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March 06, 2018


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Deep State Special Legal Counsel

They sell a book bag for $15.00. I suppose its better than a MAGA hat for $22.00.


Looking through the relevant documents, I don't see any incontrovertible proof that MESA was wrong. The process stopped suddenly, and the excuse - that there was some bureaucratic hoops that hadn't been passed through PRECISELY right - seems a little jarring. The Chair was not restricted to arts and sciences, and if anthropology was willing to host them it makes very little sense that the chair could have just been located in them. Departmental self-rule goes both ways; if the money has been allocated, the candidates have been selected, and a department is willing to take them, then it makes very little sense to stop the process. And, suffice it to say, any improper pressure coming from donors would not be something the university functionaries would put in the record.

Steve L.

It is a hallmark of classic conspiracy thinking that the absence of evidence is interpreted as proof of the conspiracy's vast reach.

Thus, invisible Zionists must have been so powerful that they were able to influence the university's decision without leaving any fingerprints, while convincing the administrators to create a false documentary record of their reasons for suspending the search, and simultaneously suppressing all records of their own communications.

And of course, the invisible "donors" were so powerful that the university was willing to do their bidding, even at the cost of offending the known donors who financed the Edward Said Chair in the first place.

And all of this took place with the collusion of multiple senior officials -- the president, provost, vice-provost, department chair, and dean -- without any leaks or defections.


"Political advocacy organizations reflexively stick to their guns without regard to actual facts, but learned societies owe more to their members and the public."

This is about as good a statement of my position as possible in this environment. Thank you for stating plainly the difference, so lost today on the mass media, and, lamentably, academia.

As for the piece above, what stands out, IMHO, is the ease and rapidity of going from zero evidence to self-righteous accusations. Never mind the facts: my side is all that matters, and I will accuse the "other side" at every juncture, right or wrong.

What is the cure for this ill? How can this society function when so many believe that, even if incorrect, what is important is to relentlessly attack?

Scott Fruehwald

The problem is cognitive biases: the bias blindspot, the bandwagon effect, the overconfidence effect, the confirmation bias, and the Semmelweis effect. I have recently published a book on this subject: Understanding and Overcoming Cognitive Biases For Lawyers And Law Students: Becoming a Better Lawyer Through Cognitive Science (2018).

Steve L.

As it happens, Scott, I ordered your book earlier this week.

Here is a link:



I don't know where you stand on the issues of the day, but, I find that each of the biases that you identify above apply with more force to academicians than almost any other group.

The academy is a very homogeneous place these days, at least, ideologically. There is a dogma that overshadows almost every discussion.

Steve has on occasion exposed wrongful accusations of "Israeli Lobby" influence in the academy, but, by and large, like "Russian meddling" the academy is extremely prone to demonizing others (even by ethnicity) when it suits a political end that matches the dominant ideology.

How then to explain this? Why is it that the putatively most educated folks are the most narrow minded, dogmatic and hypocritical (e.g., rejecting ANY proposition from the "other" party, even if one proposed in the past by Democrats, demonizing, as stated above, ethnicities while decrying this in "the other party" (e.g., "the Russians" "the Jewish Lobby"); decrying economic inequality while living in a very selfish, often lavish way, exploiting minorities to do work of the "help", engaging in demonizing every "Russian" speaker in a way that would make Joe McCarthy recoil, etc.

Perhaps, as we look around the world at "socialist" countries, we can see, quite clearly, what is afoot. Those who espouse socialism often fall into certain patterns (see, e.g., Animal Farm).

Personally, socialism appeals to me as much as the next believer in ideals. But, in practice, I find the "left" to be quite awful in their naked opportunism, and, attacking Jews (under the guise of "Zionism") is one of the most revolting aspects of the current zeitgeist in academia.

Scott Fruehwald

Anon. Cognitive biases affect all types of groups--Democrats and Republicans, men and women, all racial groups, etc. Cognitive biases are not related to intelligence. Very intelligent people suffer from cognitive biases. However, there is no evidence that intelligent people suffer from cognitive biases more than the rest of the population.


Interesting ...

Intelligence may not be the measure I was thinking about, though.

I was thinking more about education, civic interest, wealth and position. Aren't these attributes among those that are supposed to promote enlightenment, tolerance and wisdom?

Tenured law professors are, by and large, a VERY comfortable, well-educated, and, especially in this economy, very privileged group. This condition seems to have influenced most of them - many aged baby boomers who referred to the "little red book" in their youth but never read or understood it -- to believe that the "left" has the eternally correct side of the argument, and that is where the thought processes seem to have stalled.

What bothers me is that this group, in particular, has the wherewithal to speak of "the bias blindspot, the bandwagon effect, the overconfidence effect, the confirmation bias, and the Semmelweis effect" etc., but never seems to apply these analyses to themselves.

I don't mean to imply that you fit that bill; I honestly have no idea about that and don't mean to suggest that you do; it's just that I know so many law professors who are, as alluded to above, absolutely oblivious to their own narrow minded and often hypocritical stances, all dictated by some sort of shared hive mind that requires a large measure of adherence to ideology and, let's face it, anger toward those who dare to disagree (even as positions change, see, e.g. gay marriage positions in the 2008 primary).

I wonder if I'll ever meet a law professor who actually thinks for himself/herself, and doesn't judge and dislike (or worse, favor) people based on their gender/sexual orientation/age/religion/political beliefs, etc. It seems hard to even imagine, I'm sorry to say.

Deep State Special Legal Counsel

Any group of people can form an association here in America and say what ever, the hell they please. That is why we are great. It doesn't mean they are mainstream, legitimate or have any influence beyond their membership. Any putz can form an association. I am chartering the Three Bill Retail Theft Lawyer's Association for Respect and Much Better Fees. (TBRTLARMBF) First meeting tomorrow, website on Saturday. Ashtrays and t-shirts with our logo on Sunday. Issue a Statement on Monday.


I am amazed at the strawmanning going on here. My claim that the record does not show incontrovertibly that pressure was not applied -- indeed, some of the participants talk about political pressure they personally witnessed (are they presumed to be liars?) -- has been turned into me believing a massive convoluted conspiracy theory. Occam's razor, Steve. You don't need a massive conspiracy with falsified records and multiple administrators sworn to secrecy to indicate pressure was effective. A single administrator was allowed to make the decision, and he could have simply seized upon a bureaucratic snafu when confronted with discreet pressure from influential donors. The vast conspiracy you hypothesize would not be required.

In any event, let's see how they handle the search this year, whether it still goes on, and if so what kind of scholar they pick.

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