July 11, 2008

An Amusing read

Go check out this lengthy thread over at educationwonkette.

Academic guest posts a somewhat controversial, albeit politically-correct, view on race and education, gets challenged on it by commenters, and runs away without responding to the challenge.

It must be nice to have this kind of insulation from criticism in certain academic fields, but it doesn't help the reputation when you fail or are unable to defend your position in the real world.


eduwonkette said...

Ken, As I explained over at the site, I don't think it's fair to characterize this as "running away." By this standard, bloggers run away *all the time* - who has time to respond to everything? Are bloggers who don't respond to comments at all - of which there are many in the blogosphere - running away? Here's what I wrote across the way:

I don't think it's reasonable to expect anyone to debate here forever. When I ask people to guest blog, I don't require that they comment at all, and Mica has spilled about 500% more ink here than any guest has in the past. I'd like to continue to have guest bloggers, but that will be impossible if they feel like they have to spend multiple work days responding, or if they feel like they will be accused of running away if they don't respond to every comment.

If you have thoughts on how guest blogging could be organized differently, let me know - but I don't see any other way around this. All bloggers leave discussions when we have stuff we need to get done - as I did today and yesterday and have to do more often than I would like - and we shouldn't expect anything different from guest bloggers, even if you feel it would be fruitful to continue discussing.

KDeRosa said...

e, it's always a judgment call as to how far to carry the debate or whether you need to respond at all. And then there is the time factor.

I'll try to be objective, but I think that Professor Pollock made a tactical mistake. Sometimes it's better not to respond at all, rather than doing a half-hearted response that leaves many points unresponded to. It's also probably a mistake to state that you're leaving the debate, instead of just leqaving. It's the equivalent of taking your ball and running home from the schoolyard. It's also unfortunate that no other commenters came to Professor Pollock's aid. I would have thought that some of your frequent commenters would have agreed with Profesor Pollock's position and helped out.

These race, SES, IQ, genetics issues are the hot button issues in education and there are strong opinions all around. I think everyone interested in improving education is trying to figure these isues out because of the implied policy considerations.

Having knowledgable active commenters, regardless or viewpoint, is a good thing for any blog. You might have to start warning your guest posters.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken! For a cheap thrill read the NEA manifesto, Great Public Schools for Every Student by 2020. Then, on an exponential scale of 0 to infinity (with 1 being "barely helpful" and 10 being "thoroughly duplicitous") give it a grade.

To whet your apetite, consider the NEA's advice:

"Quite simply, the federal government should quadruple the amount of research and development money spent in the area of education. Such a level of funding represents a minimum necessary investment. Some areas of critical focus should be further researched into the links between brain development and learning ..."

Bonus question: Would American schoolchildren be better off if all NEA members switched to the AFT?

Anonymous said...

BTW, I guess I should relate my previous comment to this thread. Here you go:
Ken, since the eduwonkette comments indicate you clearly have too much time on your hands, why not offer some good advice to Barack Obama and John McCain by critiquing the NEA's new manifesto? So far, Obama seems to like it!

Anonymous said...

Whenever I see TangoMan in the comments section somewhere, I know he's about to do some damage.

TurbineGuy said...

It is pretty obvious that she is way out of her depth... pretty surprising for a Harvard professor.

She sort of pissed me off when she said I misquoted Lewontin, since I didn't quote anybody.

Secondly, I got the feeling she had never even heard of Lewotin's fallacy, which makes me suspect that she is completely ignorant of scientific debate on the subject of genetics.

Finally, her "blog" isn't a blog... its a website with three posts.

I like eduwonkette, but I do think she might vet her guest bloggers a little bit better.

Robert Sperry said...

""Quite simply, the federal government should quadruple the amount of research and development money spent in the area of education.""

I'm sorry but four times zero is still zero...

Unknown said...

I read it, but hesitated to join because I've encountered Pollock elsewhere a number of times, and have seldom met anyone so strongly wed to his ideology that he is unwilling to address any point that might call it into question. As for Lewontin, few academics that dishonest exist (and you know how cynical I am). I was an anthropology student when sociobiology was new, and in a sociobiology seminar, read several of Lewontin's papers that would later become his book. Lewontin has nothing to say about sociobiology; he argues against what he believes sociobiology is. I did not after he came out with the book that Pinker responded with the same criticism.

I decided to mention a few points because despite her degree in anthropology, Pollock doesn't know anything about population genetics, but tangoman beat me to it, and said it better than I could have.

Anonymous said...

Ken: Thanks for mentioning eduwonkette's thread on your blog - I definitely got a kick out of the debate. Professor Pollack certainly has an "interesting" point of view. I was intrigued to hear that Rightwingprof had come across Pollack elsewhere - I'd have to agree that she is very much wedded to her ideology - to that point that she really didn't respond substantively to any of the comments calling her ideology into question.