Craven, Jim jcraven at
Fri Aug 1 17:36:14 MDT 2003

Lou P wrote: 'This Yardley has a PhD from Stanford, the home of the Hoover
Institution. You would think that he might have absorbed some of the
scholarly norms of his milieu, even if it is based on the idiocies of the
cold war.'

About 15 years ago I wrote, apropos a Canadian professor who denied that the
gulags existed, that academic qualifications do not prevent men from being
fools or charlatans or both. Having since then spent seven years as a
student and having worked for the last two years in a London university, I
stand by every word I said back then.

Paul F

Response Jim C: Personally I would go even further: Academic qualifications
are most often employed, especially by those who make a point of their
titles, to confer or imply some "authority" and "legitimacy" to the work of
the author; on the other hand, there are those whose quality of work and
concrete experience speak to the "authority" and "legitimacy" (and perhaps
truly deserved "titles") of the author.

When I leave my students, instead of saying goodbye, I always say "Don't let
your studies interfere with your education." With the massive fraud in and
total commodification of academia, and with being a graduate student or even
undergraduate like being a serf for some academic lord, with all the
incentives to stay "mainstream" and the disincentives to going "radical",
and with all the fucking idiots and incompetents in academia with
"prestigious titles" from "prestigious institutions", academic titles, for
me, confer nothing whatsoever in terms of establishing any automatic
credibility, authority or legitimacy to the works of any academic.

I once interviewed (for part-time teaching) a guy with his BS in Economics
from Stanford and MBA from Wharton who had applied to teach economics; he
thought his academic pedigree should have been sufficient to be summarily
hired. I asked him four technical (and thoroughly bourgeois) questions (e.g.
explain why, under neoclassical theory, the marginal cost curve must
necessarily but the bottom of the average variable and average total cost
curves; give the arc formula for cross-price elasticity of demand and
explain the "real-world" uses of cross-price elasticity of demand) questions
my students can answer after week three of a microeconomics course, and this
guy not only could not answer, he got pissed I was asking technical
questions and then noted the questions were "unfair" as he had not read the
text I was using. So much for the "prestige" and "pedigree" of his academic

Jim C.

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