July 7, 2006

Medium Hot.

My, that was a passionate radio show! Were any of you listening? The show was not just about the Supreme Court, but a review of a lot of news stories from the past week. We started off with the controversy I blogged about here: "Teaching 9/11 denial at the UW-Madison." I'll be interested to hear how that sounds when they get the recording up. I felt very fired up and at one point, the other guest, Louis Fortis -- editor-in-chief of The Shepherd Express alternative newspaper and former Democratic state lawmaker -- says that he finds me scarier than the 9/11 denial teacher. Well, why don't you listen and let me know what you think.

Other subjects: Ken Lay's escape from punishment via death, whether North Korea is just trying to get attention, biased coverage on NPR, whether George Bush's visit to Wisconsin will help gubernatorial candidate Mark Green, immigration policy, the two same-sex marriage cases that came out yesterday.

Ah, the archived show can be streamed here now (the 8 a.m. show). Listen!

IN THE COMMENTS: Lot's of good stuff, but I especially love this one -- from Mitch -- about teaching 9/11 denial:
Can we look forward to UWM's Chemistry department offering courses in Phlogiston Theory, or maybe the Almegest will be used as the introductory astronomy text. And let us not forget to include the Progessive teachings of Lysenko in the Biology department. I mean, it's only fair to include opposing viewpoints in the interest of academic freedom.

Barrett's big mistake was wandering from the safe areas of moonbattery and conspiracy theories into the dangerous places where scientific falsifiability can strike down the unwary crackpot. Yes, you are entitled to your opinions and points of view, but you are not entitled to teach what has been proven false. Otherwise, what is the point of teaching anything at all?

118 comments:

JohnF said...

There is a pretty comprehensive set of summaries of the work of actual engineers (instead of intro-to-Islam scholars) on the reasons for the collapse of the towers. See: http://wtc.nist.gov/

It had to do much more with the failure of various joints that the melting of the building's steel.

elliot said...
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elliot said...

What perplexes me, Ann, is that they chose you as the conservative voice.

Don't you consider yourself a centrist?

Too Many Jims said...

I think the point that this is inappropriate material for an "Intro to Islam" course is well put. I still think discussing the reading material and theories is acceptable in some class, just not this one.

Ann Althouse said...

Elliot: They just asked me to do the show and I said yes. They didn't ask me to be the conservative.

I just listened to the recording and am glad I didn't sound as over-the-top passionate as I felt talking about 9/11 denial -- and also the stuff about North Korea. The other guest, Fortis, took such a carefree attitude about things that it really riled me.

Note that I was in the studio and Fortis was on the telephone. You have to hold back from being overpowering when you have that purely technical advantage, which includes not only sound quality but eye contact with the host.

JohnF said...

I've listened to the show, and one caller said the teacher only planned to "talk about" the theory, rather than to advocate it.

This would be a very different thing--the difference, e.g., between a history of religion course and a course teaching that religious beliefs are correct.

Ann, is there any info at the University to let us know what the teacher actually plans to teach on all this?

dmc_in_washington said...

nice new "About Me" photo, Ann!Much cheerier than the previous.

Ann Althouse said...

JohnF: Read my earlier post and the links it contains. What you need to know is that the teacher has been very actively promoting the theory in the political sphere and that he is assigning his own book Barrett, Cobb and Lubarsky, eds. 9/11 and the American Empire: Christians, Jews and Muslims Speak Out. Northampton, MA: Interlink, 2006.

It's conceivable that he could still, as a teacher, present it neutrally, just as a university teacher on religion could teach the religion he believes in. My problem is that the teacher believes a crackpot, ridiculous theory and he's using a class on Islam to teach his theory. It's like being hired to teach astronomy and covering astrology and actually being someone who believes in astrology. I feel sorry for the students who think it's worth their time to engage with this material and to subject themselves to the power of someone who would believe something so nutty.

He's the founder of the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance, "which claims the Bush administration planned the attacks to create a war between Muslims and Christians. He argues that members of the faiths must work together to overcome the belief that terrorists were to blame." The quote is linked at the earlier post of mine.

Make sure you understand what the theory is: that the government planted explosives in the WTC and brought the buildings down. Do you send you children to college to spend their precious time engaging with nonsense like that?

Dave said...

Would have to agree with JohnF's comments.

But then he's also my father, so....

Mark said...

Respectfully, I disagree with Ann about the free speech issue. I think that as long as the course is taught in a professional manner without forcing any particular viewpoint down the students' throats, the professor should be able to throw any ideas for discussion. What this professor suggests is definitely nutty, however, it is a free speech issue, just as the other guest said. Just because we think it's nutty, it doesn't mean that it should be censored. Otherwise, we are on a very slippery slope: who gets to decide what is "sufficiently nutty", what if something seems nutty now but turns out not to be nutty in the future, etc.

This is college, students are grown-ups, they'll deal with this. Have more faith in students. If they don't like the course, they'll drop it.

Ann Althouse said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Mark: Do you not think that the university has some responsibility to its students to staff the courses with teachers who will refrain from requiring students to study the teacher's crackpot pet theory (and to buy the teacher's book on the subject)? Do you not think the university offering a course on Islam ought not to hire a person who will connect Islam to a belief in a political conspiracy that is no part of Islam? I said over and over again that the subject of censorship is a smokescreen. Address the issue I raised: the responsibility of a university.

Dave said...

Ann, what's the responsibility of the university to keep you from arguing that we were right to go to war? Clearly some students would disagree with your argument.

In any event, universities have long since lost any respect. See the coddling of Cornel West, the abuse of Larry Summers, etc. Seems to me, universities' last concern are crackpot "theorists" such as this, in light of all the other bullshit which passes for higher "education" these days.

ignacio said...

Dave, I don't think you addressed Ann's point. If she editorialized that we were right to go to war, as part of a history course, that's very different than presenting bogus facts as true.

Can the guy justify teaching 2+2=5 under the first amendment by your logic?

ignacio said...

Or he could teach that Hitler survived 1945 and went to Paraguay.

Internet Ronin said...

Ann: "the responsibility of a university" in its hiring practices is a subject that interests me, at least, but I'm not convinced that we can have one because of the reflexive need to divert any discussion into a debate about academic freedom and free speech.

It seems to me that the university did little or no background check before hiring this individual, and shirked their responsibility to the students (and the taxpayers) when they chose such an extremist, even though his is a temporary position.

Had the university selected someone who published a book arguing that years of SAT test results demonstrate that, as a rule, black people are not as intelligent as white people and whites not as intelligent as Asians, I doubt many people would be arguing he or she was a legitimate choice.

Too Many Jims said...

I like the Astronomy/Astology example but it does point out a central problem to resolving this matter. That is, the determination as to what is appropriate content of the course resides primarily with the department. Do we want people outside the Astronomy department determining what is and isn't "Astronomy"?

JohnF said...

I think there is logic in Ann's point from the broadcast, which is that this is a sort of contract issue (what was the guy hired to teach?) rather than a 1st amendment issue.

Of course, there are fuzzy borders here, but I can't believe the administration hired him to teach, in a course on Islam, that the U.S. wired the Trade Center-- any more than it hired him to teach that Jews were descended from swine, etc., etc.

ada47 said...

Wow, Ann. I just became a huge fan of yours after listening to the show. I don't always agree with you, but you are, in my opinion, exactly right on this, and you articulate your points very well, despite your obvious passion.

Free speech, the right to advance crackpot theories, the fact that more than a few people agree with said crackpot theory, are all beside the point here. Promotion of this idea does not belong in an Introduction to Islam course.

One can not deny the importance of understanding Islam at this moment is time. Many of us highly educated people are ignorant about Islam-at least I am. To have such content in an Introduction to Islam course will discourage many students from taking the course, and will in fact skew the course composition in favor of adherents to radical and preposterous ideas.

I know this idea is out there-it can't be supressed, and that's fine. Anyone who wants to can buy Barrett's book. I wouldn't go so fa as to say that this idea has no place in a university curriculum, that it should not be explored and debated. But it has no place in an Introduction to Islam class. Hell, I have to wonder,if thisis Barrett's idea of an approptiate topic for such a course, exactly what version if Islam is he teaching?

Fortis accused you of censoring Barrett's class. Does he deny that there should be some consensus on the curriculum, especially for introductory or required courses? Is there some body of knowledge that most of us agree should be considered essential for university graduates to have? I'm a professor, and I serve on the curriculum committee for my department and at the university level. If we are to agree with Fortis that we can not advise and recommend in matters of course content, then I'll gladly take back my four hours per month of committee service.

sonicfrog said...

Lets, for a moment, consider that the theory is true - that Bush and Co. somehow planned and executed the destruction of the towers on 9/11. The next question would naturally be - to what end?

The theorist will tell you 9/11 was perpetrated on the American people and the world to give us a reason to invade the Middle East, so Cheney and Haliburton could steal the oil, and reshape the region into an imperial outpost. Plus Bush was obsessed with getting Saddam, because, after all, Saddam tried to kill Papa Bush, so the invasion of Iraq would be the ultimate payback. But if the conquest of Iraq was so vital to Bush's motivation, since the Bush cabal was behind the events of 9/11, why wouldn't they structure the events to directly implicate Saddam's hand behind the attack? And surely they could have planted some WMD's during the run up to the war, that would be found during the invasion, giving the Iraq action even more validation. What about the anthrax attacks. There are people who pin that on the Bush cabal as well (my little brother sent me this - don't know if he subscribes, but his wife does). So again I ask: if the Bush's were so smart, cunning, and all powerful to pull these atrocities off, why didn't they bother to connect / concoct the evidence that would directly implicate the desired target, Saddam Hussein???

I'm just askin'.

RogerA said...

Internet Ronin: The Bell Curve was believed by some to be precisely such a book (although Hernnstein and Murray had considerably better academic credentials and psychological measurement was Hernnstein's academic area of expertise). One wonders if those arguing for the WTC demolition theory to be taught would also support the use of the Bell Curve in a classroom.

Mark said...

Ann said:

"Mark: Do you not think that the university has some responsibility to its students to staff the courses with teachers who will refrain from requiring students to study the teacher's crackpot pet theory (and to buy the teacher's book on the subject)? Do you not think the university offering a course on Islam ought not to hire a person who will connect Islam to a belief in a political conspiracy that is no part of Islam? I said over and over again that the subject of censorship is a smokescreen. Address the issue I raised: the responsibility of a university. "


I think it's a bit misleading to frame the question this way, since there is no objective way to determine what constitutes "a crack pot theory". The university does not have an obligation to investigate the teaching style of every professor and to determine whether or not he/she has any theories some consider "crack pot".
The University's obligation is to hire professors who are qualified to teach the course and who do so without imposing any particular viewpoint.

It is sad that this approach sometimes lead to crack pot theories being taught to students, as may be in this case. however, it is a necessary trade off that ensures that the academic freedom is not stiffled. Yes, I'd prefer that this theory not be taught. But I also believe that that it is the issue of censorship, even if it is coached in words about the university's responsibility.

This is my viewpoint, I am not pretending I am necessarily right.

Mike said...

Elliot: in WPR's world, Ann is a conservative. Real conservatives are "the extreme right-wing". Really.

As a UW-faculty member, I had to laugh at Fortis' "unease" with anyone telling a professor what he can teach in "his" class. I am expected to teach, first and foremost by my department, a given topic. If I a) choose to teach a different topic, or b) teach nutty ideas about my topic, my colleagues would raise strenuous objections. And rightly so. My behavior would be a diservice to my students, as well as not give them the preparation they need for continued work in the field. Though I am granted a lot of freedom, I most certainly can not teach anything I damn well please.

As to the claim that Barrett will treat "both sides" of his conspiracy theory: a) it ignores the primary point that it's not the topic of his course, and b) you really have to be gullible to believe him.

As to Fortis' notion that people want to interfere with Barrett's curriculum but do not interfere with "fundamentalist" teachers, what was he talking about? Has there been a rash of fundamentalists teaching at our colleges that I missed?

The Drill SGT said...

I thought that the radio program was fairly out of balance in a couple of areas.

1. Overall Imbalance: I guess what passes for balance on NPR is a middle of the Road Democrat representing conservatives. Fortis, a self described 60's radical, former Democratic pol representing liberals.

2. Agenda: I think Fortis clearly had an agenda, turning most issues into something anti-GOP. Ann was on different sides on different issues. Sometimes taking a position in opposition to Fortis, sometimes agreeing.

BTW: Welcome to new Althouse readers that may have arrived today via the WPR show referral.

rafinlay said...

I assume, of course, that those advocating the acceptability of teaching the US Govt WTC conspiracy theory in an intro to Islam class would also have no problem teachiing Creationism in a Physics/ Biology/ Geology/ etc class....

As long as it was neutrally and objectively presented, of course, and the fact that the teacher WANTS it taught is no indication that it might not be objectivly presented, right?

Mike said...

Mark said: The university does not have an obligation to investigate the teaching style of every professor and to determine whether or not he/she has any theories some consider "crack pot".

Of course it does, Mark. Now as you word it, it sounds like an impossible task. That's why the responsibilty is "delegated" to the department level. A difficulty in this case is that Barrett begins with engineering claims as evidence for his theory; claims that his department are likely not able to evaluate. But that's just a result of the fact that this guy has strayed so far off topic in the first place.

Mike said...

Drill Sgt: Yes, I was struck by exactly the same thing. I also learned I don't need to pick up a copy of the Shepard Express any time soon.

Mark said...

Rafinlay:

No, you're wrong. I strongly object to teaching of ID or creationism in SCIENCE classes. Why? Because ID or creationism are not scientific theories.

However, I would have no problem with teaching of ID in a comparative religion class.
Similarly, Introduction to Islam class is not a scientific class, but rather akin to political science/comparative religion class. Just as there is no objective proof for validity of one or the other political or religious viewpoint, there is no truly objective way to evaluate which theories are crack pot and which are not.

The Drill SGT said...

I agree with Mark, that it seems to me that a teaching department has a duty and obiligation to oversee course material and instructional techniques in all its courses with several clear distinctions.

1. TA's, Adjuncts and lecturers deserve more scrutiny than full tenured professors. Barrett is a new, temporary lecturer. He should stick to the standard sylabus

2. Introductory and core courses deserve more oversight than graduate level electives. Because they are both required, and provide the basis for advanced material, they must be more uniform in their approach.

Rafinlay: I would use a stronger example. Creationism is relatively benign. Why not allow Neo-nazi's to diverge from Western Civ to teach the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Or Ex-Keagles diverge from a biology or genetics class to teach race theory?

Those are uglier examples, but closer to the wackiness of WRC as a CIA/Zionist plot. And just as valid.

Mike said...

Drill Sgt: I think you agree with me (Mike), not Mark.

The Drill SGT said...

Yes, Mike: Mike. though I have no great issue with Mark's last posting.

Mike said...

My only quibble with Mark's last post is that in this case, because Barrett avails himself to scientific arguments to buttress his theory, there is a way to establish that's it's crack pot.

Mark said...

I think the university should simply not renew the contract with this professor, if the univerisity decides that his teaching style does not advance the best interests of students. I'll have no problem whatsoever with his contract not being renewed.

The Drill SGT said...

Rethinking my examples after considering mike's last post, maybe the ID example in a biology class is more akin to teaching structural engineering in a religion class. That is to say mixing the provable with unknowable and vice versa.

My examples of Nazis and KKK had the right threat to it, but didn't have the right juxtaposition of science and religion (sort of) in the same example.

perhaps reversing my examples and teaching the Elders in a genetics class and racial classification in Western Civ is closer to the correct alignment.


Mixing Faith and pseudo-science are at the heart of the problem in the Barrett case.

stoqboy said...
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stoqboy said...

I think this theory should be taught in intro to chemistry, too. After all, if Islam makes bombers (out of believers or infidels) chemicals make bombs.

ben wallace said...

Althouse appeals to academic responsibility without providing a precise definition of the concept. If we couls defined this term, which actors within the university should determine if the content of a course violated the norm of cademic responsibility? How do political demands factor into the specific determination of academic responsibility?

In my experience in law courses at UW, I would characterize Althouse as academically responsible for presenting the material in a fair an balanced way (both sides of the spectrum). I would also characterize some others in the law school and some other graduate departments as academically irresponsible for providing material in a way that is highly biased. I'm sure many political actors would find much of the assigned material academically irresponsible. At the same time, I would support all of this as protected by academic freedom as long as student viewpoints are not discriminated against. Failure to support Barrett is asking for trouble.

As a social scientist, as opposed to a legal scholar (where it is probably easier to ensure faculty teach the right material and easier to measure effectiveness by bar passage rates), I feel that the potential for abuse of the concept of acadmeic responsibility makes me hesitant to invoke the term to get rid of certain faculty even if their ideas are outlandish.

Mark said...

Another Mark wrote: I am not pretending I am necessarily right.

I am not pretending Mark's right either.

It's bizarre, this idea that it is impossible to determine whether or not a theory may be justifiably labeled "crackpot". Obvious examples are the aforementioned 2+2=5 and holocaust denial.

Accepting the idea also seems to lead people to the conclusion that the ONE thing you absolutely must not use select professors is what they actually teach. Now there's a crackpot theory.

SippicanCottage said...
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Editor Theorist said...

This is an interesting topic and an interesting set of comments.

I think the radio program implicitly brought out the poverty of Fortris's position - which is probably the mainstream one in arts, humanities and social sciences (AH&SS) academic circles.

(Note: I take 'science' to include all systematic bodies of knowledge - including not just natural sciences but economics, linguistics, music theory, history, law, political science, quantitative sociology and similar.)

These problems don't arise in sciences or professional training subjects (medicine, engineering) - where it is usually pretty clear what needs to be taught, and the difficulties are in the business of teaching, of transmitting knowledge and skills - and maintaining motivation while doing so.

In the longer term, the arguments of Fortris et al. that defend self-indulgence and propaganda may convince AH&SS academics but they do not convince anyone else. Debating worthless theories with fools does not seem a useful way to spend 4 years and a lot of tuition money - it makes a lot more sense to study sciences - and that is what I think will happen.

I think the decades-long crisis of AH&SS will be terminal. Future undergraduate colleges and universities will increasingly focus on teaching science which is (I would argue) the best 'general education' for the modern world.

MadisonMan said...
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MadisonMan said...

Drill Sgt: Joy Cardine is on WPR, not NPR. WPR shows cover so many different things: farming, weather, cheese, cows, pets, ... that aren't political. Unlike NPR

Internet Ronin said...

As for Barrett, I think the Mark that posted this is right:

I think the university should simply not renew the contract with this professor, if the univerisity decides that his teaching style does not advance the best interests of students. I'll have no problem whatsoever with his contract not being renewed.

While I generally agree with the dangers mentioned in Ben Wallace's comment (in essence the dreaded "slippery slope" argument), some things are just to beyond the pale (teaching neo-Nazi or white supremacist theories of racial supremacy as fact, teaching creationism as science) that there actually is a time and place to stand up, be counted, and say "Enough!" In this case, however, I think the message has been delivered and the best solution is not renew the contract.

It is unfortunate that politicians are demagoging this, but that is the way of most politicians.

Mark said...

The other Mark wrote: ...if the univerisity decides that his teaching style does not advance the best interests of students. I'll have no problem whatsoever with his contract not being renewed.

So they can fire a teacher if his style does not advance the interests of the students, but not if the content does not advance their interests? Right.

And if no theory can be objectively labeled "crackpot," how can a teaching style be determined to be objectively bad for students? Isn't that a bit inconsistent?

Tibore said...

I'm listening to the stream right now.

Fortis characterized your objection as "censoring" the course? Why? No one's saying "muzzle Barrett". No one's saying he can't publish his theories online, or in a book. No one's saying that he can't give a presentation on the topic in an appropriate class. They're saying "why's he teaching this in a course on Islam?" Look... I give ground to no one in my beliefs and defense of free speech. But that's not the issue here!!!. The issue is the appropriateness of what Barrett is teaching given what course he's responsible for. Let's put aside the fact that he's pushing a crackpot theory. The point is that no one's preventing him from discussing it elsewhere.

And Fortis really thinks that Barrett's course would be a give-and-take on whether the course material is right or not? He really believes that?? Fortis can keep coming back to that 'let's throw this (idea) out there and if it's a crock, it'll get torn apart' (paraphrase, not quote) line, but let's understand one thing: The professor/student relationship is not equal!!! How is a student supposed to challenge the authority of the instructor? Because that's exactly what's happening when someone contradicts what the instructor is teaching as fact.

I don't want to think ill of Fortis, but he seems to be a bit purposefully naive, nearly Pollyannaish on that subject.

KLT said...

I'm curious as to what the course description says the course will cover, and also what area the course is designed to cover for departmental purposes. It seems these materials are fundamental to a determination of what an instructor may appropriately spend any significant amount of time on while teaching the course.

Mike said...

The problem with the "just don't renew his contract" approach is that, if I understand the situation correctly, that decision will not be made until after the semester is over.

ben wallace said...

The issue about the relevance of this theory to a course on Islam is interesing. The conspiracy theory is probably more appropriate in a course on American politics (given the argument involves a federal investigation and the executive branch). But Barrett believes that 9/11 led to the creation of a myth involving the Islam and support for terrorism that was created by the US government. Hence, Barrett believes that exposing the myth will allow Americans to see that Muslims are not as they are portrayed. I think Barrett really wants to criticize a myth that Islam supports terrorism when in fact Islam does not support terrorism. The problem of course is that he could do this without the conspiracy nonsense. Thus, in attempting to debunk these myths, which are buttressed by a government conspiracy, Barrett sees himself as increasing the ability of the American people to better understand the meaning of Islam. This could explain why he wants to include this in a course on Islam, or at least provide enough information to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Few people would doubt there are many inaccurate generalizations about the relationship between Islam and terrorism in American society and Islam in general. Barrett assigns Huntington's clash of civilizations book; the reason might be to consider problems with Huntington's generalizations of Islamic culture. Barrett is probably qualified to deal with many of these issues given his expertise. In the end, students will probably get some good things and some bad things from Barrett. In my experience, students will disagree with him and he won't end up changing the minds of most. In fact, most will probably come out of this course with a clearer understanding of how to refute a 9/11 conspiracy theory.

Danny said...

I'm debating taking this course. It's rather relevant to my major and the course material as a whole seems interesting and the subject cannot be more pertinent. If I have room in my schedule I might squeeze it in and see what the fuss is all about.

bearbee said...

"Barrett sees himself as increasing the ability of the American people to better understand the meaning of Islam."

9/11
"Kevin Barrett will discuss strategies for turning the 9/11 psychological warfare operation against its perpetrators, and using 9/11 truth as a "magic bullet" that could demilitarize the American economy, overthrow corrupt elites, turn attention and resources toward pressing environmental concerns, and usher in a new era of peace and justice."


Here is all kinds of videos and stuff if you have the desire, patience and energy to go through.

1
2

3

4

Internet Ronin said...

Danny: I say "Go for it!" Especially if you like circuses. It should be quite entertaining at first because many of the usual suspects, pro- and con- [whatever], will likely make appearances for a while. You may get what you hope to get out of it, or what Ben hopes you will get out of it (and I hope you get both), but I tend to doubt it at this point. In the end, though, it's your time and money.

For a preview of coming attractions, you can always visit his website, or rather the website of the group he co-founded and runs: http://www.mujca.com/index.htm
Lots of real interesting stuff to be found there. Quite fascinating. Some of the links to previous feature articles don't work any more, but google still has a cached copy and there is always the "wayback" machine.

whit said...

Apparently the left has gone into a "circle the wagons" mentality. I have heard them defending all manner of nonsense lately.

It seems that logic and commonsense are suspended if the nonsense to be defended is in opposition to conservative issues.

Good job, Ann.

Ann Althouse said...

Maybe the class will be overrun with kids like Danny. Just keep track of when the last day to drop is.

ben wallace said...

Barrett's academic freedom has been supported by FIRE and individuals including Don Downs and Lee Hansen. This is not a group of liberals. I would not describe myself as a liberal. Barrett's ideas are less of a problem than the politicization of course content, which would really cause some problems.

Mike said...

Ben - Have you taken a look at the site Internet Ronin points out?

Internet Ronin said...

He can hope. Based on my prior experience with "controversial" classes, the room will be filled with a lot of angry people spoiling for a fight and a few genuinely interested. From what I've heard, the angry these days rarely confine themselves to old methods of body language, scowling and asking pointed questions, but insist on lecturing the lecturer or shouting down other lecturers of the lecturer with a different viewpoint. Oh well, that is what the campus police will be there for- to maintain order. The furor will probably die down eventually, when the combatants get bored with each or find another cause to champion.

ben wallace said...

I think Barrett is for the most part an academic clown but there are severe dangers with opening up this issue unless we can first provide a very precise definition of academic responsibility. Until then the university or LCA department should hesitate to void his contract (if his lectureship contract has been signed). Maybe academic misconduct is the way to proceed if one wants to get rid of Barrett, but I'm not sure if his conspiracy work qualifies under those standards.

Also, in my experience with undergrads here, they will not have any compunction about tearing into a faculty member who says things they disagree with. In my experience, law students tend to be much more deferential to professors than the undergrads.

AJ Lynch said...

I listened to the podcast. It was a good show- Ann sounded level-headed and logical while the lib, Fortis, sounded a bit doctrinaire. But all in all a very good show with a nice kinda "lightning round" list of topics.

Nice job.

And I agree with you there is no reason to include a "crackpot" theory in an Intro To Islam.

charlotte said...

What's next? Might the university announce that, in an attempt to restore more balance to the leftist Mr. Barrett's "Intro to Islam: Illuminati Skull and Bones Bush Perpetrates 9-11 Massacre and Hoax", they're hiring an ultra- conservative who'll teach "Latin American Studies 101: Skull and Bones Illuminati Bush Plots for One World No Borders, Mexifornia Is Just the Beginning"?

Internet Ronin said...

Ben mentions a politicization of courses. I was reflecting on my own experience, having attended the University of California at Santa Cruz, a place renowned for its left-wing bent. If there are ten registered Republicans among students and faculty, I'd be very much surprised. I attended during the Watergate scandal and can't remember anyone mentioning it during any class. There was a lot of talk by both faculty and students outside of class, though. Most of my professors were liberal Democrats, but I only knew that from conversations outside class, not in it, with only one notable exception.

Looking back, most of my K-12 teachers were probably Democrats but I had no reason to know that based on what went on in the classroom. Through my own political activity outside the classroom, I learned the politics of many of my high school teachers. Otherwise, I would not have known how more than 1 or 2 voted in any election, for example. Judging by what the children of friends and family say today, that is becoming the exception rather than the rule, even in the primary grades. And I think that is sad. It's fine with me if Ann, for example, wants to say who she is voting for or whatever in a college classroom, but I don't think third graders need to know that George Bush (or John Kerry) is an evil man bent on the destruction of the nation.

Pogo said...

My chemistry teacher in college, circa 1980, was an anti-fluoridation zealot. Otherwise, he was pretty much on topic, but you learned to bring up fluoridated water whenever you were bored and wanted to see the Adam's apple go up and down his skinny neck. Quite fun, really.

But in retrospect, it wasn't worth the hundreds of dollars per credit I was paying (really, borrowing to repay for decades later!).

This course is just bad, on so many levels.That the virtues of rigorous and true scholarship needs to be defended is shocking. Shame on the people who support this waste of time. It's insulting to students and parents.

SippicanCottage said...
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Mike said...

I am unpersuaded by the slippery-slope argument that we have to accept everything or academic freedom will be imperiled (I think slippery-slope arguments are, in general, an abdication of our responsibility to think). I believe that in this case the exact opposite is true. I think our ability to appeal to the spirit of academic freedom is strengthened when we are willing to proclaim that beyond-the-pale teachings are, in fact, beyond-the-pale.

Pogo said...

This is a real John Birch Society moment for the Democrats. Rein in the crazy talk and expel the daft, or get comfortable wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.

Advice? Read a little WFBuckley for guidance on how this unfolded for the GOP in the 50s.

Mark said...

(The other Mark here.)

I just listened to the show. Brava, Professor Althouse! Great arguments presented with great passion.

The Drill SGT said...

SC and Bearabee,

I read the links: Amazing!

Madisonman: looking at the WPR site, I thought I understood that WPR and NPR were overlapping from material like:

Wisconsin Public Radio consists of 27 stations programmed by seven regional studios and carrying programming from the two WPR networks - the Ideas Network or the NPR News & Classical Music Network. This allows Wisconsin Public Radio to serve local, regional and statewide audiences with the highest quality programming available.

SaysMeow said...

For me, the academic freedom arguments in favor of Barrett collapsed when I found he was using his academic position to validate his claims:

(excerpt from http://www.mujca.com/nytimes.htm):

"If I could not distinguish between garden-variety conspiracy legends and solid 9/11-revisionist historiography, I would hardly be a suitable candidate to teach Folklore at one of America’s leading public universities, as I did last fall. Likewise, if my arguments that the “Islamic terrorist threat” is fabricated, that “al-Qaida” is really al-CIA-duh, that the “Bin Laden confession video” is ludicrously phony, and so on, were viewed as crazy, I would hardly have been chosen to teach the introductory courses on Islam at both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Edgewood College of Madison next fall."

If UW lets him teach after he's said that, they deserve all the egg-on-the-face that comes their way.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...

I think Saysmeow is right. If Barrett uses the fact that UW allows him to preach conspiracy theory from the podium as a Prof that what he says is correct, then all bets are off on the freedom of speech defense.

He is using the UW in the most perverted sense.

"if my arguments that the “Islamic terrorist threat” is fabricated, that “al-Qaida” is really al-CIA-duh, that the “Bin Laden confession video” is ludicrously phony, and so on, were viewed as crazy, I would hardly have been chosen to teach the introductory courses on Islam at both the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Edgewood College of Madison next fall."


He also categorizes the UW LCA department and Edgewood as un-indited co-conspirators in his loony theories. I haven't seen any dispute from the UW administration.

After two and a half years of very public 9/11 truth work, which included bringing David Griffin and Morgan Reynolds to wildly successful, officially-sanctioned events at U.W.-Madison, I have yet to hear a single negative word from a single colleague or administrator. On the contrary, I have received widespread support and encouragement from my colleagues, most of whom at least tend to agree with my interpretation of 9/11 but prefer not to say so in public. (One who has gone public is my Edgewood College Religious Studies colleague James Goulding, a MUJCA endorser.)

Danny said...

Never mind... not taking the class. I visited this guy's website and he's a complete joke. Everything he says on his website makes him out to be a paranoid hippie who forgot to do something after graduating. There's a reason the tenure process exists and it's to shed faculty who have ulterior motives beyond teaching and research. Academic freedom doesn't mean not having standards.


And then there's the website... scrolling text banners? I can't help but be reminded of Borat's website.

ben wallace said...

Mr. Drill Sgt: Barrett only says that his appointment here means the faculty view him as not being crazy, and "not crazy" does not imply "correct."

The larger problem is that the others in his department might actually agree with him. Here is an example. When a friend of mine complianed to the LCA department about an LCA instructor, the department chair said that he hired the person because a friend of his treated him to a nice lunch and recommended the person (who was a horrible instructor). As if that would make someone feel better about a horrible teacher!!

For my money, Barrett should be allowed to teach due to academic freedom concerns, but that department is fucked up.

ben wallace said...

Danny: Barrett is not in a tenure-rack job. He is a lecturer with no hope for tenure. Lecturer positions can essentially be filled by anybody. I always recommend to undergrads not to take a course taught by a lecturer for this reason (although many lecturers are qualified, they are usually nowhere near as good as the faculty in that area).

The Drill SGT said...

I found a couple of nuggets:

the LCA course description.

370 Islam: Religion and Culture. (Crosslisted with African, Relig St) I; 4 cr (H-I). The emergence and development of Islam; schism; theology; asceticism; speculative and popular mysticism; literatures in diverse Islamic languages. P: Open to Fr.


The UW Provost's statement:

http://www.news.wisc.edu/12696.html

ben wallace said...

This might also contribute to the problem. The following is a description of the LCA requirements for a major in religions of Asia (note that there is no discussion of any required courses in RELIGION or any requirement that the PHD minor be in religious studies or history; there are 10 required courses in language and the minor which would probably satisfy the 39 credit requirement without requiring any actual expertise in theology):


"Our departmental mission includes the study of numerous religious traditions of Central Asia, Southwest Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Such traditions include Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Jainism. The graduate study of such traditions, whether in their past or present forms, is generally conducted within the Religions of Asia track. Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged.

Major Language Requirement

3 years (6 semesters) of an Asian language offered by the Department. An examination of the student's competence will be Part One of the student's Ph.D. preliminary examination. The form of the examination will be determined by the faculty member administering the examination. Elementary and intermediate languages taken in the course of fulfilling this language requirement cannot be counted toward the "credit requirement" described below.

Minor Language Requirement

Two 2 years (4 semesters) of another Asian language, or 1 year (2 semesters) of two other Asian languages offered by the Department. Elementary and intermediate languages taken in the course of fulfilling this language requirement cannot be counted toward the "credit requirement" described below.

Additional Language/s

It will be the responsibility of the student's Ph.D. adviser to establish at the beginning of a student's Ph.D. program additional language requirements (if any). At that time the Department Chair, the student's Ph.D. adviser (if different from the Chair), and the student will sign an Adviser/Additional Language Form that will be filed with the Graduate Coordinator. The student must complete the additional language/s requirement before taking any part of the Ph.D. preliminary examination.

Credit Requirement

39 credits taken in courses numbered 300 or higher. Course work taken for the M.A. count towards the 39 credits. Elementary and intermediate language courses do not count toward the 39 credits. "Directed Study" and "Independent Study" courses are not accepted toward the fulfillment of the 39 credits unless approved in writing in advance by the Academic Programs Committee. The 39 credits include:

a) Two courses in Literature and/or Linguistics, one of which may be taken in either the Department of Linguistics or in the Department of Comparative Literature.

b) Four seminars or pro-seminars in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia. At least three must deal with one or more religious traditions.

c) (Optional) Up to 3 credits in Research and Thesis (990) from preparation used to satisfy the M.A. research requirement; however these credits do not satisfy the requirements in a or b.

d) Additional courses in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia to bring the total to 39 credits. With prior approval in writing by the Academic Programs Committee, courses with 25% or more Languages and Cultures of Asia content can be taken in other Departments to bring the total to 39 credits.

Ph.D. Minor – Required

The purpose of the minor is to give breadth to a Ph.D. major. The course work for the minor is in addition to the course work required for the Ph.D. major. A Ph.D. Minor Agreement Form must be on file with the Graduate Coordinator prior to taking the preliminary examination. There are two kinds of minors: Option A and Option B."

Simon said...

"I just listened to the recording and am glad I didn't sound as over-the-top passionate as I felt talking about 9/11 denial"

Heck, that's the first time I've heard you sound actually pissed.

Johnny Nucleo said...

I only heard the first segment, but that kicked ass!

I read Understanding Media years ago, but I didn't understand it, but now I think I understand it. (Is radio hot or cold? Actually, I still don't understand it.)

It seems they were freaked out by your passion. The host almost gently scolded you, saying (but not saying) "Now calm down, Ann Althouse."

But what you were saying was pure common sense. That guy you were arguing with is frightening in his willingness to indulge nonsense. He doesn't seem to get that the quality of an idea - the evidence that an idea represents sound thought - is the whole point of The Knowlege Industry. All other arguments aside, crackpot ideas are bad for business.

Simon said...

Holy cow this guy is a tool. I mean, the more he talks, the more one feels like paraphrasing David Frum to say that he "reminds us of the reasons why - and [] how - that party has rendered itself unfit for ... political power." I think it's a little unfair that they thrust Ann into a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

bearbee said...

I think Mr Barret has accomplished his goal. I suspect this is less about academic freedom and more about gaining recognition to raise his conspiracy theory full throttle. How long before he is interviewed by Good Morning America? I wonder if he has approached the New York Times. If there was even a remote chance of a smidge of truth, I think that they would be more than willing to elevate such a theory.

Doyle's office releases letter from controversial UW instructor


UW System inconsistent in sifting and winnowing

Elliot Fladen said...
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Pyrthroes said...

An "introduction to Islam" can't mention everything. Whether professorial conspiracy theorists "teach" their prejudices is immaterial. Why not just say, "Anyone of paranoid Leftwing tendencies should review Popular Mechanics magazine's point-by-point refutation of every extant 9/11 denial syndrome," and leave it at that.

More important, why has Islamic culture over 1600 years proved an absolute sinkhole for human progress? (Review India's experience with the Moguls.) Why has the Saudis' tidal wave of petrodollars resulted in exactly zero economic, scientific, social evolution? Why does Islam lend itself exclusively to "conquest" via barbaric violence, to suppression of basic human rights, to an insufferable, overweening arrogance in defiance of reality for, lo! these many hundred years?

From the early 20th Century on, Chinese and Turkish empires showed some awareness of backwardness... not the Mullahs after WWI, never the Ayatollahs, never the Saudis' convenient anti-Semites promoting crypto-fascist ideologies in guise of a nihilistic Wahabi death-cult.

"Introduction to Islam"? Waal, take mah head off with a chainsaw, if it ain't the Religion of Peace come lookin' fer an extra coffin. How's about a cartoon or two? Dear me, they're rioting in the streets! Nothing like a sense of humor, when it comes to "introductions."

Chip said...

It's not a "free speech issue" when someone is being paid to teach a specific subject. When you're paid for speech it's a contract issue. I realize professors are supposed to stretch the envelope and whatnot, but this particular professor is as loopy as fruit.

I've read his stuff. If a university can't draw the line with this professor every paranoid schitzo can teach at university.

Chip said...

When you were asked what should be done when "professors teach fundamentalist Christianity" the correct answer is "Who, where, when?"

Pushing Islamic conspiracy theories is "protected speech." If a professor tried to teach Christianity in a public university he or she would be fired in an instant.

At some point universities need to deal with their role as terrorist training camps. Arab money poured into Islamic study centers and paying full out-of-state tuition trumps the national interest, safety interests, and the students' interests. Taliban go to Yale on scholarship. Christians face "hate speech" codes.

The hippie generation's relativism is staggeringly stupid. We watched the towers burn, buckle, and collapse. Steel gets soft long before it melts, stupid.

Ann Althouse said...

Chip: "When you were asked what should be done when "professors teach fundamentalist Christianity" the correct answer is "Who, where, when?""

That is one of several things I thought of saying, and I chose not to go that route because I was trying to keep Fortis from casting me in the role of right winger to his left winger, which he was continually trying to do. Listening to the recording, however, I wished I had said something like that. I did start by saying something like "Are you talking about parents or teachers?" because it just plain didn't sound like anything a public university teacher could or would do. But when he said teachers, I didn't follow up by saying it's not happening .

mbuckl1 said...

Ann said:

I was trying to keep Fortis from casting me in the role of right winger to his left winger

I say:

Unfortunately, you helped him dismantle your brilliant opening statement by refuting it yourself with your following remarks. Its a pity that you didn't force him agree that your "Line" really does exist (eg "Where would you draw the line, Larry? Holocaust Denial?").

His non-chalance was very irritating, I agree. It would have flustered me, too.

sonicfrog said...

Sippy

"Professor Simpleton"!?!

Exellent!!

I'm gonna post about conspiracy theories 2-nite. Stay tuned!

Word Ver. crzqy

Ann Althouse said...

mbuckl1: I wasn't flustered. I was aware of how angry I was and did not want to ramp up the discussion in a way that would destroy colleagiality. I was speaking in a much more passionate way than I normally do on public radio. I was also thinking about my relationship with various people at the university. I don't think people listening to the recording will perceive me as being taken aback, at a loss for words, or anything like that. On the question of where the line is, I said what I meant to say. It's hard to draw the line, but some things are so far over the line that the precise placement of the line is irrelevant.

Mitch said...

Can we look forward to UWM's Chemistry department offering courses in Phlogiston Theory, or maybe the Almegest will be used as the introductory astronomy text. And let us not forget to include the Progessive teachings of Lysenko in the Biology department. I mean, it's only fair to include opposing viewpoints in the interest of academic freedom.

Barrett's big mistake was wandering from the safe areas of moonbattery and conspiracy theories into the dangerous places where scientific falsifiability can strike down the unwary crackpot. Yes, you are entitled to your opinions and points of view, but you are not entitled to teach what has been proven false. Otherwise, what is the point of teaching anything at all?

mbuckl1 said...

Ann:

Ok, exasperated then. I'm glad you weren't flustered. It seemed that once your colleague smelled passion, he played the cool head to better effect.

I still say that because Larry never had to agree that a Line or Standard exists, the argument became nearly exactly what you said you didn't want it to be about (censorship of unpopular ideas).

Did you have much time to research the Inside Job myth, or was this a invite at 2 and broadcast at 3 thing?

mbuckl1 said...

Ann

But I love your voice. Haughty and alluring.

Jim said...

"Do you not think the university offering a course on Islam ought not to hire a person who will connect Islam to a belief in a political conspiracy that is no part of Islam?"

No part? If only.

Semanticleo said...

"which claims the Bush administration planned the attacks to create a war between Muslims and Christians."

LOL

They couldn't organize a trip to the litle boy's room.

Nillion said...

This stink raised over this intro to Islam course is really a shame. I took this course the spring of 2003 and the teacher was quite good and kept all of his personal opinions (as much as anyone can do that is) out of the lesson material. Considering this occured during the invasion of Iraq, I believe he exemplified the neutral ground a professor must occupy to give a fair representation of the course to his students.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
_Jon said...

One of my friends wants to know if the UW offers courses such as
- Intro to Christianity
- Intro to Bhuddism
- Intro to (insert religion here)

??

Ann Althouse said...

Jon: UW has a Religious Studies department. Take a look at all the courses offered. There are courses involving religion in many other departments as well. For example, I teach Religion and the Constitution.

bearbee said...

Can we look forward to UWM's Chemistry department offering courses in Phlogiston Theory,..

Oooooh........ is there an alchemy course to show me how to change aluminum foil into gold??? Oooooh

Internet Ronin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ben wallace said...

bearbee, if you want alchemy you might just have to take a course that assigns patricia williams' book, "the alchemy of race and rights." i think she was on the faculy at UW at one point.

Ann Althouse said...

Pat Williams is a very interesting writer, who indeed was a lawprof here. Had the same office I now have in fact.

And it's Barrett, not Beckett.

J Bowen said...

Sic 'em, Ann! You didn't put in any more passion than was warranted. There are only so many hours available for a course - why must we waste any of it on such easily-disproven moonbattery?

Wanna see the world's fastest flip-flop? See what some of these "free speech" types would say if someone proposed a respectful discussion of "intelligent design" in a biology class.

Katherine Aren said...

Anne, you feisty devil you! You have a great radio persona - I know that is not necessarily a compliment in all quarters but I mean it in the least condescending manner. You don't become apoplectic when confronted with the rare resource of thoughtful reason which has long-since departed from NPR.

The Machinist said...

...If they don't like the course, they'll drop it.

Mark - 10:53 AM, July 07, 2006

Not for nothin'...do you realize that is not free? That you essentially have one week, one class session to judge the prof and the course? Then you *cannot drop it* and even if you did, then suddenly you need to make a new choice...pick a class which may already be full...lose money if not grade points...

I think it's a bad joke to play on students to have some sort of vile curriculum in a class and make it absolutely or just practically impossible to switch out. The prof is not necessarily giving full disclosure in that first session anyway. Often we get "Oh I'll have the syllabus next week." Next week is too late.

Mark, I think you have the prof's best interests at heart, not the students'. IMHO that is very wrong.

Jay said...

Listened to the first segment (approximately 20 minutes): an absolutely stunning exchange. Fortis trotted out the classic PoMo argument that no one should claim to know where the line is between good and bad educational material. His arguments were utterly indistinguishable from the "teach the controversy" meme of antievolutionists. It continues to amaze me, in fact, that the radical Left has not embraced the crusade against the historical sciences, or, for that matter, that the antievolutionists haven't allied themselves with the radical Left -- it would be a near-perfect fit.

Ann, you pretty much nailed him. Keep hammering away at the university culture that permits this sort of thing. As we would say in my line of work, don't you people have a process? Where are the entrance criteria that keep vicious nonsense from being forced on students -- paid for with tax dollars taken from their own parents?!

Jim C. said...

Arguing with Barrett or Fortis seems to be a bit like arguing with creationists or believers in ESP or Uri Geller. Or like arguing with Velikovsky, who claimed biblical miracles were caused by a comet erupting out of Jupiter and eventually becoming the planet Venus (or something like that). Some of the problems are the same: his believers don't know enough to refute him or believe the experts who did refute him, he was personally very impressive and projected an air of wisdom, and he was a skilled debater.

I listened to the whole thing. It did sound a bit like Ann was about to blow a gasket. I think that's a fully justified response to this crackpot theory on its own, let alone being taught at a university, let alone in an intro to Islam. However, I think that worked against her in a discussion like this. I freely admit I would have done far worse than Ann.

I think things as controversial as this should not be presented or hashed out in undergraduate classrooms. They should be presented publicly, in academic journals. Debates are good theater, but they can be decided on theatrical or rhetorical points rather than reason.

What is the point of a university if crap like this can be presented with a straight face and cries of freedom of speech? Maybe we should question what a university should be.

I assume Barrett is not an engineer, so he really has no business presenting this as he has zero expertise. Let the authors of the theory present their views and let qualified engineers respond.

Ann, maybe you would consider this strategy: Instead of the "crossing the line" analogy (that Fortis actually introducted and you accepted), use this analogy (courtesy of Martin Gardner): night fades imperceptibly into day, but that does not mean noon is the same as midnight.

By that analogy, the 9/11 theory is 11 PM at least. As is Fortis' claim that Ann is scarier than than the 9/11 theorist.

Jon Gold said...

Professor Althouse,

You have slandered Kevin Barrett. To refer to what he is saying, without doing any research of your own, as "crackpot", is slander. By referring to him as "Anti-America" is slander.

I am going to recommend to Kevin that he consider suing you, as well as ANYONE who openly slanders him.

A few days after his inauguration, George W. Bush asked his principals to find a "way" to invade Iraq. 9/11 happened, and we went to war with Iraq. It's not crazy to suspect that 9/11 was the Bush Administration's "way" to invade Iraq especially since that's what they used to do it.

To have a family member like Bill Doyle, someone who helps to run the largest family organization www.coalitionof911families.org state exactly what Kevin is, why is it a "crackpot" theory?

A recent Zogby poll states that 45% of America think that "Congress or an International Tribunal should re-investigate the attacks, including whether any US government officials consciously allowed or helped facilitate their success."

Why do you think that is Professor Althouse?

Maybe you should read before you speak.

Sincerely,

Jon Gold
www.yourbbsucks.com

Alex said...

How can so many educated people speak about a topic they have little or no knowledge of (911 truth), and with such self-important smugness?

Considering you're all so certain that Mr. Barrett is a "crack-pot", here's what should be a very simple challenge for you: prove just three claims made by Mr. Barrett to be false. Any three.

I wait with anticipation.

Ann Althouse said...

Well, Jon Gold, I'd say first, I never called anyone "anti-America." Second, I'd say you're not much of a free speech proponent. Third, I'd say, you have a dismal understanding of libel law. Fourth, I'd say if you believe the 9/11 conspiracy theory you are really quite pathetic.

And Alex, no, I'm not going to waste my time debating the merits of an idiotic theory that's already gotten too much attention.

SippicanCottage said...
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Alex said...

Hi Ann. You said:
"And Alex, no, I'm not going to waste my time debating the merits of an idiotic theory that's already gotten too much attention."

Bravo, Ann. Shoot down something you know little or nothing about by calling it "idiotic". That's quite the solid, convincing argument ;)

Brings me back to my elementary school days.

Anyone else up to the challenge? If not, do you have the character to admit your ignorance of the subject... or will you simply call it "poo poo" and walk away in a huff?

Ann Althouse said...

Alex: I'm also not using my blog to debate whether aliens run the government, mermaids have taken over Lake Mendota, and that Governor Doyle is an android.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

Hi Ann. You said:
"Alex: I'm also not using my blog to debate whether aliens run the government, mermaids have taken over Lake Mendota, and that Governor Doyle is an android."

How cute - and trite. I can tell you three reasons each of the above noted claims would be demonstrably false, and prove it with references. All I asked is that you (or other name-callers here) do the same with any three of Kevin Barrett's statements. But you obviously cannot. All you've done is prove what I suspected all along: you know little or nothing about the validity of Kevin Barretts statements regarding 9/11. Anyone who is capable of thinking for themselves (and not lapping up the pablum the
government spews out) will conclude that your stance on this issue is shaky at best.

Having said the above, I wish you well, Ann - as long as you speak about a topic you've actually studied.

SippicanCottage said...
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Johnny Nucleo said...

Hi, Alex.

You said: "How cute - and trite. I can tell you three reasons each of the above noted claims would be demonstrably false, and prove it with references."

Really? Even if you did a complete underwater survey of Lake Mendota, you would find no mermaids because of their advanced stealth technology, which was given to them by...

The Aliens Who Run the Government. These Aliens not only have advanced stealth technology, they also have mind-control technology, so there's no way you could prove or disprove their existence. Plus, even if they didn't have mind-control technology, you could not prove or disprove their existence because of their...

Android Agents, like Governor Doyle, which are indistuguishable from humans, even at the molecular level.

Now, you deranged jackass, prove what I said was false. Three reasons disproving each claim, please, with references.

A note to the sane: This is not the forum for an essay explaining why this nut is a nut, but if you're curious, Google, "9/11 Myths Popular Mechanics." Read the Poplular Mechanics article, and then read the articles claiming to debunk the Popular Mechanics article. Then decide for yourself. Bear in mind, though, The Aliens.

Alex said...

Hi there Johnny Nucleo - Ah, a desperate name caller, how surprising. You are oviously too afraid or lazy to simply study the facts, which can be found at www.st911.org or www.physics911.net, or a myriad of other good sites. Otherwise, you would answer my challenge (put forth at least twice in previous posts), instead of spewing forth your predictable (and typical) tyrade. Yawn.

That silly "Popular Mechanics" hit piece you sited has been thoroughly debunked itself in many different sites, one being: http://www.911review.com/pm/markup/index.html
I realize that you won't go there, Johnny, but there are those, unlike yourself, who aren't afraid think for themselves. Now go listen to Fox News and go back to sleep.

Alex said...

This will be my final post here.

Below please find a short list of the many distiguished individuals who agree with most, if not all of what Kevin Barrett espouses regarding 9/11:

Former Director of Advanced Space Programs Development for the U.S. Air Force, under President Reagan, and combat fighter pilot Col. Robert Bowman (Caltech Phd in aeronautics and nuclear engineering).
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6900065571556128674

Professor of Physics, Brigham Young University, and co-chair of Scholars For 9/11 Truth, Steven Jones
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=964034652002408586

Former CIA Intelligence Advisor to Reagan and George HW Bush and founder of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Ray McGovern
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Researchers_questioning_the_official_account_of_9/11

Aircraft crash investigation authority, USAF Col. (Ret) George Nelson
http://www.physics911.net/georgenelson.htm

Kevin Ryan, former department head at UL (Underwriter Laboratories) the company which certified the steel which went into the WTCs upon their construction, and inspected it after the WTC collapses in 2001.
http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20041112144051451

Former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Research Fellow at Stanford's Independent Institute, and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, Paul Craig Roberts
http://www.wanttoknow.info/050908insidejob911#roberts

Canadian National Defense Minister, the Honourable Paul Hellyer
http://www.septembereleventh.org/kc/multimedia/movies/Hellyer.mov

Professor of mathematics, University of Western Ontario, and founder of the Scientific Panel Investigating Nine-Eleven (SPINE), A.K Dewdney
http://www.serendipity.li/wot/operation_pearl.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._K._Dewdney

Former chief Pentagon arms negotiator for the Middle East, USAF Col. (Ret) Don de Grand-Pre
http://www.prisonplanet.com/022904degrand.html

The list goes on and on.

If even ONE person here has the character to investigate the above links, my efforts will have been worth it. Goodbye Ann. Thank you for allowing me to post.

Ann Althouse said...

Alex: "If even ONE person here has the character to investigate the above links..."

Alex, how about if you had the character to respond to the criticisms aimed at you? And here you are now, telling people what they need to read to demonstrate their character, while you're saying in advance that you are leaving and won't be around to deal with the additional criticisms. Some authority on character you are. Loser!

Alex said...

OK, Ann.. I came back to grab some links here to use for a post elsewhere, and saw a typically venomous post from you. So I'll stay and speak with you for a minute.

Why would I answer challenges from those who ignore my original challenge? Why Ann?

I've come to understand that you and others here are simply too afraid to face the truth about what actually happened on 9/11. I can understand that. It's a very hard truth. But there are those who ARE facing the facts, and doing something about it.
Then there are those who call these same people "idiots", "losers" and worse.

I now have no reason to return, Ann, so please move forward with your vitriol in my happy absence. I wish you courage.