[lbo-talk] posh as fuck

// ravi ravi at platosbeard.org
Thu Dec 8 17:47:26 PST 2011

On Dec 6, 2011, at 11:03 AM, Michael Smith wrote:
> Academe as a bastion of free enquiry is a bit oversold,
> too. There certainly are some bold thinkers in Academe,
> but there's also a lot of faddism, groupthink, and parroting
> of conventional wisdom. And there's a fair amount of
> downright ideological thought-policing too; look at the
> persecution of Norman Finkelstein vel sim. There are
> courageous individuals within the Unis, but the Unis
> are not courageous institutions.

They are, almost by definition, conservative institutions, aren’t they? Even more typical than Finkelstein’s experience are the cases of scientists pursuing alternate theories that challenge some holy grail (e.g: group or multi-level selection in biology, or volcanic theories of K-T extinction). Despite all the talk of open thinking and what not (Kuhn’s revolutions included), it seems to me the primary purpose of universities is to store ossified information and burn it into the minds of the next generation. Which is fine I suppose — after all, the ossified stuff is more “correct" 99% of the time than any “open thinking”. Certainly one can’t blame academics for what can happen (or fail to happen) to young adults. Not everyone is a Bertrand Russell (for good and bad!).


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