The series of posts by IAM, Academic Earthquake Part 1 and Part 2 on Asa Kahser’s Academic Code of Conduct, were accepted for distribution by the Academia-IL Network, a forum dedicated to academic-related issues. Part 3 however, was rejected by the webmaster who censored it, so far without any explanation. Should an explanation arrive we would notify our readers.
These posts have elicited a few comments including by emeritus professor Uzzi Ornan from the Technion. Professor Ornan questioned why we use English in our posts instead of Hebrew. He then proceeded to hypothesize that we wrote about the Ethics Code of Kasher in English to bring it to the attention of “foreigners living in other countries, perhaps in order to create a ‘foreign influence’ on what is happening here.”
To answer Ornan, since its inception in 2004, IAM has published in English because Israeli social science research is conducted by and large in English.
But if Professor Ornan is truly concerned about “foreign influence,” he should have paid heed to two posts by Prof. Alon Harel on the same subject. On June 9, Harel wrote that "reporting on the Code of Ethics has also reached the most famous legal blog of Brian Leiter." Harel suggested to his readers to "distribute the post of this blog abroad, it is important to arrange translation of the Ethics Code into English in order to recruit people around the world to raise a cry." Harel did not say how Leiter heard of the Ethics Code but Leiter himself disclosed that "legal scholar and philosopher Alon Harel (Hebrew U) wrote to me." In his second post, on June 24, Harel wrote, "Professor Cary Nelson who in the past headed also the American Association of Law Professors asked me to distribute this document which was approved by the Alliance for Academic Freedom." We would suggest that Professor Ornan complain to Harel about his effort to create “foreign influence.”
Indeed, the academic debate on ethics code does not address the issue of low standards in the social science and the linkage to academic activism. Notably, academic authorities have allowed some social science departments to hire activist scholars, as noted by the International Evaluation Committee of the BGU department of Politics and Government which reported to this effect:
"In the original report, which covered a five-year period, only a couple of articles of all faculty members combined were published in leading political science journals. During the whole period examined approximately 30 articles were published by faculty members in political science journals covered by Thomson ISI." The report then questioned the quality of teaching, "But the strong emphasis on “community activism” emphasized by the Department raises at least two questions. First, are students receiving a sufficiently rigorous foundation in the discipline of politics and government to equip them with a necessary grounding in the important ideas and understandings common to the subject and the discipline? At the moment, the committee sees major weaknesses with regard to the Department’s core discipline of Political Science which need to be addressed immediately. Second, is there a balance of views in the curriculum and the classroom? Particularly, political science instructors should see to it that their own opinions are expressed as personal views so that students can take a critical perspective and that there is a broad exposure to alternative perspectives in order to widen and deepen their own understanding."
Poor academic standards would not have been tolerated in sciences and engineering, something that the Technion-based Ornan is probably aware of. Why should they be tolerated in the social sciences?