UCLA Law School Apologizes to Ayn Rand Institute Over “Anti-Free Speech” Administrators

Last month the Ayn Rand Institute and the UCLA School of Law chapter of the Federalist Society organized an event “Is Free Speech Under Attack?.

Eugene Volokh tells us that the “event was quite successful — I’m told that about 140 students attended — and generally went off well. There was no disruption of the event itself (which ought to go without saying, but unfortunately doesn’t always, these days)”

Before the event, though, the Institute had set up a book display on a table in the hallway and offered the books for sale. There were four books, including “Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: From George W. Bush to Barack Obama and Beyond,” by the Institute’s Onkar Ghate and Elan Journo…

Some students disapproved of the book and started arguing with the Institute people. And then a law school administrator demanded that the Institute remove the book, apparently on the grounds that it was “inflammatory.” That, I think, was clearly wrong, and indeed a violation of the First Amendment. Public universities can’t bar groups — student groups or others — from displaying books on the grounds that the viewpoints are “inflammatory.”

Fortunately, the incident ended up with a happy ending. Writes Volokh:

I’m glad to say that the dean has written to the Ayn Rand Institute “to extend my [i.e., the Dean’s] apologies” and acknowledged that the administrator’s action was “not in keeping with UCLA Law’s — or my — vigorous commitment to support free speech and respectful debate.” “It also failed to adhere to our commitment that university policies be applied in a content-neutral manner.” And the dean stressed that the school was taking steps “to prevent such occurrences,” by beefing up training and procedures. I know the dean pretty well, and I think she’s quite sincere about this.

Three Cheers to the Dean of UCLA School of Law for their principled defense of freedom of speech.


Those interested in reading the censored book can find a copy here: Failing to Confront Islamic Totalitarianism: From George W. Bush to Barack Obama and Beyond.

David Harriman’s Fundamentals of Physical Science: A Historical Inductive Approach

David Harriman’s Fundamentals of Physical Science: A Historical Inductive Approach

by Lisa VanDamme

One of the most formative courses in my educational history was David Harriman’s “Fundamentals of Physical Science” – formative of my knowledge of science, formative of my views on education, formative of my very ability to think. It taught me what it really means to learn science, and by extension, what it really means to learn.

Let me illustrate the difference between science as it is conventionally taught and science as it is taught by David Harriman, using Newton’s law of universal gravitation as a striking case in point.

If your education was like mine, this law was presented as a commandment to be memorized—as knowledge that, along with Newton’s apple, fell from the sky. You had no knowledge of the prior discoveries that were the “shoulders” on which Newton famously declared he stood, no awareness of the questions that remained and that Newton sought to answer, and therefore no substantive understanding of the meaning, the explanatory power, and the monumental importance of Newton’s achievement.

When, in Harriman’s course, you arrive at Newton’s law of universal gravitation, it comes as a page-turning, climactic chapter in an epic story of discovery.

You will have already learned about Galileo’s principle of inertia, Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, and Newton’s own law of circular acceleration. You will see how these discoveries made possible the question Newton asked himself when the apple fell.

You will have already learned Galileo’s law of fall, Eratosthenes’ calculation of the size of the Earth, and Aristarchus’ calculation of the distance to the moon. You will see how these discoveries made possible Newton’s answer to the question.

When guided through the ingenious process by which Newton integrated this knowledge and built upon it, you are able to thoroughly grasp the principle of universal gravitation: to see that it is true and why it must be true. The law of gravitation becomes connected to and explanatory of the things you see around you every day. It is real knowledge.

Harriman teaches all of the great achievements in the history of physics, from the heliocentric theory, to optics, to electromagnetism and more, in this historical, inductive manner.

The value of a course that takes this approach to teaching science is inestimable. It provided me with a clear filter for distinguishing “knowledge” I had memorized from sincere, independently held, fully-formed knowledge. It helped me to see that complex, abstract principles of science are not the province only of geniuses, but are, if properly taught, accessible to all. It inspired me with epic stories of world-changing discoveries that have made life as we know it possible. And it modeled, and helped me to develop, real intellectual self-discipline.

That is why I cannot recommend this course highly enough.

David Harriman’s “Fundamentals of Physical Science” is now available in the VanDamme Academy Store.

Special Offer: Reduced price for the first 100 buyers!

Is Education a Right?


Yaron Brook from the Ayn Rand Institute says no, and Paul Vaaler from the University of Minnesota says yes in a 2015 debate hosted by the Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

The Millenials Come Home To Roost

A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, poll shows – The Washington Post:

In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism. The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it. It isn’t clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

The results of the survey are difficult to interpret, pollsters noted. Capitalism can mean different things to different people, and the newest generation of voters is frustrated with the status quo, broadly speaking.


Yet 48 percent agreed that “basic health insurance is a right for all people.” And 47 percent agreed with the statement that “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them.” “Young people could be saying that there are problems with capitalism, contradictions,” Frank Newport, the editor in chief of Gallup, said when asked about the new data. “I certainly don’t know what’s going through their heads.”

John Della Volpe, the polling director at Harvard, went on to personally interview a small group of young people about their attitudes toward capitalism to try to learn more. They told him that capitalism was unfair and left people out despite their hard work. “They’re not rejecting the concept,” Della Volpe said. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting.”

No mention was made in the article if millennials — or the surveyors — could define or actually know what capitalism actually is.

VanDamme Academy: A Documentary Project

This video is a glimpse into the world of VanDamme Academy – a world we hope to share even more, in a full documentary.

VanDamme Academy is known for producing some of the best academically prepared students in Orange County. But there is something more, something altogether different – a bristling energy, a depth of discussion, a sincere joy in the endeavor to become educated – that sets the school apart. It is these qualities that prompted a recent graduate to write, “This school is the best thing that ever happened to me.” It is these qualities that prompt parents, and visitors, and distant admirers to say, wistfully, “I wish I had gone to this school.”

One of those admirers is a filmmaker, who believes strongly that in the debate over education reform, VanDamme Academy has something vital to contribute. But what it has to contribute is something so utterly new, so essentially different from the educational norm, that people really grasp it only by stepping inside the school’s walls and experiencing it for themselves. We can give the whole world that experience through a documentary.

We need help to make the documentary happen. If you would like to learn more about this project and how you can help make it a reality, email a request for the documentary project details to lisa@vandammeacademy.com

Video: Ray Girn on The Immense Practical Power of Moral Values in Business

It is a generally accepted truth these days that good corporate culture is good business. Almost without exception, great companies point to their organizational values as a key reason for their success. But why? In what way do strong guiding values enable a business to achieve its goals?

Ray Girn, CEO of LePort Schools, shares a few stories about how his company’s core values have impacted the growth of his business, and through them explore key reasons for the immense practical power of moral values in business.

Recorded at the STRIVE Clubs 2015 Fall Student Conference on “The Morality of Value Creation & Trade.”

Homeschooled with MIT courses at 5, accepted to MIT at 15

After acquiring his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, Ahaan Rungta joined the MIT Class of 2019 at age 15.

Homeschooled with MIT courses at 5, accepted to MIT at 15 | MIT News

Ahaan Rungta and his family moved from Calcutta, India, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2001, the same year MIT announced OpenCourseWare (OCW), a bold plan to publish all of MIT’s course materials online and to share them with the world for free. Little did his parents realize at the time that their two-year-old son — already an avid reader — would eventually acquire his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, and would be admitted to the MIT class of 2019 at the age of 15.

“When I was five years old my mom told me ‘there’s this thing called OCW,’” says Rungta, who was homeschooled. “I just couldn’t believe how much material was available. From that moment on I spent the next few years taking OCW courses.”

When most kids are entering kindergarten, Rungta was studying physics and chemistry through OpenCourseWare. For Rungta’s mother, the biggest challenge to homeschooling her son was staying ahead of him, finding courses and materials to feed his insatiable mind.

“My parents always supported me and found the materials I needed to keep learning. My mother was a resource machine. As I got older, I studied math through OCW’s Highlights for High School program, and when I was ready for Linear Algebra, I watched all of Professor Gil Strang’s 18.06 video lectures. From the time I was 5, I learned exclusively from OCW. And I knew then I wanted to go to MIT.”

When Rungta turned 12, his family moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, as his parents realized he needed to be in a more intellectually stimulating environment. He also wanted to live closer to MIT.

For his 13th birthday, Rungta only wanted one thing — a visit to the Institute. “I stepped onto campus and it changed my life,” he says. “I will never forget the feeling of walking into the lobby of Building 7, looking up, and then touching the pillars to see if they were real. I couldn’t believe I was at MIT. My life and my ambitions moved to another level at that moment.”

Later that day, Rungta saw an Indian restaurant in the Student Center that had been closed down. He suggested to his dad — a chef who owned a restaurant in Lowell — that he look into reopening the café. His father soon became the manager of Café Spice, and the family moved from Lowell to Cambridge. Rungta studied in the Student Center every day while his father ran the café.

MIT was undergoing big changes of its own that year, with the launch of MITx, in which MIT courses would be made available online and delivered on the edX platform. Just as Rungta was ready for a new intellectual challenge, MIT once again was there for him, as its own digital learning efforts were expanding to now provide online courses in addition to course materials. When he was 9, Rungta took 3.091 (Introduction to Solid State Chemistry) through OCW with Professor Donald Sadoway. Four years later, he signed up to take it again — this time through MITx with Professor Michael Cima. He has since taken 55 MITx and OCW courses, and he now uses these online resources to supplement his on-campus undergraduate experience.

Reflecting on his journey from Calcutta to Cambridge and the many intersecting moments with MIT, Rungta is grateful to his parents and to MIT for being responsive to his needs every step of the way. “MIT has been my middle school, my high school, my entire education. That’s pretty amazing. Some people think I’m gifted, but I don’t think so. OCW was a gift to me. I was lucky to be born at the time MIT was opening up education to the world and extra lucky that OCW brought MIT and me together.” 

As he ponders declaring a major next year, Rungta pauses for a moment, and then he lights up. “In an ideal world, I would want to major in everything.”

Video: Modern Educayshun

Written and Directed by Neel Kolhatkar Modern Educayshun delves into the potential dangers of our increasingly reactionary culture bred by social media and political correctness. According to Neel “the film is the appraisal of science and reason – how extensive political correctness can hinder the pursuit of such values.”