Monday, June 15, 2020

Cofnas Controversy, Again

Since I had discussed the topic before, I thought I'd point out that a number of faculty have written a letter on the Cofnas controversy; although Alfano is a signatory, it is a far better and more professional response than Alfano's original mess. Indeed, the only problem with it is that Alfano should absolutely not have been a signatory to this. In the original controversy, he (1) violated basic norms of professional decency by demanding the humiliation of the editors of the journal from the get-go; (2) violated basic professional ethics by publicly threatening to destroy the career of the graduate student in question; (3) incompetently argued that the problem with the paper was that it didn't consider whether environmentally based rather than biologically based racism might be true, as I pointed out in my original post. His name on this inevitably raises the question of whether this is in fact a part of an ongoing unprofessional vendetta.

The authors of the letter are complaining that the editors refused to publish it. It was probably ill-advised not to do so, although I can't say I'm all that surprised; from the perspective of the editors it must read as if, having blatantly attempted to ruin their careers and failed, the same people are back trying to do it again more indirectly. Nonetheless, in terms of content, it's much closer to what should have been done in the first place; even the passive-aggressive insinuations scattered throughout are well within the bounds of everyday academic cattiness.