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We are all African: An Interview with Dr. Christopher DiCarlo 20 Years Later

In 2005, I was teaching a Critical Thinking course at a Southern Ontario university to 93 students. It occurred to me with the research that I had done it at Harvard earlier in the 2000s that the evidence was overwhelming for human origins that the descent came from Africa.

In 2005, I was teaching a Critical Thinking course at a Southern Ontario university to 93 students. It occurred to me with the research that I had done it at Harvard earlier in the 2000s that the evidence was overwhelming for human origins that the descent came from Africa.

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Interviewer: Journalist Troy Bridgeman:  

Okay, so we are talking about ‘We’re All African’ 20 years later. So why don’t you kind of fill everybody in on what exactly the controversy was?

Dr. DiCarlo 

In 2005, I was teaching a Critical Thinking course at a Southern Ontario university to 93 students. It occurred to me with the research that I had done it at Harvard earlier in the 2000s that the evidence was overwhelming for human origins that the descent came from Africa. I mean, it was overwhelming. Spencer Wells was doing work with the Genographic Project, with National Geographic, and he was taking swabs of hundreds of 1000s of people around the world, and checking out their DNA and finding that all results led back to Africa. So, for the first time, we had genetic evidence. I bought one of these kits, and we used it on Matt, my youngest son, and it showed our haplotype descendancy went from Africa, and pretty much ended in Italy.

So the evidence seemed to me to be overwhelming: the fossil evidence, the anthropological evidence, the developmental evidence, the patterns, everything was there. And so it occurred to me, all humans descended from common ancestors from the African continent. Darwin predicted this. And now we had overwhelming evidence. And as a professor teaching critical thinking, I felt obligated to write something on the board to get the students interested and to get them talking and motivated. And those four words were: ‘We are all African’; not Africans, that seems to be of the present tense, but ‘African’ meaning that’s where we all came from in the past. And when I did that, a student put up their hand and said, “Yeah, but how do you know that?” Which is a great question.

So I said, “Well, all of the evidence points in that direction. And the way in which science works is you follow the evidence wherever it leads. When you look around the room here, and you see all these different features: different skin colours, facial features, and so on – all of that coalesces back in Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago. That means we’re all related. That means we’re all kind of like cousins.”

 And I found this was a really important message that no other professors were teaching. Because in a single sentence with four words, it cuts across all racial boundaries, and all human claims for privilege and status, and makes everybody equal in four words. And so I thought these were very, very powerful words, so I wrote them on the board. And I said, if evolutionary theory is correct, and I believe it is the best account for how we got in here, then it follows that we all must have descended out of Africa. And – so the student was indigenous and said, “But my people wouldn’t accept that.” I said, “I get that. There’s a lot of different Indian mythologies and spiritual beliefs about how their ancestors arrived, e.g. the turtle’s back and the sky woman, etc. There’s a lot of different ways in which indigenous peoples believed to have originated. But then she said, “Who’s right?” And as a professor, I couldn’t just say, “well, that’s not important or  that doesn’t even matter. Or you’re speaking your truth and I’m speaking my truth, which is meaningless to me as an analytic philosopher.” So I said, “Not your people, but how do we have this conversation?” Right? How do we do this? So I said, “Can you invite some elders into the classroom? And I’ll invite some scientific colleagues of mine. And we’ll discuss how we have this debate; how we have this conversation, when we have these so called culture clashes between science and spirituality.” And you know, the class erupted in applause. Everybody was keen on this. They were looking forward to this. But I didn’t hear back from the student. And I was up for a tenure track position. One had been created for critical thinking. And I had to be shortlisted and interviewed because of my seniority at this university. So it was looking pretty good. I had actually met with the VP. And she had shown me the job description. And I thought, “wow, this is wonderful.” But around 10 days later, I got a registered letter in the mail, opened it up, and it was from the Associate Dean of the University saying, basically, that a particular indigenous student and two fundamentalist Christian students in the class, got together and wrote letters, and accused me of being racist and Eurocentric which I didn’t understand. They basically said I was being racist, by foisting my ideas of what equality actually meant by claiming we were all African. And I was Eurocentric, because I was using science to prove my point. And this was 2005. So what had happened was no elders were coming into the class and no discussions were forthcoming. And what had happened was the position was retracted. It just sort of went away.

Interviewer 

Like the whole, the whole position was…

Dr. DiCarlo 

The tenure-track position for critical thinking; gone. Just gone.

Interviewer 

It wasn’t another person given the job, the whole, the whole course and everything was just…

Dr. DiCarlo 

Just, yeah. So you don’t get fired by universities. You get edged out, you get nudged.

Interviewer 

Because you didn’t have tenure. So this was, how long had you been working for them?

Dr. DiCarlo 

Well, yeah, so this was 2005. So I’d been working for them for at least six or seven years. And teaching courses – doing what’s called the ‘sessional gig’ where you get paid per course. So you’re teaching at three different universities at once. You know, I’m not alone in this. But it’s like freelancing. And then all of a sudden, a tenure track position in my very field is opening and I think I stand a pretty good chance. I’d already won a teaching award at University of Guelph, I was publishing well, I’d been to Harvard and you know, things were looking good.

Interviewer 

You said it was two Christian fundamentalists and an Aboriginal or indigenous student. What sexes were they? Did you know?

Dr. DiCarlo 

 All female.

Interviewer 

 And did you ever have a chance to answer to any of them?

Dr. DiCarlo 

No

Interviewer 

So they went to a letter writing campaign. And so just not to fast forward here, but I guess maybe since we’re on this roll. So they tell you, they’re not going to give you tenure obviously, they’re not even going to start this programmt. They’re not going to offer the position. And so you went to the union? Is that what happened? And, so there was a lawsuit filed?

Dr. DiCarlo 

Yep. So the union said, Look, he’s got so much seniority here. According to the collective agreement, you have to shortlist and interview him. They requested the emails of the dean and associate dean and others and it was clearly indicated that it was protocol; it was part of the bargaining collective agreement. So they knew the jig was up. So what did they do? Well, they they cut you a cheque for a nominal amount.

Interviewer 

It was a settlement. So there was never an admission of anybody being wrong, it was just a settlement. Do you mind saying how much it was?

Dr. DiCarlo 

I can’t disclose that due to a gag order, a nondisclosure agreement. But I would have preferred the position. It was not a lot of money.

Interviewer 

I mean that, ultimately, the nondisclosure agreement that you have with them, and the fact that they never admitted guilt, means that you don’t ever get a chance to actually defend yourself from these people. Because in one of the articles that I read, it said that there was some improper sexual language that you used. Can you talk about that?

Dr. DiCarlo 

We were talking about sexual selection in evolutionary theory. And we got onto the discussion of homosexuality. And so I, I stated, look, I don’t know what your views are, about homosexuality. I don’t know what you folks have learned in your lives about homosexuality. But it appears overwhelmingly, that there’s a large biological factor, which means it’s not something you simply choose. It’s not like fashion, it’s more like eye colour. It’s like, it’s part of who you are. So for any religion, to say, It’s a sin to be a homosexual, is out of touch with scientific fact. And so if anyone in your family if you are gay, or homosexual, there’s nothing wrong with you. Where there’s wrongness is in ethical systems that maintain that it’s a choice. Well, if it were a choice, why wouldn’t Alan Turing or Oscar Wilde and all of these people throughout history, just have ‘chosen’ not to be gay? Well, clearly, there’s a strong biological component. And I think the fundamentalist Christians took issue with that, because of Leviticus and other passages of the Bible.

Interviewer 

I guess this is where the contention comes up here. Because the out of Africa theory is not new. In the 70s, we were raised Roman Catholic, and that went against, you know, the 6000 year old earth fundamentalist belief.  But I mean, why do you think the, the university would have sided with these three people? Because clearly, we teach evolution, we teach all these other things that go against biblical teaching. And most indigenous people I know, they accept that they were probably here 20,000 years tops in North America. But that’s the same with any religious people. There’s a good chance they came across the Bering Land Bridge, but I mean, ultimately, science is the strong indicator. There’s always been pushback against people teaching science, especially evolution, that goes against their religious beliefs. So why do you think that they chose to single you out? You’re clearly you’re not the first scientist to say, “We came from Africa”, and that we have a common ancestry, and it’s certainly not an offensive thing to say, unless you’re racist and someone who doesn’t want to be associated that way. So why do you think this specifically; do you have any theories because you’ve had time, 20 years to sort of trying to figure this one out.

Dr. DiCarlo 

I think it was the very start of a kind of a cancel culture within academia, where students were being treated more as clients, and they didn’t want to upset the applecart too much. And so when they sided more with the students than with the professor, that was my first experience; that was a real wake up call for me to realize how far are they willing to go with this. As I said, ‘I’m the messenger’. I’m not bright enough to come up with the scientific evidence, myself; but I am a good compiler of evidence and to be able to then spread the word. And to let people know that I can read through this stuff. And I can make it fairly understandable to others. And that’s my job as an educator.

Interviewer 

Yes, especially as a professor of critical thinking who’s supposed to be using, you know, facts. I mean, that’s the basis for and, you know, the facts change as we learn more about new things. But you’re in a critical thinking class; that’s where you’re supposed to be challenging these things. If you’re going to study critical thinking, you have to assume you’re not going in there with a pre conceived idea about things you’re trying to learn how to think critically. And that’s why I’m just curious, why they cancelled the whole course. Could this have been like “Oh, we’re opening up a can of worms with the course like this”, and, and you may have just been the guy who made them aware of this. But that’s an unfortunate thing for you, because it’s impacted your career ever since. Am I right?

Dr. DiCarlo 

Oh there’s no question. I realized, if those four words can have that kind of affect on a handful of students at a university level, how’s the rest of the world going to respond to this? So I thought, Well, I’m not going to stop. I’m, I’m going to take this to the people, I’m going to take this to the streets. And I thought, I’m going to create a shirt. And I’m going to put ‘We are All African’ on it. And I’m going to unveil it at a conference I was speaking at that summer. And so there’s a picture here of me wearing that shirt outside of the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas. And before I left for the conference, my brother Mark said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Well, philosophers I have a responsibility to be involved outside of the classroom. Philosophy doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom. It’s a part of your life. And if we can’t carry on this dialogue with the rest of the world with anybody on the streets, what are we doing? You know, are we just kind of cloistered away in the hallowed halls of academia and teaching a handful of students? No, I think we have a duty and an obligation as educators to continue that outside to keep the conversation going.” And he said, “Yeah, but what good is a dead philosopher, because they’re not going to take this too kindly.

Interviewer 

And he’s thinking that because he thinks they’re racist? Was there any misunderstanding of what your shirt was? Was it taken by some people that you were trivializing the plight of minority groups?

Dr. DiCarlo 

No. When I was in Texas, I had several responses. I had a few eye rolls and one person laughed, but an African American woman walked right up to me and said, “Where’d you get the shirt?” I said, “Well, I made it.” She said: “You made it. Why? What happened?” I told her my story. And she said, “I would buy that. I would wear that. You’re right, of course. You’re right!” And that’s how we battle racism.”

Interviewer 

That was your objective: to say, we all have the same DNA. We all have a common ancestor. And this is meant as a way to break down barriers?

Dr. DiCarlo 

That’s exactly it; through science, you can actually scientifically demonstrate to people that racism has to be a part of an indoctrination amongst groups. It has to be constructed. All of us, all humans, like all mammals, are inherently xenophobic, which is to fear foreignness – to fear that which doesn’t belong to your group. That’s a survival instinct. You saw chipmunks earlier today running around my backyard. If you and I go out there with a bag of peanuts, we know by the end of the afternoon, they will be sitting on our knee and taking peanuts from our hands. Why? Because they can learn to overcome their fear of us to gain sustenance and to gain food. And once they realize we’re not a threat, their fear of us goes down. It’s the same with every other animal and every other human. Other hominins had to worry if a group in the distance was friend or foe and, until you meet them, you have no idea; so you often play it safe.

Interviewer 

Anyone who is different. They look different. They’re just not from the group.

Dr. DiCarlo 

So it’s a natural human tendency to be wary at first. And then once you realize that there’s a lack of threat, the fear subsides.

Interviewer 

Does that imply that the people who were offended by this are inherently racist?

Dr. DiCarlo 

Perhaps they just don’t understand it.

Interviewer 

I mean, they made no effort to understand it and a University is a business. They don’t want to lose students, they don’t want to lose patrons. But ultimately, you have the majority of the class likes what you’re teaching. And you have three people who don’t, that’s why it’s questioning whether you know them because maybe they have some kind of undue influence, their family say, bought a wing of the university, or whatever, or they have a lot of influence; that’s why I’m curious if you ever found that out?

Dr. DiCarlo

I never did. I just had to basically take it. But you know, when I saw the reaction I got from wearing the shirt, I commissioned a local artist – Austin Gibson – to design some ideas [See Pictures]. So I have a number of different styles of, of this kind of, We Are All African shirt. And at the same time, a local HIV doctor, Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik, was raising funds with her Bracelet of Hope campaign. And we met and we talked about what I had gone through. And so at all my public lectures and book tours, I would always sell bracelets and get a percentage of proceeds from the shirts and posters, and these funds went to the Tsepong AIDS clinic in Lesotho, Africa. She’s a Christian and I’m an atheist, but it didn’t matter to her. We had a common goal, which was for the betterment of others.

Interviewer 

Here we are 20 years later. Do you have any regrets? Did you make a deal with the devil and agree to take the money and shut up, or do you regret this and thought it needs to be taken further? I mean, I know that takes resources and money, but by settling it the way you did, you don’t get to actually confront your accusers. And you don’t have to get them to answer for this And that’s why I think people would look at this and think there’s something more going on here. To me, I think that was not some seditious thing to say – it’s long been held that we are probably are all from Africa. It’s a hard one to get your head around, because it either speaks that we have very nonacademic people running at least this university, or we have somebody – some very powerful people – who you upset. Although there’s a lot of sensitivity to indigenous culture with truth and reconciliation, but this predates that. Your lecture in 2005 was a sensitive one, but not at the level that we see today. So, did you have any suspicions?

Dr. DiCarlo 

So often, when I give lectures especially on critical thinking, I distinguish how difficult it is for humans to separate their limbic system, or their emotional centre of their brains from their prefrontal cortex, or the more intellectual parts of their brains. In fact, that’s one of the most difficult things to do in critical thinking, because it requires fairness; you have to pull yourself back from your emotions, to try to just deal with the evidence and deal with arguments and deal with structure and facts. And what I think was going on at an underlying level, is when I said ‘We are all African’, that brings in evolutionary theory. This literally means that humans are another ape. We’re just another African ape. And I think for some people, that’s too much. Because many believe that we were specially created. You know, we are a divinity’s, greatest creation. So, to call us “just another ape” is to diminish us, and to keep us down. And in some people’s eyes, that diminishes them.

Interviewer 

We’ve settled this academically through the evolutionary sciences. But there are people who still believe in Noah’s ark and that our planet is only 6000 years old and all this other stuff. Butfrom an academic point of view, what you were teaching is quite commonly accepted. It’s not as though you shouldn’t be teaching this because it’s not proven. I mean, ultimately, you’re a man of science, which means until we find a better answer we follow the best, and most current evidence. So I find it odd that these three people would be taking a course like that. It seems like they’re provocateurs, they went in there expecting you to what would they thinking they can simply believe anything they want without evidence? Without supported arguments? If I were you, I would be trying to track down these people. I’d be trying to figure out what kind of influence they had. And let them know that you cannot just get someone fired by making vague complaints about the ideas and the language you might have been teaching. But here we are 20 years later, and it’s kind of a strange anniversary? I know you got a lot of support in the humanist community and academics. What was your response from them?

Dr. DiCarlo 

Yeah, some of the people in the secular and humanist and atheist societies came through big time. People like Dr. Richard Thain, Dr. Larry Moran, Simon Parcher, Kathy Dimou, Jan Draak, and Ron Hinch rallied around me. As well, Dr. Gervan Fearon who was then a Dean at Ryerson University (now TMU), and is now President at George Brown College in Toronto, invited me to be the guest of honour at an annual celebration of the Tropicana Community Services. Also, Dr. Henry Morgentaler and I became quite close when he discovered what I had gone through. He couldn’t believe this was happening at a publicly-funded university in Canada.

Interviewer 

That’s interesting. How does academia look these days?

Dr. DiCarlo 

In fact, things have gotten so much worse. I believe I was one of the first professors to get cancelled simply by teaching what is acceptable in the scientific communities. And it’s funny, you’re never fired. You’re just kind of nudged out; the positions ‘go away’. And then they say, “Well, gosh, if we just had some courses for you to teach, but unfortunately, there aren’t any.”

Interviewer 

But you think this was a very deliberate thing? Obviously, they settled, so, they got their lawyers to give you a bunch of money if you shut up.

Dr. DiCarlo 

Yeah, they made me go away.

Interviewer 

And so there’s no liability on their side?

Dr. DiCarlo 

But that’s it. As soon as that happens, every university finds out, and you’re black-listed. So the next time you apply for a position or to teach courses, should you be lucky enough to get one, they’ll keep their eye on you. And if you act out a little – you colour outside of the lines – that’s one more reason to get rid of you. So that was one of the first dismissals, I guess, for lack of a better word. But yeah, the humanist community rallied around me, which was good.

But something weird happened five years later in 2010. I had written several articles about our common African ancestry and several articles had been written about me. And I had taken part in a ‘We are all African’ speaking tour. So I was being identified fairly widely as a very strong advocate for the ‘We are all African’ concept as a way to teach the public about common lineage while expressing my hope that it could reduce racism, harm, and violence. So the I was being identified in the secular communities with this phrase.

Interviewer 

Yeah, you became like the martyr of this whole secular/atheist movement. 

Dr. DiCarlo 

And as I was touring and writing magazine articles, there was a big conference in LA, in October, 2010. And all the superstars were there. I think the only two that weren’t there was Dan Dennett and Christopher Hitchens. But a lot of the luminaries were there like Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, and Richard Dawkins, et al. When I was invited by Tom Flynn, I responded by saying “I’m packing my ‘We are All African’ shirts and posters as we speak”. But in his next email he said that I should not bring any ‘We are all African’ merchandise. This seemed weird because Tom was such an excellent editor with me for my Free Inquiry magazine cover article by the same title and the subsequent speaking tour across Canada and the US earlier that summer. He mentioned that there wasn’t enough room for it on the merchandise tables. This seemed quite strange. So my family and I show up in LA, and I spoke with a very good friend of mine who was very well known in the secular community. And she said, “Did you hear about the Richard Dawkins Foundation?” I said that I did not. “They’re using your idea?” I said, “What idea?” Your ‘We are All African idea. I said “What do you mean? What’s going on?” She said that I should talk to Richard Dawkins who I had known for years. When we met, he had just received what looked like a parcel in the mail. He pulled out a shirt. And the shirt said, ‘We are all Africans’ and the A in the word ‘African’ was the red atheist A. When I asked him what was going on, he mentioned that it was the latest merchandise for the Richard Dawkins Foundation. I said, “you know, I got fired for that, right?” He said that he had no idea. So I said: “Richard, it’s literally in the magazine here that I just completed a Canada-US speaking tour on. Look at the cover.” He seemed surprised to hear, apparently that I had gotten fired for stating this in one of my Critical Thinking classes. I told him that I would touch base with him again after the conference and he agreed.

When we got back home, I called the Richard Dawkins Foundation, which I think was in New York at that time. I left a detailed message but no one returned my call. A few days later, I left another message; still, no response. The third time I called, I disguised my number, and the executive director answers. I said, “Hi, it’s Dr. Christopher DiCarlo”. And she said: “Oh, you. Hello? What do you want?” I mentioned that I was following up on a meeting I had with Richard at the conference in LA. She immediately responded by saying: “You know, the whole ‘We’re All African’ thing, you don’t own that phrase!” I said, “No. Nobody owns the phrase. But that’s not what this is about.”

I informed her that, according to Richard, we were supposed to talk about the ordeal that I’ve gone through and how it’s damaged my career. She said, “I don’t know anything about that. And if you have an issue with it, get a lawyer.” And she hung up the phone.

Interviewer 

So, did they get a copyright on that phrase or something?

Dr. DiCarlo 

No, nobody does. But I just thought it was so, so curt, and so dismissive, that this woman would not have anything to do with me whatsoever. And I thought, “wow!”

As an aside, a few years earlier, Michael Shermer was giving a talk in Toronto. And I was invited to come down and meet him and go to the talk. After the talk, I gave him one of my ‘We are all African’ shirts. He said, “Oh, this is great. This is wonderful. Thank you very much. I like this, I really appreciate this.” And we’ve stayed in contact back and forth since then. But just to let you know how much these four words were associated with my career and what I’ve gone through, when the Black Lives Matter movement was happening in 2020 and 2021, Michael Shermer contacted me in an email with a picture of him holding one of Dawkins’ ‘We are all Africans’ shirts. He asked whether or not he should dare wear it now. I had to write back to him to let him that it wasn’t the shirt I gave him. But he was under the impression that it was. That’s how much I’ve been associated with the phrase.

Interviewer 

Well, he had one Dawkins’ shirts, too?

Dr. DiCarlo 

Yes, but he associated it with me!

Interviewer 

It just goes to show, it’s a business – the decision made to fire you was a business decision. And, I know you’re a fan of Richard Dawkins, but the business end of these things takes off and become problematic. The fact that you’ve gone through all this, and then of course, for them to just act like it didn’t happen, especially when she knows she knows exactly why you’re calling. She’s like, she’s cutting you short.

Dr. DiCarlo 

And that the organizer of this conference said don’t bring any of your ‘We are all African’ stuff because he knows it’s going to interfere with what people at the RDF they were planning five years after my firing. And that they altered it by putting an ‘s’ at the end of the word ‘African’ so they could potentially avoid legal action, just leaves me with a very disheartened feeling.

Interviewer 

Yes, so that clearly means that they knew that they had to change it so it didn’t associate consistently with yours?

Dr. DiCarlo 

And then to put a red letter ‘A’ in front of the word ‘Africans’. That’s not only presumptive but also, on some levels, a little offensive.

Interviewer 

Yeah, because ultimately that they’re not all atheists. Oh, and you know, the letter A, the big letter A, has stood for a few things over the years – from the scarlet letter to anarchy and the anarchists use a big red A. And so, I mean, Dawkins does like to be contentious. But to do this….

Dr. DiCarlo 

Yes, and this is five years after the ordeal had taken place. I had gone through all of this. And at that time (2010), I just been fired from my latest University, and was out of a job.

Interviewer 

And you were fired for?

Dr. DiCarlo 

For being an atheist. That case went to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for discrimination of creed where my creed was atheism. It was the first such court case in history as far as we know.

Interviewer    

And that was at?

Dr. DiCarlo 

Another Southern Ontario university. People can look that up because anybody can have access to the proceedings.  But we were poor and struggling, and going further and further and further into debt. And it just would have been nice for secularists and humanists, like with the power of Dawkins and his foundation to say, this guy got fired for saying this, you know, not that he has to give me any financial support, not that he has to do anything, but just to simply acknowledge what had happened to me as a casualty of the culture war. I mean, Dawkins was well to do public intellectual and a fully tenured professor.

Interviewer 

So he was sort of cashing in after all the controversy has gone down? And this had to have been a conscious decision. And even after he was told, and even after you were told by organizers – they all recognized that this was going to be a path and potentially, a problem.

Dr. DiCarlo 

So yeah, the public really doesn’t know about this part of my ‘We are all African’ experience.

Interviewer 

You know, this is ultimately what you’ve been seeing with your books and everything for years is that this is how you have a conversation respectfully with people so that you can have differing views and still talk to each other respectfully. And you were never given that opportunity to have that conversation with these people who got you fired or got you looked past or passed over. And now, 20 years later, you’ve had time to sort of ruminate on the experience.

Dr. DiCarlo 

Hmm…yes, would I have done it all over again, if I could go back and just not have written it on the board. I don’t know. I’ve often said myself, the next t shirt I make is “get the tenure first.” Because my supervisor, Michael Ruse was the first evolutionist I really studied under, who brought philosophy and science together. And if I had known when he introduced me to some of the humanist groups how damaging this would have been to my career, I might never have admitted ever that I was an atheist until the second after I was granted tenure.

Interviewer 

That’s why I was curious if you ever had a chance to confront these people, because this is something you’ve been saying for years, and this is something I agree with 100%: We need to teach people critical thinking skills so that if some don’t agree with the statement: ‘We are all African’, okay, well, let’s have the discussion.

Dr. DiCarlo 

Yes, how did you arrive at that conclusion? And why did I arrive at mine? In case of indigenous culture, they have their creation stories, and their claims that they go back, you know, 1000s of years. But it’s a discussion; this is what academics are supposed to be about, we’re supposed to have differing opinions and discuss them. And, and so I mean, there’s a lesson to be learned here about how business, basically, is the guiding factor of everything in this, and that’s not a that’s not a diatribe against capitalism. But it ultimately speaks to how that’s been a guiding principle,

But it takes the expertise out of the professional academics and puts it into the hands of HR to make decisions. We’re the experts here and we’re the ones who are supposed to teach the students rather than have the students tell us what they get to learn and how they’re going to learn it. They’re there to learn, and they’re there to be pushed, and they’re there to have their minds expanded.

Interviewer 

To be challenged in  their views so that they have to learn how to present an argument about their beliefs.

Dr. DiCarlo 

Yes, and to mature as human beings. And to become civilians – to know how to live civically within a pluralistic society; but that’s broken down and I’m afraid I think I was one of the first canceled casualties, at least in Canada.

Interviewer 

Yeah. Well, I mean, as an investigative reporter, I’ve got to find out who these people are. Simply because I’ve got to understand; to me, it’s very disillusioning to think that the students could cause that much damage.

Dr. DiCarlo 

And the irony, right?

Interviewer 

I know. It was a critical thinking course. And that’s the one that gets cancelled. They offered a settlement and they knew you didn’t have the resources to keep fighting them. But you know, like I say, the mystery about this whole thing is that they would cancel the programme and everything, especially since it is such a vital thing for people to learn well.

Dr. DiCarlo 

Since then, at other university that bounced me, their Philosophy Department does not offer to  teach Critical Thinking at all. It’s not offered in their curriculum. And when I asked the Chair why this was the case, he said: “Oh, they pick it up. They pick it up through the other courses we teach.” They pick it up. Hmmm…how do you test for that?

Interviewer 

And ultimately, you’ve been on this campaign for years. I bet you’ve never talked to someone who said we shouldn’t teach students critical thinking because everybody agrees with that. Everybody.

Dr. DiCarlo 

And this was a philosophy department saying this at the at the number one university in Canada.

Interviewer 

It’s a sort of an odd anniversary 20 years later.

Dr. DiCarlo 

It certainly is.