The title writes itself as news comes of the latest wacky act of the most Florida man of all Florida men, Governor Ron DeSantis. He has signed a bill that now requires Florida universities to conduct surveys of student and staff viewpoints to ensure that indoctrination is not taking place, a vague claim that the Survey Monkey cannot back up.

Go ahead and laugh. Florida’s governor collects nicknames like a philatelist collects stamps or a numismatist collects coins. He has many: DeathSantis, DumbSantis, DuhSantis, DeSastre, moRon DeSantis, the internet is full of them.

(BTW, for those not-in-the-know, Survey Monkey is an online platform for administering surveys.)

SurveyMonkey Logo
“Be the person with great ideas. Surveys give you actionable insights and fresh perspectives.

That’s a quote from the website. Florida’s Survey Monkey is proud to be the person with great ideas (arguable, at best) and loves the actionable insights that will come. [Emphasis by GOT (Grumpy Old Teacher.)] But fresh perspectives? Meh, Florida’s Survey Monkey is having none of that.

No, the entire idea is to stop indoctrination a/k/a a fresh examining of accepted wisdom that might no longer be true.

You know, the kind of thing that universities exist to do.

Like Galileo averring that the Earth revolves around the Sun. In his time, nobody, a/k/a the Catholic Church, was having any of that <ahem> and Galileo was forced to recant. From Wikipedia:

In February 1616, an Inquisitorial commission declared heliocentrism to be “foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture”. The Inquisition found that the idea of the Earth’s movement “receives the same judgement in philosophy and … in regard to theological truth it is at least erroneous in faith”.

Eventually, Galileo was put on trial and condemned for his ‘heretical’ views. He is reported to have said at the end, “And yet it moves [referring to the Earth.]”

Like Darwin, proposing his theory of natural selection. Oops, did you think GOT meant evolution? No, the idea of evolution was under consideration and discussed for decades before Darwin published. Darwin was the first, although not the only and that’s a fascinating tangent this space doesn’t have room for, to expound a theory that seemed to fit the scientific observations of his age.

He, too, was met with great opposition and ridicule for his ideas. The prevailing orthodoxy and conventional wisdom of the day condemned his theory. The problem is that Darwin offered the best explanation of the fossil record and the variety of life on Earth. But, <ahem>, we’re not having any of that <ahem> in our schools.

Darwin’s groundbreaking work has been improved and now is largely set aside. His theory of natural selection has been replaced by theories of sexual selection, because those following in his path observed puzzling characteristics in species that worked against their survival, but did attract the other in ways that enhanced their breeding success.

That’s the process of science. Like Freud, whose theories (as weird as we now regard many of them) established psychotherapy and yet mental illness is now understood as biologically based and able to be treated, as tricky as it is, with medication. Yet, talking therapy is also an important part for those who are managing a disease of the brain.

We wouldn’t be where we are today if our universities weren’t free to propose new ideas, forced to defend them, and, in the process of peer-reviewed research, discard the rabbit trails. In that process, students are challenged to defend their ideas. It’s not indoctrination; it’s learning.

Irony of ironies, the Harvard and Yale graduate Survey Monkey of Florida is having none of that <ahem.> You would think, given his education, that if indoctrination was taking place at universities, he would have plenty of personal history to share to support his allegations.

Alas, earwax and the Florida man of all Florida men was hoping for a toffee.

He learned from the best, our Survey Monkey. If he can’t make the argument, he’ll fake the argument.

Oh, Florida! You wonder what those surveys will reveal. Maybe our Survey Monkey will make it interesting and do a half-hour game show like Family Feud!

If we have to put up with this stupidity, the least our Florida man can do is make it entertaining.

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