Is It Paranoia if Everyone Really Is Out to Get You?

This article in Inside Higher Education, which comments on a survey showing that more professors today feel their academic freedom is threatened than did during the McCarthyist era, is the kind of thing you’d expect me to have a lot to say about.

Gross surveyed social science professors last year about whether they had felt that their academic freedom was threatened, and found that about one-third did. In 1955, Paul Lazarsfeld, the late Columbia University professor, did a similar survey and found only one-fifth of professors feeling affected by attacks on their academic freedom.

However, I’m going out of town with my family in a little over an hour and won’t be back until the weekend, so I don’t have time to comment on it very fully. So here’s your assignment: imagine what you think I’d say about it, and then argue over what you’ve imagined in the comments.

Thanks — you’re a lifesaver!

4 thoughts on “Is It Paranoia if Everyone Really Is Out to Get You?

  1. From the article mentioned:

    “young scholars… are finding themselves ‘grilled’ about their political views in job interviews, and in some cases losing job offers as a result of their answers … universities are increasingly nervous about getting caught up in the debate … shifting the way scholarship is evaluated. “People are reading work not for what it says, but for who it serves,” she said.”

    From the SM peanut gallery:

    “He should be brought before the AAA ethics tribunal …”

    “That he won’t publicly answer these easy questions raises serious ethical questions …”

    “A large group is planning on bringing a motion to the floor of this year’s meeting denouncing …”

    (“We have met the enemy, and he is us” W. Kelly.)

  2. Oh please.

    The article refers to qualified job seekers who are denied jobs based on something that has nothing to do with their qualifications.

    The comments refer to a professor with a job who is engaged in a research project, and they suggest that he should be held professionally accountable for thinking about the pros and cons of his research for the people he is studying. There is no sentiment that he should lose his job, or that his political views matter.

    Ethics are about methods, affiliations, and dissemination of results. These are perfectly reasonable things to hold a scholar accountable for. In fact, accountability at these stages paves an argument for academic freedom, which is essentially the right to come to unpopular conclusions without the risk of losing one’s job.

  3. Griffin apparently came to an unpopular conclusion, and if some here had their way, he’d lose his job.

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