What a coincidence!

by Chris Bertram on March 18, 2004

Harvard Law Review recently published a sympathetic note of a book by a certain Francis Beckwith on so-called “intelligent design” (that’s creationism with bells and whistles on, to you and me). Brian Leiter took them to task for this (as well he might) and became the object of a vitriolic polemic in the conservative National Review . The pompous and moralizing tone of the National Review’s article starts to look a little inappropriate, though, one we realize that the author—who is described as “a freelance writer in Texas”—is, in fact, the aforementioned Beckwith’s graduate student and teaching assistant . It’s a small world.

{ 61 comments }

1

Jimmy Doyle 03.18.04 at 10:58 pm

How unjust that Leiter, of all people, should be subjected to pompous moralising.

2

bryan 03.18.04 at 11:15 pm

YEAH! especially by an ignorant, immoral, punk.

oh, wait… did you wanna leave that part out?

3

Keith 03.18.04 at 11:20 pm

Too bad a respectable publication like the HLR would tiant their pages with such tripe as a pro-ID sermon. Is it just me or is their a strong lean towards wooly thinking in the academic world these days?

4

Thomas 03.18.04 at 11:28 pm

For those of you wondering why the HLR would publish a review of a book on intelligent design, rest easy: it didn’t. It published a review of a book discussing the establishment clause and intelligent design. One might believe (correctly, in my view) that the merits of intelligent design as scientific theory are a separate question from the constitutionality of teaching intelligent design in public schools. After all, the reason we don’t teach Catholicism in public schools, for example, isn’t that Catholicism isn’t true (it is!), but because the establishment clause prohibits it, whether true or not. One must separate the truth or falsity of the theory from the permissibility of teaching the theory itself.

Leiter is, as NRO argues, a bully. This is the second time in 3 months that he’s threatened law students or recent law graduates. See this from January:

Sadly, some of those who are not anonymous, and whose credentials might
>otherwise position them well for the legal academy, may not realize the
>kind of damage they are doing to their academic prospects–either
>through advertising their political predilections in unattractive ways
>(there is more political bias in legal academic hiring–for more, go
>here < http://webapp.utexas.edu/blogs/archives/bleiter/000252.html> ),
>or through frequently sloppy argumentation and misreadings, or simply
>sophomoric intellectual posturing–at least to the extent hiring
>schools become aware of their blogs. But given the extensive
>communication between law schools during the hiring process, and the
>decent number of law faculty in the blogosphere, it seems likely this
>will come out. This is a development worth
>watching with interest: how will these blogs affect the academic job
>prospects of these individuals? My prediction is: by and large, not
>favorably.

That post was meant, I believe, as a threat to a young lawyer who had the audacity to disagree with Leiter on is blog and to best Leiter in the public argument. The young man is a HLS grad and is quite obviously planning an academic legal career. The message was received, I can confirm.

Perhaps I should have let Jimmy have the last word.

5

Chris Bertram 03.18.04 at 11:37 pm

Jimmy, I’m sure Leiter can take it as well as dishing it out. But don’t you find it shocking that the National Review author failed to disclose his relationship to Beckwith? I do.

6

Honest Abe 03.18.04 at 11:57 pm

Thomas, where is the threat in what you posted? Did you leave something out?

7

chun the unavoidable 03.18.04 at 11:58 pm

It’s a shame that the CPUSA isn’t as well-funded as the fundies, ’cause I sure as hell want to bring back Lysenkoism.

8

PZ Myers 03.19.04 at 1:10 am

You can’t separate science teaching from its content and pretend that this is an abstract “establishment issue”. It actually doesn’t matter whether it’s religious or not; this is a case of a gang of con artists (who happen to have religious motivations) conspiring to replace good teaching with garbage.

I think it’s pathetic that Leiter is being accused of being a bully. The author of the review was appallingly stupid; it’s the kind of scholarship one might expect of a callow junior high school forensics team member. For just one incredible example, note that he completely misinterpreted an NCSE source to claim that 1% of scientists doubt evolution. When it was pointed out to him, he still failed to be able to read the source correctly.

What do you expect when a member of the Harvard Law Review screws up so thoroughly? That everyone will just purse their lips, go “tut, tut”, and look away? Why is everyone supposed to be solicitous of the career of a demonstrable incompetent…because he’s a member of the Harvard elite?

9

t. gRACCHUS 03.19.04 at 1:38 am

There is no Establishment Clause issue regarding ID. It is not science, it is religion, and the only place it belongs in a public school is a course on religion. On this one, as too often is the case, Chun is right (or left, as the case may sem to be).

10

Robin Green 03.19.04 at 1:57 am

Let’s suppose I’m a prospective applicant and I read Leiter’s post quoted above.

“Oh no, sloppy argument and sophomoric posturings might affect my job chances! My right to post illogical trash and ill-thought-out attacks is being unconstitutionally curtailed! What a fascist is Leiter!”

Of course it [i]might[/i] be an implied threat in a certain context. But it’s not obvious that it should be taken as one.

11

Robin Green 03.19.04 at 1:58 am

Let’s suppose I’m a prospective applicant and I read Leiter’s post quoted above.

“Oh no, sloppy argument and sophomoric posturings might affect my job chances! My right to post illogical trash and ill-thought-out attacks is being unconstitutionally curtailed! What a fascist is Leiter!”

Of course it might be an implied threat in a certain context. But it’s not obvious that it should be taken as one.

12

Gully 03.19.04 at 3:38 am

I’m with Chun, though orgonomy’s more my bag.

13

Nick 03.19.04 at 5:34 am

But don’t you find it shocking that the National Review author failed to disclose his relationship to Beckwith? I do.

Judging by the above comments, it looks like you’re alone in that, Chris. Don’t worry, though, I think this says less about your judgement than that of the National Review.

14

John Landon 03.19.04 at 6:04 am

The Darwin debate is the ‘permanently nutty don’t get it’ sector of Western Civ, religious or secular. What ever happened to the non-religious non-Darwinist? (e.g. Schopenhauer, although Magee tries to pass him off as proto-Darwinist) The N-R N-D figure as a ‘neither’ and Kuhnian mutant is getting a little tired of the suspiciously controlled dialectic of scientific reductionists and fundamentalists. Didn’t anyone ever notice this represents two conservative constituencies? Isn’t there a better way? Should we import Buddhists who don’t react either way on the ‘god meter’, who dah? (measure of foaming at the mouth)
Anyone, the Darwin field by a sad irony has produced two generations of Dawkins fans who don’t get it and can’t handle a book like No Free Lunch, by Dembski. Why couldn’t anyone in academia have written that book, and done it right? (I didn’t say I agreed with him).
Anyway, the resolution of the Darwin debate was pretty well handled by Kant, who apparently is beneath Darwinian contempt (cf. Evelyn Keller’s ‘sneak’ Kant in her recent book on models)but they seem to prefer to attack Paley–a bit convenient.

15

Captain Louis RENAULT 03.19.04 at 6:13 am

I’m shocked, shocked to see that the National Review engaging in intellectual dishonesty!

16

Captain Louis RENAULT 03.19.04 at 6:14 am

I’m shocked, shocked to see the National Review engaging in intellectual dishonesty!

17

jdsm 03.19.04 at 6:24 am

It’s undoubtedly true that Brian Leiter is forceful and quite abrasive but in this case he’s 100% right for the reasons others have posted above. That he is accused of being a bully is laughable given the shoddiness of the piece against him and yes, I do think it’s disgusting that the author is employed by the person he is defending.

18

enthymeme 03.19.04 at 6:42 am

Uh, please. Brian Leiter and implicit threats are nothing new. But it seems that he’s gone totally apeshit this time and is now threatening (touchy touchy) a defamation suit! What an assclown.

19

Brian Weatherson 03.19.04 at 7:19 am

Er, I think if he was really threatening a defamation suit, he wouldn’t be posting comments about why the said suit shouldn’t win.

Is it a threat to tell someone that if they produce incompetent work, they won’t get hired? Is it discrimination against the incompetent?

20

enthymeme 03.19.04 at 7:56 am

C’mon Professor Weatherson, surely it does not escape anyone with more than two brain cells that Leiter is hedging his false bravado! Why bother to outline 4 counts of “defamation” in an incensed stupor if you don’t really mean it? Now he’s reduced to juvenile intimidation rhetoric like so: “I’m going to beat you up in real life!!!1!! but I wasn’t humiliated in the first place so I won’t”. Bah!

21

Mat 03.19.04 at 10:02 am

Just to point out to Thomas and others that the original “review” wasn’t just discussing establishment clause matters, but was implicitly giving ID legitimacy through vague slurs and distorsions. And that is the core of the problem. The crude conflict of interest just adds more suspicions.
ID is truly intellectually bankrupt.

22

Gully Foyle 03.19.04 at 11:22 am

Seriously, the notion that Leiter was threatening poor VanDyke is laughable. Contrary to the deluded ravings of Hunter Baker (wonderful name, by the way), Leiter is powerless with respect to VanDyke’s fortunes.

Re enthememe’s above erotema:

Why bother to outline 4 counts of “defamation” in an incensed stupor if you don’t really mean it?

As a rhetorical device, perhaps? Hyperbole, I believe it’s called.

23

Ophelia Benson 03.19.04 at 3:11 pm

“Is it just me or is their a strong lean towards wooly thinking in the academic world these days?”

No, it’s not you. Oddly enough, the site I edit is all about, precisely, woolly thinking in the academic world these days. On the front page one can see a link to ‘Woolly Thinking Rhetoric.’

24

chun the unavoidable 03.19.04 at 3:36 pm

You know what I’d like to read? Enthymeme “fisking” Leiter over this particular issue. Unlimited exclamation points.

25

enthymeme 03.19.04 at 4:56 pm

Gully, I believe it’s called “petty vindictiveness”. Sure, Leiter may well be powerless outside of UT; but this does not change the fact that he’s a thin-skinned bully whose rhetorical weapon of choice is to hint darkly at professional ruin whenever someone has the temerity to disagree with the pompous assprat.

Indeed, his _perceived_ influence by dint of the PGR and his law rankings may be far greater than any real influence he wields, but this does not stop him from leveraging it in making all sorts of disgusting portents on a person’s academic future. Threatening someone with an unloaded gun is not any less of a threat, sir.

Chun, haha. Although I like having a laugh at Leiter’s expense, I am not interested in defending creationist bilge. Rather, my point is that one’s impressions of him being a bully, whatever the demerits of the HLR note, is spot on. The fool tried the same tack on me, remember? Not quite realizing I wasn’t doing philosophy, nor law in the US. Yet the first thing he did was seize on it in his utterly fatuous reply to your thread on anti-Semitism. Ah, the hubris of self-styled philosophical kingmakers.

26

amused 03.19.04 at 5:13 pm

Enthymeme, did Leiter spit at your mother or something? Back here on the planet earth, we’re still looking for evidence of the threat and the bullying.

27

Karl Marx 03.19.04 at 5:19 pm

A little googling will reveal the extent of enthymeme’s cross-blog obsession with Leiter. Leiter’s “threat” to him or her seems to consist in nothing more than the observation that someone with enthymeme’s abilities is unlikely to make much progress in any profession requiring argumentative skill or rational engagement with the evidence. Seems a fait judgement rather than a threat.

28

enthymeme 03.19.04 at 6:35 pm

Temper, temper, gentlemen!

amused, well, did he pork yours seeing that you’re so keen to jump to his defence? Duh.

Anyway, we know that Leiter has influence at least in UT law, so you can be sure that VanDyke will not be hired (assuming he has academic aspirations at all) where he holds sway. Implicit threat 1.

Leiter’s perceived influence extends beyond UT, given his work on the PGR, law rankings and what-have-you. I don’t think it is unreasonable to suppose that someone in VanDyke’s shoes will feel his academic future threatened by Leiter’s remarks and _fear for it_. I sure got the impression of palpable malice.

Say you were on a hiring committee and you bought into the cachet of Leiter’s rankings. Would you think twice before hiring someone who has attracted a great deal of controversy from editor of said rankings? Indeed, why would you stick your neck out? Any fool could see the the implicit threat contained in Leiter’s remarks and the repercussions thereof.

Given “the vagaries of the academic job-market” as old Leiter will put it, _any_ reason will count as a reason to disqualify a potential candidate – not to mention a negative and widely publicized appraisal from the editor of an influential ranking exercise. Implicit threat 2.

Professor B uh I mean Karl Marx sir,

Get real plz. Taking a dislike to Professor Leiter’s style and having a laugh while at it does not constitute “obsession”. Is Leiter obsessed with George Bush? Duh duh.

Nor did I say _I_ was threatened. I said Leiter attempted to use bullying rhetoric on me and that he has a tendency to foam at the mouth which borders on the pathological. Capiche? I think a failure on his part to respond substantively says more about his “argumentative abilities” [sic] than mine. But I digress. If the PGR editor told me I “won’t last long in philosophy”, would I feel threatened? Hell yeah. What do you expect? Even as someone _not_ in philosophy, I thought that was disgusting thing to say given that he clearly _knew_ that his perceived influence would intimidate someone who was – and one gets the distinct impression that he is aiming for that effect. Does that make him an insufferable bully? Tell me, Horatio.

29

amused 03.19.04 at 6:38 pm

Who exactly is it that “has a tendency to foam at the mouth which borders on the pathological”?

30

enthymeme 03.19.04 at 6:42 pm

And when I say “negative and widely publicized appraisal”, I don’t mean an appraisal of the merits of VanDyke’s booknote. I meant an appraisal of VanDyke’s chances in academia.

31

enthymeme 03.19.04 at 6:44 pm

amused, change your nick to “touchy” plz. I’m not the one devoting yards of blogspace to denouncing the “moral depravity” of others . . .

32

amused 03.19.04 at 6:56 pm

True, I think your preferred epithet, was “assclown,” which isn’t all indicative of foaming or pathology.

I think I found the exchange,

http://chun.typepad.com/chun/2003/12/antisemitism_an.html

Leiter’s remarks weren’t even addressed to enthymeme, but to the blog host.

Even more amused, now.

33

DJW 03.19.04 at 7:12 pm

Enthymeme, a hypothetical for you.

Say I’m a professor of subject X. Say I spot a graduate student in subject X engaging in intellectual dishonesty unbecoming of a scholar. I presumably have influence over hiring at my own department, and possibly others through my professional reputation, contacts, etc. Is it possible for me to publically comment on this professional misconduct without appearing to be a threatening bully in your eyes?

34

Vinteuil 03.19.04 at 7:18 pm

“chun,” “karl,” “amused”:

It may interest you to know that Prof. Leiter strongly disapproves of anonymous/pseudonymous blog commentary. He considers it “undignified”–even “pathetic.”

So, at least, he tells me.

Assuming (as I do) that he is not a hypocrite, he will not welcome your support.

35

enthymeme 03.19.04 at 7:22 pm

Yeah it was a throwaway epithet. Don’t get your panties in a bunch over it plz.

As to the exchange I referred to, yep that’s it. And are you sure the remarks weren’t directed at me? After all, if I make _my_ epithets in an oblique enough fashion, they’re not really addressed to Leiter, right? Nor you, for that matter. So why do you persist with vacuous bluster despite the fact that you have no substantive reply to my original response to you? Remember? “Threat”? “Planet earth”?

Feel free to whine on, retard.

36

enthymeme 03.19.04 at 7:28 pm

djw, yes it is possible. You may point out that such and such is engaged in intellectually dishonest “work” while making no reference at all to his academic prospects or his impending professional ruin. Why not?

37

amused 03.19.04 at 8:16 pm

Weatherson and Green already responded to your substantive points. You plainly did not understand their points, so why repeat them?

I’m a “retard,” leiter’s an “assclown,” and weatherson doesn’t have “more than two brain cells.”

No foaming, no pathology around here.

Still amused.

38

Paul 03.19.04 at 8:23 pm

assclown

fool

retard

Hey! Stop! You’re getting foam all over me!

39

PZ Myers 03.19.04 at 8:39 pm

I like djw’s question. Do we defend standards ferociously, or do we let them slide? What justification is there for ignoring the egregious fallacies in VanDyke’s review?

40

Vinteuil 03.19.04 at 9:22 pm

pz:

Should one attack your own fallacy “ferociously,” or should one just let it slide?

Neither. One should simply point out that it is quite obviously a false alternative.

41

PZ Myers 03.19.04 at 10:19 pm

I see. So when a Harvard Law student publishes something that is false, misleading, distorted, and based on biased misunderstanding of simple points of fact, we should just calmly state that it is wrong for reasons X, Y, and Z, and everyone will politely recognize the situation.

So let me ask, O Defenders of VanDyke, is your argument solely with the excessive vigor of the disputation and do you recognize the extremely poor scholarship in VanDyke’s review?

While suggesting that his critics should be less hyperbolic in their response, are you willing to go on record as deploring (in the most polite and scholarly fashion, of course) the unacceptable and unprofessional quality of the publication in the HLR?

42

Vinteuil 03.20.04 at 12:47 am

pz:

You commit another fallacy. Critics of Prof. Leiter are not *ipso facto* “Defenders of Van Dyke.” Enthymeme made this explicit when he wrote: “I am not interested in defending creationist bilge.” Nor am I.

The problem is with the following lines from Leiter’s original post:

“I trust he has no intention of entering law teaching: scholarly fraud is, I fear, an inauspicious beginning for an aspiring law teacher. And let none of the many law professors who are readers of this site be mistaken: Mr. VanDyke has perpetrated a scholarly fraud, one that may have political and pedagogical consequences.”

This is not “excessive[ly] vigor[ous] disputation.” In fact, it is not “disputation” at all, if that implies an element of reasoning. Rather, it is, with apologies to Chris Bertram, “vitriolic polemic” that does nothing to advance Leiter’s argument.

I wish I could say that this sort of thing was unprofessional, but in fact it seems to be about par for the academic course. Fortunately for Mr. Van Dyke, there is a world elsewhere.

43

Brian Weatherson 03.20.04 at 1:18 am

So is the rule now that it’s inappropriate to have a strongly worded conclusion at the end of a post that contained many many reasons that Van Dyke’s review was, at best, a scholarly fraud? Vinteuil seems to think you have to restate the argument in every single paragraph, or else that paragraph can be quoted without anything around it, and it can be claimed that you’re just issuing polemics not making arguments.

44

Vinteuil 03.20.04 at 4:21 am

Brian Weatherson:

You seem not to have read Prof. Leiter’s post – at any rate, not carefully enough to notice that the passage in question is not a “conclusion” that comes “at the end.”

Were I as intemperate in my judgments as Prof. Leiter, I could now accuse you of scholarly fraud – and with rather more justification than Leiter provides for his charge against Van Dyke.

For the other thing that you might notice if you actually bothered to read the post carefully is that Leiter does not provide a *single* reason to believe “that Van Dyke’s review was, at best, a scholarly fraud” – let alone “many many” such reasons. At most (and I am being charitable here) Leiter shows that Van Dyke fails to demonstrate any awareness of the critical literature on intelligent design theory in the brief course of his note.

But if making enthusiastic public comments on stuff one is unqualified to evaluate properly without first doing one’s homework counts as “fraud,” then you had better think twice before you throw your next stone.

45

Vinteuil 03.20.04 at 4:32 am

Oh, by the way: the last time I took issue with Prof. Leiter in the comments section here he got all pissy with me because I use a pseudonym. I don’t know why – it’s not like I have a conflict of interest or anything – but he seems to think it matters. So in the unlikely event that anyone cares, just e-mail me and I’ll fill you in on all the (extremely boring) details.

46

enthymeme 03.20.04 at 5:24 am

Weatherson and Green already responded to your substantive points. You plainly did not understand their points, so why repeat them?

Oh SURE, Green and Weatherson “responded” to my points BEFORE I even made them. Way to go, marty mcfly. Don’t waste my time, so don’t bother answering.

I’m a “retard,”

That much is obvious.

47

Brian Weatherson 03.20.04 at 5:27 am

Good grief, you’re complaining because he stated what his conclusions are before going through all of the arguments for them. Should blog posts now all be written in premise-conclusion form so that the conclusions come nice and clearly at the end, so no one gets confused on what is a premise and what is being inferred from them?

Leiter doesn’t tend to qualify his statements like s many do in academia. And when one disagrees with him, as I do from time to time, this can seem a little grating. But on the whole it’s good to have clear positions clearly stated. And Leiter does provide arguments for his (unsugarcoated) positions, so it’s not just name-calling. Nor is it a threat to call an incompetent person incompetent, it’s just an honest assessment. Would there was more of it.

48

enthymeme 03.20.04 at 5:47 am

Brian, one can provide an “honest assessment” of the merits or demerits of the the HLR note without recourse to thinly veiled threats. Of course it is not a threat to call the incompetent incompetent. No one said it was. But it is an implicit threat to call someone incompetent and to portend academic ruin for said person.

See my post on implicit threats 1 and 2. Either respond to that, or don’t respond at all. Or on second thought, go ahead and set up straw men by all means. I won’t stop you.

49

DJW 03.20.04 at 8:16 am

If I see an aspiring roofer putting shingles together with toothpaste, and I (an experienced roofer passing by) mention that if you keep this up you won’t have much success as a roofer, is that a “thinly veiled threat”?

Or:

“Children, don’t play in the street. It’s dangerous!”

“Mom, are you threatening to run us over?”

I don’t know what’s so hard to understand about this. If you observe someone doing their work shoddily, not keeping quiet about it is not a thinly veiled threat. Pointing out what’s wrong with this behavior and what the likely consequences will be isn’t either. Absent some further evidence beyond your creative reading of this passage, I’d say you’ve got some work to do before you’ve made your case about this threat.

50

Gully 03.20.04 at 2:36 pm

Enthymeme, Leiter didn’t make a threat, implicit or otherwise, as I, djw, Brian W., and others have repeatedly pointed out. You cannot make it so by repeating it ad nauseum. Every claim you’ve made is of this form: what Leiter said could harm VanDyke’s career; therefore, Leiter issued a threat. Even if the premise were true, the conclusion wouldn’t follow. Also:

Say you were on a hiring committee and you bought into the cachet of Leiter’s rankings. Would you think twice before hiring someone who has attracted a great deal of controversy from editor of said rankings?

Ridiculous; no. It’s entirely misleading to refer to the PGR as ‘Leiter’s rankings’, since it’s generated by polling nearly 300 philosophers. Irritating him would have no effect on one’s department’s ranking.

The power of Brian Leiter is vastly overrated. (And I say this as a fan.)

51

Vinteuil 03.21.04 at 6:35 am

Brian Weatherson:

Apparently careless reading is a habit of yours. I made no objection to the *form* of Prof. Leiter’s “argument.” I merely noted that your previous post revealed a rather embarassing ignorance of what you were defending. To put it more bluntly, you sucked up to him without even bothering to read what he wrote with any attention.

I am afraid my objection to Leiter’s screed is rather more serious. He accuses Van Dyke of a great deal more than incompetence. He accuses him of fraud. That is a far more serious charge – and a charge which Leiter *abjectly* fails to substantiate.

You should be ashamed of your transparent attempt to paper over this (rather obviously) central point. “Unsugarcoated” indeed!

You are defending a defamatory lie and you are doing it so incompetently that I doubt whether even Leiter himself will appreciate it. Try to do better next time.

52

Brian Weatherson 03.21.04 at 7:18 am

So whether someone puts their conclusions at the top of the piece or the end of the piece is now more important than whether they make up stuff (or repeat what other people have made up) to give the appearance that scientists support a theory for which there is no scientific evidence whatsoever. Good to see we have our priorities in order. (And it was, as I said, a conclusion, although at some schools I’ve been at we’ve had problems with the freshmen telling conclusions from premises, so I’m not surprised that happens on this board too.)

I wonder what would count as scholarly fraud for some people. If I said that Darwin only put forward his theory to try and legitimise his liking for monkey sex, and cited this comments thread as an authority, would that be scholarly fraud? Would it be OK to say that saying this in a book review could have ‘political and pedagogical consequences’? Or do you have to be on Brian Leiter’s side in a debate to be a subject of criticism?

53

enthymeme 03.21.04 at 10:17 am

djw, if you were the local roofing magnate and you said to an incompetent apprentice roofer that he has no future in roofing, then yes, *of course it is a threat*. Duh.

Enthymeme, Leiter didn’t make a threat, implicit or otherwise, as I, djw, Brian W., and others have repeatedly pointed out. You cannot make it so by repeating it ad nauseum. Every claim you’ve made is of this form: what Leiter said could harm VanDyke’s career; therefore, Leiter issued a threat. Even if the premise were true, the conclusion wouldn’t follow.

This reply is just stupid. I explicitly said:

“Indeed, his perceived influence by dint of the PGR and his law rankings *may be far greater* than *any real influence* he wields, but this does not stop him from leveraging it in making all sorts of disgusting portents on a person’s academic future. *Threatening someone with an unloaded gun is not any less of a threat*.

So clearly, *not* every claim I made was of the form you claim. Indeed, the above makes clear that EVEN if Leiter’s influence does not extend very far, the _perceived_ extent of this influence is enough to make VanDyke feel threatened. “Threatening someone with an unloaded gun is not any less a threat”. Do you have a crippling inability to read English? Tell me why your incompetent brown-nosing not just a waste of my time.

Either deal with what I wrote point for point or don’t bother replying at all.

Ridiculous; no. It’s entirely misleading to refer to the PGR as ‘Leiter’s rankings’, since it’s generated by polling nearly 300 philosophers. Irritating him would have no effect on one’s department’s ranking.

More half-baked crap. Either this is willful misreading, or an utter failure on your part to understand written English. Is Leiter editor? Yes. Is he consulted closely by an advisory board *whom he chooses* and does he moot categories and methodologies? Yes. Of course his influence is non-negligible. Van Dyke is purportedly an aspiring *law* academic. Are Leiter’s law rankings “generated by 300 [sic] philosophers”? EVEN if Van Dyke were an aspiring philosopher, would Leiter’s _perceived_ influence make him feel threatened? Obviously. It is entirely plausible that his influence among the 177 philosophers *whom he invites and who chose to respond* to the PGR might convince them that any department with Van Dyke in it is bound to have a black mark against it, just as the 150 or so law school faculty who choose to respond to his law rankings might think likewise. Duh. This is blindingly obvious to anyone with half a brain. Are you denying Van Dyke won’t put two and two together and feel threatened? Who are you trying to kid? Either you’re naive, or you have the mental acuity of a flock of grazing sheep.

54

e 03.21.04 at 10:35 am

Gully is guilty of scholarly fraud and misleading innuendo that suggests that 300 philosophers actually responded when only 60% did. Scholarly fraud is, I fear, an inauspicious beginning for an aspiring list-maker. Let’s hope he has no intention of entering the list-making and polling industry. Let none of the law school list-makers who are readers of this site be mistaken: Gully has perpetrated scholarly fraud, one that may have political, pedagogical and list-making consequences.

Weatherson says: “Would it be OK to say that saying this in a book review could have ‘political and pedagogical consequences’?”

Sure, if you don’t preface it with “I sure hope he has no intention of entering law teaching”. No one is fooled, Weatherson. Law _teaching_ is pedagogical, no? What is one way to avert said “political and pedagogical consequences”? Well, deny Van Dyke an opportunity to enter law teaching, that much is implicit. This threat is implicit in Leiter’s _explicit_ reference to law teaching. Why preface comment with that if no implicit threat was intended?

No one is fooled, Weatherson.

55

enthymeme 03.21.04 at 1:11 pm

Vinteuil at 6.35 am: “Apparently careless reading is a habit of yours. I made *no objection to the form* of Prof. Leiter’s “argument.””

Weatherson, 40 minutes later: “_So whether someone puts their conclusions at the top of the piece or the end of the piece is now more important_ than whether they make up stuff”

Laughable.

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Vinteuil 03.21.04 at 11:00 pm

Enthymeme has robbed me of my best reply to Brian Weatherson’s feeble and dishonest post.

Curses.

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honest abe 03.21.04 at 11:53 pm

Your objection appeared to be precisely to the form, your denials notwithstanding. Despite the fireworks, Prof. Weatherson clearly has the better of this argument.

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enthymeme 03.22.04 at 3:08 am

More laughs from a clown called “abe”.

All Vinteuil noted in passing was that Leiter’s “conclusion” did *not* come at the end of his piece, contrary to Weatherson’s claim (see Weatherson @ March 20, 2004 01:18 AM) that it did. This suggests that Weatherson either did not read what he purports to be defending, or was simply incompetent as to what he read.

Having exposed Weatherson’s gaffe, he then proceeded to make his main objection: that Leiter does not provide a single justified reason that shows Van Dyke to be a “scholarly fraud”, let alone many (see Vinteuil @ March 20, 2004 12:47 AM).

But nooo, an embarrassed Weatherson comes back saying:

“And it was, as I said, a conclusion, although at some schools I’ve been at we’ve had problems with the freshmen telling conclusions from premises, so I’m not surprised that happens on this board too.”

When of course no one denied it was a “conclusion”. What was denied was that it was a conclusion that “came at the end”. This makes Weatherson look incredibly stupid because it just shows he either never read Leiter’s piece, or was simply incompetent in reading. Do you have problems with freshmen reading at the schools you’ve been? With professors like you, I’m not surprised it happens on this board too.

Best change your nick to “dishonest abe”, clown. And apparently, the many dishonest scholarly frauds who are defending Leiter appear to be academic philosophers. Goes to show that _contra_ Brian Leiter, scholarly fraud gets you pretty far in academia, as far as brown-nosing goes.

Pathetic.

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enthymeme 03.22.04 at 3:53 am

Should read “Vinteuil @ March 20, 2004 *04:21* AM”.

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Vinteuil 03.22.04 at 5:13 am

Honest Abe:

“Prof. Weatherson?”

Are you telling me that Brian Weatherson is A PROFESSOR?

Are you telling me that the only other human being on the face of the earth whose reading skills are as weak as your own is a PROFESSOR???

No way, man.

Things can’t be *that* bad.

Can they?

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Chris Bertram 03.22.04 at 7:38 am

Since this thread has degenerated more and more coarse abuse, originating overwhelmingly from just two people, I’m going to close it to further comment. People can and will make their own minds up about the merits of the case.

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