Professor blames left-wing ‘outrage crowd’ for cancellation of MIT climate science conference
A University of Chicago associate professor of geophysics spoke out against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Tuesday after the university canceled its invited lecture amid criticism from activist groups on campus.
During an appearance on America’s Newsroom, Dorian Abbot said that after hearing the news of his canceled event, his wife, who was born in Ukraine and had to be baptized in secret, compared the situation to her time. under the Soviet Union.
“When she heard about what was going on on campus when I first told her, she said ‘it sounds like what my mother told me about the Soviet times’,” said Abbot said.
“Free society is at stake here,” he added.
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Abbot said MIT activists and academics were outraged by comments he and fellow professor Ivan Marinovic made in an August Newsweek opinion piece, in which he criticized current standards for diversity, d equity and inclusion in higher education.
In the room, Abbot called the standards “treating people as members of a group rather than individuals, repeating the mistake that made the atrocities of the 20th century possible.”
Speaking with Trace Gallagher, Abbot clarified his statement, noting that a fundamental principle of moral philosophy is to treat “each person as an individual with inherent dignity.” Violating this principle would run the risk of repeating the atrocities previously committed against human rights, said the abbot.
Still, Abbot says these statements had nothing to do with the speech he was due to give at MIT. Instead, he was to focus on climate science and the possibility of life on other planets at the John Carlson conference.
According to MIT Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences website, “The John Carlson Conference communicates exciting new results in climate science to the general public.” Abbot added that politics in his field can interfere with scientific debate, and advocated “getting politics out of science” and keeping the focus on research and data.
“I think censorship should be opposed wherever it exists,” Abbot added.
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After MIT announced that Abbot would no longer speak at the conference, the geophysicist wrote a song on the “Common Sense with Bari Weiss” sub-stack.
“I am a professor who just saw a prestigious public science conference at MIT canceled due to a crowd of outrage over Twitter, ”Abbot wrote.
“This is not a partisan issue. Anyone interested in finding the truth and promoting a healthy and functioning society has an interest in this debate. Speaking up now may seem risky. But the cost of it silence is much higher. “
An MIT spokesperson said The New York Post in a statement that the conference, hosted by the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, was not held this year “at the discretion of the department.”
“We felt that with the current distractions, we would not be able to organize an effective awareness event,” van der Hilst said in a statement. They added that Abbot had been invited to present his scientific work on the MIT campus to students and faculty.
“Professor Abbot accepted this offer and the department worked with him to set a date,” the spokesperson said.
The head of the department, Professor Robert van der Hilst, added that the conference was not just a scientific discourse for scientists as it included a component of public awareness.
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“We felt that with the current distractions, we would not be able to organize an effective awareness event,” van der Hilst said in a statement.
“I made this decision at my discretion, after consulting with faculty and students in the department, and knowing that some might mistake it for an affront to academic freedom – a characterization with which I disagree.”
Bari Weiss herself left The New York Times in 2020 with a scathing resignation letter in which she detailed the bullying of her colleagues in an “illiberal environment”. His resignation letter addressed directly to Times editor AG Sulzberger sent shockwaves through the media industry. Weiss detailed a toxic work environment that has given way to activists online.
Weiss said in June that Times editors “live in complete fear of crowds on the Internet” and have editors who “know what’s right but can’t seem to find the courage to do it.”
The New York Post contributed to this report.