Saturday, July 12, 2008

Without data, we have only a bloke

"A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants."
—Chuckles the Clown
.....Now, lots of folks in academia claim to teach "argumentation"—how to argue. But they aren't always teaching the same things.
.....It has long struck me as odd that, while philosophers teach their students that facts about an arguer are irrelevant (this is the essence of their teachings re the "ad hominem" fallacy), writing and speech instructors often seem to teach the opposite, for they make a great point of the importance, for the writer or speaker (the arguer), of presenting himself in a certain way: as reasonable, knowledgeable, etc.
.....The explanation of this difference, of course, concerns the different purposes these people have. The philosopher/logician seeks the truth and thus teaches students how to seek the truth. Hence, he focuses on evidence and reasons—what writing instructors call "logos" or the "logical appeal." He is not concerned with "pathos" or "ethos"—i.e., the emotional appeal or the appeal that derives from how the writer presents himself.
.....Writing instructors, however, are more about "effectiveness" (or persuasion) than truth, and so, for them, "logic" is just one tool among several. For instance, if you want to convince your readers of something—say, that John McCain is too addled to be President—then, assuming they aren't very logical (usually a safe assumption), you'd be a fool to offer mere logic. Reasons and evidence? Most audiences will become bored with that; they'll walk away. Better get out the blooper reel. (See Why we need rhetoric.)
.....Philosophers, as philosophers, are happy to have people walk away. They want to know the truth, and knowing the truth has nothing to do with having lots of eager listeners or readers. (Indeed, folks who seek the truth invariably become very nervous when their ideas become attractive to others.)
.....Roughly speaking, writing instructors are unhappy when the audience (or the "reasonable" among the audience) walks away. And so they spend a good deal of time talking about the importance of presenting yourself properly, i.e., effectively. (Ironically, writing and speech instructors can trace their body of theory to the writings of a philosopher/logician, but one who held audiences in low esteem. See Aristotle's rhetoric.)
.....Um, but if your readers buy that, they're committing a fallacy, right?
..... —Oh, absolutely. Great. Now show us Obama Girl!

.....Ben Oldacre’s “Bad Science” column this morning (in the Guardian) concerns what happens when audiences focus on how a speaker presents himself (ethos) without focussing on his evidence and reasons (logos):

Testing the plausibility effect:
.....You will remember, two weeks ago now, we saw the Sunday Express claiming on its front page that an impressive government adviser called Dr Roger Coghill had performed a research study demonstrating that the Bridgend suicide cases all lived closer to a mobile phone mast than average. When I contacted Coghill it turned out he wasn't really a government adviser, he said the Express had made a mistake in calling him a doctor, he had lost the data, and he couldn't even explain what he meant by average.

.....Without data, we have only a bloke. Week in, week out, we see apparently scientific claims being made in the newspapers with great confidence, as if they were based on evidence, when in reality they are based on nothing more than authority, and often from one man. This is because science is communicated to the public by journalists, who sometimes have no understanding of what it means for there to be evidence for an assertion. They are impressed by enthusiasm, long words, by a PhD, a white coat, or a medical qualification. [My emphasis.]
.....What if this is taken to an extreme? In 1973 a group of academics noticed that student ratings of teachers often seemed to depend more on personality than educational content. They wanted to find out how far this effect could be stretched: what if you had an impressive, charismatic and witty lecturer, who knew nothing at all about the subject on which they were lecturing?….
.....They hired a large, affable gentleman who "looked distinguished and sounded authoritative". They called him "Dr Myron L Fox" and he was given a long, impressive, and fictitious CV. Dr Fox was an authority on the application of mathematics to human behaviour.
.....They slipped Dr Fox on to the programme at an academic conference on medical education. His audience was made up of doctors, healthcare workers, and academics. The title of his lecture was Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education. Dr Fox filled his lecture and his question and answer session with double talk, jargon, dubious neologisms, non sequiturs, and mutually contradictory statements. This was interspersed with elaborate diversions into parenthetical humour and "meaningless references to unrelated topics". It's the kind of education you pay good money for in the UK.
.....The lecture went down well. At the end, a questionnaire was distributed and every person in the audience gave significantly more favourable than unfavourable feedback. The comments were gushing, and yet thoughtful: "excellent presentation, enjoyed listening", "good flow, seems enthusiastic", and "too intellectual a presentation, my orientation is more pragmatic".
.....The researchers repeated the performance. Time and again they got the same result….
My advice? Let's start teaching students what is relevant and what is not. We're drowning in illogic.

Philosophers/Logicians love this Monty Python bit: "the Argument Clinic":



.....“A second type of … argument is the speaker’s character, not only as established by his reputation, but also as conveyed in the speech itself. Most orators agree that one’s character is the most potent weapon in one’s rhetorical arsenal.”
—From A Brief Summary of Classical Rhetoric, made available to students at Harvard
[Thomas Hobbes] maintains that the establishment of ethos is an irrelevance not merely in the natural sciences…but in the moral sciences as well. His translation of Aristotle’s Art of Rhetoric accordingly omits the entire section in which Aristotle speaks of the crucial importance of taking steps to make a good impression on one’s audience.
–From Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes, Quentin Skinner

Friday, July 11, 2008

"A disgrace"? Could someone please explain Mr. McCain to me?



.....I suppose that many of you have seen or heard John McCain's recent remarks re Social Security (see video)—which he offered as some "straight talk." I am puzzled by this alleged straight talk.
.....We need to separate two issues. One issue is whether there is something broken about Social Security. McCain thinks so, and I suspect he is right about that.
.....A second issue concerns what McCain says toward the end of his above remarks. He describes the Social Security system itself, which involves money put into the system by people now working and money taken out by people now retired. Now, as I understand it, Social Security has always involved precisely that "system."
.....In the video, in no uncertain terms, McCain judges that system to be "a disgrace."
.....Now, I really don't see what is disgraceful about it (the above "system," I mean). Prima facie, it seems sensible, fair. Evidently, ordinary Americans, too, whether Republicans or Democrats, have long liked it; they have not found it to be "a disgrace."
.....What on earth is McCain talking about?
.....Perhaps Mr. McCain does not realize that the system he describes is what Social Security has always been? Does he suppose that, until recently, beneficiaries of the system were withdrawing the money they themselves put into accounts throughout their working years? If so, he's a spectacular ignoramus, one who is too foolish to be the President.
.....Or perhaps Mr. McCain meant to opine, not about the system he describes (in which current workers pay for current benefits), but the particular circumstance—owing to the Baby Boom, etc.—that not enough is being put into the system now to cover what is taken out (or will be taken out). If so, we must conclude that he is either vulnerable to remarkable bouts of confusion while speaking, or he is the world's most inarticulate fellow, saying clearly what he clearly does not mean to say.
.....Am I missing something? Help me out here! (I will attempt to find the larger context of McCain's remarks, but I doubt that that will help.)

P.S.: My friend Steve sent the video below. Yes, happiness is a warm puppy—or a guy singing a bunch of warm puppies to sleep!

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit

BULLSHIT PRODUCT.

.....Have you noticed advertisements by a new company called "Philosophy"? Philosophy sells cosmetics. Their motto is "believe in miracles."
.....I know a lot of philosophers. The philosophers I know are about as likely to believe in miracles as they are to believe in the Tooth Fairy.

.....One of Philosophy's products is "Hope in a Jar." On the jar, we're told that, "where there is hope, there can be faith. Where there is faith miracles can occur."
.....Well, by definition, where there is faith, there is belief without evidence. And a miracle is an event that defies natural laws. Why would belief w/o evidence bring about an event that defies natural laws? What total bullshit.

BULLSHIT TV SHOW.

.....While we're on the topic of BULLSHIT, have you ever seen Penn & Teller's Showtime TV show called "Bullshit"?
.....It's pretty entertaining. Here's one of their better segments—on bottled water. The best part comes in the second half, when customers at a fancy-schmancy restaurant pay big money for bottled water that, in reality, comes straight from a hose in the back alley. "You'll laugh so hard your sides will ache, your heart will go pitter pat."



.....I don't mind P&T's cursing and name-calling: that's just their style, their humor. But they can be sloppy (no, boys, they didn't burn witches in Salem, they hanged 'em.). They can be unfair—they've been accused of cherry-picking evidence (e.g., regarding the efficacy of recycling). Sometimes, they're just dead wrong (as when they rejected claims of the dangers of second-hand smoke, based on outdated info). I give 'em an A in entertainment and a C in logic.

BULLSHIT PHILOSOPHER.

.....A few years ago, philosopher Harry Frankfurt made quite a splash with his published essay On Bullshit (2005; written in '86). According to Wikipedia,
...Harry Frankfurt of Princeton University characterizes bullshit as a form of falsehood distinct from lying. The liar, Frankfurt holds, knows and cares about the truth, but deliberately sets out to mislead instead of telling the truth. The "bullshitter", on the other hand, does not care about the truth and is only seeking to impress:
"It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”
Frankfurt connects this analysis of bullshit with Ludwig Wittgenstein's disdain of "non-sense" talk, and with the popular concept of a "bull session" in which speakers may try out unusual views without commitment. He fixes the blame for the prevalence of "bullshit" in modern society upon anti-realism and upon the growing frequency of situations in which people are expected to speak or have opinions without appropriate knowledge of the subject matter.
Here's an interview of Frankfurt re "bullshit"



.....The interviewer presses Frankfurt for an example of BS. With some reluctance, the professor cites the notion that John Kerry's heroic actions during the Vietnam War (the interview occurred a few years ago) qualify him to be President. "Bullshit," he says. And surely he is correct. (Note that F expresses no skepticism about K's heroism.)
.....Very recently (June 29), Wes Clark got into hot water when, in reference to Pres. candidate John McCain, he said, "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."
.....Well, again, surely he is correct. Importantly correct. Nevertheless, Clark's comment caused a shitstorm. One must not speak the truth about this matter, evidently. Clark should have known better than to defy right-wing PC—a particularly funky species of bullshit.

BULLSHIT PRESIDENT.

.....Harry Truman was known to have a colorful vocabulary. According to a familiar story,
Always an earthy talker, Truman once offended a friend of his wife's by referring repeatedly to "the good manure" that must have been used to nurture the fine blossoms at a Washington horticulture show. "Bess, couldn't you get the President to say 'fertilizer'?" the woman complained. Replied Mrs. Truman: "Heavens, no. It took me 25 years to get him to say 'manure.'"

The Army's new "secret weapon"; critical thinking video; responding to a need



• From the Guardian: US weapons research is raising a stink: The US Army's XM1063 projectile is designed to be 'non-lethal' - but is it peaceful or hovering on the brink of illegality? [Note: above original photos of relevant howitzer sent to us by our pals over at 13 Stoploss]:
.....Is the XM1063 a stink bomb, a banana skin, or a bad trip? ... XM1063 is the code name for the US army's new secret weapon which will "suppress" people without harming them, as well as stopping vehicles in an area 100m square. But is it a violation of chemical weapons treaties, or a welcome move towards less destructive warfare using non-lethal weapons? ¶ ...The first part of the weapon is an artillery round...fired from a 155mm howitzer.... It scatters 152 small non-explosive submunitions over a 1-hectare area; as each parachutes down, it sprays a chemical agent....
• CRITICAL THINKING VIDEO. A reliable reader (Bohrstein) has drawn my/our attention to a video (Here Be Dragons), which is an introduction to critical thinking by Brian Dunning of Skeptoid. I've seen most of it, and it appears to be quite good and entertaining as well.

• From the San Jose Mercury: College to expand program on solar-panel installation:
.....Skyline College in San Bruno is renewing a successful solar-installation program for the fall and plans to expand its curriculum in response to the growing alternative-energy market.
.....The program trains students to become certified solar installers and is funded by a grant of about $450,000 from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, organizers said.
....."It's creating a pipeline for potential employees for the solar industry," said project leader Sandra Wallenstein….

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday evening Chunkery


• COOL PICS. There’s an odd-but-cool article in the Times about a Modjeska Canyon resident and her elegant garden: Modjeska Canyon garden's water-wise ways take bloom. Check it out, if you dare.
"To live in chaparral and have a creek in this canyon is amazing," she says. "It is a privilege and a responsibility to live here and not waste it. We are so lucky that it didn't burn down. I would have been just as upset to lose the garden as the house. I guess we would have had to rebuild." Sarkissian is quiet for a moment as she looks at the creek and reflects on her time here. "But you just don't have that many 13-year periods of your life."
The article includes an unusually lovely slide show. Garden, flowers, blue shirt.

• THE GREAT STINK. Matt Cocker (!?) at the OC Weekly (THE GREAT P-U) explains that the endless Irvine “Great Park” events these days are being undone by a big 'n' stinky compost pile. As my old Opa would say, "It did shtink."

• VENGEANCE IS THEIRS. R. Scott Moxley, also at the OC Weekly, writes about the Susan Atkins (of Manson Family infamy) parole issue: DA Tony Rackauckas Joins the Battle Over Susan Atkins' Dying Wish.

Atkins, who has an impeccable prison record, is sinking fast (brain tumor, amputated leg, etc.), but Rackauckas (a charter member of Mike Schroeder’s “Team Rat Bastard”) has joined the LA Times in opposing release.

Moxley quotes the Times as recently opining: “Atkins gravely wounded our collective peace, and society has a right, even the obligation, to exact vengeance.”

Exact vengeance? Well, either the Times editorial writer needs to work on his tone, or he’s just a moron.


• CRAPULENCE AND PHOTOGRAPHY. I was out in the world again today and so I took my camera. Two of these shots are near my house: on Live Oak Canyon Rd (above) and at the entrance of Lambrose Canyon (at the beginning of this post, above). Another (below) is from that crazy overpass from the 5 south to the toll road north (toward the Santa Ana mountains). (Click on photos.)

I was feeling sick (never mind), and so I just took 'em from the car, through the windshield.


• THE DARK END OF THE STREET. Couldn't sleep last night. Started watching an old episode of Millennium (Lance Henriksen), which included a moving sequence using James Carr's "Dark End of the Street" (1967). Do you know it? It's wonderful. (So's Millennium, BTW.)

The smoky north

Along with Louis B. Jones, the Reb directs the prestigious Writers Workshop at Squaw Valley. Thus, soon, she and her crew will be heading north, as per usual. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

It'll be a bit smoky up there, of course. Here's a satellite image of Cal wildfires in this morning's OC Reg. I've indicated the approximate location of Squaw Valley (Olympic Valley).

MEANWHILE, THE TOASTY SOUTH. See Marla Jo's article in the Reg: 3 O.C. community colleges make top 100: Annual list ranks schools based on number of associate degrees they confer. Evidently, a trade publication ranks Coastline, Orange Coast and Santa Ana colleges in the top 100, in this odd regard. (Many traditional students forgo acquiring Associate degrees, since they are unnecessary for transfer to a four-year institution.)

AND THE SULTRY SOUTHEAST. There’s a marvelous story in this morning’s Inside Higher Ed (In Culture Wars, Do Facts Matter?) about a phony quote, falsely attributed to an academic by the usual right-wing suspects: “No. We don’t hire Republicans because they are stupid and we are not. Why should we knowingly hire stupid professors?”

Here's the actual, somewhat more "nuanced," quote, from a philosophy professor: “We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire. Mill’s analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia. Players in the NBA tend to be taller than average. There is a good reason for this. Members of academia tend to be a bit smarter than average. There is a good reason for this too.”

Just how big an IF is that IF? Yet another empirical question, one about which most of us would rather not discuss openly or directly.

What Mill actually said was: "Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative." Now, if you add the premise that "there are many stupid people," then you can expect there to be lots of conservatives, i.e., Republicans. But one may not infer that conservatives (Repubs) will be scarce among (the smart) academics, since, for all that Mill has said, it is possible that most smart people are conservative. I mean, it is at least possible that, oddly, if you're stupid, you're conservative, and if you're smart, you're conservative (and maybe if you're average, you're non-conservative). Whew.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Erwin Chemerinsky's law school "team lineup"

Marla Jo Fisher over at the OC Reg just posted this:

Who is on UCI's law school team lineup?

Marla informs us that the "legal blogosphere around the country has been buzzing in recent weeks with speculation and news about Irvine's new faculty, which has been described as unusual in the number of prominent women, and also in its ethnic composition."

Indeed it has. You’ll recall that Erwin Chemerinsky, the new dean, was hired, then fired, then rehired. Evidently, local right-wingers were upset about Professor C's politics. Some intelligent conservatives (even local ones) came to his defense.

Among Chemerinsky’s hires are

Rachel Moran, “a UC Berkeley law professor who will become the president next year of the Association of American Law Schools.”

“She has been the director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change at UC Berkeley's law school, Boalt Hall.”

• “A veteran Los Angeles Times legal affairs reporter, Henry Weinstein, who took a buyout recently, will also join the staff to teach fledgling lawyers how to investigate facts.” (New hire Catherine Fisk is pictured at right.)

The Reg article gives the full list of hires. Also hired was someone whose career I’ve followed for years: UCI Psychology Professor Elizabeth Loftus, a renowned expert on memory.

Loftus is somewhat of a hero in the “skeptical” movement (which, essentially, debunks pseudoscience and promotes logic and science). Wikipedia briefly describes the ”Jane Doe” case and Loftus’ famous investigation concerning it, which has helped discredit therapies involving repressed and recovered “memories”:
"Jane Doe" was the subject of a case study published in 1997 by Dr. David Corwin on issues of repressed and recovered memory. Neither the study nor later follow-up studies and articles referred to her by her real name. As a psychiatrist retained in a divorce case, Corwin had videotaped an interview with Jane Doe—then six years old—in which she claimed to have suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her biological mother. Eleven years later, Corwin showed Jane Doe the original tape after obtaining approval from her and her guardian. Corwin then videotaped a follow-up interview in which Jane Doe appeared to spontaneously recall another abusive event she had suffered despite having had no conscious memory of abuse in the years since the initial interview. Corwin published a transcript of the tape and an explanatory article. With Doe's permission, Corwin also played portions of both videotapes to numerous professional audiences.

Loftus hired a private investigator in California and together with co-researcher Melvin Guyer undertook a subsequent investigation into the case, reviewed extensive court records and interviewed Jane's mother and foster mother. In 2002, based on the information obtained, Loftus and Guyer published an article entitled "Who Abused Jane Doe? The Hazards of the Single Case History" in the Skeptical Inquirer. The article was highly critical of the scientific validity of Corwin's 1997 article, and questioned the factual accuracy of his account.
SEE also:

On so-called “repressed memories”
”The Myth of repressed memory”

Orange Coast College on sh*t list; money "falling from the trees"

MORE ON IVC “HOMETOWN HERO” MIKE (Pal o' Fuentes) CARONA.

The LA Times has a seriously juicy story about Irvine Valley College “Hometown Hero” Mike Carona, the former Sheriff: Carona doled out Orange County reserve badges to 'friends' who donated $1,000, court document says.

The Times includes a link to a pdf file of some eye-opening court documents. (Check 'em out: pdf.)
While being interviewed by federal investigators last September, a month before Carona was indicted, [former Assistant Sheriff Don] Haidl leveled a variety of assertions:
• Carona and another former assistant sheriff, George Jaramillo, thought money was going to be "falling from the trees" once they assumed office.
• Carona wanted Haidl to handle all the business deals that were to benefit Haidl, Carona and Jaramillo, as well as deal with the "rich" people who came in contact with the Sheriff's Department.
• The three men talked about putting money they made in a trust or lobbying company until they could legally take it out after leaving public office.
• When Carona was involved in discussions about illegal topics, he would say, "That's a conversation for the boat" or "a conversation we should have at 40,000 feet," referring to his concern about the government monitoring his conversations.
• Carona often used the phrase "Give me the win," a reference to making sure he received full media credit when something positive happened in the department.
For the OC Reg’s version of this story, go to Carona was a paranoid egomaniac, former friend tells FBI

MORE ON COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER RUEBEN MARTINEZ.

The Reb came across this CBS Evening News segment (The Stay-In-School Hero Of Santa Ana) about Irvine Valley College’s recent commencement speaker, Rueben Martinez. (It aired June 25.) Martinez is a winner of the MacArthur “genius” prize.

ORANGE COAST COLLEGE ON SHIT LIST.

According to this morning’s Inside Higher Ed,
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges [ACCJC/WASC] has announced a series of actions involving numerous two-year institutions in California. At its latest meeting, last month, the accrediting group placed Los Angeles Southwest College on probation and continued probation for Lassen College, while it removed from probation and restored the accreditation of the College of Marin and Los Angeles County College of Nursing and Allied Health, and removed College of the Redwoods from probation and placed it on warning. The commission also placed seven other colleges on warning — Cerritos, Copper Mountain, Mission, Ohlone, Orange Coast, Palo Verde and San Joaquin Delta Colleges — and continued Mira Costa College on warning. And it removed from warning status five other institutions: Cuesta, Hartnell, Porterville, San Joaquin Valley, and Western Career Colleges.
More specifically, OCC was "Placed on Warning on the Basis of a Progress Report and Visit."

"OPERATION WHITEWASH" DIDN'T WORK?

Back on April 29, the Coast Report (Faculty Hands Over Complaints:
Teachers give notebook of grievances to state accreditation team) reported that
.....Four faculty members made a special effort this month to ensure their discontent with Orange Coast College top administrators was on the record.

.....The group sought out the ACCJC team during its follow up visit to OCC earlier this month and presented them a notebook filled with documents and emails detailing alleged transgressions of the school’s administration.


.....The delivery of the notebook is a response to some faculty members’ unhappiness about how the school’s accreditation process is being handled after a 2000 evaluation, including suspected censorship of faculty surveys for the accreditation report, the administration’s alleged use of retaliation against faculty for speaking out and how the campus is generally being run.


.....The issues have been building for some faculty members for years but seem to have ratcheted up during the past 18 months.




.....“This started when current administration decided they didn’t want to communicate with faculty about things that are normally considered shared governance,” biology instructor Ann Harmer said.


.....Sources said the issues have been going on since before the accreditation report happened and more than just the four faculty members who gave the notebook to the ACCJC have concerns.
..... The notebook was given to the accreditation committee when it returned to OCC April 15 for a follow up report, which according to technology instructor Ernest Maurer is unusual.


.....The team came to check up on three main issues they had with the school—the completion of student learning outcomes, the broadening of academic student services and administrative planning and budgeting, and the strengthening of its program review, according to a letter to OCC President Bob Dees from the president of the ACCJC. Faculty members said they feared the association’s concerns weren’t addressed by campus administrators.

“(Issues) they brought up we feel were really shoved under the rug by the administration,” Harmer said.


.....Several faculty members said they tried to arrange a meeting with the accreditation committee on April 15, but were stonewalled by the administration, who claimed to be unaware of where the committee would be meeting.
..... When they did find out where the team was, according to math instructor Maurer, the accreditation team leader told them he wasn’t aware anyone wanted to speak with him, but he accepted the notebook.


.....This isn’t the first time faculty members have contacted the accreditation committee. Last spring a letter was sent listing the problems that faculty saw on campus, Harmer said.


.....Vice President of Instruction Melinda Nish said faculty members are always able to give information to the accreditation committee and it is not unusual for information to be passed on.


.....OCC has an accreditation committee on campus made up of faculty, staff and administrators divided up into groups based on the mission statements and goals of the campus, who among their other duties, compile a report that is submitted to the state accreditation team, according to Harmer.


.....Several faculty members have expressed concerns that original faculty comments destined for the ACCJC team never made it into the final report or were censored.


.....“I don’t know if it’s faked, or is cleaned up,” Harmer said. “It (the final report) makes the administration look more favorable.”


.....Astronomy instructor Nick Contopoulos said the final report given to the team doesn’t accurately reflect the sentiments of the entire campus.


.....“I feel they were not represented. Period. They were representative of those who don’t cause trouble. We’re causing trouble,” Contopoulos said. “We’re not trying to cause trouble. We just know the history of the place and how it was at the highest level. I know what it used to be like and how it is now.”


.....Nish, co-chair of the campus’ accreditation committee, said faculty members were encouraged to give input.


.....“Our progress report was drafted and done by a faculty member,” Nish said. “That faculty member, Karen Felts, didn’t edit out or censor out any information.”


.....Some faculty members said the report misrepresents the present climate of the campus and Maurer said they don’t have confidence that faculty viewpoints were accurately represented.


.....One of faculty’s concerns is the administration’s use of retaliation against those speaking out against the administration. Specifically, they say administrators are using the right of assignment as punishment to take faculty off classes they want to teach.


.....“They can specifically tell you what you’re going to teach, if you get overload, or summer school,” Maurer said. “They use right of assignment as a punitive measure.”


.....Maurer said that faculty members are willing to risk retaliation because the issues are affecting the students.


.....“It is always about the students,” Maurer said. “You hear it from the faculty, but not from the administration. They continue to go after people that speak up. They get transferred. Classes get disbanded.”


.....An issue that several faculty members have brought up is the differences between the current president and vice presidents and those of the past.


.....“Faculty loved when administration poked their heads in,” Maurer said. “Now we only see them at an arms length.”


.....Harmer echoed the sentiment, saying the president and vice presidents would be out walking around campus in past administrations.


.....“That doesn’t happen now,” Harmer said. “Our position is that it’s your job. Your job as vice president of instruction is to communicate with instructors. Your job as president is to go out and communicate with the public. It’s not getting done.”


.....Nish said there are many opportunities for communication for faculty and administration.


.....“I don’t really perceive there is a problem,” Nish said, “but, there is a lot of information out there on campus and it can be overwhelming.”


.....Nish said she is always walking around campus, attending faculty senate meetings, or having forums or informal chats.


.....Some faculty members said all the administration needs to do is step out of their offices and sit down and talk.


.....“It wouldn’t take a lot to solve the issues and that’s the sad part,” Maurer said. “It would take open communication, realizing and admitting they’ve made mistakes. They can’t continue to cover some stuff up.”

.....Contopoulos echoed the sentiment, but added that it isn’t going to be an easy process.


.....“It’s not going to be easy for both sides,” Contopoulos said. “We need to find a solution for the students. You want to mend the fences. You can’t pretend like nothing’s happened. You have to face up to the hard things. You need big people to get up and stay ‘enough.’ I’m going to say enough.” [All emphases added.]
SOCCCD's ACCREDITATION CRISIS:


.....Years ago, Chancellor Raghu P. Mathur (then IVC President) foisted his good pal Ray Chandos onto the college as Accreditation Chair. Chandos' whitewash was so obvious that it attracted the attention of the local news media. It didn't work then either. (See IVC Accreditation Whitewash.) I am not suggesting, of course, that OCC's Karen Felts engaged in a similar sort of whitewash. Don't know. Whitewashery can be subtle and need not be perpetrated by the Accred Chair.
.....Meanwhile, Chandos' program dwindled to almost nothing, but that wasn't a problem. Mathur protected him. Mathur believes in having friends and doing them favors. Know what I mean?
.....As readers of DtB know, the two colleges of the SOCCCD are in an accreditation crisis, for we have been informed by the ACCJC that we must finally fix problems identified by them by the end of this year. There will be no extensions. (See graphic above from ACCJC letter to Saddleback College.)
.....The problems largely concern trustee micromanagement (and micromanagement through the trustees' agent, the Chancellor), a "plague" of despair, a failure to define roles and responsibilities of groups, etc. Like OCC, Saddleback College is viewed as deficient with regard to establishing "student learning outcomes."
.....These difficulties are long-standing. During the last "round" with the ACCJC, the Chancellor and trustees insisted on inserting defensive language into the accreditation reports, contrary to appropriate processes. It is widely thought that that action helped ensure a poor outcome.
.....I am told that Saddleback College has already written a draft of its new report. It is very brief, and it was written without faculty participation. I have been told by those who have read it that it is very unimpressive. This does not bode well for Saddleback College.
.....(Imagine the year 2010. You phone Saddleback College information. You then hear, "Irvine Valley College, Mission Viejo Center.")
.....Irvine Valley College, it seems, has taken the opposite tack. It has worked very hard to produce new regulations and understandings during a lengthy series of meetings that include faculty reps (everyone is represented). I am told that it has sought to create an atmosphere in which participants can speak freely, and they have done so. As near as I can tell, no "censorship" is involved in the process, and all parties have been able to express their concerns, which are to be included in the final report. (IVC's Accred "focus group" met today from 8:00-11:00.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

This just in

• For some reason, a Nobel Prize-winning economist is at Chapman U, teaching high school kids about the dismal science. Apparently, Vernon Smith “won the Nobel Prize in 2002 for his revolutionary approach to proving economic theories using lab experiments to simulate real-world markets.” Which reminds me: how come every time I turn on my TV, Chapman's James Doti’s got his face up there? Doesn't he have better things to do?

• The OC Register has a lovely photo essay of the Whiting Ranch area—not far from my home—which was affected by the October fires. (See photo above.) UPDATE: the LA Times has some purdy pictures too.

• I suppose you’ve followed that story about the Irvine Eagle Scout who broke into cars and stole iPods. Well, the punk’s gonna spend 60 days in jail. In my day, Eagle Scouts didn’t usually do such things, and when they did, they only did 'em because of brain tumors.

• This just in: Raghu P. Mathur continues to make one of the biggest salaries anyone’s ever seen while destroying South County’s two community colleges. In November, voters are expected to reelect two of the fools (Dave Lang & Tom Fuentes) who are responsible for this man's reign of terror, which started in 1997, when, despite having no full-time administrative experience, he was appointed interim President of Irvine Valley College, thanks to the corruption and lawlessness that then prevailed among trustees and union leaders who got these bozos elected using false and homophobic fliers.

• Dave, tell me. How do you sleep at night?

Not all Raghu Mathurs are bad

.....Dennis Overbye, a science reporter for the New York Times, has a great little article (in yesterday's Times) in which he answers readers’ science questions: 
Dennis Overbye, Science Reporter.
.....Overbye, prompted by readers, touches on randomness, dark energy, and God, among other things. He's good.
.....Great stuff, even if the fellow doesn’t know how to spell “Antarctica.”

* * * *
NOT ALL RAGHU MATHURs ARE BAD

.....It isn't always easy maintaining rationality. I recall talking with a colleague once who admitted that he could no longer stand the thought of eating curried food, owing to associations with the unsavory Raghu Mathur (the latter fellow hails from India, land o' turmeric).
.....I've gotta say, that's pretty nutty. I just stared at 'im.
.....My grandfather, who died in his 90s maybe ten years ago, for a long time refused to eat Italian food owing to its association with, well, Italians. During the war, he fought alongside soldati (he was in the Wehrmacht, an infantryman, assigned to tanks). He claimed that, when faced with the enemy, the Italian soldiers would run away, leaving the German soldiers holding Der Bag.
.....There was no use arguing with him about Italians. There's no prejudice like Old World European prejudice, I find.
.....But I did defend pizza. "Look, Opa, this pizza right here wasn't made by any Italians. I made it. And it's good!" I held up a slice. I took a bite.
.....Eventually, he caved, but I think that was mostly because of the stroke.
.....Occasionally, I Google "Raghu Mathur," and the Facebook page of some kid—named "Raghu Mathur"—always comes up. He's a good-looking kid. For all I know, he's the nicest, most honest kid in the world—no duplicitous, narcissistic, avaricious, back-stabbing rat bastard from hell, like some Raghu Mathurs I've known.

At Santa Ana College, an "Opportunity Scholarship" goes big

.....No doubt this brought out the local Know-nothings, of which there are many. In this morning’s Inside Higher Ed: Professors Pay Students’ Tuition:
.....Tuition usually … helps to pay faculty salaries. But at California’s Santa Ana College, some professors are paying their students’ tuition.
.....The community college’s Opportunity Scholarship will be offered for the first time this fall. The scholarship, for those with unmet financial need and a grade-point average of at least a B, was created by professors. Faculty members, either by themselves or with a colleague, are agreeing to pay for a full year of tuition for a student. Tuition for a California resident is $20 per unit, with full-time students taking at least 12 units a semester.

.....Santa Ana College, in Orange County, serves many low income and immigrant students, said Jeff McMillan, a chemistry instructor and former president of the Academic Senate. Many students are the children of undocumented immigrants, and they are not eligible for assistance from the government, he said. This led McMillan to try to find ways to help students stay in college.

…[P]eople wrestling with the problem on their own, like [VP of SS Sara] Lundquist and [counselor Issac] Guzman and McMillan, started working together. Once the project was approved, professors, administrators and departments joined in. An article in the Los Angeles Times led to contributions from people who don’t work at the college.
.....Originally, the scholarship was planned to be an “intimate” program, and was only going to be serving somewhere between 10 to 25 students, Lundquist said. However, with the additional support, there will be close 100 students receiving the scholarship.

.....Although, many of the scholarship recipients are the children of undocumented immigrants, McMillan said it’s important not to see this as an immigration issue. He sometimes hears the argument that these students in need of financial aid “shouldn’t even be here anyway.” However, he noted that these students typically didn’t make the decision to come to the United States and that not helping these very “gifted” students would be a missed opportunity.

.....Alex Flores, a second year student at Santa Ana and newly elected Associated Student Government President, applied for the scholarship. “I think it’s a great, like the name says opportunity, for students to pursue their education,” he said.
.....Flores is originally from Mexico, but moved to the United States when he was in second grade. He said he’s applying for the scholarship so he can focus on academics. … After he is done with Santa Ana, he plans to go to California State University at Fullerton to study political science. He wants to work in government some day, he said.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Knowing, not knowing, and "confident boobery"

.....A week ago (What Do Americans Know?), Newsweek reported the results of a poll that it conducted that was designed to gauge what “U.S. citizens know on a broad range of topics.”
.....Since we've been focused on American boobery lately, I figured we might take a look at this poll. First, here are some of the poll’s questions and results (correct answers are in bold):

• Do you happen to know the name of the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court?

15 Yes, John Roberts
7 Yes, other name given

77 No/Don't know/Can't name anyone

1 Refused
• As far as you know, what is Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's religion? Is he a Christian, a Muslim, or something else?

61 Christian
13 Muslim

7 Something else

19 Not sure/Refused
• Do you think Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was DIRECTLY involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, or not?

Yes 34

No 56
Don't Know 10
• Which of the following is the TOTAL national debt at this time?

15 About 3 trillion dollars

15 About 5 trillion dollars

22 About 7 trillion dollars

32 More than 9 trillion dollars
16 Don't know
• Which of the following is the holiest place in Islam?

30 Jerusalem

56 Mecca
1 Medina

3 Islamabad

10 Don't know
• Which of the following is NOT a play written by William Shakespeare?

4 Hamlet

4 Macbeth

20 The Merchant of Venice

58 The Crucible
14 Don't know


TRIVIA, SENSE OF PROPORTION:

.....It seems to me that some of Newsweek’s “knowledge” questions were really “trivia” questions: "Which of the following is the most-watched episode ever of a primetime TV series?"

.....Further, this Newsweek bunch seems perfectly happy to mix the unimportant with the important. Surely it is important for Americans to know who the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is. But is it important for Americans to know when TV broadcasts will switch over to digital or just how many children this year will see their parents divorce? Don't think so.

.....At least one of Newsweek's questions was incoherent:

• In which of the following areas do you think stem cell research would be MOST useful?

17 Spinal injuries

4 Brain injuries

2 Blindness

69 In all of these areas
8 Don't know
.....According to Newsweek's pollsters, SC research will be “most" useful in all three of the three areas named.
.....That makes no fucking sense.

.....Some of the poll's results are appalling, I suppose:
• 34% of respondents thought that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the 9-11 attacks, and 10% didn't know. (It is, of course, a crucial fact of our present political reality that many Americans were misled about this by the Bush Administration. How can 44% still be out to lunch?)
• 44% of respondents didn’t know the importance of Mecca to Muslims.

"KNOWING" FALSELY: THE CONFIDENT BOOB FACTOR

.....It’s one thing to not know something and to know that one does not know. It is quite another—it is far worse—to “know” something falsely.
.....With regard to the question of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, 84% didn’t know the answer (John Roberts), but the vast majority of these people knew that they didn’t know. (I'm impressed.) The rate of “false knowing” was only 7%.
.....BUT—now look at many of the other questions. Very often, one finds a very high rate of “false knowing” (i.e., a high rate of confident boobery). For instance, consider this question:

• China and India have the largest armies in the world. Which one of the following countries do you think has the THIRD largest army?


.....I don’t know about you, but I would be very clear that I just don’t know the answer to this question. I could guess (I would have been wrong), but why would I do that? My answer is: I don’t know.
.....Here’s how people answered:
29 North Korea

22 Russia

39 United States

1 Australia

9 Don't know
.....I’m impressed that 29% got this one right. 9% acknowledged their ignorance. Those people are like me.
.....Now, assuming that respondents were aware that they could just say “I don’t know” (is that a bad assumption?), the data here suggest that 62% (i.e., 22+39+1) of respondents had “false knowledge.” 9% knew that they didn't know, but Sixty-freakin'-two percent thought they knew when in fact they did not know.
.....Who are these people? Where do they come from? HOW CAN I AVOID LIVING AMONG THEM?

If Truth is so valuable, why is there so much B.S.?

.....On Saturday, the LA Times wrote about a crazy little Sunday morning radio show—featuring two well-regarded Stanford U professors—called “Philosophy Talk.” (Yeah, these philosophy professors will give it some thought):
.....…It was just another Sunday morning for Ken Taylor and John Perry, who dissect life's big mysteries on "Philosophy Talk," believed to be America's only live weekly call-in radio show dedicated to the philosophical.
.....In this celebrity-soaked era, when Americans seem to spend more time pondering whether Britney Spears' underwear exists than whether God does, these two Stanford philosophy professors take on everything from the weighty to the winsome.
.....On this June morning in the little broadcast booth at KALW-FM (91.7), "Philosophy Talk" tackled the problem of evil—or, as Perry put it, quoting Epicurus: "If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?"
.....They've prodded political correctness, postmodernism and prostitution. They've wondered aloud: "Can science explain consciousness?" "If Truth is so valuable, why is there so much B.S.?" "What are numbers?" "What is a child?"

....."Philosophy Talk" is Perry's brainchild, and a very old child indeed. Until he met Taylor 15 years ago, he said, "I couldn't get any other suitable partner who didn't think it was a completely loony idea. . . . Unlike me, Ken not only has ideas, but he acts on them."
.....Which is probably why the two men began working together. They got seed money from Stanford, made two pilots and sent them to KQED, San Francisco's top-shelf public radio station. They were unceremoniously turned down. [The second-shelf public radio station, however, accepted.]

.....The show began airing weekly in January 2004 and has since been picked up by Oregon Public Radio, which airs Taylor and Perry statewide. They can be heard on stations in New York, Louisiana, Colorado and British Columbia, and on KUCR in Riverside. Listeners everywhere can tune in online at www.philosophytalk.org.

.....Taylor: "I think that our culture, our public discourse especially, is utterly debased. . . . It's meant to manipulate rather than enlighten and inform. . . . It's a disease that we've caught. Philosophy is one elixir, one magical elixir for helping to cure that disease."
.....Perry: "Ken, I knew Socrates. And you're no Socrates. But we do our best."
.....Taylor: "Think of our first episode: Bush's doctrine of preemptive self-defense. A doctrine is supposed to be kind of a systematic body of evidence and belief that kind of hangs together. . . . But that so-called doctrine is a bunch of, well . . ."
.....Perry: "Hooey."
.....Taylor: "Yeah."

.....It was [one listener’s] query about animals and the evil they endure that led to the most spirited exchange among Taylor, Perry and their guest this day, University of Colorado philosophy professor Michael Tooley.
.....Tooley: "If [God] created a being that's capable of suffering and then put it in a sort of hellish world where it would suffer almost all the time, it would seem to me to be morally wrong . . . "
.....Perry: "Maybe God created us to be the kings and queens of creation, but do we really want to worship a God who created so much suffering among animals? . . . "
.....Taylor: "There's two different possible conclusions: One is, there isn't a God. At least there isn't a benevolent, all-knowing, all-perfect God. And one is, even if there is a God, it is not worth our worshiping him . . . So Michael, which is it?"
.....The short answer? There is no short answer….
LA OBSERVED has taken notice of Orange Coast magazine's "best of" issue, highlighting its choice of "best columnist" (Frank Mickadeit). But it also mentions OC's "best literary blog," namely, the REB's The Mark on the Wall.

Check it out: The Morning Reading: Independence Day

• For a horror story about a Massachusetts community college, go to ‘Reign of Terror’ at MassBay? (in this morning's Inside Higher Ed).

• For some fun, see "Bill-O's rant remix" video on Keith Olbermann's site: Remix of O'Reilly

• This week's Guardian Science Weekly podcast concerns women in physics, dark matter, and the underappreciated Alfred Henry Wallace.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Give cats & dogs the vote; Walter Knott video

.....Yesterday, I posted about the cluelessness of voters. The evidence clearly suggests that many or even most American voters are sans clue. This seems to be especially true among the so-called "Republican base," a remarkably stupid group.
.....But among our sacred cows as Americans is the notion that voting is good; not voting is bad. Somehow, how one votes—whether, for instance, one is informed or rational—doesn’t matter.
.....This way of thinking is like some kind of New Age philosophy, seems to me. It's about feeling good and ignoring reality.

.....Generally, if there is a way to increase voting rates, people are immediately for it.
.....—Unless, of course, they foresee that their political party will be hurt. Then, all of a sudden, the issue of voter competence, among others, arises. They get all logical.
.....And, of course, if your party sees a benefit, it’ll be especially enthusiastic about the measure. The "competence" argument and every other argument will be rebutted.

16- AND 17-YEAR-OLD VOTERS?

.....In today’s San Francisco Chronicle (State Republicans cool to youth-voting bills), we learn of some (California) Assembly bills “designed to bring more young people into the voting booths”:
.....One of the measures would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to "preregister" to vote, while the other would allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they will be 18 by the date of the next general election. Both bills have prompted straight party-line votes, with no hint of GOP support.
.....While Democrats sponsoring the bills say they are merely good-government measures, studies show that their party would get a major election-day boost if more young voters cast ballots.
.....Republican Anthony Adams opposes the bills essentially because, he argues, when you’re young, you’re clueless:
....."I'm a pretty conservative guy now, but when I was 17 I was a raging liberal," Adams said. "You start to see problems as you get older. As you get older, you get wiser."

....."Our concern is that we want an informed and worldly electorate, and here we have these kids in high school and they're trying to get a grasp of the world," Adams said. "The assumption is that they're not able to make informed decisions, so we have to have a legitimate cutoff" date.
.....Naturally, California Democrats, including Assemblyman Gene Mullin, see the matter differently. Young people are often more informed, he says:
....."These young people are in school and hearing discussions of issues in their classes," he said. "Republicans are afraid we're going to register a lot of Democrats, but most teenagers tend to register in the party of their parents."

.....The Democratic bills would not give a boost to Republicans, Democrats or any other group, said Assemblyman Curren Price Jr., D-Inglewood…"This is a step we can take to encourage voting involvement at an early age," he said. "People who get involved at a young age are more likely to become regular voters."

.....Price described his bill as "a way of tapping into the interest young people have expressed this year," while not mentioning that much of that excitement was bolstering Democratic campaign efforts….
REVIEWING THE LOGIC:

.....Let’s review some of the above reasoning, shall we?

.....Republican Adams opposes the new measures because (1) when one is young, one is unwise; wisdom is acquired only much later in life, and voters should be wise; (2) when one is young, one is liable to be attracted to liberalism.
.....But if Adams’ first point were correct, then shouldn’t Adams be advocating, not just preventing 17-year-old voting, but raising the voting age substantially? Obviously. How come he isn’t doing that? Make sense, man.
.....During the Democratic primary, we kept hearing that, the older the voter, the more likely he/she supported Clinton over Obama. Surely (I say half-jokingly), this refutes Adams’ point about wisdom and age!
.....That the young are attracted to liberalism, if true, is irrelevant, of course, unless it can be established that liberalism is “wrong” and non-liberalism is “right.” Tsk, tsk.

.....Democrat Mullin counters the Republican arguments and position by arguing that (1) young people are often more informed that their elders; (2) no, the new voters will not be especially Democratic, since teenagers tend to register in the party of their parents.
.....Mullin is full of shit. The notion that young people are especially informed flies in the face of the facts provided by endless polls. That teenagers tend to register in the party of their parents does not counter the Republican worry (that there will be more Dems than Repubs registering), since, obviously there are more Dems than Repubs among existing parent/voters. C’mon.
.....(Of course, the Republican "worry" isn't an argument. We cannot reject a measure that increases voting rates on the grounds that we dislike how the new voters vote!)

.....Mr. Price argues, apparently, that the measures are good because they will increase voting rates in the long run. But, of course, this assumes that increasing voting rates per se is a good thing. There's that sacred cow again. I may be a vegetarian, but that's one cow that oughta be slaughtered.
.....Further, Price's point ignores the “competence” point that seems to be at the heart of the Republican position. (Maybe Price deals with it elsewhere. Dunno.)

.....My own view is that the Republicans have a point: much evidence indicates that young voters are especially clueless. But since the vast majority of voters—especially Republican voters—are already profoundly clueless and vulnerable to various irrationalities (e.g., pursuing incompatible measures), we're just squabbling about how to arrange the deck chairs on this electoral Titanic.
.....So, in my opinion, we should give dogs and cats the vote. No age limit.

WALTER KNOTT ON VIDEO:

.....I happened across a brief video—looks like it was produced in the early or mid-60s—promoting Knott’s Berry Farm, the amusement park, and the politics of its creator, Walter Knott. It starts with a few seconds of typical right-wingery from Walter that will be of interest to local history buffs. (Go to O.C. History Roundup.)
.....Knott, who died in 1982 (at age 93), was an important figure in the development of Orange County as a “bastion of conservatism.” He was an important early supporter of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.
.....He was also a John Bircher. Scary dude.

GEORGE CARLIN CONTRA THE PUBLIC; CONTRA VOTING

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary