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I don't mean to be trollish, but it should come as no surprise that among the most alienated, lonely, and frankly, silenced people on today's college campuses are conservative faculty members. Perhaps it might be more appropriate to save this blog as a place free of politics. This space should be welcoming even to those who are constantly reminded that their deplorableness needs to be mitigated and something must be done about them.

Marcus Arvan

KZC: thanks for your comment. This is an issue that I have struggled with for a long time as blogger and moderator, and I have mostly avoided politics on this blog. But, for the very reasons you give, I don't think avoiding politics is the way to go. If we cannot discuss politics *together* in a respectful way--if we just retreat to echo chambers--I fear that we have little hope of making a better world: one where people, among other things, don't feel so isolated or silenced. The Cocoon aims to be open and welcoming to all. If you or anyone else would like to provide counterpoints to the posts here, including perhaps by submitting an anonymous post explaining how isolated, lonely, and silenced you feel (and why), then--provided the post otherwise confirmed to the blog's mission--it would be welcomed here. The Cocoon is a place for *all* who are willing to approach discussion in a supportive spirit to engage with one another respectfully.


Marcus, Thanks for replying. I wish I could take you up on your offer, but I am probably not the right person for the job. I personally do not hold strong political leanings and was not particularly disappointed by the elections, nor was I particularly excited (nor did I vote for either candidate). I am pretty sympathetic with arguments that both sides have made and I can really see both of their points of view, and then some. I feel both sides are hurting. But I have noticed that discussion on my (generally average, I think) campus is at a point where one either expresses anger and disappointment at the results of the election or one gets insulted. Being someone who is happy to discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of both candidates, I realized pretty quickly, is a recipe for rapidly losing friends. So I was left with the choice of staying friendly with my department and students and keeping quiet and just listening to my colleges lament the election and insult half the country, or foisting my own questions/challenges/views on them. I chose the former. I still need tenure, and I am not particularly confrontational.
I feel like the conditions for free discussion, of the kind Mill begged us to keep open, are just closed. I have never felt less comfortable as an academic as I do now.

Sara L. Uckelman

I am a logician. What am I planning to do? One concrete thing is that when my daughter is a few years older (she just started school, so a wee bit young), I'm planning to volunteer at her school to run an afterschool logic club.

I know that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink, but if you don't provide any water at all, then the horse definitely won't be able to drink. I can at least provide people with opportunities, early on, to learn how to think and reason critically.


That's awesome, Sara! Great idea. Do you have resources for teaching logic to children that you can point to?

Henry Lara

I have been thinking about this post for a couple days now, partly because it echoes my reply to Helen's post before, and partly because I happened to teach informal logic/critical reasoning this semester (as a TA). It's worth to question our main assumption, viz. that were people to engage in critical (logical) reasoning they would have voted/acted/feel different. I know this can provoke strong responses; as I remarked elsewhere, for the first time in +15 years of living in the US (including 4 in military service), I feel like "the other". What's more, the more I dwell on it, the more I feel that my skin tone, and that of my mixed race children, is only part of that sense of otherness. My beliefs, or how I think about things, is likely the other half. On any case, shouldn't we assume, at least as a start point, that there may be something valid in the other side(s) reasoning? Even if we conclude there is not, it is still worth thinking about, if only to help us make sense of things.

Sara L. Uckelman

Tom: I don't (yet), but I am planning to make use of http://www.logic-puzzles.org/ !

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