Tuesday, November 16, 2004


GROUPTHINK IN THE ACADEMY
In an excellent article, Mark Bauerlein discusses how groupthink can take over an organization that shares a common purpose, lead to a false consenus, culminating in polarization - that is, becoming more extreme as a group than the individuals were when they entered the group. Bauerlein applies the groupthink paradigm to the university, showing how the insular conclave of liberal professors can lead to extreme views and a loss of touch with reality. I would argue that this groupthink disease has taken over many of the blue counties of the blue states, leading to far more lopsided results in favor of the losing presidential candidate than in many red state counties or red states. Hence the unhinged extremism of talk of stolen elections and secession.

As if on cue, certain professors and students at the University of North Carolina are demonstrating the principles of groupthink in their knee jerk reaction against the endowment of a Western Civilization course of study in Chapel Hill. The John William Pope Foundation has offered up to $15 million to UNC. That Foundation has, in the past, been a thorn in the side of, and a big contributor to, the university. A thorn recently because it funded a group complaining about the assigned summer study of the Koran. The Foundation also is a major contributor to conservative organizations such as the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and the John Locke Foundation.

So, not content to merely complain, it seems the Foundation has decided to just jump in with both feet and put its money where its mouth is. If it has complaints about the academy's movement away from a study of Western Civiliation, how bout funding the program. You'd think a university that is constantly at the legislature with hat in hand, sobbing about becoming a second class university because of lack of money, would welcome $15 million dedicated strictly to an academic program (and some of that money will go directly to professors).

But you'd be wrong. The liberals are freaking out as though this were some kind of blood money not even as good as Saddam's oil-for-fraud payments to Russia and France. As usual, the lefto-ignorant arguments can be reduced to placards: "UNC should not take $$$ from an organization with a racist, homophobic, sexist and anti-poor record."

"Stop the hate, stop the fear, we don't want their money here."

Such extremist attitudes certainly reinforces Bauerlein's groupthink thesis. And to further insure no diverse thought may challenge the dogma of liberal academia, UNC Professor Barbara Harris, history professors and, get this, chair of the women's studies program, says - and this is not from Scrappleface.com- worried that the $15 million dollar donation "would invite meddling from outsiders."

Can't have outsiders meddling in a state supported, publicly funded school. Your tax dollars at work.

But if the University accepts and the Foundation still agrees to give the money, perhaps the best result would be ensured. History Professor Judith Bennett said she would quit.

UPDATE: In completely unrelated news, an across the board state government budget cut is requiring UNC Chapel Hill to return $2.85 million to the state. "It's a signification amount of money." "Officials said the cut will put a strain on the University".

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