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Monday, January 4, 2021

Heterodox Academy, Koch and Quillette

Although Heterodox Academy claims its purpose is "to improve the quality of research and education in universities by increasing open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement" - it's clear that what they actually want is to promote a rightwing agenda, when you look at their self-congratulatory piece on "Five Years of Challenging Orthodoxies."

The article presents the thoughts of Sam Abrams, Bradley Campbell, Jonathan Haidt, Irshad Manji, Chris Martin, Steven Pinker, Paul Quirk, Nadine Strossen, Jonathan Zimmerman.

So let's look at who these people are.

  • Sam Abrams has connections to Koch: "visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC; faculty fellow at George Mason’s Institute for Humane Studies"
I have not yet found any direct connections between Quillette or Koch and Jonathan Zimmerman, although he is infamous for claiming that the reason that Jeffrey Toobin got in trouble for jerking off - and showing his penis to his co-workers in the process - in the middle of a business call was because people just hate masturbation. Which is apparently the fault of the Enlightenment.
...Yet nobody is likely to forget that he had sex with himself, which has been a big no-no since the advent of the Enlightenment.

That’s when the West invented the autonomous individual, endowed with natural rights. But liberty was dangerous, too: Freed from constraints, the individual could easily descend into corruption and vice.

Masturbation embodied all of those fears. It was solitary, fueled by fantasies that each person invented. And when that started, there was no telling when it would stop...

It is about the stupidest defense of Toobin that I have seen yet, and makes me doubt Zimmerman's judgement even without a Quillette or a Koch connection.

Speaking of masturbation, it seems of the contributors to the Heterodox self-love fest, only Paul Quirk is without a direct Koch or Quillette connection, or an embarrassingly bad op-ed. Or at least none that I have found yet.

So of the nine people highlighted by Heterodox Academy, five have direct Quillette connections and two have direct Koch connections.

This tells you everything you need to know about how extreme the goals of Heterodox Academy really are. Which should be no surprise because Heterodox Academy was co-founded by Haidt and by Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz of the Federalist Society which receives donations from - surprise! - Koch.

FIRE and Heterodox Academy aren't the only publicly-acknowledged examples of Koch's interest in pushing academia to the right - Koch famously funds and influences George Mason University.

The documents reveal in surprising detail that for years, as George Mason grew from a little-known commuter school to a major public university and a center of libertarian scholarship, millions of dollars in donations from conservative-leaning donors like the Charles Koch Foundation had come with strings attached.
As early as 1990, entities controlled by the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch were given a seat on a committee to pick candidates for a professorship that they funded, the records show. Similar arrangements that continued through 2009 gave donors decision-making roles in selecting candidates for key economics appointments at the Mercatus Center, a Koch-funded think tank on campus that studies markets and regulation. The appointments, which also created faculty lines at George Mason, were steered to professors who, like the Kochs, embraced unconstrained free markets.

More recently, in 2016, executives of the Federalist Society, a conservative national organization of lawyers, served as agents for a $20 million gift from an anonymous donor, and were given the right to terminate installments of the gift at their discretion. Emails disclosed by the university show that Federalist Society officials were also involved in hiring discussions and had suggested a student for admission. In turn, a professor at the law school wrote the society asking for help securing recommendations for prestigious federal judicial clerkships for students active in the society.

It's all one big happy Koch family.