New network in Germany

Press release, 3 February 2021

Foundation of the Network for Academic Freedom

70 academics from German-speaking countries and various academic disciplines have joined forces in the Network for Academic Freedom. They are making their appeal for academic freedom public for the first time today.

They are concerned about the increasing narrowing of questions, topics and arguments in academic research. In many places, a climate has developed at universities in which dissenting positions and opinions are marginalised and morally sanctioned. These restrictions on academic freedom often follow an ideological or political agenda. They hinder a rational and open-ended search for knowledge, which is at the core of the freedom of science in the tradition of the Enlightenment. Cancel Culture and Political Correctness have caused the free and controversial debate even of outsider positions to disappear in many places at universities.

With their appeal and the founding of the network, the academics want to defend and strengthen the prerequisites of free research and teaching. They advocate a culture of debate characterised by factual arguments and mutual respect. Intellectual freedom, curiosity and intellectual diversity are indispensable for this.

See their website.

Literatur

2010 / UN Women  
https://web.archive.org/web/20191020151628/https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2010/7/un-creates-new-structure-for-empowerment-of-women Link
https://web.archive.org/web/20191209133357/https://www.zeit.de/news-nt/2010/7/3/iptc-bdt-20100703-8-25413954xml Link
   
2010 / Armutsbekämpfung  
https://web.archive.org/web/20191209133730/https://rp-online.de/politik/ausland/uno-will-muetter-und-kindersterblichkeit-bekaempfen_aid-12484291 Link
   

CERN: new petition for an open discussion

Controversies in recent years and months in the academic world (most recently involving Prof. Strumia at CERN) relating to gender issues have shown that there is much disagreement on what constitutes best practice with regard to gender equality. There seems even to be considerable disagreement between scientists of different disciplines as to fundamental aspects of gender identity.

We believe that the resolution of these disputes is not best promoted by discrediting and even discriminating against one side or the other.

For this reason we have asked a number of specialists if they would contribute to any future event debating STEM and gender (Prof. Amanda Diekmann, Prof. Alice Eagly, Prof. David C. Geary, Prof. Lee Jussim, inter alia), in order to facilitate an intellectually honest discussion.

We invite everyone (on both sides of the gender debate) to sign our petition and encourage the administration at CERN to invite these academics to their second Workshop on High Energy Theory and Gender. 

Together, we can ensure neutrality, nuance and balance at CERN and in the whole scientific community.

Petition website: https://stemgender.com/

Lead authors
@ForStrumia; Anonymous author of Justice for Strumia, a rebuttal to the Particles for Justice letter.
Liberté Académique; @AcadFreedom
Tom Todd; Primary author of this petition to re-instate Professor Strumia.
Yi-Zen Chu; Associate Professor, Department of Physics, National Central University, Taiwan.

The Perilous State of the University: Jonathan Haidt & Jordan B Peterson

Dr. Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto and is most renowned for his book “12 Rules for life” which has sold at least 3 million copies worldwide in a considerable number of languages. More information is available on https://www.jordanbpeterson.com

Although this interview/discussion is a year and a half old, I think it is still highly relevant, both for universities and society at large.

Peterson writes this about the interview:

I recently traveled to New York University to talk with Dr. Jonathan Haidt about, among other things, disgust, purity, fear and belief; the perilous state of the modern university; and his work with Heterodox Academy (https://heterodoxacademy.org/) an organization designed to draw attention to the lack of diversity of political belief in the humanities and the social sciences. Dr. Haidt is Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business and a social psychologist. He studies the psychology of morality and the moral emotions. He has been described as a top global thinker by both Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines.

Dr. Haidt is the author of three books:

  • The newest is The Coddling of the American Mind: How Bad Ideas and Good Intentions are Setting up a Generation for Failure (http://amzn.to/2AN87a6).
  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (http://amzn.to/2yOOQnU)
  • The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (http://amzn.to/2hJ0TzT)

His writings on diversity viewpoint for the Heterodox Academy are at (http://righteousmind.com/viewpoint-di…)

Jordan Peterson and Jonathan Haidt

Harvard Dean: contract not renewed

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana announced that he will not renew Winthrop Faculty Deans Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. and Stephanie R. Robinson after their term ends on June 30 in an email to House affiliates on May 11.

Ronald Sullivan is a lawyer and teacher/professor at Harvard University.
Mr. Sullivan, with his wife, Stephanie Robinson, has also served for a decade as the faculty dean of Winthrop House, an undergraduate dormitory where some 400 students live. He is the first Afro-American to occupy such a position.

In January 2019, Sullivan announced he had accepted to join the legal team defending Harvey Weinstein. This announcement resulted in a wave of protests by students at Winthrop House, apparently not the first conflict that Sullivan has been involved in over cases touching on sexual abuse in which he has been involved as a lawyer.

Apparently, Rakesh Khurana has given into this student protest, despite 52 Harvard Law School colleagues warning against any such measure. The students have protested, inter alia, against Sullivan’s criticism of Harvard’s handling of Title IX proceedings brought against Freyer about which he said: “this process has been deeply flawed and deeply unfair. … It shows what the current [#MeToo] movement, some blood in the water, and good coaching [of witnesses] can produce.”

Both representing Weinstein and this assertion of witness coaching led students to believe that these actions are in conflict with his role as Dean.

There has been considerable press echo. I will quote Professor Steven Pinker’s statement here.

Dear Rakesh,

I appreciate the complexity of any contested administrative decision, and know that there may be facts behind it that I’m not privy to. Still, I must register my dismay at the recent announcement of the decision not to renew Ron Sullivan’s appointment as Dean at Winthrop House.

The decision, of course, was made in the wake of highly publicized protests over his decision to serve as legal counsel to Harvey Weinstein. Even if the decision was based instead on Sullivan’s performance in his role of Dean, the timing of the decision, together the fact that the public announcement did not make it clear that Harvard was not punishing him for his unpopular professional activities, conveys the impression to the wider world that Harvard caved in to pressure from immature students and endorsed the notion that justice consists in joining a mob against an unpopular villain rather than an impartial system in which the accused has the right to a vigorous defense.

If our students claim to “feel unsafe” under the leadership of an eminent defense attorney who takes on unpopular clients, then we have failed to educate them on how the justice system in a liberal democracy works. We should use this as a teachable moment, rather than indulging juvenile reactions. Whether or not assuaging noisy students and acceding to a shaming mob was the motivation for the decision, that is the public perception.

As a public figure who interacts with many intelligent non-academics from diverse backgrounds and political orientations, I am frequently challenged on the integrity of the academy. “Why should we trust what academics say on climate change, or vaccine safety, or gun control?” they ask; “Everyone knows that universities are echo chambers of political correctness, with no commitment to impartiality or principle.” Incidents like this undermine the credibility of the academy in an age in which we must safeguard it more assiduously than ever.

Best Steve

Media echo

Building A Free Speech Network (UK)

Free speech is under threat in universities but there is growing opposition to bans and censorship. This opposition is led by students, student groups and academics. The Speakers’ Corner Trust, Liberate the Debate (LtD) and Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF) began to form a loose alliance of supporters of free speech in universities at the Battle of Ideas Festival in October.

Read the full article here.

Why Are Women Under-Represented in Physics?

by Alessandro Strumia
(Source: Quillette – a few days before Cathy Young’s article)

Six months ago CERN hosted a workshop on “High Energy Theory and Gender.” Nearly all the contributors to this and previous workshops on the same topic endorsed the view that gender imbalances in physics, particularly in the higher echelons, are predominantly due to sexual discrimination. (…) One attendee claimed that only the military has a higher rate of sexual harassment, although she didn’t say which country’s armed forces she was thinking of.

Read the full article here

Male applicants excluded from professorship at Stockholm University for Arts, Crafts and Design

(Source: academicrightswatch.com)

Academic Rights Watch marvels at a recent expert opinion from The University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm where male applicants for a professorship in Visual Communication are marginalized as a group because their art is considered masculine. We caution that the requirements of norm criticism and norm creativity on the part of the holder of the professorship in practice discriminate against men.

Continue reading →

[Quillette] Strumia: witch-hunt or more complicated?

A well-researched and well-written article by Cathy Young on Quillette (an online Independent Magazine – highly recommendable).

Her conclusion:
Lastly, one can disapprove of the way in which Strumia chose to throw down the gauntlet to the “gender experts” and yet recognize that he was responding to a genuinely toxic atmosphere created by the feminism-in-science movement in its current form.

Read the whole article here