A Great Blog Post Debunking Zeitgeist and ‘Zeitgeist Mythicism’

I found this blog post to be exceptionally well-written and had to share it with my readers.  Since I have been on what is becoming more and more like a campaign against such rubbish, I have had the pleasure of some excellent conversations with colleagues on the subject of pseudoscience and its continued success in the social world of our contemporary age.  The biggest drawback to real science/history is that conspiracy theories propose faux ideas about Academia and this blog article not only shreds such perceptions, it tears into Dorothy Murdock’s books and credibility.  Here is an excerpt from Part 1 (aptly named ‘How Academia Really Works’):

First, the groundwork.  Conspiracy theorists and fringe believers generally think that academia and the world of experts is a small, close-knit, elitist club where an “official” orthodoxy is rigidly enforced and extreme peer pressure maintains order.  In this ivory tower that conspiracy theorists think academicians live in, the slightest deviation from the “official line” is a career-destroying move for any expert.  He or she will be blacklisted, unable to publish, drummed out of faculty departments and brutally ridiculed by his or her former colleagues.  In the world of conspiracy theorists and fringe believers, this orthodoxy holds fast even if the facts it is based on are demonstrably false—comparisons are often drawn to the geocentric view of astronomy that Copernicus challenged in the sixteenth century, or the (actually incorrect) assertion that “before Columbus, everyone thought the world was flat.”

There’s just one problem with this view.  It simply isn’t true.

I am formerly a lawyer, but I now work in academia.  My colleagues and superiors are well-trained and respected historians.  They have put in years of research and are well-versed in the methodology of history in everything from medieval Japan to U.S. nuclear policy in the 1960s.  But getting them to agree on anything is impossible.

Academics have a reputation for being idiosyncratic and curmudgeonly.  Sometimes that is true.  Anyone who’s ever attended a faculty meeting, though, knows immediately that trying to drive academicians in any particular direction is like trying to herd cats.  You just can’t do it.  So the idea that there is some sort of rigid orthodoxy, especially one that’s artificially imposed by a government or other “Establishment” actor, is simply laughable.

It is quite an enjoyable read.  I can’t recommend it enough.

One Response

  1. I agree with the examples in muertos’ post; and, in most cases, these pseudoscientists have no basis for their original claims, and thus no basis for their claims of inertia in Academia. However, that is not to say that certain strains of dogmatic behavior haven’t influenced Academia, and especially the scientific community. You see, dogma isn’t something that is solely associated with religion and Pharisaic behavior; but actually dogmatic behavior can apply to all systems of human knowledge. Some believe that because science is based on material evidence, it is free from dogma. This is simply not true. Peer-review is a source of pressure for researchers and scientists to fall within the guidelines of acceptable conformity. Make no mistake about it – our scientists of today are our priests of yesterday.

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