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Censorship Education

MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin 416

jIyajbe writes MIT is indefinitely removing retired physics faculty member Walter Lewin's online lectures from MIT OpenCourseWare and online MITx courses from edX, the online learning platform co-founded by MIT, following a determination that Dr. Lewin engaged in online sexual harassment in violation of MIT policies. For an example of Lewin's colorful style, see this YouTube video. MIT has also revoked Lewin's title as professor emeritus, after the school determined that he "had sexually harassed at least one student online."
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MIT Removes Online Physics Lectures and Courses By Walter Lewin

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  • Just wondering... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:33PM (#48574509)

    What does the professor's "on-line harassment" have to do with the quality and / or value of his lectures?

    • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:37PM (#48574541) Journal

      He isn't an unperson until all his work goes into the memory hole. That is doubleplusungood.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:36PM (#48575177)

        The alleged victim was a female student in one of his online courses (and she claims he did the same to other students), so he could possibly have held a positifof power over her. Completion of the courses results in a certificate but zero academic credit, and MIT has bragged that thousands enroll in the courses, so the amount of leverage he could have had over her is questionable. But if he was using this MIT program at all to try to pick up women then that is wrong, and it makes sense for MIT to put a stop to it. We don't know exactly what he was doing unless we can read the correspondence in question.

        Most headlines make it sound like he "harassed" strangers online. No, it's a professor allegedly harassing one of his students, and it's not all that special if he did it "over the internet."

      • by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:36PM (#48575179)
        The alleged victim was a female student in one of his online courses (and she claims he did the same to other students), so he could possibly have held a positifof power over her. Completion of the courses results in a certificate but zero academic credit, and MIT has bragged that thousands enroll in the courses, so the amount of leverage he could have had over her is questionable. But if he was using this MIT program at all to try to pick up women then that is wrong, and it makes sense for MIT to put a stop to it. We don't know exactly what he was doing unless we can read the correspondence in question. Most headlines make it sound like he "harassed" strangers online. No, it's a professor allegedly harassing one of his students, and it's not all that special if he did it "over the internet."
      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        Now the Streisand effect has started so now it won't happen.

    • It was probably how he warmed up for lectures.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:39PM (#48574567)

      Nothing at all. I'm sure a little Photoshop work will remove him from any official photos as well. We have always been at war with Eurasia.

    • Just wondering... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nothing, but the institute wants to sever all ties. I do hope that they are replaced with courses of similar quality, but it is perfectly understandable that they want to distance themselves from him.

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:03PM (#48574827)

        Assuming the policies he was judged by are sane (doubtful in today's climate) and the accuser isn't lying (always questionable in guilty-until-proven-innocent systems), sure, but knowledge is knowledge. If the lectures are solid, they should stay up.

        • by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:33PM (#48575155) Journal

          Not to Godwin a discussion, but same argument for the research the Nazis did on twins. Some of it is good, useful information. But nobody will touch it because of its source.

          • by Caesar Tjalbo ( 1010523 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:58PM (#48575411)
            There's a difference between his questionable social behavior and his academic work (which doesn't seem to be in doubt). The problem with Mengele c.s. was that their scientific conduct was abhorrent and with it any scientific results.
          • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:58PM (#48575417) Homepage

            Well perhaps. We used Werner Von Braun's research after all. But the Nazi medical 'research' was uniformly terrible science. It was just plain old sadism.

            • Re:Just wondering... (Score:4, Informative)

              by Megol ( 3135005 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @06:11PM (#48576737)

              Eh... No. Yes many experiments were sadistic but they yielded information that is still used today. One example is how to treat different kinds of bullet wounds*, another how to treat people exposed to cold water** and/or how to increase survival chances if exposed to the same. There are others.

              (* the Nazis simply shot people, added different kinds of contamination and then tried to treat the wounds)
              (** they forced people into ice baths using different kinds of protection for different lengths of time and then tried to keep them alive)

          • Not to Godwin a discussion, but same argument for the research the Nazis did on twins. Some of it is good, useful information. But nobody will touch it because of its source.

            The same happened with the post-war discovery of their research into how immersion in ice-cold water affected humans, by forcing jews to sit immersed in ice-cold tubs (and adding more ice as the ice melted). This started a debate about whether it would be ethical to use the results in studies on how to deal with hypothermia.

          • Not to Godwin a discussion, but same argument for the research the Nazis did on twins. Some of it is good, useful information. But nobody will touch it because of its source.

            ORLY? All the scholarship I have read about the twin research concludes that there was no serious effort at science and that the data that were collected were useless. Do you have any citations to support your assertion that the twin research produced any good scientifically useful data?

        • I could see then wanting to take them down if they are sold, and he makes any money off of the sale. I imagine that he doesn't, but I have no clue how these types of things are handled.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Fwipp ( 1473271 )

      Well, when your professor is sexually harassing you, it /does/ tend to diminish your experience of his lectures.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        That's absolutely false. My French teacher molested me, and I was never happier than when seeing her in the morning.
    • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:46PM (#48574647)

      What does the professor's "on-line harassment" have to do with the quality and / or value of his lectures?

      Because of public scrutiny, which often makes about as much sense as arguments between a 3-year old and their stuffed animals during a tea party.

      Somehow the sharing of educational materials was acceptable yesterday, but today they are tainted because the school does not want to appear to support a sexual predator.

      So instead, an educational institution will censor their own educational materials.

      Makes perfect sense, according to the public.

      • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:55PM (#48574745)

        which often makes about as much sense as arguments between a 3-year old and their stuffed animals during a tea party.

        I'm 51 and find that my stuffed animals can often be quite cogent. Sometimes a parent must simply resort to "because I said so". Also, it helps to stick with decaf tea - especially for the carnivores and animals that spook easily. A hopped-up, jittery, stampeding rhinoceros ruins everyone's day. Then you may have to dart him, etc...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2014 @04:17PM (#48575633)

        Somehow the sharing of educational materials was acceptable yesterday, but today they are tainted because the school does not want to appear to support a sexual predator.

        Or it could be because they were supporting a sexual predator. According to the linked articles, he was harassing students that were taking classes and contacting him about his lectures. The last linked article said they removed him because they did not want to funnel any more students into contacting him and using trust they had for him agains them. This is more about not letting a teacher who is a sexual predator of his students be allowed to teach any more because as long as his lectures were up and students were using them, he was a teacher with a habit of using that position to gain their trust.

      • Choices. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @06:00PM (#48576623) Journal

        Makes perfect sense, according to the public.

        I loved Rolf Harris, I grew up in the 60's watching his show on B&W TV, now he turns my stomach. I've laughed my arse off to Bill Cosby for 40yrs but now I look at him with suspicion. I came across the video in TFA earlier this year and reposted it to FB, now I want to unpost it. These people have made fools of all who applauded them in the past, they were "grooming" everyone, not just the immediate victim. It's human nature to want violent revenge, it's much more civilised to simply have nothing to do with them. So as a grandfather to 3 girls, I say publically ostracising sexual predators for their crimes makes perfect sense, they know the social and legal punishment, they know they will be a target in jail, but they still choose to do it.

        • Re:Choices. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @06:34PM (#48576973) Homepage

          These people have made fools of all who applauded them in the past

          No they haven't. People applauded him because he was brilliant onstage giving physics lectures, not because they thought his sex life was exemplary. Nobody is perfect, and I'm sure we most of us have secrets that we wouldn't want anyone to know about. His were just worse. His physics lectures are still as good as they were yesterday.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday December 11, 2014 @06:13PM (#48576755) Homepage Journal

        Keeping his videos online benefits him. He can point out to other employers that MIT host videos of his lectures. He can point to the number of hits they get on the site. It's thin but it's also quite real, and sometimes making a point or taking a stand is worth doing if it deters others.

    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:51PM (#48574703)
      I suppose the point is to deter other would-be harassers by sending a message that MIT will not associate with them.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:58PM (#48574785)

        At the expense of all the students who could learn from the materials that don't contain anything harassing.

        • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:12PM (#48574949) Homepage Journal

          That was my argument in the last discussion about the twin experiments. Schutstaffel scientists did a bunch of experiments on Jews and gained a lot of medical data; someone informed me that using such data would be unethical, as it is disrespectful to the victims and their survivors.

          My response was that we should just take the results of the experiments, and burn the people who actually performed the experiments in a giant oven. Anyone who suppresses life-saving knowledge should have those same experiments performed on them, so that they can experience what they have made others experience: if you have medical knowledge useful to stop some horrible disease, and you suppress it, someone is going to suffer that horrible disease because you are an asshole, and so you should be punished for bringing harm and suffering and death upon the innocent.

          It makes sense. Some people did bad things, and they should be executed for those bad things. We learned things from those bad things, but the things we learned are not the cause of those bad things.

          So this dude fucked some schoolgirls. So what? Fire him. Did his course material fuck any schoolgirls? No? Then keep that.

          • by ravenshrike ( 808508 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @04:34PM (#48575769)

            The issue with the Nazi medical experiments is that their methodology was utter shite. This means that figuring out what data is good vs what data is bad would be very difficult to say the least. You will see that we had no problem using the data from Unit 731. Why? Because they actually understood the scientific method.

            • Can we at least keep the part where we burn the unethical torture technicians in a giant oven? I'm pretty solid on that part.
          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

            That's how it works in real life. I suffer from Reiter's Syndrome. Dr. Reiter is a war criminal and was punished for his crimes, but the research he did on my condition is still used. Okay, it wasn't part of the crimes he committed, but it wasn't discarded because it helps people like me.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yes, at their expense. You can blame MIT, or you can blame the person who committed the crime.
          MIT does not want to associate with this person in any way.
          Leaving his material up, maintains that association.
          They have no interest in being associated with him and no obligation to maintain one.

          It's not like his course material is a unique and rare thing that can't be found someplace.
          Lots of physics material and lectures available all over the place.
          I'm certain the students can find alternatives with little effo

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by lgw ( 121541 )

            Basically the guy committed a crime the University found so horrible they are tossing him and his stuff to the curb.
            I really don't see the complaint here. Should the University be forced to maintain a relationship with him?
            Who else should be forced to continue to interact with him?

            Alan Turing.

            Let's keep useful knowledge separate from what any culture-and-decade happens to find bad behavior. Rumor has it that a lot of work attributed to Shannon was actually Turing's work, that the UK government didn't want associated with some gay guy.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday December 11, 2014 @06:21PM (#48576845) Homepage Journal

              Hardly comparable. Even in Turing's time there were many who thought there was nothing wrong with homosexuality. There was no victim, no-one was hurt by homosexuals forming consensual relationships.

              It is pretty unlikely that sexual harassment will ever be considered okay in the future. It's an assault on another person.

              • Re:Just wondering... (Score:4, Interesting)

                by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @06:44PM (#48577093) Journal

                That misses the point. I can't tell you what future generations will point to as our moral failings and condemn us for, but it's certain there will be many things. Every generation is certain they've got the right view of every moral issue, and that all of those past centuries were barbaric and wrong. Why would that pattern ever change?

                If his lectures are good (and it seems that they are), they stand aside from his (un)professional conduct.

        • Re:Just wondering... (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2014 @04:23PM (#48575681)

          MIT OCW has the same courses covered by other professors, and Lewin's lectures are still readily available online as they are CC licensed.

        • They have no choice here. The lectures and the material belongs to the offender, nobody can take over the same material and teach the course unless Lewin agrees with that and even in this case the strong image of the offender, due to the nature of the lectures will still stick to the whole courses no matter how good they are. MIT must first protect its respectability, second send a strong message to anyone else that may be on the slippery road within its staff. The material is unusable, unfortunately. The c
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:02PM (#48574813) Homepage Journal

      What does the professor's "on-line harassment" have to do with the quality and / or value of his lectures?

      Nothing. The Institute apparently thinks he's a scumbag and doesn't want to be associated with him, which is their right.

      Looking at the lecture, it doesn't seem to be all that special by MIT standards. Everyone there takes at least two semesters of physics, and Physics 8.01, which almost everyone takes in their first semester on campus, is probably the largest course taught. There's a long tradition of lecture showmanship in 8.01, with varying degrees of success. A friend of mine once saw Henry Kendall almost knock himself out with a bowling ball pendulum. He was explaining how the pendulum would only return at most to the point it was released from, but because he was talking he didn't notice that instead of just releasing the pendulum, he'd given it a little push, which was supposed to be the *next* demo. Kendall had to dive out of the way at the last second.

      • Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

        by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @04:37PM (#48575807)

        Nothing. The Institute apparently thinks he's a scumbag and doesn't want to be associated with him, which is their right.

        Prove it! I spent over 30 minutes searching for any actual evidence of sexual harassment and found nothing but conjecture. So you have false accusations that result in life ruining decisions (Duke LaCrosse) and real issues that Universities cover up (Penn. State). Why would they treat this guy like the LaCrosse team? Oh, it suits an agenda... Connect the dots man, it's really not that hard.

        • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

          by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday December 11, 2014 @06:26PM (#48576887) Homepage Journal

          http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014... [mit.edu]

          "The investigation followed MIT protocol for complaints of sexual harassment. The head of the physics department, Professor Peter Fisher, ensured an objective and timely review, which included a review of detailed materials provided by the complainant and interviews of her and Lewin.

          Based on its investigation, MIT has determined that Lewinâ(TM)s behavior toward the complainant violated the Instituteâ(TM)s policy on sexual harassment."

          There was an investigation, there was evidence, and they came to a conclusion. I suppose you could suggest that the investigation was flawed somehow, but you are not in a position to review or challenge it and the only man who is hasn't attempted to.

    • by pitchpipe ( 708843 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:02PM (#48574825)
      Time to toss Richard Wagner's works seeing as how he was a racist [wikipedia.org].

      Or ... we could toss the people who makes decisions like this out on their ass, which is a much better idea. These fucking people are out of control.

      • Time to toss Richard Wagner's works seeing as how he was a racist.

        Richard Wagner is dead.

        Lewin is alive and at 78 years old was caught sexually harassing an MIT online student 50 years his junior. In the old days a man like this would have been quietly put out to pasture before his senility caused his school any further embarrassment.

        Or ... we could toss the people who makes decisions like this out on their ass, which is a much better idea.

        If you are not a sexually responsible adult you have no business being on the physical or online campus. It doesn't matter if you are the frat boy, the jerk jock, the twenty year uber-geek or the eighty year old professor emeritus.

        • by s.petry ( 762400 )

          Caught doing what exactly? Saying "Look honey, you are going to have to study." at which the student took offense to the term "honey" and filed a sexual harassment charge? There is nothing reported on either the allegation or the alleged 2 month investigation. Nothing, Zero, Zip, NADA!

          Is your ESP so good that you know he should be put out to pasture, or can you share actual charges and evidence with the rest of us? Are you somehow under the delusion that saying "Wow, you look really nice today" has not

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:05PM (#48574849)

      The Sex Life of an Electron
      by Walter Lewin

      One night when his charge was pretty high, Mirco-Farad decided to seek
      out a cute little coil to help his discharge.

      He picked up Milli-Amp and took her for a ride in his Megacycle. They
      rode across the Wheatstone Bridge and stopped by a Magnetic field with
      flowing currents and frolicked in the sine waves.

      Micro-Farad, attracted by Milli-Amp's characteristic curves, soon had
      her fully charged and proceeded to excite her resistance to a minumum.
      He gently laid her at ground potential, raised her frequency, and
      lowered her reluctance.

      With a quick arc, he pulled out his high voltage probe and inserted it
      in her socket, connecting them in parallel. He slowly began short
      circuiting her resisitance shut while quickly raising her thermal
      conductance level to mill-spec. Fully excited, Milli-Amp mumbled
      "OHM...OHM...OHM!"

      With his tube operating well into class C, and her field vibrating
      with his currently flow, a corona formed which instantly caused her
      shunt to overheat just at the point when Micro-Farad rapidly
      discharged and drained off every electron into her grid.

      They fluxed all night trying various connectors and sockets until his
      magnet had a soft core and lost all of its field strength.

      After wards, Milli-Amp tried self-induction and damaged her solenoids,
      and, with his battery fully discharged, Micro-Farad was unable to
      excite his field. Not ready to be quiescent, they spent the rest of
      the evening reversing polarity and blowing each other's fuses.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:13PM (#48574955)

      What does the professor's "on-line harassment" have to do with the quality and / or value of his lectures?

      This is a modern university. Any charge by a female, minority, or homosexual/transgendered/multi-gendered/selective-gendered student that you did anything they find offensive automatically makes you worse than Hitler. No trial needed. No defense allowed. Straight to banishment, OPPRESSOR!

    • It seems like his lectures are about 1000x more awesome than what I had to sit through in school, so you'd think they'd keep those and just make sure he's out of a position where he is interacting with students on MIT's behalf, which it sounds like he did voluntarily some time back. Kind of ridiculous to eliminate a person's work because he did bad things. How many of us read Moby Dick in school? Herman Melville was not a good man, but we ignore that, and focus on his work.

      The best thing MIT could do is rel

      • by slinches ( 1540051 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:51PM (#48575333)

        The best thing MIT could do is release the lectures for free (i.e. remove a profit motive from themselves), eliminate their name being used in association with it, and step back. That's reasonable. Trashing the whole thing is silly.

        Maybe there needs to be a creative commons license that expressly forbids attribution, just for this circumstance. I suggest calling it CC-CYA

    • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:50PM (#48575325)

      What ever happened to being innocent until proven guilty? Why with claims of sexual harassment and misogyny do Constitutional protections no longer exist? In fairness, it's been happening with racism as well but those charges don't tend to ruin as many people as sexism claims (though the consequences are more dire for the victims).

      Why won't the assholes that keep propping up this unconstitutional action bring up facts like the conclusion of the Duke LaCrosse team scandal? You know, the scandal that ruined the lives of more than a dozen people based on a completely false accusations. Not only was the accuser never charged with any crime from the false accusation, but the same person goes on to commit arson, attempted murder, and finally murder. Even today morons quote the Duke LaCrosse team as an example of misogyny.

      The problems are not just in the US either. A Canadian University last month suspended an entire Hokey team and prevented graduations based on a top secret internal investigation (no police). Institutionalized vigilantism. There was in reality an allegation that 2 players were involved in sexual harassment, and the rest of the team was suspended for not speaking out against those two players. So in Canada not only is every allegation a criminal event, but if you want to wait for proof for the allegations you are also a criminal.

      Welcome to your New World Order! Remain silent, it can only continue to get better.

      • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @04:03PM (#48575469) Homepage

        You are 'innocent until proven guilty' only when you are arrested for a criminal act by a governmental entity. In the court of public opinion, you're toast.

      • by DiamondGeezer ( 872237 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @04:54PM (#48575969) Homepage

        What happened to being innocent until proven guilty?

        That was nullified when the accuser was a woman and the accused was white and heterosexual. Remember the entire justice system has been traduced by the idea that we should believe the victim without evidence as to who the victim is, and by the incredible idea that everyone except white males should be free from being offended by any means whatsoever. Things called 'microaggressions' are seriously discussed in classrooms when the prejudices of non-white, non-heterosexuals are challenged. .

    • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:57PM (#48575403)

      What does the professor's "on-line harassment" have to do with the quality and / or value of his lectures?

      The message being sent is: "If you sexually harass our students you're done, you're gone, and we don't give a damn whether you are the star quarterback, the uber geek or the processor emeritus."

      Not that there isn't something particularly gross about the elderly emeritus professor using his academic position and credentials to gain sexual leverage over a student forty or more years his junior,

      • I don't know. The professor is "gone"; he was fired.

        I've pondered the best corollary and I think this is it:

        Would we ask his former students to forget the knowledge he taught them? No? Then why would we ask his future students to never learn the knowledge he will teach them?

    • by Xylantiel ( 177496 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:59PM (#48575427)

      I would expect removing them would be to prevent anyone else being a victim. Rather than marking every page with him on it with a "warning this former faculty was found to have sexually harassed students," the prudent course of action is to shut it all down and sort things out later. While Lewin is no longer active in the courses, they are still active courses and a student might approach him if they didn't know about the issue. There are plenty of other physics faculty at MIT that can fill in the content.

    • Apparently they're good lectures.
    • by jythie ( 914043 )
      It is a similar relationship to that of evidence illegally collected by police. The lectures themselves have not decreased in value, but they also represent a significant prestige for the professor and brand association between the two entities. By actually having some level of consequence for such behavior (the majority of the time the student is quietly told to shove it) it shows others that such behavior will not be tolerated, sort of.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:34PM (#48574513)

    The only thing removing these lectures does is make it harder for others to learn physics without attending school in person.

    I would argue removing the videos does far more harm than he ever did, when you consider there aggregate effect on humanity.

    • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:39PM (#48574569)

      Apparently the videos were CC, so they should be available elsewhere. MIT just doesn't want their name associated with him anymore.

    • Indeed. A bit like the Egyptian Pharaohs censoring the names of those they opposed by trying to obliterate their names on monuments. How long before he becomes a "Non-person" if not already?
    • by Fwipp ( 1473271 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:49PM (#48574679)

      It also sends a really clear message: "This behavior will not be tolerated." If sexual harassment causes your name and work to be disgraced - that's a pretty strong deterrent to people in academia.

      So if you're considering the aggregate effect, you've also got to consider the aggregate improvement in the lives of students who now face less harassment and can learn in a less hostile environment.

    • by bussdriver ( 620565 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:07PM (#48574885)

      So now we've become so extreme that the Universities that were guardians of free thinking have become the thought police and tools for censorship. Aiding vengeance of the political elite (corporations being some of the biggest but that's another topic) upon students it should be defending... I'm specifically thinking of Aaron Swartz where MIT was not an innocent party. Sounds far more governmental than like how a University should function, doesn't it??

      I don't care if he was a rapist or serial killer! Where is the philosophy department when you need it?? (The only practical thing they are good for is defending freedom; aside from teaching.) Lets throw out everything NASA ever did under Wernher von Braun because he was a Nazi! If you only forbid work done during the "crime" then you have to throw out all the rocketry work he did for Germany and that kind of thinking would have had him completely passed over for working for NASA at all (because they'd not know his credentials since that info would have gone down the memory hole.)

      People now are so fragile they can't even hear unpleasant news. I've been in hostile environments and was severely bullied so naturally most the stuff I see people complain about looks like pathetic wimps wanting attention as victims... appealing to the self righteous egotism of others looking to compensate / cover for their own hypocrisy which they are unable to face (because that again would be unpleasant... no wonder people want drugs over actual therapy!)

      Being gay was a crime and to most people it's still a horrible sin against god. That didn't stop computer science; but today one has to wonder if those attitudes prevailed today how much we'd be set back?

      • I don't care if he was a rapist or serial killer! Where is the philosophy department when you need it?? (The only practical thing they are good for is defending freedom; aside from teaching.) Lets throw out everything NASA ever did under Wernher von Braun because he was a Nazi!

        dude, he lectures are still online, it's just that MIT doesn't want an association with him or his lectures. it's their right not associate with him. it's your right to think they stink for doing so (or whatever your point is).

  • by Saysys ( 976276 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:37PM (#48574543)
    Sexual Harassment shouldn't cost us knowledge. It's disgusting that we're loosing the benefits of this amazing pedagogue simply because someone was offended by something he said to someone online.

    This is total bullshit.
    • by Michael O-P ( 31524 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:45PM (#48574633) Journal

      It's disgusting that we're loosing the benefits of this amazing pedagogue...

      Technically the benefits were already loosed. Now we're losing them.

    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:47PM (#48574659) Journal
      You have to understand that a particularly vocal minority, and one endemic to academia at that, believes that anyone who doesn't actively fight for Social Justice(tm) has no value to humanity, in any capacity.

      For example, let's say you played a key role in discovering the structure of DNA, but then later said some things that could, if twisted juuust the right way, mean that some races potentially have attributes that others don't. You instantly become worthless, and to hell with what those stuck-up Ivory Tower fools on the Nobel committee has to say about it. If, however, you have no meaningful contributions for society beyond "first minority president", clearly the brilliant minds on the Nobel committee chose correctly in awarding you a Peace price, regardless of your stance on torture.
    • Sexual Harassment shouldn't cost us knowledge. It's disgusting that we're loosing the benefits of this amazing pedagogue simply because someone was offended by something he said to someone online. This is total bullshit.

      Sexual Harassment shouldn't cost us laughter. It's disgusting that we're loosing the benefits of Mr. Bill Cosby and his entertainment value simply because someone was preyed upon or attacked sexually. This is total bullshit.

      (Ah. the challenges of drawing the "proper" moral line...)

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

        It shouldn't, actually. His humor hasn't changed. Destroying someone's life and censoring his accomplishments over unrelated behavior is what's immoral.

  • can't find it (Score:2, Interesting)

    I tried to link to a lecture that explains which law of physics forces sexual harassment to retroactively make past lectures also sexist and offensive but they took that one down too. Oh well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bobbied ( 2522392 )

      He crossed the event horizon, so now, any useful information he produced is now in the black hole of Political Correctness.

  • Please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forrie ( 695122 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:41PM (#48574589)

    This seems like a harsh knee-jerk reaction, ostensibly to protect the public image of MIT. Taking down this content, stripping someone of a title -- removing a man's body of legitimate work that benefits the greater masses is a ridiculously absurd measure. What does MIT think they will gain from this, other than saving face.

    And he allegedly harassed someone online -- that's all I've heard. Maybe he had a nip before bed and was just a little frustrated, we have no context -- who cares? Lots of people say a lot of things online that are far worse.

    Give us all, and this professor, a friggen break MIT.

    • I'm far from sure this is just about protecting the public image of MIT or saving face. It's hardly outside the realm of possibility that MIT gets some economic benefits from having those videos on Youtube and has a contract with the professor that passes some of them on to him. For example, the videos are probably calculated in MITs taxes each year as an IP asset, and that makes some of the costs of producing them part of research credits and such that affect MITs filings for years after they are made.Acti

    • Re:Please (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @05:03PM (#48576071) Homepage Journal

      And he allegedly harassed someone online -- that's all I've heard. Maybe he had a nip before bed and was just a little frustrated, we have no context -- who cares? Lots of people say a lot of things online that are far worse.

      Considering that he retired a few years ago, then retired from even giving online classes, he's obviously getting on in age. Dementia is a possible problem.

      I know my grandfather, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, has been making increasingly racist comments without any real reason to do so. Was he originally racist(before I was old enough to remember)? Was he always racist and just hid it from me(and now his ability to hide is declining)? Is it something new?

      I don't know, and it makes me sad.

      I wonder if a similar thing could be happening here. If it is indeed the cause, shouldn't we celebrate his rising above that past, even as we mourn his fall due to mental illness?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:44PM (#48574625)

    After all, the transistor was invented by William Shockley, a proponent of Eugenics.

  • Heidegger (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbohumil ( 517473 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @02:54PM (#48574737)
    Maybe they should stop publishing works about Martin Heidegger while they're at, I understand he was a Nazi sympathizer which seems like a pretty terrible thing to be. http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/... [mit.edu] http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/... [mit.edu] http://mitpress.mit.edu/search... [mit.edu]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:00PM (#48574799)

    Would they have retracted these articles had he murdered someone? I bet not.

    When did sexual harassments become worse than murder? This pc bullshit is way out of hand.

  • by gnu-sucks ( 561404 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:14PM (#48574965) Journal

    I wish I had more professors like this guy. Just watching him demonstrate physics and talk about how wonderful it is to inspire a student, and how he knows most will forget the thousands of physics equations they learn, but that is not the important part.

    We need more professors like Lewin. May this video inspire the teacher in you to appreciate inspiration. And to the physics teachers out there that cannot allow an outside thought or a moment of tactile examples, shame on you!

    Of course, people like him do not fit the mold and are bound to be kicked around by society. I am very curious what these alleged emails really contained. Was it merely something not quite PC enough for today's crowd, or was it something truly grotesque and thus damning and beyond recovery?

  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @03:34PM (#48575163)

    Read the fine article that explains that the gentleman specifically harassed a student who was using his lectures, through the e-learning platform provided by MIT. If part of platform is to be able to interact with the author of the content, this puts university in an awkward position and removal of materials seems reasonable.

  • by gnu-sucks ( 561404 ) on Thursday December 11, 2014 @04:01PM (#48575453) Journal

    Obligatory:

    Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

"Marriage is low down, but you spend the rest of your life paying for it." -- Baskins

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