20.6.06

MORE CONSPIRACIES TO CHASE. Marquette Warrior comments on "Professors of Paranoia," temporarily available to all from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Students who take out large loans to pay for their college education (and parents who cought up many thousands of dollars) would like to think that college professors, as a group, are pretty sensible people.

Many are, and those who aren't are usually in thrall of some bizarre ideology: Marxism, deconstructionism, post-modernism or such.

But some are just outright crackpots. And these days, it's 9/11 government conspiracy theories that attract the crackpots.

Those crackpots, that is, who aren't seeking the powerful interests organizing the efforts of the rest of us who call b.s. on what has crowded out much of the higher education in higher education.

I'm going to grab some useful quotes from Chronicle reporter John Gravois before the electrons go behind the Great Gate of Kiev.

One of the most common intuitive problems people have with conspiracy theories is that they require positing such complicated webs of secret actions. If the twin towers fell in a carefully orchestrated demolition shortly after being hit by planes, who set the charges? Who did the planning? And how could hundreds, if not thousands of people complicit in the murder of their own countrymen keep quiet? Usually, Occam's razor intervenes.

Another common problem with conspiracy theories is that they tend to impute cartoonish motives to "them" — the elites who operate in the shadows. The end result often feels like a heavily plotted movie whose characters do not ring true.

Read the article further. The conference the featured professors are attending may not qualify as a proper academic conference, and the papers being presented, while they might get picked up by lesser elites attempting to get their message out, may not pass the scrutiny of peer review.

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