I posted the following to an alumni group’s Facebook page in response to a post that cited this article and invited alumni to ask the school’s president to disinvite Schmitt.
I have difficulty believing there is a serious movement to disinvite Dr. Harrison Schmidt as commencement speaker. Heâ€™s an astronaut whoâ€™s explored — as a trained geologist — another planet, on foot. If heâ€™s wrong about climate science, well, he wonâ€™t be the first person to demonstrate the Dunning Kruger effect. Iâ€™m think in particular of a physics professor who was determined to bring back punched card media for his simulation software.
But more than that, I am appalled that the professors at Tech are failing to teach their students that Science is not a collection of orthodoxies that must not be questioned. When I went to Tech, I heard from my petroleum engineering friends that one of the geology faculty refused to subscribe to the theory of plate tectonics. I donâ€™t know if that was true, but it was believable because people were allowed to hold unpopular opinions. When I was at Tech, we read â€œThe Structure of Scientific Revolutionsâ€ and learned the big problem in science is overcoming the informal orthodoxies that creep in despite our best intentions. We watched Carl Saganâ€™s â€œCosmosâ€ and shook our heads at the medieval clergy who treated Galileo as a heretic and refused to look through his telescope.
But worst, I think, is the boorish gauchery of disinviting a speaker from an event after the invitation had been made and accepted. What kind of people would even consider it? A few years ago, I thought President Trump was 50% vulgarian, 50% clown, and 100% reality show personality. Today, Iâ€™m afraid he embodies the spirit of our age. The idea that Techies would outdo him in classlessness… itâ€™s #Sad.