Fact-Checking David Horowitz

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From the moment in February that David Horowitz’s new book appeared, scholars have been poking at it, identifying errors and what they consider to be distortions (even as Horowitz was praised by many conservative talk show hosts, who have helped him boost sales).

Today, a coalition of academic and civil liberties groups is releasing a more detailed analysis of the Horowitz book,The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. In “Facts Count,” the debunking document being released today, Horowitz’s book is slammed as “sloppy in the extreme.” The analysis also says that the details included in the book suggest that Horowitz is not concerned with the students he says he is trying to protect, but is actually trying to punish professors whose views he doesn’t like.

Among the findings in “Facts Count":

Horowitz does not cite a single example of a student having his or her grade changed because of political views — despite his repeated statements that the “Academic Bill of Rights” is needed to prevent such grade punishment. (That bill would bar such grade changes and would also require that a range of views be taught — a measure many professors say would require them to teach intelligent design or Holocaust denial, or risk getting sued.)...

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Adam Holland - 9/18/2006

I think that Horowitz SHOULD be fact-checked. His rhetoric is sometimes extreme and inapt, and his targets sometimes innocent of his charges. Some of his charges are based on what appears to be deliberate distortions, taking words out of context, and associating academics with the beliefs of others with whom they disagree but have some association. He's a partisan spinner: a propagandist, not an investigative journalist. He sometimes defends his errors by stating that he HASN'T fact-checked his own books, much of which seem to be written by others. This is the best argument for fact-checking his stuff. SOMEBODY should do it.

However, I just don't buy the argument that he's battling a non-existent problem. Bias in academia is real. Students and faculty are harmed by it. Proving that grades have been altered to punish a student's political beliefs should not be the standard by which we judge whether professors' bias harms students. It sounds like a difficult charge to prove in any event.

Horowitz is not the best person to evaluate the biases of others, but, this job needs to be done.

John Edward Philips - 9/17/2006

That went out in the 60s. This is the 21st century.

I've seen professors try to shove their ideas down students throats. It always backfires. You can't order people to think like you. Even in the USSR they never forced people to think one way. You can't. If you force students to parrot your opinions on tests you only make them hate you.

Vernon Clayson - 5/15/2006

John Edward Philips has a point but he doesn't consider how pliable and adaptive students can be. Irrespective of the testing method of an individual professor or instructor, students will provide a response conclusive of what they believe the instructor wants to hear.
It's kind of an in loco parentis thing, they listen but don't take much of it with them and hardly sophisticated, only the easily swayed actully take a lifelong interest with them from an instructor's ideology. Most students are more interested in that knockout classmate than they are the instructor's political hype.

John Edward Philips - 5/15/2006

"Horowitz does not cite a single example of a student having his or her grade changed because of political views"

Wouldn't that change be the essence of the problem, if one existed? You only point out the presence of some radical professors, as if the mere presence of professors who disagree with your politics constitutes the problem. I think you, not the professors, are the problem.

Vernon Clayson - 5/10/2006

Strange how the fact checkers are looking for incidentals rather than whether the remarks he makes about various professors and schools is libelous. Tom Hayden a university professor? Angela Davis a sought after intellectual?