Weinberg on politics.

Take a look at how 7.012 began this morning. Amazing. (Also a video here.)
Thanks to Hippo for this one.

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11 thoughts on “Weinberg on politics.

  1. I find that to be pretty obnoxious. If MIT is as liberal as the Cambridge voters, 20% of the students still voted for W. He’s supposed to be teach biology, not trying to be funny or delivering his social ‘insight’.

  2. I don’t find anything wrong with his opening remarks. It’s a forum in which he has the stage after a very important event. Presumably he then went on to lecture on the actual topic of the class. If he doesn’t turn his lecture hall into a propaganda machine, if he doesn’t make politics the daily topic instead of biology, then he’s acting reasonably as far as I’m concerned.
    A few minutes of opening commentary is fine – as long as he doesn’t let his own politics influence how students do in the class (woe are the W supporters!) then again, I don’t have a problem with it.
    I personally found the statement somewhere between sour grapes and wry humor. It hardly matters what the voting base is that he’s addressing. If he wants to risk alienation, so be it.

  3. I really didn’t like Weinberg when I took 7.012. In fact, I skipped all but one of his lectures. But, I do like the sentement he is expressing to his students. I don’t know if it is correct to say what he did to his class (at least MIT isn’t a public University), but I commend him for it.
    Though, I still think he is a boring prick.

  4. His rant lasted 3 minutes. In my experience at MIT professors routinely run right up to the buzzer (and beyond!), so I don’t doubt that he’s hurrying some part of his lecture in order to deliver this diatribe (futher evidenced by the fact that when he finally gets around to starting his lecture he says, “Let’s finish up where we were yesterday”).
    I don’t want my profs to give me book recommendations or movie reviews or political advice or anything else. And it isn’t even as if this were rational discourse; he just childly bashes Bush and all Republican voters. He might as well have said “You know, it’s a shame there’s so many dumb midwesteners in this country,” or “You guys are way smarter than Evangelical Christians!”

  5. re: pulling an ashcroft.
    that was a damned-if-do-or-don’t situation, no? either censor it, or risk offending a much larger audience, an audience more scattered about the country and with whom the professor has no ‘personal’ relationship (nevermind if he actually has one with all his students, which i doubt). they’re only censoring one person’s ill-advised remarks, not trying to hide what goes on in our government. though hmm i’m not sure if you were actually casting negative judgement on the choice or just noting it…

  6. I’m with the Chief on this. I only went to Lander’s lectures.
    Had I been one of Weinberg’s addressees, I would have been extremely insulted by his assumptions about my political allegiance, and by his inherent oversimplification of same. If I’d had to stand up and yell back a response, it would have sounded some something like:
    WHAT IS THIS FASCIST CRAP!

  7. For classroom teachers, instructors, and professors who are addressing a room full of students to ignore the responsibilities of simple gracefulness and/or actual law is self-indulgent, in most instances unethical, and perhaps illegal. Self-indulgence is something we live with, usually forgive, or may laugh at with pity. Unethical behavior/s on the part of a faculty (or professional staff) member is so offensive that it ought a) forewarned against by institution leadership, punished by reprimand and if repeated rewarded with removal from classroom teaching, and may require severance. Because under the law the faculty member is a superior and a student is subordinate to that faculty member, it is possible that such a diatribe represents insulting offense capable of legal remonstrance in the same context as an unwanted/unwonted sexual advance. I feel strongly about this matter and think that the offensiveness of it is not reliant on whose ox is being gored; and in part I feel this way because of my classroom response before an 8:00 a.m. course on the morning after the Kent State killings, when I led my class out of the classroom and onto the streets only to find the campus was a river of likeminded/hearted persons; but what unravelled thereafter was ignominious in my view: we should all have tended our classes, tended to our responsilbities, rather than curried our emotions. Students are not fair game, and those who fail to understand this are incompetent to be entrusted with a classroom.

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