I am trying to resolve what would be a good new year’s resolution after this hellacious year for my profession. I’m thinking: rise above and leave the crap behind, give it zero attention. When confronted with a threat to sue, laugh out loud — but push back loudly if need be — and then move on.
The trick is finding a balance between finding a way to lend no power to ignorance and mean-spiritdness and finding ways to overcome them. This is tough. The more one tries to overcome them, the more power one gives them. This has been my quandary this whole past year: ignore or fight back?
After a great year of the profession fighting back, I think the next tact is to ignore. Give no energy to the places that suck our good work and put it where we do good work.
This might be the best resolution I could make. We all have good work to do. So let’s do it.
Because what they said is protected speech. And I suppose Ichikawa means even under Canadian law. See Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa’s blog posts here and here.
…because under Canada law something can be defamatory even if it is true, and under US law it can be defamatory only if it is false. plus other conditions.
For historical value, since the PGR is history: Analyses of the Philosophical Gourmet Report
In the age of big data, crowdsourcing, and the philosophy hive mind, why not let the entire philosophical community contribute to showcasing all the great work going on in philosophy graduate programs around the world — and by extension how well trained are the people teaching undergraduates at liberal arts and other colleges and universities? Thanks to Shawn A. Miller, this alternative is rolling and I am delighted to be a part of it.
UPDATE: I think the philwiki that I am overseeing, on twentieth century continental philosophy, will be live in about a week, maybe sooner. It will be able to list all the PhD programs in the world with at least one faculty member specializing in some area of 20th century continental philosophy (substantiated by a university website or publicly accessible CV). That is the baseline. Then there is the capacity to find out how numerous the faculty is and what sub-areas are specialized in. And there will be links to faculty websites and philpapers profilles. All this will depend on the philosophical community updating the wiki. I’ll put forward a really good start, then it will be up to all of us to keep making it better.
UPDATE: The philwiki on 20th century continental philosophy is available here: http://philwiki.net/20thcenturycontinental/. Note that this is not a finished product — not at all — but the start of an ongoing project for those doing work in continental philosophy to continue filling out and improving. If you do not see yourself or your program here, and you think you or it should be, please go into the edit mode and make the additions. There are lots of instructions on the site. And I’m happy to help too.
In meeting with a graduating senior this afternoon, I learned that her only exposure to a woman philosopher, in a syllabus for a class, was in my freshman seminar on the masters of suspicion with some readings on Arendt and in a 400-level class now in her senior year. In my seriously progressive department, how the hell did that happem? She is super smart and planning on doing a joint MD-JD program. I asked her if she thought about philosophy and pointed her to look, right behind her, at my philosoHERs poster of women in philosophy, and she noted that she did in fact see a few women of color like herself. But it was still much easier to see herself as a forensic MD-JD getting into the minds of serial killers than to see herself as a philosopher.
I don’t want to give too much attention to the news of the day in the philosophy blogosphere (I’m not going to link to that place so forgive the obscurity of this post) when, alas, i am the headline, accused of being a “miscreant” — a word that sounds much more sinister than its definition, “a person who behaves badly or misbehaves the law.” I do admit to having acted badly in the past and occasionally running a stop sign. Mostly, I am haunted by a memory of standing by — when a kid in school was bullied — instead of standing up. That memory motivates me to this day to stand up, especially when the matter is of little concern to me personally.
Such is the case with a certain institution related to my profession, philosophy, that has branded itself as a service to the profession but has done much more harm than good, not to me personally but to many people who do philosophy otherwise than the mainstream and also to many junior women in the field. Over the past several months, the profession has largely come to see this.
Over the years, I have not stood by. And I am proud of that. (Evidence is on this very blog.) Thanks to a few years of training and practice in survey research methodology I have been a serious critic of a certain project that aims to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of doctoral programs in my discipline. My primary criticism has been that the methodology is flawed all the way down. There is nothing at all redeeming about this project’s methodology. It begins with biases and ends as a result completely biased. Now, finally, this is widely recognized and the project has been thoroughly discredited. Good.
But now I am being called by the author of this project, perhaps in desperation, as a miscreant and a vandal to boot. Supposedly I (he says without any proof) am a vandal for editing this certain person’s wikipedia page. Let’s make a few things clear here:
- any wikipedia entry belongs to the entire world and not the subject of it
- a wiki by definition is a website that can be edited by anyone — so editing does not equal “vandalizing” but rather it means contributing to wikipedia
- a wikipedia entry should be balanced, including both positive and negative news, all of which should be properly sourced
- it is against wikipedia policy for the subject of an entry to police the entry and delete anything negative
- the history page of the entry will list all the changes that have been made, including attempts by editors to add material that gives balance, including, for example the other side of a news article that was otherwise used to give a glowing remark
- attempts to “out” pseudonymous editors can immediately lead to someone being blocked from wikipedia
Enough attention to this matter, enough I hope to correct errors but not so much as to fuel further controversy. I think we’ve all got much better things to do.
UPDATE: I should also correct the claim that “the Wikipedia editors eventually put a stop to her mischief.” It is actually the other way around. After this person threatened to sue me, I contacted a high-level editor at Wikipedia and asked for help. That editor got in touch with this person and told him that were he to try to do so that the Wikimedia Foundation would hire the best law firm in my area to defend me. That is the last time he ever threatened to sue me. So, readers, please note that nothing he says should be believed.