Skip to comments.For Academic Elites Evidence is Irrelevant
Posted on 04/23/2014 5:11:46 AM PDT by Kaslin
Former UNC Dean Dan Plyler is like a lot of academics today. He forms strong opinions without taking the time to study an issue to determine whether his opinion is supported by evidence. Evidence is irrelevant for such academics who are more interested in preserving visions of how things should be - as opposed to evaluating how things are with some practical game plan for improving upon them. Plyler's disdain for evidence was on full display when he wrote a Letter to the Editor in response to my recent promotion to full professor. It is reprinted below with my usual witty commentary (and humility) interspersed between each paragraph.
The recent ruling by a federal judge that a faculty member at UNCW be promoted to full professor establishes a dangerous precedent that can have serious consequences for colleges and universities throughout the country.
Actually, the ruling didn't establish any precedent at all. After the jury ruled in my favor, both sides in the conflict (my attorneys and the attorneys for UNCW) were asked to submit their recommendations for relief. My attorneys asked for promotion and $60,000 back pay. UNCW attorneys recommended promotion and $40,000 back pay. The judge split the difference on the back pay and gave me $50,000. He did not have to split any difference on the promotion because it was not in dispute. My promotion set no dangerous precedent because it set no precedent at all. Ordering the things both sides agree upon is a routine judicial practice. There is no seismic innovation here.
The real question here is why Dean Plyler decided to go public with his views without familiarizing himself with the facts concerning the promotion? The answer is simple: He wishes to preserve a vision that the academy is under some sort of external assault by people with lesser judgment. (Please note that even judges have lesser judgment than academics, in Plyler's humble view). Since the evidence would have contradicted the vision, it was ignored. In fact, it was not even sought after by the learned Dean.
Academia, since its inception, has held firmly to the belief that accountability of its members is best determined by peer review and peer evaluation. This process at UNCW and most other universities is a multi-tiered one, with many steps designed to ensure that fairness prevails. Also, any member of the faculty having received an adverse ruling has access to a lengthy review process that can eventually lead to a hearing by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
The lawsuit was filed in 2007 after UNCW refused to let me appeal in 2006. The "lengthy review process" in my case was this: "Dear Dr. Adams: We are sorry but you can't appeal this decision." Does Dean Plyler equate denial of a single appeal with due process? Of course he doesnt. He simply knows nothing about the case over which he is offering public commentary. To learn about the case would require learning about the evidence. Seeing the evidence would diminish the vision. So the evidence is deemed irrelevant. Welcome to Academic Elitism 101.
The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that the quality of the faculty is maintained at the highest possible level while at the same time assuring fairness to all its members. There is no other institution in our society that guarantees fairness and due process more than colleges and universities, and to have a jury of the general population and a federal judge as wise as they may be determine whether or not a faculty member is eligible for promotion is ludicrous.
Any shred of credibility Dean Plyler had was destroyed as soon as he said "There is no other institution in our society that guarantees fairness and due process more than colleges and universities ..." When I read this line to my classes, they erupted in laughter. The reason they laughed out loud was that they have to live under the iron hand of the UNCW administration. They do not live in an ivory tower where they have a) tenure, which prevents them from being fired, and b) qualified immunity, which allows them to violate the law, feign ignorance, and let the taxpayers pick up the bill.
When the laughter subsided, I took the time to survey all of the students in my criminal procedure classes. (There are two classes with thirty students in each class). I asked them two simple questions:
1: Have you (or one of your friends at UNCW) ever had to go into a university expulsion or suspension hearing and face a university attorney while being denied counsel of your own?
2. Have you (or one of your friends at UNCW) ever been subjected to a student conduct "hearing" where the university made a determination of guilt prior to the "hearing," which was typed up before the "hearing" and handed it to the accused at the conclusion of the "hearing."
Over 80% of the students responded by raising a hand after I asked the first question. The same result was obtained after I read the second question. I wasn't surprised by the results. I'm familiar with the evidence.
Given the reality of things, it would probably be more accurate for Dean Plyler to modify his statement to say "There is no other institution in our society that disdains fairness and due process more than colleges and universities." Of course, modifying his statement would require that he examine the evidence. And that would threaten his vision.
It's another example of the "race to the bottom" mentality that has permeated our society.
How obscene of Dean Plyler to use a phrase, which is in vogue now in conjunction with the issue of globalization, but was popularized a century ago by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. Justice Brandeis was a champion of free speech and due process. Among other things, he taught us that sunlight is often the most powerful of disinfectants.
In contrast, Dean Plyler is a hypocrite who demonstrates that ignorance is the opiate of academic elites.
“Evidence is irrelevant for such academics who are more interested in preserving visions of how things should be”
Because leftism is their religion.
I believe in GOD and nothing is going to change my mind. I see evidence for it. Others see evidence against it. I know what I believe.
Academia is rotten and stinks to high heaven. My FIL was a theology prof for 40 years. the stuff these people did to each other and wrote about one another would make your hair stand straight up. These people and their tenure system are completely rotten.
Thanks for posting Mike Adams’ article - personally timely as I’m about to engage in a similar endeavor regarding a promotion in academia, albeit at a much lower level than a university. I can already sense the blood on my forehead from the approaching brick wall.
Believe me, a more self-absorbed, unrealistic and myopic group of people you have never seen.
Everyone has an endless string of creds behind his/her name yet cannot, from one moment to the next, comprehend or recall simple administrative requirements.
OFF this campus, these guys are a mark for anyone with even a child's grasp of how the world REALLY works.
Peer review is only helpful when there is a significant amount of “apple” remaining. When the apple is all worms only worms are recognized as peers. Time to fumigate the orchard.
Academics at public institutions are dictators and hypocrites. They are also public employees and should be accountable to the taxpayers.
I hope to live for the day when a courageous governor takes on the education establishment of her/his state university system. A good start would be reducing the size of the bureaucracy and requiring all teaching faculty, particularly the esteemed tenured senior full professors, to carry a teaching load that keeps them in the class room at least 4 hours per day. Require an addition 2 hours per day of office hours where they are accessible to students and then allow them 2 hours a day for research or administrative work. The screams will be loud, and if the program is properly communicated to the public, will find an unsympathetic audience.
Once the bureaucracy is tamed, and the lazy tenured faculty is put to work, the governor should propose a legislative reform of the tenure system (end it) and a redefinition of the purpose of the university.
Too many senior administrators and senior faculty seem to believe the purpose of the university is to create knowledge through research and writing. As far as state supported institutions are concerned the purpose of the university should be teaching the paying students. Subsidizing social activism, political indoctrination, and peer reviewed writing is not an appropriate use of taxpayer money. Let the academics who wish to engage in research and pontificating to each other apply for appointments to private universities and apply for funding to private institutions and benefactors.
The rot in higher education persists because taxpayers are funding a corrupt system that lacks any external accountability. States government do not have to perpetuate the farce and it is time for governors to lead a major reform effort of public universities to reduce cost to the taxpayers while improving the output.
“...ignorance is the opiate of academic elites.”
I like it!
With one small change - “[willful] ignorance is the opiate of academic elites.”
I’d say the author threw the piano pretty hard. Hope it hurt.
I am not sure if Mike Adams plays the piano, he does play the guitar though, but I do know what you meant