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PZ Myers dissects evolutionary psychology: brief, sharp and fabulous

I admit I LOL'd at the part about lighting up "like a Christmas tree." WATCH AND LEARN all IDWs!

The Brian Ferguson Interview

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

University of Austin: Clown Car of Intellectual Dark Web Dweebs

Some good responses to IDW University (University of Austin.)

The University of Austin or UATX, which is absolutely not to be confused with the University of Texas at Austin, a real school, aims to offer “forbidden courses” that will spark students to ask “provocative questions that often lead to censorship or self-censorship in many universities.” It boasts a bevy of headache-inducing personalities on its Board of Advisors, which consists largely of the type of people who have branded themselves as the last defenders of liberalism (against the tide of woke liberals).

Those personalities include Bari Weiss, a former New York Times opinion editor who has spent most of her professional energy yelping about left-wing Twitter mobs; conservative British historian Niall Ferguson, who left Stanford after leaked emails showed him encouraging campus Republicans to do “opposition research” on a left-wing student; former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who has somehow tried to make the “wokeness” of central bankers a culture-war issue; amateur race scientist and self-declared ethnic penis size expert Andrew Sullivan; scorched-earth culture warrior Sohrab Ahmari; and cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, an identity politics alarmist who is popular with the neoliberal crowd. One of its “founding faculty fellows” is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Hoover Institution scholar who believes Islam is inherently violent and has more recently begun parroting the line that “wokeism” is just like white supremacy.

Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan’s New University of Austin Is Already Getting Trump University Comparisons

Journalist Bari Weiss announced Monday that she and a team of likeminded colleagues plan to launch a university to counter America’s “broken” higher education system. It will be called the University of Austin, but it is already garnering comparisons to Trump University.

Bari Weiss Has a New Grift in the Unaccredited “University of Austin’s” “Forbidden Courses”

Professional cancel culture victim Bari Weiss introduced a new grift Monday, announcing that she and a number of other right-wing figures are founding “a new university dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth.”

The new university is called The University of Austin and if you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait, isn’t there already a University of Austin?”, there is not. You’re thinking of the University of Texas at Austin. But also, this new university isn’t really a university at all, in that it’s not accredited, offers no degrees, and does not have a physical campus. It is seeking accreditation, but apparently it’s doing so from an accreditor that doesn’t operate in Texas.


A slew of conservative thinkers, ideologues and media personalities have signed on to the creation of a new alternative university in Austin, Texas, according to tweets and articles published by the newly-announced school's staff Monday morning.

Called the University of Austin, the college announced in a Monday video tweet its charter, objectives and a list of staff and supporters. Those associated with the new institution range from former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss to experimental psychologist and one-time Jeffrey Epstein associate Steven Pinker. 

The former New York Times opinion columnist Bari Weiss, known for her diatribes against “cancel culture,” announced on Monday that she is helping launch a new “university” that will be “dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth.”

The somewhat vague mission statement suggests that the institution—called the University of Austin, or UATX—will be a home for those who have been shunned from “illiberal” college campuses.

“Four out of five American PhD students are willing to discriminate against right-leaning scholars,” griped UATX’s inaugural president, Pano Kanelos, in an essay announcing the new venture, which was posted to Weiss’ Substack newsletter.

Buried in the school’s FAQ section: it does not actually offer degrees, nor is it yet accredited.

Whatever it winds up being, though, the University of Austin promises to be an institution dedicated to litigating the same hoary “forbidden questions” about race and gender and The West that have been beguiling stupid people for generations, and to creating some institutional credibility around the small, wrong answers those people want those questions to have; it will be, as Sarah Jones put it, “a Bible college for libertarians.” Or anyway it might be, if it becomes something more than what it is now, which is nothing. If everything goes right for the University of Austin, this movement—dusty Koch Brothers cynicism re-skinned as a bold and dangerous exercise in intellectual insurgency—may someday have a diploma-granting institution dedicated to institutionalizing that grandiose and curdled worldview. If not, maybe we’ll get a version of Prager University with an actual physical plant. Or maybe not.

Consider the parties involved. As a student at Columbia University, Weiss developed a censorious reputation of her own. A campus organization Weiss co-founded “did demand that the administration change the department’s curriculum and make it easier to file complaints against professors, measures that would have affected certain scholars’ responsibilities and duties, as well as their future job prospects,” the writers Mari Cohen and Joshua Leifer observed in Jewish Currents. Weiss and her fellow activists targeted Arab professors for speech they deemed hostile to Israel, efforts she’s since downplayed to better portray herself as a campaigner for free expression. A University of Austin “founding faculty fellow” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, has called Islam “a nihilstic cult of death” and has claimed that violence is inherent to the religion, which bodes ill for any Muslim who might wish to attend the new university. The new university’s positions on sex and gender aren’t hard to guess, either. Another fellow, the anti-trans academic Kathleen Stock, voluntarily resigned her position at the University of Sussex, claiming that student protests curtailed her own academic freedom. Put another way, Stock found free expression a bit too lively to tolerate.

Others linked to the university stand accused of crossing professional lines with female students. One, Joshua Katz, received a year-long suspension from Princeton University over an inappropriate relationship with an undergraduate woman. Another, Joe Lonsdale, has been accused of raping a woman he mentored, an allegation he vehemently denies. Lonsdale’s nonprofit, Cicero Research, is “fiscally sponsoring” the new institution.

So what rights will a University of Austin student actually possess? They can’t count on a right to free expression, that much is clear. The presence of Lonsdale and Katz raises further questions about the university’s position on due process for survivors of sexual misconduct. Students won’t even benefit from an intellectually diverse faculty. Survey the school’s website, and you won’t find a single leftist scholar. Nor should we expect to find one. Lonsdale’s nonprofit, Cicero, says it’s committed to “free-market based solutions to public policy issues.” And as a private institution, the University of Austin will retain the broad freedom to censor students and faculty as it sees fit — as does Liberty and my alma mater. What we’ve got, then, is a Bible college for libertarians. Those disturbed by progress will find shelter on campus. Pledging freedom from wokeness, the University of Austin actually seeks freedom from free exchange. There is a soup├žon of social liberalism, which extends no further than equality for LGB people and not to trans people and which is too inadequate to greatly distinguish the school from other conservative institutions. In this university, Falwell would see kindred minds. There’s nothing new here.

I'm disappointed the author didn't mention Hirsi Ali's husband, Niall Ferguson, who created a scandal in higher education in 2018:

Ferguson seemed to view Michael Ocon, a left-wing student activist slated to graduate in 2020, as a threat to the program. In an email to two members of the Stanford Republicans, John Rice-Cameron and Max Minshull, he wrote that “some opposition research on Mr. O [Ferguson’s name for Ocon] might also be worthwhile.” Minshull, who works as Ferguson’s research associate, said he’d “get on” the dirt-digging.

Some of the emails had an overtly sinister tone. Rice-Cameron, who is, oddly enough, the son of Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, wrote in one email that “slowly, we will continue to crush the Left’s will to resist, as they will crack under pressure.”

Ferguson wrote in another note, “now we turn to the more subtle game of grinding them down on the committee,” adding that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

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