Thursday, April 24, 2008

The decadence of Academia in the West

A good article by British academic Fabian Tassano on the nonesense and idiocy that much of Western Academia has become.

The larger part of academia has become obsessed with jargon and formalism, at the expense of meaningful content....

The purpose of academia has changed from producing real insights to generating reinforcement for the preferred world view. Academics are encouraged to generate spurious legitimacy for anti-individualistic social trends such as the abolition of civil liberties, or the ‘rights’ of doctors and psychiatrists to make decisions about people’s lives.

According to the Chief Executive of HEFCE, "it was once the role of Governments to provide for the purposes of universities; it is now the role of universities to provide for the purposes of Governments."
While one can't expect academics to have no ideological biases, the collectivised way the academy is nowadays run was bound to generate a monolithic consensus. Once established, we end up with a kind of ideological closed shop, with dissenters refused entry or hounded out.

There are academic disciplines, such as applied chemistry or cell biology, where the criterion of generating testable hypotheses still dominates. As for the rest, you can more or less take it as read that they've been infected by left wing ideology and/or what I have called "technicality" - unnecessary (and often totally vacuous) technical complexity.

...even when it becomes impossible to suppress awareness that something is seriously wrong with some area of academia, the fallout is remarkably limited. Everyone seems to keep on going pretty much in the same old way. Another area which it has becomepositively fashionable in some quarters to deride (because it's easy to do so), but where the effect of the derision has been minimal, is postmodernist philosophy...

Quoting Robert Fisk:

It's a new and dangerous phenomenon I'm talking about, a language of exclusion that must have grown up in universities over the past 20 years; after all, any non university-educated man or woman can pick up an academic treatise or PhD thesis written in the 1920s or '30s and - however Hegelian the subject - fully understand its meaning. No longer.

The definition of e.g. philosophy has become, “whatever is done under that name at a recognised academic institution”. Certification has become more important than content, and quality is no longer seen as assessable by an untrained person. The fact that many of the key innovations in the history of knowledge were made outside universities is conveniently forgotten. Someone working outside a university today can be ignored, since by definition they cannot be doing research.

Massification of degrees is said to be inevitable because everyone now aspires to higher education. Fine, but instead of letting the market provide this extension to the old model, it’s taken to mean turning the university system into an arm of the welfare state, rather like the NHS. I.e. run by the state, with everyone having equal entitlement to a low grade product, and subsidy based on poverty rather than ability.

The fact that little of benefit is acquired by most undergraduates is concealed by ensuring that everyone receives a qualification at the end of the process.

The net result is that academics are being forced to become badly paid handmaidens to a system which will be primarily about promoting equality and inclusion, like state school teachers already are. They are now also required to comply with increasing levels of state bureaucracy, and are monitored and assessed by government auditors
I myself, though not an academic, was appalled by the huge amount of nonesense and gobbledygook that many of the academic papers I heppened to read are filled with. The Academia has been taken over by the ignorant barbarians.

1 comment:

geral sosbee said...

Meet the fools who run the University of Texas.