The Big Tent contributors are followers of Alfred Thayer Mahan.
I'm going to toss out the gauntlet: I'm willing to compare my educational experience with anyone at Big Tent. I have a BA with a double major at the best liberal arts college in the country, an MA, a PhD, have had three postdocs (including Oxford and UVA), and have taught at two universities as a professor. I have never, not once, run into a situation in which a professor engaged in anything approaching "indoctrination." David Horowiz is full of shit. He simply is. Unless, of course, he supports affirmative action for conservatives. Which could not be possible, because he opposes affirmative action for African Americans, a group that actually has experienced a history of oppression in America. And I find it curious that he never investigates business schools or law schools or engineering programs. I guess that would fuck up the theory. Which like all theories is pretty much bullshit when applied to the real world. But of course why would Horowitz want to deal with the real world when straw men are so vulnerable? dcat
I'm stuck--do I side with the anecdotal evidence and setting up a straw man or do I back the anecdotal evidence and appeal to authority? I have not read Horowitz's book, so I will reserve judgment on him in this case, but I will suggest that interested parties read the article Stephen linked, since it says everything Derek just said, only better.
Tom -- How you can possibly say that I argue the same things Kavulla argues is utterly beyond me. It makes me wonder which of us you read less closely. You can dismiss my arguments as merely anecdotal evidence and as an appeal to authority, I suppose. But you still have to address those anecdotes and that authority. I have never once seen "indoctrination" in the classroom and the burden of proof is on those making the accusation, not on those of us defending against it. This is literally first day of logic class stuff. dcat
Here is Kavulla on indoctrination and anecdotal evidence: "There may be little strictly scientific evidence of bias. (Horowitz cites the 9-to-1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans in a typical faculty, but this statistic doesn’t prove that politics is intruding into the classroom.) Yet the many individual narratives Horowitz and others have compiled make for a remarkable preponderance of evidence that must be answered — but mostly has not been."and..."Horowitz warns us that those who ignore such instances “obviously don’t think ideas have consequences.” To this, allow me to enter a guilty plea: Ideas like these really don’t have consequences. They are nutty, self-evidently partisan views, and Horowitz underestimates undergraduates when he objects that “no indication is provided to the uninformed student that these might be extreme views.”To be sure, explicitly value-oriented departments bastardize higher education — but who really are the victims? Serious students tend to avoid them, apart for humor value. (The Harvard Salient, which I edited, republishes their course descriptions verbatim on its “parody” page.) And such courses’ enrollees are mainly those looking to be indoctrinated."Kavulla also criticizes Horowitz for "the steady stream of invective" throughout the book, and for involving politicians in the issue.Are there any data or anecdotes about bias in business schools, law schools, and engineering programs? I haven't seen much, so that would be interesting. As far as I can tell from Kavulla's article and from what I have seen from Horowitz, neither supports affirmative action for conservatives. Kavulla's solutions are spelled out in the last few paragraphs: "“Academic freedom” is not a synonym for “liberal education”— whose absence is the real problem in today’s academy. Here and there, Horowitz hints that reinvigorating liberal education is his real agenda, and this is probably what has alarmed so many professors enamored of new and worse ways of thinking. Horowitz admirably excoriates the creation of the special-interest studies...."and..."But reinstituting serious curricula is not a task in which politicians are likely to be helpful. It is a duty chiefly for the university itself, even though it currently shows little interest in doing so. There are some grounds for hope, as Horowitz points out in the final pages of the book — most of all, in places like Princeton’s James Madison Center and Yale’s 50-year-old Directed Studies program, which serious professors everywhere should seek to emulate. For their part, undergraduates’ remedy is to seek out good advising, and scrupulously to avoid the self-evidently biased courses and departments that Horowitz has long had his eyes on."
Tom -- We both read the article. I'm not sure how excerpting it is such a powerful argument for you. he and I do not disagree. You say that we argue the same thing, but that he does so better. I'm glad he gives you the screaming thigh sweats. I hope you two are happy together. But my arguments and his are very different. I'm curious where Horowitz gets his evidence. From students? With names of classes and professors attached? With professors having the chance to respond? Does he go out and investugate -- do Oral Roberts and Brigham Young play a comparable role to Brown and Duke? Are his anecdotes self-selected? I've never been in a department that had a 9-1 ratio, so the idea that such a ratio is typical sounds very dubious to me, but having not read the book, I'll wait to see if the methodology he uses is more rigorous than I suspect. As for "liberal education" not meaning "academic freedom," who precisely is saying that it is? Against whom is he arguing? And who is defining "liberal education"? Is a return to a core curriculum the demand? Who decides what that core is? As for universities not having "serious curricula," that seems like an assertion without evidence. Who defines "serious"? Do we know if a course is serious because of its title? Does Horowitz or Kavulla get to sit back and weigh whose syllabus is a serious and whose is not? Is my sports history class less serious than my modern Africa class? Is my Global terrorism class more or less serious than someone who teaches music history? Does topic equal seriousness? Believe it or not, there can be shitty World War II courses and wonderful cultural history classes. It is the ultimate example of an illiberal mind that someone would decide that they are the guardians of what qualifies as a quality liberal education. Horowitz has styled himself the expert on bias and indoctrination. It's one of those little cottage industries that I would envy if I did not bust my ass every day in a world he has never tried to understand honestly and without resorting to caricature. dcat
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