Thursday, March 10, 2011

Art Robinson and His Children

Probably by now you know about Art Robinson's op-ed in World News Daily
art robinson.JPG

Robinson, who founded the somewhat mysterious Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine (responsible for the infamous Oregon Petition against man-made global warming) published an article in WND claiming that Oregon State University was mistreating three of his children.

(Re OISM -- who funds them? Do they have any students? Any classrooms? Lectures? I have never been able to figure this out.)

Well, Robinson said more than that. He used all kinds of inflammatory and charged language, making ad hominem attacks on several members of the Nuclear Engineering Department at OSU, where these "kids" of his are students.

I put 'kids' in quotes, because these are 'kids' are grown-ups in their 20s, and it's a little strange for a parent to be interceding in the graduate education of their children.

Curiously (and tellingly), Robinson didn't say what OSU's problems were with his children's graduate programs. You might have expected at least that from any reasonable complaint.

But no, Robinson encouraged criticism of OSU and its Nuclear Engineering faculty, yet wasn't willing to share any of the true facts behind the issue, instead choosing to claim that it was all due to political payback because he had the temerity to run for Congress.

(Which he lost handily to Peter DeFazio, 54% to 43%.)

I wrote Art Robinson on 3/7 when this story appeared, but he has not responded.

Naturally, many unthinking right-wing bloggers repeated his accusations without once bothering to ask for the other side of the story.

OSU says they can't comment due to federal privacy laws. But they have said:
“It is regrettable,” the university said in a statement, “that Mr. Robinson continues to spread these false claims, causing concern where none is due. Despite the significant and ongoing attention that the university has given these matters, he has engaged in a pattern of inflammatory and reckless communication riddled with inaccuracies.”
But the Corvallis Gazette-Times has done some digging, and interviewed one of Art Robinson's children, Joshua, yesterday.

Joshua Robinson is 29 years old, with three children, which raises the question of why his father is standing up for his rights instead of him doing so himself. The needed facts are sketchy, but Joshua Robinson (and his twin sister Bertha) have apparently been masters students for 4.5 yrs now.

Which is long time. When I was in graduate school at Stony Brook, most of us got our Master's degree in three semesters. Our graduate careers were only funded for five years -- you were expected to get your PhD by then, or pay your own way. (I took 5.7 yrs, and survived on basically nothing for the last 0.7 years, living with my girlfriend. Curiously, it was the best semester I spent there in terms of my personal and social life.)

I don't know if Robinson's children are part-time or full-time. But clearly the department has an incentive to move their students along, both to weed out those who don't make the grade (for their own sake if nothing else) and to make room for new students.

4.5 years is a very long time to be a Master's student. To me it indicates a problem, either in commitment or competence or both.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For more details, see: