Thursday, October 11, 2007

Comments re: Duke Prof Starn's Reply

I’m going to respond to all but two of the comments on the thread of Duke Prof Starn's Reply as of 9 P. M. Eastern tonight. One of the two comments I’ve now just deleted because it was from a troll. The other comment I won’t respond to here. I’ll treat it in a separate post: “Troll or What?”

Look for it tomorrow.

Since in the weeks to come I’ll be returning to the Starn matter often, your comments on the thread are very worthwhile as regards their current content and for what they allow me to say that “lays pipe” for future posts.

Let’s begin with reader comments in italics and my responses in plain.

DukeEgr93 said...

I have discovered in all this that Provost Lange and Dean Thompson were two people who would always respond fully to e-mails I sent them, even when I went non-linear, and they were both willing to disagree without being disagreeable. I also felt pretty good about my conversation with Anne Allison, despite how the Chronicle of Higher Ed may have characterized it.

My guess, though, is that your moderate, but probing, e-mail is in the midst of dozens/hundreds or more vitriolic communications and may not find a response from her. Perhaps especially when one of her full faculty members tells her not to care...

Your right so far regarding Allison not responding.

Ken in Dallas said:


"You flatter yourself if you think...."

The man appears to be high strung.

I bow to your comment.

Anonymous @ 11:24 PM

Actually, this man is probably being STRUNG out... by colleagues and critics.

I think we should let them Duke it out on their own for awhile; they're gonna end up shooting each other. It will save us the bullets and the trouble, and quit feeding their blogomania.

When I was at Duke I didn't know any professors who did what Starn did and refused to correct it and apologize. I’m not saying it didn’t happen. But I didn't see it.

Faculty friends tell me what Starn did is now common. His reply certainly indicates Starn believes his friend, the department chair, … folks, you know the rest of what I'm going to say.

AC @ 12:21 AM,

I think many times in our society we have to look to our children to interpret confusing situations.

My six year old says this means: Neener neeer I can't hear you.

Wonder if this guy fell for Fish's paper too?

Starn is certainly not trying to disprove my demonstration of how he went about creating a deliberate misrepresention of what Coach K said.

Anon @ 12: 33 AM,

A. C.

?? interpret please??

I hope AC explains the Fish reference. He may be referring to a Hoax that then Duke Professor Stanley Fish and others fell for. It was a satire of PC baloney submitted as a journal article which Fish & Co. didn’t catch. They published it in an academic journal hosted by Duke.

Jim in San Diego @ 1: 46 AM

Prof Starn seems secure in the knowledge he is untouchable. This subsitutes, apparently, for intellectual honesty in his world.

No JinC comment necessary.

Jim in San Diego @1:51 AM

What does Coach K think? Has he ever said anything about the mischaracterization of his statement? I bet if Coach K complained to Provost Lange, for example, someone would pay attention.

Starn at the time he made the false statement was re-inventing himself as a “sports anthropologist,” and taking a year’s leave to finish a book related to sports.

What good would a back-and-forth with Starn have done Coach K?

On the other hand, what sort of attention might it have brought Starn? (“Our guest tonight, Duke Professor Orin Starn, recently challenged Coach K over his remarks about ……”)

What would be Prof Starn's reaction to a serious misquotation of his own views by a prominent member of the Duke faculty, I wonder? Would Prof Allison then care about the issue? Just asking rhetorical questions, I guess.

Yup, and you can guess my responses.

Anonymous @2:13 AM

I continue to be impressed by your efforts. How challenging Starn is compared to beating a dead horse I do not know. (Folks, Anon @ 2:13 AM is referring to something the commenter I’ll respond to tomorrow said.) His email response is further evidence of who and what he is.

Even if exposing the faculty at Duke has no effect, documentation is still invaluable. As with your work with Churchill.

Thanks on all your points, especially noting that documentation is important. Without it we deprive ourselves of reliable recall and any chance to learn from the past.

Anonymous @ 6:48 AM

It seems that being put on a Duke faculty member's spam filter list is their way of "punishing" different bloggers. I view it as the new way of "being tapped for Bones." Sadly, I've never qualified!

I’m sure they tell themselves their spam filters are to keep out the unworthy but most of them just don’t want to face reasoned, fact-based commentary.

As for “tapped for Bones,” some reading this may not know it’s a secret society at Yale into which only a relatively few undergrads are “tapped” for membership.

It’s so secret, folks, that I’ve just told you everything I know about it. So don’t ask me for more information about it, or I’ll turn on my spam filter.

JeffM @ 6:16 PM

Starn believes that HIS words are worth putting out in front of the public, but he hides behind his friends and his contempt for any who dare to disagree when someone else's words rebut his.

Yes, and in the process reveals to intelligent and reflective people more of himself than he realizes.

Enoch 8:30 PM

Of interest is Dr. Starn's implication that Allison will not be interested in his attacks on a fellow member of the Duke community because of her personal friendship with Dr. Starn.

At one level, Dr. Starn's letter reads like a tween dweeb suggesting that "we are friends" and therefore you are on the outside. Dr. Starn's emotional maturity is not really at issue here. What is at issue is his belief that his corrupt actions in attacking coach K will not be examined because of his friendships. It's a classic cover-up.
I wonder if Broadhead is ok with this kind of clubby corruption. Or if Allison is quite so sanguine about her "friendship" and the resulting get out of jail free card for Starn.

I’m glad your comment came last on the thread. I’m tired now and your comment is well-stated and says things with which I agree.

So it’s easy to say, “Right enough,” and sign off.

I’ll add one last thing though, for you and all the rest of us: Regarding Allison, have you ever heard the expression “Silence speaks?”


Anonymous said...

Someone at the Chronicle message board used Starn's response to you to appropriately illustrate:

"Many Duke Professors have made it very clear they don't like some students and alumni. All you have to do is read their own words."

I don't know how to do a link. Under "For Alums, Inaction of Profs and Admins Frustrating" 10/10 11:27PM (21st comment?). It also notes that you love Duke and are always polite.