25.8.04

THEY'RE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT YOU. It's the beginning of the academic conference season (Economics has its right after the New Year begins, making for a hectic spring job season) which means people who cannot find a consensus without arguing for 30 minutes about the placement of a comma attempt to speak with one voice on Pressing National Matters. Atlantic Blog uncovers two examples of silliness. First, a Guardian writer discovers the American Sociological Association speaking with one querulous voice against something resembling the Washington Consensus. Bill's reaction:
One of the more pathetic characteristics of academics is an inflated sense of self-importance. Academics are people who have, for the most part, done well in school, and are used to the praise that goes with it. It can be very hard on them to discover, when they go out into the big world, that the rest of the world does not always value highly what they do.
There's more. Go read it. Second, the American Political Science Association has rounded up the usual suspects to make the usual arguments.
What is depressing is remarkably narrow range of ideas present. If this were the annual banquet for The Nation, it would be hardly out of place. But for the APSA featured speaker line-up, it is seems as if the organizers are indulging in aggressive ideological narrowness.
Dan Drezner, who will also be presenting at the conference, notes,
APSA has about 6,000 attendees, and a crowd of 300 for these kind of talks would be impressive. These speakers influence no one, but are rather preaching to a small and committed choir.

The reasons for the poor attendance are several. First, these kind of talks are usually held during the vital hours of eating and drinking, where the real business of APSA is conducted: power-schmoozing. Well, that and reconnecting with old grad school friends. Second, after a long day of presenting, discussing, and listening to political science, the last thing most people want to do is go to a lecture about politics.
We still have the American Anthropological Association and the Modern Language Association to look forward to.

SECOND SECTION: Chris at Signifying Nothing, who will also be attending the conference, also comments.

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