“re: Seth Barrett Tillman responding to President Adam Falk, Williams College: the Allure of Forbidden Fruit”

Seth Barrett Tillman responds to the president of Williams College:

Dear President Falk,
I read your February 18, 2016 letter to the Williams Community. I do not understand it. You don’t quote, link to, point to, or even summarize anything Derbyshire said or wrote. So the reader has no way to understand precisely what he said or wrote that crossed any “line” or even, when he said or wrote you allege constitutes hate speech. How is the reader supposed to understand your letter?

Read the whole thing.

Jonathan adds:

1) President Falk’s statement that “Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard” sounds a lot like “Your call is very important to us”.

2) Hate speech is speech. The reason why no one who expresses concern about “hate speech” ever mentions such a thing as “love speech” is that it’s obvious that speech that no one objects to requires no protection. The term “hate speech” is verbal camouflage used to obfuscate anti-free-speech arguments.

8 thoughts on ““re: Seth Barrett Tillman responding to President Adam Falk, Williams College: the Allure of Forbidden Fruit””

  1. Shut the colleges down, fire the professors, apply the endowments to the National Debt, burn down the buildings, plow the land, sow it with salt.

  2. Not in the least surprised. What in the world is going on at Williams?

    Unless of course his invitation was planned to spark a reaction. Certainly plausible. National Review dropped him and not sure if he’s at Takimag anymore. He doesn’t really make outrageous statements or arguments, it’s just that you cannot say that stuff anymore.

  3. But at times it’s our role as educators and administrators to step in and make decisions that are in the best interest of students and our community. This is one of those times.

    This is the part of the letter which I found most objectionable. It illustrates Hayek’s criticism of socialism’s information problem – it’s impossible for a socialist in a command position to have better information is about what is in the best interests of the millions of people who he enslaves. The best information model relies on individuals doing what is in their own best interest and then aggregating this up to a society effect.

    Same process at work at Williams, this President cannot know what is in the best interests of his students with respect to their own intellectual development and the paths they’re going, or should, take.

    The prima facie case here is that the students who invited the Derb thought that they were acting in their own best interests because they wanted to hear what he had to say and interact with those positions.

    He doesn’t really make outrageous statements or arguments, it’s just that you cannot say that stuff anymore.

    I agree. This makes Derb a more honest person than the President of Williams.

  4. How you feel about your abilities and errors is a good indicator of your skill. A highly competent person understands his errors and has empathy for other people who have had to endure them. This motivates him to learn more and not repeat mistakes or near misses. He understands that professions and tasks outside his field involve skill and experience which he doesn’t have.

    A person of average competence sees errors as unavoidable and nothing to worry about. He sees things as not his fault, because everyone is imperfect. He believes that he knows enough, and thinks that he can do everything as well as people who specialize in a subject. He wonders why most problems in life haven’t been solved already. (Obama is an example.)


    Dunning-Kruger effect: The hubris of the incompetent.
    Motto: I could do that better than you, if I wanted to.
    === ===
    Wikipedia [edited]: The Dunning–Kruger effect is a bias in thinking. People may make bad choices and be incompetent to realize it.

    The unskilled overrate their own ability as above average. The highly-skilled underrate their abilities, often below the self-rating of the unskilled.
    === ===

    University presidents have power. They worked for it, so why not use it. They are “obviously” much more intelligent than average, and so they decide to step in and do the right thing which is not apparant to their inferiors.

    In their view, opposition to what they believe is a useless procdedure which slows down progress.

    Universities used to teach what to think and how to think. That separated them from churches which teach only “what” and that any dissent is blasphemy. Many universities are now parishes of the liberal religion. No blasphemer is welcome, and why should he be? Any dissent delays utopia, entrance into the kingdom of Gaia.

  5. When I attended the U of Southern California, it was a lesser reputation college that had lots of good networking opportunities in southern California but little in the way of national reputation (except in football, of course). The medical school was focused on teaching and the clinical faculty was largely made up of physicians in the community who devoted quite a bit of uncompensated time to teaching. For example, during the years I was in surgery training and for decades before my time, there was a member of the clinical faculty of surgery in the County Hospital every night of the year, all night. I did my share and served on the faculty for the Saturday Service (which ran admitting of new patients every Saturday night) for 16 years. I spent a Saturday night in the hospital every fifth week.

    The university during my time was a bit weak in Engineering (except Petroleum Engineering) but the medical school was excellent. The other academic departments varied but Architecture was excellent and the Law School was the first in southern California and therefore most judges were alumni, an advantage for any lawyer appearing in court.

    I was an undergraduate in three departments. I spent two years in Engineering and it was adequate but there were quite a few foreign faculty in the basic courses, like Calculus, who were hard to understand. I spent a year in English Literature while I was doing my pre-med and that faculty was excellent. I still look back with pleasure on some of the courses I took.

    My pre-med classes were in Biology and Chemistry and both were fine. I was allowed to take the final exam in Inorganic Chemistry without taking the course and passed, which assisted my preparation for medical school, which had already accepted me.

    Looking back, I cannot recall any evidence of political interest in any of the faculty. I did take an Economics course in the second year when I was wavering about my future and it was what made me a Republican. I voted for Nixon in 1960.

    Recently, I have become aware of a definite leftist slant in the university, both in classes and administration. Several modestly conservative speakers have been protested and there seems to be some evidence of the SJW movement. This is new and disturbing. I have seen very little of this in the Medical School, where I have been teaching until this year.

    I do see a definite “feminization” of the Medical School but this probably is to be expected as women are now about 60% of medical students. I have made clear to my students that I am a dinosaur and expect traditional skills to be learned and respected. So far this has not created any waves although I have sensed a bit of “tolerance” from a few of my female students the past few years.

    I spent a year at Dartmouth getting a Masters Degree in health policy after I retired from practice in 1994 and I saw definite leftist sentiment there.

  6. I spent a year at Dartmouth getting a Masters Degree in health policy after I retired from practice in 1994 and I saw definite leftist sentiment there.

    Someone devised a law, I think it was Pournelle, which observed that every institution which is not explicitly conservative in mission eventually falls to leftists because leftists politicize every damn thing that they touch while conservatives are more focused on living life rather than being engaged in advancing a revolution. You may not be interesting in a political war, but a political war is interested in you.

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