Sunday, 29 October 2017

Academic teaching in non scientific subjects has always been politically biased

Or as today's Sunday Telegraph headlines says, "Students fear being marked down for pro-Brexit views in essays" with the sub title, "Undergrads say they self-censor their work to pander to pro-Remain opinions of some lecturers

It comes as no shock to me  that students who propound Brexit views are given poor marks by politically motivated lecturer in PPE etc. I have never met a non-political PPE lecturer in my life. In subjects like economics there is no such thing as pure objectivity. Adam Smith recognised this and at Glasgow over 200 years ago  was appointed Professor of Political Economy.

I remember my brother was taught in his final year Economics by J K Galbraith who was spending a sabbatical at|Trinity. The Cambridge faculty were very envious of Galbraith. He was such a good communicator the other academics could never match him. Galbraith was not on my brother's examination board so my brother was duely marked down to a crap degree. A year or two later the faculty were forced to remark papers  using different examiners. 30% of marks changed by one class, 2.2 to 2.1 say and 10% changed by two classes, 2.2 to a first.  So much for objectivity.

The essence of science is that measurements are independently reproducible. Humanities fails that test. It is not science but opinion. Galbraith envy continued to flourish at UK institutions.

I took great pleasure when  at the BoE a query from King's office ended upon my desk and I was able to recommend reading Galbraith's little book called, The Great Crash.

Academic envy is endemic in all subjective teaching even Law. The modern phrase is 'Group think'. Favoured beliefs like the EU is good are sacrosanct.The opposite belief is rubbished. The same phenomenon prevails in the BBC.

Even Science is starting to be tainted with the interpretation of the results. Medical results are seldom re-tested as you can never get the same group of patients again

This allowing politics in academic debate is destroying academic freedom. Gender and race should have no place in academe but increasing they do. This is is pernicious and will destroy trust in academe


Edward Spalton said...

The fashion has spread to supposedly scientific subjects too. Just try writing a thesis which controverts the official line on man made climate change and see what happens! It will be professional suicide and banishment at the least - hardly less than the consequences for Soviet scientists who did not accept the genetic theories of Lysenko.

Theories are "proved" by official consensus. When The Nazis wanted to refute the " Jewish" theory of relativity and replace it with their " Aryan" science, one hundred leading professors wrote jointly to the leading scientific journals testifying to the truth of this. Einstein is said to have remarked " Why a hundred? One would have been enough". - assuming of course his proofs were adequate! But truth is not now decided by truth but by the supposed prestige and number of those proclaiming the official line.

Eric Edmond said...

I agree. Karl Popper said it all in his book, The Open Society and its Enemies. I cannot believe that Oriel gave into black racist pressure over Rhodes or Cambridge gave into a black female undergraduate on what not to teach in English course.