[Coral-List] Fwd: list politics free

Judith Lang jlang at riposi.net
Mon Nov 14 17:01:46 EST 2016

Dear Melissa and Steve,
From the perspective of a long-time resident in the US, I find merit in both your points of view.

Steve may be correct in doubting that any students taking a class in in coastal and estuarine ecology at Columbia University in New York City would be offended by Dr. Drew’s open letter (assuming isn’t a required non-science majors class). Melissa may be correct in noting that we don’t know for sure and everyone should be treated with respect and dignity.

Since we don’t know whether or not Dr. Drew is personally acquainted with the political leanings of each of his coastal and estuarine ecology students, we shouldn’t try to judge the impact of that letter on his class. 

Reading it gave me some comfort last Wednesday morning, so thank you Jim for having decided to let it through!  At the same time, the folks who voted for the president-elect also deserve empathy, as they do have concerns that obviously need to be addressed. 

 And thanks again to Jim for his creative inspiration of, and dedication to, the coral-list and to NOAA for its continued support.

Judy Lang
AGRRA Scientific Coordinator

> Begin forwarded message:
> From: Jim Hendee <jim.hendee at noaa.gov>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] list politics free
> Date: November 13, 2016 at 1:36:50 PM EST
> To: Coral-List <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Melissa,
>    We take great care in moderating the list.  See here,
>    http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> for more information on what is allowed on this U.S. government
> sponsored list.  We do occasionally make a mistake, but also, allowing
> some posts is a judgement call.  In the case of the letter to the
> students to which this discussion is about, I was the one who approved
> it.  I thought there was a redeeming message in there for the 50% of the
> nation who might not have been so conservation minded; but that was just
> my opinion.  We've been doing this for over two decades, so naturally we
> make some mistakes from time to time.  Thank you so for your interest!
>    Cheers,
>    Jim
>> Re: list politics free
>> From:
>> mdemetr at biophi.org
>> Date:
>> 11/11/16, 8:22 AM
>> To:
>> "Steve Mussman" <sealab at earthlink.net>, mdemetr at biophi.org,
>> coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Dear Steve, 
>> They do not block on the list, the list does not work that way.  They
>> do occassionally run a message that reminds us all to not post
>> political information because if we do the list will be taken down by
>> NOAA.  
>> I believe in treating all people with respect and dignity, those I
>> agree with and those I do not.  The fact that you doubt that any
>> students would be offended speaks to the fact that academia has become
>> homogeneous in ideology.  While many students are liberal, there are
>> conservative students everywhere and it is our responsibilty to
>> protect all minorities.  Conservatives and Republicans are minorities
>> on college campus. I would guess that more than one student was
>> offended.  Microaggressions are real, and this was more than a
>> microaggression,  Diversity of ideas and beliefs are critical to
>> developing students who are capable of making informed and reasoned
>> decisions..  We are not doing our students any favors by presenting
>> them with biased information from an emotional vantage.  It is a
>> disservice to the scientific process to use fear-mongering in the
>> classroom.  
>> The nice thing is, Steve, that you and I do not need to agree. 
>> One thing that I think is challenging for us to remember is that
>> science is an endeavor that takes place within a social context.  It
>> is not devoid of impacts from that social context and the social
>> context included many factors such as funding opportunities.  For
>> example, cancer research was skewed many years ago by the political
>> clout of an investigator that held a specific belief (idea/theory)
>> about how our bodies combated cancer.  This individual was so
>> important that funding moved in the direction of his ideas.  It took
>> many years for funding to shift back from that narrow focus and for
>> other areas to regain funding traction.   This was political and a
>> social effect and had a huge impact on the discussion and direction of
>> cancer research for years.  It was overly focused and likely resulted
>> in the delay in learning all we could about cancer.  Recently we have
>> had a particiular focus in some aspects of scientific research on
>> global warming that has driven funding in a specific direction.
>> Opening the funding up to other areas such as currents, pollution,
>> microfibers, microbiomes, and a variety of other critically important
>> areas may distract us long enough from an overly focused approach to
>> learn other important information.  If we take advantage of this
>> opportunity, science will not be stopped or even impeded, it just may
>> take a different course.  As Obama said the other day, the sun will
>> rise tomorrow.   
>> take care,
>> Melissa
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