Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

To Anyone Who Thinks Universities Don't Indoctrinate

  1. Dec 14, 2007 #1
    Please listen to this. You may not agree with it, but he makes some good points, and I wish you will listen and just think about it. Just for the record, he is an academic with a PhD in History from Harvard and is a Professor at Univesity of Pennsylvania. I would love to hear your opinions on the presentation.

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 14, 2007 #2
  4. Dec 14, 2007 #3
    Another PhD and another wiki article with no references, where do I begin?
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2007
  5. Dec 15, 2007 #4
    What do you mean? Are you implying that you shouldn't be persuading by a PhD and a wiki article? If so, I definitely agree. All I am asking is that some people listen to this (the whole thing) and then respond with whatever comments or reactions they have.
  6. Dec 15, 2007 #5
    "brown university banned quote verbal behavior i love that one verbal behavior that produces feelings of impotence, anger or disenfranchisement intentional or unintentional well that code produces feelings of impotence, anger and disenfranchisement in me but i don't think thats what they had in mind. Cobbie college outlawed speech that causes a quote a vague sense of danger or quote a loss of self esteem close quote. I've had reviews of my books that have caused me extraordinary loss of self esteem, it never occurred to me that those could be outlawed."

    he also mentions that a person urinated on a crucifix and was awarded for it because they called it art, but he raises a good point that if a person were to urinate on a picture of Martin Luther King and parade it around as art, there would be hell to pay.

    has it really gotten this bad?
  7. Dec 15, 2007 #6


    User Avatar

    Last edited: Dec 15, 2007
  8. Dec 15, 2007 #7
    I want to watch Indoctrinate U. Is there any where online one can buy or watch the whole thing? I haven't seen it playing in any near by theatres.
  9. Dec 15, 2007 #8

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I have to say that the political slant he is describing has been my experience in many undergrad humanities and social science classes. I think I've always (perhaps mistakenly) attributed this phenomenon to a liberal bias in my state, and my region of the state, and not to American universities in general.

    He reminded me of a news story I heard not too long ago about "the new PC curriculuum" that is available:


    And here they are:

  10. Dec 15, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    (just to stir up things!)
    You could take the view that almost all art courses are a waste of time anyway - so what's the difference between studying the "The Phallus" and researching the importance of pumpernickel in the politics of 16th Westphalia?
  11. Dec 15, 2007 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I listened to about 20 min of it, and that was enough. His examples are from private universities, not public ones. I'm sure he could go to the private, religious-based universities and find examples where the conservative view prevails over the liberal one. His bias is evident. I've worked entirely at public universities and have never seen any such examples of bias as he's describing, and likely, they're isolated incidents at the universities he's naming as well. In fact, he complains about his own department, yes strangely enough, he's a full professor who got through the tenure process and is allowed to teach his course every year...and when his students ask why they have never heard of those other authors before, why isn't his answer that it's because they learn about them in HIS course? The very fact that he teaches his course, and exposes the students to an alternative view, and that course counts toward their major, indicates that there is NOT a bias preventing the teaching of those subjects there. Academic freedom also means that he doesn't get to tell his colleagues what they should be teaching or studying either.
  12. Dec 15, 2007 #11


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    There are always people who get upset when their particular world-view doesn't get center-stage in the courses at their universities, and there are professors that encourage such reactions. That doesn't mean that the college is deliberately trying to indoctrinate their students in a particular world-view. If you're a student, and you've got half a brain, you can detect bias, and come out of the experience with a good education. If you lean very hard to the left or the right, and you paint your profs and their courses with you preconceptions with your expectations, you'll often perceive "bias" and "indoctrination" where none is intended or attempted.

    There are a lot of people who are painted as right-wing capitalists (Warren Buffet is a good example) who think that the US's income tax system is unfairly regressive and punishes low-income people while rewarding billionaires like himself. If an economics professor echoes that opinion, does that make him into a liberal-leaning (or even socialist) kook? I don't think so.
  13. Dec 15, 2007 #12


    User Avatar

    The talk wasn't about this him getting upset when a particular world-view doesn't get center stage, he was talking about professors losing tenure, campus freedoms, and the idea of a perhaps unintentionally taught ideology embracing collectivism, as a few main points.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2007
  14. Dec 16, 2007 #13
    That's a shame. You shoulda kept a little bit more of an open mind and listened to the whole thing, even if you think it's bs.

    Not true. He is chairman of an organization called FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). Go to their website and look up universities and you will find many violations of free speech among public universities.


    Not likely. Even at most of these universities, I imagine you will find most faculty are left leaning. In all fairness, I would say private universities have more of a right to push various ideologies considering that they are funded with tax payer funds to a much lower degree.

    Well, I've went to public schools my whole life. And more importantly, I am at a large public state university right now, and I think a lot of what he says hits very close to home. It's hard to deny the extreme left leaning ideology at public universities.

    It's still a very valid question. Most students spend their whole college experience and have never heard of the great champions of freedom, such as Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek. What's more important is not that they haven't heard of these particular people, but rather that they've never heard any well constructed and intelligent view points that are not liberal. These views make them think rigorously and question their current beliefs, which is a good thing whether they agree or disagree with them. As Thomas Sowell has said about the current goals of public schools (especially universities), "They're generally more interested in teaching students what to think instead of how to think."

    It doesn't count toward their major, I think it's just an elective. Besides, that does not prove that there is no bias. The point is that he is the only person at the UPenn who teaches anything even remotely similar to this class. Meanwhile, you'll probably find hundreds of courses each year which discuss Marx or other half baked socialist ideas.

    He doesn't want to tell his colleagues what to think. If you would have listened to the whole speech you defnitely would have understood his position better. I urgue you to go back and listen to the whole thing. What he says, is that professors should not be telling students what to think, but rather exposing them to many ideas, and personally allowing them to choose which ideas and viewpoints they like best.
  15. Dec 16, 2007 #14


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    This attitude is shared by the creationists, who want creationism to be taught alongside evolution, as if there were no discernible differences in the values of either view.
  16. Dec 16, 2007 #15


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    In what subjects? Literature? Pottery making? Certainly not any of the sciences, well maybe social or political science, but those can arguably be separated from sciences like physics, math, chemistry, biology, geology, cosmology, etc...

    He's a history teacher.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  17. Dec 16, 2007 #16


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Nothing to do with having an open mind...I put up with 20 min of redundancy, and simply wasn't going to waste more of my time...the entire lecture was an hour long!

    You have no evidence to support that claim, do you? You're just guessing there. It's not consistent with my experience. Nor is it consistent with my experience at public institutions.

    And I'm a professor at a public university right now. I know what the ideology of the faculty is like, and I can tell you it's quite well balanced. We have people from both extremes. It may differ in some of the liberal arts departments, due to the nature of those people who choose liberal arts as a discipline of study, but there's no indoctrination.

    Then they should learn to open their eyes and do some independent reading. It's not all about spoon-feeding.

    Then they are not listening.

    Your own bias is showing here. Is this what you think you're getting out of your education?

    Electives count toward one's major. In fact, for most degrees, once one takes a few basic requirements, everything is electives within the department. You sound like someone who isn't very familiar with how a university education is provided.

    And, since you obviously haven't bothered to look for yourself, this is in UPenn's History Major requirements:
    Note that Kors' course is #212, and falls within this requirement.

    So, no, it's not something that doesn't even count toward the major, it is in fact among the seminars REQUIRED for the major.

    But it disproves that they're preventing alternative views from being taught, which is the entire premise of his argument.
    Have you check the UPenn catalog?
    Or not...I notice you're using words here like "probably," which tells me you're just making up these claims without even researching them for yourself. Come back when you have some evidence to support your claims.
    Here, I'll help you...take a look at the UPenn History course listing and see if you still believe your own claims.

    These things aren't so hard to look up for yourself.

    And that is precisely what university faculty do. We provide information, and it is up to the students to process it and learn what to do with it.
  18. Dec 16, 2007 #17


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Kors is full of himself. His diatribe, a verbal polemic filled with unsubstantiated claims and invective, begins with a poor joke, and goes downhill from there. His claim, "American leftists seek to control the whole of student life," is ludicrous. :rofl: I'm sure Kors is speaking to a sympathetic audience, who shares his delusions.

    My experience has been that no faculty member has ever tried to influence my thoughts or understanding, nor those of any other classmate. The student bodies of which I've been a part, and which I encounter since then and today, reflect a spectrum of ideas, perspectives, beliefs, indeed as varied as one finds at PF. The faculties of the institutions I attended also exhibited a broad spectrum of beliefs, ideas, understanding, and perspective.

    Cherry picking his evidence does not support the broad generalization of Kors's claims. :rolleyes:

    Kors is not persuasive. I guess I failed Kors's indoctrination. :rofl:
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  19. Dec 16, 2007 #18


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That's the guise he was using to try to get his views to center stage. Tenure decisions have pretty well defined criteria, so when he says someone doesn't get tenure because they don't agree with the prevailing view, you have to seriously question if that's all there is to it. Are they getting lousy teaching evaluations, not publishing adequately, not bringing in funding for their work, refusing to sit on committees? Those are the criteria by which tenure decisions are made.
  20. Dec 16, 2007 #19


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    True, but the schools he lists are pretty major bastions of higher education in the US, not obscure little cults. Penn is an Ivy League school with 20,000 students. And he speaks mainly from experience, which is primarily Penn and Harvard.

    He also cited an example of a Penn State violation of religious free association in denying a club charter.

    And maybe he didn't talk about Cal, but examples of this sort of thing at Cal, the home of liberal censorship (an ironic oxymoron) abound. http://www.thefire.org/index.php/case/12.html?PHPSESSID=
    (Actually, heh - that's his organization, so he does have examples from public schools)
    Well, he did give some examples of people who were denied tenure for nonconformist views.

    Anyway, he does give several examples that are about rights being given by God and that does seem to be part of his slant.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  21. Dec 17, 2007 #20
    I encourage everyone who attends or works at a university to walk down the halls of their respective depts. and note the large number of political cartoons on the doors of the faculty.

    Note the trends, and remember that students are faced with this deluge on a daily basis whenever they have to approach their teachers/advisors/mentors.

    Indoctrination? Perhaps not. Ideological pressure? Definitely.

    Note the confident assurance I have of the outcome of this little experiment. From my experiences at public institutions and "conservative" private universities, I have found that pro-conservative ideology publicly displayed causes *outrage* whereas the contrary is not the case.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: To Anyone Who Thinks Universities Don't Indoctrinate
  1. I don't think time (Replies: 9)