The Atlas Society Asks Dorian Abbot

March 23, 2022 00:59:52
The Atlas Society Asks Dorian Abbot
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The Atlas Society Asks Dorian Abbot
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Join our CEO, Jennifer Grossman, and Professor Dorian Abbot on the 97th episode of The Atlas Society Asks. Listen as two discuss his experience of being canceled for expressing views at odds within "woke" academia, the status of open inquiry on campus, and his work to dismantle "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion."

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:01 Hello everyone. And welcome to the 97th episode of the Atlas society asks. My name is Jennifer on gene Grossman. My friends call me JAG. I'm the CEO of the Atlas society. We are the leading nonprofit, introducing young people to the ideas of iron ran in fun, creative ways, like our animated videos and graphic novels. Today, we are joined by professor Dorian added before I even get into introducing our guests. I want to remind those of you who are watching us on zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube. You can use the comment section to typing your questions. We will get to as many as we can. So professor Abbott is a geophysicist teaching at the university of Chicago. I believe since 2011. And while his work is widely recognized within academic geophysics, you might not have heard of him. Had he not been invited to give a prestigious lecture at MIT and invitation, which a group of angry graduate students and faculty pressured the administration to rescind today, we're here to discuss with professor Abbott, some of the events leading up to that controversy, what it signifies about the state of academic freedom and tolerance on campus and why academic admissions and hiring programs should treat people as individuals and not as members of a group professor Abbott. Speaker 0 00:01:38 Welcome again. Thanks for joining us. Speaker 1 00:01:40 Thank you. Speaker 0 00:01:42 So, uh, before jumping into your most recent experience with cancel culture, our, our viewers would love to learn a little bit about you. Um, your, you study planets that are very, very far away, uh, with an ultimate interest in among other things, extra dress to life. Um, what led you to your particular discipline? Speaker 1 00:02:07 Well, so my PhD is in applied mathematics and I like problems where there's a computational component and some analytical sort of like equations component. And I like problems where we care about a factor of 10, like an order of magnitude. So, you know, things so little that you care, if you can just get it within a factor of 10 and these exoplanets extrasolar planets sort of, uh, are consistent with that because they've just been discovered over the past 25 years and the smaller ones are just being discovered now. And so we know very little about their climate and what they would be like. And so there's lots of fun problems to work on. Speaker 0 00:02:48 So it was math. It wasn't a star Trek or Speaker 1 00:02:52 No, it's just a good problem. And actually, uh, I've shifted a little, I'm focusing a little less on that, at least in my own research, mostly because it's starting to be a little more saturated, like sort of a low-hanging fruit had been grabbed. And so, um, I'm working on some more planetary dynamic stuff and I've actually been looking at some flu modeling, which I find fun, Speaker 0 00:03:17 Fascinating, well, uh, would love to, to, to get into that because, uh, there's obviously been a lot of controversies about some of the modeling that, uh, was used early on to, to justify, um, these lockdowns, which don't seem to have had much of an effect. And, um, I've had so many disastrous consequences. Uh, we were chatting a little bit. Um, Ukraine is on everybody's mind. Um, we have a new animated video. My name is Ukraine, which is probably going to be posted tomorrow. Um, she has family in Ukraine. Um, how are they doing, how, and also kind of going back to, uh, to connecting with what you went through, how did her experience growing up under communism shape her perspective that she brought to supporting you with the pressures you face because of your views? Speaker 1 00:04:14 Yes. Yeah. So my wife is you create it and she's from Zachary Katia or a trans Carpathia old blast, which is in the far Southwest. And I guess this is true of all regions in Eastern Europe, but they were part of all sorts of different places over and over again. So it started the 20th century in the Austro-Hungarian empire. And then after world war one, it was kind of traded around between Romania and checklists of archaea and hungry. And then it was part of Hungary during world war II. And it was conquered during world war II by the Soviet union and added on to, uh, Ukraine, but ethnically, most of the people there are Ukrainian, although there are also Hungarian and Romanian people, uh, in her region, but it's the far Southwest. And it's the only region that hasn't been bombed so far. So her family safe, you know, they're not super happy about everything that's going on. There's a lot of refugees there. So I think two thirds of the refugees are internal and a lot of because it's the safest region so far. So there's a lot of refugees and people are trying to help them. Uh, her brother has joined the militia, which is called the territorial defense forces, but he doesn't have any military training. So most of what they have him doing is picking up food for refugees and bringing it to them, stuff like that. Speaker 0 00:05:40 Very heartbreaking. Um, and I know Speaker 1 00:05:43 The other question you had a second part of the question. So, uh, my wife was born in 1989, so she didn't really experience, Speaker 1 00:05:53 Uh, but her mother did and actually just, you know, there's hundreds of stories that you could tell, just the suffering that people went through for generations. Uh, but I'll just tell one. When I first met my wife, she showed me a picture of her mother and her mother's a school teacher and it was teacher's day. And there were, uh, her mother and two other teachers holding flowers. The children had brought them and they were scowling at the camera. And I said, why aren't they smiling? And my wife looked at me like I was crazy. And she said, no one who lived through socialism smiles. Speaker 0 00:06:31 Wow. Speaker 1 00:06:32 But it was like, like you didn't know that, which I later found out was a little bit of exaggeration. Her, her mother does smile, but in public, like at, at the school or something, there's no smiling. And it has an effect, you know, 30 years later, it reverberates on the people who, who had to go through that. Speaker 0 00:06:52 Yeah. I mean a scarcity of food. Uh, so as, as we'll, we'll be getting into, of course with the holiday more and, um, scarcity of, of laughter scarcity of, of smiles. Um, but I, I probably gave her quite a perspective on, um, conformity and, uh, just requiring everybody to toe the same line when you, um, you stumbled across it. So, uh, you you're at the university of Chicago, you did your undergrad at Harvard, Speaker 1 00:07:26 Right. And PhD. Speaker 0 00:07:28 Okay. Uh, probably a little later than I was there. Uh, what led you to the university of Chicago? I believe we've narrowed your choices to MIT and the university of Chicago given your recent experience. You're probably pretty relieved. You chose the latter. So was it hindsight or foresight or something else? Speaker 1 00:07:49 Well, okay. So I came for a postdoc at university of Chicago in 2009. And then for, for faculty position, I was deciding between MIT and U Chicago. And it was sort of a, uh, I was thinking about it for a long time. And then I went on a hike a week long hike. And, uh, then I was in, I was at back in the lecture hall at the university and I was alone, is sitting in the lecture hall and the beautiful woman who was about 50, an older woman. You know, I was in my late twenties, came in and sat next to me and I felt very comfortable with her. And I said, what should I do? And she said, don't go to MIT. And then I woke up and I was on the hike, you know, and it was the morning, but then I knew what to do. So that's how I decided, Speaker 0 00:08:39 Well, I'm glad you got my message because I came into your dream time traveled and thanks for the lovely compliment. Um, so we're getting into to, to what happened, uh, you said that it was about five years ago, like in 2017, you started to notice some changes in your department, um, that made you uncomfortable and that those, uh, accelerated into 2020, um, which precipitated you wanting to share a different perspective with your colleagues. So what happened? Speaker 1 00:09:13 Yeah, I mean, I guess I originally noticed some, the sort of like first little sniffs of this stuff, at least that I noticed that a lot of these ideas have been kicking around for a long time. They're just in a new form. But I started noticing when I was an undergrad and, you know, I'm sitting at the, hanging out with my physics friends talking about physics at the cafeteria table, and then there'd be like, you know, people, or like I had a girlfriend who was some sort of gender studies kind of stuff, but she would say some of their stuff. And it was just like, sort of a funny joke. Uh, but then it sort of like, it came out of its, it was contained and, but it broke, it broke free. It started affecting everything else. And I, so I hadn't really thought about that. Speaker 1 00:10:00 I mean, most of this stuff is so it's so easy to dismiss that you don't spend a lot of time thinking about how to oppose it because it's just obviously crazy. Uh, but it started to show up in my life slowly. Um, and part of that, I mean, a lot of this was, is sort of like the safe spaces and trigger warnings. And, uh, I guess you call it microaggressions, like being really, really careful about your language and delicate about everything you say. So when I came to U Chicago, that was like, it was the opposite of that, you know? And that's, you could go to the lunch room and talk about whatever you wanted. You know, I remember having conversations about, you know, like explorers who had to resort to cannibalism and all sorts of things and, you know, it was, it wasn't a big deal. Speaker 1 00:10:49 And, but then it sort of started to change around 2015 to 2017. And my initial response was to sort of withdraw, you know, just, uh, I don't want to get in trouble. So I'm just gonna eat my lunch in my office and, you know, not go to the department of ed, that kind of thing. But then everything went really cuckoo in 2020. And so it was sort of like, it was like we were spending all of our time talking about somebody's conception of social justice, rather than just doing our science and, you know, like they wanted to make in our journal club, a list of sort of rules of engagement that was mostly about using all the right social justice language and blahdy, blahdy, blah. And then we had to spend all of our time reading articles about social justice stuff and then invite speakers based on their, you know, type of who person they were. And so then there's this journalist Barry Weiss. Have you heard about her? Speaker 0 00:11:55 Of course. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:11:56 And so that summer she resigned from New York times and she had this letter saying why she did it. And I read that and I sent it to the department chair and all the former chairs. And I said, you know, we've got the same problem with our department. Uh, everyone's afraid to speak their mind, you know, what can we do about it? And they all said, oh, you're a tenured professor. Say whatever you want, you know, you won't have any trouble. You'll be fine. Just anything you want to say, go ahead and say it. So I said, oh, okay. And then that fall, I just had a number of experiences where I felt that we were discriminating against people in certain, you know, hiring decisions and things like that, where I was involved in case in situations where I felt that there was discrimination happening. And then Speaker 0 00:12:43 Some examples Speaker 1 00:12:45 Yeah. Like, you know, Speaker 0 00:12:47 Groups of people, Speaker 1 00:12:48 Or like people saying, oh, I don't, I don't want any Chinese grad students because, uh, the, they don't speak the language well enough or something like that. Or, you know, you can't trust their GRE scores now, of course we've thrown out our GRE because we've gotten so, uh, SJW, but that sort of thing, or, uh, we need more diversity, not more of that kind of person, those types of comments in hiring decisions. Uh, I mean, you know, the most egregious one was I was on a faculty hiring committee and, uh, we got informal word from the Dean that was passed to us through the department chair and the chair of the committee that we couldn't hire an Asian or white men. So we could do a search with all the non-discrimination language, but then they weren't going to consider a case if it was an Asian or a white man. Speaker 1 00:13:48 And so, you know, I, now I would have pushed back a little bit, but at the time I was just like, what? We're just, we're just going to do it that way now, you know, I just didn't know what the rules were. And so anyways, so that, that sort of thing started bothering me. And then there was an internal seminar that was, uh, promoting, uh, work and, um, you know, anti racism concept. And if you're not, if you're not anti racist, you're racist, then you know, it's necessary to put discrimination to the system and any, any, any disparity of outcome is, uh, evidence that there was discrimination and it's necessary to put discrimination into fix that and that kind of stuff. And so I asked to give a response in this internal department seminar series and I was refused. So I posted on YouTube and for me, this was in the fall of 2020. So like I, I had used at the time, I didn't know anything about social media and how this stuff works. I mean, I've learned now, but I put on YouTube thinking like, oh, this is a good way. I've got these files. I recorded these talks, that's a good way I can share stuff with other people. And, um, it turned out that people went on Twitter and they said, oh, how bad bad this guy is. And then it just started this huge thing. Speaker 0 00:15:11 Wow. So, uh, uh, that must have been, must have been completely blindsided. Uh, do you, do you remember what was going through your head at the time or how you're feeling? Speaker 1 00:15:23 The first thing I thought was that it's pretty funny and ironic because like one of the main points was people are having trouble speaking openly in our department and it's, I spoke in our department that they pretty much proved my point right away. Uh, Speaker 0 00:15:39 That's true. Speaker 1 00:15:40 But yeah, I was, at first I was nervous because it's just a weird experience. Like I don't care too much if people call me a dumb dumb or, or say I'm bad guy or whatever, it just, it doesn't really matter to me, but it is a weird experience with all of a sudden, like all these people, you know, are writing on Twitter about how awful you are. And it's sort of like, you know, me, we've known each other for five years, you know, I'm not an awful person. So that was kind of odd. And then of course, I didn't know if I was going to get fired. And so that was, my wife is a very strong person and I've told her like, well, you know, I said, I might get fired. This is crazy. And she said, I know what it's like to be hungry and not have enough to eat. I know what it's like to be cold and not have enough warm clothes. And I know I don't have to worry about that here. So, you know, whatever happens, I'll, uh, I'll be with you. And so that, that kind of strength and support makes a huge difference. Speaker 0 00:16:42 Oh, that's beautiful. Um, so you know, this is happening, you're at the university of Chicago for those who don't know, uh, university of Chicago has, in some ways historically been kind of a beacon of free speech. Um, it has a statement policy, uh, how initially when I'm assuming people on Twitter calling for you to be fired and, uh, what, what kind of demands came, came back and what was the response from, from your university? Speaker 1 00:17:16 Well, okay, so the demands, you can go read the letter it's out there, but they made a letter with like 13 points of demands. Th this, this has become part of the tactic. So this is how it works. You, you whip up a Twitter storm and then you, uh, make present a bunch of demands to the relevant official, and then you threatened basically that you're going to cause a huge scene. If your demands aren't met, uh, it's generally an empty threat. Although sometimes it does end up in some sort of a scene like people blowing air, horns and yelling and stuff like that. But the demands in my case where things like it. So by the time it got to the letter of denunciation me losing my job was not one of the demands. That was something that was mentioned on Twitter, but it wasn't one of the official demands. Speaker 1 00:18:00 And the official demands were basically like, I like restrict my ability to have a research group, uh, restrict my, uh, take away my right to teach undergrad classes. Um, generally, you know, various types of shaming. I was supposed to go to a, uh, what they call transformative justice seminar or something like that, where I would, yeah. Kind of like, um, you know, where I would be go in front of everyone and apologize for my misdeeds. And then the one that I thought was, so a lot of th the target of this was not necessarily me. It was everyone else trying to make sure that they didn't disagree. And so one other thing it said was, uh, basically interrogate all the faculty, figure out which ones held views similar to mine, and then forced them all to go to reeducation. So this is one of the demands, and it's funny that there was this made it a straight face. Speaker 1 00:18:56 So the university, in terms of the top administration, the president of the university at the time was Bob Zimmer. Who's now the chancellor. And he's been one of the main advocates in higher education for free expression. And when this stuff came across his desk, he just issued a statement that didn't mention my name, but said, our faculty are free to express themselves. However they want on any of our policies, because I was criticizing some of what's called diversity equity and inclusion, which does occur at the university and they won't be punished for that. And that just ended the whole thing. Now that's a lesson because it was so easy for the president to stop this stuff. I mean, it's trivial, like basically these, all these presidents, if they just said, no, we're not, you know, to the children, the whole thing would end. Uh, the other thing was the lower level administrators were not so, uh, cleanly. Speaker 1 00:19:57 Yeah. And so there was a lot of, sort of, wishy-washy both side is of like, well, you know, he has the right to say this stuff, but it's hurting the culture of the department and all this stuff that it's like, no, th the culture of an academic department is inquiry. And what hurts the culture is when people are trying to stop other people from saying what they think. And so I think they should have said that right from the beginning, like, look, guys, we're not, we're not, uh, doing anything to Dorian and, uh, get back to your word, go back to your laboratory and stop this silliness. I mean, that, that should have been the response. And then there was even the department of astrophysics, their head sent out this email that was like, I can't believe someone would re think like this in 2020 and all this stuff. And it's sort of like, you know, like, what's the, I mean, like, basically he's just saying, I, I have absolutely no integrity, and I'll just say whatever you want in order to, so that you don't come after me next. And so those guys, I was not super happy about. Speaker 0 00:21:04 So a couple of things I'm taking away from, from your description of, of what happened. One is that it's, uh, it's more than an irrational, spontaneous combustion event, um, that, you know, there may be that element of it, but that these things are, then there's a list it's already prepared. There's a template. Speaker 1 00:21:29 Um, Speaker 0 00:21:30 Yeah. And, and, and they use it. That's something I noticed as, as well. Um, and I wrote about one of the, uh, race hoaxes on campus. And, uh, you know, they found these horrible, uh, you know, things written on somebody's locker and stick notes on their bag. Uh, the next day there's the collective. They have their demands. They're, you know, kind of, you've seen them before. We need more funding for this department and that department, uh, of course in that case, as in so many, as, you know, one of our previous guests, Wilfred Riley's pointed out, um, it turns out not to be, uh, the case. Um, but, but the other thing that, um, and I, and I wonder how that makes you feel and, and cause it must be a bit complicated is that you're looking at people and their responses with jerk attacks on you are not necessarily motivated by genuine ideological zeal, but in part by, uh, just craving this and wanting to try to avoid getting the next, you know, lash coming down on them. Speaker 1 00:22:50 Well, you know, I mean, it's, uh, it's funny because I'll, let me just tell you something, like there was this, this letter of that was signed by a bunch of people. And I intentionally didn't look at who signed it because I didn't want to, uh, you know, I know I have to work with these people in the future. And also, I don't know who, who did it because they were pressured into who did it, because, you know, they're S J J J w I didn't know who who's, who, and so, I don't know, but yeah, th the situation is it's a hard thing. And especially with the students, like a grad student, they can be put under tremendous pressure. I mean, you saw this Yale, uh, law student who had the diversity, uh, apparat trick apparatchik or whatever, you know, the Chick, uh, call this guy into their office. And they say like, you know, we're going to, we're gonna end your career. You know, we're gonna, all the law firms will hear about this, unless you apologize. And all this stuff, you know about this story. Speaker 0 00:23:57 No, I haven't heard Speaker 1 00:23:58 Of, I either look at that one, that was a few months ago. It was basically, it was a, a native American student who was a member of this, uh, the Federalist society, which tends to be more conservative. And he advertised the party, which was called trap house party. Apparently a trap house is some sort of a slang that I can't explain it to you because I don't know the urban lingo, but people got mad at him. And they said it was somehow discriminatory and bad or blah-blah-blah. But the key point is that the diversity officers, uh, wanted him to issue this apology. And that's always part of it. They want you to apologize for something that you didn't do wrong. Uh, and then, and they were saying like, we'll destroy your career. So the students are under a lot of pressures on saying, I'm, I feel more negative about department, chair, level people who do their job and say like, look guys, get back in the laboratory. We're not, you know, we're not punishing a professor for stating his opinions on something. And that that's important to note is that this isn't a case where I went out and said something inflammatory, like it was very basic stuff with it, with evidence and arguments and things would just say, well, look, this is my moral and philosophical perspective, and I'm not okay with how we've been doing things. And I think people need to be able to express their opinions openly, which doesn't seem to be the case right now. Speaker 0 00:25:29 So we're going to get to some of the questions that are coming in, but, um, just to, to get all the facts out and the narrative of what had happened, uh, when did you get invited to speak at MIT? And how did that? Speaker 1 00:25:46 Yeah, so th so there's like a part of being a scientist is going around and giving seminars at other universities and talking about your work, but this was a different thing. This was a special honor called the, the Carlson lecture. And, uh, this thing was supposed to be like a big event. And they choose, you know, people in the field, I would have been the youngest person to do this. It was like a big deal to get this. And so they wanted me to come talk about something about climate. And so I was going to tell about the, uh, these planets orbiting different stars and how you can study their atmospheres and see which ones might potentially have life, or which ones you should look at to search for life. Okay. So that was the context. This all happened before I got in trouble for the first time before I became a thought criminal. Speaker 1 00:26:38 So I was just a regular old guy, and nobody knew who I was and nobody was angry at me. And then this stuff started happening in the fall of 2020. Okay. And my lecture got canceled in the fall of 2020 because of COVID. So then they reinvited me in the summer of 2021. Okay. So I'm like, okay, whatever. But then that summer, I also wrote an article with a friend at Stanford, Yvonne Marinovich called, uh, about why we don't like diversity equity and inclusion. And we have this other thing called merit fairness and equality that we think is better. Speaker 1 00:27:16 That was a new Greek. And so like a lot of people saw it. And so then on Twitter, it's funny because these ideas start on Twitter and you can watch how they develop a bunch of people, you know, including a professor at university of Austin were like, we shouldn't invite this guy to give seminars anymore. And so, like, it kind of got into people's heads, like, oh one way to sort of apply more pressure. Well, we couldn't get him fired. We couldn't restrict his job, you know, et cetera, et cetera. So maybe we can apply more pressure by making it so he can't go around and give talks. And so then when it was announced that I was supposed to give this talk at MIT, the activists put this strategy into action that is sort of been developed over the summer. And so it was a relatively small number, maybe a dozen of activists who tried to do this, but they, they sort of, they have, they act, it acts like Twitter acts like a force multiplier. So, you know, a dozen of them can make a bunch of nasty comments and then it sort of, it looks like there's more people and then other people like it, but even the likes it's, you know, it's like a hundred or 200, so there's not that many people. And then that's sort of what caused this thing to get canceled. Speaker 0 00:28:30 Um, and what was the response after that Speaker 1 00:28:33 From whom? Speaker 0 00:28:34 Well, I, you know, I understand that you got some other forums that wanted you to speak and, um, Speaker 1 00:28:43 Yeah. So Robert George at Princeton, who's a really great professor. He has a I'm blanking on the name, but the, he has a special fif dome at Princeton and they invited me to come give the lecture in, in his fiefdom. Speaker 0 00:29:02 Do you think, do you think MIT will ever kind of come to a central Speaker 1 00:29:07 After this little thing? They invited me to come give it apartment seminar. So not the big Carlson lecture, but a department seminar. And in theory, I'm going this spring and, you know, I'm happy to go and talk to people. And there's a lot of great scientists there that I'd like to interact with. And basically they weren't. I mean, like I said, it's like a dozen activists who are responsible for the bad behavior. And so it's not like everybody there is, should be blamed for this. And of course, some of the leadership there who caved in, uh, that was not good behavior, but anyways, yeah, I'm happy to go back and give a talk. And if they invite me to give the Carlson lecture again, I'll go give it so Speaker 0 00:29:50 We shall see. All right, let's get to some of these questions. Uh, we have a question from Instagram, Manny TEV, Trevino asks. Do you think there is more pushback against DEI on campuses in 2022? Or is your opinion still the minority opinion? Are you seeing the pendulum swing in any way? Speaker 1 00:30:14 Well, okay. I have a lot of comments on that. So the first comment is I don't think my opinion was ever the minority opinion. I think it was the majority opinion and is currently the majority opinion, or at least some variant of my opinion. Uh, at least my opinion that people should be able to express themselves freely. And that there shouldn't be over discrimination. I think that's a majority opinion in the sciences, uh, but whether there's pushback. So traditionally there was not pushback until, you know, a few people started speaking out and there's definitely more people who are willing to speak out now than in 2020. And part of it is getting blindsided like this stuff, just all of a sudden exploded. Uh, and part of it is just people looking around and saying like, okay, if you're a tighter professor, you at least have a chance of surviving this stuff. Speaker 1 00:31:06 You know, like I basically have survived two cancellation campaigns and I'm doing fine. You know, I still do my research. There's some people who don't want to work with me and that's fine. They don't have to write, um, I'm doing okay. And so people see that and maybe they start to push back a little. Then the only other thing I would say about your addition to that comment, I don't like the term pendulum because it's too passive. So it's like, oh, the pendulum will swing back. But I think we, you know, when we're searching for a metaphor, it should be something that involves us having to actually get off our butts and do something. So, and so that's, what's really required here is that if you are not happy with this stuff, you got to do something and it could be a small thing. You could just say that at a faculty meeting, or say your opinion out loud without looking over your shoulder at lunchtime. And it could be bigger. You could write articles. And, uh, you know, I got elected to the university Senate, uh, and I've been trying to advocate for this stuff. It's not working very well because most of the people on the university Senate are kind of from the gender studies, uh, you know, category, but, you know, you can push back at a variety of ways. Speaker 0 00:32:20 You can, you could bring, uh, some of our faculty professor, Stephen Hicks or professor Jason Hill, they're both, uh, senior scholars at the Atlas society and philosophy professors. Speaker 1 00:32:34 Yeah. I've read a book, uh, on a Speaker 0 00:32:37 Postmodernist Speaker 1 00:32:38 Modernism. I enjoyed that very much. Speaker 0 00:32:41 Well, if there's ever an opportunity where we can, um, to get them to, to your school, um, they could talk about, Speaker 1 00:32:48 Yeah, so Harold Lou leg, and I, who's a econ professor, we have an idea that we call the Chicago center for a free society. And a big portion of that would be hosting controversial speakers, you know, just people who are willing to say their mind, but who are serious academics, not sort of, uh, you know, just people who want to get a rise out of, out of other people, right. And hosting them at the campus and having YouTube, having a broadcast that on YouTube and having a podcast, uh, to kind of try to desensitize people to other points of view, because part of what's going on now is it's so segregated on the university politically, uh, that students just aren't used to hearing a center left viewpoint. That that is something that gets attacked now. And so just to sort of push, introduce other ideas so that, uh, people have sort of a broader, uh, basis for their intellectual evaluations of ideas. Speaker 0 00:33:47 Right. And so they're not so, so fragile. Well, um, I, I think, uh, professor hill is also an interesting case in addition to being an objectivist. He's also black and gay. So, uh, you know, a little harder to, to cancel, although, um, believe me, they have tried at his university, Speaker 1 00:34:07 They have this thing called, uh, they have this silly thing. That's like a oppression points. And I think they call it, I can't remember the silly word they use, but it's something like, uh, intersectionality. Yeah. The intersection of impression points. So he's got a couple, but he's still like a member of the patriarchy and he's probably got some, he's got some power points in addition to his, uh, Speaker 0 00:34:33 Yeah. I mean, he's an immigrant first generation. All right. Let's see what else we have here. Um, is Tina Malka wits on Facebook asks, do you see other professors sympathetic to your views, but too scared of being fired or targeted to speak out? So did, did some of them come to you and say, wow, Speaker 1 00:34:56 Uh, hundreds. Wow. So for everyone that you hear about who speaks out on this stuff, there's hundreds of people who are scared to speak out at least. Uh, so yes. And in phatic, yes. To that question, Speaker 0 00:35:09 I had another guest on this show, uh, who, uh, no little said, if you can't spread the courage, at least don't spread the fear. How do we encourage people to spread the courage? Speaker 1 00:35:25 Yeah. I mean, you have to do some evaluation of your careers. I mean, unfortunately, they're going to just, uh, they're going to just bulldoze a grad student who tries to raise any of these points. And so I probably would not recommend a grad student try to speak up about this, but I mean, if you're a tenured professor, I mean, this is part of the problem. Like what, what qualities get someone to be a tenured professor? You gotta be really good at your field, but you also have to like, not piss everyone else off so that they'll vote for you to get tenure and stuff. And it's not really the entrepreneurial spirit that tends to produce tenured professors. So I think a lot of times you end up with people who are, first of all, they're so obsessed with their thing, that they don't want to do anything to mess that up. And then the other thing is it leads to kind of timid people. But I think it really is the responsibility of tenured the tenured faculty to say, no, we're not going to do this. You know, where everyone is welcome to share their opinion. And we actually are doing something important here. The science we're doing is important. It's so important that we don't want to sacrifice it, uh, in the name of some engineered, uh, social goal. Speaker 0 00:36:40 All right. Um, Alan turning on Instagram asks has more woke ideas, infiltrated how people are supposed to teach their classes such as in the hard sciences. Speaker 1 00:36:55 Yeah. So just to give you a silly example, but a pretty telling one, I had, uh, a university administrator who, uh, it's kind of supposed to help us develop teaching stuff. And I was working on a new lab for my course, uh, like a physical lab and it was about black body radiation. And he said, oh, you know, you shouldn't use that word black body radiation because it's like black bodies are blahdy, blahdy, blahdy, blahdy, blah. And you can use some other term. I was like, no, that's the physics, but we're using it in physics. I don't care if the X studies department has adopted the physics term and is trying to use it for something else. So that sort of thing is coming up a lot. Uh, and then there was actually recently I pulled this up because I thought it might come up, uh, where is that stupid thing? Speaker 1 00:37:52 So, yes, that was a paper that was published in physical review physics education research. So physical review is like where physicists published stuff. And this is the education research called, uh, that came out March 11th, observing whiteness and introductory physics, a case study. And you can look it up, but it's as bad as you can imagine and worse. And so, yes, it's, it's totally infiltrating. It's coming in through people trained in education schools, which, which have been captured ideologically. And it's coming in through the administrative structure, which is mostly staffed by people from education schools, which have been captured ideologically. Speaker 0 00:38:33 We recently published, um, philosophies of education and, uh, it was by professor Stephen Hicks. And, um, just talking about the progression and the history of how, how this came in it's, um, it's been almost like clockwork, you know, from, from the framework that, uh, that Tate and reglue Kiana set up in terms of the changes that were happening and when they started kind of getting the universities and then when they started hitting the, the graduate schools. So, um, Speaker 1 00:39:07 Yes, yes, yes. That's interesting that you mentioned that because I read their book and it did, it was people of, I forgot what they call it, but the there's a particular generation as they went through every level, that's when it got bad. And that is when it got worse, uh, with our grad graduate students, Speaker 0 00:39:26 Jeremy I, Jen, that's your right. Uh, Jeremy writer on Instagram is asking, is your day to day teaching more normal now? Or do you have to deal with a lot of faculty or students who are hostile or harassing you? Speaker 1 00:39:45 I don't feel like anyone's harassing me, but, uh, there are certainly some people who are hostile to me. Uh, they have these big five traits. Have you ever heard of this? A psychologist have one of them is called agreeableness and I'm like the fifth percentile of agreeableness. So I probably wouldn't really notice or care if someone was being hostile to me, uh, anyways. So, you know, I'm able to get my stuff done. So I'm not worried about that Speaker 0 00:40:16 On a, on a personal level. I know you and I talked a bit before and you said you're not much of a fiction guy, but if you imagine a novel or a story that was told about your experience and you know, part of what's happening is changes that are happening to the hero, the character, in this case, you, how would you say you've changed through, throughout from the Dorian Abbot of 2017 to join the Abbot of 2022? Speaker 1 00:40:49 Well, the biggest thing is, uh, this kind of fell on me like, you know, I just want to be doing my weird physics stuff and playing with equations. I don't want to be deal. I don't want to be on your podcast. No offense. Uh, but Speaker 0 00:41:06 I know you consider it a duty. Speaker 1 00:41:08 Yeah. And so that's probably the biggest change is that I feel that this is an important issue. That's really causing major problems in our universities and in our society. And some people need to start speaking up about it. And so I'm willing to be one of those persons. So that's probably the biggest change for the last five years. Speaker 0 00:41:30 All right. I'm free the on Instagram asks, do you think that the viability or prestige of going to college is getting tarnished by funny degrees being put on the same level as a degree in science and mathematics? Speaker 1 00:41:47 That's a big question. I mean, are they put on the same level? I mean, if you're applying for a job, like a serious job and you have a degree in X studies, are you going to be looked at the same as if you have a degree in physics? I certainly hope not, but those X studies people they're going into like the HR departments and the administrators at universities and stuff. They're not going into the job for people actually have to do something or else the company loses money. Uh, so, but yeah, but it, but the, the bigger question there is the Speaker 1 00:42:23 Value of the college degree being diminished. I mean, yeah, it has to be right. Like people, employers, if employers know that a certain fraction of the people that come from a particular college are not going to be as competent as they could be. They're going to value it less. And maybe that sort of market pressure will eventually solve some of these problems. I don't know. I mean, you'd think so. I mean, just to give you a story like U Chicago was famous at a time when other schools were discriminating against Jews, U Chicago didn't discriminate against Jews. And so they snapped up all, all these brilliant Jews who were getting discriminated against and, uh, and PR outperformed the, you know, the money that they were spending basically. And so you think that universities would start, you know, there'd be some universities that would try to adopt strategies that would get around this stuff in order to, um, you know, produce better research or better, uh, students. And, you know, there's the university of Austin where they're trying to start doing this, but there could be some inefficiencies in the market, right. There could be some arbitrage opportunities here and maybe there's some someone has to get that started. And right now you have an inefficient market that's possible. I don't really know. Speaker 0 00:43:43 So, uh, you talked about these historical instances of discrimination against Jews. I think which, you know, in some of the Ivy leagues is probably still going on. They're not counted as Jews they're just counted as white. Um, it seems to me that it's the Asian Americans that are really, um, getting the, the brunt of this kind of reverse discrimination we had on the show. Um, recently the author of an inconvenient minority, uh, Kenny Zhou, who makes the case that Asian Americans are facing some of the worst reverse discrimination, um, because of the spread of diversity inclusion and equity and critical race theory. Um, have you seen that, do you feel like you, Speaker 1 00:44:32 That was part of what initially motivated me to speak out on this, that I was seeing particularly young Asian men getting discriminated against, and that was, you know, not okay with me, but a couple of the other things I want to say first about the terminology. I wouldn't use the term reverse discrimination. So to me, discrimination is discrimination. It doesn't have a directionality, uh, they were just discriminated against as a general thing, but then the other thing is it's particularly inappropriate with Asians because at least in this country, they weren't doing the discriminating at any point. Right. So what does it mean reverse discrimination? They were discriminated against the a hundred years ago for one reason. And now they're being discriminated against now for some, for another reason. So there's that, and then the other thing I want wanted, did you ever read the book Moneyball? Speaker 0 00:45:18 No. Speaker 1 00:45:19 Okay. So it's about how the Oakland A's around 20 years ago were able to perform much better than they should have for the amount of money they spent, uh, based on analyzing who has the talent to win games rather than who looks good. And so it turned out that, uh, that fat guys, ugly fat guys who are bad at defense, and you don't get very many hits, but who walk a lot are really good at producing runs in baseball and they're undervalued. And so I think you could say that Asian men are the equivalent in academics right now that there they are being undervalued. And so there's an opportunity out there for someone I wouldn't recommend hiring based on those characteristics, but there, there are undervalued assets floating around. Speaker 0 00:46:15 Uh, so, you know, you've written about, um, the importance of treating people as, uh, individuals. Um, you, I think wrote in that article that treating poor people as members of a group, rather than as individuals, uh, will repeating the same mistake that may possibly be trustees of 20th century. So that really resonated with me because of the society. Um, the philosophy of objectivism is, um, very much focused on the issue of individualism versus collectivism. So for many of the people that are listening and watching the sign, Rand who, uh, helped to cement that concept for them, um, I'm wondering like, uh, were there, um, influences books, you may have read you, you mentioned you, you read, uh, um, the coddling of the American mind. Were there, were there other, um, teachers, or was it just the way you were raised and Speaker 1 00:47:20 What makes Speaker 0 00:47:20 Sense Speaker 1 00:47:21 In terms of consistency between my take and the objectivist perspective? I would say hi, Eric is, has been influential on me. So it's shocking to me how under red and under appreciated Hayak is. And he really lays all this stuff out in the, uh, Speaker 0 00:47:40 Road to serfdom Speaker 1 00:47:41 Road to serfdom yeah. On our rent. I've also enjoyed her work and, uh, both of them, by the way, how to use Chicago connection, there were faculty here for some time. Uh, so those are good, uh, thinkers that are rough contemporaries of rent and, uh, you know, could sort of fit under this umbrella Objectivists term in some way. But then where I diverge, I would say from objectivism is I'm coming from a Christian perspective, philosophical and theological. And in that perspective, it's the, uh, the fact that humans are made in the image of God. It gives every person inherent dignity, and it's, it's, it's there for your moral and in going against God to discriminate against people and to treat them without dignity. And so to me, that's, that's an important point. And I think, or that I like who is good at explaining that at sort of a high philosophical level of as Bishop Barron, he has, he has a number of really good books and podcasts that you could check out. Speaker 0 00:48:45 All right. We definitely will. Um, so you you've mentioned your parents and, uh, your mother is a social worker. My mother is a social worker, my dad's an academic, your father's a teacher and a carpenter. Um, and that they rose you with a sense of self esteem and, um, uh, courage to have, you know, in popular opinions to think for yourself. But that has now in your maturity led you to sometimes disagree. I mean like my parents and I are polar opposites opposites politically. So I'm wondering if you have any tips on how you deal with it. We just don't talk about anything. Speaker 1 00:49:31 Yeah, well, I think we're probably a little more in that category. I mean, but another thing is it wasn't like we talked about politics every day when I was a kid, you know, it just wasn't that, uh, Speaker 0 00:49:43 Possibly Speaker 1 00:49:44 A dinner table subject. Uh, but yeah, my parents are much more on the left wing and I'm, I'm actually pretty much in the center. Uh, in the last election I used this, uh, I use the, I like to use this, what do you call it? Who do I side with website where you answer a bunch of questions and it says your overlap. And then we'll do is I have a Python algorithm and I put in my overlap with each candidate and then it, uh, stochastically assigns my vote, uh, with a weighting based on the overlap. Does that make sense? I will. I won't randomly based on the weighting and the reason I do that is because it seems more fair. Like sometimes you're like I'm 60% for this guy and 40% for that guy. And it feels wrong to give all of my, all of my vote to one guy so that I have a four and 10 chance of voting for the other guy. Speaker 1 00:50:36 Anyways, in the last election, I was 50.5% for Biden and 49.5% for Trump. So I'm right in the middle of the country, which is funny because in the university context, people are like, you know, they think I'm like this wild right. Winger, but anyways, yeah. So when that comes up with, I mean, my parents and I can engage in discussions about this stuff. They're very reasonable people, but we, it's just not the main subject we talk about. I have a, especially now because I have a young, a baby daughter and so pretty much that's all they want. They don't even want to look at me. They want to her, when we talk on the, uh, on the iPhone, Speaker 0 00:51:18 That's adorable. All right. Well, we're just got a few more minutes here. We've got a question about, uh, your science and, uh, talking about space, James Carmen on Facebook asks, are you bullish that we'll be colonizing Mars during our lifetimes, uh, doing on the ground geological work. Speaker 1 00:51:41 So I'm not an expert in that. Uh, so I, I can't give you a opinion. That's much better than anybody else. All, I would say it because that's really an engineering problem essentially. And so, you know, it's just not something that I work on. It's also a sort of like economics and social problem. Like I think it's totally possible we could do that, but are we going to in the next 30 or 40 years? I don't know. Uh, my understanding is that you on Musk says he plans to die on Mars, not an impact. You know, he, he's much better placed to evaluate that than I am. And he seems to think it's it's doable and that it will be done. So I guess I would say I'm slightly more than 50%. So that would happen in the next 30 or 40 years, but take it with a grain of salt because I'm not an expert. Speaker 0 00:52:33 And you are also, uh, you do a lot of work on climate science, climate change. Speaker 1 00:52:40 Yeah. I mean, mostly I teach that for the undergrads. So what I would say about that, I actually have an article called conservation is conservative. And I try to go through like all the arguments from a conservative perspective for why you should at least pay attention to climate change. And so the fundamental one, this is probably different from this is a much more conservative argument than an objectivist type of argument. But, uh, a Burke would say, you know, we don't want to change society drastically because society has come to a, a good equilibrium over thousands of years. And if you just start lopping off parts, like, you know, better than everybody else, bad things are gonna happen, like the French revolution. Okay. So you can apply that argument to climate change. And then, uh, but I go through a bunch of different types of arguments. Speaker 1 00:53:27 The ones that might resonate most with your listeners are, uh, for business conservatives. Uh, if you run a big corporation, uh, it turns out that if you do a cost benefit analysis and you take into account the fact that there could be, there's a low probability chance of a KA KA KA more catastrophic stuff, it's a low probability, but if you take that into account, it can change your cost benefit analysis. And then for libertarians, the argument is, uh, if you care about property, and this is something where the collective by emitting the, the CO2 could damage individual's property, that's something that you should care about, but here's oh, a link to the article. Yeah, it's called conservation is conservative, uh, Speaker 1 00:54:20 Which is a great magazine you should all know about that are U Chicago undergrads organized with the libertarian and conservative perspective. Of course, they're not very popular on campus, but, uh, anyways, so here's what I would say about, here's my take on the climate change thing over the past 170 years, just from going around with thermometers and writing down the temperature, things that we can measure accurately. We know that the temperature, the global mean temperature has increased by a little, under two degrees Fahrenheit. We also know just for measurements, uh, from 1960 that the carbon dioxide level has increased by about 50% over that period. So we have good measurements from 1960, just in the air. And before that we have little air bubbles trapped in ice. So that's how we know what the carbon dioxide was in the past. And we know from basic rated of physics, like the sort of stuff that's allowing us to communicate right now through our wifi or through cell phones and things like that. Speaker 1 00:55:15 This is about the temperature change we would expect. So everything's consistent with CO2 increases, causes the observed temperature increase, uh, and the CO2 increases caused by humans, burning fossil fuels. That stuff is all rock solid. The question is what's gonna happen in the future. There's a huge amount of uncertainty about what's going to happen in the future from a scientific perspective, because it's difficult to forecast that, particularly because it depends on cloud behavior, which is small scale and difficult to model. And then there's a much bigger uncertainty about what the human impact would be. And what, if anything we should do about this problem. So the uncertainty about the future climate is something that's actively being worked on. I've done a little work on it. It's not my field of expertise. And then what we should do about it is it is not my field at all. That's just not my department. And so I don't like to speculate on things that I don't know anything about. And so that, that's sort of where I sit on that. Speaker 0 00:56:15 Well, uh, we also had a couple of recent guests on the show, Michael Shellenberger and, uh, Steve Koonin. So we've put drinks Speaker 1 00:56:24 Shellenberger is basically arguing that we should be doing more nuclear and he's got his reasons and Koonin, I think everything I just said, Koonin would agree with everything I just said. And then he would argue that there's this cloud uncertainty. And there's reason to believe that the lower end of the climate sensitivity is more accurate. I, I that's how I, what I think when would argue. Speaker 0 00:56:49 Yeah. I think one of my biggest takeaways from his book unsettled was that, um, the what's said in the reports and in the UN climate reports, what's then summarized, um, and their summaries don't, don't always match. And, um, it's impossible to read the 500 page report, uh, but they're kind of summarized in a way to be easily understood, but also to be a little bit, um, more newsworthy. And we know that things that are newsworthy tend to be a little bit more frightening. And then what gets them interpreted in terms of how it plays in the media. Um, yeah, Speaker 1 00:57:30 And that third thing is very important, how it ends up getting reported. But I think there's a danger with doing that as scientists. It's something that we should resist. There's a danger with thinking, ah, well, this is what I want the public to do. So I'm going to sort of tell the story that gets them to do that. Whether or not it's the actual evidence, the biggest danger is people just stop taking it seriously. And you saw that with the COVID stuff, right? Speaker 0 00:57:52 Absolutely. Speaker 1 00:57:53 Uh, but the, the other is of science becomes viewed as political rather than just a, you know, uh, unbiased statement of facts and conclusions. It's really bad for science long-term. Uh, and so I try to resist that, to resist doing that as much as possible. And I, I recommend that to other scientists. And the other thing, one more thing, people aren't dummies so inherent in that perspective is like, we, we, the elite, we've got it all figured out and you dummy just have to like, you know, we can't trust you with the real information. And I much more prefer the perspective where you say like, this is what we figured out. You guys don't happen to be scientists, but we know you're smart people and, you know, you'll trust that you'll make the best decision. That's my perspective. Speaker 0 00:58:45 Yeah. I think if we can't trust the people with freedom, then why should we trust the experts and the leaders with power? So, um, well, this has been wonderful. Thank you so much. I know, uh, this is not a labor of love for you, but something that you feel strongly about. And I just commend the way that you're leading by example. And, uh, I hope that you'll, um, others will be able to hear your story and say, you know, this is what happened to this guy. This is what they tried to do to him. He's still standing. And, um, if anything, he's, he's got a bigger platform and he's more vocal. It's more passionate about it than even before. So, uh, we really appreciate it and we appreciate you, um, understand we can follow you on Twitter And, Speaker 1 00:59:34 Um, gory and out of that, I think is my name, my Twitter handle Speaker 0 00:59:38 Great. We'll put that in the, uh, in the chat and appreciate it and hope that we can do something together on campus with some of our faculty. Speaker 1 00:59:47 Great. Yeah, it was really fun chatting. Thank you. Speaker 0 00:59:50 Thank you. Appreciate it.

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