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Humanities a circus

Reader comment on item: Learning from the Mearsheimer-Walt Fiasco
in response to reader comment: Object of Mockery.

Submitted by S Silverstein (United States), Sep 18, 2007 at 10:21

Ynnatchkah wrote:

"I think a solid movement should be implemented to expel this type of inferior intellectuality qualified as "professors" in your Universities, b/c it denigrates your country's (Good fame) as holders of excellence. Humanities have become a circus here."

This is indeed confirmed by my own observations as a former Yale faculty member. When ideology drives research, it's no longer research, at least in the scientific sense of the word. It's selectively using facts, rumor and mistruths to mislead. When done in my field, medicine, that leads to patient harm, lawsuits, and (not often enough) loss of privilege to practice, perform research and get grant money.

Unfortunately, the inmates have taken over the asylum. It's not just the humanities, it's my field, biomedical science ,as well. Even when someone tries to do good, tenured professors cannot be counted on to act as scholars and gentlemen. The reverse seems to be true, in fact. For some examples see a blog I co-author at http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com .

However, the outcome is often very different than in the humanities. Witness the fraud over stem cell research by Dr. Woo Suk Hwang that occurred not long ago, and the response to it:

Wikipedia: Hwang Woo-Suk (born 29 January 1953)[1] is a South Korean biomedical scientist. He was a professor of theriogenology and biotechnology at Seoul National University (dismissed on March 20, 2006) who rose to fame after claiming a series of remarkable breakthroughs in the field of stem cell research. Until November 2005, he was considered one of the pioneering experts in the field of stem cell research, best known for two articles published in the journal Science in 2004 and 2005 where he fraudulently reported to have succeeded in creating human embryonic stem cells by cloning. Both papers have been editorially retracted after being found to contain a large amount of fabricated data. He has admitted to various lies and frauds.

On May 12, 2006, Hwang was "indicted on embezzlement and bioethics law violations linked to faked stem cell research."[2] Korea Times reported on June 10, 2007 that "The university expelled him and the government rescinded its financial and legal support. While being charged with fraud and embezzlement, he has kept a low profile at the Suam Bioengineering Research Institute in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, where he is officially engaged in animal cloning. The government barred Hwang from conducting human cloning research.[3]

At least in biomedicine, perhaps due to an impact that is easier to recognize and affects everyone, fraudulent research often has serious consequences for the perpetratror. In the humanities, it seems anything goes - as long as one does not bring up un-PC ideas such as "females might have different math abilities than males." This then leads to what one writer has referred to as "a leftist fatwa."

Mearshiemer and Walt have "poisoned the well", so to speak, and significantly set back Jewish relations with the non-Jewish community with their inflammatory writing. They could have written a book on "Why we believe it is not in the US interest to have a special relationship with Israel." That is something that can be debated pro and con in a factual way (I think they'll lose the debate onits merits, byt that's a story for another time). Instead, they made the focus of their works the old canard that Jews have an unnatural amount of power over a country.

A question for Mr. Pipes: do the other works by Walt or Mearsheimer over the years attack any other specific religious or ethnic group?

S. Silverstein

Submitting....

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".

Daniel Pipes replies:

"do the other works by Walt or Mearsheimer over the years attack any other specific religious or ethnic group?"

Sorry, I have no idea. Have never read anything by them but the few paragraphs in which they mangle the facts about me. For why I stay away, see "Learning from the Mearsheimer-Walt Fiasco."

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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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