MIT: Censorship and the New Approach to Learning

October 27, 2021

MIT is one of the top science and technology universities in the world. Like many universities in the United States, MIT has had its share of controversial issues related to cancel culture. The Atlantic discusses the most recent incident in the article, “Why The Latest Campus Cancellation Is Different.”

MIT invited geophysicist Dorian Abbot to deliver the yearly John Carlson Lecture about his new climate science research. When MIT students heard Abbot was invited to speak, they campaigned to disinvite him. MIT’s administration caved and Abbot’s invitation was rescinded. Unlike other cancel culture issues, when MIT disinvited Abbot it was not because he denied climate change or committed a crime. Instead, he gave his opinion about affirmative action and other ways minorities have advantages in college admission.

Abbot criticized affirmative action, legacy, and athletic admissions, which favors white applicants. He then compared these admission processes to 1930s Germany and that is a big no-no:

“Abbot seemingly meant to highlight the dangers of thinking about individuals primarily in terms of their ethnic identity. But any comparison between today’s practices on American college campuses and the genocidal policies of the Nazi regime is facile and incendiary.

Even so, it is patently absurd to cancel a lecture on climate change because of Abbot’s article in Newsweek. If every cringe worthy analogy to the Third Reich were grounds for canceling talks, hundreds of professors—and thousands of op-ed columnists—would no longer be welcome on campus.”

Pew Research shows that the majority of the United States believes merit-based admissions or hiring is the best system. The liberal state California even voted to uphold a ban on affirmative action.

MIT’s termination of the Abbot lecture may be an example of how leading universities define learning, information, and discussion. People are no longer allowed to have opposing or controversial beliefs if it offends someone. It harms not only an academic setting, especially at a research heavy university like MIT, but all of society.

It is also funny that MIT was quick to cancel Abbot, but they happily accepted money from Jeffrey Epstein. Interesting.

Whitney Grace, October 27, 2021

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