the professors
March 21, 2006 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Pat Robertson on College Professors (warning a wmv from crooksandliars.com) David Horowitz' new book "The Professors" in his own words. Also a list of the professors in question. Book Description : Bestselling author David Horowitz reveals a shocking and perverse culture of academics who are poisoning the minds of today's college students. The Professors is a wake-up call to all those who assume that a college education is sans hatred of America and the American military and support for America's terrorist enemies. I don't know about you , but i need a cup of coffee
posted by nola (79 comments total)
 
oops the last sentence is my own. should read

. . . .of America and the American military and support for America's terrorist enemies." I don't know about you , but i need a cup of coffee.

there i fixed . . . i hope.
posted by nola at 2:40 PM on March 21, 2006


I had both Yvonne Haddad (as a lecturer) and John Esposito (undergrad). Both were excellent professors who had a POV but encouraged students to think for themselves, and were fantastic teachers.

This seems to just be (from what I can tell) a list of people who disagree with David Horowitz. What a sham.
posted by cell divide at 3:48 PM on March 21, 2006


Related.
posted by booksandlibretti at 3:52 PM on March 21, 2006


You can't hotlink the WMV files at crooksandliars, fellows! Link to the blog entry!
posted by beerbajay at 6:13 PM on March 21, 2006


Yes, I remember being beaten up by my communist murderer professors. It was traumatic. I am now totally brainwashed.

In other news, I'm a bit disappointed none of the profs at my school made it in!
posted by papakwanz at 6:14 PM on March 21, 2006


cell divide nails it.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:15 PM on March 21, 2006


What a loser. His book is $17.50, but for an additional $32.50 he will sign it for you!
posted by R. Mutt at 6:15 PM on March 21, 2006


Horowitz is a coward. He wouldn't last five seconds if he had to actually debate anyone on his hate/enemies list. Those things don't work so well.
posted by bardic at 6:17 PM on March 21, 2006


Yes, I remember being beaten up by my communist murderer professors. It was traumatic.

You remember? We're not doing well enough.




Put 'er on 60F and let 'er spin for a few more. You'll be ready for the Politurbo in no time, my son!
posted by lalochezia at 6:23 PM on March 21, 2006


Also related: David Horowitz's Enemies List.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:29 PM on March 21, 2006


David Horowitz is one of the stupidest men alive.
posted by filchyboy at 6:35 PM on March 21, 2006


David Horowitz is troll who does not restrict himself to Internet forums. The less we discuss him the better off everyone will be.
posted by a_day_late at 6:37 PM on March 21, 2006


David Horowitz type folks....
Via kottke.org:
Whiny children, claims a new study, tend to grow up rigid and traditional.

I was thinking about posting this to the front, but stealing from Kottke seems too much like cheating.
posted by cccorlew at 7:05 PM on March 21, 2006


So, good. let the fundie kids stay home from college. Somebody has to flip the burgers.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:07 PM on March 21, 2006


Damnit. I know HTML. Let's try the main link again
claims a new study
posted by cccorlew at 7:11 PM on March 21, 2006


Michael Berbue has done a pretty exhaustive response to this on his blog. I'll try to link to this if I have time.
posted by kensanway at 7:20 PM on March 21, 2006


Berube
posted by kensanway at 7:20 PM on March 21, 2006


Damn! My college (Hamilton) isn't on the list. We have a Women's Studies department, an environmental student group, and a Rainbow Alliance chapter. What gives?
posted by Ndwright at 7:36 PM on March 21, 2006


Yes, I remember being beaten up by my communist murderer professors.

You're not the only one.
posted by homunculus at 7:42 PM on March 21, 2006


Horowitz appeared on my radar screen when he published Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks - and Racist Too in college papers. Definitely made me think.

Is he really just a troll? I like so much of what he writes. Can't agree with this whole attack on profs, though.
posted by MarkO at 7:54 PM on March 21, 2006


He's definately a troll.
posted by filchyboy at 8:08 PM on March 21, 2006


Sophia McClennen in Counterpunch points out that these attacks on higher education insult students--treating them as easily brainwashed and unable to think for themselves--and she concludes the real aim is to cut funding for public education.
posted by girandole at 8:09 PM on March 21, 2006


Oh, OK ... so a complete nut job like Pat Robertson has something to say about a blithering moron like David Horowitz?

Fuck Pat Robertson and the short little bus he road in on.

And David Horowitz can bite me.

Jesus, what's that phrase I'm searching for?

Oh yeah, morally and intellectually bankrupt, that's it!
posted by Relay at 8:57 PM on March 21, 2006


Wow. What a toad.
posted by JHarris at 9:18 PM on March 21, 2006


I thought it was a funny clip. I especially like the woman next to Roberts, who tries to calmly agree with him, but I sense she's really thinking "OK please don't hurt me."
posted by fungible at 9:24 PM on March 21, 2006


It is easy to dismiss Horowitz as a troll, but I fear his message is trickling down -- pretty fast. I teach in a private 2 yr college and I hear 'horowitz-y' quotes from students -- way too often. I am pretty much the sole anti-war voice in the school; students and parents have registered complaints. Last year I had to confront detractors in the administration by appealing to their pretense of 'academic freedom' (though, don't know how long that will work).

Every few weeks I get pretty close to giving it all up completely ... and then a graduate shows up and thanks me for challenging her to question all she reads and hears. I don't know how long such crumbs will keep me going - or even if the new 'balanced and fair' students will break through to their own critical analysis of the world. They seem to care less, think less and fear more.

Maybe we all are just becoming numb.
.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:38 PM on March 21, 2006


Sophia McClennen in Counterpunch points out that these attacks on higher education insult students--treating them as easily brainwashed and unable to think for themselves--and she concludes the real aim is to cut funding for public education.

Bingo.
Asshats.
posted by papakwanz at 10:12 PM on March 21, 2006


Demogoguery functions best in a climate of ignorance. Pat Robertson and his cadre hate education, educators and the educated classes for the same reasons Mao, Lenin and Pol Pot did; because reason and the ability to think are their most dangerous enemy.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:30 PM on March 21, 2006


Oh, most importantly? Educated people are familiar with the political and rhetorical tricks of the past, and will point out when they're being used again, and show where they led the last time.

Remember that sunlight kills vampires.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:37 PM on March 21, 2006


I'm constantly wondering where all this hatred in America for the intelligentsia comes from. From over here in Europe it does look like the right wingers are complaining "that all the intelligent people are lefties!", which should be kind of self-defeating...

Seriously, though: I posted some numbers in another thread to the effect that here in Germany the two most prestigious professions have been, for quite some time, "doctor" and "professor" - why does the American public treat their intellectual capital with such disdain?

I'm trying not to be snobbish, but: Kant. Enlightenment. "Der Ausgang des Menschen aus seiner selbst verschuldeten Unmündigkeit." ("The emergence of man from his self-caused immaturity.") That's 1750s stuff, people. Only by critical thought, analysis and rational discussion can a mature, intelligent standpoint emerge - and that's something that happens (or should happen) at universities. The professor should teach the students the ability to think carefully, to make up their own mind as to their ethical or political position; it should ideally be his role to point out different approaches, how they can be justified and what their advantages and drawbacks are, to allow a student to make an informed choice.

That's not a concept that's too hard to grasp, isn't it? Where is the harm in that? And, furthermore, where is the inherent "leftieness" in that (leaving aside the fact that America as a nation is quite skewed to the rightwing/authoritarian part of the political spectrum, so that a centrist position would be perceived as left-leaning)?

I'm not hatin' on you USAians out there, I'm sincerely baffled by this behaviour, especially the professors who have to defend themselves for their assumed political leanings. Teaching a political viewpoint dictated by a state or a community is not education, that's indoctrination. Is that what you really want?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:31 AM on March 22, 2006


PontifexPrimus: See what George_Spiggott wrote above. Europe is not immune to this -- you mention Kant in 1750s, but there have been some pretty high profile demonizations of intellectual types since that time.

On the other hand, I get a sense that the experience of WWII (especially on the mainland) really had an effect on how folks here think about these matters, especially the generation that grew up in the aftermath of the war. They saw firsthand how demagoguery and anti-intellectual movements lead to horrific levels of death and devastation.

It's an experience that Americans by and large have not shared, and it's something we ignore at our own peril.
posted by moonbiter at 2:56 AM on March 22, 2006


I find it interesting that he doesn't have any professors on his list from those hotbeds of liberal indoctrination Harvard and Yale, although he did manage to name someone from that bastion of anti-military sentiment, Texas A&M. At least Noam Chomsky made it.

Seriously, there are so many holes in his argument that I do not have the time to point them all out. One of the most glaring is that according to the 2000 census, there were 607,222 postsecondary teachers in the US. Cherry-picking 100 or even 1000 with whom you disagree politically doesn't prove a thing. You could find 100 right-wing extremists just as easily.
posted by TedW at 5:14 AM on March 22, 2006


Correction: I read the census data wrong; there are 607,222 male postsecondary teachers and another 520,375 female postsecondary teachers for a total of 1,127,597 postsecondary educators. 101 out of 1.1 million is a pretty small sample.
posted by TedW at 5:20 AM on March 22, 2006


I'm constantly wondering where all this hatred in America for the intelligentsia comes from.

See Hofstadter's book, Anti-intellectualism in American Life
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:20 AM on March 22, 2006


Another reason to be disappointed in the Univ. of Minnesota.

...not a single name on the list!
posted by gimonca at 5:35 AM on March 22, 2006


I'm constantly wondering where all this hatred in America for the intelligentsia comes from.

Well, (and this just a theory), for quite a long time in this country, the only educated people that many people knew were people with the power to crush you; your boss, your banker, etc. and that got filtered down to people in the modern day.

And let's be honest, much of academia dosen't care much for the rest of the populace either has always been my impression.
posted by jonmc at 6:57 AM on March 22, 2006


And let's be honest, much of academia dosen't care much for the rest of the populace either has always been my impression.

Spoken like somebody who has absolutely no idea what 'academics' do all day. Believe it or not, it's not all sipping tea and reading in the park!

Anyways, I think the conservative strategy on this is a good thing. If the conservatives can successfully delegitamize public universities, to the point where most Americans see universities as just another faction with a political agenda, the end result will be universities that are in fact even more isolated from market and political forces. Yes, public funding of education will get cut, perhaps even drastically, but if the end result is a university that's less willing to toe the line then everybody (except the poor who can no longer afford education) wins.
posted by nixerman at 7:36 AM on March 22, 2006


Spoken like somebody who has absolutely no idea what 'academics' do all day. Believe it or not, it's not all sipping tea and reading in the park!

Gee, I wonder where I might have gotten that impression. You should make making my points for me a full-time job, nixerman.

Seriously, my mother's a teacher, my ex-gf was a college instructor while getting her masters. I know it's actual work and not a faculty tea. My point was this: for centuries, the powerful and wealthy were the only strata of society entitled to higher education (or even decent basic education) and they mostly used that education to consolidate their own power, which led to resentment and suspicion that filtered down generationally. And the right wing has made political hay out of that, and we on the left have follishly ignored it. And if you don't that's true, then I don't know what to tell you. Stop letting your dislike of me cloud your thought proscesses.
posted by jonmc at 7:43 AM on March 22, 2006


Demogoguery functions best in a climate of ignorance. Pat Robertson and his cadre hate education, educators and the educated classes for the same reasons Mao, Lenin and Pol Pot did; because reason and the ability to think are their most dangerous enemy.

Pol Pot and Mao maybe, but Lenin was himself a member of the educated classes and actually argued that ideology would come from intellectuals outside the working class. And ironically, the actual radicals (not the plain-vanilla liberals) among the so-called intellectual elite tend to be anarchists or Marxists.

That said, the attack comes from an elite that is interested in preserving its status by making education its specialized privelege. "Merit-based" scholarships, attacks on "radical" intellectuals, and "intelligent design" are all aimed at the solidification of a shrinking upper class.
posted by graymouser at 7:43 AM on March 22, 2006


but Lenin was himself a member of the educated classes and actually argued that ideology would come from intellectuals outside the working class.

which is what often arouses suspicion and distrust. Oftentimes, to working people, someone from outside the community offering a grand solution, especially someone who dosen't share a similar cultural history, seems like just another ward heeler, and who knows, ultimately, maybe they are.
posted by jonmc at 7:48 AM on March 22, 2006


>>>And let's be honest, much of academia dosen't care much for the rest of the populace either has always been my impression.<<<

Let's all be honest that you've got an "impression"? An impression for which you give no explanation or example? Okay, well THAT'S some good critical thinking I guess.
posted by applemeat at 8:00 AM on March 22, 2006


applemeat: my impression (and I call it that as a way of admitting that my impression could be incorrect) comes from my reading of academic texts, where much of the prose seems to hold the general populace to be ignorant boobs and dupes, and much of what I read on MeFi dosen't do much to counter that impression.
posted by jonmc at 8:08 AM on March 22, 2006


Horowitz appeared on my radar screen when he published Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks - and Racist Too in college papers. Definitely made me think.

Can we edit this to say "when his organization paid for college papers to run his advertisement"? Because that's what it was, a paid advertisement.
posted by mikeh at 8:14 AM on March 22, 2006


Whoops, hit post too soon. I neglected to mention that Horowitz created that rant as a straw man argument. How many times have you heard reparations mentioned as a serious political strategy and not as a discussion point? I can remember discussing the idea in high school and college, but there's a tiny margin of people who actually take the idea of giving each slave descendant money literally. It's a jumping-off point for discussing possible strategies for eliminating the education and poverty gap that's prevalent within some minority groups. Horowitz creates a straw man that lets people say "You're talking about reparations, and here's a list to tell you why that idea is dumb."
posted by mikeh at 8:19 AM on March 22, 2006


for centuries, the powerful and wealthy were the only strata of society entitled to higher education (or even decent basic education) and they mostly used that education to consolidate their own power, which led to resentment and suspicion that filtered down generationally

This is likely part of it. Another may simply be that not-learning is easier than learning, and no longer does being learned earn you respect. Now respect is owed, not earned, and in a world where everything is a matter of opinion, well… I’ve got one of those!

The main problem is that our survival rate doesn’t come close to bringing natural selection into play, so my belief in divine guidance and your belief in empirical evidence serve just as well, so long as someone else keeps the lights on.
posted by dreamsign at 8:51 AM on March 22, 2006


Remember that sunlight kills vampires.

Yeah?

And so does a stake through the heart.
posted by Relay at 9:12 AM on March 22, 2006


jonmc, that's bullshit. There is simply nobody out there who seriously believes that universities and the intelligentsia are engaged in any form of oppression. After a little known period I like to refer to as the '20th Century', universities have been widely recognized as the last outpost of counterculturual criticism. Nobody with half a brain who hasn't been living under a rock for the last hundred years would believe this to be the case. The idea that the current anti-intellectual movements stem from any sort of "class oppression" is nonsense. So much for you "impression."

Horowitz's attacks "work" the same way conservative attacks on the "media" work. The goal isn't to change the universities, heavens forbid, it's to change the criteria by which universities are judged. The end result will either be the 'Fox News'-ification of universities, in which case various institutions will embrace their new image as a propagandists, or it'll lead to a full-on, knock-down fight between universities and the current political model. Still the media and the churches have already sold out, so you have to figure the universities will too.
posted by nixerman at 9:26 AM on March 22, 2006


jonmc, that's bullshit. There is simply nobody out there who seriously believes that universities and the intelligentsia are engaged in any form of oppression.

Not explicitly, no. But like I said, resentment and cultural grudges and biases filter down generationally in inchoate form and snotrag comments like this:

After a little known period I like to refer to as the '20th Century',

only help to crystallize the elistist image of the the literate thinking man. You are not helping. If you come across as that full of contempt IRL, you shouldn't be suprised if you are often dismissed. Nobody enjoys being condescended to.
posted by jonmc at 9:31 AM on March 22, 2006


horowitz is not worth bothering with, but the subject of academic bias is interesting to me - I have always loved reading/thinking/intellectual life, but I avoided grad school for about 5 years because of the ivory tower thing. Personally, I ended up coming to the conclusion that any sector of society you become involved with is its own kind of 'tower', that you really become entrenched in the values and culture of a day to day world, and at least the ivory tower tries to question, or supports the questioning of, its own assumptions, whereas those towers made of silicone or gold or whatever just tend to plow forward... so I came back to grad school. But I will say I was still really blown away by how seriously, e.g., Freud and Marx are taken by social scientists in general...
posted by mdn at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2006


Personally, I ended up coming to the conclusion that any sector of society you become involved with is its own kind of 'tower', that you really become entrenched in the values and culture of a day to day world, and at least the ivory tower tries to question

That's a fair enough observation, mdn. It's just (and yeah this is anecdotal, but that dosen't neccessary mean it should be dismissed) that in nametag/cubicle world there's an almost palpable feeling that to stop and think 'why?' is an unallowable luxury that will allow one to get trampled underfoot.
posted by jonmc at 9:46 AM on March 22, 2006


But I will say I was still really blown away by how seriously, e.g., Freud and Marx are taken by social scientists in general...

I tend to hear more talk of Marx in sociology, and not nearly as much in other social science fields, among them PoliSci (excepting of course political theory and international political economy) and economics (which is still very much a social science, any protestations by practitioners to the contary notwithstanding). I went to a six-week long political psychology seminar, and never once heard the Sigmund's last name uttered, nor his first one for that mater.
posted by raysmj at 10:08 AM on March 22, 2006


never once heard the Sigmund's last name uttered, nor his first one for that mater.

well, Sid & Marty Krofft aren't as popular as they used to be.
posted by jonmc at 10:11 AM on March 22, 2006


Also, I've been reading a good deal of urban studies/policy material lately, some of it from sociology, and have been coming across Pierre Bourdieu (born working class and never forgot it, jonmc would appreciate some of the ideas, even the language is often virtually impenetrable), Daniel Bell and Max Weber a hell of a lot more than Marx. In fact, I've come across very little Marx.
posted by raysmj at 10:13 AM on March 22, 2006


jonmc would appreciate some of the ideas, even the language is often virtually impenetrable

dead on, ray. it's not the 'scary ideas' that alienate people from a lot of academic discourse, but the often indecipherable language. I consider myself a fairly intelligent and well-read person, but a lot of philosphical and political writing (even stuff that from a distance, intrigues me, like Situationism) is absolutely incomprehensible to a layman.
posted by jonmc at 10:16 AM on March 22, 2006


Well, Bourdieu did it on purpose. I can't remember why, something about language being a tool of culture and something something. He had a change of heart toward the end of his life, though. Some social science material, however, is amazingly easy to read, or are not that hard to figure out once you catch on to terminology such as "post-Foridst" (which you can easily do by using Google). Sometimes, social scientists, historians and cultural critics, among others, even get onto the best-seller lists. Some have blogs that are vastly more readable than pj people who go on and on about how they have "common sense" and contantly use jargon like "MSM" and "islamofascism" and make too many in-jokes, etc.
posted by raysmj at 10:30 AM on March 22, 2006


Oh, and idiotarian. I thought that had something to do with Alaskan dog races when I first read it.
posted by raysmj at 10:38 AM on March 22, 2006


Oh, ray, believe me i understand that what the right (and warblogger types especially) proffer is not egalitarianism or populism but mere pandering for political gain. If they want to beat that dead horse, they can go right ahead, but I see no reason why we should give them the gold key to the stables.
posted by jonmc at 10:42 AM on March 22, 2006


"why does the American public treat their intellectual capital with such disdain?"

Because the magic jesus disappears in a puff of smoke wherever rational thought is allowed to flourish.
posted by 2sheets at 10:45 AM on March 22, 2006


and never once heard the Sigmund's last name uttered

He's pretty alive in continental philosophy & comp lit... Not saying it's not done critically/etc, but that he's considered a starting point at all was surprising to me coming from the broader culture. I am glad I didn't go straight from undergrad to grad; I wish schools would encourage students to take some time to just work & live before getting paid to read a bunch of dead white guy's arcane theories... again, I think all the various things we do are various levels of useless, so I'm not saying studying arcane theories is a bad thing to do, but just have the context and know what you're choosing.

Re: elitist vocab, I don't think the language of academia is intentially difficult to understand, for the most part. There are probably fakers in any field, but I think most academics are actually using the language that they think communicates their ideas best. SOme books which people think are hard to understand are really very clear, just complex, and perhaps involve a fair amount of unfamiliar vocabulary (eg, Kant). It's like shakespear or milton - people say they're difficult, but if you really just read them, instead of trying to work out what they're supposed to have said and then go scan the text, they are powerful, emotive, and remarkably direct. You just have to take the time to get into the language; most annotations just get in the way [save the occasional word that has really flipped its meaning].
posted by mdn at 11:35 AM on March 22, 2006


I don't think that they're faking (or that it's intentional), at least not for the most part, but when it comes to philosophy and the social sciences (which are basically the study of our lives and how we live them) I think that clarity is of the utmost importance, and that less literate people like myself (to say nothing of non-readers) are probably missing out on stuff that we'd find interesting and beneficial simply because of the denseness of the language and arcanity of the references.
posted by jonmc at 12:53 PM on March 22, 2006


If you think the social sciences and humanities are obscure, just try and read the average science or maths journal! So much jargon, I can't even follow it.

(What I mean is, much academic writing is specialist writing - we don't expect to understand science or law journals without some training, and in many social science and humanities disciplines, they need to go into jargon to communicate what they want to efficiently to their colleagues. There is cross-over literature, that is conciously written for an intelligent but non-specialist audience, but expecting all academic literature to be like that would be very inefficient. That said, I hate the lazy habit of academics being obscure because they can't be bothered to write clearly or because they think it's more fun to be obscure; fortunately, this is frowned on in much of history.)

That said, Freud is considered bunk in psychology (aside from being respected as a pioneer, albeit a superceded one), while still being used in literature.

Marx is more complicated. I had disregarded Marx for years, but in reading much about the history of economic development of England c1500-1800 (which is what his philosophy is based on) and talking to people who know his work better, I have realised that he is an interesting early historian and sociologist, from whom we have things to learn. His interpretation of feudalism was accurate to what they knew at the time, but has been superceeded, and his understanding of the stresses of capitalism in his own time was very insightful. What is interesting then, is why his predictions for the future were so wrong? Perhaps because he reduced too much - he saw man as an economic animal only, when really people are economic and religious and political and cultural beings. But Marx did a great deal of good for both history and sociology for being one of the first to study people as economic animals, which is a big part of our lives.
posted by jb at 1:31 PM on March 22, 2006


There is cross-over literature, that is conciously written for an intelligent but non-specialist audience, but expecting all academic literature to be like that would be very inefficient.

Oh, absolutely. The problem is also that some of the attempted crossover stuff goes too far in the other direction and assumes that you're an imbecile. Most people can handle multisyllabic words and abstract concepts, we just need the references and shop-talk (which is what jargon amounts to, really, it's no different then mechanics going on about 'dual-barrell carbs' or me and my music geek friends calling something 'post-Beefheart.') As fun as secret codes can be to the insider, they can hamper communication with those outside the clubhouse.
posted by jonmc at 1:40 PM on March 22, 2006


we just need the references and shop-talk clarified.

Dammit.
posted by jonmc at 1:41 PM on March 22, 2006


But would you really want a music magazine that catered to people like me? You'd have to constantly explain the difference between punk and grunge. It would be boring to music geeks. If I wanted to read Wire, I'd be prepared to have to learn a lot of jargon.

Not that I don't have to head off to the OED when reading occassionally. But it seems my husband does so more often when reading Neil Stephenson's System of the World.

Actually, the history discipline runs into problems for eschewing jargon - we never have clear, agreed upon definitions for anything, and kill many many trees arguing over just what someone means. The social sciences just make up a definition and stick to it and don't waste as much time arguing. More confusing to outsiders, but kinder to trees.
posted by jb at 2:13 PM on March 22, 2006


There certainly is a good deal of bad academic writing out there, and while it's unfair and inaccurate to claim that the whole field is like this, it's still a problem.

One could argue that the poor academic job market, and the pressure for early-career scholars to be 'working towards the book' as soon as they finish (or even while still writing) their Ph.D.s, is leading to a noticeable glut of half-baked, turgid, and naive academic monographs by inexperienced writers. There's a lot of published material out there that should have never gone past the doctoral dissertation stage, and this is making it harder for the truly good new books to get noticed.

This problem is exacerbated by the (not unrelated) financial 'crisis' in academic publishing, which seems to be leading academic presses to cut back on detailed editorial guidance for writers, and assign copy-editing, proofing and indexing duties to third parties, or, indeed, the authors themselves. I've read a number of books issued in the last couple of years by big-name university presses which don't seem to have been proofed at all, and which could certainly have benefitted from the attentions of a decent copy-editor.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:24 PM on March 22, 2006


we just need the references and shop-talk clarified.

well, but if you really want to get into it, isn't it up to you to go learn the shop-talk? I mean, when I began grad school I was pretty clueless in a lot of ways, and honestly found many lectures incredibly difficult and arcane - people would comment on how great a talk was, and I'd think, but it was just mumbo-jumbo! But over the years I've learned a lot (primarily thru reading the original sources) and now many of these lectures just seem to be in straightforward language, and I don't even notice we're using technical words or referencing concepts the general public is probably unfamiliar with, unless I think about it or it gets pointed out.

But maybe that's the biggest problem with academia - everything is so specialized that even between different social science departments there are chasms of ignorance, and a person could be a professor in philos and not be able to follow a lecture in anthro, or vice versa. I remember being really impressed by some questions asked by a comp lit student at a lecture regarding Hegel's use of Antigone (which we also study in philos) but then she needed clarification of some philosophical concepts which I think of as really basic and obvious.

Which bringgs us to another point for jonmc: it's actually pretty hard to judge what is obscure/needs clarifying for the layperson, and what is so obvious it would be condescending to explain...
posted by mdn at 4:02 PM on March 22, 2006


That said, Freud is considered bunk in psychology

Are you serious? Freud's work is considered bunk in pop culture. In psych, many of his ideas are considered both groundbreaking and (still) leading-edge.
posted by dreamsign at 5:04 PM on March 22, 2006


Here's a page of responses from some of Horowitz' 101 professors.

Given that Horowitz drew his startup funds and some of his salary from Scaife and the like, I don't see how he's in any position to question the integrity of actual acedemics.
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:59 PM on March 22, 2006


dreamsign: Not really. I've never heard that.
posted by raysmj at 6:10 PM on March 22, 2006


Well, groundbreaking for his day--for gosh sakes, yes. (And, by the way, Civilization and Its Discontents is still a fairly easy read.)
posted by raysmj at 6:12 PM on March 22, 2006


Why should Freud and Marx *not* be taken seriously?
They both made many, many mistakes, no doubt. But they established certain terms, asked certain questions, set up methodologies and frameworks that are still in use today. No one that I've ever come across reads either Freud or Marx as "true" or "right," but they are considered foundational reading in a number of fields.
posted by papakwanz at 8:07 PM on March 22, 2006


Not really. I've never heard that.

I can't imagine that my uni was that much of an anomaly. Unpopular example (but aren't they all from Freud): childhood sexuality. I daresay that a lot of his ideas are "cutting edge" because they still haven't gained credence outside of the field. But ignored within the field? No.
posted by dreamsign at 8:56 PM on March 22, 2006




Good review, raysmj. The biggest (and least used) criticism of Freud should be the lack of credit he gave to his contemporaries. The most common criticisms concern the psychosexual content which were largely part of the first of three main sets of theory he proposed. ie: he discarded them. (later opting for life/death impulses which, while again overly simplistic, veered finally away from interpreting everything according to sexuality).

I'd half to say that his work has shown up in at least a half dozen courses not including the intro, and none of them "history of psych" courses. I did concentrate somewhat on the developmental side, though, so that's not too surprising.
posted by dreamsign at 9:18 PM on March 22, 2006


A half dozen courses I took, that is. This was some ten years ago, but I can't believe that psych has been revolutionized in the last ten years in a way that would suddenly decide that they'd gotten Freud all wrong.
posted by dreamsign at 9:19 PM on March 22, 2006


Why should Freud and Marx *not* be taken seriously?

I wasn't making a judgment so much as commenting on the gulf between the popular view and the academic view, in my experience. We can argue over how anamolous my experience is, of course, but I don't think it's totally random.
posted by mdn at 6:15 AM on March 23, 2006


Are you serious? Freud's work is considered bunk in pop culture. In psych, many of his ideas are considered both groundbreaking and (still) leading-edge.
posted by dreamsign at 5:04 PM PST on March 22 [!]


I'll just make a claim to authority - a psychologist (social psychology, recent PhD) told me this. He's my go to man for psychology.

papakwanz - you are right, both are very important thinkers. But there is something to allowing evidence to overthrow models. With Marx, his model has been substantially refined, but not entirely overthrown. Perhaps the same is true with Freud. (Marx is sort of my field, since I do social history and I'm interested in class, but Freud isn't).
posted by jb at 1:35 PM on March 23, 2006


Or maybe what I mean is not to overthrow, but to use critically. I don't think I would use Marx if I wanted to read about the industrial revolution, and I would never assign his works to undergraduates as an introduction to the period. His turgid impossible style aside, he is out of date as a historian. But I'm getting to a place with my own study that I want to read more Marx, to understand what he said and to think about whether that is relevant to what I am studying.
posted by jb at 1:43 PM on March 23, 2006


A half dozen courses I took, that is. This was some ten years ago, but I can't believe that psych has been revolutionized in the last ten years in a way that would suddenly decide that they'd gotten Freud all wrong.

Having graduated with a psychology degree 10 years ago, I go the impression that Freudian psychotherapy was taken seriously by an increasingly small number of active professionals (i.e., the older ones that were dying off). One thing that is important to remember is that psychology is still a young science.

Freud was important for helping found the discipline, but he was working before the scientific method as we know it today was applied in a systematic fashion to the field.
posted by moonbiter at 12:01 AM on March 24, 2006


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