An excellent discussion of the way that the “presumption of innocence” is used in internet discussions, by Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa here.
The admonition not to pass judgement about the allegations is simply the admonition to ignore them. “Don’t believe anything unless it’s been proven in a court of law.” But this is just a ludicrous epistemic standard. Do you care whether powerful men in academic philosophy are using their stature to coerce students into compromising sexual situations? Then you should be interested in credible testimony to the effect that this one has been. Don’t be tempted by the fallacious inference from it hasn’t been proven in court to you have no way to tell whether it’s true.
Eric Schliesser notices the strangeness of Pogge’s invocation of lie detector tests here.
I was baffled to read the quoted sentence in Thomas Pogge’s Response to the Allegations (see here) My gut reaction was, “if a mutually agreeable experts can be found, such an expert would be a fraudster.” It is widely known that Polygraph testing is a pseudo-science.
Philosophy Goes Pop on testimonial injustice in discussions of the case here.
This is not an isolated phenomenon. When Bill Cosby was accused of rape by 58 women, a surprising number of people leapt to his defense, delegitimizing the women’s claims altogether as hearsay. We are consistently taught to view women as liars, starting with the stereotype that women are gossips who believe whatever they are told. This stereotype pervades depictions of women who claim to have been assaulted or harassed. In fact, one police unit even called their sexual assault division the ‘Lying Bitches Unit.’ There is a tendency to believe that women are lying about sexual harassment and assault, and to find alternative explanations that exonerate the perpetrators.
Huffington Post here.
Pogge’s response, here.
Buzzfeed, discussing Pogge’s response, here.
Here, we’d welcome discussion from those grappling with how to improve our profession. Those who want to undermine victims’ credibility can head somewhere else. We’ll be confining ourselves to useful discussion.
Big News Story on Pogge Case May 20, 2016
But a recent federal civil rights complaint describes a distinction unlikely to appear on any curriculum vitae: It claims Pogge uses his fame and influence to manipulate much younger women in his field into sexual relationships. One former student said she was punished professionally after resisting his advances.
Read the whole story here.
[Thanks to Teresa Blankmeyer Burke for help and discussion on this post.]
Summer conference season is upon us! In a perfect world, all our conferences are perfectly accessible. But it’s an imperfect world – our conferences are run on limited budgets, our university accessibility teams are often less than ideally helpful, and many of us who are organizing events are scrambling to keep our heads above water as we juggle a sea of logistical details with little help and even less time. Managing accessibility in imperfect circumstances like these can be hard. It’s especially hard for disabled people, in ways a lot of non-disabled people don’t realize – Teresa Blankmeyer Burke has written beautifully about the hidden labor of disability, including all the time and energy spent arranging accommodation. But it’s also just generally complicated and complex. This post offers a few troubleshooting guidelines for how to approach conference accessibility. Hopefully readers can add more in the comments. (And there are some starting points for particular things to think about regarding conference accessibility here and here – lists like these are invariably controversial and imperfect, so if anyone has alternative suggestions please feel free to raise those in the comments as well.)
- Ask. – This is maybe the most important thing. Ask about accommodation requirements. And don’t just ask the people you know to be disabled – lots of people might have accommodation needs you don’t expect or know about (and they might be uncomfortable bringing them up if you don’t ask). Ask as a matter of course.
- When people answer, listen. – This may seem obvious, but it’s really important not to second-guess what someone tells you about accessibility on the grounds that it will ‘probably be fine’. So, e.g., someone tells you they need an accessible hotel room. You can’t get one in the hotel you’re planning on using for the conference. But you can get a hotel on the ground floor, so you figure this will probably be fine. The person isn’t in a wheelchair, so they don’t need all the bells and whistles of an accessible room, right? Turns out, though, that many disabled people need the accommodations of accessible rooms – especially the bathroom set up – for reasons far beyond extra space for wheelchairs. Lots of disabled people do lots of complicated things in bathrooms. None of them want to explain it in detail to the person organizing a conference they’re attending. If someone asks for an accessible room, don’t reinterpret that request on the assumption that something else is ‘probably fine’. Similarly, don’t rely on your own judgement about which accessibility requirements are necessary. If someone has asked speakers to use a mic, and a mic has been provided in the room, don’t allow speakers to ignore the mic and say ‘It’s fine, I’m sure everyone can hear me.’ If someone has asked speakers to use a mic, it’s probably because they really do need speakers to use the mic.
- If in doubt, ask for clarification. – So suppose you’re in a bind. Your conference is over budget, the hotel you’re getting a group rate for doesn’t have any available accessible rooms, and you think maybe the person attending your conference just needs to avoid a specific thing (stairs, narrow halls, etc.) Don’t just assume this is fine, but also don’t approach this issue by saying ‘So I’m planning to book you this basic ground floor room – is that okay?’ If it’s not okay, the person in question will have to respond with many a disabled person’s least favorite phrase: ‘I can’t. . .’. Disabled people, especially successful ones, are socially conditioned to hate this phrase. There’s so much pressure on disabled people to say that everything is fine, to never admit that they can’t do something, to internalize accommodation requirements as their own weakness. They will often go to great lengths just to avoid saying they can’t do something. Don’t put them in that situation. Instead, you can ask something like this: ‘Just to clarify so I get this right: do you need a fully accessible room, or will a room without [this particular thing] work?’
- Don’t ask for justification. – For the love of God, please don’t make a disabled person explain why they need a particular accommodation. Maybe one day we will live in a world where none of the realities of disability are stigmatized or verboten. But we are not there yet. See above re bathrooms. We also, unfortunately, live in a world where non-disabled people often assume they understand disabled people’s experiences and/or their real (rather than their stated) accommodation requirements. When a disabled person has asked that speakers use a mic, and a speaker assures them ‘Don’t worry, I talk loud, you’ll be able to hear me!’ it’s then up to the disabled person to justify and explain why that’s not true and why they really do, honest to goodness, need that mic. That’s a crappy position to put them in, and it’s requiring them to divulge information they may prefer to keep private.
- Give details. – Give a conference schedule and give details about that schedule. The last talk ends at 5pm. Dinner is at 7pm. How are people getting to the restaurant? Is it tacitly assumed that everyone will be going for a drink between the talk and dinner? Many disabled people need to plan their schedules with extreme precision. They need to know what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen. They also need this information as far in advance as possible. For some disabled people, planning for accommodation needs to happen well in advance of the conference. Details, for many disabled people, are an accessibility issue.
- Once you’ve given details, stick to those details. – Again, this comes down to the fact that being able to plan reliably is a huge issue for many disabled people. If you’ve given a schedule, stick to the schedule. If you’ve promised breaks, don’t treat them as opportunities for the talks to run longer than scheduled. And if for some reason you’re hosting a conference in an atmosphere where you just know things will be chronically late and not run on schedule, at least flag this in advance so that people can try to plan accordingly.
- Be transparent. – If you’re having a conversation with a disabled person about accommodation, give them as much information as you can about what you can provide. Be honest about what you can’t provide. Real information – even if the information is about what you can’t do – is so much better and more helpful than ‘We’ll do our best – I’m sure we’ll figure something out!’ If you’re corresponding with university administration about a particular accessibility issue, copy the disabled person into the emails so they know what’s going on.
- University equality/accommodation services are a good resource to use, but may not be as helpful as you’d like. – These offices are often entirely student-focused, and can easily forget that disabled faculty exist. Asking for help making sure your conference is accessible to your disabled visiting speaker can sometimes be met with a perplexed stare. Often asking about a specific piece of accommodation for a specific venue will get you more traction than asking for general help with making your event accessible. But even then, the helpfulness can vary a lot from place to place.
- It’s complicated, some things won’t work like you hope, and that’s fine. – Working on accessibility – especially when you have incredibly limited resources and time – is hard. And it’s never perfect. Providing specific accommodation is, in so many cases, a matter of trying to provide individual bandaids for a deeply structural, systematic problem. Sometimes you don’t have the resources to do what you’d like. Sometimes the technology screws up. Sometimes you overlook something. Sometimes different accommodation requests conflict. But just having a conversation about accessibility with openness and goodwill – and being willing to do what you can with what you have – goes a very, very long way.
Dialogues on Disability – Bryony Pierce May 19, 2016
Shelley’s latest interview is out now – this time she chats to Bryony Pierce about experimental philosophy; living with the changes wrought by a hit-and-run accident, and the philosophical reflections they may provoke; the classification of disorders; and much, much more…
My guest today is Bryony Pierce. Bryony is a research associate at the University of Bristol, where she recently completed her Ph.D. Her research interests include consciousness, philosophy of action, free will, and experimental philosophy. Often, when she is not working, Bryony can be found crouching in the undergrowth, camera in hand, in pursuit of aesthetically pleasing insects or other similarly inspiring sights.
You can read the interview here.
Great stuff as always!
A powerful post at the APA Blog, demonstrating clearly why reliance on adjuncts is terrible for both adjuncts and their students.
I’m frequently impressed with myself—my energy, my mad skills, my philosophical breadth, and my hard-earned pedagogical wisdom (dissonance theory’s induced-compliance effect, no doubt). But I’m not sure my students see things the same way. They’re probably wondering why their philosophy instructor isn’t required to hold office hours or why, if she does hold them, students’ grades and personal challenges are aired (illegally) in the presence of three office mates. They’re probably wondering why they have exams, instead of papers; why their teacher won’t remediate writing and close reading, when both are secret prerequisites for passing the course; why she so frequently loses her train of thought in the middle of lecture; why it takes so long to get papers back; why she’s not teaching in her area of expertise; why she can’t remember her students’ names; why she doesn’t know anything about the other philosophy teachers, the other philosophy courses, or the university’s Gen Ed requirements; why she lectures most days, with few of the bells and whistles they’ve heard about from their friends at wealthier schools, like experiential learning, small group activities, and Skype sessions with remote experts, to name a few; and why, as soon as finals have ended, she vanishes, unavailable for advice, rec letters, and subsequent courses.
Un-diversifying academia May 18, 2016
An important article on universities’ failure to tenure and retain the members of underrepresented groups that they hire.
This disturbing trend of denying tenure to women and minorities at disproportionate rates vis-à-vis white males is revealed in June Junn’s study at the University of Southern California. Junn found that of 106 tenure cases, heard between 1998 and 2012 at USC, 92 percent of white males were tenured, whereas only 55 percent of women and minority scholars were.
New online modules on sex and gender based research May 17, 2016
The CIHR Institute of Gender and Health has just launched three free online modules for researchers, funders and peer reviewers on sex and gender based analysis. Check them out here.
Nancy Bauer interviewed by Myisha Cherry May 16, 2016
Enjoy the latest UnMute podcast, on pornography.
Many jobs require employees to look smart at work. Unfortunately, what counts as ‘smart’ can be highly problematic. Just two stories from London that happened to cross my desk this week:
‘Leila’ (not her real name) has been told by her employer several times that she needs to wear a weave to work, because her afro hair is not sufficiently smart, left in its natural state. Cultural norms for what counts as ‘smart’ workwear should not be based on white people’s racial features.
And Nicola Thorp was sent home from work for wearing flat shoes instead of high heels. High heels are often uncomfortable and can cause problems with the knees, spine, ankles, pelvis, and toes. What counts as ‘smart’ shouldn’t include footwear that is likely to cause muscular-skeletal problems.
Can’t quite believe both of those needed saying.