Thursday, March 02, 2006

Delicate psyches may plan a new attack

Based on an article in The Crimson.

Who are they? Op-ed columnist in Saturday's New York Times calls them "professors with delicate psyches who are accustomed to teaching whatever’s in their latest book". The last part of this description is very deep and realistic. The Washington Times described them as "the Lilliputians guarding their miserable little nests of selfish indifference". According to the editor-in-chief of The New Republic, they are an "alliance of frightened souls and hyped-up orators".

What can they do if so many newspapers write the truth about them? Well, believe me or not, according to The Crimson, they are thinking about launching a counter-offensive. ;-)

  • “But because of our wish to protect the institution,” Ryan added, “we haven’t in fact been able to articulate specifically what our objections were—and thus it gets reduced to some vague ‘discontent.’”

Ms Ryan would do the best job to protect her institution if she avoided any actions and proclamations that could have any consequences - because such actions and proclamations are virtually guaranteed to damage her institution.

You may ask: so are these hyped-up orators able to present some arguments or something that would have at least a tiny ability to justify their acts? It does not seem so:

  • “To really respond would require going into specific ethical and managerial issues that simply keep the state of upheaval going on,” Richard Thomas, the chair of Classics, said. “And he’s already resigned.”

Laurel Ulrich, the XY anniversary university professor, has not yet been able to write a publishable reply to Tierney's analysis either, partly because The New York Times has a policy not to publish angry replies to previous op-eds.

The article in The Crimson returns to Tierney's observation about their teaching whatever the paper had to suffer in their latest book. Of course, these books are not important enough to justify dozens of courses at Harvard, and Summers always wanted the people to teach things that actually make sense - well, like quantum mechanics II or quantum field theory II - things whose importance is universal and objective.

You often read and hear about politics and political correctness behind these events. But an equally important aspect is the culture wars perspective. While the hard sciences - which in this case includes fields like economics - try to study objective and universally important questions, the soft "sciences" prefer to create new "material" whose importance is questionable, to say the least. While the society probably needs both hard stuff as well as soft stuff for a healthy development, it is more than clear that the fraction of the soft stuff is guaranteed to grow if a university offers money for "any" kind of academic activity which is why a responsible president must act as a counter-balance to this process.

The Crimson ends with Rush Limbaugh's entertaining piece that explained that Summers was brought down by a gang of angry feminazis, and that Harvard should be renamed to Hervard. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Get a real life, Lubos! Larry Summers is now history. Move on! There are certainly much more important things to talk about. Like this Scientific American article about Peak Oil. Clearly it now has quickly become a main stream consensus that peak oil is imminent and urgent action is needed to salvage civilization from collapsing.

    We are saved this winter from the natural gas situation only because an incredibly WARM winter. Next winter is going to be tough.