[Originally published as Dr. Peter Boghossian and the Decline of Higher Education]
Dr. Peter Boghossian is an interesting individual. He holds a doctorate in education (Ed.D.) and specializes in making philosophy more accessible to the average person. I first encountered him when I read his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists. I was not impressed. There are atheists who impress me (see here here, and here, for example), but based on his book, Dr. Boghossian was not one of them. In short, the book is full of misconceptions about the nature of faith, doesn’t engage well with the arguments of Christian philosophers, and exaggerates the strength of atheist arguments.
Nevertheless, I found myself being impressed by him a few years later when he and two colleagues decided to demonstrate the insanity that exists in some academic disciplines. They did this by following a methodology to write “scholarly papers” that promoted nonsense, but it was nonsense that was perfectly welcome in certain fields of study. As they state:
Our paper-writing methodology always followed a specific pattern: it started with an idea that spoke to our epistemological or ethical concerns with the field and then sought to bend the existing scholarship to support it. The goal was always to use what the existing literature offered to get some little bit of lunacy or depravity to be acceptable at the highest levels of intellectual respectability within the field. Therefore, each paper began with something absurd or deeply unethical (or both) that we wanted to forward or conclude. We then made the existing peer-reviewed literature do our bidding in the attempt to get published in the academic canon.
Not surprisingly, their “scholarly papers” were accepted to be published in the prestigious academic journals of the disciplines that they lampooned, and until the authors themselves came forward, no one in the fields thought there was anything remotely wrong with their work!
Well, it turns out that Dr. Boghossian is back in the news, and I am once again impressed by his actions. This time, he thinks an entire institution, Portland State University (where he had been teaching), has gone off the deep end. He wrote an open letter to the Provost of the university, stating that he had to resign because the university:
…has transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division.
Students at Portland State are not being taught to think. Rather, they are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues. Faculty and administrators have abdicated the university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions. This has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly.
I strongly encourage you to read the entire letter, as it describes the insanity that is currently infecting many institutions that were, at one time, centers of higher learning. Now, they are craven organizations that have chosen to protect their students’ feelings at the price of their students’ education.
Unfortunately, I think this can be said of a great many “universities” found in the United States. Instead of being institutions in which open inquiry is encouraged, they have become indoctrination centers where many views are considered completely off-limits and free inquiry has been sacrificed at the altar of people’s feelings.
If you are thinking of sending your child to a university, please spend some time exploring its views on academic freedom. To give you an idea of what that means, this article has a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” when it comes to evaluating whether an institution is a university or a Social Justice Warrior Indoctrination Center.
It is unfortunate that parents must worry about this kind of nonsense today, but it is not unexpected. When a society ceases to believe in God, it will believe in virtually anything, including the ravings of anti-science, anti-reason lunatics.