Reasoned discourse from Rutgers

I can’t summarize this. You’ll just have to read it.

About Joanne


  1. That’s astounding. :O

    I wonder if the professor really thought he would remain anonymous. It’s not difficult to do an email trace as long as the headers haven’t been hacked.

    Interesting but sort of pathetic how Levitt has globally labeled the GOP as evil scumbags. Reminds me of Ed Cone’s recent column: “Your information is flawed because it came from a source I know to be aligned with the forces of darkness.”

  2. Steve LaBonne says:

    I strongly suspect this was sent by someone who hijacked Prof. levitt’s account or forged his header. Levitt (depite his avowedly leftist politics) is an eminently sensible man who has done yeoman service against postmodernist claptrap in the so-called “science wars”; see _Higher Superstition_ by Levitt and Gross, still well worth reading years after its initial appearance.

  3. *sigh* He just had to be a math prof…

  4. Eric Holcombe says:

    That’s forged and hijacked twice. And somehow received Adams’ email in between.

  5. Why does the left consistently resort to insults and profanity as their preferred method to disagree? This behavior seems to go right to the top of the Democratic party, as well as academia.

    I don’t hear this kind of thing coming out of the GOP, other than the odd cuss word here and there.

    Violence, both physical and verbal, seems to be the last resort for those who have run out of ideas…

  6. Unfortunately this runs rampant in todays college profs — many get upset if you don’t follow their views.

  7. Because, Claire, uh, um, er…look! Over there! Bushitler! Abu Ghraib! Ashcroft! Halliburton! Yeah, so there, and if that doesn’t answer your question, you’re obviously one of Karl Rove’s neocon stooges. 😉

  8. He (the Prof) needs to exercise some judgement. Diaribes of this type does constitute “fighting words”, and could get him a through (and richly deserved) ass kicking with no recourse. Depends on the state obviously. Violence doesn’t solve everything, but seems to be just solution in this case. If he talked about my mother that way I’d not be a bit shy about a physical response.


  9. Steve…I’ve read “Higher Superstition” and agree that it’s worthwhile. If it’s really the same person, and the mail wasn’t forged, that’s really disturbing.

  10. Mike, I’d just point out that the defense of sufficient provocation usually only mitigates one crime to a lesser offense rather than completely excusing it. But your point still stands.

  11. Well, as he’s at Rutgers, I doubt there will be many repercussions. Lots of questionable things get a pass there.

  12. Oh, and I am not surprised it came from a math prof. I know of a couple of math profs whose political discourse is at about that level of reasoning, but much less obscenity.

  13. Nothing like what from the GOP side? Open your eyes, Claire, there are foul-mouthed loons on both sides.

    It’s only a math professor, it’s not like it was the president or anything.

  14. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Perhaps a NEW MATH professor, or a folk mathematician?

  15. I asked a math professor friend of mine about this guy, and he said that Levitt was not really very active as a mathematician anymore, and that my friend was, sadly, not that surprised at the vehemence of Levitt’s expression, since my friend sees widespread polarization on political “discourse” in universities.

    I can’t say that I’m all that surprised, either, since I’ve been yelled at in the last couple of years by people that I generally agreed with, because I didn’t agree with them enough. I don’t know what causes what, but as media coverage of politics becomes increasingly infantile and garbled, people become more and more incensed about their ever more incoherent opinions. Maybe Levitt’s mail represents some sort of outer limit to this (short of violence), but no doubt there is worse to come — I hope I don’t have to read it…

  16. P. K. Pruitt says:

    I think it is dubious that a tenured professor would hide behind a Hotmail account. You can make up a Hotmail account using whatever name you want to (contrary to their user agreement). I think someone is posing as the angry professor to get someone’s goat.

    You can respond to me here or use my new e-mail address:

    Groovy baby, yeah.

    Austin Powers
    International Man of Mystery

    P.S. I’ll be cancelling the new e-mail soon so don’t wait to long.

  17. PK,

    Offhand I know of at least two tenured professors who use Hotmail-type accounts. This doesn’t mean that Levitt did or didn’t write the e-mail; it just means that it’s not entirely improbable.

  18. I’m not particularly surprised by this. I recognize the name from some terse exchanges at Critical Mass. His entire argument seemed to be that anyone who disagreed was illegitimate in one manner or another. In particular he seemed to feel his professor status meant non-academians could not question his conclusions.

  19. I’m not going to address the “was it really Levitt” question because I have no way of knowing (though, to be honest, I’d’ve hoped for better from a professor). I’m going to assume it’s actually him, and hope that I will be pleasantly surprised to find that it’s someone playing a prank.

    I will say, I think that at some schools at least, that kind of behavior would earn one a loss of tenure. In fact, I think that would be the case at the school where I teach.

    Actually, it makes me sad. Disagreeing politically is one thing, implying that a person’s mother has consorted with canines because you disagree with them politically is totally beyond the pale. In my bleaker moods, I wonder if we’re heading for another civil war in this country – not North and South this time, but Liberal and Conservative. “Pitting brother against brother,” indeed.

  20. Poor judgement, tacky, immature, childish… yeah, those all fit. But I’ve seen similar on the right… it seems that we are in very polarized times… maybe the prof was having a bad day… I know there are times when I get so worked up, I have the same rush of emotions and want to spit venom… but I don’t because I know it would be counterproductive… and I know its just emotions… If you haven’t at least felt the urge to rip into someone and vent… well, you’re not human.

    That said… I think its over the top to suggest that this in any way reflects on Rutgers at all, or to propose that he should lose his tenure… what he did was cowardly and
    uncouth… but he broke no laws (unless it continues and can be considered harassment)… what he did was as a private citizen, not as a representative of the university…

    Bad judgement, poor taste… but give me a break…
    This is on both sides of the political spectrum.

  21. Why does the left consistently resort to insults and profanity as their preferred method to disagree?

    Because they don’t have a rational counterargument. Their position is based on feel-good sentiments, emotion, and hysteria, rather than reality.

  22. Eric Holcombe says:

    folk mathematician… heh

    Steve, I think the totally fake hotmail address is more plausible than a hijack – but Mike Adams is no dummy. I’d bet it was verified and may be more than two messages.

  23. Steve LaBonne says:

    You’re probably right, I just don’t want to believe it.

  24. Claire you posted:

    “Why does the left consistently resort to insults and profanity as their preferred method to disagree? This behavior seems to go right to the top of the Democratic party, as well as academia. ”

    Have you not heard what VP Cheney said in an open session of Congress no less? It was too profane to repeat. Since you don’t know about it, please ask or research it, for it will COMPLETELY refute what you posted about the left being profane. Checkmate.

  25. Poet,

    The difference is that Cheney _said_ it. The evidence we have (besides his own admission) is merely hear-say. Levett wrote it–indeed, sent it over a notoriously insecure medium. Hotmail, in particular, warns users that their e-mail is not secure, and advises its users not to send anything sensitive. Given how vitriolic the e-mail in question was, and how insecure e-mail servers are,if he didn’t want others to know about it, it should never have been sent.

  26. Mad Scientist says:

    poet, you are laughable. First, Cheney did not say that in “an open session of Congress”. It was after Lehay publically berated him, and then tried to be all smiles and sunshine. It was a private comment in a not so private place. But if you can show me where Cheny’s comment ended up in the minutes of the committee meeting, I’ll gladly retract.

    Secondly, you cite one instance of a Republican saying a naughty word. What about the previous 4 years of the tired old “Bush is an idiot” routine we have heard from the loony left? What about the DNC fundraiser where Kerry lauded Whoopi’s comments as the soul of the Democratic party? Or Clark’s endorsement of Moore’s unfounded assertion that Bush was a deserter? Or Dean’s repeated assertion of the same?

    You made an illegal move buddy. Check this!

  27. Richard Brandshaft says:

    “Why does the left consistently resort to insults and profanity as their preferred method to disagree?”

    The right operates on a more refined plane: they just question the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with them.

  28. Mad Scientist says:

    Richard, that is a typical leftie response. When you have no answer, deflect the question to the failings of the people asking it.

    So, the question remains: “Why does the left resort to insults and profanity as their preferred method to disagree?”

    Here’s the answer: The left seems so blissfully ignorant, they cannot bother to be encumbered by the multiple crutches of facts, logic, or reason. All that’s left is invective.

  29. what about Bush caught on tape calling someone an azzhole. remember that clip? and Cheney using profane in CONGRESS no less? ALL people are capable of being vulgar. This far right nonsense about being somehow morally superior is the EXACT reason Dr. Martin L. King wrote the speech “Drum Major Instinct”. Go read it.


  30. Mad Scientist says:

    You are very good a citing a few widely dispersed, widely publicized events, but ignoring a much more frequent, and louder events from your side.

    I refuse to play your gotcha game.


  31. The email address appears genuine. The potty-mouthed prof used the same account in 2002 to pontificate on matters mathematical. See it here


  1. It’s hard to call this guy a Liberal

    Via Joanne Jacobs comes this column regarding reasoned discourse as practiced at Rutgers University. As Joanne states, it’s hard to summarize, other than I’d hate to be one of this guy’s students….