The world is filled with conformism and groupthink. Most people do not wish to think for themselves. Thinking for oneself is dangerous, requires effort and often leads to rejection by the herd of one’s peers.
The profession of arms, the intelligence business, the civil service bureaucracy, the wondrous world of groups like the League of Women Voters, Rotary Club as well as the empire of the thinktanks are all rotten with this sickness, an illness which leads inevitably to stereotyped and unrealistic thinking, thinking that does not reflect reality.
The worst locus of this mentally crippling phenomenon is the world of the academics. I have served on a number of boards that awarded Ph.D and post doctoral grants. I was on the Fulbright Fellowship federal board. I was on the HF Guggenheim program and executive boards for a long time. Those are two examples of my exposure to the individual and collective academic minds.
As a class of people I find them unimpressive. The credentialing exercise in acquiring a doctorate is basically a nepotistic process of sucking up to elders and a crutch for ego support as well as an entrance ticket for various hierarchies, among them the world of the academy. The process of degree acquisition itself requires sponsorship by esteemed academics who recommend candidates who do not stray very far from the corpus of known work in whichever narrow field is involved. The endorsements from RESPECTED academics are often decisive in the award of grants.
This process is continued throughout a career in academic research. PEER REVIEW is the sine qua non for acceptance of a “paper,” invitation to career making conferences, or to the Holy of Holies, TENURE.
This life experience forms and creates CONFORMISTS, people who instinctively boot-lick their fellows in a search for the “Good Doggy” moments that make up their lives. These people are for sale. Their price may not be money, but they are still for sale. They want to be accepted as members of their group. Dissent leads to expulsion or effective rejection from the group.
This mentality renders doubtful any assertion that a large group of academics supports any stated conclusion. As a species academics will say or do anything to be included in their caste.
This makes them inherently dangerous. They will support any party or parties, of any political inclination if that group has the money, and the potential or actual power to maintain the academics as a tribe.
Originally published on Sic Semper Tyrannis. Republished by permission.