One of the few advantages to teaching over Zoom » « Aubrey de Grey exonerated! Not. Outta here, silly controversialist Time to explain why Boghossian’s resignation is a) not newsworthy, and b) good and appropriate. Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet One of the few advantages to teaching over Zoom » « Aubrey de Grey exonerated! Not.
You: “You are awful, we don’t want you here.”
Me: Help! Help! I am being oppressed!
Objectivist: “Being an obnoxious asshole is obligatory for being able to experience pure reason”.,
Snarki, child of Loki says
Wait, Boghossian wasn’t teaching a class in a Psych department, on “Pathological Mental Disorders of Right-Wingers”?
Because he’s clearly overqualified for THAT, although the “horse-paste tasting bar” at his colloquia would have his colleagues running for the exit, ifyouknowwhatImean.
I like the term “controversialist” as opposed to “contrarian”, which I think is more frequent. The point isn’t so much that you’re offering a view that goes against conventional wisdom (which isn’t necessarily bad, though it’s a red flag if every statement you utter is contrarian). The purpose of a controversialist (I’m guessing) is just to raise people’s hackles by whatever means. Or is that just a fancy way to say “professional troll”?
I am not sure I can watch this whole video, but I completely agree about the difficulty of getting tenure. It’s a great accomplishment, not a given. People start as assistant professors all the time, fail to be promoted further, move to another university or leave for industry. There are associate professors who never move up to full (maybe they are tenured at that level, not sure).
I can think of a professor I admire a lot who had written a monograph, had other active research, was a great teacher, got funding as far as I know, but was denied tenure. It was a surprise to me and many others. This was before YouTube and Twitter so he had no public place to vent (and he has too much class). He started over at another university, eventually got tenure and is (or was) department chairman at some point. I mean, yeah, it’s about fit and other random factors.
I “washed out” so to speak after getting a PhD with little chance of even starting in a tenure track position, despite having strong PhD research. Is it hard to get tenure? Well, in my experience (and in my field, computer science) it is a lot easier just to go into industry and be very well compensated. I am impressed at anyone who sticks it out.
(I am always surprised at how mellow PZ sounds when I watch his videos, compared to the voice in my head when I read his blog.)
Tenure is an interesting concept. I think there might be a middle ground — maybe like 10-15 years guaranteed employment at a time or something? Lifetime (barring egregious misconduct, ofc) appointment seems like a bad idea in general… for anything, really.
10-15 years should be long enough to allow for wild excursions to prove an idea, but still allow for fresh ideas to enter the field without anyone having to die (as the old aphorism goes).
@5 me as well though it think it is because he is not engaging with trolls, creeps and maga heads usually when he talks live on Youtube, I am pretty sure there is a berserker in there and he comes out when pressed and needed and he was just raised to be polite in public.
The biology deprtment of the university I attended did invite guest speakers. Once or twice a term, after all the classes were finished there would be cheese and wine (look I started there in 1979, cheese and wine was still a thing) and a talk from someone in a biological field about their job. The one I remember vividly was the pathologist who was getting all of the Yorkshire Ripper bodies, he couldn’t talk about that as the case was still going on, but the cases he did talk about were fascinating. It very much was not in class, it was more careers advice and fun than anything else.
PZ Myers says
I’ve had guest speakers in my classes. That’s completely different from inviting some wackaloon to take over the hour.
I thought it was great that you brought some of your own personal experience with tenure denial at Temple to set context and contrast with Boghossian.
Ironically the one thing of value Boghossian has contributed, especially to atheist and skeptic circles (perhaps not academia itself) is the street epistemology thing. It has its foibles, but people seem to position it as a much less confrontational approach to engaging people than what the “debatemebros” offer. Watching some of Magnabosco’s videos got me a little more enthused than reading Boghossian’s book. There was a video where Aron Ra followed him around and tried to apply street epistemology instead of whatever it is he usually does.
There’s also Tyrone Wells who I think is a biochemist:
He has a cool video segment around 13:16 in that shows how hot button topics can go off the rails fast.
So anyway SE has been taken up by others now and developed. My worry has been if it would be weaponized against the woke boogie because Boghossian’s continued influence. Also the influence of Lindsay. It’s been a while since I listened to these relevant but dated podcasts:
And if anyone has the endurance (long discussion with James Lindsay) here’s an episode of Cordial Curiosity:
I’ve long ago lost interest in Lindsay because I want to know what critical theory really is and not the bugbear version he promotes.
Isaac Asimov’s academic title was “Associate Professor” and he had tenure. He kept it even when he left to write full time, but went back to deliver guest lectures from time to time.
John Morales says
What? Who the fuck does not invoke epistemology when arguing about beliefs?
And, from what I gather, it relies on some honest and patient interlocutor upon whom one can employ the hoary Socratic method. Good luck with that!
John Morales says
So, basically, you offer people the opportunity to endure something you don’t find interesting.
I knew of a department in the 1980s that was going to deny tenure to an anthropologist until her supporters pointed out that they’d look pretty stupid denying tenure to someone who’d just been awarded a MacArthur Grant.
I know of a uiniversity in 2021 that was going to deny tenure to an academic journalist until her supporters pointed out that they’d look pretty stupid denying tenure to someone who’d been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship AND a Pulitzer Prize AND had the unanimous support of her faculty…except in this case the university decided it was more important to suck up to one belligerent non-academic RWNJ donor than to look smart. Or professional. Or ethical. Or competent.
Well if someone, aside from me at this point in time, might want to look into how Boghossian, Lindsay, and Pluckrose have influenced practitioners of street epistemology with their biased take on “critical social justice” the podcasts and video I linked would be a start. From the show notes of Embrace the Void this exchange might whet the appetite:
It was someone (Ross Llewallyn) back in late 2019 asking questions of Reid Nicewonder (the Cordial Curiosity guy) which voiced concerns about social justice orientation per street epistemology:
Of particular relevance was the “Speaking Truth to Social Justice” thing which included someone named Michael O’Fallon.
Nicewonder wrote: “As someone who attended the Speaking Truth to Social Justice conference last weekend in London where Peter and James spoke, you are right about one of those characterizations. Both Peter and James are hostile to Social Justice […] Social Justice is in fact hostile to humanism and reason. When Peter and James say they are against Social Justice, it is because they are for social justice. The two are not the same. Most fundamentally, they differ in their goals and their method for achieving their goals. The method behind Social Justice is based on Postmodern Critical Theory, and the method behind social justice is based on liberalism, science, and reason.”
So Nicewonder at that time had obviously been under the influence of Lindsay. And he practices street epistemology. Where he stands now on these issues after two years I dunno. The Embrace the Void podcasts where Aaron Rabinowitz interviews him may have fleshed this out more way back in June 2020.
And per your @12 if you browse the numerous street epistemology channels on Youtube you might find they have had no problem finding interlocutors to engage constructively with their version of the hoary Socratic method. So maybe look further into something before snarking it.
John Morales says
What is it with you and videos, hemidactylus.
If I want to find out about something, watching a video or a podcast is not how I start investigating. But hey, you do you.
Sure. There’s also a multiplicity of videos where “martial arts masters” wave their hands about and people fall all over themselves, stunned by such magnificence.
Maybe? What, you’re not sure?
(What makes you imagine I’m new to these concepts?)
John Morales says
(Philosophistry — April 12, 2017 by Aron Ra)
You’re right. There was someone who on a recent Pharyngula thread about the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban offered:
“Informative 16-minute video:
Origins of the Taliban”
Which led to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzBVvyBWDD4
Comment number 40 here:
I found the video informative as was said by this member of the commentariat. Silly me. What was with that commenter and videos I wonder.
Oh wait wasn’t the OP on this current thread a…video?
And for “But hey, you do you.” on a scale of 0-100 how confident are you that expression adds anything to a discussion? Then think in terms of the cultural programming (sourcing) that led you to adopt that currently ubiquitous expression in lieu of actually engaging more than superficially with a topic. Has your confidence level in the usefulness of that dismissive expression changed upon further thought?
When confronted with changing a rear tail light a Youtube video helped me as a vicarious demonstration. SE videos are genuine applications of technique in the field, far better than reading it in a book.
The podcasts I cited and link from the episode notes get a something per potential indoctrination of street epistemologists into anti-SJW mindset because perceived authority of Boghossian and Lindsay (recapping).
John Morales says
:) You’re welcome.
Note that the commenter described the video’s length, its source, and its title.
(Also, it’s funny because… the event is said to not be newsworthy, but it merits a post)
100. Does it not make it clear to you that I tolerate your predilection though I don’t partake? Informative, that is.
The topic is your belief that “street epistemology” is somehow novel and is a good thing, and therefore Boghossian should be credited and lauded for it.
Again: if I’m disputing with someone about their beliefs, clearly I will bring up epistemology. Don’t need Bogusian for that, never did.
To what dismissiveness do you refer? I’m saying I’m cool with you doing your thing, though clearly that is not reciprocated.
Yeah, well… I think you know what I think of “street epistemology”. You’re the one who is impressed by the concept, not I. But good on you for not being indoctrinated into a anti-SJW mindset!
I have a low tolerance treshold for that kind of crap since a jerk in our local University invited a bona fide swastika guy to speak.
PaulBC @ 3
Professional troll or professional @sshole would do fine as standard descriptive terms.
“Controversialist” is OK if you are a Britisher and are doing the ‘understatement” thing.
“Kim Jong Il was a controversialist”.