Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Decline of the West


George Leef explains that academics are expected to publish stuff about things:

Professors at most colleges and universities these days have to publish their research in order to win tenure and impress fellow academics who might some day offer them a better job. Often that research is of extremely dubious value and only gets published by university presses.
That's what happens "these days," mind you. Furthermore, academic titles tend to suck because they're usually published by university presses (instead of, say, Regnery).

To be fair, there's a bit more madness to Leef's method than this. We can also recognize substandard research by looking at a book's title and subject matter. In this instance, Mal Kline - whose intellectual independence is signaled by the fact that he sports a cigar and a bow tie - has done the heavy lifting for us:
Our academic elites love to point out to the rest of us how unenlightened we are. Perhaps they can explain the scholarly value of some of the books rolling off of their own university presses....
Images of Bliss: Ejaculation, Masculinity, Meaning, by Murat Aydemir (University of Minnesota Press, 2007).

Impotence: A Cultural History, by Angus McLaren (University of Chicago Press, 2007).

Sperm Counts: Overcome by Man's Most Precious Fluid, by Lisa Jean Moore (New York University Press, 2007).
These, you'll note, are books about penises. Why would anyone write about this unedifying topic, when important facts in the case of Alger Hiss often go unreiterated for days at a time?

By way of an answer, Kline trots out the cock-addled frauds who cobbled together this frenchified whacking material. Ms. Moore comes in for particular scrutiny, being as she's "a professor of women’s studies and coordinator of Gender Studies at the college." (How much could she know about sperm, given that she's obviously a dyke?)

Kidding aside, there are two arguments to be made against these books by someone who has no intention of reading them. The first is that it's not possible to write a worthwhile scholarly book about ejaculation or impotence or sperm. The second is that it'd be wrong even if you managed it. There's not much you can say about either stance, except that they go nicely with cigars and bow ties.

Anyway, despite Leef's impotent ejaculations, I remain unconvinced that American academic research standards have declined all that much since the heyday of Lothrop Stoddard and Joseph Pomeroy Widney.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that the depth of ignorance is no greater today than in the good old days; the problem is that there are so many more of the ignorant obliged to serially butcher both facts and language - and each butcher is obliged to publish so much more today than in times past.


The rising tide of academic crud both threatens the trees uneccesarily and promotes global warming through uitterly useless travel to conferences and the like.

I propose a simple solution; there is a severe undersupply of unskilled labor in the developed world. Summarily demote 90% of the collected humanities departments from 'professor' to something more fitting to ther real skills - hod-carriers or grocery sack stuffers seem about right. The 'water in the applied disciplines and physical sciences seems less - perhaps a figure of 25% is appropriate here?

How to determine whom gets to stay; nothing could be more simple. Ask the students to vote.

One last thought: There is an old proverb 'Better to keep silent and allow others to judge one a fool than to speak and remove all doubt'. Today's 'multiversity' and it's denziens could well take this to heart?....

olvlzl said...

The National Review and Accuracy in Academia as torch bearers of truth. The Republican unlightenment, the proof that American empire is in full decay.

While I'd like to see more emphasis on teaching and a bit less on research in college and university promotion and retention, it's dishonest to judge a book by its title or what Camile Paglia has to say about it. The Kline citation of Paglia, that, by itself, is something deserving more ridicule than a person with a bad head cold can muster.

when important facts in the case of Alger Hiss often go unreiterated for days at a time?

First time I've smiled all week.

MikeJ said...

I could have sworn the old saying referenced by the first commenter was more like "better to keep silent and have others think you a fool than to post jackassery without even bothering to come up with a pseudonym".

Phila said...

How to determine whom gets to stay; nothing could be more simple. Ask the students to vote.

"Grammar is fascism, man."

Woody (Tokin' Lib'rul/Rogue Scholar & O'erall Helluvafella!) said...

Historically, and traditionally, students are NOT the 'reason' for the University. They are, in fact, quite incidental, even an impediment. Scholarship--the collection, organization, and interpretation of knowledge--is the business of the University, not 'teaching.' It is not for nothing that universities 'admit' petitioning students. Students are admitted to the company of scholars, on the understanding that studying scholarship with scholars is how one learns to become a scholar.
This is a great topic, one about which I can rant for hours.

Phila said...

Students are admitted to the company of scholars, on the understanding that studying scholarship with scholars is how one learns to become a scholar.

See, that's just why we need market forces to come in and sweep away the cobwebs. The individual's right not to learn is sacrosanct!

You can learn anything you need to know about culture at the Corner, anyhow....

Anonymous said...

...you crack me up!

Anonymous said...

the west is falling and can't get up!