Adam Falk is making 2016-2017 the year of Confronting Climate Change at Williams. Let’s try to be helpful for a change and suggest some interesting speakers that he and Professor Ralph Bradburd should invite to speak. Today is Day 5 of five days of suggestions.

Last fall, Adam Falk wrote:

Williams has a long history of inviting controversial speakers to campus and no history of uninviting them, and this is a point of absolute principle. Ours is an institution of higher learning; such learning cannot occur without broad and enthusiastic exposure to a wide range of ideas and perspectives. And certainly the invitation of a speaker to campus isn’t in and of itself an endorsement – by the College or by individuals who invite a speaker – of that person’s views. Whatever our own views may be, we should be active in bringing to campus speakers whose opinions are different from our own.

Emphasis added. Let’s leave aside the Derbyshire controversy for now and focus on climate change. There are millions of people — including groups as divergent as the three university professors we have already recommended and the Republican Party and even a handful of Williams alumni — who are skeptical about climate change. Why isn’t a single one of them being invited to Confronting Climate Change? Even if Derbyshire is a bridge too far for Falk, surely he could not object to authors like, say, Matt Ridley or Bjørn Lomborg.

However, the cynic in me suspects that neither Falk nor Bradburd nor a majority of the Williams faculty actually believe in “bringing to campus speakers whose opinions are different from our own.” At Williams, racial diversity means everything. So, it is extremely important that we have speakers on climate change that look like this:


Nothing wrong with racial diversity, of course! And, as long as you look from the center to the left, there is some diversity among the speakers that Williams has already invited. But is there a single skeptic? No. Is there a single Republican? No. Is there a single conservative? No.

Ultimately, Adam Falk and Ralph Bradburd’s commitment to “speakers whose opinions are different” is an empirical question. If they are truly committed, they will invite at least two skeptics. I bet that they won’t.

What do you predict they will do?

Print  •  Email