Hoisted from U.S. State Department Archives: Tony Blair Screws the Pooch in Spring 2002 More Massively than I Would Ever Have Believed

Weekend Reading: Stephen Pinker: How My Mind Works

A correspondent sends me: Stephen Pinker (2013): How My Mind Works

Let me underscore how profoundly uninterested I am in vain and flailing attempts to defend Pinker in comments. That's a rapid road toward getting you out of here. To repeat myself:

Don't hit on students. No matter how much you think you are a nice guy, they can never know whether or not you are threatening to withhold the grades, letters, and mentoring they deserve if they don't come across. To put any young person in such a position is the act of a real asshole. And you are probably less of a nice guy than you think you are.

Professor Edwin Ervin [sic]
Department of Philosophy   University of Miami 
Miami, FL 

June 13, 2013 

Dear Professor Ervin [sic],

I join you and other scholars, writers, and activists in protesting the threat of dismissal of a brilliant and distinguished scholar, Colin McGinn, from the University of Miami for apparently nothing more serious than exchanging sexual banter with a graduate student.

Even if the University had a clear policy that regulated communications  between professor and student, the punishment is ludicrously disproportionate to the alleged offense. As well as harming the reputation and intellectual quality of the University of Miami, such an action would put a chill on communication between faculty and graduate students and on the openness and informality on which  scholarship depends.  

If the dismissal proceeds, I will certainly bring it up with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, on whose advisory board I sit.  

Feel free to circulate this letter, and to add my name to any list of McGinn’s supporters.  


Stephen Pinker