Bret Weinstein and his wife Heather Heying, until last year biology faculty at The Evergreen State College—otherwise known as The People’s Democratic College of Evergreen State, or TPDCES—have long departed, hounded out of Olympia, Washington for refusing to comply with black racism, and the school is back to its regressive ways. But, according to a reader who wishes to remain unnamed, there’s a new course in store for the students, one that has the potential to enlighten them. But I’m betting it won’t.
You can click on the title above, or simply read the course description below. I’ve bolded the important parts, especially the last sentence!
“The only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind” – John Stuart Mill
One purpose of a liberal education is to free or liberate students from narrow perspectives, limited thinking, partisanship, and categorical rhetoric in order to obtain knowledge. Affirmations of absolutes should give way to identification and clarification of ambiguities of complex topics. This can best be achieved in an environment where we are confronted with our preconceived notions of the world and are encouraged to engage in the dialectic: the rational exchange of conflicting ideas in a common pursuit of truth. This demanding work can be challenging in a setting where diverse viewpoints are absent. Lecture, and seminar topics will address the questions of how, when, and why the human mind can be resistant to realities that run counter to strongly held convictions. We will explore how the values that bind us into cohesive groups of like minded people can also blind us to our weaknesses. This interdisciplinary course will draw upon such diverse fields as moral psychology, social science, statistics, and philosophy. We will extensively consult with leading national experts on these topics while using Evergreen as a case study on how colleges and universities might address contentious issues of political diversity, free speech, freedom of thought, and censorship. Students and faculty will begin the quarter by identifying their own personal intuitions on relevant contentious issues. We will then independently examine a controversial question which we feel most certain and passionate about, but from the opposite perspective than we currently possess. In addition, students will individually engage with communities who have identities, values and opinions dissimilar to their own, while reflecting upon these experiences through writing. Through weekly readings, critical thinking skills will be refined through careful quantitative and qualitative examination of evidence while analyzing underlying assumptions and biases. Students will learn to distinguish between conceptual, empirical, and value claims while becoming adept at identifying logical fallacies. As a class we will cultivate virtues of intellectual humility with the primary aim of pursuing knowledge and truth ahead of social and political action. All perspectives on issues are not only welcome, but strongly encouraged. However, students who require “ideological safe spaces” where particular viewpoints are considered offensive may want to seek a different program.
How could such a course get into the curriculum at TPDCES? Who on Earth is teaching it?
Well, the listed professor happens to be none other than Dr. Michael Paros, who teaches biology, just like Weinstein and Heying. And he happens to be, as I noted months ago, the only Evergreen faculty member who issued a statement in support of Bret Weinstein (see more here, though the statement isn’t reproduced). Paros said he expected to be called a bigot for supporting Weinstein, but I haven’t followed up on whether that happened.
If anything is tinder for another conflagration at TPDCES, it’s this course. It’s not a science course, so it will be taken by humanities students—the Regressive types. The last sentence is a direct slap in the faces of Regressives, as is the one about how tribal values can blind one to one’s weaknesses! How can the Cultural Revolutionaries stand it? Will Paros be forced to sit in class wearing a paper cone-hat and with a sign of shame around his neck?
More questions: whom will the students seek out having “identities, values, and opinions dissimilar to their own”? Republicans? Poor people? White people? And who will the “national experts” on these topics be? I can think of some: Greg Lukianoff of FIRE, Jonathan Haidt, Nicholas or Erika Christakis from Yale, Jordan Peterson, Weinstein himself or, Ceiling Cat help us, hard-ass conservatives like Ben Shapiro. (I doubt the students could listen to a whole talk by Shapiro without losing it.)
Yes, this could be a great course and an eye-opener for the students, and Paros is clearly offering it because he’s distressed at the thuggery, regressiveness, and close-mindedness of both the faculty and students at TPDCES. I wish him luck, but I have little hope that the students won’t picket this course or try to shut it down. I fear that Paros’s effort is doomed, but I sure hope not.