Academic Freedom And The Question Unasked

While the issue at its most superficial level might appear to be about the validity of climate change, it’s not. Not even a little bit. Believe or disbelieve, it doesn’t matter.* The issue at hand could be anything. That it happens to be the validity of “human induced climate change” doesn’t matter.  That some profs at University of Colorado-Colorado Springs are throwing a course where they announce, in advance, that no student can question their premise, does.

Three instructors co-teaching an online course called “Medical Humanities in the Digital Age” recently told their students through an email that climate change is not up for debate and those who think it is should not enroll in the course, according to documents first obtained by The College Fix.

“The point of departure for this course is based on the scientific premise that human induced climate change is valid and occurring,” the email sent to students read. “We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change, nor will the ‘other side’ of the climate change debate be taught or discussed in this course.”

In reaction to the University of Chicago letter to incoming students, that the school does not support safe spaces and trigger warnings, Jeet Heer cried “academic freedom!” What if profs wanted to give trigger warnings? What if they wanted to make their classrooms “safe spaces,” replete with puppies and Play-Doh? What about the academic freedom? Heer’s complaint was unpersuasive, as if a physics prof could teach deviant gender studies if that’s what she felt like teaching because to require her to teach, you know, physics, would impair her academic freedom.

But does a professor’s “right” to academic freedom extend to teaching a course premised on a controversial political position, but where no student can question his politics?

The message, signed by professors Rebecca Laroche, Wendy Haggren and Eileen Skahill, was sent after some students expressed concerns about their ability to do well in the course after watching the first lecture about climate change online.

“Opening up a debate that 98% of climate scientists unequivocally agree to be a non-debate would detract from the central concerns of environment and health addressed in this course,” the email continues. “[I]f you believe this premise to be an issue for you, we respectfully ask that you do not take this course, as there are options within the Humanities program for face to face this semester and online next.”

One of the curious tricks these days is to be conceptually disrespectful, but throw in the word “respectfully” as if that makes it totally cool. The students attending the school might have thought that, assuming they were otherwise qualified by meeting whatever requirements and prerequisites were established, they could take any course they wanted, any course that interested them or furthered their education. To receive an email informing them that if they didn’t share the profs’ views, they should “respectfully” get lost, gives rise to an unanticipated clash of “rights.”

The word “rights” is in scare quotes here, because “academic freedom” is a manufactured right. There is no such “right” in the Constitution, but rather a pedagogical norm that has become so embedded in academia as to take on the appearance of a right.  The problem is that it’s a “right” that applies to everyone in academia, student and teacher alike.

Academic freedom means that both faculty members and students can engage in intellectual debate without fear of censorship or retaliation.

Seems clear enough, except when rights are created out of the mist, there can be irreconcilable conflicts.

Academic freedom gives both students and faculty the right to express their views — in speech, writing, and through electronic communication, both on and off campus — without fear of sanction, unless the manner of expression substantially impairs the rights of others or, in the case of faculty members, those views demonstrate that they are professionally ignorant, incompetent, or dishonest with regard to their discipline or fields of expertise.

This addresses “the manner of expression,” which emits the unpleasant odor of tone. If a prof doesn’t care for the way a student expresses himself, perhaps in a way that the academic deems “disrespectful,” then sanctions are fine because it “substantially impairs the rights [there’s that word again] of others” to not have to endure speech in a manner they dislike?  As for professional ignorance, incompetence or dishonesty, try making that case stick.

Academic freedom does not mean a faculty member can harass, threaten, intimidate, ridicule, or impose his or her views on students.

Is banning ideas, questions, challenges from the classroom the same as imposing ideas on students?  The thrust is that these academics are flexing their academic freedom by banning the students’ academic freedom, making it a zero sum game.  To further the “rights” of teachers, they are eliminating the “rights” of students. Can this be justified?

Consider a course directed toward the constitutional methods of eradicating hate speech that included a proviso that no student question whether the elimination of hate speech violated the First Amendment. After all, if you can’t get past the initial question, you can’t get to the crux of the course, how to fix the problem. Except, the premise of the course, that the First Amendment doesn’t protect hate speech, is not merely controversial, but fundamentally flawed.

Does that mean an academic can never teach a course that seeks to address downstream fixes that require students to either agree with the controversial premise or, at least, never question the premise, because then they will be unable to get to where the academic seeks to go?  If the answer is no, then the apparently absurd notion that a student can be banned from asking questions or challenging a belief isn’t such a terrible thing.

In stating the course’s focus and rules, Hutton said faculty members are offering students the chance to choose whether this particular class is something in which they would like to enroll. He also said the professors of the course have “offered to discuss it with students who have concerns or differing opinions.”

They will be happy to “discuss it,” but the answer will be “no, differing opinions will not be allowed.” And welcome to college!

*This is my kind way of saying no comments about climate change. If you’re struggling with this notion, substitute climate change with “1 in 5 college women will be raped,” or “hate speech isn’t free speech,” or “Lena Dunham is universally considered to be an attractive woman.”

51 thoughts on “Academic Freedom And The Question Unasked

  1. Patrick Maupin

    Is banning ideas, questions, challenges from the classroom the same as imposing ideas on students?

    Would an announcement that religious discussions will not be tolerated inside a biology classroom be problematic? If so, how many religious discussions does the teacher have to tolerate inside the classroom before he gets down to the business of teaching biology?

      1. Patrick Maupin

        As Judge Kopf points out, things change, even in science. But that doesn’t mean that every assumption must be questioned in every context. If I took a tax class as part of an accounting curriculum, the last thing I would want to hear every class period would be the anarcho-libertarian arguing with the communist about whether we should even have taxes vs. whether they should ever be less than 100%.

        A professor who could shut that argument down would be my hero.

        Teaching the snowflakes that they’re not the center of the world would be the icing on the cake, and the maraschino cherry on top would be the lesson that, to get a good grade in the class, the snowflakes would have to learn to reason properly about things with which they disagreed deeply.

        (True fact: I passed my Unmanned Aircraft General test yesterday, and even though I believe John Taylor makes some good points about whether the FAA’s drone registration requirement is legal, answering test questions according to John Taylor’s understanding of the law would definitely have lowered my score. Cognitive dissonance FTW!)

        Of course, if the teachers attempt to penalize students for their true beliefs or their behavior outside the classroom, the teachers themselves should be punished swiftly and decisively.

        Which brings us to the behavior of the teachers themselves outside the classroom — in particular, their authorship of a short yet contentiously provocative description of the conduct expected of students inside their classrooms.

        If this announcement about disallowed subjects was less harsh, many of the special snowflakes might miss the implied “this means you!”

        In other areas we appreciate, admire, and sometimes even demand truth-in-advertising, so if the teachers are allowed to do in the classroom that which they propose, their unambiguous announcement of their true intentions should be celebrated.

        1. SHG Post author

          Was there a rule in there? I appreciate the conundrum, but I struggle with where the line gets drawn about where debate ends. Maybe I missed it. Perhaps you can restate just the rule?

          And congrats on passing your unmanned aircraft general test. I think.

          1. Patrick Maupin

            Was there a rule in there? I appreciate the conundrum, but I struggle with where the line gets drawn about where debate ends. Maybe I missed it. Perhaps you can restate just the rule?

            Now you’re forcing me to admit that I struggled with whether to ask the same question about your initial post. I didn’t want to disclose that I was too stupid to see the rule.

            And congrats on passing your unmanned aircraft general test. I think.

            It ain’t quite over yet. “A confirmation email will be sent when an applicant has completed the TSA security background check.” It’s unclear whether I have to go in for my groping, or whether I can just do it myself with a webcam.

            1. j a higginbotham

              Why wouldn’t the rule be: The teacher decides how much extraneous discussion to allow? [Preferably very little in this case.]

              I have not seen the video referred to but have read (almost all of) the 12 page syllabus for “HUM 3990: Medical Humanities in the Digital Age”.

              This is a Humanities course (one of the instructors does research in “early modern recipe collections”), not a science course. Climate change effects are only a small portion of the course. So allowing questioning of its existence is worse than questioning evolution (this is a real issue in biology classes; there’s available a list of questions to ask your biology professor) or the age of the earth. Answering such questions can actually provide information about the subject being taught. Questioning climate change in HUM 3990 would be more like a student of Homer’s Odyssey disputing that the sea was wine-dark. It takes up time which could be devoted to more pertinent topics. Time constraints limit the amount of material covered in most classes as it is.

              A number of commenters have said that it is against scientific philosophy to suppress dissent. But this isn’t scientific research, it is a class (and a Humanities at that). Many courses in science do deal with controversial, undecided questions. But those are scientific controversies, not political controversies, which is what the climate change controversy is.

              Perhaps one of the reasons there were complaints about accepting climate change in this course are the number of other topics covered which sound non-scientific (these don’t seem to be included as illustrative examples): “complementary care”, “cultural ways of knowing nature”, “historical and digital age opposition to vaccination”, and “plant spirit medicine”. These subjects might attract people who are inclined to question climate change and scientific authority in general.

              Given the nature of the course and such comments as “This activity is …[ not meant] to create guilt or shame, though those emotions are entirely common”, i am surprised the main criticism is that the instructors are too authoritarian rather than too vacuous.

              This discussion has real world consequences as well. The anti-vaccination movement (in the class) is a good example. David Gorski covers a lot of this.

          2. Rick Horowitz

            Could the rule look like something that gets an asterisk at the end of a sentence? Like, “Believe or disbelieve, it doesn’t matter; i.e., we’re not going to talk about climate change here.*”?

            Maybe something like: “This course takes as enthymematic the theory of climate change. There is a place for questioning that theory, but it is in another course.”

            Kind of like we’re not going to sit around and debate the veridicality of the Tanakh in our “Ecology and Evolutionary Biology” course.

            Just a first shot at a “rule.”

            1. Patrick Maupin

              There are actually three different “rules” at play here. The first one is the invariant that, no matter how nicely or parenthetically you phrase such a disclaimer, someone is going to get bent out of shape.

              The second rule is all about how the institution instructs the profs to govern themselves, given the first rule, and the third rule is about the invariant that any given choice of second rule will lead to a public shitstorm.

        2. losingtrader

          Patrick, having been a commercial pilot for 40 years, and an instructor since I was 18, I’ve never before seen an FAA exam with only 3 multiple choice answers. Truly, er, congratulations.
          Some of those questions imply one might operate a UAV around JFK or Midway.
          For the sake of everyone flying, stick to the White House , Fort Knox, or Area 51. You might go to jail but we’ll be safer.

          1. Patrick Maupin

            Truly, er, congratulations.

            Not in order — I screwed up. I started from zero domain knowledge (e.g. never saw an aeronautical chart before) and made a 90 after a day and a half of self-directed studying, which means I wasted at least three hours, because I only needed a 70. That’s time I’ll never get back.

            Some of those questions imply one might operate a UAV around JFK or Midway.

            They got that wrong! I’m only planning on operating near ABIA! Ha! (Actually, it will be interesting to see how the discussion with the airport about my planned semi-permanent base of operation goes.)

            For the sake of everyone flying…

            Don’t be silly. This is America. They’re on their own. I owe them nothing. They don’t have constitutional right to fly, anyway.

      2. Troutwaxer

        My answer goes something like this: “Humanities 3990 is not a science or climatology course, so we will be taking our cues from the scientists who study meteorology and climatology. These scientists tell us that the evidence for Anthropogenic Climate Change is overwhelming. If you want to argue with this idea, please get a Ph.D in climatology or meteorology and argue with the scientists who have been studying this for decades.”

        I actually tracked down the syllabus for the course – it’s in the links you provided – and it’s a multi-disciplinary, somewhat foofy course which does not contain much serious discussion of any scientific subject. It’s probably not a course where there’s much point in discussing science of any kind, though you might have a wonderful argument about whether the Utne Reader is a credible source for scientific information about fracking…

  2. Mike

    ” Lena Dunham is universally considered to be an attractive woman.”

    Now really…there should have been a no shit real trigger warning for that statement.

    Hope you and yours have a great weekend.

  3. Richard G. Kopf

    SHG,

    I am not commenting on climate change. At least, that is not my intention. But I do want to make a point about the philosophy of science.

    What is so terribly disturbing about the professors’ dictum—that we will not allow students to question whether man causes climate change because that is beyond debate–is that it such a position is not scientific. As the greatest philosopher of science during the 20th century, Sir Karl Popper has made clear: if you cannot “falsify” a supposed scientific theory–prove that is false–then the theory is not within the realm of science. The professors’ position is a belief, and may even be an informed belief, but it is not science.

    All the best.

    RGK

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m fairly certain you just snuck one past me. We’ve seen so much science that was “certain” at the time fall by the wayside over the years that it’s hard, if not impossible, to believe so strongly in any science as to remove it from the realm of question. But then, that is the product of experience, which has never been the strong suit of kids, academics or true believers.

      1. Rick Horowitz

        It’s not just the product of experience, but the point of science, nu? Scientific theories frequently are tested by probing, questioning, and attempting to falsify them.

        And I’m not sure if Judge Kopf’s comment should count as sneaking past, since it kind of reinforces your (ironically-blogged) point. Because, for one thing he could be said to making a more philosophical run at the complaint that squelching students is counter to the scientific spirit.

        Also, by the way, questioning theories can lead to reinforcing them when they stand up to scrutiny, as well as eliminating, or refining, them when they don’t.

        1. Patrick Maupin

          Also, by the way, questioning theories can lead to reinforcing them when they stand up to scrutiny…

          Most useful theorem questioning is not done by pimply 18-year-olds, or in a classroom setting.

          1. Rick Horowitz

            I didn’t mean that it actually reinforced the theory. I maybe should have been more clear that I was primarily thinking of the questioner (who may, or may not be pimply-faced).

            1. Patrick Maupin

              Ahh, that makes more sense. Still, there’s no reason for an astrophysics lecturer to devote much, if any, class time to debating a flat-earther.

            2. SHG Post author

              Just so you guys know, I wasn’t ignoring you, but watching and waiting to see where this ended up. It’s been interesting.

  4. anonymous coward

    These professors have a view of academic freedom that sounds a lot like the billionaire version of free speech. As in “I can say anything, you have to listen, and any criticism of me is censorship”

  5. EH

    The issue isn’t that the professors are doing the wrong thing by limiting the scope; the problem is that they’re being dicks about it.

    Whether you believe in warming, luke-warming, static, or cooling temps, the underlying climate change debate is scientific. Scientific debates are inherently open for inquiry, and should always be such. They can still run the class as they like; they don’t need to claim the mantle of objective omniscience.

    1. Patrick Maupin

      the problem is that they’re being dicks about it.

      I re-read the email, and I just don’t see it. But maybe that’s because it’s my understanding that “scientific premise” has a specific meaning, and it’s not “I’m right and all scientific-y, and if you disagree, you’re wrong and not at all scientific-y.”

      The rest of the email it a bit more pointed, but given that this email was created in response to “several emails from students expressing concern for their success in our course given their personal perspectives on climate change”, and given that it’s a frickin’ Humanities class where nobody is going to be able to prove or disprove the correctness of climate change anyway, and even if they did, the professor wouldn’t be able to understand the explanation, it makes perfect sense for the professors to fully explain their expectations in this fashion.

      Scientific debates are inherently open for inquiry, and should always be such.

      No, no, no. A thousand times no. If I’m calculating load factors on a building, I don’t give a rat’s ass if your new quantum physical calculations show that there is a small but finite chance that the building could turn into a small green avocado at precisely 9:01 AM tomorrow morning — it is completely irrelevant to what I am trying to accomplish. Yes you can do your inquiry, but you cannot hijack me or my team to help.

      And if I’m teaching a course on calculating the date of the next rapture, I don’t want to hear about your evolutionary nonsense.

      And if I’m teaching a course on how expected climate change could affect human culture, my classroom is not the place for the debate over whether that climate change will actually occur.

      They can still run the class as they like; they don’t need to claim the mantle of objective omniscience.

      If you accept everything theblaze regurgitates, of course you think they’ve done that. But they haven’t.

      1. EH

        Compare this:

        “We won’t discuss any contrary arguments to climate change because it is widely accepted as scientific fact* and you shouldn’t object to it if you want to be in this class”

        and this

        “We won’t discuss any contrary arguments to climate change because this class is designed to offer complex and advanced discussions which are predicated on assuming climate change to be real; changing those rules would make the class inefficient; you must agree to adhere to those discussion rules if you want to be in this class.”

        The first one is obnoxious. The second one isn’t.

        *Which it is. Sort of. The “98% agreement” figure is pretty dependent on what you ask. There are very different answers depending on whether you ask (from most to least certain) “is climate changing;” “is it caused by humans;” “how much of the change is caused by humans;” “what would be the results if humans did ____;” or “what are the predicted outcomes in 5, 10, and 50 years, what are their various probabilities, and how confident are we of those outcomes and probabilities.”

            1. Patrick Maupin

              I admit I’ve been binge-linking lately, webtender, but honestly, I can stop any time I want, and I only had one this morning — can I have my keys back now, please?

    2. KP

      They’re not teaching science.

      The course is ““Medical Humanities in the Digital Age” “, and I can’t think of a less science-based subject than anything that includes “Humanities”.

      I can’t think of why anyone would ever take a course like that either… maybe its the ultimate fill-in unit when you have to repeat a subject and pad the year out.

    1. Patrick Maupin

      Assumes facts not in evidence.

      A central part of “what if this happens” games such as Scenario Analysis is that there is effectively a comparison to “what if this doesn’t happen.”

      Construction of reasonably possible scenarios and potential mitigations can and should be done completely independently of assigning probabilities to the scenarios. Then, as new data comes in and the probability models are updated, expected values for each potential mitigation can be updated without having to reconstruct the scenarios.

  6. Lurker

    SHG,
    I have worked in a field rather close to climate science myself and can understand the related methodologies. In my opinion, opposition to the thesis that there is an on-going, man-made climate change is either dishonest or stupid. The question is not political: It is a settled scientific fact. (Which may change in the future, but has currently about as solid status as a fact as quantum mechanics.) However, that is not the issue here.

    The class is a humanities class where the premise is that the scientific consensus is correct, and the class is supposed to examine its consequences using the methods if humanities. Very likely, nobody in the class room has suitable expertise to challenge the premise as a question of fact. Accepting the premise is thus necessary for the course to be successful in its purpose.

    No matter what the truth value of the premise, the exercise of going forward from that premise will be successful for the students in any case.

    1. SHG Post author

      You just couldn’t control the irresistible impulse to say it, could you? And then completely miss the point of the post, because IT’S THE TRUTH!!! But don’t feel bad. It’s very hard to resist. I understood that going in, and am quite pleased that everyone else overcame the self-indulgence.

  7. Angus Hoy

    It seems to me that you might be reading to much into this. I mean sure, this might be a case of overly PC professors trying to shutdown debate on the subject or whatever; but it in my observation, this kind of thing usually only happens when it’s to do with identity politics ,i.e. race, gender, sexuality, colonialism and etc, most SJWs don’t really seem to care all that strongly climate change or anything else they didn’t learn about in a PoMo university subject.

    It seems more likely that one of two (or both) scenarios occurred: Either a couple of students submitted assignments whose thesis was to ‘disprove’ anthropogenic climate change, were failed as a result of this, and then they raised a stink about it and created a massive headache for the lecturers. Or all the lectures and tutes were constantly getting bogged down over interminable debates on the validity of AGW. Or both. The point is that the lecturers may well have been trying to keep politics out of the classroom. I’m not saying that’s definitely the case, but it’s pretty likely from where i’m standing.

    I mean if I went into my computing theory class (to take a politically neutral example) and constantly interrupted the class to claim that the Church-Turing thesis is wrong or something like that, the lecturer might be patient the first few times, but beyond that they would kick me out for being disruptive and no one would think that was anything but right and proper, academic freedom wouldn’t even come up because it’s not really relevant. Of course, if it were a climatology class and I was questioning AGW, probably half the internet would explode with rage (which is what they were probably hoping to avoid). This is the problem with teaching politically sensitive subject matter (and why doing so should be avoided as much as possible imho).

    Also, the article that initially broke the story (on the TheCollegeFix not TheBlaze) technically shows the full email, but only as a 560×262 jpeg which is completely unreadable (I can’t see how that wasn’t on purpose). This makes me strongly suspect that the journalists in question are misrepresenting the issue in order to grind out more clickbait.

    1. SHG Post author

      You are remarkably handsome and erudite individual, and we care deeply about what you feel in your first comment here because you’re special.

  8. Derek Ramsey

    Some comments here focus on avoiding censorship, others on limiting topic scope. These are not mutually exclusive. The professor decides what topics are discussed in the classroom. That is one of a professor’s tasks. But if the professor censors alternative viewpoints in the course of assignments, this is likely a violation of academic freedom.

    The syllabus asks students to answer “…how do our carbon footprints, individually and collectively, affect the health and well being of people from both local and global communities”. Would a student answering “It has between no and an extremely limited effect and here is why….” be marked off JUST for disagreeing with the settled science?

    How the teacher grades dissension will eventually tell us whether the email is describing proper classroom etiquette or ideological conformity. The obnoxious tone of the letter will cause many to jump to the latter conclusion.

    1. SHG Post author

      The only problem with post hoc determination is that the profs are telling students disinclined to agree, or at least accept, their premise that they shouldn’t take the class. Makes it unlikely that we’ll get an answer on the back end.

    2. Patrick Maupin

      Would it have been censorship if I failed my FAA drone test because I put down answers I believe in rather than the answers I knew the FAA wanted? I mean, they’re not just supported by the government like some universities; they are part of the government, and not just any old state government, either — no, they’re part of the feds, the people who the first amendment was originally designed to keep in check, and yet, if I don’t regurgitate the party line to them, I don’t get to fly a drone!!?! How can that possibly be constitutional?

      No, it wouldn’t have been censorship. I’m free to spout off here (well, as long as Scott lets me) about the test all I want. Not considering the FAA’s opinion when taking the test would merely have shown I was too stupid or pigheaded (or both) to pass. It behooves any test-taker to figure out what the test-giver wants to see, so the profs should actually be commended for making their expectations crystal clear.

      1. Derek Ramsey

        Was it an open-ended essay question on the privacy implications of increased drone use? Conclusions based on reasoned arguments are what you would expect on an essay question. This includes those that don’t fit the party line. The professor should of course give a poor grade for a poorly reasoned argument.

        1. Patrick Maupin

          If First Amendment rights were dependent on the presence and quality of exposition, then Mapplethorpe and Flynt would be in a world of trouble, as would I after exclaiming that “Trump and Clinton are both poopy-heads!”

          OTOH, if the question at hand does not implicate First Amendment rights, no amount of expository material will change that.

          If the FAA test said “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts that some seven million drones will fly in the US by 2020 – nearly triple the number expected in the country by the end of 2016. What are the privacy implications of such an expected increase?” then I would be the poopy-head if I wasted the blank space on the paper arguing that the math behind the prediction was wrong.

          But maybe you’re right. Maybe those profs aren’t going to make their expectations that clear, and the poor students will have a semi-legitimate beef about poor grading, which they will then try to bootstrap into a free speech issue.

          Or maybe the attempted bootstrapping is already happening even before any tests have been written, precisely because expectations are being laid out very clearly. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?

        2. Patrick Maupin

          I forgot to ask this:

          How well should an atheist expect to fare at seminary when the answers he gives to every question are predicated on his belief that there is no supreme being?

          1. Derek Ramsey

            The atheist is going to fare poorly if the seminary requires a signed statement of faith. Not all seminaries are bastions of academic freedom. Would it be better if they were? Absolutely. It is still a violation of a student’s academic freedom whether or not the sacred cow is climate change or the existence of a supreme being. If there is a violation of free speech rights is a different issue. Academic freedom is not a free speech right, but it’s still a fantastic idea.

            1. Patrick Maupin

              Rigorous reasoning is the heart of learning, and it can be done inside practically any given framework. In general, if a student, after serious introspection*, still feels overly constrained by any particular teacher’s framework, then rather than stealing a disproportionate amount of time from the class and the teacher in the ill-advised attempt to modify the teacher’s framework, the student should seek out a different teacher. Either that, or accept that his academic performance will suffer for his attempted role-reversal.

              Yes, folks, the student equivalent of getting arrested for not going to the back of the bus is a bad grade.

              TIL stupid multiple-choice tests might be, rather than the sign of pure laziness I always took them for, a necessity for coping with batshit-crazy entitled snowflake wankers who want to inundate every teacher with voluminous off-topic screeds at every opportunity.

              * Not something college students are noted for doing well — it’s much easier to fix the world than to fix yourself.

  9. Troutwaxer

    I think what this really comes down to, as noted a couple times above, is that you’re responding to some really poor journalism, done by people who are trying to kick up a fuss where no real controversy exists. It’s a humanities class for God’s sake, taught by someone who did the majority of their work on late medieval recipes! (Once again, look at the links you’ve already provided – one of them points to the class syllabus.)

    REAL controversy would be if an actual climate scientist presented a statistically valid experiment which disproved global warming, and the experiment could be reproduced, and the climate science community tried to censor the results. This particular “controversy” would have to grow by a couple orders of magnitude to qualify for “tempest in a teapot” status.

    1. SHG Post author

      So in science courses, debate or challenging of ideas is appropriate. In humanities, questioning is not. Okay then.

      1. Troutwaxer

        That is not, of course, what I’m saying.

        I suspect that a high-level of right-wing crazy talk has made the class unteachable in the past, and the rule got made in response to that behavior. To me, the approach taken by these teachers is very considerate and kind, and it’s being done without any preaching or berating. Personally, I could not write so diplomatic an email, or address the issue with such consideration for the feelings of the students involved.

        I’d probably advocate that the children who are arguing against global warming need a couple of remedial science classes, complete with vocabulary words like “albedo.”

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