Saturday, January 13, 2018

American Education is a Real Shithole

. . . The world is always being overrun by political, economic, religious, and social unreason, violence, stupidity, deception, and domination through sheer power. But I have long believed that, despite its flaws, American higher education should, could, and often did stand as an elevated island, a protected reserve for the practice of open inquiry, reasoned debate, critical and self-critical reflection, persuasion through argument and evidence, and genuine progress in shared learning.

Grievously, for me that belief has become implausible. Under the accumulated weight of the mounds of BS, the island has been swamped, the reserve polluted, by many of the destructive outside forces that the academy exists to hold in check and correct. Much of American higher education now embodies the problems it was intended to transcend and transform: unreason, duplicity, refusals of accountability, incapacities to grasp complexity and see the big picture, and resorts to semi-masked forms of coercion.

The most disturbing consequences of this long-term corruption are now playing out in our national political culture and institutions.

Dramatic political polarization, fake news, legislative paralysis, torrents of blatant lies told with impunity, violent radicals in our city streets, scandalous ignorance of large swaths of Americans about the basic facts of our most pressing national problems, some top officials boasting about their sexual harassments and assaults without consequence, international diplomacy conducted through schoolyard taunting and self-contradictory tweets, and the growing frustration and increasingly desperate rage of large sectors of ordinary Americans: These are exactly what develop when even the "educated" citizens of a country are for too many decades not educated well, and when the institutional centers of enlightened learning and debate become havens of ideology, intimidation, and mission drift. With academe in this condition, what hope can we have for the exercise of important social virtues in politics, law, diplomacy, the media, and the marketplace?

This is colossally tragic. But can we even comprehend tragedy anymore? I fear that, in the collective imagination of contemporary American higher education, as with our culture more broadly, tragedy itself is a category no longer recognizable. Compromising acquiescence? Sure. Late-career cynicism or fatigue? Of course. But tragedy? What is that? . . .
Read the whole thing for a depressing rundown of the level of BS.

It's not as bad in STEM as it is in the humanities, but it's creeping in. Curiously, it's all happening as fields become more and more occupied by women, who are all about the feelz. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. President Oprah’s Pseudoscience

Thanks for the link, Andy!

Linked by Evi L. Bloggerlady in "What A Shithole!" and  "Trump already has a "wall" that Democrats fear..."

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