Monday, August 13, 2007

The Furies

In several recent comment threads, Group of 88 members and/or their sympathizers have suggested that non-specialists even describing the work of Group members (something that, after all, requires only reading comprehension skills) is unacceptable and contrary to academic practice.

Given this fury, an outsider to academics doubtless would believe that professors from outside the candidate’s field are never put in a position to comment upon, much less evaluate, the candidate’s scholarship.

As the Group defenders are full aware, this claim is absurd. Duke, like most academic institutions, has non-departmental review committees as part of its tenure process. At Duke, the Committee is called the Advisory Committee on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure.

Below is the relevant passage from the Faculty Handbook (admittedly, not the Group’s favorite document) describing the advisory committee. (See chapter three; the required "diversity" consideration is also worth noting.) As its composition makes clear, most of the committee’s members would not come from the field of the candidate—yet their decisions have a major effect on the candidate’s career.

All appointments and promotions that confer tenure and promotions to the rank of professor shall be considered by the Advisory Committee on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure (AP&T), a group that advises the provost.

This committee is appointed by the provost and, in addition to the chair, consists of twelve full professors nominated by the Executive Committee of the Academic Council (ECAC) on the basis of scholarly distinction, aptitude for service on this demanding committee, and availability for the term involved. In making nominations, ECAC shall seek balance among divisions, schools, and academic disciplines within the faculty. Normally at least two members will come from the Arts and Sciences Division of Humanities, two from the Division of Social Sciences, two from the Division of Natural Sciences, one from the Pratt School of Engineering, one from the Fuqua School of Business, one from the basic medical sciences, and three from these or other units, subject to review. The chair shall be a faculty member nominated by ECAC and appointed by the provost. The chair will be appointed for a one year term, renewable. The president, the provost, and the dean of the Graduate School will serve as nonvoting ex-officio members of the committee.

The Advisory Committee on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure is charged with evaluating the dossiers forwarded to it, consistent with standards enunciated in this document. If the AP&T Committee has questions about materials in the dossier, or if it lacks certain documentation, the committee will ask the chair, director of the program, or dean of the originating unit for clarification or additional materials. The AP&T Committee may supplement the outside letters received about a candidate with additional letters or reports from evaluators who are competent to judge the candidate's scholarship. Should the AP&T Committee decide, in its sole discretion, that it needs additional advice, it reserves the option to establish an ad hoc panel to review the dossier. This panel may gather additional information, if necessary, and will be asked to provide the AP&T Committee with a written evaluation. Panel members will be selected on the basis of their knowledge of the candidate's field and an overall balance of perspectives. One or more panel members may be Duke faculty, and it is typical to include at least one member from another institution. An AP&T Committee member normally will serve as liaison between the ad hoc panel and the AP&T Committee. In the case of current Duke faculty being evaluated for tenure the chair (or director) of the originating academic unit and dean will meet with the AP&T Committee to discuss significant issues raised in the course of the evaluation; in the case of external tenure candidates or internal candidates for promotion to full professor such interviews may be scheduled at the AP&T Committee’s discretion.

Individual faculty members may write to the AP&T Committee (or to the provost, who will refer such letters to the AP&T Committee) with regard to any case being considered by that committee. Such communications will be added to the dossier and kept confidential.

The Advisory Committee on Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure must then formulate its own recommendations for presentation to the provost. In general, a quorum requires nine voting members unless a sufficient number of votes, affirmative or negative, has been cast to represent an absolute majority (seven) of the committee. A recommendation should be considered definitive only if it has been supported, affirmatively or negatively, by vote of an absolute majority (seven) of the AP&T Committee. In the event the AP&T Committee's recommendation is negative, the provost will review the dossier (prior to notification of the candidate or department) to determine whether all factors relating to the merit and value of the candidate, including ethnic, racial, and gender diversity, have been fully and adequately considered.

The provost will inform the AP&T Committee of his or her decision. Should the provost choose not to accept the recommendation made by the AP&T Committee, the provost shall so inform the committee in writing and indicate the basis for the decision.

The provost will communicate to the appropriate dean his or her decision and the major factors underlying it. The dean of the school is responsible for transmitting this information to the head of the originating academic unit (e.g., department chair), if there is one, and either the dean or chair will communicate this to the candidate. If the Provost intends to render a negative decision on a case already considered by the AP&T Committee, or a case that has not received a positive recommendation from the department, the Provost will inform the candidate, the departmental chair and the relevant dean. An appeal of the Provost’s impending decision, from any or all of these three parties, may then be made within the following two weeks, submitted through the Dean. The Provost will also provide a copy of the official APT memo summarizing the case and the deliberations of the APT Committee, or of the chair’s review summary. If the Provost intends to act contrary to a positive recommendation from the APT Committee, the Provost must provide the basis for this decision. On the basis of this appeal, the provost may then either refer the case back to the AP&T Committee, including the departmental appeal, and ask for reconsideration of its recommendation or make his or her decision without referral. On any one case the originating academic unit, school, and/or candidate is limited to one appeal of the decision to the provost.

Generally if a candidate’s tenure dossier is forwarded by the academic unit, the AP&T Committee will consider the candidate only once. Thus, a faculty member whose tenure review is undertaken by the AP&T Committee during his or her initial contract term, and who is turned down for tenure by the University, shall be allowed to complete the term of the original appointment, but his or her tenure track appointment shall not be renewed or extended. However, a tenure track faculty member who has been turned down for tenure by the University may apply during an authorized national search for an existing non-tenure track position at Duke.

When the provost's recommendation is favorable, the provost shall consult with the president. With the president's approval, the provost shall submit the recommendation to the Board of Trustees for final action.

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

"In making nominations, ECAC shall seek balance among divisions, schools, and academic disciplines within the faculty."

KC,

Is this a weighted formula?

Eric

Anonymous said...

I don't see how any of
this relates to the corrupt
elected officials downtown
in wonderland.

Anonymous said...

KC said: "As its composition makes clear, most of the (APT) committee’s members would not come from the field of the candidate—yet their decisions have a major effect on the candidate’s career."

Actually, NO ONE from the department or exact field of the candidate can be involved. If it is a physics case, the physicist on the APT, if there is one, MUST recuse and absent him/her self. Thus since the committee is smaller than the number of departments, there is a real premium placed by the Provost on getting faculty to serve who have an understanding of multiple areas, who read widely, and who think across disciplines.

rod allison, detroit said...

After reading some of the comments on this blog, I can imagine what some of the reviews on Amazon.com will be like once the book hits.

If the advanced praise from Strosser, Will, Kinsley, Grisham, etc. is any indication, there will be an abundance of 5 star reviews.

But there will doubtless be the usual 1 star reviews from people who didn't read the book.

The G88ers and their sympathizers will weigh in, as will remaining true believers with idiotic 1 star reviews saying "something happened" and "these guys aren't choirboys."

Thats OK. It takes about 3 seconds to determine whether or not a reviewer read the book. Besides, I'll read it myself and make up my own mind.

Anonymous said...

I know the algorithms for splitting lightwaves, and can explain them (and how light works) to a 7th grader who can comprehend it. But for the life of me, I don't have a clue as to what a lot from the G88 says. We can learn a lot from Forrest Gump in this instance. "Stupid is as stupid does." WOOF
cmf

One Spook said...

In the event the AP&T Committee's recommendation is negative, the provost will review the dossier (prior to notification of the candidate or department) to determine whether all factors relating to the merit and value of the candidate, including ethnic, racial, and gender diversity, have been fully and adequately considered. [my emphasis]

Ah, the trump card!

If you just read that, there is no need to read or consider any of the preceeding babble.

One Spook

bill anderson said...

I always love it when faux "scholars" try to convince the rest of us that they are so brilliant and their "scholarship" so advanced that mere mortals (or other Ph.D.s) cannot comprehend their Great Works. Thus, if the Great Unwashed cannot comprehend the greatness of their utterings, then the Great Unwashed cannot sit in judgment of them, either.

I'm sorry. Rants like "Bodies of Evidence" are so pathetic that one would expect more from children. And Holloway supposedly is one of the more accomplished G88. William Chafe's "Emmett Till" narrative is so over-the-top that one wonders what kind of profession would give him such honor as has been given him.

No doubt, those members of the G88 who are not yet tenured don't have to worry, as the standards for them are so low that all they have to do is to stay the requisite seven years and automatically be granted tenure.

Anonymous said...

These G88 types are why schools need the short bus.....

Gary Packwood said...

I become positively giddy when organizations put their stuff up on the web.

It is so much fun to watch the royalists and fakers first strike out and the run for cover when it becomes apparent that they really don't own organizational secrets anymore.

I'll bet lunch that before April 2006 marginal faculty at Duke did not know that the Faculty Handbook was up on the web.

Bloggers should check out your municipal and country government web sites where, slowly but surly 'secrets' are posted for everyone to read.

Can we expect a 311 telephone system soon at universities such as we see in larger urban cities?

Keep the sunshine focused on the mold, KC. Many good faculty members at Duke appreciate the help.
::
GP

AMac said...

The old saw comes to mind:

"When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both are against you, attack the plaintiff."

KC, you are a crotchety old man who snarls through each day, because the finer sort of people won't invite you to their parties. The bitter residue of your tenure fight (which you should have lost) has scarred your psyche and turned you against your betters. Your unrequited jealousy is giving you ulcers. Only an Intervention followed by a Confession can help you now (I should know--I read a book on psychotherapy once!). Also, your mother wears army boots.

I only hope that my ad hominem attack is every bit as persuasive as the similarly penetrating analyses posted by other Group apologists.

Anonymous said...

Face it: the quality of education in the U.S. is shown in this exercise. Buffoons like the G88 are given positions of respect and made to believe their opinions actually mean something. The rest of us "unwashed" must bow our heads and accept their superiority because they are "professors" at colleges and universities. As Kim Roberts said early on "this is a crock."

Anonymous said...

amac - douchebag says what?

Anonymous said...

A few of the early chapters on academic politics in C S Lewis' That Hideous Stregth are highly relevant to those perspiring under Mr. Johnson's spotlight. Good resides on campus, but so does Evil. The 88 haters would fit right into Mr. Lewis brilliant satire of academics on the dark side.
Cheers, JLJr.

Ryan said...

If we mere mortals can't comment (or even describe) on the scholarship of the G88's work because we're not experts, then should not the G88 have refrained from expressing opinions on the Lacrosse case since, as far as I know, they weren't experts in every field touched on within that advertisement?

Anonymous said...

6:02 PM

There you go again . . . nebbisch.
Nothing to say, nothing to do . . . only to grow up and quit being you without your sophomoric ways and your language too, please.

Anonymous said...

5:37 PM

There you go again. All KCis doing is holding up a mirror to Duke. It was Duke which settled out of court. Even the school itself had to acknowledge failure on its part to deal with its faculty and its rules and its obligations to its students. The fact is someone else has had to carry the load for you again. You inhabit a special place throwing brickbats at the whole world with none of the real responsibility for what you do and say. If you were held responsible for your words and deeds, you and the Group88 wouldn't behave the way you do. Your own students tried to halt this nastiness by trying to vote and you and yours equated this to rascism. How dare you.

inman said...

For those who cannot or do not appreciate satire or irony ... study 5:37.

One Spook said...

[note to amac at 5:37]:

Ummm, amac?

Apparently a few headscratchin' folks didn't *get* your satire.

Good post, anyway!

One Spook

Anonymous said...

I don't think many outside special areas of physics could understand the general theory of relativity when it came out, but I doubt Einstein had to fall back on "if you aren't one of the insiders, you are too stupid to comment" as the G88 do. Good work has legs and stands on it own.

Bill Alexander

One Spook said...

Perspective.

As many loyal Duke grads have pointed out in these comments, the "evil" that was done in the lacrosse burning at Duke was perpetrated by a very small percentage of a better and largely effective academy of scholars that is Duke.

Yet I am sympathetic with all who condemn Duke University, because what happened was in essence, two tragedies ... one from a small, evil group and the other from an administration too feckless to defend the honor of the legitimate Duke academy.

The first tragedy was the words and actions of the Klan of 88.

Under whatever right you prefer, "Freedom of Speech" or "Academic Freedom", the Klan of 88 had the right to say what they said and to do what they did. But, as is often ignored by those quick to seek the shelter of rights, Duke has the right to proclaim that what the Klan of 88 did and said is an anathema to the best traditions of Duke, the academy as a whole, and the American system of law and freedoms.

In many respects, that the administration of Duke has done nothing to censure this very dangerous Klan of 88 is the greater tragedy.

One Spook

Anonymous said...

No, no, no, KC. Again, this is all misdirection and nonsense.

No one is saying you can't desribe their work. We're only saying you do it very, very badly.

mb said...

One Spook: You beat me to it re. the section you cited. Yep, that's the trump card and all we need to know vis-a-vis the 'why' and 'how' the G88 got their tenure: "Diversity," aka affirmative action. No matter how lame their scholarship, it doesn't matter - "diversity" is the trump card in the contemporary academy when it comes to hiring, promotion and tenure, especially in Angry Studies.

Keep shining the light KC. Us hayseeds and other members of the 'unwashed masses' are counting on you.

Anonymous said...

"P3wned" is no longer nearly strong enough. "Absolute domination" falls short. They're his "be-yotch" is close, but no cigar.

I believe we need a visual; perhaps a photoshopped poster of K.C. Johnson dunking on the entire Gang of 88 at once, unless he has already done that and somebody had a camera at hand.

If there is no such actual poster yet available, I would suggest a spinning 360 windmill dunk in the photoshopped version.
______________

95% of the Gang of 88 (and Gang of 88-Symp) posting involves ad hominem attacks. 4.998% involve actual, though feeble, attempts at argument. These have been soundly (and immediately) rebutted by the Professor. .002% involve actual beefs for which K.C. Johnson has honorably apologized and amended.

The irony fights with the hypocrisy to gain the upper-hand in my mind's eye when thinking about the Gang.
______________


To Bill Alexander: That was what I was thinking as well. I would recuse myself for reasons of stupidity if I was asked to sit on any academic review board dealing with physics, mathematics, engineering, biology, chemistry and any branch related to the others mentioned above. But this Duke Angry Studies stuff is no harder to understand than an hour-long episode of Dr. Phil.
______________

"34,344 points; 11,329 rebounds; 7,324 assists; 42,422 blog post ups" - K.C. Johnson's NBA career stats. MOO! Gregory

Anonymous said...

So that is where some bloggers got that idea. The 88 = who would have thought.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time commenting on a blog, although I have been religiously following the case on this site and multiple others. I am a Duke grad, and I have a child very interested in attending my alma mater. In regard to the behavior and scholarship of the 88 faculty, I have the following opinions to share...

1) I disagree that the "listening statement" specifically condemmed the lacrosse players. It certainly implied guilt and assumed facts not in evidence, but it was hardly alone in doing so, and was not the worst. Rather, it took advantage of a flashpoint to promote an agenda of victimhood for minorities on campus, analagous to a speaker at an open mike standing up and going off topic to promote their own agenda rather than addressing the issue at hand. It was offensive and juvenile, but not very persuasive.

2) It seems to me that faculty like these can be found at most major universities, focusing on bizarre perspectives and negatively defined philosophies like "queer theory". Under Stanley Fish, Duke jumped headfirst into the pool of muddied anti-intellectualism, and the ripples are evident today.

3) I am gratified that bigots like Farred and Baker have left Duke, and I hope that the environment becomes inhospitable for the likes of cooke, Holloway, and Lubiano. I think the most effective means to influence the university to clean up its act is to maintain exposure in blogs like this, that can inspire alums like me to voice their concerns, and for students to vote with their feet, boycotting courses taught by these charlatans. I am sure their educational experience will be the richer for doing so.

4) I am extremely disappointed in the tepid/absent response of the administration to the bad behavior and absent scholarshop of their own faculty. Brodhead has a big hole to climb out of, but I am still willing to give him the opportunity to do so, and hope that this crisis inspires a thorough examination out of the public eye that results in a better university. I further hope that Duke's experience will cause other campuses to proactively examine their ranks for similar faux academics and kick them to the curb. Our universities have unfortunately become havens of refuge for these marginal types who have nothing positive to contribute to society. Keep the sunshine on them, I say.

If anyone feels compelled to respond, you can refer to me as "Walldancer"

KC Johnson said...

To the 7.47:

As with the definition of "marginal" and top-flight scholar, it appears that this claim, too, is ever-changing. Now, it seems, I do have the ability to comment on scholarship outside my field, and only have performed the task poorly.

While several of the Group profile comments have suggested that the posts took (unnamed) quotes "out of context" or featured commentary outside my area of specialty, none of these comments, to my knowledge, ever pointed out a specific way in which I had erroneously described the Group's work.

When my students write term papers, I encourage them to produce strong arguments but also to supply specific pieces of evidence proving their point. I'm afraid saying over and over again the posts take Group members' quotes "out of context" without providing any examples thereof--or saying that the posts describe a Group member's book or articles "badly" without providing any specific examples--would be considered a rather ineffective argument.

Anonymous said...

KC,

I think 7:47, by "badly" meant competently and with great insight... like when my teenagers say "you are bad!"

Just gotta keep up with the kids, man.

Anonymous said...

Professor

Where do you plan to go to promote your book? Do you have a media schedule?

Will you appear on black radio/TV?

Will Larry King talk to you? I'm curious how the media will respond to you, given the unPC message you'll be delivering.

This book would be perfect for Oprah. Have you discussed appearing on show with her producers?

locomotive Breath said...

As I am an engineer, KC is unqualified to comment on the technical merit of my scholarly publications, as indeed, I am unqualified to comment on his. But we both have those publications.

But any academic can draw a conclusion about a professor with little or no publishing record or published items that are simply unreadable.

locomotive Breath said...

With regard to a book tour you should try "The Regulator" in Durham. They are a little bit of Berkeley in Durham, but were open-minded enough to host Pressler. The also sold out their entire stock (300) of books.

Anonymous said...

I too am an alumnus and the parent of an alumnus. I agree that the 88 had the RIGHT to say what they did, but they also have the RESPONSIBILITY for what they said. Once the statement blew up in their face, their response was that we ordinary folks just didn't understand. They tell KC even he, a fellow Ph.D., cannot understand their scholarly efforts. Their refusal to acknowledge their errors normally would diminish their authority; however, Brodhead refuses to even discuss their behavior, including that of Kim Curtis in failing students because of their identity and not their scholarship. This continued refusal persuades me that their is no appetite among the BOT and the administration to address the excesses of the 88. If so, such beahvior will be repeated.--Buddy

Anonymous said...

Troublemakers have caused this comment page to lose a lot of ben├╝tzerfreundlichkeit. Oh, well.

Those KC profiles here singled themselves out by participating in a morally dubious event, then further standing behind their action. The profilees thus stained themselves and do NOT deserve to be judged without prejudice. KC's critics willfully do not understand.

So far as defensive arguments about the "scholarly work" of this bunch go, uneducated as I am, I've rarely had difficulty gleaning some comprehension from anyone who sincerely wanted to make themselves understood. Obfuscative BS, and/or saying nothing at great length, are not that hard to spot.

-- No, not that Glenn

allen said...

I have taught at a major university in the sciences. With that perspective I will offer a few comments:

1. Even if one works in the most technical fields, if you cannot explain your work to people outside your field in a clear way, there is something fundamentally wrong with your scholarship. The profiles KC wrote motivated me to look at web pages for those profiled and I was surprised just how thin their records were and how they failed to even attempt to offer such explanations.


2. Good scholarship must address problems of intellectual significance and/or societal importance. The topics these scholars choose to address do not meet this fundamental criteria.

3. Academic freedom and department autonomy in hiring and tenure are foundational principles of great importance to the functioning of a university. It both allows academics to forge forward in new significant directions that may not be welcomed by the the society at large or may allow cliques of academics to pursue and perpetuate work of dubious quality (e.g. failure to achieve points 1. and 2.). You have to take the bad with the good.

4. The public examination of dubious scholarship can only have positive effect on academic freedom and the health of our universities. The lack of serious, signed responses to KC remarks is very telling.

inman said...

Dear Walldancer,

As I said earlier, it is heartening to know that others are as concerned about the value system as I am. I fully understand that others may not agree with me. I fully understand that my sense of right or wrong may not be adjudged the best. But I, for one, surely appreciate your entry into the dialogue.

Thank you.

Tom Inman '74

inman said...

...ben├╝tzerfreundlichkeit?

huh?

Big smile!

no justice, no peace said...

I need a drink. #1 daughter announced tonight that she wants to apply to Duke - early admission. Yikes, I bit a hole in my cheek keeping my mouth shut.

Why? Out of the respect I have for the alumae I've met and I have a few months to encourage her elsewhere.

Will she get in? Don't know, but she has a fighting chance.

Will we let her attend if accepted? That remains to be seen, but I shall surely make the case against attending.

Why? Because of the Klan of 88? No, she has more sense than that, otherwise I doubt she would get accepted.

What is my concern? The total lack of leadership, transparency, and governance.

We'll see.

Baby doll, where's the scotch?

no justice, no peace said...

By the way, I am confident that any pressure tendered by my wife and father-in-law will evaporate after they read K.C.'s book.

One Spook said...

Walldancer at 8:11 thoughtfully comments:

I disagree that the "listening statement" specifically condemmed the lacrosse players. It certainly implied guilt and assumed facts not in evidence, but it was hardly alone in doing so, and was not the worst.

I happen to believe it clearly condemned the players, but let's assume your point that it didn't specifically condemn them (and I do agree it wasn't the worst in content) is true.

To me the fact that this statement was supposed to have originated with several "departments" and named professors, "specific" or not, carries a lot more weight than some of the other random vitrol and racist statements from jealous students and preachers from the "Church of What's Happening Now."

Reasonable people would anticipate that those random comments might emulate from crackpots in many corners, but this rush to judgment and condemnation (at whatever temperature you pick) is far more damanging in that it is a damning statement, unprecedented in the academy, coming from actual professors of these students.

If one accepts even a modicum of in loco parentis responsibility of professors toward their students, then this statement, and the ensuing actions of this Klan of 88 is tantamount to the student's own parents marching to the DA's office to proclaim guilt.

It is their role that makes even a "non-specific," offensive, and juvenile commentary all the more devestating.

One Spook

inman said...

njnp @ 9:46

May I suggest several alternatives...the University of Richmond, the Univesity of Virginia or Lafayette College.

All are top notch.

The University of Richmond is one of the best small universities in the country and its setting and campus is among the best. Richmond also offers some great benefits such as the Virginia Museaum of Fine Arts, the Science Museum of Virginia, and god-knows-how-many historical resources, not the least of which is the Virgnia Historical Society.

The University of Virginia is a great university with a tradition that has not been totally corrupted by agenda driven politics. Charlottesville was (and I suppose still is) a wonderfull place to live and the blend of the best of Virginia with the best of the nation is unique.

Lafayette College (which I did not know until my son found it) is a gem. It is small with only about 2,600 undergrads, but it is considered one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country. It also boasts an incredibly good engineering school. In retrospect, I may have been better served at Lafayette as opposed to Duke.

don t. said...

Loco Breath at 8:54

There are "Arts" and there are "Sciences"....I do not think you should confuse the two. While I would not begin to render a judgement on the technical merits of an engineering treatese (I am an accountant), I think an opinion on the worth of a thesis concerning the sexual habits of Aztec males under five feet tall with one blue eye and one brown eye is well within my pervue, particularly in the context of a $45,000+ "education" at my alma mater.

I really think that these pieces by K.C. describing the intellectual bankruptcy of these clowns are providing an invaluable service...but I am dying of embarassment and humiliation.

trinity60

Steven Horwitz said...

Allen at 931 writes:

1. Even if one works in the most technical fields, if you cannot explain your work to people outside your field in a clear way, there is something fundamentally wrong with your scholarship. The profiles KC wrote motivated me to look at web pages for those profiled and I was surprised just how thin their records were and how they failed to even attempt to offer such explanations.

You make two points here. The first I totally agree with - but I wouldn't expect a scholar to try to explain his/her work to the non-expert on a webpage. One place they have to do that is in the classroom. It would be interesting to know if the most esoteric of the G88 can convey their ideas to undergraduates.

The thinness of their records is a separate issue. No argument from me there in a number of cases.

2. Good scholarship must address problems of intellectual significance and/or societal importance. The topics these scholars choose to address do not meet this fundamental criteria.

I agree with your first sentence. I think your second sentence is something about which reasonable people could disagree, and it is an issue that different profiled members of the G88 are guilty of to different degrees. Holloway's work on Hurston totally meets your criteria - major A-A author (and one, btw, who is hardly politically correct if you've ever read her).

3. Academic freedom and department autonomy in hiring and tenure are foundational principles of great importance to the functioning of a university. It both allows academics to forge forward in new significant directions that may not be welcomed by the the society at large or may allow cliques of academics to pursue and perpetuate work of dubious quality (e.g. failure to achieve points 1. and 2.). You have to take the bad with the good.

This might be the single wisest thing anyone has said in the comments section of DiW in a long time. The very same commitments to academic freedom and autonomy, and tenure (which I have no great brief for) that produce cutting edge brilliance also produce trendy nonsense. You can't get one without the other, and to imagine that any person or group has the knowledge to know what lines of inquiry are valuable and which ones aren't before they are undertaken is the height of hubris. Were any of the conservatives here to argue for such a view, I would ask them why the same argument couldn't be made for centrally planning an economy or for gov't picking winners and losers.

All complex systems of discovery such as science and markets work through polycentric coordination (to use the scientist Michael Polanyi's term) and their whole reason for being is that we do not know a priori what choices are best. Same, LAXers, with athletic competition - the reason we play the game is to find out who's the best. Trying to say some lines of inquiry aren't worth pursuing ahead of time is like trying to declare one team the winner before the game is played.

4. The public examination of dubious scholarship can only have positive effect on academic freedom and the health of our universities. The lack of serious, signed responses to KC remarks is very telling.

Totally agreed. I find it unfortunate that so many defending the G88 so vigorously are unwilling to put their own names and reputations on the line in doing so. Scholars should have more confidence and openness than that.

Thanks for contributing Allen.

Steven Horwitz said...

NJNP:

All three of Inman's suggestions are good ones. I have a good friend in the econ dept at Lafayette, and he is a top scholar and excellent teacher.

Might as well check out St. Lawrence while you/she are at it too. ;)

no justice, no peace said...

In reading, "The Naturalist's Big Bend" by Roland Wauer and Carl Fleming, I came across the following passage which reminded me of the Klan of 88.

"Three sumacs occur in the park. None are poisonousm although another member of this family, Poisonivy (Toxiscodendrum radicans), can be found in a few protected and moist canyons along the base of the Chisos Mountains...Evergreen Sumac, ...Fragrant Sumac, ... and Littlefield Sumac...Wildlife eat the fruits of all three, and Indians made a lemonade-like drink from the fruits as well."

It seems to me the Klan of 88 and their abettors sre similar to poison ivy, while other tenure-stretched, unpopular studies may be more akin to the sumacs. One provides no value, has protected status, and can cause damage. The other, won't hurt you and even has some redeeming value. Of course the really top-notch professors are of a higher order and provide sustinance like a good apple.

It also reminded me of the watershed protection efforts that came out of Raliegh several years ago. In short everyone is for clean water, but these loons wanted set-back provisions of several hundred yards, on large acre tracts, with no basis for the ruling. They couldn't demonstrate that run-off at six inches was bad. Further they had no study to consider other environmental impact, like urban sprawl, traffic emissions, etc. Maybe NC should consider a similar ordinance that would keep the Klan of 88 away from students?

no justice, no peace said...

Inman, many thanks. We took her, with her brother on tours of Duke, W&L, Wake, and Vanderbilt the summer before last. We did not make it to UVA, Richmond, or Lafayette as he was not interested. She may. I must admit I am not familiar with Lafayette but am with both of the others.

I will put a bug in her ear. If she's interested, we may however, need to wait on the tours until the blues are running so we can take in some surf fishing at the outer banks.

It seems like only yesterday she wanted to go to college in Orlando because of the proximity to Disney World. Now we must contend with flying Mayan genitalia.

Anonymous said...

No--saying that your summaries are badly done is not an argument but rather an assertion.

It happens to be an assertion that is true. It is also true that it needs an argument, but others have started to do that work in comments below (for example, pointing out how you smear and obfuscate non-tenure and tenure stream faculty and only focus on the small fry instead of assessments of the big folk).

No college that I can think of would in their right mind put you on an APT committee--not because you hold certain cultural or political beliefs but rather because you so badly and baldly misrepresent the work of scholars who you're gunning for. Several comments over the last few entries have pointed out that once people go to your links they find that your characterizations are incomplete, incorrect, or untrustworthy. Once the mistake is pointed out--for example, about writing tenure-stream job descriptions and who crafts the hiring decisions of a department--you don't correct the mistake but simply say, 'oh well I guess I'll only link to one of the people (even though the rest of the names and glosses will remain the same),' and 'oh well, the header doesn't quite describe what i'm really doing but you know how it is.' Do you treat your colleagues at BC this way? I hope not.

no justice, no peace said...

Steven Horwitz...aren't we discussing central planning...the incestous nature of who hires the frauds...the questionable works...the questionable publications?

It seems to me, you make the case for and Adam Smith styled free market. Much like our technological achievements...eventually the good ideas rise to the top. The bad usually don't last very long, if at all.

By the way, why not have the best of the best deliver lectures universally? Why can't the best deliver to the multitudes instead of a small class? Of sorts that was the promise of television and is the promise of the Internet if it doesn't get mauled by the fairness doctrine.

Mad Hatter said...

Allen 9:31: Right On!!! K.C.'s standards as a researcher and documentor are old school-he "does it right." I am so tired of these individuals who add extra syllables, invent words, and use run-on sentences with unintelligible words to dupe the reader into thinking that " the writer is an intelllectual".

Let's get back to basics. People of average intelligence are not fooled by the gobbledegook of the group of 80 something. Let's fix this!!!

KC Johnson said...

To the 11.17:

I didn't seem to notice any specific examples where a post had inaccurately described a Group member's scholarship or taken a quote from a Group member's scholarship "out of context"--merely a plea that readers should look to (unnamed) comments in (unnamed) other threads.

I'm afraid that, in such circumstances, I would ask my students to engage in more research and supply specific examples to bolster their argument.

no justice, no peace said...

Thank you for the suggestion Steven Horwitz. Upstate is actually beautiful and I spent a week in Lake Ontairo and a few days in Rome last summer.

At this point her search appears to be wide opened so maybe she will have an interest.

Let's get down to brass tacks. How far are you from Saratoga?

Gary Packwood said...

Walldancer 8:11 said...

...I disagree that the "listening statement" specifically condemned the lacrosse players. It certainly implied guilt and assumed facts not in evidence, but it was hardly alone in doing so, and was not the worst. Rather, it took advantage of a flashpoint to promote an agenda of victimhood for minorities on campus, analogous to a speaker at an open mike standing up and going off topic to promote their own agenda rather than addressing the issue at hand. It was offensive and juvenile, but not very persuasive.
::
It certainly implied guilt and assumed facts not in evidence and ...it was written and posted by members of the FACULTY.

The people who are there to protect and support...students. All students.

And it was not the worst?

What possibly could be 'worst' than such a statement from the FACULTY...for goodness sake?
::
GP

Ralph Phelan said...

" Normally at least two members will come from the Arts and Sciences Division of Humanities, two from the Division of Social Sciences, two from the Division of Natural Sciences, one from the Pratt School of Engineering, one from the Fuqua School of Business, one from the basic medical sciences, and three from these or other units, subject to review."

You'd think this would be the 'adult supervision" needed to keep a department from going completely off the rails into some kind of groupthink nonsense. So why doesn't it work?

" In the event the AP&T Committee's recommendation is negative, the provost will review the dossier (prior to notification of the candidate or department) to determine whether all factors relating to the merit and value of the candidate, including ethnic, racial, and gender diversity, have been fully and adequately considered....
Should the provost choose not to accept the recommendation made by the AP&T Committee...."

Oh, that's why it doesn't work.

Who's Duke's provost again? How is the provost chosen?

no justice, no peace said...

inre: 11:17 "...not because you hold certain cultural or political beliefs but rather because you so badly and baldly misrepresent the work of scholars who you're gunning for..."

I'm again reminded of the church with the black congregation. The preacher rose and announced that he had a special surprise this beautiful Sunday morning. Instead of the gospel singing and clapping, he introduced a piccolo player for the weekly entertainment.

Not to long after the piccolo player began to play, someone in the audience yelled out, "the piccolo player is a mother- %$)$)@#".

Shocked everyone became silent and the preacher eyed the congregation. After noticing one man fidgeting, he asked, "Luther, are you the man who called my piccolo player a mother - $%$%@%?"

Luther reponded, "No Preacher, I am not the man who called your piccolo player a mother- $#%$#".

The preacher repeated this a couple of more times and then asked Larry, if he were the man who called his piccolo player a mother - @#$!%$%.

Larry stood, and said, "Preacher, I'm not the man who called your piccolo player a mother - $%@$%@. And, I'm not the man next to the man who called your piccolo player a mother - @$#%$%. And, I'm not the man next to the man, next to the man, who called your piccolo player a mother - #$%$%.

What I want to know is who called that mother - $%@$% a piccolo player?"

What I'd like to know is who calls these frauds Scholars?

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 11:17 said...

...you (KC) so badly and baldly misrepresent the work of scholars who you're gunning for. Several comments over the last few entries have pointed out that once people go to your links they find that your characterizations are incomplete, incorrect, or untrustworthy.
::
I read the works referenced by KC and I agree with his analysis.

I don't see that KC and that I am gunning for any scholar but rather I find myself watching what happens when such scholars gun themselves.

Scholars at Duke shoot themselves in the foot? Durham Diesel Tech perhaps but Duke? Who Knew?
::
GP

Ralph Phelan said...

Steven Horwitz said:

"All complex systems of discovery such as science and markets work through polycentric coordination (to use the scientist Michael Polanyi's term) and their whole reason for being is that we do not know a priori what choices are best. Same, LAXers, with athletic competition - the reason we play the game is to find out who's the best. Trying to say some lines of inquiry aren't worth pursuing ahead of time is like trying to declare one team the winner before the game is played."

For such systems to work failures must eventually be reduced in influence and eventually eliminated. That doesn't seem to be happening. In some cases such as the "angry studies" it's due to direct government intervention via affirmative action requirements distorting the "market of ideas".

But it looks to me like maybe there's something else going on: The Sokal hoax should have killed postmodernism and deconstructionism, yet they're still around. Is the system failing in this case too, or am I just too impatient?

One Spook said...

To Anon at 11:17

I have to agree that your comments, such as your now-tired "incomplete, incorrect, untrustworthy, badly, baldly" litnay could really use some examples.

For example, you could write something like, "Bill Clinton gave Monica Lewinsky a copy of Wahneema Lubiano's seminal collection of writings, "Pieces of Ass" ... that's how GOOD it was!"

One Spook

AMac said...

Anon 11:17pm --

Your comment was a great first draft! You've set out a thesis (the truth of the assertion that Johnson's summaries are badly done) and taken the first steps towards a more detailed outline (a. Johnson smears and obfuscates non-tenure and tenure stream faculty / b. Johnson focuses on the small fry / c. Johnson badly and baldly misrepresents the work of scholars who he's gunning for / d.,e.,f. Johnson's characterizations are incomplete, incorrect, or untrustworthy).

Now, think more about your intended audience! If it's Group of 88 apologists, your work is done--A+! But if you are trying to persuade skeptical people who have read the Listening Statement and clicked on the links within the D-i-W profiles, you have farther to go. And be careful--many in this latter audience will see Antonio Gramsci's "Long March Through The Institutions" as a corruption of Liberal ideals, rather than as the deserving triumph of the Vanguard.

In other words, you will have to frame your case in the hegemonistic language of logic, evidence, and citation. But don't be discouraged! Here are three hints to help you to a stronger second draft:

(1) Use the "cut" and "paste" functions of your computer to take actual examples of your outlined points (a. through f., above), and present them to your readers. Sometimes "show" is more persuasive than "tell."

(2) Web-log posts and comments often use something called a "hyperlink" to allow readers to access text and materials that strengthens the writer's case. Here is a tutorial on how to use the "anchor" tag. Or, consider using TinyURL.com links as a simpler alternative.

(3) If the blog comment seems like a paltry vessel for containing your finished essay, you can turn it into a full fledged blog post instead! Start a blog (how about anon1117showsKC.blogspot.com?). Then, use your new HTML skills (see 2, above) to leave a pointer to your post in D-i-W's comments! While Johnson's core readership may seem like kulaks, they are starved for intelligent, documented defenses of the actions and scholarship of the Group of 88. No worries--midwife that essay, and it'll get read and commented on.

Anon 11:17pm (and other Group apologists), I hope this perky critique helps you leave a few of those excess sneers on the cutting-room floor, and get that first-rate essay out the door. Your readership's waiting!

j.nc said...

When a "scholarly" passage or "argument" cannot pass the smell test of a causal observer then something is awry.

j.nc
- - - - - -
Science is simply common sense at its best that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.
Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-95) English biologist.


Shall I refuse my dinner because I do not fully understand the process of digestion?
Oliver Heaviside (1850-1925) English physicist.


Some things need to be believed to be seen.
Guy Kawasaki


...people today are so accustomed to pretentious nonsense that they see nothing amiss in reading without understanding, and many of them at length discover that they can without difficulty write in like manner themselves and win applause for it. And so it perpetuates itself.
G. A. Wells, 1991

j.nc said...

...people today are so accustomed to pretentious nonsense that they see nothing amiss in reading without understanding, and many of them at length discover that they can without difficulty write in like manner themselves and win applause for it. And so it perpetuates itself.
G. A. Wells, 1991

Topher said...

locomotive breath -

nice to see you on DiW, I liked your comments on the Stanford Daily story.

[/gratuitous shoutout]

Anonymous said...

To anon at 11:17

"...It is also true that it needs an argument...tenure stream faculty...small fry...big folk...No college that I can think of in their right mind put you on an APT committee...the work of scholars who you're gunning for..."

Did you learn to write at Duke?

-RD

Anonymous said...

The KC-bashers and the Duke University bashers have been commenting in droves today.

M. Simon said...

I know why ordinary people cannot understand the scholarly efforts of the gang of 88.

It is heavy on the math. Plus the plasma physics is a bitch. And the electron transport equations just lose me.

Oh? That is not it? No math?

OK I'll try again. Ordinary people do not understand English. That's it. You see when the gang write, English words have special meaning.

Let me give you the general idea. Up means down. Except when it means up. Perfectly clear. How do you tell which is which? In the context of the narrative. However, not just any narrative. It must be in the context of supporting the victim class against the victimizers.

Let us say you buy an air conditioner. Who sold it to you? An evil corporation. Who sells you the electricity to run it? Another evil corporation. All you want to do is chill and immediately you must be involved with evil. To remove this taint the government should own everything in order to eliminate victimization by the evil corporations. Cool, huh?

mb said...

11:17: I'm with the others here who politely ask "put up or shut up."

Please show us where KC has taken a G88 member's quote out of context and/or described their 'scholarship' inaccurately. It's one thing to repeatedly claim that his analyses are "very, very bad," but quite another to substantiate the argument with specific examples.

You say his summaries are "bad" - I say 'prove it.'

Oh, and since you seem to wish to go toe-to-toe with KC, it would add much to your credibility if you would sign your posts.

Anonymous said...

"Also, your mother wears army boots."


Army Boots are actually quite comfortable. most people would be surprised. I speak from experience as a active duty LtCol.

I must ask though, can anyone explain to me exactly what the scholars in the AAS or gender studies departments produce? Is there some kind of measurable, tangible product? For the life of me I cant figure out why I would want my children to sit through such drivel.

Dear Sirs and madams of the G88. how could you possibly suck that hard, I mean that's some serious jackassery right there.

Steven Horwitz said...

NJNP:

Farther from Saratoga than I wish. About 3 hours of beautiful Adirondack driving.

And for Ralph Phelan:

You are absolutely correct that gov't intervention can either/both slow the self-correction processes of science or push it into directions that have far less value to the scientific community. How much that has played a role in the "Angry Studies" scholarship so decried here is an interesting question. But I will continue to flatly deny rrh's assertion that it's some sort of quota hiring involving gov't contracts. As KC noted, that's not the main factor driving the diversification of the faculty and the corresponding diversification of the curriculum that has followed.

And, yes, sometimes patience is necessary too.

Ralph Phelan said...

"But I will continue to flatly deny rrh's assertion that it's some sort of quota hiring involving gov't contracts."

It seems to me to have a lot of explanatory power - not total of course, but it fills in what was for me an ampty piece of the puzzle, which is why administrators and trustees put up with people and departments that regualrly cause embarrassment and harm to the university. Do you have an alternate hypothesis?

It's not necessarily just the "government contractor" issue directly.

There's also the fact that the DOJ is currently taking action against the NYC fire department for using a test that blacks pass at 80% while whites pass at 90%. Whatever the black-letter law, the practical effect of what the DOJ is doing in this and other cases is to demand "equality of result" which is in effect to demand quotas. So long as the mindset that drove the DOJ to spend resources on this action is in force, it's prudent for an institution to keeps its numbers looking good.

And then of course there's the fear of being publicaly attacked by Jesse and Al, who can count on the press taking their side unquestioningly.

All in all, you're going to need more evidence than just your flat assertion to convince me that academia doesn't currently have a de-facto quota system.

mb said...

steven horowitz said: "But I will continue to flatly deny rrh's assertion that it's some sort of quota hiring involving gov't contracts. As KC noted, that's not the main factor driving the diversification of the faculty and the corresponding diversification of the curriculum that has followed."

I agree with this statement: I believe that the Federal Government, while being cravenly-PC in many matters, is not about to engage in blatant unconstitutional acts vis-a-vis affirmative action quotas. If I recall correctly, in the Bakke decision, the SCOTUS ruled that hard quotas are unconstitutional, thus, I doubt that they are mandated by any Federal contracts, etc. Indeed, in some states, e.g., California, Washington, and Michigan, such quotas are also in violation of State constitutions. Still, I'm not so naive as to believe that there is no end to the amount of shenanigans that colleges and universities with administrators who have drunk generously of the diversity/affirmative action Koolaid will go to in order to circumvent constitutional restrictions re. affirmative action/so-called "diversity" initiatives. Therefore, I certainly believe that much like the Klan of 88 threw the white Duke LAX team members under the bus, so do most all administrators and other people in positions of power vis-a-vis hiring and promotion of faculty similarly toss beneath the bus the spirit, if not letter, of the law as it pertains to so-called "diversity" quotas.

It may not be enshrined in the fine print of the government contracts, but IMHO it most certainly is enshrined in the philosophy and practice of the decision-makers in the vast majority of academic institutions in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Western world.

Kyo said...

KC,

The 88ers' rush to claim that their odious writings were taken "out of context" remimds me of a great quote from Pedro Guerrero when he was with the Cardinals: "The problem [with reporters] is that sometimes they write what I say and not what I mean."

Christy said...

Complaints that K.C. and we commenters lack the expertise to question the work of the 88 make me tired.

I'm a nuclear engineer with an expertise in nuclear waste. I have spent a lifetime answering to the public, to regulators, and to legislators for my projects. Who among the 88 and their sympathizers will stand up with me at my next public meeting and tell those who don't know a neutron from a neuron that they do not have the right to question my work?

Do I prejudge when I say these are the very people who would turn out in droves to question both my work and my motives?

LarryD said...

Watch out for the postmodernists!

Lets' see how often the G88 defenders are using contradictory discourses.

Like Political Correctness, it's aimed at shutting up anyone with opposing view points.

Anonymous said...

M Simon says:


Let me give you the general idea. Up means down. Except when it means up. Perfectly clear. How do you tell which is which? In the context of the narrative. However, not just any narrative. It must be in the context of supporting the victim class against the victimizers.


The Gang of 88 and their ilk throughout academia have forgotten (or more likely were not aware of in the first place) evolution and Newton's third law.

They are simply forcing their betters to do a better job of bypassing and eliminating them.

JeffM said...

I am not opposed to the notion that the a community of scholars should be free to examine what each scholar hopes will be worthy of exploration. Some will be wrong; some right, and, in the very long term, human knowledge will be advanced.

I am opposed to the notion that a community of self-proclaimed scholars is to be given a pass from justifying the social obligations placed on others to support that community (e.g. the tax exemption of univerities) because the scholars are innately superior to those who pay the freight. Duke is a very wealthy institution that pays not one penny of tax on the immense income from its endowment. And most of the faculty there is gung ho to tax the rest of us and our employers without respite. If Duke paid its fair share, it would have to let a significant percentage of their current faculty go. In other words, the faculty is sponging off the rest of us.

I admit to having no academic right to question the academic value of the drivel that pours out of Duke and similar tax exempt institutions. But I have every right, as does every other person on this blog, to question the social and human value of that same drivel.

I am totally unconcerned with whether some, or even all, academics consider me anti-intellectual because I view the contribution to human and social value of some of them as less than nothing. The average garbage man contributes far more to society than the net contribution of all of the Klan of 87 put together.

Timothy said...

Why are these people being referred to as the 'Group' of 88? I much prefer the 'Gang' of 88.