently raised by the newspaper I’m quoting from. Allow me to quote just a little more:

    In a handout, he wrote that the more "realistic" number was 700,000 to 800,000, the newspaper's report said. The actual number is around 6 million.

     Hmm. The professor is entitled to his opinion. Why does the paper feel the need to tell its readers that the “actual” number is 6 million? The paper does this with every single challenging of the narrative by the professor. Why is that?  I don’t remind my students every day that 2 + 2 = 4, after all, but the paper repeatedly reinforces the Official Narrative.

     On the other hand, when our news media covers idiocy like “milk is racist,” it doesn’t feel the need to tell us that milk is not, in fact, racist. When our news media covers some professor saying “there are 52 genders” it doesn’t feel the need to state that, in fact, there are only 2 genders. When our news media covers some professor ranting about how atrocious US slavery was, it doesn’t feel the need to point out that slavery was, in fact, practiced nearly everywhere on this planet, and was, in fact, atrocious everywhere. I could go on with this for quite some time, of course.

      So why I don’t necessarily agree with what the professor says, the hypocrisy of how he’s being treated, both by university admin and by our news media, irritates me far, far more than any concern about the validity of what he said.



Friday, July 20, 2018

A New Low: “Thinking Differently” Is RACIST

By Professor Doom

     It seems like every week our “scholars” in higher ed make another startling discovery, that something innocuous is, in fact, RACIST. I’ve certainly covered many of these revelations, from milk, to fiscal responsibility, to showing up on time, but I’d like to put a capstone on the ultimate of this madness:

--note carefully how the media supports the author by stating unequivocally the premises are “faulty.”

     One of the big problems on campus today is the takeover by Leftist lunatics who feel quite justified in doing physical harm to anyone who dares challenge their beliefs. One of the strongest challenges to their beliefs concerns their alleged belief in “diversity,” which clearly doesn’t allow for any diversity of thought.

      The professor here presents three arguments against allowing diversity of thought on campus. I’m not exactly optimistic that he’ll make much sense, but let’s get it on:

The first faulty premise is the idea that those who call for diversity of thought and free speech are arguing in good faith.

      Well, that didn’t take long. The fallacy here is called “ad hominem.” The author says we should dismiss the calls allowing for freedom of thought on campus because people making those calls are (supposedly) not arguing in good faith. Is it just some people not arguing in good faith that negates the value of free thought?

      Even supposing that all the people asking for freedom of thought on campus were not asking in good faith…what of it? In no way does this address why freedom of thought would be a bad thing. So this first argument is immediately invalid, although the author does try to support it:

Certain conservative foundations, activists and professors have used diversity of thought as a political tactic to exert power over higher educational institutions.

     Alas, the author provides no examples of this, and, more importantly, it’s clearly never worked as the Left clearly controls far more educational institutions than conservatives. So, what of it?

The key here is that this is a political project aimed at making racist and misogynist ideas acceptable.

     Bottom line, his first argument against freedom of thought on campus is “it’s RACIST.” Don’t these guys ever get tired of calling everything RACIST? Apparently not.

…attempts to cast doubt on the science of climate change follow a similar logic, attempting to undermine disciplinary consensus…

      I don’t know if the author is being deceptive here, or simply ignorant. “Disciplinary consensus” doesn’t exist on global warming--because the evidence is so wildly against it…it’s why the global warming was re-named to the impossible to refute name of “climate change.” I can’t help but digress here and note that the whole “Trump/Russia Collusion” narrative has fallen apart so badly that it’s been altered to something just as silly as “climate CHANGE”—it’s now “Russian MEDDLING,” which is about as relevant as change.

     Anyway, his assertions about the consensus is irrelevant: just because there’s a consensus doesn’t mean the consensus is valid (eg, the consensus over matter being composed of 4 elements, which held for millenia).

        Enough of this first “argument” against freedom of thought. Let’s look at another:

 The second false premise that promoters of so-called diversity of thought rely upon is that conservative ideas are marginalized in higher education when, in fact, they are ubiquitous. 

      Wait, what? There’s been a Leftist bias on campus for decades now, as easily evidenced by voting records. This bias has been common knowledge, but not, apparently, this professor. Honest, if 78% of departments have zero Republicans on them, in a country where roughly half the population votes Republican, it’s tough to call conservative ideas “ubiquitous” on campus.

Universities’ fights with graduate unions, the increasing reliance on contingent labor and the retreat from affirmative action are not symbols of a left victory in higher education.

       Again, the author seems inexplicably ignorant. In your typical Leftist utopia, the workers and lowest castes are indeed crushed into the ground, if not outright murdered (as yet, not an option in higher ed, but I’m hard pressed to guess just how much longer it’ll be until it is). Seeing as this has happened every single time, it’s only natural for the workers to begin starving once there’s a leftist takeover. Unions being crushed and reliance upon contingent labor are actually quite consistent of leftist victory.

     His supporting links are atrocious, by the way. Let’s take a quick look at the abstract of his citation regarding affirmative action:

 In 1994, 60 percent of selective institutions publicly declared that they considered race in undergraduate admissions; by 2014, just 35 percent did. This decline varied depending on status (competitiveness) and sector (public or private). Race-conscious admissions remain the stated policy of almost all of the most elite public and private institutions. The retreat from race-conscious admissions occurs largely among schools lower in the status hierarchy…

      While the first two sentences of the above sort-of supports his claim, the last sentence destroys it. Those lower tier schools no longer look at race for admissions because they’ve become open admissions (it’s what, by definition, makes them lower tier)…everyone gets in, so of course race isn’t a factor in admissions.

       I don’t understand how the professor could be ignorant of this rather important detail.

Further, students are often comfortable expressing racist ideas, as are some of our colleagues. 

      Seriously, the cry of RACISM again? Of course, the professor gives no supporting evidence. Losing interest in this feeble argument, I move on to his third, and presumably strongest, claim:

A third premise that should be strongly questioned is the very idea that conservative thought is diverse.

       I suspect the professor is being obtuse here, as this isn’t even remotely what’s being asked for in the allowance of freedom of thought. The fallacy here is called “straw man.” Having completely misunderstood (I’m being generous) the argument, the professor then goes on to show the premise he imagines is wrong.

But there is nothing edgy or very thoughtful about denigrating people of color or women, assuming that the natural order of the world is out of order because we had a black United States president or attacking trans students for simply existing.

      Yet another cry of RACIST, and then more straw men. Again, no supporting evidence is given that freedom of thought has much to do with the previous president or transgender students…I can’t even consider the confusion of ideas which leads the professor to write such lunacy.

      The comments section uniformly has little trouble obliterating these feeble arguments, and one poster sums things up well:

There's a great paradox in saying "the other side isn't arguing in good faith," and then proceeded to oneself argue in bad faith by misrepresentation and constructing imaginary strawmen.

     So now I have questions. How does this rubbish even get printed on major sites like Inside Higher Ed? Perhaps I’m no great shakes as a writer, and that explains why I can get no Education-related publisher to consider my work but…am I really deluding myself in believing I’m more coherent than this guy?

     Who is this professor, anyway? Surprisingly, he doesn’t have an Education degree. Instead, he’s a Sociologist. While this is good to know, I’m now even more puzzled how he doesn’t know of the heavy Leftist bias of our campuses, or what has happened in every Leftist takeover on the planet.

       Very puzzling, indeed. But now that we’ve finally reached the ultimate goal of all these wild allegations, namely that any disagreement with the predominant ideology on campus makes you a deplorable RACIST, can we just concede that everything is racist instead of naming every individual thing specifically as racist, and move on to actually pursuing useful knowledge?

      Can we stop publishing every identification of something as RACIST, at least?