Joe Jackson wrote:
> Hello, Ardeshir and all,
> I think most colleges and universities have fairly forward-thinking people
> teaching undergraduate-level fare, and the higher you go up into the
> graduate-level courses, the more applied each subject is, and the more
> variety is possible with regard to the way a subject is taught. So
> naturally there will be controversy as to the nature of how an advanced
> subject is taught.
Actually, my experience is the opposite. In graduate
schools and post-doctoral work, it is absolutely
*verboten* to propound anything against the current
dogma -- especially in science.
A couple of friends of mine are doing basic cancer
research at the University of Tuebingen, Germany.
(This is, like, one of the best schools in Europe, right?)
They've been at it for two decades, and both have
doctorates. But since they think the answer is to be
found in an unorthodox location in the body, namely
the pineal gland, their work has been thwarted at
Of course, both of them being German, it is
unthinkable for them to "rock the boat", so they are
not actually thrown out of the establishment. But
there are getting almost nowhere for lack of support.
(In this sort of science, support is vital, because
experiments need to be performed and so on,
which is impossible in an ivory tower.)
I could recount endless horror stories like this at the
Doctoral and Professorial level, even from the "best"
insititutions. And not just in Europe.
And, indeed, not just in experimental science, but
even in pure logic and mathematics -- in which, one
would think, people could actually *prove* them-
selves right by just the weight of their arguments!
When the establishment refuses to listen, these days
it is not much better than in the days of Giordano
Bruno and Gallileo against the Church.
> But the student can take it or leave it. If they think Such & Such State
> University has a crappy english program, they can go to So & So
> Humanities U.
Unfortunately there is *no* other institution
*anywhere* in the world that will even accept such
people, let alone foster them. That is exactly why I
said that there are no "Sudbury Universities". None
If my German friends, Christian and Hella, tried to
work in the US -- they both know English fluently
-- they would have the same obstacles thrown in
front of them as they have in Germany.
Perhaps in the Arts and Humanities things are
different -- though frankly I don't think so, seeing as
how Professors of English seldom if ever write good
novels! (J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of "Lord of the
Rings", who also taught at Oxford, is perhaps one of
the few exceptions that prove the rule.)
> ... <snip>
> It takes at least two college degrees in most subjects to automatically be
> considered an authority in something (huge generalizations here).
Actually, the more the degrees, the less the authority,
at least in my opinion. That's why I write my name
"Ardeshir Mehta, N.D." -- the "N.D." standing for
But you are right: *in general* it takes a long tail after
one's name to be called an "authority".
However, *being* an authority and being *called* an
"authority" are two different things! Just as Larry King
is not a King, but is merely *called* "King", likewise,
merely because someone is *called* an "authority", it
doesn't necessarily *make* him or her one.
> ... <snip>
> And I don't think anyone has ever argued that going to college is
> automatically a way to a happy and satisfying life.
No, of course not. But then, that can be said about
anything -- even *true* genius.
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This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Mon Nov 05 2001 - 20:24:29 EST