Academic lecture canceled after outraging 'totalitarian' Twitter mob

Leading geophysicist had prestigious lecture at MIT canceled after outraging ‘totalitarian’ Twitter mob by arguing that academic evaluations should be based on merit not ‘equity’

  • Professor Dorian Abbot is a geophysicist at the University of Chicago 
  • He was set to deliver Carlson Lecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
  • Over weekend, he was informed that the October 21 lecture was canceled 
  • A ‘woke mob’ of students online pressured MIT to cancel the talk 
  • Abbot writes that he was targeted for supporting ‘merit-based evaluations’ 

Dorian Abbot, a University of Chicago geophysicist, was told a planned lecture he was asked to deliver at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had been canceled

A prestigious lecture at MIT which was set to be delivered by a University of Chicago geophysicist was canceled due to pressure from ‘woke’ students because the professor argued for ‘academic freedom and merit-based evaluations’ rather than ‘equity.’

Dorian Abbot was denied the opportunity to give the Carlson Lecture, which is devoted to ‘new results in climate science’ and hosted by MIT’s Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

The lecture was scheduled to be delivered on October 21, but Abbot learned over the weekend that EAPS would be canceling his talk.

‘I am a professor who just had a prestigious public science lecture at MIT cancelled because of an outrage mob on Twitter,’ Abbot writes on Bari Weiss’ Substack newsletter that was published on Tuesday.

‘My crime? Arguing for academic evaluations based on academic merit.’ has reached out to MIT for comment.

Abbot writes that he has been a target of ‘woke’ students since last year when he posted several videos on YouTube denouncing the rioting in Chicago that erupted in the wake of the police-involved killing of George Floyd.

The professor writes that he was normally averse to speaking out about politics, ‘but the street violence of the summer of 2020, some of which I witnessed personally in Chicago, and the justifications and dishonesty that accompanied it, convinced me that I could no longer remain silent in good conscience.’

Abbot was denied the opportunity to give the Carlson Lecture, which is devoted to ‘new results in climate science’ and hosted by MIT’s Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. The image above shows the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Abbot posted clips on YouTube in which he ‘argued for the importance ‘of treating each person as an individual worthy of dignity and respect’ and ‘giving everyone a fair and equal opportunity when they apply for a position as well as allowing them to express their opinions openly, even if you disagree with them.’

According to Abbot, this did not sit well with a group of graduate students at the University of Chicago’s Department of the Geophysical Sciences, where he worked.

Abbot writes that he was ‘immediately targeted for cancellation.’ One grad student organized a letter that was posted to the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program listserv, which makes it easier for an organization to send an email to a group of people.

The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that touts as its mission its commitment to ‘creativity and free expression.’

Abbot writes that a ‘Twitter mob’ started demanding that MIT disinvite him from giving the lecture after he wrote an op-ed in Newsweek arguing for ‘merit-based academic evaluations’

The program also claims a nonprofit status that enables it to claim tax advantages from the Internal Revenue Service on condition that it does not engage in ‘political and legislative (lobbying) activities.’ 

The letter that was organized by the students alleged that Abbot ‘threatened the “safety and belonging of all underrepresented groups within the department”.’

The students demanded that Abbot’s teaching and research ‘be restricted in a way that would cripple my ability to function as a scientist,’ the professor writes.  

But the letter failed as UC President Robert Zimmer released a statement avowing the school’s support for the right of faculty to enjoy free expression. 

In August, things took a turn when Abbot co-wrote an opinion piece for Newsweek in which he argued that the ‘Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’ (DEI) initiative embraced on many college campuses nationwide ‘violates the ethical and legal principle of equal treatment.’

In August, Abbot and Professor Ivan Marinovic (above) co-authored an op-ed in Newsweek arguing for ‘merit, fairness, and equality’ in evaluating academic students

DEI, according to Abbot and co-author Professor Ivan Marinovic, ‘treats persons as merely means to an end, giving primacy to a statistic over the individuality of a human being.’

Abbot and Marinovic instead proposed ‘an alternative framework called Merit, Fairness, and Equality (MFE) whereby university applicants are treated as individuals and evaluated through a rigorous and unbiased process based on their merit and qualifications alone.’

The two academics believe that MFE would ‘mean an end to legacy and athletic admission advantages, which significantly favor white applicants.’

In response to the Newsweek op-ed, critics on Twitter demanded that Abbot be denied a chance to offer science seminars and that other speakers be picked in his place.

The online campaign against Abbot escalated after he was chosen last month to deliver the Carlson Lecture, a ‘major honor in my field,’ according to the professor.

Abbot writes that a ‘Twitter mob’ started demanding that MIT disinvite him from giving the lecture. 

‘It worked. And quickly,’ according to Abbot. 

He writes that the chair of the EAPS at MIT called him on Thursday to inform him that they would be cancelling the annual lecture ‘in order to avoid controversy.’ 

Abbot laments the fact that ‘a small group of ideologues mounted a Twitter campaign to cancel a distinguished science lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology because they disagreed with some of the political positions the speaker had taken. 

The Newsweek op-ed prompted several people on Twitter to demand that Abbot be disinvited from seminars and that other professors be chosen instead

‘And they were successful within eight days.’

‘I view this episode as an example as well as a striking illustration of the threat woke ideology poses to our culture, our institutions and to our freedoms,’ Abbot writes.

‘I have consistently maintained that woke ideology is essentially totalitarian in nature: it attempts to corral the entirety of human existence into one narrow ideological viewpoint and to silence anyone who disagrees.’

Abbot will deliver the lecture he had planned to give at MIT via Zoom on October 21 at 4:30pm – the same date and time that was originally scheduled for the talk on the campus at Cambridge. 

‘Equity’ vs. ‘Equality’: Explaining the difference in use of woke terms 

At first glance, ‘equity’ and ‘equality’ appear to be synonymous when looking up the terms in the dictionary.

According to Merriam-Webster, ‘equitable’ means ‘dealing fairly and equally with all concerned’ while ‘equal’ means ‘of the same measure, quantity, amount, or number as another.’

But the social justice movement in the United States uses the terms to mean different things.

Whereas ‘equality’ means giving everyone the exact same resources, ‘equity’ means distributing resources based on the needs of the recipients.

In the above illustration published by the Interaction Institute for Social Change, the family on the left enjoys ‘equality’ while ‘equity’ is displayed on the right.

On the left, the family is standing on boxes of the same height, enabling them to watch the baseball game.

On the right, the tallest man isn’t standing on any box since he is tall enough to see over the fence without assistance.

The older child is given one box to stand on, while the smallest boy is given two boxes – thus ensuring ‘equity.’ 

‘Like equity, equality aims to promote fairness and justice, but it can only work if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same things,’ according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Source: Read Full Article