A New York University psychology professor tweeted that fat people should not apply to be Ph.D. candidates, but later claimed he was conducting an experiment.
Geoffrey Miller, a visiting professor in evolutionary psychology, sent the offending Tweet earlier this week: “Dear obese PhD applicants: If you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth.”
It was deleted soon after, but not before generating a deluge of criticism from students and academics.
“Astonishing fat-shaming tweet, since deleted, from an academic,” tweeted Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU. “The mind boggles.”
Miller apologized for his immature joke in a follow-up Tweet.
“Obviously my previous tweet does not represent the selection policies of any university, or my own selection criteria,” he tweeted. “Sincere apologies to all for that idiotic, impulsive, and badly judged tweet.”
NYU issued a statement reprimanding Miller, accepted his apology and said the matter was closed.
But the University of New Mexico, where Miller is a regular psychology professor, seemed to take the matter more seriously.
“We are deeply concerned about the impact of the statement, which in no way reflects the policies or admission standards of UNM,” said UNM’s statement. “We are investigating every aspect of this incident and will take appropriate action.”
Jane Ellen Smith, chairperson of the UNM psychology department, said she spoke to Miller about the Tweet. He claimed that he has been deliberately writing inflammatory messages on Twitter as part of a sociological experiment.
“He claims it’s part of a research study,” she said in a statement. “He claims that he has been sending out provocative Tweets to measure people’s reactions to them, so we will be investigating that.”
Miller is the author of, among others, “Must-Have: The Hidden Instincts Behind Everything We Buy” and “Spent: Sex, Evolution and the Secrets of Consumerism.” Amazon reviewer kevin from Austin, Texas describes the latter work as “a book dedicated to explaining to all the other Open-Minded professors from other disciplines why they should stop glaring at him so much and shunning him at conferences” by an “extremely insecure professor of evolutionary psychology.”
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