Kim Scarborough points to this post from a newly minted Political Science Ph.D. (the poster had just gotten the Ph.D. in the mail the day before):
I don't think there is a tent big enough to hold me and one of the chief architects of the present war in Iraq [Condoleezza Rice]. And I have to wonder about our collective pretensions to positive social science when someone can hold onto her political science credentials while acting as one of the most persistent defenders of that "weapons of mass destruction" trope.
So I've been thinking: shouldn't political science have its equivalent to disbarment or excommunication? After all, if we want the term "political scientist" to mean something, then a doctorate shouldn't be a one-way ticket. When political scientists promulgate ideas or institute policies that violate even the most generous interpretations of our collective wisdom, they are not only disregarding their own academic training, but devaluing the intellectual authority and standards of our field. So shouldn't there be some threshold — it can be a generous one — beyond which one loses the right to practice political science?
Ah well. Any field that still claims Henry Kissinger as one of its own can certainly survive Condoleeza Rice.
A few questions: (1) What exactly does it mean to "lose the right to practice political science"? You lose the right to do the things that political scientists do — publish papers, teach classes, and so on? You lose the right to cite as a credential (since, after all, the whole point is so that you wouldn't be allowed to "hold onto [your] political science credentials") the Ph.D. you hold, the jobs you've had, and the field you're knowledgeable in?
(2) Say the political science profession indeed isn't a big enough tent to hold both a newly minted Ph.D. and the incoming U.S. Secretary of State (who also happens to be the former Provost at Stanford). Which is more likely (not just today, given the current political makeup of the academy, but in the future) — that (A) junior Ph.D.s will get to push out high government officials for "promulgat[ing] ideas" that depart too far from "conventional wisdom," or (B) vice versa? The poster is apparently "an expert on electronic democracy and electronic government"; what does our knowledge about democracy and government suggest as the answer to the previous question?
(3) I had thought that academics had a pretty standard response for dealing with people who promulgate ideas that academics think are unwise: It's called "criticism" via "persuasion." Why isn't that good enough for the good Doctor?
Yes, I know that I'm probably taking the poster's arguments a bit too literally here. My guess is that this is just hyperbole and fulmination on her part. Presumably, the poster is just using exaggerated language simply to suggest that lots of political scientists should condemn Dr. Rice.
Still, isn't an exaggerated post that, on its face, runs against basic principles of academic freedom — I assume those principles are similar in Canada, where the poster is from, as they are here — and that operates through hyperbole rather than reasoned substantive argument, an inauspicious way to begin one's life as a Ph.D.? Let's hope it's not characteristic of this person's future commentary.
Finally, what one says in moments of rhetorical excess might not fully reflect what one thinks most of the time — but then again it might. In Vino Veritas; perhaps In Hyperbole Veritas. And, as Scarborough writes about the poster,
She undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of her. Won't it be nice when she's not just dreaming of banishing the powerful from her exclusive club and actually grading papers and judging dissertations of talented students whom she may not agree with? It sure is encouraging that her gut instinct upon encountering disagreeable opinions is banishment. Certainly the attitude I like to see in higher ed, how about you?
Related Posts (on one page):
- Another Example of Academic Consensus and Shunning.--
- Excommunicating Condoleeza Rice.--
- Excommunicating Scientists: