Thousands of people have registered to attend a geophysicist’s remote lecture hosted by Princeton — after MIT canceled his initial one when a woke “Twitter mob” waged a war against him over his views on merit-based college admissions.
Dorian Abbot, an associate professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, last week slammed MIT for caving to cancel culture after his upcoming public lecture on climate and the potential for life on other planets was axed.
Abbot said MIT told him they were canceling the lecture to “avoid controversy” after students and recent alumni demanded he be uninvited because he’d recently argued academic evaluations should be based on merit.
In the wake of the fallout, Princeton University decided to host Abbot’s lecture via Zoom on Oct. 21 – the same day it was scheduled to take place at MIT.
Princeton professor Robert P. George, who publicly backed Abbot last week, tweeted Sunday that they had already had to increase the quota for attendees because of demand.
“I’m delighted to report that we’ve expanded the Zoom quota for Dr Dorian Abbot’s Princeton lecture –the one shockingly and shamefully canceled by MIT — and literally thousands of people have registered,” George said.
The saga involving Abbot erupted when he revealed in an op-ed on Bari Weiss’ Substack last week that MIT had canceled his Carlson Lecture – an annual public event hosted by the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.
Abbot accused MIT of relenting to a Twitter mob that came after him over recent arguments he’d made about college admissions that were unrelated to his science lecture.
He and Stanford University professor Ivan Marinovic had argued in a Newsweek op-ed published in August that current diversity efforts — known as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — at universities violated equal treatment.
Instead, they proposed a framework called Merit, Fairness, and Equality where “university applicants are treated as individuals and evaluated through a rigorous and unbiased process based on their merit and qualifications alone.”
“A small group of ideologues mounted a Twitter campaign to cancel a distinguished science lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology because they disagreed with some of the political positions the speaker had taken. And they were successful within eight days,” Abbot said.
“The fact that such stories have become an everyday feature of American life should do nothing to diminish how shocking they are, and how damaging they are to a free society.
“The fact that MIT, one of the greatest universities in the world, caved in so quickly will only encourage others to deploy this same tactic.”
Abbot said he was also previously targeted by graduate students in his own department after he started advocating last year for “academic freedom and merit-based evaluations.”
Those students had tried to get his teachings restricted but were overruled by University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer, who issued a statement in support of free speech for faculty, Abbot said.
An MIT spokesperson told The Post in a statement last week that the public lecture wasn’t being held this year “at the discretion of the department.”
They added that Abbot was instead invited to present his scientific work on MIT’s campus solely to students and faculty instead of in a wider public forum.
“We felt that with the current distractions we would not be in a position to hold an effective outreach event,” Professor Robert van der Hilst, who is head of the MIT department, said in a statement.
“I made this decision at my discretion, after consulting with faculty and students in the department, and knowing that some might mistake it as an affront on academic freedom — a characterization I do not agree with.”
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