Dangerous Dan Thoughts and musings on the world

2/5/2005

The Academy

Filed under: Education — Dangerous Dan @ 11:09 pm

This was linked on The Corner and is an excellent read. It describes some of the ways professional academics and so-called experts on the Soviet Union were completely wrong about the subject and offers a few reasons for why that was so.

Ideology and seeing what you want to see was a big one, of course. The other main reason is one which generally affects must of academia and is rather unfortunate. The youngest group of academics come along and need to make a name for themselves. They do this by publishing, but to get published, they need to stand out somehow. The problem is that they usually stand out by just contradicting what previous people have said and then merely offering an opposite theory, i.e. they go against the field's mainstream opinion. Journals think the approach is fresh because it's different from most of the scholarship and so they publish the people even if the piece or theory itself is heavily flawed. Then other people feed at the trough and the "fresh" ideas become the prevailing ones. I don't know if there's any way around this, but it's just an observation.

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