Wednesday, 9 March 2005

Intellectual Arrogance

Via Yet Another Weird SF Fan, a thought-provoking (accent on the provoking) article about the imbalance of political viewpoints in Academe. One choice quote:
The reason why various departments in humanities and social sciences do not hire conservatives is the same reason no department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology would ever hire a creationist - they are wrong. Their research method is useless: starting with the conclusions then cherry-picking "evidence" to support the conclusions. That is how creationists operate. That is how conservatives operate. That is not quality work and there is no reason why any department should hire such sub-standard faculty. The important question is how come such ass-idiots ever got hired and tenured in departments of business, economics, religion and law? Isn't THAT the real example of ideologically-based hiring? There is no other explanation for them being hired in the first place. Quality of their work and thought could not possibly have been a cause for their hire.
Here's another quote, this time from David Hume :
"When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken, giving views to passion without that proper deliberation which alone can secure them from the grossest absurdities"
I'm with Hume on this one. But you knew that.

So why have I quoted from this article? Because despite the arrogance and (IMHO) at times absurdity, it is thought-provoking, and the blog as a whole has a lot of merit. It's by someone whose had to suffer more than their fair share of fools, gladly or otherwise. Not for those who mind searching for diamonds in a dungheap, but rewarding for those who don't. Besides which, if my whole thesis is that we should have more diversity, I shouldn't just be linking to people I agree with. I'm arrogant, but not that arrogant.

Talking about arrogance, here's another quote, this time from W.V.Mayer.
Arrogance comes in a variety of forms. The arrogance of great wealth, the arrogance of great power, the arrogance of great beauty, and the arrogance of a great master are bearable because they rest on an acknowledged and measurable base. The arrogance of ignorance, however, is unbearable because it is rooted in smug satisfaction with being isolated from the facts of the case.
There's no way I'd call Bora Zivkovic ignorant. To do so would automatically destroy the last shred of any credibility I had. But the "smug satisfaction" label fits, showing that it's not just the ignorant who can suffer from this. A lesson to us all - myself most definitely included.

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