The “PC College Students vs. Free Speech” Narrative is Baloney

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/03/2018 - 11:55pm in

Overall public support for free speech is rising over time, not falling. People on the political right are less supportive of free speech than people on the left. College graduates are more supportive than non-graduates. 

That’s a summary of recent data by Matthew Yglesias at Vox.

[from Justin Murphy, “Who’s Afraid of Free Speech in the United States?”

Among the various findings:

  • public support for free expression has been generally rising
  • college students are less likely than the overall population to support restrictions on speech on campus
  • there is little age polarization on matters of free speech (e.g., 56 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds support the right of the racist to give a speech, versus 60 percent of the overall population.)
  •  data from the College Senior Study appears to show a causal relationship between attending college and more open-mindedness
  • there’s no evidence that left-wing politics is producing closed-minded people

One exception to the pro-free-speech trend concerns people’s views of whether a “Muslim clergyman who preaches hatred of the United States” should be allowed to speak. Most Americans say the clergyman should not be allowed to speak.

As I’ve often mentioned, commentators are quick to take a few cases of genuinely egregious anti-free-speech behavior by college students and imagine that there is some huge cultural shift going on regarding free speech (see availability heuristic).

Yglesias comments:

The overall debate about “political correctness” as a phenomenon tends to suffer from an excess of vagueness and ambiguity.

On the one hand, there is a fairly narrow debate about the attempted use of heckler’s veto tactics on a handful of college campuses — often in response to speaking invitations that appear to have been constructed primarily for the purpose of attracting hecklers. On the other hand, there is a fairly broad debate about a wide array of anti-racist activity that includes everything from the #OscarSoWhite hashtag to people being mean on Twitter to Bari Weiss to efforts to push the boundaries of who can be described as a “white supremacist.”

By rhetorically lumping in instances of rare, fairly extreme behavior with much more common behaviors under the broad heading of “political correctness,” it is easy to paint an alarming picture of the hecklers as a leading edge of an increasingly authoritarian political culture.

The fact that there does not appear to be any such trend—and that public desire to stymie free expression is concentrated in the working class and targeted primarily at Muslims—ought to prompt a reevaluation of the significance of on-campus dustups and perhaps greater attention to the specific contexts in which they arise.

The whole article is here.

Related: “Tough Enough: Resilience in Academia“, “Are We Being Chilled or Should We Just Chill?

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The post The “PC College Students vs. Free Speech” Narrative is Baloney appeared first on Daily Nous.

Our Dad’s Visit to the Ruins of Belsen Concentration Camp

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/02/2018 - 2:55am in

I’m telling this story to make it even clearer that Mike isn’t Holocaust denier, and that he and I were brought up knowing about the atrocity by parents, who hated and despise the Nazis and their crimes like every other decent person.

Our father did his national service in Bielefeld in Germany. It was a town then on the borders of the former West Germany. While he was there, he visited the remains of Belsen concentration camp, and took pictures. I can remember him showing them to Mike and myself when were both in junior school. This was way back in the 1970s, when war comics were in vogue – not just Battle, but also Warlord, the war stories in Action, like ‘Hellmann of Hammer Force’, and the DC Thompson war comics in Commando Picture Library. This was also the decade when there were an increasing number of films about the Second World War. Mike and I read the war comics, and this led us at the time to ask questions about the Second World War. It might have been in response to one of these that Dad got out his photo album to show us his photos of the ruins of the camp. This worried Mum. She was afraid that the photos, and the story behind them, would be too upsetting for us and give us nightmares. It didn’t. From what I can remember, the photos mostly showed grassed over pits. These, our father told us, were where the Nazi burned and buried the bodies of those they’d murdered. Talking to him last night, he said that from one pit they pulled 12,000 human remains. I’d have to look up how many were killed in toto at the wretched place, but the simple figure of 12,000 for that just one pit is shocking. He’s also said several times that no birds sang there. I’ve heard that about the other concentration camps as well. It’s as if the monstrous evil the Nazis committed infected the very land itself, desecrating it of all life.

A few decades later, Mike himself visited one of the other Nazi concentration camps – Sachsenhausen. I think this was when he was at college, studying modern European literature. Part of the course included a trip to West Berlin, and I think it was while he was there that he visited the remains of that particularly abomination.

The real Nazis make disgusting jokes about the Holocaust, when they’re not trying to convince the world that it didn’t happen, or was a lot smaller than reputable historians have shown. I don’t think they tend to visit them, though. Mike is very, very definitely not a Holocaust denier, nor anti-Semite, and those, who are smearing him are vile, disgusting political manipulators committing libel.

Mike Libelled as Holocaust-Denier by Sunset Times

Yesterday, the newspaper dubbed by Private Eye the Sunset Times went ahead and smeared Mike as an anti-Semite and Holocaust-denier. Mike was mentioned in yet another scaremongering article about how Labour under Corbyn was welcoming back the hard left and anti-Semites. There was a photograph at the top of the article of a few of those so accused, including Mike, along with Jeremy Corbyn. The others were professional politicians, such as the Black activist Lee Jaspers.

Mike was aware that the article was coming, and had more than an inkling that it wasn’t going to be sympathetic. He had been contacted on Saturday by Gabriel Pogrund, one of the Sunset Times’ hacks, who told him they were writing a story about the suspensions from the Labour Party for anti-Semitism, and wanted Mike’s view. So Mike told him, making it clear that he was very definitely not anti-Semitic and that the false allegations against him were made by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and politically motivated. So Mike recorded the interview, and has put up his version of it on his blog.

As far as the Times article went, they needn’t have bothered to call Mike at all. None of that appeared in the final article. What did appear were a few, very selective quotes, ripped out their context, which suggested that Mike believed that Blair was surrounded by a clique of Jewish advisers, and doubted whether millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust, or only thousands. It was material straight from the gutter pens or keyboards of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism or the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Paole Zion.

As Mike, myself and very many others have pointed out, ad nauseam, Mike is very definitely not an anti-Semite nor does he deny or minimise the Holocaust. I’ve mentioned on this blog many times before that he and I had an uncle of Jewish heritage, with whom we used to go on holiday with our family when we were children. Mike when he was at College was asked by a Jewish friend of his to read out some of the names of the people butchered by the Nazis during the Shoah as part of her commemoration of the atrocity. I’ve a German book on my shelf on the Nazi terror apparatus, including the Holocaust, which Mike bought for me on a trip to Berlin. This is a piece of thoroughly respectable scholarship, which discusses the Holocaust and the numbers of people murdered in the various areas of the Reich during the Nazi occupation. The book was published to accompany an exhibition on the Nazis’ apparatus of state terror following excavation and building work on the SS’ headquarters in Berlin. It was published by the German government, and so is a work of serious, and often moving scholarship, as it contains photos and some potted biographies of the Nazis’ victims. It is very definitely not something that would delight or give comfort to real anti-Semites and Holocaust-deniers like those in the Alternative fuer Deutschland, the National Democrats or the banned British Nazi youth group, National Action.

Mike points out that the comment about not knowing whether thousands or millions died in the Holocaust actually came from a reply he gave to a question about the SWP. Someone in the Socialist Workers’ Party had said a few years ago that thousands died in the Holocaust, and Mike was asked why they said that. Mike didn’t know, as he’s not and never has been a member of the SWP. Mike made that clear in his answer. But the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, being the lying frauds they are, took that one sentence out of context to make it appear that Mike denied that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

Mike, understandably, was upset by this gross libel, and has written a letter of complaint to the Sunset Times.

Mike has also written to ITV to complain about Robert Peston, after Peston described him as ‘vile’ on his programme, Peston on Sunday. This shows the amount of research Peston and his crew did. They didn’t contact Mike, or check the facts. They simply took what was said in the Times as completely true, and just repeated the libel with a bit of abuse thrown in.

I am not surprised that the Times decided to smear Mike in the article, though I am very, very disappointed. Throughout the past week it seems that it, the Torygraph and the other right-wing rags have been running scare stories pushing the idea that the Labour party is seething with anti-Semitism. On Saturday, for example, the ‘Opinion Matrix’ column of the I newspaper, which republishes extracts from the rest of the press, contained a snippet from the Times about the subject. This not only promoted the idea that Labour under Corbyn was full of anti-Semitic hate, but went on to say that if nothing was done about it, Jews would increasingly be put off the party.

In fact, if you look at what’s actually going on, the reverse is true. An increasing number of Jewish people are becoming alienated, not from the Labour party, but from the state of Israel and the Conservative Jewish establishment that supports it. An increasing number of Jewish American young people are now bitterly critical of Israel, including those who have suffered real anti-Semitic abuse themselves. And although over 70 per cent of British Jews say that the state of Israel is important to their sense of identity, critics of Israel like Tony Greenstein have also argued that this may well decline. Zionism was always a marginal movement within Judaism, and the vast majority of diaspora Jews wanted to live in the homelands of their birth as free, equal citizens with their gentile fellow countrymen and women. Support of Israel became a major plank of right-wing ideology in America as psychological compensation for that nation’s loss of the Vietnam War. Since then the country has benefited massively from considerable American and Western aid and a very largely uncritical stance by the mainstream media to the atrocities Israeli security forces have committed against the indigenous Palestinians, and the institutional racism of the Israeli state itself.

That situation is now changing, and the Israeli right is starting to panic. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism was founded in 2014 by people, who were aghast to discover that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza had disgusted ordinary Brits. As I’ve said here, over and over again, the organisation is a pro-Israel pressure group. It has precious little interest in real anti-Semitism. It’s patrons are nearly all Tories, and there is little condemnation of anti-Semitism in that party, or indeed, of the real, vicious anti-Semites of the Far Right. It appears to exist solely to attack left-wing critics of Israel. Which it does through the well-worn Zionist tactic of smearing them as anti-Semites.

Corbyn isn’t anti-Israel. One of the commenters to this blog pointed out that he does support Israel. But he also supports the Palestinians, and that terrifies the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement and their friends in the Israeli Right, who wish to continue the Palestinians’ oppression and ethnic cleansing. They are very strongly allied to the Blairites, and so both groups are determined to silence Israel’s critics on the left, including and especially Jews, by smearing them as anti-Semites.

Mike is clearly one of those targeted. He’s been asked by journos about his document, the Livingstone Presumption, which he sent to the Labour party to defend Ken Livingstone against the smear against him. This shows just how much the liars and frauds of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Labour Movement fear him as a blogger, as well as the Tories and their lapdogs in the lamestream media.

Don’t believe the mainstream media about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. They are lying, and they have lied and smeared Mike. Go and read what he has to say instead.

A California Trend Worth Catching: College For All

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/02/2018 - 2:00am in

America’s left coast is showing how to break up concentrated wealth and fund higher education for all. California can be an annoyingly trendy state. Think avocado toast, In-N-Out Burger, Hollywood fashion, even legal pot. But Californians are now in the vanguard to fix the serious problem of how to pay for public higher education. Over 44 million households in the U.S. are saddled with college debt — $37,000 on average. Together they owe over $1.4 trillion, surpassing credit card debt and auto loans. In the 1970s, California led the world with its famously accessible public universities and community colleges. Millions of Californians received a virtually debt-free college education. A friend of mine attended both undergraduate and grad school at the University of California in the 1970s and covered all of his tuition and expenses by painting houses during two months of the summer.

Cops on Campus

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/01/2018 - 4:54am in

This college campus stubbornly refuses to move past circa-2014 Twitter activism. What can I tell my friends to keep them from totally dropping out of any activist spaces?

Tharg’s Tribute to Kevin O’Neill: When the Comics Code Banned His Art

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/12/2017 - 10:03pm in

Yesterday in one of the posts I mentioned the dictatorial grip the Comics Code Authority had over American comics from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. The Code was sent up to reassure and protect the American public after the moral panic over Horror comics in the 1950s. This spread to comics as a whole, which were seen as subversive, morally corrupting and un-American. This included bizarre accusations of Fascism and deviant sexuality aimed at those stalwarts of popular American culture, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The scare decimated the American comics industry, and nearly caused its total collapse.

The Code was set up to ensure that all comics were suitable for a child of seven to read. Its officials were unelected, and in many cases had right-wing views that showed absolutely no understanding of popular politics or culture. It was supposed to be a voluntary organisation, and there were comics creators who worked outside and often against the code. Like Robert Crumb and the underground scene, or the independents Like Dave Sim and Cerebus the Aardvark. In practice, however, those comics were well outside the mainstream, and were only available in head shops and specialist comics stores like Forbidden Planet and the late, lamented Forever People in Bristol.

I discussed how the Code rejected one issue of the Green Lantern Corps, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Kevin O’Neill, on the grounds that O’Neill’s artwork was too grotesque and disturbing for children. This was ironic, as he had been delighting children and adults with his monstrous aliens, mutants, robots and equally grotesque humans for years in the pages of 2000 AD. He was and remains one of comicdom’s favourite artists, and while the other artists who worked on the Nemesis the Warlock strip added the considerable talents to the tale of the Warlock and his foe, the human ‘Ultimate Fascist’ Grand Master Torquemada, I think much of the strip’s initial popularity came from his superb, bizarre artwork.

2000 AD duly paid tribute to him and his censorship by the Comics Code in their anniversary issue, Prog 500, published on 14 December 1986. In it, Tharg took a walk through the contents of his mind, reviewing the comic’s history and revisiting some of the characters that didn’t work. At the end he comes to Kevin O’Neill, who appears as a stunted, crazed sadist. O’Neill admonishes him for censoring the most extreme piece of violence in the strip. Tharg tries to reassure him by reminding him that he won the ‘ultimate accolade’ for which other comics creators all envy him: the day the Comics Code banned his art as totally unsuitable for children. To which O’Neill replies ‘Hmmph. You won’t get around me by flattery’. Unsatisfied, O’Neill then calls down Torquemade, who promptly beats Tharg up.

The different sections of that strip were written and drawn by the different artists and writers, who worked on the comic, so there were different credit cards for them for each section. That section ends with the credits reading ‘Script Therapy: Pat Mills. Art Therapy: Kev O’Neill. Letters: Steve Potter’. Which suggests that the letterer was the only sane one there.

Here’s a few panels.

The real O’Neill is, however, quite different from his portrayal in the strip. It’s been pointed out several times that the fans, who’ve met him, are often surprised that he doesn’t dress in black and silver like the Terminators. And the other rumours about him are also totally untrue. Like he only works at night using a quill pen in the light of candles, and has an occult temple in his basement. I met him at UKCAC 90 in Reading, where I queued with Mike to have him draw a character on the blank badges we’d been given for our fave artists to draw on. O’Neill at the time was a wearing a ‘Solidarity for Nicaragua’ T-shirt, which a left-wing friend of mine at college also wore. He also was wearing a brown leather jacket, and his facial features at the time reminded me a bit of John Hurt. He was affable, enthusiastic, full of nervous energy and completely unthreatening. If you seem him now at comic conventions or footage of them on YouTube, or the occasional interview for television, he’s obviously older and balder, as effects so many of us eventually. He comes across as genial and entertaining British gent, completely unlike the berserk monstrosities that rampage across his strips down the years. Even when he’s telling the stories about how he and Pat Mills went as far as they could in savaging American superhero comics and right-wing, superpatriotic American politics in the violent and nihilistic Marshal Law. Actors, writers and artists aren’t their creations. Fortunately.

Robot Takes Philosophy of Love Course

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/12/2017 - 12:10am in

William Barry, associate professor of philosophy at Notre Dame de Namur University and director of its “Virtual Learning Lab,” taught a new kind of student in his philosophy of love course this past term: a robot.

The robot, Bina48, was developed by Hanson Robotics in 2010 and is owned by the Terasem Movement Foundation. It has some form of artificial intelligence and connects to the Internet. Physically, it is a bust-like head and shoulders mounted on a frame:

Lindsay McKenzie at Inside Higher Ed reports that, according to Barry, Bina48 is “the world’s first socially advanced robot to complete a college course.” She writes:

Rather than enroll Bina48 in his Robot Ethics: Philosophy of Emerging Technologies course (which, he says, might have been a more natural fit), Barry suggested that Bina48 should take his course Philosophy of Love instead. Love is a concept Bina48 doesn’t understand, said Barry. Therefore the challenge would be for Barry and his students to teach Bina48 what love is.

“Some interesting things happened in the class,” said Barry. He said that his students thought it would be straightforward to teach Bina48 about love, which, after all, is “fairly simple—it’s a feeling,” said Barry. But the reality was different. Bina48 ended up learning “31 different versions of love,” said Barry, highlighting some of the challenges humans may face when working with artificial intelligence in future.

Bina48 took the course via Skype and will be taking Barry’s course on robot ethics next semester.

The full story is here.

The post Robot Takes Philosophy of Love Course appeared first on Daily Nous.

Vanessa Beeley: Britain Doesn’t Have Any Good Intentions in the Middle East

In this clip from RT, Going Underground’s host Afshin Rattansi speaks to Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist, who has covered the war in Syria. He asks her about Theresa May’s condemnation of the blockade against Yemen, which is resulting in a terrible famine that is starving about half of the population or so. Surely this shows that Britain has good intentions in the Middle East.

In reply, Beeley states very clearly that she cannot agree that Britain has any good intentions in the Middle East. Britain tried to undermine the UN Resolution 2216, which condemned the blockade. Britain’s military industrial complex has profited immensely from arms sales to Saudi Barbaria, and British specialists were in the command and control centre in Riyadh helping select targets. She openly describes May’s gesture as ‘faux humanitarianism’.

I think this is part of a rather longer interview, which I intend to put up, in which she talks about how the British and western media is deliberately presenting a false image of the corruption in the NGOs operating in Syria. One of them, the Adam Smith something-or-other, was the subject of a Panorama documentary. This revealed that massive sums of money were being taken out of the organisation by Islamist terrorist groups, through the use of payments to fictional people on the payroll, and even people, who’d died.

Beeley described this as ‘a controlled explosion’. The media and political establishment couldn’t keep it secret, and so did a limited expose of what was going on in order to divert attention from corruption and atrocities committed elsewhere. Like in the White Helmets, who are lauded as non-partisan heroes, but in fact are as partisan as everyone else. They have saved people, who aren’t members of their organisation, but this is just occasional, if they happen to be there. They don’t put themselves out of the way to do it, as is claimed on mainstream TV. Moreover, a number of their members put up posts and Tweets praising the Islamists. So definitely not the whiter-than-the-driven-snow heroes we’ve all been told. Beely made the case in that longer video that this cover up is because the White Helmets are becoming a global brand. They’re branching out in South America, Brazil and the Hispanic nations.

As for the Adam Smith whatever, I’ve had suspicions of any organisation that puts up his name ever since the Adam Smith Institute emerged under the Thatcher. These were manic privatisers, who wanted the health service sold off and the welfare state destroyed. This Adam Smith organisation isn’t connected with them, but still, I’m suspicious. It looks far too much like another wretched free enterprise group come to implement western privatisation under the guise of humanitarianism. In which case, you can expect the same results free enterprise has had on Iraq, Libya, Algeria and the rest of the Arab world. And indeed the world as a whole. I think the government of Algeria, or one of the Arab states in the Maghreb had been pursuing a socialist economy, before the recession of the 70s/80. They then followed the trend and started privatising industry. This made matters even worse, poverty grew, and people started looking to the Islamists for aid. The American-mandated free enterprise policy in Iraq after the invasion resulted in 60 per cent unemployment. This is in a poor country. Ordinary Iraqis were actually better off materially under Saddam Hussein. Hussein was a monster, without question. But they had access to free healthcare, free education, and relatively secular society in which women enjoyed a high status. They could go out to work, and felt safe going home at night.

The invasion destroyed all that. Instead you had sectarian violence, which did not exist in Baghdad previously, or if it did, it was at a much lower level than under the western occupation. You had General MacChrystal running death squads against the Sunnis. Valuable state assets were privatised and sold to American multinationals, and tariff barriers torn down so that the world and especially the Chinese dumped all the stuff they couldn’t sell on the country, driving native Iraqi firms out of business.

You can find the same wretch story in Libya. Gaddafi was a monster, but as I’ve pointed out ad nauseam he did some good things for his country. They were the most prosperous country in Africa. Gaddafi gave his people free education and healthcare. Women had high status. He was not racist, and supported Black Africans from further south. He saw himself as an African leader, and did was he thought was best for the continent. This involved using the Islamists to knock off his rivals, both in Africa and the Arab world. But they were never allowed to recruit or attack his own country.

Now there are something like two parliaments in the country, the free education and healthcare is gone, and the Islamists are running riot. The women connected with his party have been raped, and Black Africans are savagely persecuted by the Islamists. Slavery has returned, with these barbarians selling them at auctions. And this is partly motivated by hatred of Blacks for benefiting from Gaddafi’s rule.

All the claims that these military interventions are for humanitarian reasons are a lie. They’re so western industry can get its grubby, blood-stained mitts on these countries’ precious industries and natural resources. Oh yes, and they’re to help the Saudis spread their own, viciously intolerant version of Islam, and Israel to destroy possible Arab rivals and threats in the region. Plus the fact that the American military-industrial complex loathes Arab nationalism, secularism and socialism with a passion as the next worst thing to Communism. And our European leaders, Cameron, Blair, Sarko and now Theresa May have been enthusiastic accomplices, even the ringleaders, of these assaults on independent, sovereign states.

For the sake of global peace, we need to kick May out and put Corbyn in. His work for disarmament and peace was recognised last week when the International Peace Bureau in Geneva awarded him the Sean McBride Peace Prize, along with Noam Chomsky and the All-Okinawa Committee against Henoko New Bridge. But this received almost zero coverage in the lamestream media.

General Smedley Butler was right was right: War is a racket. Or to put it another way, was is business, and under neoliberalism, business is good.

I’m sick of it. Brits of all faiths and none, of all races and varieties thereof are sick of it. Americans are sick of it. But it means big bucks to the arms manufacturers and the military-industrial complex. And so Obama, who now describes himself as a ‘moderate Republican’, increased the wars in the Middle East to seven. Trump, following the demands of AIPAC and the Christian Zionist lobby, wants to start a war with Iran, if Killary and the Democrats don’t push him into a military confrontation with Putin and the Chinese first.

The people fighting and dying in these wars are working and lower-middle class young men and women. Service people of immense courage and professionalism, whose lives should not be squandered for such squalid profiteering. Old-school Conservatives in the American armed forces despised the neocons around George Dubya as Chickenhawks. They were more than happy to send American forces into countries that had never directly threatened the US. But when it came to fighting themselves, they lacked the courage they expected in others. Bush and the others had all scarpered abroad during the Vietnam War. Generalissimo Trumpo had three exemption from national service during the Vietnam War. He claimed that he had growth in one of his feet that made walking difficult. Still didn’t stop him playing college basketball though.

During the Middle Ages, kings led their armies from the front. In ancient Germanic society, that was the prime function of kings. The Romans noted there were two types of kings in the barbarian tribes that later overran them. There were hereditary religious leaders, who acted as judges. And then there were elected kings, who took charge of the tribe’s armies. They were often elected only for a single campaign. And the Roman Empire itself basically arose through the seizure of supreme power by military dictators, like Julius Caesar and then Augustus. I think the last British general, who physically led his army into battle was in the 19th century.

Would our leaders be so keen on sending good, brave men and women to their deaths and mutilation, if they had to stand there and personally lead them into battle. Shouting like Henry IV, ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends!’ If they personally had to put on the heavy, cumbersome battle armour, or wear hot and unpleasant chem suits in case of a gas attack. If they themselves had to feel some of the squaddies’ natural fear of suffering a hit, of seeing their friends and comrades die, or lose limbs and other organs. If they personally saw the civilian casualties, the ordinary men, women and children driven out of their homes, or killed as ‘collateral damage’. Dying and suffering from wounds, famine, disease. If they had to face the horrors that have scarred decent, strong women and men, leaving them mental wrecks. Sights no civilised person, whether in Britain, Damascus, Cairo, New York or wherever, should ever see.

No, of course they wouldn’t. They’d run screaming to their offices to get their spin doctors to find some bullsh*t excuse why they were too valuable to fight, er, things need doing back home, terribly sorry and so forth.

Saint Augustine said in his City of God that kingdoms without justice are giant robberies. It was true when he wrote in the 5th century AD, and it’s true now. Whatever the gloss put on it by the corporatists and the religious right.

Sharp Declines in Philosophy, History, & Language Majors Since 2010 (guest post by Eric Schwitzgebel)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/12/2017 - 2:11am in

The following is a guest post* by Eric Schwitzgebel, professor of philosophy at University of California, Riverside. It first appeared at his blog, The Splintered Mind.

Sharp Declines in Philosophy, History, and Language Majors Since 2010
by Eric Schwitzgebel

As I was gathering data for last week’s post on the remarkably flat gender ratios in philosophy over time, I was struck by a pattern in the data that I hadn’t anticipated: a sharp decline in Philosophy Bachelor’s degrees awarded in the U.S. since 2010.

In the 2009-2010 academic year, 9297 students received Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy in the U.S. In 2015-2016 (the most recent available year), the number was only 7507. In the same period, the total number of Bachelor’s degrees increased from 1,597,740 (completing 1,684,011 majors, including double majors) to 1,922,705 (2,019,829 including doubles). In 2009-2010, 0.58% of graduating students majored in Philosophy. In 2015-2016, 0.39% did. [See Note 1 for methodological details.]

Looking more closely at the year-by-year data, the decline in absolute numbers is entirely in the most recent three years, and quite precipitous:

2010: 9297 philosophy BAs (0.58% of all graduates)
2011: 9309 (0.56%)
2012: 9376 (0.54%)
2013: 9439 (0.53%)
2014: 8837 (0.47%)
2015: 8198 (0.43%)
2016: 7507 (0.39%)

As a fan of the Philosophy major, I am alarmed!

A broader look at the data is partly reassuring, however: There was a similarly precipitous increase in the numbers and percentages of philosophy majors in the early 2000s, as displayed in the graph below. So maybe we’re just seeing the pop of a philosophy bubble?

(click to enlarge)

For further context, I examined every other broad category of major with at least 100,000 graduating majors since the 2000-2001 academic year (27 broad majors total). Since 2010, only two other broad majors have declined in absolute number by at least 15%: History and English. Foreign language isn’t far behind, with a 13% decline in absolute numbers. So Philosophy’s decline seems to be part of a general decline in the main traditional humanities majors. (The three biggest gainers: Computer Science, Health Science, and Natural Resources.)

I’ve graphed the data below. (I’ve thickened and brightened English, History, and Philosophy. Note also that the English line is mostly obscured by the Philosophy line in recent years.)

(click to enlarge)

I’ve put the raw numbers for all major categories in CSV here, if you’d like more detail.

Finally, I looked at recent trends by institution type (Carnegie 2015 basic classification). As you can see from the chart below, the decline appears to occur across most or all institution types. (The top line, for four-year faith-related institutions, is jagged presumably due to noise, given low total numbers.)

(click to enlarge)

I’m not sure what to make of this. I suppose Wittgenstein, who reportedly advised aspiring students to major in anything but philosophy, would have approved. Thoughts (and corrections) welcome!


Note 1: Data from the NCES IPEDS database. I looked at all U.S. institutions in the IPEDS database, and I included both first and second majors. Before the 2000-2001 academic year, only first major is recorded. I used the major classification 38.01 specifically for Philosophy, excluding 38.00, 38.02, and 38.99. Only people who completed the degree are included in the data. Some majors have different classification titles and criteria over the period, so I needed to make a few coding/grouping decisions. The most important of these was disaggregating the History subfield from the “Social Sciences and History” category in the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 data. Although there are some category and coding differences over time in the dataset, the 2011-2012 to 2015-2016 academic years appear to have used exactly the same coding criteria.


The post Sharp Declines in Philosophy, History, & Language Majors Since 2010 (guest post by Eric Schwitzgebel) appeared first on Daily Nous.

Recent APA Grants Fund Projects on Outreach and Diversity

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/12/2017 - 3:24am in

The American Philosophical Association (APA) has announced the winners of several of its grants for the 2017-2018 academic year. All of the funded projects appear to be aimed at growing philosophy’s constituency, focusing especially on younger students (including high schoolers) and members of groups traditionally underrepresented in professional philosophy in the United States. 

The APA’s Small Grant Fund will be providing support to:

  • the 2018 Iowa Lyceum — a philosophy summer camp for Iowa high school students ($500)
  • the American Association of Philosophy Teachers’ Teaching and Learning Summer Seminar ($5000)
  • Beyond Borders — a program for bringing Latinx undergraduates into philosophy involving University of Texas at El Paso and the Latinx Philosophy Conference at Rutgers University ($5000)
  • a conference, “HBCUs and Philosophy IV: Philosophy, Race, and Resistance” at Morgan State University ($5000)
  • Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO), for travel expenses of high school teachers attending the AAPT Summer Seminar on Teaching and Learning Philosophy
  • the Trans Philosophy Project, for a conference on “philosophical work that is accountable to and illuminative of transgender experiences, histories, cultural production, and politics” ($5000)

The APA’s Diversity and Inclusiveness Grants will fund:

For more details about these grants and the programs they are funding, see this post at the Blog of the APA.

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