• August 27, 2015

Video Seems to Catch Professor in a Liberal Rant, but There's More to the Story

A Louisiana State University professor, accused in a video circulating on the Internet of "mocking" conservative students during his class, says the video tells only half the story: He was actually challenging all of his students, both liberal and conservative, he says, and not chastising any of them for their beliefs. An unedited version of the video gives some support to his claims, though it still troubles his department chair.

The video was taken secretly in the class by a representative of the group Campus Reform, a project of the Leadership Institute, a Virginia-based group that trains conservative activists. An edited version was posted this week on the group's Web site and on YouTube, and was soon burning up the conservative blogosphere.

The video of Bradley E. Schaefer, a professor of physics and astronomy, begins with him telling students to seat themselves according to their political beliefs on global warming, with liberals on one side of the room and conservatives on the other.

He compares the number of deaths from recent European heat waves to the deaths of Americans in the terrorist attacks of September 11 and tells those who would take no action against global warming that "blood will be on your hands."

Mr. Schaefer said, in an interview Wednesday, that the video was heavily edited to make it look like he had an agenda that he insists he doesn't have.

"I was very intentionally going off and challenging all sides. That's my job," he said. "If they wanted to, the Young Democrats of Louisiana could have edited it to make me look conservative."

A copy of the unedited video also shows Mr. Schaefer challenging liberal students. That version was posted on the Internet at The Chronicle's request by the Leadership Institute. In the unedited version, Mr. Schaefer shouts at liberals for wanting to do away with the internal-combustion engine. "How are you going to feed the people in the cities?" he yells, suggesting that people could die without technologies that can transport food and supplies.

"I wasn't trying to push anything here," Mr. Schaefer told The Chronicle. "Almost the whole class was about the science of global warming. I put forth no opinions on how humanity should respond to global warming." He said his most provocative statements were meant to reflect what others might say and to challenge students to defend their positions.

"The question here is, Can we allow splinter groups to come in and heavily edit things to put pressure on teachers so they have to teach only what the splinter group wants?" he told The Chronicle.

Michael L. Cherry, chairman of the department of physics and astronomy, said Mr. Schaefer "is an extremely exuberant and enthusiastic teacher who consistently gets very strong student evaluations." Still, he noted that the video did show some problems: "I will confess that while this film was heavily edited, it looks pretty embarrassing. I think it's probably fair to say he was not sufficiently sensitive and was overly enthusiastic."

Mr. Cherry said he did not expect the university to take any action against Mr. Schaefer. He has not received any complaints from students, he said, "but if there were complaints, I'd take them very seriously."

Bryan Bernys, national field director for the Leadership Institute, sent out a news release linking to the edited video.

"I don't see how he can say he wasn't trying to bring politics into the lecture when he asks students to sit based on their political beliefs," he said Wednesday. "When conservative students get up to speak, he basically shuts them down."

Mr. Bernys said the person who filmed the class was not a Louisiana State student but was invited by students from the university. "We encourage students to come in and record liberal bias by professors," he said. "It's an eye-opener to see what's actually being taught on college campuses."


1. art_vandelay - November 18, 2010 at 06:37 am

So, Mr. Bernys encourages trespassing to catch "gotcha" moments. Sounds about right.

2. richarcm - November 18, 2010 at 07:22 am

Art_vandelay.....how does one "trespass" on the grounds of a PUBLIC University?

I wish and hope that MORE people will do things just like this in the future. I was actually looking at voice recorders earlier for similar reasons....

3. hijole - November 18, 2010 at 07:35 am

Oh -- I understand -- faculty need to conform to what Rush's dittoheads or should I say the blackshirts have decreed is the truth.

I suppose each day we'll get an e-mail so that we can propagate things like: global warming is a hoax, Obama is a secret Muslim, billionaires need tax breaks, drug addicts like Beck and Rush are all-knowning, we need to repeal all amendments to the US Constitution except the Second and Twenty-First Amendment-- the latter since Rush likes to drink.

4. shultqui - November 18, 2010 at 07:43 am

If you are in a class for which you are not registered, that IS trespassing! If it weren't none of us would have to pay for our courses, we'd just sit in wherever we chose and get our education for free. Grow up! Public doesn't mean everything is open to everyone. I resent anyone directing professors to teach only one side of an issue, and editing lectures to suit their own agenda. It sounds frighteningly like the era before World War II.

5. bobbyfisher - November 18, 2010 at 07:50 am

Was this a class on astronomy? Where were the stars? Was it even a science class? If so, where was the data?

If you are going to talk about global warming in a science class, you should talk about data and reasoning. He "claims" there is overwhelming evidence, but 8 mins into the video (my download speed is low), just some obtuse extemporizing on global warming. Take the following piece of data, which I haven't seen anyone address. It shows the non-manmade variations in the earths temperature, way further back than Al Gore's video!

Any genuine scientist will consider alternative hypothesis and will look for evidence to rule it out before concluding that global warming is man made. You will notice that we are not even at the peak of natural variation! There is no evidence that warming now is not natural. Furthermore, if civilization were to develop, it would be most likely to develop during a warming period because of the increase in arable land. In order to show that global warming is man made, you would need an instrument would vary with civilization and not with natural warming. I don't see how such an instrument could exist. Please correct me if you know of one.

6. hms3683 - November 18, 2010 at 07:58 am

Can I (or someone closer to the scene) bring a video camera into a "Leadership Institute" video editing session so that we could watch the process being used to distort truth and smear the reputations of college professors? Is "leadership" about failing to tell the whole story or hiding the parts of a situation that fail to conform to your political agenda?

7. cleverclogs - November 18, 2010 at 08:24 am

I'll admit, I didn't watch the whole video because the ambiant noise in that classroom was making me crazy. But it seems pretty clear that this was a class designed to blast the students out of complacency. He keeps telling them "You have to decide" (noteably, he doesn't say, "decide this way.") Given the amount of good-natured snickering I was hearing, the stuents obviously knew it was a performance, a stunt, an experiment in extreme thought - much safer in the classroom than the real world, right?

Yes, the "Leadership Institute" is distorting the truth. But part of the point of education - and seemingly this very lecture - was to help students recognize distortions of truth. Maybe that's what really scares the "Leadership Institute" about this class.

8. dank48 - November 18, 2010 at 08:37 am

Schaefer seems like one hell of a fine teacher. The real scandal is when a group like the Leadership Institute gets caught circulating an "edited" version as if it were the whole story . . . and hasn't the integrity to admit that they made a mistake, an error in judgment if you will.
Left or right, liberal or conservative, whatever: that isn't "spin"; that's dishonesty. Some leadership.

9. jmalmstrom - November 18, 2010 at 08:55 am

Art_vandelay.....how does one "trespass" on the grounds of a PUBLIC University?

I wish and hope that MORE people will do things just like this in the future. I was actually looking at voice recorders earlier for similar reasons....

Because what I say in class is my intellectual property and you have no right to record it and manipulate it to your own purpose.

10. nyalex - November 18, 2010 at 09:12 am

The professor is VERY GOOD, many of us can learn from his style. Asking students to sit according to their politics is a brilliant way of engaging the class.

Note that as the lecture proceeds he takes questions from every one and answers every one with respect.

11. benc1 - November 18, 2010 at 09:24 am

Isn't there an issue of intellectual property rights here? Seems to me that taking the materials someone has developed for teaching and distributing it without that person's permission is problematic.

12. panacea - November 18, 2010 at 09:36 am


Climate scientists agree that global warming is real, and it is man made. The science has spoken on that. The only question is: how serious is it, and can we do anything about it.

Global warming is a perfectly appropriate topic for a physics class since many basic principles of physics contribute to how greenhouse gasses reflect light and heat, and trap them, on how they affect temperature, water, and so on.

As for your link: it does not say anything about the causes or lack of causes of the temperatures it graphs. It merely displays the data. And it is from Antarctica. Here's the conclusion on the page:

"The Antarctic temperature records indicate that the present interglacial is relatively cool compared to previous interglacials, at least at these sites. The Liesecki & Raymo (2005) sediment reconstruction does not indicate significant differences between modern ice volume and previous interglacials, though some other studies do report slightly lower ice volumes / higher sea levels during the 120 ka and 400 ka interglacials (Karner et al. 2001, Hearty and Kaufman 2000).

It should be noted that temperature changes at the typical equatorial site are believed to have been significantly less than the changes observed at high latitude."

High latitudes is where the ice is melting into the ocean. Ice shelves in the Antarctic and Artic are breaking off and melting into the sea. You can SEE it on satillite photos.

Your link is not a repudiation of climate science. It is one piece of the puzzle that you've attempted to distort. Shame on you.

Politics is also an appropriate topic in any science class. Carl Sagan said for years that scientists need to get engaged with the public, learn to communicate science to the public and to policy makers and not lock themselves into their labs.

Last year, I assigned my nursing students to read the proposed health care reform bill, pick a controversial topic coming from the bill, and write a paper about the topic and how it would affect the future of nursing. They were not to take sides in the paper, but compare and contrast points of view. In class, we held a debate on the bill and its provisions.

It was a great debate. I moderated: the students did the talking. To my disappointment only one student openly expressed a conservative point of view, but she made excellent points that were well received by the class and forced them to think to come up with rebuttals.

13. ellenschrecker - November 18, 2010 at 09:37 am

What worries me the most is the response of Prof. Schaefer's chair. As the head of a department at a major research university, he has the obligation to protect the academic freedom of his faculty members from assaults by outsiders with political agendas. This is especially the case with regard to the classroom. He should have explained that an outsider who videotapes a class without the instructor's knowledge and permission is acting unethically and, while perhaps not breaking any laws, is certainly operating outside of the legitimate parameters of the academic community. He certainly should not have made any comments about the content of Prof. Schaefer's class.

14. bobbyfisher - November 18, 2010 at 10:05 am

You way, "As for your link: it does not say anything about the causes or lack of causes of the temperatures it graphs. It merely displays the data."
Either, I'm not understanding your point or you didn't read the time scale -- 450,000 years. Global temperature "changes" though not levels would be reflected by arctic temperature "changes". What ever the cause, it was not man-made.
As to your statement, "Climate scientists agree that global warming is real, and it is man made. The science has spoken on that. " In fact, science doesn't talk. Only people talk -- highly human people at that. A bunch of them saying the same thing may prove something in politics, but not in science.
As I said, correlation is not causation. Civilization should correlate with global warming, but the direction of causation should be from climate to civilization. If you want to show that global warming is man made, you have to rule out other causes. BTW, if you want to understand data, you should study a bit of stats.

15. climate_change - November 18, 2010 at 10:10 am

This is not a story about global climate change. This is a story about improperly bringing a video camera into a classroom in an attempted entrapment to have a college professor dsiciplined or dismissed for exercising their rights of academic freedom. Everyone reading this story, regardless of their own politics and views about global warming, should be outraged at this threat to their own rights and privileges. At my school, no one can be in the classroom without permission unless they are registered for the class, and none of them can take audio or video recordings without the instructor's permission.

16. tappat - November 18, 2010 at 10:29 am

#15, climate_change is absolutely correct.

17. bobbyfisher - November 18, 2010 at 10:38 am

You also say, "Politics is also an appropriate topic in any science class. Carl Sagan said for years that scientists need to get engaged with the public, learn to communicate science to the public and to policy makers and not lock themselves into their labs."
This is a nice sounding but fatuous statement. For one, politics is not appropriate in math class. The public is not ones student. Students pay to be taught the subject of the class. Scientists may do all sorts of things outside of the class, including "engaging" the public with their favorite political ideology. The public is also free to "engage" the scientist back. In class, professors are paid to teach their subjects -- not use their authority and power to indoctrinate students on their pet ideas for "helping" the world.

18. bobbyfisher - November 18, 2010 at 10:46 am

Louisiana State University is a public university. Professors and universities should be accountable to whoever pays their fees -- parents and tax payers. A lot of professors are engaging in all sorts of activities other than research and teaching in their fields. See:
Universities are in collusion with them. The public needs to know.I hope this trend will continue and put pressure on profs to teach their subject, talk about both sides of divisive issues, in an impartial and equitable manner.

19. sdali01 - November 18, 2010 at 10:47 am


Since when is Wikipedia considered a credible source?

20. 11314967 - November 18, 2010 at 10:49 am

Didn't we just go through this with the distorted video of an Agriculture Department official's supposed vendetta against white farmers? ACORN prostitution-business lessons? How gullible are we?

21. betterschools - November 18, 2010 at 10:56 am

#15 and others have it right. The issue at hand is the right of a professor to, within reasonable bounds, employ the teaching methods he sees fit to engage his students. After examining the video, I have to say that I admire the professor's energy and dedication.

Let's skip to the learning sciences for a moment. Considerable research supports the teaching practice of challenging beliefs as a technique for getting past deeply embedded defenses and stimulating rational inquiry. Global warming is a heavily politicized topic in which unexamined beliefs, on all sides, have been shown to prevent facts from being property considered, or considered at all.

Serious ethical and scientific errors are committed when we permit special interest groups -- on any side of the political spectrum -- to invade the classroom and force upon us their notion of pedagogy. The kind of teaching that would simultaneously satisfy bot the right and left wing extremists is scientifically unsound for many learning environments. I would urge Mr. Cherry to bring himself current on learning and brain sciences. In this era, would also suggest requiring students to sign "no recording or reuse" agreements on the first day of class. Following that. Mr. Cherry and the administration should file all possible charges against the Leadership Institute. Aside from the legalities, editing to serve your biases is irrational, unscientific, and morally bankrupt.

22. uwfoundation - November 18, 2010 at 11:09 am

Comment #20 by 11314967 is correct -- this is yet another example of the selective editing of video or sound recordings by right wing progagandists to smear honest people and distort the truth in the attack on science, freedom of thought, and humane concern for those among us who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. I can selectively edit the words of Jesus to make Him sound like Hitler and take Hitler's words to make him sound like Thomas Jefferson --but to what end? That is the real question here -- what is the real purpose of these sneak attacks?

23. 11272784 - November 18, 2010 at 11:20 am

Although I'm tempted to rant in the same manner as post #22, I should admit that both sides are taking the same slimy route. Editing remarks like this out of context is unethical and never acceptable. There was plenty of it going on in the most recent campaigns. The fact that there is a conservative group which evidently has as part of their agenda is reprehensible.

24. oldcommprof - November 18, 2010 at 11:42 am

dank48, #20, uwfoundation and #23 have it exactly right. This tactic of editing video to serve an agenda is beyond reprehensible. It confirms the rightness of our positions, though, when they have to stoop to this level to smear an academic.

I also agree with ellenschrecker that the chair's response is problematic. Chairs and deans, who are often middle-management toadies, have little incentive to stand up for academic values.

25. bfrank1 - November 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

1) Don't expect academic administrators and supervisors at LSU to stand up for their faculty, that's not how it works at the "Ole War Skule".
2) A "public" University is not the same kind of entity as a "public" restroom.
3) Obviously from these posts, there is plenty of blame to go around on the extreme edges where policy meets behavior. Frank Zappa once described rock journalism as "People who can't write interviewing people who can't talk to prepare stories for people who can't read". It begins to appear that this is a more general definition of discourse today. Students are wise enough and connected enough to vote with their feet if a professor is abusing the privilege of the lectern, and there are good discipline procedures other than the importation of brownshirts for public humiliation when faculty overstep their classroom authority.

26. tcli5026 - November 18, 2010 at 11:48 am

"Michael L. Cherry, chairman of the department of physics and astronomy, said Mr. Schaefer 'is an extremely exuberant and enthusiastic teacher who consistently gets very strong student evaluations.' Still, he noted that the video did show some problems: 'I will confess that while this film was heavily edited, it looks pretty embarrassing. I think it's probably fair to say he was not sufficiently sensitive and was overly enthusiastic.'"

This demonstrates why tenure is so important. Cherry thinks the video was "embarrassing," even though he seems to recognize it was a teaching technique designed to elicit critical thinking--the professor's "insensitivity" and "enthusiasm" was intentional and strategic. It seems he was doing what we want good professors to do, yet the chair seems to dismiss the pedagogical value of this technique out of hand. Maybe Cherry is only being careful, but the point is clear: if there were no tenure, the professor could easily be fired merely because he's "controversial." The "careful" administrator will act to avoid further embarrassment.

27. fulknerra - November 18, 2010 at 11:48 am

<Comment removed by moderator>

28. tallenc - November 18, 2010 at 11:55 am

@richarcm: Please note the following from the article: "Mr. Bernys said the person who filmed the class was not a Louisiana State student."

Also note that this happened in a class, not just "on the grounds." Classes are for enrolled students.

29. abichel - November 18, 2010 at 11:58 am

What would you expect from a right-wing anti-intellectual political movement, roses and chocolates? Like it or not, the right has learned how to harness the power of social media and guerrilla marketing and has proven repeatedly that they are shameless in their use and exploitation of same. The left is too busy hugging one another to get serious in response. Draft your own conclusions.

30. mnobserver - November 18, 2010 at 12:13 pm

@bobbyfisher: 1. This graph was shown, and used, by Gore in An Inconvenient Truth. You might want to watch the movie again. 2. Scientists do indeed have a duty to consider alternative hypotheses, and look for evidence to rule them out before concluding that global warming is man made. And in fact, scientist have already done that. Which is why 97% of actively publishing climatologists accept that global warming IS man made. No other theory can explain warming surface temps, AND cooling stratospheric temps, AND decreasing diurnal temperature range, except increasing greenhouse effect. When Schaefer says that the science is rock solid, he's telling his students the truth. And when he tells them that the politics is unsettled, he's also telling them the truth. And for this he gets bushwhacked?

It's telling to note that when, near the beginning, someone asks Schaefer where he would sit himself, Schaefer replies, "Somewhere in the middle."

31. johnfarley - November 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I'm old. Really old. I can actually remember when it was the liberals that demanded that professors be politically correct. But that was so long ago. . .

32. fulknerra - November 18, 2010 at 01:03 pm

Does anyone know what was happening to the temp of the strat. and to dirunal temp ranges c. 1000 when the Vikings sailed across the north atlantic and found grapes growing in the area that today we call Newfoundland?

33. davi2665 - November 18, 2010 at 01:17 pm

Materials prepared for classroom presentation, similar to research findings, are the intellectual property of the institution paying the professor his/her salary. The content belongs not to the professor, but the institution. Full transparency is appropriate and useful; selective editing in either direction is not. This standard should be applied to the professor, who deserves to be heard in the totality of his classroom remarks and challenges to the students. Similarly, the climate change "experts" should show transparency and not selective edit or ignore data, distort findings, deliberately skew discussions and data interpretation, and fail to fully discuss and account for data showing marked natural variations in global temperatures long before the internal combustion engine was invented and industrial activity produced any greenhouse gases.

34. panacea - November 18, 2010 at 01:39 pm


There is not reason for a professor not to make his subject relevant to the world around his students. The purpose of education is to do more than teach the task of solving a math problem, but also to address WHY the math is important to learn.

Adding an interdisciplinary edge to a course engages students. It is a good teaching tactic, not "indoctrination." Professor Schaefer did not espouse an opinion on climate change one way or another. He simply tried to get each side to look at the weaknesses of their positions . . . a good thing for any scientist to do.

If a scientist is to learn to engage the public, a public that will engage him back as you said, he must first learn to do so. College is the place to learn vital commuications skills.

For you, it's indoctrination if you don't like the subject, and free speech if you support it. You're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. If I'm so wrong about the stats why don't you explain it to me? You didn't. You dodged the bullet.

Understanding climate 450,000 years ago is only part of how we understand how climate works. Scientists can look at affects caused by natural changes (volcanic eruptions, meteor strikes, massive fires, etc) and see how or if the produced changes, then compare them to to the greehouse gases we emit and make predictions on how our influence is affecting climate.

You still have to look at the changes man has made and how they are affecting us NOW. The consensus of clmate science is that the climate is changing and man is the cause. They've moved beyond correlation. The evidence can be seen by anyone with access to the photographcs of the ice shelves and glaciers that are disappearing.

As for Professor Schaefer, he has EVERY right to engage his class as he sees fit as long as he meets the objectives of his course. It is not for you or for me to tell him how to teach. For someone to sit in his classroom uninvited, take a video, edit it purposefully to make him look bad, and put it on the internet is dishonest and cowardly at the very least, and destroys the credibility of the people who supported the edited video's creation. They are not exposing "liberal bias", they are creating their own.


35. fulknerra - November 18, 2010 at 01:43 pm

I think that it is an oversimplification to claim that the content of research findings are the intellectual propert of the institution that employs the professor and not to the professor. Is there case law to support your position in an absolute mannter?

36. rhancuff - November 18, 2010 at 02:04 pm

@#33 "Materials prepared for classroom presentation, similar to research findings, are the intellectual property of the institution paying the professor his/her salary. The content belongs not to the professor, but the institution."

This may be true at institutions where a separate fee is paid for course development, but lecture notes, etc., are not generally found to be institutional property.

37. gstef1 - November 18, 2010 at 02:34 pm

Isn't this a Physics and\or Astronomy class? So why isn't this guy teaching Physics and\or Astronomy? Doesn't this subject belong in Sociology, Politics or Ecology. If I was a student that obviously paid to be taught Physics and\or Astronomy I would want a refund!

38. cwon1 - November 18, 2010 at 03:27 pm

"Which is why 97% of actively publishing climatologists accept that global warming IS man made."

This is a warmist fantasy and deception;


Garbage in, garbage out.

39. tuxthepenguin - November 18, 2010 at 03:55 pm

Conservatives got their underwear in a bunch.

The sun came up.

It was cold in Antartica.

And nobody paid attention to any of them. We've seen conservative video before. They have no credibility except in their own little circle.

40. betterschools - November 18, 2010 at 03:57 pm


Like everything in HE, it is complicated beyond necessity. In general, and increasingly so and unless specific agreements are in place to the contrary, the institution that pays the instructor to develop and teach content owns the materials the instructor develops while being paid to do so.

Historically, the practical consequences have been insignificant with respect to the "materials" of most traditional professors. Their "content" consisted of little more than a tattered syllabus, invalid multiple-choice tests, and snoozer PowerPoint slide decks useful only to them. The online environment, with its attendant interest in modern learning and evaluation sciences has changed this. Increasingly, online course development is built upon these sciences and the content has durable external value (i.e., usefulness to someone the than the professor who wrote his own syllabus and used textbook company's tests).

Prior to the point at which the Leadership Institute published the full video at the request of the Chronicle, there was a better chance of success in a lawsuit against the Leadership Institute. The Chronicle mucked this up a bit but the University might still sue. Too many details to be clear at this level.

41. tee_bee - November 18, 2010 at 06:37 pm

@2. richarcm: Sure, you do that. Tape all the classes you feel you need to. And then tell us if four years of a few random gadfly professors will overcome the 12 years worth of errant bullsh*t that is taught in our public schools every day.

And yes, they are "public" schools, so I should be able to just show up and record teachers there any time I want. Really, it's best to be thought a fool, than to open one's mouth....

42. cjbellone - November 18, 2010 at 06:47 pm

I took Astronomy 1101 and 1102 with Dr. Schaefer in the Spring and Fall semesters of 2007. If I could describe the man in one word, it would be enthusiastic. It is evident to any student that spends even a single day in his classroom that Dr. Schaefer loves his subject.

That semester he reserved one day's lecture for the subject of global warming. It was honsetly one of my favorite class days. I did not feel exiled or ridiculed in the least for expressing my views on global warming. As to the relevance of the day's lecture, global warming is a phenomenon that happens to planets, which happen to be interstellar objects. Would you question the discussion of the temperature of Mercury, the rings of Saturn,the presence of water on Mars, or Jupiter's moons?

Dr. Schaefer seems enthusiastic during the video. He brings that energy into his classroom every single day. I certainly wish some my other professors had brought even half that excitement into the classroom. I ask you not to insult Dr. Schaefer because one short video or one day's lecture cannot sum up half of what he brings to the classroom. Does he challenge his students? Absolutely. But if you never challenge a person, then he will never grow.

43. gtolsen010255 - November 18, 2010 at 06:58 pm

The more to the story is that too many of us professors and teachers treat our students horribly......

44. navydad - November 18, 2010 at 07:40 pm

Conservative activists lied again. The modern conservative movement lives on lies, so why is this news?

45. goodeyes - November 18, 2010 at 09:15 pm

Unfortunately, fiscal conservatism is dead in both parties. It is great for a campaign and marketing, but neither party has come close to balancing the budget.

46. bobbyfisher - November 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Thanks! You are so right.

47. bobbyfisher - November 18, 2010 at 10:31 pm

"Enthusiasm originally meant or possession by a divine afflatus or by the presence of a god."
That's not a scientific stance. Science classes should be based upon logic and data, not emotional exhortations for concern about the fate of world. I wish poetry and literature profs had more enthusiasm for the classics or just plain logic, as opposed to global warming, minority "rights", deconstruction or the latest faddish excuse for scholarship that seeps out of the humanities.

48. 11232247 - November 18, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Professors should treat what they say in their classrooms in exactly the same way that a prudent person might treat what they say in their personal email communications. That is, they refrain from utterances that could embarrass them if one of their most brilliant flashes of insight were to find its way on to the front page of the NYT.

Regardless of what is promised or written beforehand, there are no longer any guarantees of privacy in the age of I-Phones, the internet, Fox News, Linda Tripp, and talk radio. Say something stupid in your classroom and you will own it regardless of whether tenure, ethics, and legal protections are on your side. It is possible to win and still lose.

On the other hand, it is a free country. Freedom of speech is still fully protected by the Constitution. In this spirit, professors should always be encouraged to say anything they wish in their classrooms. Alas, they should also be fully aware that while speech is always protected, having to suffer with the public relations consequences are not nearly so well defined.

One might even ask Mr. Ward Churchill about how this seeming paradox is sometimes resolved in the academy.

49. cjbellone - November 19, 2010 at 12:52 am

Mr. Fisher,
congratulations on your ability to successfully demonstrate the straw man fallacy to the class.I was provided plenty of factual information in Dr. Schaefer's classroom. I took it several years ago so I do not have a syllabus going over each and every thing we learned, but this was indeed a science class. There was logic, there was math, there were even projects that employed the scientific method. When you make these broad assumptions based on a 10 minute, 40 minute, or however long it may be video, you run the risk of committing a sampling error. You watched a single video, not an entire semester.

50. loshead1285 - November 19, 2010 at 08:03 am

LSU, like Louisiana in general, is not a progressive (I use that term in the non-political sense) place in general. I taught there for 5 years and I have yet to experience an institution of higher learning as anti-intellectual. I am not surprised by these antics. Like an earlier post stated, don't look for the admin to support faculty there...The plantation system and mentality is alive and thriving at LSU!

51. drkull - November 19, 2010 at 09:36 am

I'd like to share my blog, "Why Academics Are Liberal"

Of course, not all academics are liberal. Only about 90%, last study I read. Make no mistake: conservatives in this country are quite liberal, depending on how you define the label. My take is here:


52. jsmi128 - November 19, 2010 at 09:40 am

I live in Philadelphia now, but I have fond memories of my class with Dr. Schaefer. He creates a learning environment in which ideas are questioned and examined. His classes require students to consider multiple perspectives and pieces of evidence. He is engaging and caring--which is difficult to accomplish in a lecture setting.

The only controversy that needs to be discussed here is the filming of the lecture without permission, taking clips out of context, and raising objections behind the veil of anonymous postings. It is laughable that one would consider only soundbites when evaluating a professor's class instead of the layered and complex arguments laid out in the class. (I guess, I am expecting too much from the website author when I suggest one must consider the class as a whole instead of cherry picking "evidence." This approach fits right in with opposition to the findings of climate scientists.) Furthermore, at no point does the website even address the evidence for global warming. Dr. Schaefer's tone in the clips is consistent with his passion in every class and with his efforts to garner the attention of otherwise apathetic students.

Dr. Schaefer deserves a raise for his efforts to truly teach undergraduates while maintaining an impeccable record of research.

Trey Smith
LSU Alumnus (2006)

53. 22208120 - November 19, 2010 at 10:13 am

It sounds like this professor really brought focus to the question of global warming in a meaningful way. To me, his methodology seems excellent, and -- from all reports -- his approach seems balanced. He taught a class which none of his students will forget. That sounds to me like the hallmark of a good professor.

54. panchodesastre - November 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

Has the filmmaker been arrested yet for trespassing?

55. div411 - November 19, 2010 at 03:10 pm

I taught social science for a decade at LSU Baton Rouge--this fairly recently. The place is backward and anti-intellectual. Football dominates the campus. I had a colleague who used to get free season tickets--this in exchange for giving high grades to "student athletes," to use an oxymoron. I would not be surprised if the professor in question is not made to feel uncomfortable by the administration, which, when I was there, was headed by someone who had actually coached football or been an athletic director.

LSU does have some good things--for example, the SOUTHERN REVIEW, an eminent literary journal--but on the whole it is a typically Southern university. Students don't quite turn down Harvard to attend LSU.


56. signoraf - November 19, 2010 at 03:20 pm

isn't the film maker and editor subject to slander and libel laws? It certainly sounds like they attempted to hold him up to public ridicule and intentionally edited the video to humilate and harm him. While I generally do not support legal recourse, it seems that this may be a good test case.

57. chron7 - November 19, 2010 at 05:34 pm

Where is the AAUP if not LSU to stand up to these bullies? There should be trespassing and slander/libel charges against the video makers. And it's clear there is a significant bias on the part of the Leadership Institute.

"We encourage students to come in and record **liberal** bias by professors," he said. "It's an eye-opener to see what's actually being taught on college campuses."

Sounds like the LI needs investigation.

58. laoshi - November 19, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Ranting is a known symptom of liberalism, the most common mental disorder in academe. Is there really more to this story?

59. kittybware - November 22, 2010 at 01:13 pm

Laoshi what a meaningful comment to add to the discussion . I hope you are not a laoshi (teacher).

60. jonasgamso - November 22, 2010 at 06:07 pm

Profs have to be careful in the classroom, especially these days with all the tech. I sure wouldn't want to be that prof on youtube.

That said, science students need to learn science, not pseudo-science. If you want to pretend with your friends or family that global warming isn't happening, that's fine, but when you come into the scientific community presenting that opinion you don't get to cry when serious people ridicule you.

61. crixus - November 27, 2010 at 08:29 pm

The "Leadership Institute" is just another one of those nutty, socially conservative, fact-bending, Christian groups trying to pawn itself off as mainstream by using positive sounding secular terminology. If they weren's such baldfaced lying cowards, they should call themselves what they are - something like the "OGMGW (Only God Makes Global Warming)Institute."

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