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Reader comment on item: Is Campus Watch Part of a Conspiracy? [On Mearsheimer-Walt and "The Israeli Lobby"]

Submitted by S Silverstein (United States), May 13, 2006 at 14:14

In "The Israel Lobby (Response by Authors)" in the London Review of Books, Vol. 28 No. 9, Mearsheimer and Walt write that:

Readers will also note that Pipes does not deny that his organization, Campus Watch, was created in order to monitor what academics say, write and teach, so as to discourage them from engaging in open discourse about the Middle East."


Therein resides a fundamental, teleological problem with professors like Walt and Mearsheimer, which likely affects many in the 'soft sciences.' I could agree that one purpose - or effect - of sites that aggregate and critique articles about a controversial subject could be to discourage academics (and others) from reckless and nonsensical discourse about a subject.

In the hard sciences, we tend to find such discourse is of little value, and possibly quite harmful. If a scientist were to deny the existence of bacteria and the need for sterile technique in surgery, or claim that AIDS prevention through taking a shower is all that is needed, it would add little of value to the subject matter, and would likely cause great harm.

The fact that Walt and Mearsheimer appear to conflate "open discourse" with "reckless discourse" could be construed as prima facie evidence of academic quackery. Those who publish garbage earn the critique and ridicule they receive, and should not be spared from the critique and ridicule simply because they reside in an Ivory Tower.

Production of reckless and nonsensical research and discourse under the label of "open discourse" is not a reasonable mission for academia. That's a function for tabloids.

My own take as an information scientist on the sophomoric quality of Walt's and Mearsheimer's research, made all the more ironic by the nature of the information resources and advanced search tools available (free) to academics and to many in the public as well, is here.

It's an intensely sad statement on the intellectual and moral condition of Ivy academia when Harvard professors earn their own page entitled "Debunking the Jewish Lobby Libel" on a website dedicated to exposing the evils of islamic fascism.

By the way, when The Militant ("A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people") also attacks the Walt-Mearshemer "Jewish Lobby" paper, you know the esteemed professors are approaching rock bottom: More middle-class radicals promote Jew-hatred

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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