The Chronicle of Higher Education (A Cathedral&tm; publication) asks, and asks in earnest, “Academic Ethics: Should Scholars Avoid Citing the Work of Awful People?” by Brian Leiter.
Across academe, many scholars have been suggesting that we should not cite the scholarship of bad people.
A recent essay in The Chronicle by Nikki Usher, an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, posed the question starkly: “Do we still keep citing the scholarship of serial harassers and sexists? Within their institutions, they may finally get the fate due to them (or not). But their citational legacy will live on, sometimes even in the form of the pro-forma citations that reviewers expect to see in a manuscript, and ask for if they don’t.”
Nikki is, for our non-American visitors, a non-male, which is not coincidental.
After saying this non-male Nikki is “not alone in her concern”, the author says:
After John Searle, the Berkeley philosopher of language, was sued for sexual harassment, Jennifer Saul, a philosopher of language and feminist activist at the University of Sheffield in Britain, suggested that, “If you can avoid teaching/discussing [Searle’s work], that may be the best strategy.”
I looked this up. A former research assistant Joanna Ong, 24, “alleges that a 50 percent pay cut was among the hostile actions taken against her at the Berkeley campus after she reported being groped and harassed by the 84-year-old Searle last year.”
Well, it’s possible. I suppose. But I belong to the I Don’t Believe All Women movement, and I note that in the very long article describing the alleged horrors Ong had to suffer, there was not one word from Searle’s side of the story.
Searle is 84, I emphasize. And the accusation that he’s guilty is seen to be sufficient justification to cease citing him.
It’s possible to discuss the philosophy of AI and such forth without citing Searle. Just as it’s possible to discuss the history of Christmas in the USA without mentioning Santa Claus. But in both cases you won’t get far.
There are two more instances of women complaining about men they didn’t find attractive, or men who might actually be cads, who knows. These men are less well known. Indeed, one of the complaining females said “He carries too much baggage — he doesn’t have to be cited anymore. …Maybe if he was Einstein we’d have to cite him, but he’s not.”
The author of the main piece knows he’s on hair-thin ice. He realizes not to cite men of eminence, if they be guilty or just accused of “harassment”, would lead to unacceptable limitations. But he also knows he musn’t anger the hyper-uber-over-sensitive feminists who go to and fro in the earth, and walk up and down in it, seeking to devour souls. So he delicately, mincingly, oh-so-carefully advises against the citation ban.
He begins with his bona fides. He says Gottlob Frege was “a disgusting anti-Semite” (are there other kinds?) and that Heidegger was “an actual Nazi.” He used “Nazi” three times in the piece (note: not a record).
With the vice signaling over, he moves on to soberly defining “Wissenschaften” and “discipline.” And then blows another few hundred gentle words that go nowhere.
I mention all this because it will be of interest to see if the author gets away with it. I think he will. He put in plenty of cover, and made it clear he would back down in an instant if confronted.
But then the author is not a dean or other administrator, a class of university life that has shown itself to have no backbone whatsoever. The feminists come marching to any of their offices, and we’ll see Searle (2018) nevermore.
The conclusion is that it was a good thing Wernher von Braun was a (“disgusting”) Nazi and not a sexual harasser, else American rockets never would have got off the ground.
Many, many women are horrid creatures. Face it. However, in all fairness, men were supposed to keep them in line and men FAILED royally. Why, I don’t know. Really, if they wanted physical pleasure, prostitution is the second oldest profession. How could they miss that? I don’t know. Maybe they were always cowards…..
As for being groped by an 84 year old man, some of us women who have not lost all the brains God gave us (the number is apparently decreasing daily), we would either find it mildly amusing a guy of that age was still that lustful, thought the guy pathetic (my choice) or wondered what made us look good to an old, horny guy and set about to fix the problem. Again, so many women are horrid creatures and really stupid. They traded “barefoot and pregnant” for helpless and victims. What a bunch of fools. Utter fools. They owned the world and sold it to a bunch of bitter, angry loser women who hated themselves and humanity. Again, women are fools.
Of course, all of this means science is DEAD. When the speaker is what the content of the research is based on, there IS NO SCIENCE. Science is about DATA and process, NOT who said what. Without that, science is politics or religion. Women have now joined in killing science. Way to go. Destroy everything hateful, helpless females……
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Dear Dr. Briggs,
FYI — Because you obviously need them, here are some whoamen-approved citations from an accredited phD psychopharmacologist statistician who “specializes in designing statistical models for research projects”, from Wikipedia:
Blasey, Christine; Belanoff, Joseph K.; DeBattista, Charles; Shatzberg, Alan F. (2013). “Adult Psychopharmacology”. In Koocher, Gerald; Norcross, John C.; Greene, Beverly A. Psychologists’ Desk Reference: Third Edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199845491.
Blasey, Christine M.; DeBattista, Charles; Roe, Robert; Block, Thaddeus; Belanoff, Joseph K. (2009). “A multisite trial of mifepristone for the treatment of psychotic depression: A site-by-treatment interaction”. Contemporary Clinical Trials. 30 (4): 284–288. doi:10.1016/j.cct.2009.03.001. ISSN 1551-7144.
Blasey, C. M.; Block, T. S.; Belanoff, J. K.; Roe, R. L. (2011). “Efficacy and Safety of Mifepristone for the Treatment of Psychotic Depression”. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 31 (4): 436–440. doi:10.1097/JCP.0b013e3182239191. PMID 21694614.
Blasey, Christine; McLain, Carina; Belanoff, Joseph (2013). “Trough Plasma Concentrations of Mifepristone Correlate with Psychotic Symptom Reductions: A Review of Three Randomized Clinical Trials”. Current Psychiatry Reviews. 9 (2): 148–154. doi:10.2174/1573400511309020009.
Williams, Nolan R.; Heifets, Boris D.; Blasey, Christine; Sudheimer, Keith; Pannu, Jaspreet; Pankow, Heather; Hawkins, Jessica; Rodriguez, Carolyn I.; Schatzberg, Alan F. (2018). “Attenuation of Antidepressant Effects of Ketamine by Opioid Receptor Antagonism”. The American Journal of Psychiatry. American Psychiatric Association (published August 29, 2018). doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.18020138.
I recall an interview with Springsteen who was being asked, for the upteenth time, about the influence of his working class upbringing on his recorded catalogue. He responded by telling the interviewer that the art was important, not the artist. Now regardless of ones opinion on Springsteen, per se, one takes his point. Of course Springsteen is not in any particular trouble with the pc brigade ( yet), however if he should find himself so I expect “The River” will collapse from near Masterpiece to Complete Rubbish in a micro-second.
Roman Polanski on the other hand is personna non grata…and maybe he deserves to be…but that is not the same thing as his record as an artist. Tess, The Pianist, The Ghost Writer, etc…all released after he fled American jurisdiction, are no less worthy artistic statements than they would be if he were squeaky clean. True if he had remained in the USA we might have been spared “Pirates”, but we would never know “Bitter Moon” still the last word on a society that has turned sex into little more than an antidote to boredom and the price that is surely going to be paid. Polanski is nothing if not ironic. Hate the artist if you like. The art is something else again.
I dare say it’s the same with philosophy, engineering, or theology…it certainly is with law Henry II gave us the Common Law, but I wouldn’t turn my back on him!
Where can I sign up for the “I Don’t Believe All Women” movement? My nephew is entering his 4th year of a 12-year prison sentence (with hopes of parole in 6). He was accused of sexual assault by his 13 year-old step-daughter. Despite overwhelming evidence of her lies, this evidence was deemed inadmissible. His options were; go to trial and expect to lose (with a 98% probability), or take the 12-year route. He is surrounded by inmates in the same boat, who are serving prison terms of up to 40 years, because they chose the Trial Route to prove their innocence.
This reminds me of the observation made regarding Clever Hans, the horse that seemed capable of interpreting basic human questions and tapping out a numerical count, a feat that many humans seemed at the time to be very very impressed by. At the time it seems there was a minority of humans who could watch that horse do its calculations and also see the truly relevant trade-offs that mattered: “Clever horse, lousy mathematician.”
What seems baffling to me is if a researcher really is a scalawag, and your or I can take their work, add it to ours and then come out better [greater recognition for professional acumen] along with contributing to the broader knowledge in the field, what’s the problem? Nikki Usher’s approach would, it seems, endorse forgoing the invention of the wheel, taming of fire, and so on and so forth, just to prevent some cad from getting their just recognition for their contribution. In other words, let’s, as the saying goes, ‘cut off our noses to spite our faces.’ The trade-offs that really matter are getting subordinated for something else.
Leiter reaches conclusions, in his article, which are fundamental:
What is a scholar to do [regarding Nikki Usher’s concern about citing the work of abusive and other negative males]?
“I propose a simple answer: Insofar as you aim to contribute to scholarship in your discipline, cite work that is relevant regardless of the author’s misdeeds. Otherwise you are not doing scholarship but something else.
“You should not — under any circumstances — adjust your citation practices to punish scholars for bad behavior. You betray both your discipline and the justification for your academic freedom by excising from your teaching and research the work of authors who have behaved unethically.
“…researchers or teachers who let moral indignation interfere with scholarly judgment do betray the core purposes of the university and so open themselves to professional repercussions. The foundations of academic freedom demand nothing less.”
ISSUE: SOME universities are no longer focused on conducting research and contributing to knowledge, or, teaching students. Some universities are focused first and foremost, and formally(!), on social justice activism, and perhaps Nikki Usher is among those of that ilk. FOR AN EXAMPLE of that see this informative analysis about Palo Alto U. (B. Ford’s employer) and note what’s formally listed in the #1 spot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFL6k5yOAFM
Your comment was regurgitated. What colour crayon did you use? That’s the sort of thing you’re supposed to learn to say isn’t it?
As for 84 or 6 yr old whatever it was?
Work with the public of all ages and learn what people are like. They are not all bad. Not remotely.
Work with elderly people and you learn they think, like some people on blogs, that they can get away with anything because they’re old. They were the most fun group to work with.
Nobody sensible takes offence at such a person. I can’t imagine the circumstance. It will blow over. Maybe people will find reasons to write articles and cite him a few extra times in protest!
It’s another form of the childishness and bullying that is the world of media, in this case academic media. Social media, but with bells on, apparently, has begun to indulge in. It’s always on the back foot, whoever’ doing it.
There was a footballer here who famously served two and a half years for raping someone which never sounded like it was a safe conviction. He was let out early as the verdict was overturned and is now suing. One gold medal winner female decided to make an example of him and made a huge fuss over the case.
I hope she gets sued, too.
The lad was never guilty.
Cad’s are not criminals, just cads, bounders!
Genetic fallacy, anyone?
They’re so stupid, that I can now ignore anything else they say.
First they came for Oswald Teichmüller’s citations…
First they came for citations of Oswald Teichmüller…