To be or not to be a tenured coward ?
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Autor:  Torgal [ Quinta Out 12, 2017 6:31 am ]
Assunto da Mensagem:  To be or not to be a tenured coward ?

Although some of its books already receive several thousand citations on scholar google, and although he is more scholar material than thousands of PhD academics the fact is that Alain de Botton is not an academic. Nevertheless, probably he have done more than several thousand scholars have done in helping the transition of our society into a type 1 civilization. In a very insightful presentation he said:
“In the middle ages, in England when you met a very poor person that person would be described as an unfortunate, literally someone who has not been blessed by fortune, an unfortunate. Nowadays, particularly in the United States if you met someone in the bottom of society they may unkindly be described as a loser. There´s a real difference between an unfortunate and a loser and that shows 400 years of evolution in society”

It was not by chance that he mentioned the United States because it is, in fact, a country addicted on the successful narrative. A country in which at least in electoral terms literally "the winner takes it all". A country whose academia has indeed achieved a lot of successes, Nobel prizes not being one of those because so far US does not even get to enter the Top 10, US have won 1.1 Nobel prizes/million of population ranking below Switzerland and Sweden that have 3,1, Denmark 2,8, Norway 2,5, Austria 2,4, UK 1.9, Ireland 1.7, Israel 1.4, Germany and Hungary 1.3 and Netherlands that has 1.2. Still a place in which US ranks the first is in the number of retracted papers due to falsification/fabrication of data. According to Retraction Watch US has more of those trash papers than the number of similar papers with affiliation of China, Japan, Germany and UK combined. But probably the worst failure of US academia is the failure to enlighten at least the US citizens that received a bachelor degree about the danger of a creating an extremely unequal society. US academia was not even able to show how absurd is the fact that a country of the first world has its rules on gun control dictated by a gun association. Back in the old days it was some how much more simpler to carry on such message. Now it is much more difficult because IA based platforms find what consumers want to hear/read in order to deliver exactly the news they want to her/read. No surprise then that almost 75% of US Americans get their news from Facebook, where the most popular source is the xenophobic, misogynist, alt-right Breitbart.

Although tenure come as a way to defend the freedom of ideas the true is that academia is full of tenured cowards. Fortunately, where there´s a tenured coward there´s also a courageous one and back in 1967, the year I was born, Noam Chomsky was courageous enough to author an essay entitled “The responsibility of Intellectuals in which he attacked those that were subservient to US Government involved in the Vietnam war, special the social scientists like the historian Arthur Schlesinger. Obviously today it is much more different to be a courageous tenure academic in the universities of Western countries or to be on in China where they say that scientists who falsified data can even face dead penalty and that gives us some important clues about what should be the business of tenured academics in the universities of Western countries. They should have the courage to help the transition of the society we where in towards a type 1 civilization. They should have the courage to speak against the populist politicians who try to shrink universities budget almost into zero. They should have the courage to speak against those populist politicians who wants to turn academics into sheeps like Mr F.Moron Trump is been trying to do in US. They should have the courage to stand against the unethical research agendas of transnational corporate interests.

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