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THE BLOG

Three Strategies for Navigating Moral Disagreements

By: Musa Al-Gharbi, research associate at Heterodox Academy We in America and Western Europe, and by now many other places in the world, have this idea of people as fundamentally rational. On this account, our profound cognitive abilities are designed to help us discover objective truths about the world through logical argument and empirical observation...

Why I’m Leaving the Academy in Order to Help Save it

By: Debra Mashek, HxA’s Executive Director   Dear Members of Heterodox Academy, I landed my dream job in 2005.  For the past 13 years I have been on the faculty at Harvey Mudd College, an elite liberal arts school with an intense focus on the STEM disciplines. Every single day I get to work alongside incredible..

Research Summary: The Polarizing Effects of Online Partisan Criticism: Evidence from Two Experiments

We conclude that online partisan criticism likely has contributed to rising affective and social polarization in recent years between Democrats and Republicans in the United States, and perhaps between partisan and ideological group members in other developed democracies as well. We close by discussing the troubling implications of these findings in light of continuing attempts by autocratic regimes and other actors to influence democratic elections via false identities on social media.

The Google Memo: What Does the Research Say About Gender Differences?

The recent Google Memo on diversity, and the immediate firing of its author, James Damore, have raised a number of questions relevant to the mission of Heterodox Academy. Large corporations deal with many of the same issues that we wrestle with at universities, such as how to seek truth and achieve the kinds of diversity we want, being cognizant that we are tribal creatures often engaged in motivated reasoning, operating within organizations that are at risk of ideological polarization.

In this post, we address the central empirical claim of Damore’s memo, which is contained in its second sentence.

Book Review: Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus

  • James Anderson
  • July 21, 2017

Laura Kipnis does not care if you don’t appreciate her oppositional position – or her sense of humor. “Kiss my ass,” she states in the penultimate paragraph of the 34-page introduction to her new book, “Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus.”

Her new book grabs readers’ attention in ways that cause both pleasure and discomfort. Perhaps not surprising, then, she is facing a gag order of sorts and a lawsuit filed by a graduate student at Northwestern University whom she writes about in the book.

The Fearless Speech Index: Who is afraid to speak, and why?

Norms about speech seem to be changing rapidly on many college campuses. Universities are offering or requiring training in recognizing “microaggressions,” and they are creating “bias response teams” to make it easy for students to report professors and fellow students who commit microaggressions. In response, many students and professors say they now feel like they are “walking on eggshells”, not just in the classroom but in informal interactions as well.

But how do we know that these changes are real? Might the stories just be a collection of anecdotes from a few disgruntled people who are over-reacting to being censured for a rude remark? Where is the data showing that students are afraid to speak their minds?

We know of no good survey to measure this phenomenon, so a group* of social scientists at Heterodox Academy created one – the Fearless Speech Index. This post explains the first draft of the survey and reports preliminary results obtained from an internet sample.

Psychological Harm and Free Speech on Campus

In this short piece recently published in Society, I defend extensive toleration of speech on college campuses based on John Stuart Mill’s famous harm principle.  I argue that only prevention of harm is a justification for interference with individuals and that while speech can be harmful, it’s rarely harmful on college campuses- despite the current preoccupation with microaggressions. When we say that only prevention of harm is justification for interference, we do not mean that any claim to be hurt justifies interference.