Butler Shaffer
LRC Blog

July 1, 2009 

The political establishment’s response to the global warming doubts raised by EPA researcher, Alan Carlin, is remarkable. The mantra chanted by one EPA official – and dutifully echoed across the media – is that Mr. Carlin “is not a scientist.” This fact, of course, has not kept Al Gore from becoming the patron saint of the environmental religion. (Gore received his PhD in which of the recognized sciences?)

[efoods]An assertion of this sort is evidence of the anti-intellectualism that has metastasized across academia and spread to other venues of expression. Universities have become so dominated by an insistence upon the inviolability of the “turfs” of various disciplines as to make one unworthy to speak on matters of which he or she has not been certified to utter opinions by fellow academics. There was once a time – many decades ago – when a “liberal arts” education was regarded as a means of introducing people to a wide range of subject areas that would permit them to think and speak intelligently on various matters affecting their lives. Collective thinking – which now permeates college campuses – rejects such an idea, conferring subject matter monopolies according to one’s acknowledged “expertise.”

When my “In Restraint of Trade” book was first published twelve years ago, an academic reviewer from a respected history department spent most of his time acquainting his readers with the fact that I taught in a law school and not a history department. The review ended up being little more than a strident defense of turf, and a condemnation of my efforts to focus attention on matters unfamiliar to historians.

I enjoy watching Jonathan Hoenig every Saturday morning on Fox News’ “Cashin’ In” program on investment analysis. He is a consistent advocate of free-markets, individual liberty, and private property. He recently stated that humans “must think in order to survive,” but that we have recently been “outsourcing” this function to others. Such a practice now prevails on university campuses, and helps to explain why academia is a source of so little original and meaningful thinking. Don’t wonder about what anything means: the “experts” whose jobs are dependent upon advancing the agendas of the political establishment will explain it all to you!


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