Tag Archives: Geoffrey Miller

Professor Terrible Learns about Consequences

Millerslide2.001-001I was oh so VERY happy today to read that the University of New Mexico has decided to Censure Professor Terrible, (AKA Professor Geoffrey Miller) about his now infamous tweet.  For those of you who have been on a media fast or have been living under a rock, Geoffrey Miller Tweeted:

professorterribleAs I predicted, a media “sharknado” of epic proportions ensued.  Geoffrey issued a few half-hearted apologies and then, when that didn’t work, he claimed the tweet was part of a “social experiment” in some “research” he was conducting.

Except, um, no.  Both universities where Geoffrey teaches, UNM and New York University determined that this tweet does not meet the requirements for university “research” which among other things, would have required pre-approval by an institutional review board.

So, after several months of review, the University of New Mexico has decided to officially censure Professor Terrible and have demanded that Miller:

  • Not serve on any committee involving the admission of graduate students to the psychology department for the duration of his time as a faculty member at the university.
  • Work with the faculty co-advisers of the psychology department’s diversity organization to develop a plan for sensitivity training on obesity (for himself to undergo, said a university spokeswoman). The plan must be approved by a co-adviser or by the chair of the department.
  • Be assigned a faculty mentor for three years with whom he will meet on a regular basis to discuss potential problems.
  • Have his work monitored by the chair of the department.
  • Apologize to the department and his colleagues for his behavior.

All of which seems completely reasonable and on the right track to me.  Now if you read the comments section (which you should probably never, ever do by the way) in the publications where this is being reported, you’ll see a lot of people jumping up and down and screaming that academics have gotten out of hand and that political correctness has taken over the country.  You’ll also read a lot of comments screaming about First Amendment rights and censorship.

To which (after breathing in a paper bag to calm myself down) I offer this response.  Even though censure sounds like censor, they are not the same thing.  The University of New Mexico found that Miller’s tweet violated three different UNM Faculty Handbook policies.  Presuming Miller read the handbook when he became a professor at UNM, he knew what he was and was not allowed to say in a public forum.  He chose to ignore those rules.  The fact that the University subsequently chose to discipline him for violating those rules is perfectly reasonable and appropriate.  It is not censorship.

His behavior brought shame upon his employer, caused students to call into question whether they had been discriminated against based on appearance, and called into question whether the admissions process at this university was fair.  I’m not sure whether or not this opened the University up to a lawsuit, but I’m fairly sure that legal dollars were spent assessing a potential threat.

And I’d like to point out, that Dr. Miller got a relatively light sentence.  He didn’t lose his job.  They didn’t dock his pay.  They simply have to make sure that it’s clear that Miller’s prejudice can’t be connected with the University’s admissions process.

I would argue that the many, many graduate students who are denied access to higher education because of the way they look are paying a much higher cost than Professor Terrible.  Recent research has offered further evidence of this discrimination and the lasting economic effects experienced by those who are subject to this discrimination.  These students do not get “censured” they simply don’t get accepted to University–and I consider that a much more serious consequence than the slap on the wrist “poor Geoffrey” has to endure.

I suppose in a way, I need to thank “poor, downtrodden, Professor Terrible”.  He brought this issue to light in a very public way, he caused a university to further examine their own bias around size and weight, and got a lot of people to open their minds to the effect that weight stigma has on higher education–well at least those people who are not writing in the comment section.  Well except for you of course.  I am confident that you can write stuff in the comment section below that is insightful and intelligent, because you are the best readers ever.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!

Advertisements

Prof with poor impulse control wishes he hadn’t tweeted about will power, part the second

Cat Pause, who recently created a new tumbler feed featuring fat PhD's. Nyah!

Cat Pause, who recently created a new tumbler feed featuring fat PhD’s. Nyah!

So, yeah.  I’ve been continuing to follow the saga of Dr. Geoffrey Miller and day two of what just might be his worst week ever.  In case you missed it, this whole thing started when Dr. Miller tweeted:

Dear obese PhD applicants: if you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth

Cue the poo storm of epic proportions. It’s enough to keep writers at Jezebel, HuffPo, Jane and Bitch magazines happily scribbling for weeks.  I mean we are talking about worldwide calls for Game of Thrones-style retribution here.  But amongst all the yelling, are some very interesting developments.

First, there’s this video response from Miller’s colleague and UNM Psychology Department Chairwoman, Prof. Jane Ellen Smith.

It is interesting to note that Professor Smith seems to take this whole tweeting business pretty darn seriously.  But right in the middle of the video, she reveals the third-act-dramatic-twist! Professor Smith says that Dr. Miller is now claiming that the whole tweeting business was part of an “research study” he was running.

Riiiiight.

So were his initial support  tweets of his original hate tweet followed by his hasty apology about his original hate tweet followed his frantic tweet declaring that of course neither he nor the university actually follow any practices that might be implied by his original hate tweet all part of the “social experiment” as well?  Was it part of his experiment to close down his twitter feed to all outside viewers who are not confirmed followers part of the experiment?   140 characters isn’t a lot to work with, but somehow I think this dude still doth protest too much. I am encouraged that Prof. Smith says she’s going to look into the validity of his claim.

It’s amazing just how much passion has been stirred up over this whole thing.  I am really, really excited to tell you about a new blog started by Dr. Cat Pausé called Fuck yeah! Fat PhDs all about being fatlicious in academia.  In this blog she is posting images of fat people in academia, many of whom somehow managed to get accepted into a program, complete coursework, finish their dissertations and walk up to the platform to receive their diplomas all while sporting bodies above a BMI of 25.  Imagine that!

Look, I don’t know Dr. Miller.  I can only comment on the things that I see.  And what I see is a guy that didn’t have enough will power to wait 30 seconds to consider his life, his career and his responsibilities as a human being before hitting the send button on a hateful one hundred odd characters all about, wait for it, will power.  His apologies and the subsequent “social experiment” defense, seem a little suspect to me.

So, if Dr. Miller wants me to believe in his sincerity, he’s going to have to put some actions behind those hundred character mea culpa statements.  Let me know that he’s read some of the brilliant writing about Fat Stigma from such visionary teachers, researchers and writers as:

Amy Erdman Farrell, Dickinson University, author of Fat Shame: Fat Stigma and the Body in American Culture

or

Abigail C. Saguy, UCLA, author of What’s Wrong with Fat?

or

Dr. Linda Bacon, UC Davis, author of Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About your Weight

of course, if he’s still confused about Health At Every Size or Fat Stigma, I would be happy to come and speak on the topic at any of the universities he’s affiliated with.  Or they could hire any of my many amazing colleagues like Ragen Chastain, Golda Poretsky or Marilyn Wann to speak.  If he actually makes some kind of attempt to learn from his mistake by spending just a little time listening to those of us who have spent decades doing actual, you know, science around this topic, I might be inclined to believe him.

Maybe.

Or maybe I’ll just tweet about it.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your university or special event!

Dear Dr. Terrible Your Bigotry is Showing…

professorterribleRan across this in my facebook feed today and almost wanted to cry.  This tweet from Evolutionary Psychology Professor at NYU & U. New Mexico Dr. Geoffrey Miller is really special.  It states:

Dear obese PhD applicants: if you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth

Here’s somebody who is at least in theory, well educated and yet he felt that he needed to tweet that absolute garbage.  Since the tweet has gone viral, he has taken it down and apologized.  But in my opinion, that is way too little and way too late.  Plus, I have to say, I find the apology a little bit suspect.  Here, let me interpret for you.

Dr. Miller states:

My sincere apologies to all for that idiotic, impulsive, and badly judged tweet. It does not reflect my true views, values, or standards.

Which means, “Oh crap, I could possibly get fired for this.  I’d better retract my statement ASAP.  I’ll just say I didn’t really mean it.  That will work, right?”

Dr. Miller goes on to state:

Obviously my previous tweet does not represent the selection policies of any university, or my own selection criteria.

Which means, “Upon further reflection (or after some very tense phone calls) I realize that some of the folks who were rejected for anything by me or any of the universities at which I teach may be somewhat upset.  In fact, they may just sue us into financial oblivion.”

So hey Dr. Miller, here’s my tweet to you:

Nobody believes your stupid and transparently self serving apology. #Find a good lawyer

I can find no excuse for this sort of behavior.  None. This guy is supposed to be a teacher.  This guy is supposed to be a scientist.  And he’s drawing this conclusion based on what evidence?  None.  He doesn’t like fat people, therefore they are lazy and incapable of doctoral level work.  Oh except, not really.  He didn’t really mean it.

The fact that this guy clearly gets to make decisions about who gets to apply for a PhD is utterly terrifying to me.  And speaking of terrified, I hope that both Professor Prejudice and his university are currently shaking in their shoes.  Even if an actual lawsuit from a student who was turned away from the  university is not forthcoming, I think might just be the opening breezes of a PR poopmageddon about to go down.  In fact, I think there needs to be a social media storm of biblical proportions over this tweet.  Do you hear that my dear readers?  Let’s start twittering and peeping and let our voices be heard!  This is a rare opportunity to talk about bias at the highest levels of our learning institutions.  This is an opportunity for us to educate the educators.  Let’s get the conversation started and keep it rolling!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!