Harvard Professor Under Fire In Latest Attack On Free Speech

200px-harvard_wreath_logo_1svgBy any measure, Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, who holds the Johnstone Family Chair of Psychology, is one of the most influential intellectual leaders in the world. He is also someone who believes in robust intellectual discourse and free thought and speech.  That propensity for academic freedom has now made him a target of hundreds of academics and graduate students who are seeking his removal from the Linguistic Society of America. The letter is one of the most chilling examples of the new orthodoxy that has taken over our academic institutions.  The signatories seek his removal for holding opposing views on issues like underlying causes of police shootings and other research.  The cited grievances are at best nuanced and at worst nonsensical.  Yet, hundreds signed their names and academic affiliations to try to punish a professor for holding opposing views to their own.  We have been discussing these cases across the country including a similar effort to oust a leading economist from the University of Chicago.  It is part of a wave of intolerance sweeping over our colleges and our newsrooms — a campaign that will devour its own in the loss of academic freedoms and free speech. (I should note that I do not know Dr. Pinker and, to the best of my knowledge, I have never met him).

The campaign against Pinker is based on a small number of tweets where he dares to challenge the views of his colleagues and others on issues related to police shootings.  There was a time when it would have been viewed as a shameful betrayal of our profession to retaliate against a fellow academic in this way.  Now, hundreds (shown below) seek to have their names associated with an effort to punish a professor for his challenging a new orthodoxy in academia.

As a blog focused on free speech and academic freedom issues, the merits of these disagreements is less important than the effort to silence or punish opposing views.  However, the underlying postings (and Pinker’s apparent viewpoints) are relevant to understanding the growing intolerance for conflicting viewpoints.  We will briefly discuss the six objections below.  In so doing, I will have spent more written analysis addressing the attacks on Pinker than these academics and students spent in accusing him of the most vile predilections.  My complaint is not that his views are beyond criticism. My objection is to the lack of substantial evidence or analysis, and, most importantly, the effort to remove him from a key academic group. Indeed, the letter states many of the signatories want him to be effectively barred from academic discourse.

Pinker has been vocal in his opposition to the level of police shootings in our society and has recognized their devastating impact on the African American community.  He has however suggested that the level of police shootings may be the result of poor training and the excessive use of force generally by police in the United States.  He is not alone in raising that issue. We have previously discussed how the United States has far greater use of lethal force that virtually any other nation.  Pinker, and others, have not denied that racism plays a role or that we have systemic racist problems in society. Rather he has suggested that, if we want to reduce police shootings, we may want to consider whether they are being driven by a police culture and common training that tend to escalate the level of force used in these situations.

Thus, in the first cited tweet (from 2015), Pinker is chastised for linking to a New York Times articles that suggests that “Police don’t shoot blacks disproportionately” but rather says that there are larger societal and structural issues at play in these studies.  The critics used this tweet as their first example of Pinker’s unacceptable viewpoints and state:

“Let the record show that Dr. Pinker draws this conclusion from an article that contains the following quote: “The data is unequivocal. Police killings are a race problem: African-Americans are being killed disproportionately and by a wide margin.” (original emphasis) We believe this shows that Dr. Pinker is willing to make dishonest claims in order to obfuscate the role of systemic racism in police violence.”

The carefully edited quote reveals not just intellectual intolerance but intellectual dishonesty.  Here is the full quote:

The data is unequivocalPolice killings are a race problemAfricanAmericans are being killed disproportionately and by a wide margin. And police bias may be responsible. But this data does not prove that biased police officers are more likely to shoot blacks in any given encounter.

Instead, there is another possibility: It is simply that — for reasons that may well include police bias — AfricanAmericans have a very large number of encounters with police officers. Every police encounter contains a risk: The officer might be poorly trained, might act with malice or simply make a mistake, and civilians might do something that is perceived as a threat. The omnipresence of guns exaggerates all these risks.”

That is precisely what Pinker was saying in the tweet, but the signatories falsely suggest that he misrepresented the article.

In the second tweet, the signatories do not even try to quote from a linked article that Pinker cites:

Again, the article itself adopts the same balanced analysis that does not deny the role of racism in shootings but also highlights that training and cultural issues could be driving the high number of fatal shootings:

“Police violence is tangled up with racism and systemic injustice. We desperately need to do more to address that, foremost by shoring up the criminal-justice system so that it holds police officers accountable when they kill. But it’s also true that deadly mistakes are going to happen when police officers engage in millions of potentially dangerous procedures a year. What aviation teaches us is that it should be possible to “accident proof” police work, if only we are willing to admit when mistakes are made.”

Rather than acknowledge that nuanced intellectual point, the signatories adopt a common attack on free speech today: Pinker is guilty of “both-sides” rhetoric.”  We saw this attack succeed recently in the infamous decision of the New York Times to apologize for publishing the opposing views of a United States Senator and then forcing out the editor who approved the opinion editorial.  (Indeed, these Times articles were a painful reminder of the journalistic integrity that once defined that newspaper).

The third objection concern Pinker referring to New York subway shooter Bernhard Goetz as “mild mannered.”  The critics refer to his racist views and insist that Pinker is being impermissibly “casual.”  However, a search on Lexis found dozens of similar references to Goetz. CNN, the New York Times, and others include descriptions of Goetz as a “mild mannered” individual.  One can be mild mannered and still be a criminal and a racist.

The fourth objection is that Pinker claimed that it was “statistically obtuse” to claim that the killings of a deranged California student was proof of a pattern of violence against women. His point appears to be a classic correlation versus causation critique.  One can easily disagree with this observation but he seems to be objecting to taking the case itself as proof of the pattern.  What is fascinating is that the letter is premised originally on the fact that this student killed six women.  In reality, the student killed 2 women and 4 men.  Even though twice the number of men were murdered, the letter corrects the error but not conclusion: “Regardless of the identities of the victims, the murderer was driven by misogyny.”

The fifth objection is truly mind blowing.  Pinker is attacked for “publicly co-opt[ing] the academic work of a Black social scientist to further his deflationary agenda.”  It may require a linguistics degree to fully appreciate what coopting academic work to advance a deflationary agenda actually means.  This is made more difficult by the fact that these academics and students do not actually see the need to explain how Pinker “misrepresents the work.”  He is just declared dishonest.  However, these signatories seem to double up on the fifth and sixth objections since the link is directed to the study by Lawrence D. Bobo, the W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University.

So let’s go to the sixth objection over these tweets:

The signatories insist that even using the term “urban crime/violence” is a “dogwhistle” for racists.  However, again, a search of that terminology has been used dozens of times by civil rights leaders and Democratic leaders.

Once again, there is plenty to challenge in these viewpoints. Indeed, I would have seen this letter as an excellent foundation for a debate on campus. Pinker seems to want to have such academic discourse in making these points. The problem is not that he is being challenged on these points but that they are being used as an effort to remove him from an intellectual society.  These six objections are used as the basis to claim that Pinker has shown “a pattern of downplaying the very real violence of systemic racism and sexism, and, moreover, a pattern that is not above deceitfulness, misrepresentation, or the employment of dogwhistles.”

What makes this even more dubious is the following statement from these signatories:

“We want to note here that we have no desire to judge Dr. Pinker’s actions in moral terms, or claim to know what his aims are. Nor do we seek to “cancel” Dr. Pinker, or to bar him from participating in the linguistics and LSA communities (though many of our signatories may well believe that doing so would be the right course of action).”

Really, the foregoing language was not a “desire to judge Dr. Pinker’s actions in moral terms, or claim to know what his aims are”?  Moreover, I am not sure what “cancelling” means if it does not include stripping Pinker of his association with the leading intellectual group in his field.  It is also worth noting that “many” of the signatories did want him barred for being able to work with other academics in the field.  Rather than simply engage Pinker in honest academic debate, they want him barred from being able to share or defend his views in the linguistic or LSA communities.

Below is their open letter, which I encourage you to read.

 

—————————————-

Dear Linguistic Society of America,

This is an open letter by members of the linguistics community calling for the removal of Dr. Steven Pinker from both our list of distinguished academic fellows and our list of media experts. We, the undersigned, believe that Dr. Pinker’s behavior as a public academic is not befitting of a representative of our professional organization, that the LSA’s own stated goals make such a conclusion inevitable, and that the LSA should publicly reaffirm its position and distance itself from Dr. Pinker.

Induction into the list of LSA fellows is one of the highest signals of prestige in the linguistic community. Often, fellows are seen as the first line of academic linguistic authority, and trustworthy sources of linguistic knowledge. Lay people and members of the press reach out to fellows and media experts for official statements. We feel that fellows therefore have a responsibility that comes with the honor, credibility, and visibility allotted them by their distinguished appointment. Dr. Pinker does not live up to this standard.

As we demonstrate below, Dr. Pinker’s behavior is systematically at odds with the LSA’s recently issued statement on racial justice, which argues that “listening to and respecting [the experience of students of color] is crucial, as is acknowledging and addressing rather than overlooking or denying the role of the discipline of linguistics in the reproduction of racism.” Instead, Dr. Pinker has a history of speaking over genuine grievances and downplaying injustices, frequently by misrepresenting facts, and at the exact moments when Black and Brown people are mobilizing against systemic racism and for crucial changes.

Though no doubt related, we set aside questions of Dr. Pinker’s tendency to move in the proximity of what The Guardian called a revival of “scientific racism”, his public support for David Brooks (who has been argued to be a proponent of “gender essentialism”), his expert testimonial in favor of Jeffrey Epstein (which Dr. Pinker now regrets), or his dubious past stances on rape and feminism. Nor are we concerned with Dr. Pinker’s academic contributions as a linguist, psychologist and cognitive scientist. Instead, we aim to show here Dr. Pinker as a public figure has a pattern of drowning out the voices of people suffering from racist and sexist violence, in particular in the immediate aftermath of violent acts and/or protests against the systems that created them.

Below, we document six relevant occasions that show how Dr. Pinker’s behavior is systematically and directly at odds with the LSA’s stated aims. We believe that these examples show that Dr. Pinker is untenable as an LSA fellow and should not be allowed to retain that status.

  1. In 2015, Dr. Pinker tweeted “Police don’t shoot blacks disproportionately”, linking to a New York Times article by Sendhil Mullainathan.


Let the record show that Dr. Pinker draws this conclusion from an article that contains the following quote: “The data is unequivocal. Police killings are a race problem: African-Americans are being killed disproportionately and by a wide margin.” (original emphasis) We believe this shows that Dr. Pinker is willing to make dishonest claims in order to obfuscate the role of systemic racism in police violence.

  1. In 2017, when nearly 1000 people died at the hands of the police, the issue of anti-black police violence in particular was again widely discussed in the media. Dr. Pinker moved to dismiss the genuine concerns about the disproportionate killings of Black people at the hands of law enforcement by employing an “all lives matter” trope (we refer to Degen, Leigh, Waldon & Mengesha 2020 for a linguistic explanation of the trope’s harmful effects) that is eerily reminiscent of a “both-sides” rhetoric, all while explicitly claiming that a focus on race is a distraction. Once again, this clearly demonstrates Dr. Pinker’s willingness to dismiss and downplay racist violence, regardless of any evidence.

  1. Pinker (2011:107) provides another example of Dr. Pinker downplaying actual violence in a casual manner: “[I]n 1984, Bernhard Goetz, a mild-mannered engineer, became a folk hero for shooting four young muggers in a New York subway car.”—Bernhard Goetz shot four Black teenagers for saying “Give me five dollars.” (whether it was an attempted mugging is disputed). Goetz, Pinker’s mild-mannered engineer, described the situation after the first four shots as follows: “I immediately looked at the first two to make sure they were ‘taken care of,’ and then attempted to shoot Cabey again in the stomach, but the gun was empty.” 18 months prior, the same “mild-mannered engineer” had said “The only way we’re going to clean up this street is to get rid of the sp*cs and n*****s”, according to his neighbor. Once again, the language Dr. Pinker employs in calling this person “mild-mannered” illustrates his tendency to downplay very real violence.
  2. In 2014, a student murdered six women at UC Santa Barbara after posting a video online that detailed his misogynistic reasons. Ignoring the perpetrator’s own hate speech, Dr. Pinker called the idea that such a murder could be part of a sexist pattern “statistically obtuse”, once again undermining those who stand up against violence while downplaying the actual murder of six women as well as systems of misogyny.

  1. On June 3rd 2020, during historic Black Lives Matter protests in response to violent racist killings by police of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many many others, Dr. Pinker chose to publicly co-opt the academic work of a Black social scientist to further his deflationary agenda. He misrepresents the work of that scholar, who himself mainly expressed the hope he felt that the protests might spark genuine change, in keeping with his belief in the ultimate goodness of humanity. A day after, the LSA commented on its public twitter account that it “stands with our Black community”. Please see the public post by linguist Dr. Maria Esipova for a more explicit discussion of this particular incident.
  2. On June 14th 2020, Dr. Pinker uses the dogwhistle “urban crime/violence” in two public tweets (neither of his sources used the term). A dogwhistle is a deniable speech act “that sends one message to an outgroup while at the same time sending a second (often taboo, controversial, or inflammatory) message to an ingroup”, according to recent and notable semantic/pragmatic work by linguistic researchers Robert Henderson & Elin McCready [1,2,3]. “Urban”, as a dogwhistle, signals covert and, crucially, deniable support of views that essentialize Black people as lesser-than, and, often, as criminals. Its parallel “inner-city”, is in fact one of the prototypical examples used as an illustration of the phenomenon by Henderson & McCready in several of the linked works.[1]

We believe our appeal to remove Dr. Pinker from the LSA fellows list and the list of media experts falls within the purview of the LSA because of the goals that the LSA has set for itself. In its public statement on race, the LSA “encourag[es] linguists to critically reflect on the changing nature of academic, social, cultural, and linguistic understandings of race”, and explicitly states that “there is no linguistic justice without racial justice… [this stance] requires that linguists actively work to promote equity and social justice in ways that benefit underrepresented scholars and communities of color”. We believe that the examples above show that Dr. Pinker’s established pattern of behavior stands in direct opposition to the LSA’s publicly stated aims, and the work they call for.

We want to note here that we have no desire to judge Dr. Pinker’s actions in moral terms, or claim to know what his aims are. Nor do we seek to “cancel” Dr. Pinker, or to bar him from participating in the linguistics and LSA communities (though many of our signatories may well believe that doing so would be the right course of action). We do, however, believe that the examples introduced above establish that Dr. Pinker’s public actions constitute a pattern of downplaying the very real violence of systemic racism and sexism, and, moreover, a pattern that is not above deceitfulness, misrepresentation, or the employment of dogwhistles. In light of the fact that Dr. Pinker is read widely beyond the linguistics community, this behavior is particularly harmful, not merely for the perception of linguistics by the general public, but for movements against the systems of racism and sexism, and for linguists affected by these violent systems.

Sincerely,

The Linguistics Community

(If you would like to add your name to this open letter, please sign using this google form. All signatures will be alphabetized by last name, and added to the document at regular intervals. Everyone who identifies as a linguist is welcome, and encouraged to sign. For comments, or questions, please reach out to lettertothelsa2020@gmail.com.
Addendum: Unfortunately, due to the form being abused both to threaten the editors, and to interfere with the signing process, we can, at this point, only accept signatures via email, and will only accept signatures from valid .edu addresses, or equivalent.)

Errata:
The UCSB incident involved the murder of 2 women and 4 men, not 6 women as stated in the text. Regardless of the identities of the victims, the murderer was driven by misogyny, as demonstrated both by his manifesto and the fact that the perpetrator targeted a sorority house. Dr Pinker’s tweet either ignores or denies this aspect of the event.

# Name Affiliation Role
1 A, Pranav Science Park, Hong Kong NLP Engineer
2 Abner, Natasha University of Michigan Assistant Professor
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56 Benkato, Adam UC Berkeley Assistant Professor
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74 Bourgerie Hunter, Marie Private sector computational linguist
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78 Bowman, Samuel R. New York University Assistant Professor
79 Bradley, Evan Penn State University Associate Professor of Psychology
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88 Byrd, Andrew University of Kentucky Associate Professor of Linguistics
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92 Campolong, Kelsey Ulster University PhD Researcher
93 Canjura, Julian Northern Arizona University Graduate student
94 Canning, Dominique University of Michigan PhD Candidate
95 Carmichael, Katie Virginia Tech associate professor
96 Carruthers, Brendan Cognitive Science B.A.
97 Catlin, Sara Stony Brook University
98 Chacón, Dustin A. New York University Abu Dhabi Research Scientist
99 Chadwick, Stacie
100 Chambers, Summer University of Virginia Linguistics MA
101 Chang, Charles B. Boston University Associate Professor
102 Chatten, Alicia New York University
103 Chemey, Natasha Rutgers University Graduate Fellow
104 Chen, Daniel CU Boulder PhD student
105 Chen, Tingchun
106 Cheng, Hung-Shao New York University Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders PhD student
107 Chong, Adam Queen Mary University of London Lecturer
108 Christofori, Ulrike San Joaquin Delta College Instructor
109 Clare, Emily
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111 Clauss, Michael University of Massachusetts Amherst
112 Clem, Emily University of California, San Diego Assistant Professor
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117 Cockrum, Paul The Ohio State University Graduate Student
118 Conner, Katherine The Ohio State University PhD Student
119 Connor, Janet University of Chicago PhD Candidate
120 Conrod, Kirby University of Washington
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128 Cox, Julia
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130 Craft, Justin T. University of Michigan Ph.D Student
131 Craioveanu, Radu University of Toronto PhD candidate
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133 Crowley, Archie University of South Carolina PhD Student
134 Culbertson, Jennifer University of Edinburgh Reader
135 Cunningham, Emma Software Engineer
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137 D’Arcy, Alexandra University of Victoria Professor
138 Dahlberg-Dodd, Hannah
139 Daitya, Patrick Monash University Linguistics Society President
140 Daland, Robert Apple, Inc. Software Engineer
141 Dale, Christopher
142 Danis, Nicholas Washington University in St. Louis Lecturer
143 Davidson, Diana
144 Davidson, Lisa NYU Professor
145 Davis, Emory Johns Hopkins University Postdoctoral Fellow
146 Davis, Jenny University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Associate Professor
147 de Haas, Nynke Utrecht University Lecturer
148 De Santo, Aniello University of Utah Assistant Professor
149 de Vries, Hanna Leiden University Lecturer
150 DeGiulio, Stephen Santa Fe Community College Professor
151 DeMarco, Stephanie Birmingham City University Education Developer
152 Denis, Derek University of Toronto Mississauga Assistant Professor
153 DeRoma, Cynthia Zocca Yale University Lector
154 Devlin, Kerri UCLA Graduate Student
155 DiCanio, Christian University at Buffalo Assistant Professor
156 Dinkin, Aaron San Diego State University Assistant Professor
157 Dockum, Rikker Swarthmore College Visiting Assistant Professor
158 Dolatian, Hossep Stony Brook University Alum
159 Doliana, Aaron University of Maryland PhD Student
160 dos Santos, Wesley University of California, Berkeley PhD student
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170 Esipova, Maria Princeton University, Program in Linguistics Postdoctoral Research Associate
171 Everdell, Michael The University of Texas, Austin PhD Student
172 Farinella, Alessa UMass Amherst PhD Student
173 Farkas, Rebecca
174 Farris-Trimble, Ashely Simon Fraser University Associate Professor
175 Faytak, Matthew UCLA Postdoctoral Fellow
176 Feeny, Graham New York University Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders PhD Student
177 Feldscher, Cara (Danny) Michigan State University PhD graduate
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179 Finley, Sara Pacific Lutheran University Associate Professor
180 Fleckenstein, Kristen Coastal Carolina University Assistant Professor
181 Fleisher, Nicholas University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Associate Professor
182 Fletcher, Lauren University of Edinburgh PhD Student NLP
183 Fong, Suzana MIT graduate student
184 Forrest, Jon University of Georgia Assistant Professor
185 Fox, Bonnie University of Hawai’i
186 Francez, Itamar University of Chicago Associate Prof.
187 Francis, Elaine Purdue University Associate Professor
188 Franich, Kathryn University of Delaware Assistant Professor
189 Fraser, Katherine University of the Basque Country PhD Student
190 Freeman, Aaron UPenn Alum
191 Frishberg, Nancy
192 Fruehwald, Josef University of Kentucky Assistant Professor
193 Fuchs, Martin Utrecht University Postdoctoral Researcher
194 Gaby, Alice Monash University
195 Gadanidis, Tim University of Toronto PhD student
196 Gal, Susan University of Chicago professor
197 Ganeshan, Ashwini Ohio University Assistant Professor
198 García León, Javier University of North Carolina at Charlotte Assistant Professor
199 Gardner, Bethany Vanderbilt University PhD student
200 Garza, Joyhanna UCSB Linguistics PhD Candidate
201 Gasser, Emily Swarthmore College Assistant Professor
202 Gautam, Vasundhara Dialpad Speech Recognition Engineer
203 Gebhard, Jessica
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208 German, Austin The University of Texas at Austin PhD student
209 Getz, Heidi
210 Getzen, Cara TESL Student
211 Gillon, Carrie The Vocal Fries Co-host
212 Glödstaf, Walther University of Illinois Urbana Champaign PhD student
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214 Gölz, Miriam Brandeis University graduate student
215 Gonering, Brennan UC Davis Graduate student
216 Gonzalez-Marquez, Monica RWTH
217 Good, Jeff University at Buffalo Professor
218 Gorman, Kyle Graduate Center, City University of New York
219 Govindarajan, Venkata S University of Texas at Austin PhD Student Computational Linguistics
220 Gowda, Yadav MIT PhD student
221 Grama, James University of Duisburg-Essen Research Fellow
222 Green, Caitlin
223 Green, Elizabeth University of Texas at Austin
224 Greenbank, Emily Victoria University of Wellington Research Fellow
225 Greenwood, Anna Google Program Manager
226 Greeson, Daniel Michigan State University Graduate student
227 Grestenberger, Laura University of Vienna Assistant Professor
228 Grieve-Smith, Angus The New School
229 Grishin, Peter MIT PhD Student
230 Grothues, Natalie University of Colorado Boulder PhD student
231 Guo, Alice University of Toronto Alum
232 Haber, Eli University of Chicago
233 Hagedorn, Christina City University of New York – College of Staten Island Assistant Professor
234 Hagiwara, Robert University of Manitoba
235 Hall-Lew, Lauren University of Edinburgh Reader
236 Hall, Daniel Currie Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia associate professor; LSA member
237 Halpert, Claire University of Minnesota Associate Professor
238 Hansen, Daniel University of Chicago PhD Student
239 Hao, Yiding Yale University PhD Candidate
240 Hara, Yurie Hokkaido University Associate Professor
241 Harley, Heidi University of Arizona Professor
242 Harper, Sarah University of Southern California PhD Candidate
243 Harvey, Meg University of Arizona
244 Hauk, Bryn
245 Heap, David University of Western Ontario Associate Professor
246 Heath, Jevon University of Pittsburgh Director of Undergraduate Studies
247 Heaton, Hayley University of Michigan Linguistics PhD
248 Heider, Paul Medical University of South Carolina Senior Research Scientist
249 Henderson, Robert University of Arizona Associate Professor of Linguistics
250 Hendery, Rachel Western Sydney University, Australia Associate Professor
251 Henley, Katherine
252 Henry, Cassidy University of Maryland
253 Hetherington, Rebecca University of Melbourne
254 Hill, Angelica University of Massachusetts Amherst PhD student
255 Holgate, Eric University of Texas at Austin PhD. Candidate
256 Hoops, Tracie CSU Fullerton MA student
257 Hope, Maxwell University of Delaware PhD student
258 Horesh, Uri Achva Academic College
259 Hou, Lynn University of California, Santa Barbara
260 Hughes, Brianne MA Linguistics
261 Hyett, James University of Toronto Alum
262 Irvine, Melissa
263 Jacobs, Cassandra University of Wisconsin Postdoctoral Researcher
264 Jaggers, Zachary University of Oregon Postdoctoral Scholar
265 Jamieson, E University of Edinburgh
266 Janoff, Arianna
267 Jenks, Peter UC Berkeley Associate Professor
268 Jensen, Monica University of Washington PhD Student
269 Jent, Brandon University of Kentucky Alumnus, MA Linguistic Theory and Typology
270 Jeong, Sunwoo Seoul National University Assistant professor
271 Jeretic, Paloma New York University PhD Candidate
272 Jerro, Kyle University of Essex Lecturer
273 Jones, Kyra
274 Jones, Taylor University of Pennsylvania PhD Graduate
275 Joyce, Taylor The University of Texas at Austin PhD Student
276 Kalin, Laura Princeton University Assistant Professor
277 Kane, Aurora University of California, Berkeley PhD Student
278 Karlin, Robin UW-Madison Postdoctoral researcher
279 Kasstan, Jonathan University of Westminster Assistant Professor
280 Kastner, Itamar University of Edinburgh
281 Kennedy, Robert University of California, Santa Barbara Senior Lecturer
282 Khan, Sameer ud Dowla Reed College Associate Professor
283 Kiesling, Scott F. University of Pittsburgh Professor & Chair
284 Kim, Christina University of Kent Senior lecturer
285 Kim, Judy Yale University Postdoc
286 Kimper, Wendell University of Manchester Lecturer
287 Kirchner, Jessica Google Senior Linguist
288 Klassen, Jeffrey University of Saskatchewan Sessional Lecturer
289 Klausner, Lukas Daniel St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences Researcher
290 Klecha, Peet Linguist
291 Kolozsvari, Robyn
292 Konnelly, Lex University of Toronto PhD Candidate
293 Kosse, Maureen CU Boulder Grad Student
294 Kostyszyn, Kalina Stony Brook University PhD student
295 Kotek, Hadas Computational Linguist
296 Koulidobrova, Helen Central Connecticut State University Associate Professor
297 Koval, Pasha University of Connecticut PhD candidate
298 Kramer, Ruth Georgetown University
299 Kraus, Kaj Gallaudet University PhD Student
300 Kraus, Kelsey UC Santa Cruz PhD graduate
301 Kucharska, Rosa University of Manchester Undergraduate student
302 Kuo, Annita
303 Kush, Dave NTNU Associate Professor
304 Lai, Catherine University of Edinburgh
305 Lalonde, Codie Carleton University PhD Candidate
306 Lang, Benjamin New York University Abu Dhabi
307 Laparle, Schuyler UC Berkeley PhD Candidate
308 Laperle, Samuel
309 Lassahn-Worrell, Price
310 Laturnus, Rebecca
311 Lau-Preechathammarach, Raksit UC Berkeley Graduate Student
312 Laurentine, Kyle
313 Lawson, Alexandra University at Buffalo, SUNY Graduate Student
314 Le Mené, Marine University of Strasbourg Postdoctoral Researcher
315 Lee-Goldman, Russell Google
316 Lee, Naomi New York University PhD student
317 Lee, Rebecca University of Colorado Boulder PhD student
318 Lee, Si Kai UConn PhD Student
319 Leonard, Wesley University of California, Riverside Associate Professor
320 Lesho, Marivic
321 Lesk, Katharina University of Vienna student
322 Levi, Susannah NYU
323 Levinson, Lisa University of Michigan Lecturer
324 Lewis, Rebecca University of Connecticut PhD Student
325 Lewis, Tom Georgia Southern University Visiting Instructor
326 Li, Neh Gnetnemt Jinggangshan University 井冈山大学 Research Scientist
327 Li, Noriyasu
328 Lilley, Kevin The Ohio State University PhD Student
329 Lindsey, Kate Boston University
330 Liter, Adam University of Maryland Graduate student
331 Litovsky, Celia Johns Hopkins University PhD candidate
332 Love-Nichols, Jessica Macalester College Visiting Assistant Professor
333 Lowry, Cass The Graduate Center, City University of New York PhD student
334 Lu, Deedee
335 Lu, Jiayi Stanford University PhD student
336 Lucek, Stephen University College Dublin Postdoctoral Fellow
337 Lukyanenko, Cynthia George Mason University Term Assistant Professor
338 Lund, Gunnar Harvard PhD candidate
339 MacGregor, Caiden La Trobe University Graduate student
340 MacKenzie, Jordan Georgetown University PhD Candidate
341 MacKenzie, Laurel New York University Assistant Professor
342 Macknick, Anna Princeton University Undergraduate student
343 Mahan, Heather UCSC MA Linguistics graduate
344 Maier, Erik Hans UC Berkeley PhD Candidate
345 Mailhot, Frederic Dialpad, Inc. Computational Linguist
346 Malamud, Sophia A. Brandeis University Associate Professor
347 Maldonado, Mora University of Edinburgh Postdoctoral researcher
348 Manetta, Emily University of Vermont Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology
349 Mangold, Ina Runa University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Student
350 Manke, Christine California State University, Northridge Alumna
351 Manning, Emma Georgetown University PhD Student
352 Mansfield, Courtney University of Washington PhD Candidate
353 Mantenuto, Iara University of California, Los Angeles PhD Candidate
354 Marino, D. McGill University Grad Student
355 Martí, Luisa Queen Mary University of London Senior Lecturer
356 Martin, Fabienne Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
357 Martin, Katie MIT Graduate student
358 Martin, Tyree University of Arizona Ph.D. Student
359 Martinez del Rio, Aurora University of Chicago Graduate Student
360 Martinez, Randi Yale University
361 Matsubara, Julie University of Chicago, English Language Institute Director
362 Mauk, Claude University of Pittsburgh Senior Lecturer
363 McBride, Justin T. Northeastern State University Assistant Professor
364 McCabe, Samantha
365 McClay, E. K. Simon Fraser University research staff
366 McCoy, Tom Johns Hopkins University Graduate student
367 McCready, Elin Aoyama Gakuin University Professor
368 McFadden, Thomas Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
369 McGowan, Kevin University of Kentucky Assistant Professor
370 McKay, Isabel University of Arizona
371 McPherson, Laura Dartmouth College Associate Professor
372 McVeigh, Joe University of Jyväskylä University teacher
373 Meadows, Tom Queen Mary University of London PhD Candidate
374 Medina, Jennifer
375 Merryweather, Marina
376 Mesh, Kate Lund University Postdoctoral Researcher
377 Meyer, Cherry University of Michigan
378 Midgley, Daniel Because Language Co-presenter
379 Mieczkowski, Hannah Stanford University PhD candidate, Communication
380 Miller, Taylor SUNY Oswego Visiting Assistant Professor
381 Minnick, Lisa C. Western Michigan University Associate Professor
382 Mirea, Nicole Northwestern University PhD student
383 Molina, Malia Carleton College
384 Monette, James Data Scientist
385 Mooney, Kate New York University
386 Moraski, Kendall University of British Columbia Alum
387 Morgan, Adam NYU Postdoc
388 Morikawa, Nora
389 Mufwene, Salikoko S. University of Chicago Professor of Linguistics
390 Munson, Benjamin University of Minnesota Professor and Chair
391 Murphy, AJ University of South Carolina PhD Student
392 Murray, Sarah Cornell University Associate Professor
393 Musica, Anne Georgetown University Alum
394 Musil, Jakub The University of Edinburgh PhD candidate
395 Nakamura, Megan University of Florida
396 Namboodiripad, Savithry University of Michigan Assistant Professor
397 Narayan, Chandan York University Linguistics Assoc Professor
398 Nederveen, Sander Simon Fraser University/University of British Columbia MA/PhD student
399 Nelson, Brett University of Calgary PhD Candidate
400 Nelson, Scott Stony Brook University
401 Nesbitt, Monica Dartmouth College Postdoctoral Researcher
402 Newell, Heather UQAM Professor
403 Ng, Sara University of Washington PhD student
404 Nguyen, Chieu Google Japan Computational Linguist
405 Nguyen, Emma University of Connecticut PhD student
406 Niedzielski, Nancy Rice University Associate Professor
407 Nielsen, Kuniko Oakland University Associate Professor
408 Nölle, Jonas University of Edinburgh PhD Candidate
409 Noonan, Máire Université de Montréal & Université du Québec à Montréal, course lecturer
410 Norris, Mark
411 Nowlan, Melody
412 Nycz, Jennifer Georgetown University Associate Professor
413 O’Gorman, Tim University of Massachusetts Amherst Postdoctoral Researcher
414 O’Hara, Charlie University of Southern California
415 O’Meara, Carolyn Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Associate Research Professor
416 O’Neill, Brittney York University PhD student
417 Orfitelli, Robyn University of Sheffield Lecturer
418 Ostrove, Jason UC Santa Cruz Lecturer
419 Overfelt, Carly
420 Pabst, Katharina University of Toronto Ph.D. Candidate
421 Palma, Pauline McGill University PhD student
422 Papillon, Maxime University of Maryand
423 Parrish, Alicia New York University Grad student
424 Parrott, Jeffrey Keith Department of English and American Studies, Palacký University in Olomouc Assistant Professor of Linguistics
425 Pasquinelli, Renni Johns Hopkins University PhD Student
426 Pasternak, Robert Leibniz-Center for General Linguistics Postdoctoral Researcher
427 Pater, Joe University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor
428 Patton, Colleen University of Arizona PhD Candidate
429 Paul, Ileana University of Western Ontario Associate Professor
430 Paullada, Amandalynne University of Washington PhD Candidate, Linguistics
431 Payne, Amanda
432 Payne, Elena University of Cambridge Student
433 Payne, Elinor University of Oxford Associate Professor
434 Pearce, Jo University of Glasgow PhD Student
435 Pearson, Hazel Queen Mary University of London Senior Lecturer
436 Perez Borbon, Luz University of Massachusetts Boston PhD student
437 Perfors, Amy University of Melbourne Associate Professor
438 Perleberg, Ellen University of Washington Undergraduate
439 Peters, Andrew University of Toronto PhD Candidate
440 Pham, Mike
441 Piggott, Glyne McGill University Emeritus Professor
442 Pillion, Betsy University of Chicago PhD Candidate
443 Pinzin, Francesco Goethe Universität Frankfurt Postdoctoral researcher
444 Plumb, May Helena University of Texas at Austin PhD Candidate
445 Pollio-Barbee, Harper Brandeis University Undergraduate Student
446 Potter, David Morehead State University Post-doc
447 Potvin, Gabrielle
448 Pratt, Teresa San Francisco State University Assistant Professor
449 Preminger, Omer University of Maryland Associate Professor
450 Prichard, Hilary Linguistics PhD
451 Prickett, Brandon
452 Puderbaugh, Rebekka University of Edinburgh Teaching Fellow
453 Punske, Jeffrey Southern Illinois University Carbondale Associate Professor & Director of Undergraduate Studies
454 Purse, Ruaridh University of Pennsylvania PhD Candidate
455 Raclaw, Joshua West Chester University Assistant Professor
456 Rademacher, Tess Former LSA Intern
457 Rasin, Ezer Leipzig University Postdoctoral Researcher
458 Rawlins, Kyle Johns Hopkins University Associate Professor
459 Reed, Paul E. University of Alabama Assistant professor
460 Rees, Alice University of Edinburgh Research Fellow
461 Rehrig, G. UC Davis Postdoctoral Researcher
462 Reiss, Charles Concordia University, Montreal Professor
463 Remirez, Emily UC Berkeley PhD Candidate
464 Rett, Jessica UCLA Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
465 Richardson-Todd, Aurore PhD student
466 Richie, Russell University of Pennsylvania Postdoctoral Fellow
467 Ritch, Joseph University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa MA Student
468 Roberts, Brice University of California, Los Angeles PhD Candidate
469 Roberts, Julie University of Vermont Professor and Director
470 Robinson, Mary NYU PhD student
471 Robles, Jessica S. Loughborough University Lecturer
472 Rodriguez, Alejandro UC San Diego PhD Student
473 Ronkos, Danielle The Graduate Center, CUNY Ph.D. Candidate
474 Rosa, Jonathan Stanford University Associate Professor
475 Rosen, Nicole University of Manitoba Professor
476 Rosenau, Sara CU Boulder Graduate Student
477 Rouvier, Ruth University of California, Berkeley PhD Candidate
478 Rouvinen, Alina Student
479 Rowe, Margaret Anne Georgetown University Alum
480 Royer, Adam UCLA Linguistics PhD Candidate
481 Royer, Justin McGill University PhD Student
482 Sampson, Tory University of California, San Diego PhD Student
483 Sanchez, Roger Universidade Federal de Belo Horizonte, Brazil PhD
484 Sandoval, Starr graduate student
485 Sandy, Abu El Adas NYU PhD student/worker
486 Sayeed, Asad University of Gothenburg Assistant Professor
487 Scarpace, Daniel University of Texas at Arlington Assistant Professor of Instruction
488 Scheffler, Tatjana University of Potsdam Postdoctoral Researcher
489 Schlegl, Lisa Univeristy of Toronto PhD Student
490 Schneier, Joel University of Central Florida Lecturer
491 Seals, Corinne Victoria University of Wellington Senior Lecturer
492 Sears, Cheyenne Ohio University Alum
493 Semushina, Nina UCSD PhD candidate
494 Seong, Jihye The State University of New York at Buffalo Ph.D. Student
495 Shames, Kayla Matthea Cornell University Undergraduate Student
496 Shan, Chung-chieh Indiana University Associate Professor
497 Shapiro, Mary Truman State University Professor of Linguistics
498 Shenkar, Julia George Mason University Alum
499 Sherley-Appel, Clara UCSC, UVA Linguistics MA
500 Showers-Curtis, Katka University of Wisconsin – Madison Graduate Student
501 Shukla, Mohinish
502 Shulist, Sarah Queen’s University Associate Professor
503 Sichel, Ivy UC Santa Cruz Associate Professor
504 Sicoli, Mark A University of Virginia Assistant Professor
505 Simpson, Erin UCL Institute of Education PhD student
506 Sims, Nandi Ohio State University PhD Candidate
507 Singerman, Adam Department of Linguistics, University of Chicago Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow
508 Sirna, Sarah Michigan State University
509 Skilton, Amalia University of Texas at Austin Postdoctoral Researcher
510 Slayton, Aliya University of Hawai’i at Mānoa PhD student
511 Slobe, Tyanna University of California Los Angeles PhD Candidate
512 Smith, Alexander D. University of North Texas
513 Smith, Barry University at Buffalo Professor & Chair
514 Smith, James
515 Smith, Kaylin Michigan State University PhD candidate
516 Sneller, Betsy Michigan State University Assistant Professor
517 Snider, Todd Postdoctoral Research Fellow
518 Soldaini, Luca Amazon Applied Scientist
519 Sommerlot, Carly J. University of Texas at Arlington Ph.D. Candidate
520 Sprenger, Anna-Marie UChicago graduate student
521 Staicov, Adina Hiroshima University Assistant Professor
522 Stalley, Sean
523 Stephens, Heather University of Toronto PhD Candidate
524 Stickles, Elise University of British Columbia Assistant Professor
525 Stromdahl, Lars University of Delaware PhD Student
526 Strother-Garcia, Kristina Bloomsburg University Assistant Professor
527 Subtirelu, Nicholas Georgetown University Assistant Professor
528 Sullivant, Ryan University of Texas at Austin
529 Sundaresan, Sandhya
530 Sunil Arvindam, Vishal
531 Surbatovich, Amy Editor
532 Sutherland, Paul American Philosophical Society Archivist, Linguist
533 Szabó, Ildikó Emese New York University PhD candidate
534 Tabachnick, Guy New York University graduate student
535 Talmina, Natalia Johns Hopkins University PhD student
536 Taniguchi, Ai University of Toronto Mississauga Assistant Professor
537 Taylor, Katherine The Ohio State University Alum
538 Thomas, Airica Northwestern University PhD Student
539 Thomas, Jenelle University of Oxford
540 Thomas, William The Ohio State University PhD Student
541 Thompson, Anie H5/University of California Santa Cruz Consulting Linguist and PhD alum
542 Thompson, Ellen Florida International University Professor
543 Thompson, Katrina University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor
544 Thoms, Gary New York University Assistant Professor
545 Tomlin, Nicholas UC Berkeley PhD Student
546 Torbert, Benjamin University of Missouri-St Louis Associate professor
547 Torgersen, Henrik University of Oslo MA student
548 Tran, Marcellin University of Toronto Student
549 Travis, Lisa McGill University Professor Emeritus
550 Tulsyan, Purnima
551 Turnbull, Rory Newcastle University Lecturer
552 Turner, Gerry York University PhD Candidate
553 Turner, Robin University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign PhD student
554 Twiner, Nicholas Stanford University Graduate Student
555 Tyler, Matthew Yale University PhD candidate
556 Tyrone, Martha Long Island University Associate Professor
557 Ulfsbjorninn, Shanti University of Deusto, Bilbao. Associate Professor
558 Umbal, Pocholo University of Toronto PhD Candidate
559 Usta, Betül Seda University of Stirling PhD student
560 Valentinsson, Mary-Caitlyn Appalachian State University Visiting Assistant Professor
561 van den Akker, M. Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands Undergraduate
562 VanderStouwe, Chris Boise State University Lecturer
563 Vaughan, Alfie University of Cambridge Undergraduate
564 Vihman, Marilyn University of York Professor
565 Vihman, Virve University of Tartu Associate Professor
566 Villanueva, Mercedes Eileen
567 Vittalbabu, Chandru Sunnyvale School District Speech-Language Pathologist and Linguistics graduate
568 Vu, Mai Ha University of Delaware Alum
569 Walkden, George University of Konstanz Professor of Linguistics
570 Warner, Natasha University of Arizona Professor and Head
571 Warren, Isaac Georgetown University MS Student
572 Wassink, Alicia University of Washington
573 Weinberg, Miranda Swarthmore College Visiting Assistant Professor, Linguistics
574 Wells, Alexus Georgetown University
575 Whitcomb, Kathleen
576 Williams, Adina Research Scientist
577 Wilson, Brianna University of Chicago PhD Student
578 Wilson, Fiona University of Toronto Graduate Student
579 Wilson, Scott Keohookalani Pukyong National University Lecturer
580 Wing, Dakota York University PhD Candidate
581 Wingett, Hannah Georgetown University Alum, BA Linguistics + MS Theoretical Linguistics
582 Winterstein, Grégoire UQAM Professor
583 Wolf, Simon Unaffiliated Independent Researcher and Consultant
584 Wood, Skye Virginia Tech Alum
585 Wright, Kelly Elizabeth University of Michigan PhD Candidate
586 Yeaton, Jeremy UC Irvine PhD student in Language Science
587 Yoshida Nuttall, Kelly Boise State University
588 Young, Eris Writer
589 Yuan, Michelle University of California, San Diego Assistant Professor
590 Zaitsu, Anissa Stanford University PhD student
591 Zimman, Lal UC Santa Barbara Associate Professor of Linguistics
592 Zompi, Stanislao
593 Zweig, Eytan University of York Lecturer

138 thoughts on “Harvard Professor Under Fire In Latest Attack On Free Speech”

  1. Yet, Steven Pinker signed the Harper Letter. It is a letter against the weakening of the norms of debate and toleration. However, that letter makes it clear to me that such toleration should not be offered to those talking favorably about issues from the right and Donald Trump, The reason for the letter was to prevent (from the letter) the “forces of illiberalism … Who “have a powerful ally in Donald Trump” In other words lets protect our speech but not the speech of those that disagree.

  2. Yet, Steven Pinker signed the Harper Letter. It is a letter against a weakening of the norms of debate and toleration. However, that letter makes it clear to me that such toleration should not be offered to those talking favorably about issues from the right and Donald Trump, The reason for the letter was to prevent (from the letter) the “forces of illiberalism … Who “have a powerful ally in Donald Trump” In other words lets protect our speech but not the speech of those that disagree.

    Signing a letter dictating whose speech should be free doesn’t demonstrate the characteristics stated by Professor Turley: “someone who believes in robust intellectual discourse and free thought and speech.” I think the university setting is destroying fine minds by thinking only within a predescribed box and that Pofessor Truley is not immune from such thoughts.

  3. “But don’t be distracted by the explosions – this letter wasn’t really about Pinker at all. In fact, it has a very specific function – to dissuade lesser-known academics and students from questioning the ideological consensus. The letter says, in not so few words: ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re Steven f***ing Pinker. If you don’t agree with our ideological prescriptions, you don’t belong here.’

    The letter is really directed towards you – the unknown academic, the young linguist, the graduate student. And in this particular goal of dissuading dissent, it will undoubtedly be successful. Although the letter has been widely criticised, you are not Steven Pinker, and Noam Chomksy and others probably aren’t going to come to your defence when you get sanctioned for expressing the wrong opinion.”

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/07/09/steven-pinker-wont-be-cancelled-but-you-could-be/

  4. The fourth objection is that Pinker claimed that it was “statistically obtuse” to claim that the killings of a deranged California student was proof of a pattern of violence against women. His point appears to be a classic correlation versus causation critique.

    It isn’t. He’s pointing out you live in a big country and sh!t happens. Doesn’t say a whole lot about everyday life.

  5. Professor Turley — in the mid 1960’s UC Berkeley had the Free Speech Movement while China devoured its own with its Cultural Revolution. Years of campuses being dominated by liberals who turned students into intolerant snowflakes sowed the seeds of the cancel culture revolution of today. History and non- adherents to this new orthodoxy will be destroyed in the name of smothering all views other than the “right” ones. First they came to silence the deplorable conservatives and today for the liberals who disagree with their only acceptable views, thoughts and speech.
    What goes around now comes around as those who planted the seeds reap what they have sown. Prepare yourselves for the “re-education”camps coming soon.
    Couldn’t happen to a more deserving group.

  6. NB, the Linguistics Society of America has fewer than 4,000 members. About 15% of them signed this. Now let’s see how many sign a counter petitioni.

  7. He has however suggested that the level of police shootings may be the result of poor training and the excessive use of force generally by police in the United States. He is not alone in raising that issue.

    Pinker’s a neuroscientist. He doesn’t know anything about the mechanics of policing. Neither do his detractors.

    1. Excellent point. Policing is one of the most heavily scrutinized professions in the US. All kinds of internal and external review boards from the local up to the federal level. If there is systematic racism, there is even a bigger conspiracy to hide it.

  8. Pinker has been vocal in his opposition to the level of police shootings in our society and has recognized their devastating impact on the African American community. H

    Police shootings are not common (usually 1 or 2 a year in a metropolitan region of ordinary size); black criminals are, if anything, less likely to be shot than white criminals; and very few cases are demonstrable manifestations of police misconduct. You know that because the poster-child cases are so doubtful; that’s because they don’t have better cases to illustrate their theses. Right now, two police officers are facing murder charges in Atlanta because they killed a man who resisted arrest, stole a taser, and fired on them. In Minneapolis, four police officers are facing a menu of charges (including murder) because they arrested a man who had ingested a lethal quantum of fentanyl and he died from it while under arrest. Police shootings are not ‘devastating’ to the black population or even mildly injurious to it.

    We know very well why this is an issue, and it has nothing to do with any palpable injury to blacks. It has to do with the complaint that people of lower status (cops) impose community standards on people of higher status (black hoodlums). The black chauvinists are upset because they fancy they’re kangz and the gentry liberals are upset because they fancy they assign status and these deplorables are disrespecting the pampered pets of said gentry liberals.

    As for the Linguistic Society buffoons, their objection is that knowledgeable social researchers state what they know to be true, and that’s intolerable to the cluster-b-personality-disorder caucus among faculty and graduate students. Here’s an interesting question: why are junior faculty and graduate students such a bunch of train-wrecks? Your ‘colleagues’ cause this problem, and they exacerbate it by giving the worst what they want. Stop generating perverse incentives.

    1. Buglife you share concerns about free speech but when it is offered such as we see on this blog you run away from your own free speech and what you posted in the past by changing your alias. That demonstrates how much you care about your own free speech much less how much you care about the free speech of others.

  9. Huh, a lot of foreign names. If they did not grow up in the US, then they could be from countries where the notion of free speech does not exist. Also perhaps many are here on special visas, and that could have been used as leverage to force signatures.

  10. I see professor Pinker’s points clearly. However his attempts at broaching his views are ill timed. He may be an accomplished intellectual as has the credibility to back it up. But this doesn’t mean that Pinker himself is a good judge of timing. He proposed his views when sensitivities are raw and fresh. If he didn’t see the backlash coming then clearly he wasn’t paying close attention.

    His academic observations may be well balanced and nuanced, but those who actually see the problems on the ground and real time can point out that things aren’t that nuanced. The racism and poor training may be much more serious problems than they are currently perceived. This will pass. Professor Pinker shouldn’t be worried. Especially if he is smart enough to recognize that expressing his views may have been a bit premature.

    1. I didn’t realize that speaking the truth required good timing. I guess we all need permission from our masters to speak the truth at the designated time of their choosing.

      And this isn’t just a story about whether or not Pinker should be worried about his job.

      This is a story, once again, about how people are threatened and silenced for expressing their opinions. If you don’t think that is a fundamental problem, I have no idea why you would be on a blog about free speech.

      1. LorenzoValla,
        I agree with you overall.

        “I didn’t realize that speaking the truth required good timing.”

        Sometimes the person(s) that you want to hear you are so mad that they won’t hear what you have to say. They are so mad that whatever good or reasonable thing you say will go in one ear and out the other or, worse, be twisted into something you didn’t say or mean. Waiting a bit for them to cool off can help the message be heard.

        That said, sometimes Truths just need to be said because there may not be a ‘good time’ no matter what.

        1. Right, and it’s not like he lit up Twitter in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd dying.

      2. “I didn’t realize that speaking the truth required good timing.”

        That is the problem with Svelaz and others on the blog. They believe in ‘free speech for me but not for thee’.
        I didn’t realize that speaking the truth required good timing. ‘.

        1. Allan, mentioning timing has nothing to do with being against free speech. Free speech is also about recognizing the responsibility that comes with it. I’ll timed opinions even if we’ll intended can backfire badly. Which bring consequences that are part of that decision.

          If you didn’t realize speaking the truth required good timing then you admit you don’t understand the responsibilities that come with free speech.

          For example when gun violence and school shootings take place first thing being said of those advocating for gun control is that “now is not the time to discuss gun control”. Is that denying free speech to gun control advocates?

          Obviously timing IS important.

          1. But it’s not an issue here, now is it? Pinker’s tweets go back for a few years.

            Your argument is bad timing and a distraction.

            Now, please check with us first before saying anything else on the matter.

          2. There is an enormous difference between saying “now is not a good time to discuss x” and “let’s get this fired/removed for saying x.”

          3. Svelaz, you made the comment about timing and some of the complaints came from comments years old. You don’t know what you are talking about. In that manner you are just like Paint Chips.

    2. Svelaz:

      “The racism and poor training may be much more serious problems than they are currently perceived.”
      ************************
      Cite every – nay any instance — in modern times where this was proven. You won’t find any. Even in ex-con George Floyd’s death there is no proof of racism or poor training. You’ve got under a dozen criminal cases pending now against cops and no suggestion of racism or poor training. Quit lying.

      Oh by the way, timing your expressions is the same thing as self-censorship you authoritarian troll.

      1. Exactly. There is no systematic evidence for systematic racism in American police forces.

        But people continually make these unsupported assertions. It’s obviously an industry unto itself right now, and an absolutely critical premise for the survival of the Democratic party. So it will continue.

      2. Mespo,
        “Oh by the way, timing your expressions is the same thing as self-censorship”

        I disagree. Self-censorship is not always a bad thing.

        ‘Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
        Abraham Lincoln

        “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
        Benjamin Franklin

          1. Mespo,
            I agree that external dynamics should be opposed.

            I read the issue of timing/self-censorship as one controlled primarily by the individual.

          1. Lorenzo, he’s acknowledging the fact that it IS a problem, one that everyone recognized long before George Floyd was murdered. Before he would simply state a generic reason. Now it’s a recognized problem specifically mentioning race as an issue.

            1. No, that would be circular logic. If there is a problem of systematic racism we need to see systematic evidence that it actually exists. A bunch of people saying it’s real is not evidence.

              Furthermore, without this systematic evidence, we would have no way to solve the problem. That’s why we are left with these notions of ‘white privilege’ and other vague assertions that can’t be directly acted upon.

                1. Are you serious?

                  The first link has charts showing how blacks are doing more poorly than others in a variety of measurable ways. That does not prove the cause is racism, only that there is a racial disparity.

                  The second link is from 1978. The counter to that more than 2 generations old document are studies done within the last 5 years or so that show not only is there no systematic evidence for systematic racism, but that white perpetrators are more likely to be shot by cops than black ones.

                2. Svelaz– I think systemic racism does exist. I think it is perpetuated by government programs such as affirmative action which are built on the belief that black students are inferior to white or Asian students and so they must be given special help if they are to make it. The systemic racism flows from the way in which these programs perpetuate the low expectations that democrat politicians always have had for blacks. As Joe Biden says, if any black persons think for themselves and decide to vote for anyone other than him, they aren’t black enough!

          1. Mespo, anything I will cite you will immediately ignore or label as fake. I’ve played that stupid game before and it’s a waste of time when you will not take citations seriously. You’re just asking for them and willfully ignoring them. I’m sure you’re smart enough to find the information you seek on your own. That way you don’t waste anyone’s time and effort when you dismiss the proof you seek before you finish reading the headline.

            1. “Mespo, anything I will cite you will immediately ignore or label as fake.”

              You certainly slithered out of that trap. Congrats. You’re almost ready to be an Ivy League academic.

        1. The expression “systemic racism” is about as sloppy and malleable as anything to be found in contemporary discourse. Like Lewis Carroll’s snark, it is whatever the person using the term thinks it is. Also, like the snark, it is most at home in non-sense literature.

        2. Where did Barr even talk about systemic racism. Is Paint chips helping you write your responses in the nail salon?

      3. These demonstrations and rioting have nothing to do with race. These people are nothing but a bunch of Marxist. They are using police brutality as a ruse.

    3. Of course you’re right. He has every right to express the truth as he knows it — and, as you claim, you know it — but he should modulate his views to the whims of the moment. I agree: freedom of speech should be absolute, but not too absolute.

      1. Or not, which is the only way an undesirable moment will ever change. BY SPEAKING UP. When did we become such noodle-spined cowards? Momentum is not garnered by sitting still, as idiot radicals have proved these past weeks. These notions of ‘timing’ are tantamount to, ‘Take your beating like we told you to.’, and it is the height of irony and hypocrisy given the events of past weeks. In its most rudimentary terms, the totalitarians among us are saying, ‘Shut up and let us trample you, already.’. My answer to that is, ‘No.’. You will not subvert our equal rights.

    4. Since all these people are digging up dirt on everyone, going back to the days the person was born, your point about the timing isn’t relevant.

  11. Pinker is susceptible for hypercritical scrutiny at this time as he is a specialist who is pointing out discrepancies in one area of a much larger picture. More Black/police encounters points to a larger and more invasive racial inequality problem in the US and not only to a select set of statistics. Herein lies the rub. The anger and frustration emanating from racial inequality in the US, include police brutality. Police brutality is an issue. Racial profiling is an issue. These come together as the spark that lites a much larger condition. Taken by itself and mitigated with other select statistics this can be explained in various ways. In essence what this all comes down to is designing an opinion through selective amassing of data. Example, the high rate of obesity and diabetes among Blacks is linked to their excessive consumption of food stuffs that lead to these conditions. Alone, it is all on the Blacks. However, taken in overall context, many other aspects of racial inequality come into play. Trump repealed a condition put in place by Obama where neighborhood grocery stores had to stock a specific amount of fruit and vegetables to be eligible to trade in food stamps. Trump is responsible for increased Twinkie consumption and reduced fruit and vegetable consumption. Education, availability, political leadership, and many more issues/statistics can be seen as causing higher rates of diabetes among Blacks. Or, it could all be just the Twinkie statistics.

    Pinker is a specialist. You can go to a specialist in the medical field and be treated for a problem that is perhaps but not necessarily connected to the treatment. Tunnel vision is an extreme example of this. One must see all the specialists.

    This problem exists in every aspect of society. In order to identify this selective use of statistics in various explanations, they must be included in the general discussion. Pinker must be mitigated, not silenced. Pinker’s use of statistics isolates issues so does not completely address the larger condition. Academia and the general public must be exposed to the parts and the whole. Harvard does America a great disservice in shutting this specialist out. A lot of that going on. Politicians do this, perhaps, to the most extreme.

    1. I haven’t seen the Twinkie defense since Harvey Milk was assassinated by Dan White.

      Shameless.

    2. Pinker is a specialist in linguistics but with a generalists abilities and focus. I recommend “enlightenment Now” or even the discussion he has with Yuval Harrai in my other post on this thread.

  12. One is free to say what one wishes, but one is likewise free to ignore a petson’s speech. The question is whose rights trumps the other. Lies are not to be tolerated. Your admonition that the cure for bad speech is good speech rests upon the theoretical presumption that there is an opportunity and willingness to entertain both sides. While this may obtain in the University, it does not exist in the real world. People come home from a hard day at work and throw on a feedbag and plop in front of the tube. People, generally speaking, are not inclined to think for themselves which requires effort; rather, they are lazy and would prefer to be told what to think. The good speech will not enter their news bubble. As a practical matter the entire premise of your faith in free speech does not exist in the real world.

  13. Pinker is another twittering loon getting eaten by the monster he and his ivy-headed Leftist brethren help create. Police shootings are justified in all but a few isolated cases as grand juries and petit juries prove all the time. They are properly trained – lawyers do it — and to suggest otherwise fuels the Left’s hate. Let the professor see what oppression feels like as cops do all the time. It’ll be good for him to come back down to planet Earth. Our society is ill-served by almost our our intellectuals. Let ‘em eat the same cake our cops do.

    1. I agree with you. There are faculty members who are sympathetic figures (John McAdams is one). Pinker isn’t one of them.

    2. I’m curious why you think he’s a loon? I’ve followed his work for a while and he seems like one of the only academics that openly goes after the dogma of the left.

      1. He’s not a loon. He’s arrogant, opinionated, and verbose. Common type among faculty members.

    1. Professor Stephen Pinker is indeed well-known and highly regarded.
      ************************
      So are the Bigoted Lynch Mob leaders. What’s your point? Ad populum, maybe? Starry-eyed groupie?

      Hey and where are Paul’s cites?

      1. For the most part, they’re not. These are junior faculty and graduate students. The trouble is, that sh!t’s in the pipeline.

    2. Pinker is the author of “Enlightenment Now” a hugely influential book which demonstrates the level of human success to date – and much to the surprise of most of us, left and right – and it’s flourishing under the principles of the western enlightenment, humanism, and it’s main accomplishment, science.

      As Paul noted, most signees are minor league players of grad assistants and students.

      If one would like to hear him discuss some important issues with Yuval Harrari, author Sapiens, this is a delight:

      1. Bookless in Gainesville;

        “Hugely influential”? How could it be? Gates loves it and he’s another globalist tyrant.

        Oh and Amazon ranks this “monumental work” as #3,202 in Books. Like Tyndale’s Bible, I see.

        Does lying come natural or do you work at it like Benson through a haze of misinformation?

        1. Influential in that it was thoroughly covered by every serious journal, newspaper, magazine, and intellectual media throughout the world and anyone who keeps up with contemporary thought is familiar with it.

          You probably wouldn’t hear about it in People.

          1. Bookless in Gainesville:

            You love it for this valentine to the book from the Marxist NYT:

            “He later adds that he could have ended every chapter by saying, “But all this progress is threatened if Donald Trump gets his way.” Trumpism risks knocking the world backward in almost every department of life, especially by trying to undo the international structures that have made progress possible: peace and trade agreements, health care, climate change accords and the general understanding that nuclear weapons should never be used. All this is now in question. Pinker is particularly sharp on the dangers of ignoring or overriding the systems that make nuclear war unlikely.”

            The rest of the reviews acknowledge he doesn’t have anything new to say just says ita tad more eloquently. The very definition of a poser. The best review I could find for this oft-ignored book was from Stanford University historian Jessica Riskin who summarizes the book as “a knot of Orwellian contradictions”. Indeed it’s the exact kind of hodgepodge of lies, pop psychology and obfuscations that fascinates mush-minds like yours. Carry on in your stupor.

            1. I think Mespo will especially enjoy this retort to the reviewer he cited as a slap down to Pinker:

              “Jessica Riskin should have read
              @sapinker
              response to critics:
              https://quillette.com/2019/01/14/enlightenment-wars-some-reflections-on-enlightenment-now-one-year-later/
              before writing this scurrilous “review”
              https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/pinkers-pollyannish-philosophy-and-its-perfidious-politics/
              I hate to say it but I think some academics are actually disappointed that poverty & suffering is in decline without their help.”

              1. The beginning of Pinker’s “reflections” a year later:

                “You wouldn’t think that a defense of reason, science, and humanism would be particularly controversial in an era in which those ideals would seem to need all the help they can get. But in the words of a colleague, “You’ve made people’s heads explode!” Many people who have written to me about my 2018 book Enlightenment Now say they’ve been taken aback by the irate attacks from critics on both the right and the left. Far from embracing the beleaguered ideals of the Enlightenment, critics have blamed it for racism, imperialism, existential threats, and epidemics of loneliness, depression, and suicide. They have insisted that human progress can only be an illusion of cherry-picked data. They have proclaimed, with barely concealed schadenfreude, that the Enlightenment is an idea whose time has passed, soon to be killed off by authoritarian populism, social media, or artificial intelligence.”

                1. Over your head, huh? Well, then enjoy the end of the critical review you cited which was actually a defense of progressive intellectuals from Pinker’s criticism.

                  “Pinker rejects but that his Enlightenment heroes embraced, whatever their differences of opinion on other matters: skepticism, and an attendant spirit of informed criticism. Skepticism is kryptonite to the sort of demagogue who brandishes something — a cross, a flag, a MAGA hat … or a graph — and calls anyone who questions it a delusional know-nothing. Pinker’s story is Manichaean, good versus evil, and the bad guys are intellectuals, progressives, and the misleading news media. Any of this sounding familiar? With friends like these, the Enlightenment doesn’t need enemies.”

                  1. Under it. Oh and never said she wasn’t a Commie (its Stanford) just that her assessment had a few nuggets. Sales have plummeted of this “great work” to a Barnes & Noble ranking of 16,974 in 2019. Eggheads are fickle it seems when deciding greatness.

                    1. We own it already. People like you pretend to intellectualism but look through the pages for Trump’s name before buying.

  14. It seems like it is getting to the point where there are a lot of well qualified professors out there looking for employment after being being wrongly terminated. It also seem like there would be an opportunity to gather these professors and start a new college where people can speak freely. Maybe call it First Amendment University?

    1. Hillsdale could start a branch campus perhaps. Or, Heterodox Academy could become Heterodox University.

  15. Name and shame!!!!!! BTW, looking at the signatures, it looks like they found anything that drew breath to sign this. Not a lot of star power.

    1. Prof. Turley, you are a lighthouse guarding the shores of free expression and academic integrity from the storms of intolerance and ignorance.

      It’s all in the last paragraph. I’ll translate: In this letter, we are not doing what it looks like we just did. Don’t call it “cancelling” although most of us really want to do exactly that …

      This reveals the immature, spoiled dishonesty of the writers, signers and those infected with this brand of lazy intellectual fear. As Prof. Turley points out, they didn’t have the courage to stand up and debate the topics with Dr. Pinker, person to person.

      They couldn’t even stand up and declare, without qualification or with any clarity, who they are and what they are doing.

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