April 5, 2009

Fish ferociously flubs

Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the ground after reading Stanley Fish's latest piece, wherein he argues that because some substantive academic arguments are heated, we should see through the University of Colorado faculty committee's misreading of a typical scholarly debate as research misconduct. One can make a number of plausible arguments about the university's response to the committee report (e.g., that it ignored the majority's view that the appropriate punishment was a demotion and suspension, not firing), but to claim that the committee erred while passing off the sleight-of-mouth that he admitted being "not competent to judge Churchill's writings" is just astounding. If a peer committee with more expertise in the area than Fish is not competent to judge research misconduct in such a case, who should be allowed to pass judgment? 

There are other fallacies in the piece: Fish's defense of Churchill doesn't match the central argument the jury was exposed to (political bias and pressure motivating administrators), and I still don't understand why it should matter to the University of Colorado that Doris Kearns Goodwin is still making moolah after admitting plagiarism. Dick Cheney is still earning a pension after encouraging torture. Would that excuse my waterboarding a neighbor? Sheesh.

In protest of this illogic, I am going to exile myself from Florida for a week to Minnesota.

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Tags: plagiarism, research ethics, Stanley Fish, Ward Churchill
Posted in Higher education on April 5, 2009 10:20 PM |