Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Who's better: Summers or Babangida?

There has been a public outcry in the blogosphere, as well there should be, following the symbolic vote of no-confidence that Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences passed against Lawrence Summers, Harvard's president. See this interesting and thorough post by an associate professor* who voted against the measure (via a comment to this post [read all the comments: they're great! My favourite: "Leftist academics never progressed beyond the social dynamics of a kindergarten class"]; via Instapundit).
As I love pithy quotes I can't help but mention this paragraph from Powerline:
Let us now recall the words of the great Willliam F. Buckley Jr.: "I would rather be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston phone book, than by the Harvard faculty." The wisdom of Buckley's statement is proving timeless.
What I find worrying is not so much the patently absurd and unhinged-from-reality positions commonly held by many faculty members of prestigious universities in the US. Rather, what is most dangerous is their zeal in suppressing any opinion or idea they don't agree with in the most childish way. Surely, they honestly believe their opponents to be wrong, but it is breathtaking to see the limited horizons of their imaginations: that they cannot seem to conceive that there are opinions other than their own, that deserve to be aired and that there is a remote possibility that some of these opinions may be valid. I wonder how high they have set the bar for evidence that would force them to change their mind on anything. Let's hope that the increased public scrutiny of the faculty's positions and behaviour will be salutary for Harvard and the system as a whole.

*CORRECTION: as he notes himself in the comments he is actually an assistant professor. Which by the way underscores the courage of speaking out - as I understand it is easy to make enemies in academia and they can make life difficult at promotion time...

1 comment:

Lumo said...

Thanks, but I am only an assistant professor. ;-)