Freedom of academic thought, research and speech was dealt a shuddering blow when UCLA fired Professor Dr. James Enstrom for “research not aligned with the academic mission” which is University speak for “we fire those that do not promote politically correct academic thought.” I have long argued that there is ongoing censorship of conservative academic thought at colleges and universities across the country, this recent firing for non-liberal speech is merely the latest and most public of these incidents.
Dr. Enstrom’s problems began in 2005 when he had the temerity to produce an academic study that challenged assertions made by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that particulate emissions from diesal trucks caused 200,000 deaths per year in California. Dr. Enstrom’s study refuted these findings and determined that the number of diesel particulate deaths was much closer to zero. “I was shocked by the lack of academic rigor in the CARB study,” stated Dr. Enstrom.
Examination of the CARB funded and supported study produced a very interesting result – its chief author, Hien Tran, fraudulently stated that he had a Ph.D. in statistics from U.C. Davis. Mr. Tran never received his degree from U.C. Davis but instead bought a Ph.D. for $1,000 from diploma mill Thornhill University, an institution not recognized by CARB. Instead of discounting the highly flawed study (which ignored significant environmental factors such as the smoking histories of the diesel drivers) produced by someone with a fraudulently created academic history, CARB used that flawed study to impose significant new diesel emission regulations that will likely put numerous California businesses in bankruptcy court. Dr. Enstrom’s study was ignored because it did not support CARB’s regulatory position.
Dr. Enstrom then took a step that might have wrongly cost him his job – he pointed out that fellow UCLA professor John Freunds had been on the CARB committee for 26 years when that position carried a three year term limit. “The point is to rotate professors on and off of those panels so that there is always fresh thought,” state Dr. Enstrom. After Dr. Enstrom pointed out that several of the CARB scientific panel members had long outstayed their legal terms of office, 5 of the 9 panel positions were turned over to new scientists.
Unfortunately for Dr. Enstrom, Dr. Freund is a powerful professor at UCLA. Last week, after 36 years of service as a professor at UCLA, Dr. Enstrom was told that his services were no longer required. Much like with the Climategate fiasco, censorship of conservative thought rung out clearly through the land of academia. I have had several professor friends deny that such censorship exists (and conservative professors that tell me that it is very much alive and well). I would love to hear their thoughts on the firing of UCLA professor Dr. Enstrom.