Did UATX increase their status, or did Dawkins diminish his?

I think you know the answer.

This is not a joke.

Somebody really needs to take him aside and explain that he’s making a lot of really bad decisions lately.

There is no news about UATX

Sorry. We can try poking the University of Austin with a stick, but it seems to be just lying there, inert, after the scathing laughter at the announcement of its existence. I guess Doonesbury is going to try prodding it a bit.

Do the kind of people who found fake right-wing universities read Doonesbury? Probably not. The corpse will continue to lie there, rotting.

Do you think UATX will just fade away?

That absurd “University” of Austin fakeout has been met with satire and ridicule to the point where its board of advisors is crumbling, with members realizing that they really don’t want to be tied to this boat anchor. I suspect the investors behind it aren’t too upset by it, since they have so much money it’s dribbling out of their ears and are probably fine with shifting from “saving Western civilization” to “tax write-off” — it’s all the same thing. Meanwhile, those advisors are adroitly pivoting to a different approach.

Check out FAIR, the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism. It’s got the kind of explicit, praiseworthy title, while being nothing but an anti-woke assortment of prominent defenders, that it was probably named by a Republican, who are masters of lying about their motives. It certainly has a commendable mission.

Increasingly, American institutions — colleges and universities, businesses, government, the media and even our children’s schools — are enforcing a cynical and intolerant orthodoxy. This orthodoxy requires us to identify ourselves and each other based on immutable characteristics like skin color, gender and sexual orientation. It pits us against one another, and diminishes what it means to be human.

Today, almost 70 years after Brown v. Board of Education ushered in the Civil Rights Movement, there is an urgent need to reaffirm and advance its core principles. To insist on our common humanity. To demand that we are each entitled to equality under the law. To bring about a world in which we are all judged by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin.

Wow. Martin Luther King Jr cast such a huge shadow that all kinds of vermin try to hide beneath it. It’s depressing how that ringing phrase about being “judged by the content of our character” has been adopted by the right wing as the one part of his ethos that they will accept. The first paragraph gives it all away, though. The threat of laws that say you can’t discriminate against people for their skin color, gender and sexual orientation is twisted by these assholes into a claim that we will be REQUIRED to identify ourselves by skin color, gender and sexual orientation, as if that weren’t often already obvious. How dare you notice that I am a white male cis-gender heterosexual? If you recognize that, doesn’t that mean that tomorrow you’re going to discriminate against me? After all, that’s what I’d do.

This is a demand to ignore all sexual and racial characteristics, to bury our differences in a graveyard laid out by the current lords of the status quo, rather than to celebrate them. It will work to successfully recruit the people who are so damn tired of being oppressed that they like the idea of joining the oppressors. It will definitely appeal to the dominant recipients of a system of injustice, because it’s saying that nothing needs to change.

You’re thinking I sound kind of cynical, aren’t you? We liberal lefties want to end discrimination on the basis of skin color and sex, don’t we, so why judge this organization that says the same thing? Greg Laden pointed out that their board of advisors is a rogue’s gallery of the usual suspects. It is commendably diverse, but nestled comfortably in their midst is an assortment of the standard out-and-proud white supremacists. And some of them have just flitted over from the UATX board of advisors.

Oh, look. Andrew Sullivan, Bari Weiss, Niall Ferguson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Douglas Murray. Let’s bring in some IDW-adjacent racists for this supposedly anti-racist organization. They’ll need a new gig after UATX folds.

Megyn Kelly? Oh yeah, she’ll bring the shiny luster and glamor of Fox News. (She’s listed as a “journalist”, by the way — oh, how that noble occupation has been degraded.)

Of course Steven Pinker is there. If the organization has a transparent lefty facade but is actually intensely regressive, that’s the slime he loves to writhe around in.

If you want to end gender and sexual orientation discrimination, well, you’ve got to have Abigail Schrier on board. Transphobes welcome! Trans men and women, not so much.

They don’t want to discriminate against racists, libertarians, and white supremacists, so you can signal your open-mindedness about that by recruiting one person: Michael Shermer.

I don’t know most of the names on that list, and maybe the majority have high-minded goals. But I’m sorry, if you tolerate rubbing elbows with those awful people, you’ve already betrayed your cause. There are cuckoos in the nest. I’d find your goals more honest and believable if you were rooting them out, rather than making them comfortable.

Are wind farms killing whales?

Potholer54 always does skepticism well. Here, he’s looking into the claim that whale deaths are correlated with the presence of wind farms, and the answer, in short, is “no.” Although industrial noise is uncomfortable/stressful for whales, it’s not just wind farms that we should be looking into.

It’s also a thorough exposé of Michael Shellenberger. Shellenberger doesn’t understand what “correlation” means, he’s selective in his choice of causes (windfarms bad, oil exploration good), and he’s an expert in the conservative shell game of hiding the sources of his funding. Don’t trust a thing that man says.

You will not be surprised to learn that he is currently the CBR Chair of Politics, Censorship and Free Speech at the University of Austin. Yeah, that University of Austin. He claims to be an “environmental activist,” but he’s not — he’s a right-wing shill for the oil industry.

Another racist outed, time to follow the threads to his promoters

I hadn’t heard of this guy, Richard Hanania, until recently — but I sure was familiar with his old pseudonym, Richard Hoste. He was one of the more hateful, obnoxious, stupid racists who was busy stuffing the internet with lies a decade ago. Now I learn, in one of the most thorough, devastating journalistic takedowns I’ve ever read that Hoste and Hanania were one and the same, and that he’s broken into the mainstream with the complicity of conservative billionaires.

A prominent conservative writer, lionized by Silicon Valley billionaires and a U.S. senator, used a pen name for years to write for white supremacist publications and was a formative voice during the rise of the racist “alt-right,” according to a new HuffPost investigation.

Richard Hanania, a visiting scholar at the University of Texas, used the pen name “Richard Hoste” in the early 2010s to write articles where he identified himself as a “race realist.” He expressed support for eugenics and the forced sterilization of “low IQ” people, who he argued were most often Black. He opposed “miscegenation” and “race-mixing.” And once, while arguing that Black people cannot govern themselves, he cited the neo-Nazi author of “The Turner Diaries,” the infamous novel that celebrates a future race war.

A decade later, writing under his real name, Hanania has ensconced himself in the national mainstream media, writing op-eds in the country’s biggest papers, bending the ears of some of the world’s wealthiest men and lecturing at prestigious universities, all while keeping his past white supremacist writings under wraps.

I remember Hoste, because I’ve long kept half an eye on nasty little websites like Taki’s Magazine, The Unz Review, VDARE, the Occidental Observer, and anything linked to the Pioneer Fund. These are the places some of the most openly racist people, like Richard Spencer or Steve Sailer, let it all hang out nakedly. I’ve always marveled at how they can write such vile, repugnant articles in their safe little hugboxes full of racists, and then walk out in public without shame, even to friendly appreciation from notable academics. It’s one of the tells I recognize for closet racists — people who praise Sailer, for instance, are the kind of slimeballs who read VDARE approvingly, even if they’d never dare to write such things themselves.

Now I’m going to have to add “following Richard Hanania” as another marker for the shy racists.

You’re on notice, guys. Scuttle for the kitchen cabinets as fast as you can, the light has been turned on.

Anyway, a major data leak from Disqus has exposed Hanania’s history, and it’s interesting to see how a low-life troll mainstreamed himself and started grabbing attention and money from more respectable venues. First, he dropped the pseudonym and was writing under his real name, Hanania. Then he started writing somewhat less inflammatory, but still crackling with racism, op-eds and articles that he’d submit to big-name sites, where he’d get picked up by sympathetic editors (they’re everywhere). It also helps to cozy up to rich white people, many of whom already share his views.

The 37-year-old has been published by The New York Times and The Washington Post. He delivered a lecture to the Yale Federalist Society and was interviewed by the Harvard College Economics Review. He appeared twice on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Fox News’ former prime-time juggernaut. He was a recent guest on a podcast hosted by the CEO of Substack, the $650 million publishing platform where Hanania has nearly 20,000 subscribers.

Hanania has his own podcast, too, interviewing the likes of Steven Pinker, the famous Harvard cognitive psychologist, and Marc Andreessen, the billionaire software engineer. Another billionaire, Elon Musk, reads Hanania’s articles and replies approvingly to his tweets. A third billionaire, Peter Thiel, provided a blurb to promote Hanania’s book, “The Origins of Woke,” which HarperCollins plans to publish this September. In October, Hanania is scheduled to deliver a lecture at Stanford.

Meanwhile, rich benefactors, some of whose identities are unknown, have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into a think tank run by Hanania. The think tank doles out cash to conservative academics, and produces political studies that are cited across right-wing media.

Yes, he has a “think tank,” a term that is long past its past-due date. Hanania’s is called the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology. It’s run out of his house, and mainly seems to be a drop-box for donations that pay his substantial salary. The function of CSPI is…

In addition to being a laundering service for handing out money to reactionary academics, it is a paper mill for “studies” that back up reactionary talking points, to be spun into articles and opinion pieces with headlines such as “Social trends causing rapid growth in people identifying as LGBT, report says” (from the ideological astroturfing Sinclair Broadcast Group), “The Lockdowns Weren’t Worth It” (WSJ) and “The new class war is over identity” (Washington Examiner) — the latter being an anti-LGBTQ screed that ended, “My name is Dominic. I’m a trans woman, and my pronouns are me, me, me.”

It’s a profitable gig, collecting donations from insufferable rich Republicans and shuffling it into bad publications that pollute the body politic, but there’s no “thinking” involved in a think-tank. But it paid off for Hanania! He could use that illusion of serious scholarship to work his way up the grifter’s ladder.

Hanania was making a name for himself. By 2022, he was selected as a visiting scholar at the Salem Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The center — funded through right-wing donors including billionaire Harlan Crow — is led by executive director Carlos Carvalho. “I have no comment,” Carvalho told HuffPost when asked about Hanania.

Hanania was also tapped to be a lecturer for the “Forbidden Courses” program at the University of Austin, the unaccredited school funded by venture capitalists and founded by former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, now a prominent right-wing influencer herself. The university did not respond to a request for comment about Hanania.

Earlier this year, Hanania spoke to the Yale Federalist Society, the school’s chapter of the conservative legal organization, about what the government has done to “discriminate against whites and men.” The chapter did not respond when asked for comment.

And this October, Hanania is scheduled to teach a seminar at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. The school did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

He may be dropping a few rungs off that ladder, though. Bari Weiss has said she didn’t know him and wouldn’t have hired him if she had. Oops.

The University of Austin, founded by a group including Bari Weiss in reaction to progressive campus culture and promising freer speech, has drawn a line at the right-wing writer Richard Hanania, after HuffPost revealed that he’d written in favor of eugenics and racism under a pseudonym.

“Richard Hanania has no affiliation with UATX. He was invited once as a speaker. Like many other institutions, we were completely unaware of his pseudonymous, racist writings. Had we known, we would not have invited him,” a spokesman, Hillel Ofek, told Semafor in an email.

His invitations to speak at the Federalist Society probably still stand — they eat up the racist white nationalist stuff there. He’s probably going to face some opposition at Stanford, I hope, but you never know. Apologists for hate seem to have infiltrated many higher levels of society. You don’t have to worry about Hanania’s prospects, he was already gearing up to jump to a new grift.

Hanania mentioned all of these men [Andreesen, Sacks, Ramaswamy, Thiel] in a June Substack post while describing what he celebrated as the “Tech Right,” a new Silicon Valley-based conservative movement that, among other beliefs, embraces transhumanism and “longtermism.”

The cult of “longtermism” has swept through Silicon Valley in recent years, with Musk and Thiel among its most well-known acolytes. It’s a worldview that often prioritizes the health of future generations of humans — even ones millions of years hence — over people currently living in the here and now, suffering and getting by on planet Earth. (Musk’s goal to colonize Mars, for example, is a longtermist project.)

Its adherents are often obsessed with IQ scores and scientific racism, and the famous computer scientist Timnit Gebru has criticized longtermism as “eugenics under a different name.”

The scholar Émile Torres has also noted that longtermism’s “transhumanist vision of creating a superior new race of ‘posthumans’ is eugenics on steroids,” a recapitulation of 20th-century beliefs that ushered in “a wide range of illiberal policies, including restrictions on immigration, anti-miscegenation laws and forced sterilizations.”

It’s maybe unsurprising, then, that Hanania has emerged as a scribe for this new “Tech Right.” After all, he had years of practice writing about eugenics as Richard Hoste, advocating for precisely those types of policies.

“The maintenance of the quality of the population requires not just a stable population at all levels but the active weeding out of the unfit,” Hoste wrote in 2011 for Counter-Currents, the white supremacist site.

“There is no rational reason,” he wrote, “why eugenics can’t capture the hearts and minds of policy makers the way it did 100 years ago.”

New grift, same as the old grift.

The rational reason to reject eugenics is, of course, that we know where it led when it captured “the hearts and minds of policy makers” over a century ago: to suffering and death and a world where an asshole like Hanania can thrive.

P.S. I neglected to mention that another important rung on the racist grift ladder is publishing in Quillette. You will not be surprised to learn that Claire Lehman, the creepy mastermind behind Quillette, still supports Hanania.

It’s all inbreeding

I just learned about a curious connection. Remember UATX, that fake conservative university, is having another summer session this year (you’re too late to apply, I’m afraid). Again, it’s going to be held in Dallas, not Austin, because they’ve been granted the use of some buildings in an office park called Old Parkland.

Guess who owns it?

Conservative billionaire and corrupt villain of the week, Harlan Crow.

The more I learn about these people, the more incestuous they look.

Goon University shot their wad

Would you believe that a two week course in a rented building led by a team of conservative wankers was the majestic peak of intellectual achievement this summer? Bari Weiss thinks so.

They’ve reached their peak so soon. It’s all downhill from here.

“University” is not a word that should be associated with “scam”

I think it’s part of the Right’s efforts to undermine education — steal the word “university” and attach it to rank garbage. Think PragerU. Think Trump University. Think University of Austin. All trash. Now how about this: a blockchain university, Woolf U.

In a lengthy August 2018 interview with Disruption Hub, Woolf’s founder Joshua Broggi — a philosopher of religion at Wolfson College, Oxford — tells how he was first inspired to blockchain by a student who wanted to pay his university fees in cryptocurrency.

Broggi thinks “blockchain” could solve all manner of issues in higher education, even the problem with adjunct teaching, the gig economy of academia — “when I look around my faculty, they spend a significant portion of their time acquiring their next temporary position, and that’s really a wasteful use of these extremely talented peoples’ time” — even though Woolf’s plan is also a gig economy. His answer to this detail is that the Woolf model will assure a steady supply of students for the independently-contracting academics to teach.

As of October 2018, Broggi was still confident in the blockchain approach — “We literally could not do what we are doing without a blockchain,” he told ABC News — though actual blockchain academic Michèle Finck told ABC she considered the project fundamentally “misunderstands what a university education is about,” and would be a GDPR disaster.

Broggi also stated at this time that tuition would be $5,000 per year — down from the $19,200 he had estimated in March 2018.

Perhaps it’s my limited imagination, but I fail to see how blockchain helps anything here. Broggi seems to be getting fired up about a tool (a bad tool) for managing payments to administrators, which is a bizarre focus for a university, but a pretty good one for a scam, where the money rolling in is all that matters. I’m trying to remember the 1980s when spreadsheets were all the rage…did anyone propose a Spreadsheet University, where everyone was excited about using VisiCalc to track budgets and grades? This is not to imply that blockchain has all the utility of a spreadsheet — it doesn’t — or that spreadsheets aren’t extremely useful for managing grades (I use them all the time), but that no one would look at a tool like that and say, “Hmmm. I am inspired to wrap a whole university in that, it’s far more important than trivialities like a curriculum.”

Poor Broggi. He seems to have lately realized that you shouldn’t name your scam “Scam University”, and “blockchain” has become synonymous with “scam”, so he’s had to delete the word “blockchain” from his promotional materials.

The word “blockchain” seems to have vanished from Woolf’s site some time between September 2018 and January 2019 — and the page title changed from “Building The First Blockchain University” to “Building a Borderless University.” The main headline is now “Not your typical online university,” and the front page speaks of video tutorials with a “real professor” and two or three students.

That leaves me wondering what makes Woolf University different from other fly-by-night student-loan-exploiting fake university out there. The answer is…nothing.

Oh hey, speaking of fake universities, let’s check in with the University of Austin. June 2022 is a big month for them, because this is when they have their very first course offering, “The Forbidden Courses“. They’ve had to scale back a bit, unsurprisingly. The courses will not be held in Austin — they’ve rented some lovely spaces in Dallas for the whole thing. The “course” is all of 4 days long, and there are two course sessions…you could apply for both if you wanted. It is not accredited.

No, our program is not a credit-bearing or degreed program. Students may not earn continuing education credits, credit hours, or a diploma for participation in this program. Each course will occur over ten hours in one week.

The “course” itself is an incoherent schmear. They’ve gathered together a set of ideologues and told them, apparently, to talk about whatever they feel like. There is no clear theme, no synthesis, just third-rate conservative rock stars asked to talk at the students.


Niall Ferguson on free vs. unfree societies in the 20th century
Ayaan Hirsi Ali on free speech, religion, and women’s rights
Dorian Abbot on approaches to climate change
Rob Henderson on the psychology of social status


Kathleen Stock on varieties of feminism
Jacob Howland on ideology
Deirdre McCloskey on capitalism: catastrophe or triumph?
Thomas Chatterton Williams on black male writing from Richard Wright to Ta-Nehisi Coates

There are also “workshops”. It is not clear what they are workshopping.

Arthur Brooks, Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership, Harvard University
Nadine Strossen, Professor of Law, New York Law School; former President of the ACLU
David Mamet, award-winning playwright and author; Pulitzer Prize winner
Peter Boghossian, Philosopher and Author
Bari Weiss, journalist and best-selling author
Carlos Carvalho, Professor of Statistics, UT-Austin
Joshua Katz, Classicist, Princeton University
Lea Carpenter, novelist and screenwriter
Edward Luttwak, military strategist and author
Joe Lonsdale, CEO of 8VC, Co-Founder of Palantir
Balaji Srinivasan, Angel Investor and Tech Founder
Maleka Momand, Co-Founder & CEO, Esper
Katherine Boyle, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz
Robert Steffens, Co President, Marvel Entertainment
Geoff Lewis, Founder & Managing Partner, Bedrock
Amber Allen, Founder and CEO, Double A Labs
Jack Abraham, Founder, Managing Partner & CEO at Atomic
Michael Solana, Vice President, Founders Fund

So you show up for one of these forbidden courses, and there’s a mob of like 20 professors waiting to divvy up the 10 hours of instruction, and each one has their own peculiar hobby horse they’re riding, and they anticipate a group of 30-40 students, and then what?

I looked at that mess and figured their student body was going to be tinier than they expect, except they did one thing exactly right. They are paying bodies to attend.

Due to the support of a generous grant from our donors, there is no cost to attend the program. Hotels, some meals, and activities are covered by UATX. A $300 stipend will be given to participants to defray costs from travel, some meals, and other incidental expenses. Any additional costs will be the responsibility of participants.

Whoa. I wish we could just pay our students to attend my university, and take care of their housing and meals at no cost. This is what you get when millionaires and billionaires back your efforts to destroy public education. I wonder what contribution Elon Musk made?

While we’re all waiting for the University of Austin to die…

And it is fading. The early ebullience from people like Bari Weiss is diminishing, and the only news about it I can find is that Niall Ferguson seems to be frantically touring right-wing podcasts to claim it’s really going to happen, which it isn’t. But I still see the occasional lefty chortling over the ridiculous concept. Like this one:

That those too-hot ideas—among them the celebration of free-market capitalism, eugenics and white supremacy, xenophobia, and transphobia, per the résumés of some of UATX’s founding trustees and advisors—are also cultural hegemonies championed by the richest and most powerful people and institutions thriving today in the Western world does not seem to be a problem for these self-styled revolutionaries. And why should it? This dippy bunch is not actually engaging in a genuine paradigm shift in the ivory tower; think of it more like the University of Pity Party at Austin.

Of course this project is silly. It’s brought to you by a group of wealthy—some of them mind-blowingly so—elites who are mostly known for whining about “cancel culture” and being rewarded handsomely for it. The very premise of UATX is preposterous, predicated on a subset of highly successful and privileged people’s unseemly thirst to be cast as victims in a grand narrative of—hilariously enough—intellectual and economic oppression. This scrappy underdog “university’s” board of advisors includes Larry Summers, former secretary of the treasury and president emeritus of a little college in Boston called Harvard (perhaps you’ve heard of it?). Other founders and advisors are professionally affiliated with Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, and UATX’s seed money flows forth from tech bro Joe “paternity leave is for losers” Lonsdale, a venture capitalist who co-founded the creepy surveillance/data-mining software company Palantir.

“Pity Party University”…that’s about right. But then, getting serious about it, the author says:

In contrast to the sharp rebuffs of my peers, I rarely experienced anything but the mildest pushback from left-leaning faculty. Far from being pressured to conform to left-wing groupthink by a socialist academic cabal, I got excellent grades and I was encouraged to share my ideas—offensive and ill-considered as they undoubtedly were—in class discussions. Oh, I had brilliant professors who planted seeds that would flower years later, but at the time, my own views hardly shifted. To the contrary (I was, after all, a contrarian) I dug in harder, sure that I was a powerful voice for the preservation of good old-fashioned American ideals, a bold defender of capitalism and the free market.

That’s the thing about the conservatives’ claims about those darned liberal universities. You read this blog, you know that I’m pretty fiercely partisan and that I despise Republicans with all my heart, but that doesn’t translate to how I manage a classroom. Like she says, your typical lefty professor encourages students “to share [their] ideas—offensive and ill-considered as they undoubtedly were”. We’re not interested in silencing, but in exposing.

The idea that we’d shout down conservatives and not let them speak is simply right-wing projection. That’s what they do.