Remember Dorian Abbot, whose talk on exoplanets was canned at MIT due to pressure from the Woke (political issues), who gave the talk at Princeton instead?
It was especially egregious because Abbot wasn’t going to talk at MIT about DEI or the like, but about global warming and other planets. In other words, he was being punished for saying things in other venues that offended people. More than that: there is a valid debate about the methods of DEI initiatives, though their intent is admirable. I accept the need for some affirmative action as a means of reparation, but others don’t, and none of us should be punished or cancelled for our views.
Now both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have published new pieces on Abbotgate, which you can access by clicking below. The NYT piece is an article by Michael Powell, and seems to me pretty favorable by way of making Abbot seem unfairly treated by MIT. (He’s not biased, but the facts do indict MIT.) The op-ed in the WSJ is by Lawrence Krauss, and also deals with Abbot, further describing how DEI initiatives are stifling science and swallowing up academia.Jerry Coyne, “Abbotgate hits the mainstream media and Quillette: MIT gets egg on its face” at Why Evolution Is True (October 21, 2021)
Meanwhile, at Evolution News and Science Today, David Klinghoffer comments on an irony:
The Times reports, “M.I.T.’s Choice of Lecturer Ignited Criticism. So Did Its Decision to Cancel.” The lecturer is Dorian Abbot, “a scientist who has opposed aspects of affirmative action.” Well, that’s enough to get you canceled.
Among those weighing in on the topic was, of all people, our Censor of the Year from 2014, atheist and evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne at the University of Chicago. A pioneer of cancel culture, Coyne earned that distinction by using his own clout to squash a young physicist, Eric Hedin, who was then teaching at Ball State University. Hedin’s thoughtcrime (Orwell’s term) was to introduce his students to intelligent design. Acting in concert with the bullies at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Coyne got Hedin canceled. The idea was to put the less powerful scientist down the memory hole (Orwell again), but they didn’t entirely succeed. Hedin is still teaching, though no longer at Ball State, and he tells his story in a recent book, Canceled Science: What some atheists don’t want you to see
Cut to 2021 and here is the same Jerry Coyne, now presented without irony as a free speech advocate! From the Times story:
“I thought scientists would not get on board with the denial-of-free-speech movement,” said Jerry Coyne, an emeritus professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago. “I was absolutely wrong, 100 percent so.”
Coyne, who punched down, canceled Eric Hedin, and never apologized, deplores what he calls the “denial-of-free-speech movement.” Try to wrap your mind around that one. George Orwell had the perfect word. In 1984, he called it “doublethink” …David Klinghoffer, “Doublethink: Censor of the Year Calls for Free Speech” at Evolution News and Science Today (October 21, 2021)
The explanation for Coyne’s sudden support for academic freedom might be fairly simple: He thought that Cancel Culture would only ever be deployed against people who think that nature shows evidence of design. He never expected it to come for people he values.
He mustn’t have noticed that it is coming for literacy and numeracy as well. See, for example, the war on math.
Incidentally, yer news hack (O’Leary for News) signed into the Zoom meet. Interesting. Two big takeaways:
- The telescopes we need to resolve many interesting exo issues won’t be along till the ‘40s or ‘50s.
- U.S. academia is over if MIT doesn’t get loads of pushback for Canceling this talk.
Listen to much more Woke bellyaching and it’s fast backward to the Dark Ages.