Saturday, March 21, 2020

Hanging with the Snarks: An Academic Memoir


I used to have a running argument with a colleague, a great scholar now gathered to his fathers, during late afternoon seminars catered by the good folks at Jack Daniels. The argument was as to the cause of the shallowness, fakery, pusilanimity, and lack of vocation of the professoriate that we saw around us every day. I argued that it was a failure of intelligence, he that it was a defect of character. We were both right, though he more so than I.

It is a common misconception that college professors are particularly intelligent. Since the great proliferation of doctorates beginning in the 1960s, this is no longer true, if it ever was. Professors for the most part are just people who have stayed in school a long time. In IQ they average out below physicians and entrepreneurs and about match the lower third of lawyers, clergymen, accountants, and Congressmen. Many of the stupid statements that we hear every day from professors are committed by people with little intelligence or learning who are simply working with what they know—current intellectual fashion. It is not a testimonial to serious intelligence when people believe, as they do, that those who disagree with them do so only because they are not as smart as them.

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