Academic Conformism is the road to “1984.”


The world is filled with conformism and groupthink.  Most people do not wish to think for themselves.  Thinking for oneself is dangerous, requires effort and often leads to rejection by the herd of one's peers.

The profession of arms, the intelligence business, the civil service bureaucracy, the wondrous world of groups like the League of Women Voters, Rotary Club as well as the empire of the thinktanks are all rotten with this sickness, an illness which leads inevitably to stereotyped and unrealistic thinking, thinking that does not reflect reality.

The worst locus of this mentally crippling phenomenon is the world of the academics.  I have served on a number of boards that awarded Ph.D  and post doctoral grants.  I was on the Fulbright Fellowship federal board.  I was on the HF Guggenheim program and executive  boards for a long time.  Those are two examples of my exposure to the individual and collective academic minds.

As a class of people I find them unimpressive. The credentialing exercise in acquiring a doctorate is basically a nepotistic process of sucking up to elders and a crutch for ego support as well as an entrance ticket for various hierarchies, among them the world of the academy. The process of degree acquisition itself requires sponsorship by esteemed academics who recommend candidates who do not stray very far from the corpus of known work in whichever narrow field is involved.   The endorsements from RESPECTED  academics are often decisive in the award of grants.

This process is continued throughout a career in academic research.  PEER REVIEW is the sine qua non for acceptance of a "paper," invitation to career making conferences, or to the Holy of Holies, TENURE.

This life experience  forms and creates CONFORMISTS, people who instinctively boot-lick their fellows in a search for the "Good Doggy" moments that make up their lives.  These people are for sale.  Their price may not be money, but they are still for sale.  They want to be accepted as members of their group.  Dissent leads to expulsion or effective rejection from the group. 

This mentality renders doubtful any assertion that a large group of academics supports any stated conclusion.  As a species academics will say or do anything to be included in their caste.

This makes them inherently dangerous.  They will support any party or parties, of any political inclination if that  group has the money, and the potential or actual power to maintain the academics as a tribe.  pl


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71 Responses to Academic Conformism is the road to “1984.”

  1. A. Pols says:

    Climate change: “scientific consensus”

  2. doug says:

    That is the nature of tribes and humans are very tribal. At least most of them. Fortunately, there are outliers. I was recently reading “Political Tribes” which was written by a couple who are both law professors that examines this.
    Take global warming (aka the rebranded climate change). Good luck getting grants to do any skeptical research. This highly complex subject which posits human impact is a perfect example of tribal bias.
    My success in the private sector comes from consistent questioning what I wanted to be true to prevent suboptimal design decisions.
    I also instinctively dislike groups that have some idealized view of “What is to be done?”
    As Groucho said: “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member”

  3. J says:

    Reminds one of the Borg, doesn’t it?
    The ‘isms’ had it, be it Nazism, Fascism, Communism, Totalitarianism, Elitism all demand conformity and adherence to group think. If one does not co-tow to whichever ‘ism’ is at play, those outside their group think are persecuted, ostracized, jailed, and executed all because they defy their conformity demands, and defy allegiance to them.
    One world, one religion, one government, one Borg. all lead down the same road to — Orwell’s 1984.

  4. Factotum says:

    David Halberstam: The Best and the Brightest. (Reminder how the heck we got into Vietnam, when the best and the brightest were serving as presidential advisors.)
    Also good Halberstam re-read: The Powers that Be – when the conservative media controlled the levers of power; not the uber-liberal one we experience today.

  5. fotokemist says:

    You nailed it. Just as spontaneous natural processes tend toward disorder, human activity seems to tend toward corruption. Keep up the good work.

  6. turcopolier says:

    One more indication that Virginia is gone forever into the Blue group.

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    If you are mediocre, in any place, you will prosper since you are not a threat to anyone.
    If you are a genious, you will propser as you are untouchable by the ocean of mediocrity.
    If you are brilliant, but not genious, you will not prosper.

  8. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Happy is the man who has no imagination, for he is saved, as the Medieval Christians believed.

  9. Vegetius says:

    How long ago was your last academic experience? My understanding is that in the liberal arts it has basically become a long struggle session. Basically if you are a straight white male you keep your head down and think in secret, like Winston Smith.
    The answer to a lot of this is simple: end all federal funding to any public institution any part of which has speech codes more restrictive than settled law with regard to the First Amendment.
    Trump could have done this his first day in office, and he actually tweeted about it once. But no.

  10. wtofd says:

    Nassim Taleb, of Black Swan fame, talks about this phenomenon in Skin in the Game. He also writes convincingly, if briefly, about the radical Sunni threat and Americans confusing the Shia as the global threat. Worthwhile.

  11. artemesia says:

    Gotta laugh or you’ll cry
    Talk about group-think:
    First comment: 12:58 pm
    Second comment: 1:01 pm
    Third comment: 1:22 pm
    24 minutes and WE HAVE A WINNER: “Nazism & Fascism are . . .”
    Gee Mr. Wilson, what stunningly independent thinking. How ‘thinking-outside-the-History-Channel-box”ish.

  12. The best description of a PhD that I can think of came from a tailor. He had learned his trade in Germany and, when he was ready to become a master, the local guild gave him a task — to make a morning suit from start to finish, every bit done by him. Then they tore it apart checking everything and decided that he had the ability to be ranked as a master tailor. That’s all a PhD thesis is: proof that you can do the whole research and writing thing.
    However, I believe that of late it has more and more become an exercise in showing that you are a loyal acolyte of whatever school your supervisor belongs to. I conclude this from younger PhDs I met at work.
    Mine dates, BTW, from 1976 and I am amused to see (everything’s on the Net these days) that there has been a (modest) uptick in demand. But an exercise that, when I started work for the govt, probably got me more starting money and gave a useful title in a military-dominated world where everyone had a title. “Doctor” being impressive enough but usefully vague.
    All irrelevant these days and no relation, BTW, to Russia (Just as well since most Russia/Soviet teachers in the English-speaking world seem to hate Russia and all that it has ever done.)

  13. Requirements, IMO are 1) a certain amount of intelligence but not all that much 2) some luck (your supervisor shouldn’t die, someone else shouldn’t beat you to it, your examiners shouldn’t take a scunner to you or your supervisor) 3, and probably most important, sitzfleisch: the ability to nail your bum to the chair and plow through it. And, also important, to know when to stop.
    (an absurdly long process in N American it seems, years and years and years. I got mine in the UK — write the thesis and that’s it)

  14. Terence Gore says:
    Dreher’s article on the 1619 project of the NY TIMES where there is an effort to re frame the history of the US in the context of slavery. He quotes World Socialist Web Site’s view on the ‘movement’. From the WSWS editorial
    “Despite the pretense of establishing the United States’ “true” foundation, the 1619 Project is a politically motivated falsification of history. Its aim is to create a historical narrative that legitimizes the effort of the Democratic Party to construct an electoral coalition based on the prioritizing of personal “identities”—i.e., gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, and, above all, race.”
    Dreher picks out a part of an interview that relates to the new academic conformity
    “The reflection of identity politics in the curriculum is the primacy of cultural history. There was a time, a long, long time ago, when a “diverse history faculty” meant that you had an economic historian, a political historian, a social historian, a historian of the American Revolution, of the Civil War, and so on. And now a diverse history faculty means a women’s historian, a gay historian, a Chinese-American historian, a Latino historian. So it’s a completely different kind of diversity.
    On a global scale the benefit of this has been tremendous. We have more—and we should have more—African history, Latin American history, Asian history, than we ever have. Within US history it has produced narrow faculties in which everybody is basically writing the same thing. And so you don’t bump into the economic historian at the mailbox and say “Is it true that all the wealth came from slavery,” and have them say, “that’s ridiculous,” and explain why it can’t be true.”
    Those who control the past…

  15. Diana C says:

    I’m not sure I agree with you about the Medieval Christians having no imagination. Chaucer’s pilgrims were all interesting characters. Perhaps they weren’t all brilliant or virtuous, but they were, as Chaucer created them, all INDIVIDUALS.
    I try not to make judgments about medieval Muslims. I simply have had not chance to learn much about them; so I try not to lump them all together in my mind.

  16. Diana C says:

    I am sad to agree with the points made in this post.
    I find it a little frightening to think about what might happen to our country if academia continues on this course.
    However, as a person who dropped out of a doctoral program because it just wasn’t in me to interpret all assigned readings as a Marxist or a totally wacky feminist who feels men and women might not be of the same species, I just decided not to get a doctorate and dropped out of the program. I’ve been happier for it.
    Later, I watched as friends, family members, and their various friends and family members who realized the absolute worthlessness of public education nowadays in NEA controlled schools turned to home schooling, charter schools, and various other alternate ways of providing an actual education for their children.
    I’ve met many of the children of these parents and am often quite pleased with the fact that for the most part they are individuals who can speak and think freely and are happy to be finding their way in the world doing what they want to do.
    I hope more and more parents like these young people’s parents break away from the public NEA option. There are many very good choices for educating our children to become real individual people who contribute in their individual ways to a vial economy and society.
    I am counting on God, Who is Good and Loving to make this current state of affairs temporary in the long lifetime of this world. I give it to God, as they say, and I do not mourn my not ever getting that doctorate–a dream I had as a young girl. Not having it doesn’t mean I can’t still read and study and think on my own.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    After 1200, Muslims ran out of steam, encouraged & advised by their so-called Thinkers to conform the Law and thus guarantee their After Life. What is more important: Knowledge or Faith? Athens or zJerusalem? If your innovation causes you to go astray, discard it.

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Liberal Arts education has been made available to the masses: they do not understand it, appreciate, need it, or can even use it. A very small percentage of mankind is suited for that kind of education. It is almost criminal negligence to have expanded it so much.

  19. Babak Makkinejad says:

    See here please for an example

  20. Mathias Alexander says:

    I expect group think works out fine for hunter-gatherers.

  21. Much of what I write could well be considered ‘non-conformist’, but I’ve never encountered any problems in academia because of it. In fact, being a professor gives one the security which makes one confident enough to be non-conformist. Sweeping generalizations are unhelpful.

  22. turcopolier says:

    Paul Robinson
    No. Sweeping generalizations are quite helpful because they express opinions about behavior in general. As for you, you may have tenure but if you start saying things like, “Bigfoot is real,” you will find yourself largely ostracized. Actually academics prefer extremely narrow foci for studies because the possibility of conflict among them is thereby reduced,

  23. All I can say is that I have never in 20 years in academia felt the slightest pressure from other academics to bend my research or writing to fit their will. Pressure to conform has, however, come from outside the university – my one experience writing a report for a think tank did not end well. On the whole, in my own field of study, I find academics much more reasonable, nuanced, and willing to discuss and consider alternatives, than politicians, journalists, and think tank types. Of course, that is just one person’s experience, and I wouldn’t generalize from it, any more than you should from yours. But there it is.

  24. Vegetius says:

    Remember, Weinstein was fine with the anti-white, anti-western, anti-Christian agenda at Evergreen until it inconvenienced him. Then he learned to his shock that pulling his J-card would not give him a pass. At which point the pathetic attempt at gatekeeping called the “intellectual dark web” was declared.
    Taleb and Weinstein have had an interesting back-and-forth on twitter lately over the latter’s statement:
    “We are going to have to figure out how to govern the Earth. That requires us to agree on values, ground rules and assumptions. I don’t care about private faith. I care that all populations maintain compatibility with a common belief system that prioritizes no one’s sacred book.”
    The test for whether Weinstein is lying or not is simple: will he support a global ban on infant genital mutilation?

  25. J says:

    It looks like Soylent Green is a not too far off possibility. Washington State has thrown out the dignity of the human death and subsequent corpse with their Washington State’s bath water. They’ll be composting dead human beings like they would compost rotting food or rotting garbage. With burial or cremation, there is some dignity given to the life of the individual who life has passed, whereas with composting, they’ll be throwing the human corpse with its decaying fluids and all into basically a sewage pit to rot. With them composting human dead like a rotting cabbage, basic human dignity will have been cast into the trash heap. The Elites are now coming out in the open and calling for human cannibalism, and there could be legislation enacted like what Washington State did with human composting, legislation to make human cannibalism a reality. And a step further is turning the human corpse into a palatable food item, which is what Soylent Green was in the movie. The humanity of that movie thought they were eating vegetable crackers, unbeknownst to them they were eating their next of kin, or their neighbor down the street. In the movie, garbage trucks gathered up the dead corpses like they were cord-wood, and took them to a processing station, much like what the human composting will have — processing stations.
    Remember that Orwell’s 1984 was poo poo’d as never happening just a few short years ago. And the 1973 movie Soylent Green was poo poo’d as science fiction when it was released.
    World’s First Human Composting Facility is Coming to Seattle in 2021

  26. fredw says:

    Academics make easy targets for this crew, but, as noted above, they they are far from unique in their tribal instincts. The thing that appalled me most after my Vietnam experience (apart from the fact that William Calley’s entire chain of command did not go to prison) was the discovery of how many people had figured out that our cause was all but unwinnable and how little influence that discovery had. When the preparatory simulation exercises showed us consistently losing, the pentagon stopped the war gaming. Etc. all the way through the war. In fact even the catastrophe they suffered in Tet ’68 did not shift the balance in our favor.
    John Maynard Keynes made the academics’ ultimate response to the notion that people in more “practical” pursuits are more realistic: “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually slaves of some defunct economist.”
    And no, Keynes was not that much an advocate for academics either: ” Education: the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent.”

  27. Fred says:

    ” being a professor gives one the security”
    Sounds like you got yours are sure don’t want to lose it.

  28. Serge says:

    This conformism is not only limited to the humanities, it has crept insidiously into the physical and natural sciences. Pharmaceutical companies can now depend on an endless supply of conformist Scientists who will advocate for the drugging up of children in order to treat imaginary first world diseases.

  29. PeterVE says:

    Yesterday, we had a guest Minister at my Unitarian church (I can feel the eye rolls from the commentariat already….). She has an economics degree from Princeton, a business degree from MIT, and an M.Div from Meadville Lombard Theological School. She comes to ministry after a career in high tech and slow food. She is of European and Native American ancestry, and practices the Hawaiian culture with her Big Island ohana. (Isn’t that cultural appropriation? /snark)
    She opened with two sweeping proclamations:
    “I am here today to help you all break the habit of referring to Native People in the past tense…”
    “We are standing on stolen land…”
    She then followed those with an incoherent sermon, which I hesitate to even try to summarize.
    One of her points was that Governor Bradford, who wrote the famous sermon speaking the shining city on the hill, believed in the righteousness of his cause, including treating the Natives as lesser beings. She did note that the Unitarian Church is a descendant of those original Congregational churches, but she missed the part where we still believe in the righteousness of our cause, and the right to treat the lesser orders as we wish.
    Back to her two opening remarks:
    I fully know that there are still descendants of the original settlers of our area still here.
    The particular land where the First Unitarian Church of Providence stands is part of the land conveyed by deed from the Narragansett tribe to Roger Williams, and the deed is in the Providence City Hall Archives, signed by the Sachems Cononicus and Miantonomi.
    I can hardly think of a better example of the product of group think, where the particulars of your audience don’t matter.

  30. Fred says:

    Then why did North Vietnam sign the Paris peace accords?

  31. fredw says:

    Because they thought the accords meant that we agreed to let them win the war. That interpretation doesn’t mesh with Nixon’s ferocious rhetoric about the Christmas bombing, but that was the truth. And they were pretty shrewd about that sort of thing.
    I can’t prove it and they would never say it, but I thought at the time that the Christmas bombing sent a message that we needed an end to it more than they did. So they reached out and sure enough we were willing to settle on terms similar to what they had offered in 1968.
    That is not to say that they were anything other than horrible brutal people. But they were not stupid horrible brutal people, and they had the commitment to see it through. And we did not. It was their country.

  32. jdledell says:

    Pat is probably going to toss me out of here for this comment. Conformity and “Group Think” is a human characteristic that is probably hard wired into our brains. It is not just academics who are subject to this trait but every group, poliitcal, religious or otherwise. That is how we got into Iraq. I got a kick out of an article in the Hill this morning about Trump’s trillion dollar annual defcits. The comment section was almost universal in ” it was Obama’s fault”. There was “group think’ at work since anyone who disagreed was roundly booed and the fact that not a single Republican congresscritter has raised their voice on our annual deficits when if it was a Democrat President the hue and cry would drown out normal reporting. Don’t get me wrong, the Democrats are not any better but group think is very widespread.

  33. turcopolier says:

    You are a brave non-conformist soul. I hope I am your friend.

  34. turcopolier says:

    Contemptibly disrespectful to the brave men who carried out Linebacker II. It would seem that you were a communist sympathizer. No sympathy for all the Vietnamese who did not want to be ruled by the communists?

  35. Fred says:

    A few million South Vietnamese would disagree.

  36. turcopolier says:

    I was careful to include a wide diversity of groups in my critique of humanity.

  37. Fred says:

    They are pushing the envelope in Cambridge. Got a couple students killed, rather ironic that,. But I’m sure they are not responsible nor will they adjust their theory based on the new evidence. Video here:

  38. Diana C says:

    I guess I was thinking of the common people, who did count themselves as Christian, and not the people in the “schools,” though some of Chaucer’s characters were in the church–e.g., a prioress, a friar, and so on. But these characters certainly knew how they were “supposed” to live their lives but clearly weren’t living their lives as the church would have them live.
    In that regard, perhaps there was a group of Christians who were IN the church. What I am saying is that almost all people in England at that time were–or at least considered themselves as Christians. However, they were indeed not living their lives as a member of the “Borg.”
    Perhaps, since I am a Protestant Christian, I am also not part of the group of people who are Christian and who are “accepted” in this Borg-like group.
    I often feel dismissed and diminished when my Christian beliefs, which I have held since childhood, seem not to be worthy of consideration in the discussion.

  39. TonyL says:

    “Because they thought the accords meant that we agreed to let them win the war.”
    No fredw. That’s a naive (or simplistic, should I say) thinking. They had no illlusion like that, they just practiced age old Sun Tzu’s teaching. In other words, if you know you can win with diplomacy why spend the blood and treasure to achieve the same thing? Demonstrate to your enemy that you are really willing to fight to the end no matter it takes, and then negotiate the peace to your favor.

  40. fredw says:

    Indeed you did. The commenters seem more focused on academics.

  41. fredw says:

    “A few million South Vietnamese would disagree.”
    I doubt it. The ones I have spoken with about it saw it pretty much the same way at the time. They spent a couple years hoping against hope that they were wrong – that the US did have the commitment to see it through. Their hopes were disappointed.

  42. turcopolier says:

    “A couple of years?” Our involvement started before the French left and lasted until 1975.

  43. turcopolier says:

    you seem to have missed the fact that between the armistice agreement and the onslaught in 1975 there were two + years. In that period of time they watched and waited until the US Congress cut off all aid to SVN and then they overran the country.

  44. Fred says:

    Would that be the ones who fled communism after the NV army invaded the the Republic of Vietnam or the fine people of the Socialist Republic who brought freedom from the barrels of all those guns?

  45. turcopolier says:

    The NVA invaded SVN in 1964. That is why we brought major forces into the country in 1965.

  46. J says:

    Both Democrats and Republicans have taken their brains and are using them to wipe their arses. The expression ‘Sh*t for brains’ fits them to a tee.
    If they’re not using their brains as basketballs and dribbling with them, they’re converting what little grey matter they have into toliet paper.
    Makes me fear for my fellow human beings.

  47. fredw says:

    A couple of years after the accords. US commitment didn’t last much longer than that. That was the point. The accords signaled to many Vietnamese that we were played out. Yes, we had been there for a long time, but we had come to the point of accepting that we could not have the outcome we had fought for.

  48. fredw says:

    The men who carried out Linebacker II were American soldiers (and sailors and airmen) who as usual gave it their all. I don’t disrespect even Richard Nixon or the military brass who ordered it. They faced seriously tough problems with no good solutions. I am just reporting the signalling I perceived with whatever insight I had picked up from a year of interacting with Vietnamese.
    And whatever my words might “seem” to imply, I have no sympathy at all for Communism or the Dang Lao Dong Viet Nam. But facing them day after day takes you beyond the abstraction of “enemy”. You get some insight into how they interpret the world. I don’t claim any real expertise. I didn’t do that long enough to get a really deep understanding. And the people I dealt with were low level. I am just reporting how I thought they might have reacted to events as they unfolded. The Vietnamese I knew(both sides) were very logical calculating people. They wouldn’t underestimate the effects of what we did, but they would always be looking for the motivation behind it.
    I was heartbroken for the Vietnamese who put their lives on the line in the expectation that we would somehow pull it out. We owed them. We copped out on that debt. I don’t believe we could have saved their war, but we should have done a lot better for them when it was lost.

  49. turcopolier says:

    Blame the American people. They gave up, influenced by NVN IO and its American Left allies. The US Congress of the day reflected that.

  50. turcopolier says:

    The American people betrayed the Vietnamese, not the military. And truth be told most of the SVN people were lukewarm participants in their own defense.

  51. fredw says:

    “I was heartbroken for the Vietnamese who put their lives on the line in the expectation that we would somehow pull it out.”
    “Heartbroken” is true, but when I think of those days the overwhelming emotion is shame.

  52. fredw says:

    I don’t see that you are disagreeing with my account of commitment levels. That said, there were both deeply committed south Vietnamese and many more who put their lives on the line betting that we could keep them from the bloody hell promised by a Communist victory. We took that bargain on that basis. Morally, I find it similar to the situation that you have described for the Kurds in Syria. It could only end ugly.

  53. fredw says:

    Perhaps the most shocking revelation that interrogators received was the realization that it wasn’t primarily us the enemy were worried about. Most of their anxieties were directed toward the lukewarm ARVNs who despite their many many many failings were perceived as the more dangerous enemy. We were a known (if lethal) factor. We did not represent an alternative to them. We rarely had the knowledge or understanding of local conditions to be really effective. The ARVNs did, and suffered four times our casualty rates trying to make their alternative happen.
    This is not a judgement of military or social effectiveness, just an observation of what their levels of concern seemed to be.

  54. turcopolier says:

    You are mighty certain for someone who was not there. Yes, there were Vietnamese who fought well and hard but not enough of them. You don’t seem to understand that we were there to help them. We did not run their government, leftist beliefs about that not withstanding. We did not command their army.

  55. turcopolier says:

    I am sure they were afraid of being turned over to the ARVN who were likely to torture and kill them if they were in the mood. The NVA and VC main force troops wre just as liely to do the same. You sound like John Vann who once rebuked me for not loving the Vietnamese. He was right.

  56. fredw says:

    “Not there”? Where was I in 1970? Sure looked like Viet Nam. Sure was hot.
    There sure were a lot people speaking tieng Viet Nam. Mine had to improve really fast. I think you may have lost the thread.

  57. fredw says:

    Agreed that they are pretty hard to love.

  58. turcopolier says:

    “I think you may have lost the thread.” Why would I know anything about you?

  59. fredw says:

    All right granted. The contents of my prior posts are much more present in my mind than in yours. In any case, I don’t see that we actually disagree that much. I think that we just have different reactions to similar sets of acts. Not my purpose to annoy you for no reason. Good luck with your roofing. I would probably fall the roof, even when I was young.

  60. turcopolier says:

    We have Fred, Freds, fredw. How many more Fred? ” The contents of my prior posts are much more present in my mind than in yours” Duh! Vann asked why I did not love the Vietnamese. My answer wa something like “Why should I? I am here to fight a war on their behalf. That does not require me to love them.”

  61. jdledell says:

    Pat – Yes you are, That is why I’m on your site every day.

  62. TonyL says:

    No sir. I did not missed that fact. I merely disagreed with fredw’s opinion about the reason why the North Vietnamese came to the negotiating table. Vietnamese people are pragmatic. Being a small country, they always do that regardless of of the situation.

  63. vig says:

    As for you, you may have tenure but if you start saying things like, “Bigfoot is real,” you will find yourself largely ostracized.
    You feel the Bigfoot and related para-normal phenomena should matter in Public and International Affair studies? Since comparable phenomena are reported all over the world? In the context of what larger topic/theme/course could/should it be considered?
    Or are you suggesting a Prof in international relations couldn’t even mention privately he feels Bigfoot is an interesting phenomenon? Suggesting it would get him into troubles no matter how solid his research in his own field?
    I was careful to include a wide diversity of groups in my critique of humanity.
    Yes, you were. But you also spent a considerable amount of digital ink on academics more generally and academia.

  64. turcopolier says:

    Professors are generally people who prefer the catfights in the academy to actual work in industry, finance, engineering, etc. does that mean that I generally think they are drones? Yes, I do.

  65. Turcopolier says:

    I received this comment from DMR, presumab;y a member of the professoriat.
    “Mr Robinson’s remarks are spot on. In my experience most academics worth their salt are absorbed in their research area however microscopic the focus, and delight above all in lively exchange of ideas with colleagues and students when afforded the opportunity to do so in the classroom, at conferences, in published research. Conformism, some of it timid, and competition, often cut-throat, there certainly are. Who would deny this? But as in any profession or walk of life they are par for the course. Forty years as a university teacher encourage me to say that these deformations professionelles are far from definitive, still less all-encompassing. Most unusually for you, Col. Lang, and pace your vaunted experience on boards of award-granting bodies/degree committees, your judgements in this instance smack of personal animus and bespeak an unwarrantedly generalized contempt. I say this with respect and no wish to annoy.” It is a characteristic of the academy that its members wish to be thought independent thinkers. They are united in that thought. Professor, i will seek to conform to your “professional” mores. My most personal animus is reserved for social “scientists.

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