Professor: No Fat Students Need Apply


Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico, for some reason decided to make himself look like a total asshole by tweeting on Sunday that he would not accept fat grad students because they wouldn’t have enough discipline to finish their thesis:

millertweet1

Then after undoubtedly getting an angry phone call from the dean of his department, he deleted the tweet and backpedaled faster than Deion Sanders:

millertweet2

Yeah, obviously it didn’t reflect his selection process. Where would anyone ever get the idea that it would? I mean, other than the fact that he actually came out and said it publicly? And he apparently told the university that he was doing some unspecified research project:

The Uni­ver­sity of New Mex­ico admin­is­tra­tion and fac­ulty were sur­prised by Dr. Geof­frey Miller’s tweet. We are deeply con­cerned about the impact of the state­ment, which in no way reflects the poli­cies or admis­sion stan­dards of UNM. We are inves­ti­gat­ing every aspect of this inci­dent and will take appro­pri­ate action.

When UNM’s Depart­ment chair learned of the tweet, she con­tacted Pro­fes­sor Miller, who is cur­rently on unpaid leave from UNM while at NYU. He told her that his com­ment on Twit­ter was part of a research project. We are look­ing into the valid­ity of this asser­tion, and will take appro­pri­ate mea­sures. As mem­bers of the UNM com­mu­nity, we are all respon­si­ble for demon­strat­ing good judg­ment when using social media or other com­mu­ni­ca­tions vehicles.

This isn’t likely to end well.

Comments

  1. TGAP Dad says

    Reminds me of former congressman Richard Kelley of Florida, who was snared in the ABSCAM sting, but claimed to be conducting an investigation of his own.

  2. Trebuchet says

    Not to mention his belief in the discredited “all carbs are bad” Atkins theory.

  3. troll says

    I wonder if evolutionary psychology can explain the tweet. Perhaps his forebears evolved in an environment high in vinegar and water, which resulted in him being a douche?

  4. flatlander100 says

    I understand the job of president if Ohio State University is open. He seems qualified.

  5. Compuholic says

    He told her that his com­ment on Twit­ter was part of a research project.

    A research project. Yeah right.

    Maybe he was researching the best way how to appear as an asshole. In this case: congrats on the successful project.

  6. whoever says

    Miller has been making those kinds of tweets for ages now. None so overt or insulting, I guess but I couldn’t say I wasn’t expecting that.

    So he’s either a bit of a chronic ass or he really has been on this research project for a good while.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    for some reason decided to make himself look like a total asshole

    Probably because he places a high value on truth in advertising.

  8. Sastra says

    I immediately empathize with Miller here because it just happens to be true that everything stupid I’ve ever said has also been part of a research project. Yes. It has.

    That, or it was a heartfelt belief of my sincere religious faith.

    Can’t touch me. I’m on ghool.

  9. otrame says

    Funny. I’ve been obese since after my second kid. Started collage after my second kid. Managed a masters degree and a career that included working in the field in South fucking Texas. I didn’t go for the PhD because that would have resulted in less field time in South fucking Texas.

    I am always disappointed when I see someone with so much education who is so ignorant.

  10. gshelley says

    It’s entirely possible that it was part of some research project. Probably not a well though out one, but “Hmm, I want to see what sort of response I get if I put out a stupid and offensive tweet about obese people” will get n isn’t unlikely based on the information above

  11. freemage says

    How the hell could anyone, in any context, think any of this is remotely acceptable for a dece–what’s that? Evo-psyche? Oh, that explains everything.

  12. Taz says

    Dear Dr. Miller: If you’re too big of an asshole to handle twitter, you’re too big of an asshole to supervise grad students #gofuckyourself

  13. Trebuchet says

    Wonder if he’s got tenure? Probably not; he wouldn’t have bothered to retract and apologize if he did.

  14. Larry says

    By forcing him to work with fat grad students, you’re imposing upon his rights! After all, they chose to be fat.

    Free-dumb!!!

  15. raven says

    Evo psych already has a bad reputation. It’s mostly pseudoscience and fake science.

    Miller just added another point to the data base.

    He is a privileged white male and his evolutionary programming compels him to be…..Oh wait, naw, Miller is just a person with bad judgement and low self control that causes him to say stupid things in public.

  16. Robert B. says

    Well, his specialty is evolutionary psychology, so unless he’s planning to wait a few million years to see how people evolve in an environment containing asshats on Twitter, I don’t see how the study would be relevant to him.

    Also, to a professional scientist, a “research project” is (or ought to be) more than just something you decide to do one day to see what happens. It’s a carefully planned-out project that takes up a significant chunk of your working life for months or years, and it’s not generally something that takes the dean of your department by surprise, what with funding and all. This research project is either a transparent excuse, or science so bad that it would get panned as a blog post let alone a scientific paper.

  17. D. C. Sessions says

    FYI, peeps: UNM has a huge in-State enrollment of Apache, Navajo, and (mostly indio) Hispanic students. A pretty fair proportion of them are of the blocky body type (the local native people tend to be either quite slightly built or blocky; the blocky ones look “fat” even when they have unhealthily low body fat levels. You can see them in old 19th century photographs.

    The blocky ones will surprise you by doing things like running 50 miles in a day across country, too.

    All of this of course rides on top of the high genetic propensity towards diabetes in the native populations.

    UNM administrators are very familiar with this, and would have to be blithering idiots to see where Dr. Miller’s “no fat grad students” was likely to land him on the ethnic bias spectrum.

  18. matty1 says

    Evo psych already has a bad reputation. It’s mostly pseudoscience and fake science.

    Which is a real shame because human brains clearly did evolve and the effect of this on behaviour sounds like a fascinating area of study. Unfortunately attempts are held up by.

    – Lack of clear research methods
    -A tendency to resort to ‘just so stories’, plausible but unsupported claims about how certain things could be favoured by natural selection
    -A tendency in at least some proponents to treat themselves as the baseline for humans and so treat as universals things that are culture specific.

  19. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    On the bright side … there may be an opening in the NMU psych department real soon.

  20. eric says

    I think the obvious response is for UNM leadership to send a tweet to their professors.

    “Dear tenure applicants: if you don’t have the willpower needed to control what you tweet…”

  21. Chiroptera says

    Question:

    Are most tweets actually innocuous and most tweet-users responsible in their use of twitter while only the relatively few but very ugly and embarrassing tweets make it onto the national news?

    Or is twitter in general just a very, very bad idea?

  22. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Unfortunately attempts are held up by.

    – Lack of clear research methods
    -A tendency to resort to ‘just so stories’, plausible but unsupported claims about how certain things could be favoured by natural selection
    -A tendency in at least some proponents to treat themselves as the baseline for humans and so treat as universals things that are culture specific.

    -A tendency to bend over backwards to justify their own and their society’s prejudices, even if they have to butcher and burn their own internal story-logic to make it fit.

  23. dean says

    Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico, for some reason decided to make himself look like a total asshole by tweeting on Sunday that he would not accept fat grad students because they wouldn’t have enough discipline to finish their thesis.

    One hopes that this tweet by itself would be enough to convince any grad student that working with him would be a bad move.

  24. baal says

    oh lookly, anti-evo psych feuding.

    The guy is clearly an ass and suffers from faulty thinking. I know some yall take that as a emblem of evo.psych but saying this one guy is that discipline is not rational either.

  25. Funny Diva says

    Oh, so he was TROLLING. But it’s OK, because RESEARCH.
    Yeah, way to bolster the legitimacy of Evo Psych, there, young white doodbro. Well done.

    There’s a difference between pointing to this guy as yet another example of dip-shittery in evo psych and holding him responsible “emblematically” for the entire field.

    Just sayin’.

    Ohhhh, how I hope PZ tears into this one, too. He loves evo psych so!

  26. says

    If this asshat doesn’t have the willpower to think before mouthing off on the Internet, then he won’t have the willpower to judge a dissertation fairly.

    And he actually said that his dumbass remarks weren’t his real opinion? Why would he say something like that in public if he didn’t agree with it? How dumb an audience does he think he has?

    And then he says it’s part of a “research project?” I’m not an expert here, but this really doesn’t look like part of a controlled experiment of any sort.

  27. says

    Oh, and if we really need an evo-psych explanation for this wanker’s behavior, I’d say that — lacking any ability to advance through actual accomplishment — he has to maintain the position of privilege he depends on by blocking others’ ability to rise toward his status, and doing his part to contribute to an environment where fewer people have a chance to fight for his position. Such behavior can be observed in reactionary authoritarians of all sorts all over the world. And yes, some of it may really be hard-wired.

  28. matty1 says

    @34 I wasn’t meaning to hold this guy up as emblematic of the field, in fact I was just using the mention of his job to riff off not thinking about the specifics at all. My criticisms were what I understand as reasons why the field doesn’t seems to be advancing and instead gets bogged down in politics but I’m not up on the details, maybe there is rigorous research in this area that I missed.

  29. says

    Or is twitter in general just a very, very bad idea?

    At best, superfluous. At worst, a hybrid blending the worst features of several different communications media.

    If I want to bloviate to the public, a blog (preferably in a “place” where others discuss similar issues) gives me more room to articulate my ideas so there’s less misunderstanding. If I want to talk to someone specifically, I can use email or instant-messaging. Trivial personal news can go on Facebook, where it’s in context and most of the people likely to see it are those who find it relevant. And if I need to get personal and interactive, there’s that old-timey telephone thing. Or I could walk through three feet of snow like my granddaddy did to talk to someone face to face. What else is there that only Twitter is good for — except making an ass of yourself to the widest possible audience with little or no chance to correct any misunderstandings?

  30. eric says

    Bee @37:

    And then he says it’s part of a “research project?” I’m not an expert here, but this really doesn’t look like part of a controlled experiment of any sort.

    No, you’re right about that, it really doesn’t. I think it’s pretty obvious he’s lying. Psychological expreiments with human subjects generally take months (or longer) to set up and require all sorts of approvals by the department, by university ethics boards, and so on. Even simple surveys take a lot of oversight. Lots of people would have known this was going to occur if it had been an experiment, and there would be a paper trail a mile long. The Uni response “we’re looking into it” is almost a guaranteed sign he’s lying, because had it been an experiment, their PR person would’ve been able to figure that out very quickly, and confirm it in their very first statement. In this case, “we’re looking into it” is probably best translated as: we’re stalling until we decide what to do about this idiot.

  31. says

    In this case, “we’re looking into it” is probably best translated as: we’re stalling until we decide what to do about this idiot.

    Or it could mean “We’re still scratching our heads and going ‘WTF?!'”

  32. says

    Re: Carbs

    Reducing (but not eliminating) carbs does help with weight loss — going the full-on Atkins route, with zero carbs and tons of meat… not of the good. Piling up the fruits and veggies, however, is totally of the good.

    All that aside, obesity is not an indicator of poor self-control.

    Re: Geoffrey Miller

    This guy? Total douchenozzle. I’d say more about him, but I suspect what I want to say would get me warned, if not outright banned.

  33. mikee says

    Dare I suggest that his “research project” will be the most rapidly written research project in history, particularly as it will,have been written after his first “experiment” on twitter.

  34. twincats says

    Wow. In my case, it was the opposite. When I decided to go to school after the USAF, I had been more or less successfully (yo-yo) dieting and exercising myself around a lower-end overweight level for roughly 20 years. But it took a lot of time and energy that I discovered I needed for my studies, so I made a decision to ditch the diet and the gym* and also began working part-time instead of full time. As my GPA rose, so did my weight.

    *No, I didn’t quit exercising, I just walked everywhere I could.

  35. says

    I think it’s hilarious that a “scientist” in a discipline that has yet to prove it’s validity would display such vulgar adherence to woo while trying to assert authority. Don’t institutions of higher learning have any kind of standards.

  36. Stacey C. says

    My jaw dropped but then I read “evolutionary psychologist” and felt better. Nothing like adding fuel to the fire that your entire discipline is BS.

  37. says

    Oh, wow. I am so encouraged by the comments here! I staggered in, expecting a bashing, and instead found some really insightful and intelligent leavings.

    Thanks for making my day!

    Kris

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