June 4, 2013

"The deleted tweet that sent NYU Professor Geoffrey Miller into virtual hiding on Sunday and through Monday..."

"... read, in full, 'Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn't have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won't have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth.'" 
Then came the rest of Twitter. Responding to one critic who called the message "judgmental," Miller wrote that finishing a dissertation is "about willpower/conscientiousness, not just smarts." Within a few hours, however, facing the rebuke of his NYU colleagues and Twitter's active academic community, Miller deleted both tweets and replaced them with two new, apologetic ones....
But it was too late: by the time Miller apologized, people had organized an email campaign directed at NYU's administration, accused him of endorsing eugenics, and dug up other incideniary [sic] tweets that he had deleted a month ago....
The author of this item at The Atlantic, J.K. Trotter, proceeds to go after Miller:
Here is a tenured, credentialed professor of psychology who appears to harbor an active disdain for those he deems genetically or physically inferior, and trades on that disdain with Twitter jokes. (Who except a snotty teenager ridicules fat people for no apparent reason?) 
Judging from the photograph of Miller, I'd say — perhaps sounding (to Trotter!) like a snotty teenager — he has a personal struggle with weight control. He's quite handsome, but there's something about the shape of his features that suggests there's a fat man inside waiting to bust loose. I suspect that's the energy behind his tweeting about willpower and shunning carbs, and I wish him well. But back to Trotter and Twitter:
On Twitter, it seems, the only thing worse than throwing around a repugnant idea is lying about whether you believe it.

Miller's continued silence hasn't helped his case, either. He did not respond to emails....
Oh, Trotter! I haven't seen pictures of you and don't know if you're chubby, but if you are, with a name like Trotter, try Prancercise.

62 comments:

wyo sis said...

With an attitude like his it's a pretty safe bet he is lean and doesn't have to work at it. Typical attitude of a person who never had to struggle with the problem.

Bob Ellison said...

How many years of life did the USDA kill with the Four Food Groups?

Lyssa said...

I get annoyed with the whole "fat acceptance movement" a lot, but I think that the willpower to think for a half second before posting something that will obviously be offensive to a lot of people before tweeting is a lot more important than the willpower to cut the carbs.

jr565 said...

If you are anyone in any position of power or influence Twitter is not your friend. Keep your opinions to yourself and you will not be hurt. Or if you are going to tweet, tweet anonymously.
Teens dont learn this lesson, but you'd think a teacher might.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Mike said...

Degrees such as M.D., B.A., M.S., and J.D. are earned. A Ph.D. is conferred. Seems like this professor has already made up his mind about a class of people about whom he is sufficiently bigoted that he would not confer a Ph.D. on them.

Not much different from professors back in the 1950's and 1960's who assumed that a black skin meant that the individual was too dumb for a Ph.D. Just a bit more subtle about it.

Æthelflæd said...

Because no fat person ever accomplished anything requiring any willpower.

Not everyone struggles with the same kind of temptation.

Apparently Milller has poor impulse control when it comes to typing gratuitous insults that might cost him his job.

cubanbob said...

Get rid of NYUs charitable and tax exempt status, eliminate student loans and 529 plans and lets see how long he stays employed.

rhhardin said...

Taking offense makes jokes even better.

You not only get prudes upset but also victim interest groups.

rhhardin said...

Cretin still seems to be allowed, now that moron, idiot and retard are proscribed by the moron, idiot and retard lobbies.

Jay said...

Fat people love pretending they are the victims of fatness.

As if it just fell on their head or something.

Jay said...

who appears to harbor an active disdain for those he deems genetically or physically inferior,

Uh, ^ that thinking started the modern abortion movement.

That thinking still drives leftist thinking on a whole lot of public policy issues.

Again, nobody on the left has any sense of self-awareness.

wyo sis said...

Jay
Not unlike gayness?

rhhardin said...

The Airbus shouts "retard, retard" at the pilot sometimes, but it's probably a different meaning in French.

rhhardin said...

Fat people got no reason to live.

Ann Althouse said...

"With an attitude like his it's a pretty safe bet he is lean and doesn't have to work at it. Typical attitude of a person who never had to struggle with the problem."

Are you talking about Miller or Trotter?

Mark O said...

“. . . there's something about the shape of his features that suggests there's a fat man inside waiting to bust loose.”

Seriously?

Impressive intuition. A new phrenology.

Aridog said...

Ah, the power of Tweet! You have 140 character spaces allocated to utter your mental flatulence for all to see.

Kind of like Kanye West or Justin Beiber and their pants around their hocks ... they just know it is something we need to see, like plumber's butt is new or something.

It is impossible to be less hip than me.



Mitchell the Bat said...

"Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn't have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won't have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth."

That's a hypothesis.

It can be proven true or false.

I don't see the problem.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Regarding Prancercize (shudder), I want to say it's a gag but there are people who go for these "power walks" in the park who wave their arms all over the place like they're having a seizure. They must think it accomplishes something.

The same can be said for Saint Vitus' Dance, I suppose.

ricpic said...

When the academy makes inoffensiveness its highest priority it creates an environment incompatible with open enquiry, the reason the academy exists in the first place.

pm317 said...

"Prejudice, thy name" for most academics and liberals. They think they can afford to do that because they (think, they) are so wise, smart, and beyond reproach than the rest of the street crowd.

acm said...

Yeah, it's a hypothesis, but it has been proven false---there are plenty of fat people who did manage to write and defend a dissertation, and plenty of people of all sizes who wrote and defended dissertations without exerting their willpower against the carb menace. Most people, Ph.D, or not don't follow a willpower-testing low carb diet.

lemondog said...

How many years of life did the USDA kill with the Four Food Groups?

Butbutbut......nobody is smarter than GOVERNMENT!

As if it just fell on their head or something.

You mean like a fathead?

C Stanley said...

I'm sure this fellow didn't vote for Bill Clinton, since we knew he lacked the impulse control to be faithful to his wife so obviously he couldn't handle the demands of the presidency.

Why do lefties ignore think that fatness is a character flaw but promiscuity is something that can be compartmentalized so that it doesn't reflect on professional abilities or general character?

MadisonMan said...

Cue the outrage.

If people would just realize that no one has a right to be free from being outraged in this country, the country would be a lot less agitated.

Roll your eyes, mumble "idiot" to yourself and move on, because no one really cares about your opinion.

Balfegor said...

Even if getting a PhD is mostly about willpower, he's still assuming that fat people care about their weight. A lot of them don't, paticularly, other than when people try to embarass them about it. Or they may think other things (like thinking and research) are better uses of their time than running on a treadmill like a labrat. And why would you waste willpower on something you don't really care about? That would be idiotic.

cubanbob said...

People like Miller who have poor impulse control issues should avoid social media like the plaque. Rather they should stick to anonymous blog comments.

Bruce Hayden said...

That's a hypothesis.

It can be proven true or false.


So, you find a single fat recent PhD grad, and it is disproved. Know some fairly fat older PhDs, but without more cannot disprove that they were thin at graduation.

I agree with the earlier poster who suggested that this guy is more likely someone who either never gains weight or loses it easily. Years ago I noticed that there seemed to be more people who were able to discipline themselves mentally or physically, but not both, than were able to do both. And, I think that part of this involves where you live the most - in your mind or your body.

One of the interesting facts that came out of the Bell Curve was that average IQ of all doctorate types, except in Education(which is usually awarded to teachers for attending summer school long enough), was uniformly about one standard deviation above the mean. This included PhD, MD, and even the dreaded JD. Scary stuff to realize that there are some of each of these with completely average IQs. What this means here though is that some of the PhDs being conferred are because of a lot of fairly uninaginative hard work, and some for brilliance.

Mitchell the Bat said...

"[I]f you didn't have the willpower to stop eating carbs . . ."

My main criticism is that Professor Miller breached his duty to be effectively helpful; a duty that derives from the custom of common courtesy.

Rather than scold, he would do better to explain that a fatty only needs about three days' worth of willpower, max, to turn things around, forever.

After two or three days, you're in ketosis and it's EASY to resist carbs.

I lost 10 pounds in two weeks and I still drank booze.

I lost 50 pounds, total, and my dick got bigger, too.

Okay, I made up that last part.

gerry said...

Fat people love pretending they are the victims of fatness.

As if it just fell on their head or something.


The National Association for the Advancement of NonSlender People will be in touch, SIR!

Rabel said...

Luckily for Professor Miller help is available and close at hand.

Balfegor said...

One of the interesting facts that came out of the Bell Curve was that average IQ of all doctorate types, except in Education(which is usually awarded to teachers for attending summer school long enough), was uniformly about one standard deviation above the mean. This included PhD, MD, and even the dreaded JD.

Wow, really? I would not have guessed JD's are even a standard deviation over the mean. I'd have guessed maybe 105, 110 vs. an average of 100. It is not exactly an intellectually taxing course of study to get a JD, compared to, say, pretty much any BS, or a MD, etc.

cubanbob said...

What's Miller got against fat people? Their sacrafice of being fat is slowing the rate of entropy. God bless the fat people.

Jane said...

The willpower to resist an impulse (sending out an ill-advised tweet, eating an ill-advised candy bar) is different than the focus to stay engaged with and complete a significant project, don't you think?

edutcher said...

If he's talking about the people who are so heavy, they can't walk without a cane, can't move without a scooter, he's probably on the mark. someone like that is so incredibly self-indulgent I doubt they'd get that far, but...

"Taken together, these thoughts do suggest something troubling. Here is a tenured, credentialed professor of psychology who appears to harbor an active disdain for those he deems genetically or physically inferior, and trades on that disdain with Twitter jokes."

And the usual wisdom from the diversity crowd. They're "troubled" because this guy tells the truth.

And I love that little Godwin Alert, "genetically or physically inferior, and trades on that disdain with Twitter jokes" .

Astro said...

That video would have been a lot funnier with music by the C&C Music Factory: Everybody Prance Now !

TMink said...

As a fat person who wrote and defended a dissertation I would say that the ability to limit carbs and to write a research paper are actually disparate. Why would a professor not know that? Perhaps I should read his dissertation.

Trey

cubanbob said...

I owe Miller a favor. Thanks to him I can skip NYU off the college tour this summer. This fat man can spend his quarter million dollars elsewhere.

CyndiF said...

Writing my dissertation caused me to gain weight as I was spending much more time at my computer and less working out.

wyo sis said...

@Ann
Miller

chrisnavin.com said...

For God's sake, it's "Prancercise."

I'm truly sorry that when mocking the "Prancercise" lady's bursts of mimetic joy, laboriously crafted into a practical exercise regimen, some people can't also see the mien of a Lipizzaner, it's raw power constrained and channeled through precise, exacting movements.

With old fashioned gumption and the spirit of entrepreneurship, she's putting her best hoof forward.

What about you, America?

wyo sis said...

Miller seems to have a rather distinguished history of making ridiculous sociological statements and doing specious studies.

" Research Interests

Evolutionary psychology, human nature, sexual selection, mutual mate choice, ovulatory cycle effects, mental fitness indicators (creativity, humor, art, music, moral virtues)
Behavior genetics, psychometrics, individual differences, intelligence, personality traits, mental disorders
Applied evolutionary psychology: Consumer behavior, market research, social media, smartphones, consulting, policy, popular science outreach" UNM Department of psychology faculty directory page

"His paper “Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap-dancers” won the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize in Economics at Harvard" Posted August 7, 2010 by emilyleach & filed under TEDxABQ 2010 Speakers.

He's all about looks.

Aridog said...

Wyo Sis ... I was sure you were kidding ... the no one could have published a research finding titled Ovulatory cycle effects on tip earnings by lap-dancers ... I mean that's really funny! Sad, but funny.

It is also true...Wyo Sis no lie.

And he gets paid to do this stuff?

Shanna said...

How many years of life did the USDA kill with the Four Food Groups?

Indeed.

It's fascinating what he's saying because it's not like 'eat low carb' is the official wisdom coming collectively from the government, your doctors, the AHA, etc. Hell, even people with diabetes are encouraged to eat a ton of carbs.

Apparently Milller has poor impulse control when it comes to typing gratuitous insults that might cost him his job

So much this. There are different kinds of willpower.

elkh1 said...

'Dear professor: if you didn't have the smarts to stop tweeting, you don't have the smarts to be a professor.#truth.'

sydney said...

You know what else makes you fat? Sitting in a library or lab all day researching and writing a dissertation. And it's not the carbs, it's the calories. Think about people. Cows get fat on grass for goodness sake.

Aridog said...

Good Lawdy...this guy Miller publishes some awesome stuff like the genetic influences on cell phone use.

How could we do without this academic wankering?

lemondog said...

I'm truly sorry that when mocking the "Prancercise" lady's bursts of mimetic joy, laboriously crafted into a practical exercise regimen, some people can't also see the mien of a Lipizzaner, it's raw power constrained and channeled through precise, exacting movements.

With old fashioned gumption and the spirit of entrepreneurship, she's putting her best hoof forward.


Philistines!

Aridog said...

sydney said...

... And it's not the carbs, it's the calories. Think about people. Cows get fat on grass for goodness sake.

And Sydney for the WIN!

The twit Miller has a BA in Biology, but deigns to acknowledge the parts he doesn't like.

n.n said...

There is a loss of context in Twitters.

That said, liberty, and achievement, require people capable of self-moderating, responsible behavior. While girth may not be a perfect predictor of this capacity, there is a direct correlation between them.

R.A. Crankbait said...

I favor dessertation over dissertation, so I guess I'm out.

Dr Weevil said...

I'm surprised no one's asked about possible legal ramifications. Is this guy's tweet opening NYU to a lawsuit? Assuming he's on the admissions committee, if I were an overweight applicant who was turned down for the PhD Psychology program at NYU when slenderer people with less impressive non-physical credentials were accepted, I'd be very tempted to sue. If it could be shown that the entire entering class included no plump students at all, would a class-action lawsuit be possible? What if half a dozen plump-to-obese rejects could prove that they were (judged by GPAs and GREs) more qualified for admission than most of the people accepted?

Also, shouldn't it be obvious to anyone at NYU that obesity is compatible with a great deal of goal-oriented accomplishment? All they have to do is look across the river at Gov. Christie. Whatever you think of his politics, he's certainly accomplished more in his life than 99.99% of his fellow Jerseyites, despite being downright obese.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Not to kick a fat dead horse, but I can't help but think that there is a Bitchtits Mahal not making it past high school joke in here somewhere.

Discuss amongst yourself.

ALP said...

What if the student is obese because they sit around working on their dissertation all day?

ken in sc said...

I dropped out of my PhD program, not because of lack of will power (I once lost 80 lbs.). It was because the school kept screwing me over. They went two years of canceling the last class I needed before dissertation. My dept. was dissolved and absorbed into a new dept. who's head was a classic asshole. He kept me cooling my heels outside his office for 20 minutes for an appointment when I could see through the open door that he wasn't doing anything. My committee would never agree to be in the same place at the same time. My original committee chairman told me that he didn't get paid or evaluated for being on graduate student committees. It was totally gratuitous of him to do it. Then he retired. I was close to retirement myself, so I just quit.

ken in sc said...

P.S. one of my committee members was an obese woman who seemed to be detached from reality much of the time. I would just point to the place where she needed to sign her name on my forms.

Paddy O said...

I'm trying to think of any overweight PhD students I've known.

One.

That's not bias. There's a few reasons behind that.

One, most PhD students are very driven people, and are driven in a way that prioritizes their goals over their immediate satisfaction.

Two, PhD students are needing to maximize their brain functions. Exercise and diet radically affect this. Plus, the brain uses a lot of fuel. If you're pushing it to its limits every day, then you're burning a lot of energy.

Finishing a dissertation is like mile 20-26 of a marathon. You're out of mental and physical energy after years of constant work, school plus work on top of that.

Plus stress: finishing degree requirements, finding job, filling out medical and food stamps paperwork...

But, you're not supposed to say such things out loud. Weight is often, though not always, an indication of self-discipline and will power. Those are the only two things that will get a person through a PhD program. Intelligence helps but is far from essential.

Paddy O said...

"What if the student is obese because they sit around working on their dissertation all day?"

I lost about 25 pounds during the six months I was working on my dissertation all day.

Titus said...

I work with all Economists/PHD's.

Not one of them are fat-all thin, from the recent grad 30 year old to the ones in their 60's and everyone in between.

Today we actually run to the Harvard Stadium and then run up and down the steps till we can't run anymore.


They are all Ivy Grads too-except a few UW Madison, Stanford, and Michigan, BU, and BC thrown in.

tits and thanks.

sydney said...

My husband was very skinny when he was a graduate student, but that was because he was too poor to afford food. Also, he lived in Ithaca, New York, at the bottom of that big hill and had to walk or ride his bike to his lab every day.

Donald Douglas said...

"He's quite handsome, but there's something about the shape of his features that suggests there's a fat man inside waiting to bust loose..."

Classic Althouse.