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Re. "5 Years of Campus Watch" Column

Reader comment on item: Five Years of Campus Watch

Submitted by Bryan Taplits (United States), Sep 20, 2007 at 21:08

Dr. Pipes,

I respect your analytical ability tremendously, but don't you think part of your column was more than a bit elitist and innacurate.

You write, viz:, "...Who would judge them [academics]? Students suppress their views to protect their careers; peers are reluctant to criticize each other, lest they in turn suffer attacks; and laymen lack the competence to judge arcane scholarship. "

Using your logic, then, I (who am a layman), who has judged your analytical ability as-really-a delight to behold, would be to inept to judge your opinions-and to hold them as worthy of my time to read them.

Additionally, "...if laymen lack competence to judge [academics]", then any academic who writes a column read by a loyal following is really "whistling past the graveyard" because the loyal reader is unable to understand the columnist's views in order to judge them as superior.

I guess you could reply that if readers have reached a conclusion on "arcane scholarship" it is no longer "arcane". But I had to respond, if only to support-in solidarity-we "layman".

Laymen unite. We have only to lose our ineptitude!


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Daniel Pipes replies:

I was not so much passing judgment on laymen as noting a general deference that non-specialists give to specialists.

Further, when a couple of activist institutions years ago tried to do something like what Campus Watch is now doing, they were immediately overwhelmed by the Middle East studies specialists' scorn. Their one-time efforts died on the vine.

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