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coberst
post Apr 14, 2009, 10:31 AM
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Scholars in the Tank

Few top ranked scholars are going into government or academic professions; many are going into Think Tanks, which are supported by private interests that are guided often by ideological self-interest.

“More than 1,200 think tanks in the United States provide not only ideas but also experts ready to comment or consult at a moment's notice. Some of these new transmission belts serve as translators and additional outlets for academic ideas, but many add a bias provided by their founders and funders.”

A recent TRIP (Teaching, Research and International Policy) poll noted that few top rated scholars held policy positions in government. The blame for this rests with the fact that not only are the think tanks absorbing all of the talent but that the talent that goes to academia are often supported in research through funding by industry directly or by the think tanks controlled by industry.

One might expect that as citizens, academics would show a bias toward improving public policy when they can. Also one might expect them to be concentrating on preparing young people into becoming well informed Critical Thinking citizens with the sophistication required to make valid judgments in our very high tech culture.

“As former undersecretary of state David Newsom argued a decade ago, "the growing withdrawal of university scholars behind curtains of theory and modeling would not have wider significance if this trend did not raise questions regarding the preparation of new generations and the future influence of the academic community on public and official perceptions of international issues and events. Teachers plant seeds that shape the thinking of each new generation; this is probably the academic world's most lasting contribution." Yet too often scholars teach theory and methods that are relevant to other academics but not to the majority of the students sitting in the classroom before them.”

Our culture has tended to channel intellectuals, or perhaps more properly those who function as intellectuals, into academic professions. Gramsci makes the accurate distinction that all men and women “are intellectuals…but all do not have the function of intellectuals in society”.

The subordination to power is not just at the individual level but also at the institutional level. Government funds are made available to universities and colleges not for use as they deem fit but for specific government needs. Private industry plays even a larger role in providing funds for educational institutions to perform management and business study. Private industry is not inclined ‘to waste’ money on activities that do not contribute to the bottom line. ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune.’

Each intellectual is spouting a different ideology, how does the individual choose what ideology? Trotsky once said “only a participant can be a profound spectator”. Is detachment then a virtue? To suggest that intellectuals rise above ideology is impractical. Explicit commitment is preferable to bogus neutrality. But truth is an indispensable touchstone.

I think that the proper role for the intellectual is commitment plus detachment. Do you think many of our present day intellectuals qualify as committed and detached?

Quotes from Scholars on the Sidelines By Joseph S. Nye Jr
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...9041202260.html
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Rick
post Apr 14, 2009, 11:15 AM
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We don't have a high tech culture. We have an entertainment culture. That's the problem. If people were interested in technology we would have a lot fewer problems. Cultural change is the mission of FIRST:

http://www.usfirst.org/
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mk-ultra
post Apr 14, 2009, 05:19 PM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Apr 14, 2009, 12:15 PM) *

We don't have a high tech culture. We have an entertainment culture. That's the problem. If people were interested in technology we would have a lot fewer problems. Cultural change is the mission of FIRST:

http://www.usfirst.org/


This is nothing new. Marketing & politicians employ the largest body of cognitive researchers.
Look up the likes of Clotaire Rapaille
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sh...s/rapaille.html

Frank Luntz is another one who is often employed by think tanks to change perception towards policy change. Although he has a politic science education he also employs a lot of cognitive research to back up his findings. He's brought you the "death tax, climate change, deep sea energy exploration (off shore drilling)", among others.

Now if someone like Luntz manages to change the way people discuss policy in congress and media (faux news). Imagine what someone could do to our society in general with the likes of Clotaire Rapaille.

I agree 100% with your statement Rick. Cultural change needs to take place first. However, I've found out myself that this an uphill battle.. Young people are so over-saturated with media these days that they can't use their minds for anything else. It's kind of dreadful that a young mind in a phase where it can soak up lots of information, it's more preoccupied with entertaining itself to death rather than learning. Specially in north america. The media programming itself gets progressively better, and more efficient when it comes to heighten ego-centrism. And it aims right square at psyche of the child and teenager. To the point where if you were to eliminate it, it would survive in a feedback loop all on its own.

If cultural change needs to take place, it would need to start with parenting aware children.
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coberst
post Apr 15, 2009, 03:23 AM
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QUOTE(mk-ultra @ Apr 14, 2009, 05:19 PM) *

QUOTE(Rick @ Apr 14, 2009, 12:15 PM) *

We don't have a high tech culture. We have an entertainment culture. That's the problem. If people were interested in technology we would have a lot fewer problems. Cultural change is the mission of FIRST:

http://www.usfirst.org/


This is nothing new. Marketing & politicians employ the largest body of cognitive researchers.
Look up the likes of Clotaire Rapaille
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sh...s/rapaille.html

Frank Luntz is another one who is often employed by think tanks to change perception towards policy change. Although he has a politic science education he also employs a lot of cognitive research to back up his findings. He's brought you the "death tax, climate change, deep sea energy exploration (off shore drilling)", among others.

Now if someone like Luntz manages to change the way people discuss policy in congress and media (faux news). Imagine what someone could do to our society in general with the likes of Clotaire Rapaille.

I agree 100% with your statement Rick. Cultural change needs to take place first. However, I've found out myself that this an uphill battle.. Young people are so over-saturated with media these days that they can't use their minds for anything else. It's kind of dreadful that a young mind in a phase where it can soak up lots of information, it's more preoccupied with entertaining itself to death rather than learning. Specially in north america. The media programming itself gets progressively better, and more efficient when it comes to heighten ego-centrism. And it aims right square at psyche of the child and teenager. To the point where if you were to eliminate it, it would survive in a feedback loop all on its own.

If cultural change needs to take place, it would need to start with parenting aware children.


First we must convince adults that it is not wise to store their intellect in the attic with their year book when their school daze are over. Then adults will change our educational system.

Abraham Maslow defined a hierarchy of needs to be:
1) Biological and Physiological (water, food, shelter, air, sex, etc.)
2) Safety (security, law and order, stability, etc.)
3) Belonging and love (family, affection, community, etc.)
4) Esteem (self-esteem, independence, prestige, achievement, etc.)
5) Self-Actualization (self-fulfillment, personal growth, realizing personal potential, etc.)

This hierarchy makes us conscious of the obvious fact that we did not fret about the absence of self-esteem if we did not already have security nor did we worry about security if we did not have water to drink or air to breath.

“Maslow says there are two processes necessary for self-actualization: self exploration and action. The deeper the self exploration, the closer one comes to self-actualization.”

"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization ... It refers to man's desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming ..."

I think that the area in which Western society fails most egregiously is in the matter of an intellectual life after schooling. We have a marvelous brain that goes into the attic after schooling is complete and is brought out only occasionally on the job or when we try to play bridge or chess.

It appears to me that the fundamental problem faced by most Western democracies is a lack of intellectual sophistication of the total population. Our colleges and universities have prepared young people to become good producers and consumers. The college graduate has a large specialized database that allows that individual to quickly enter the corporate world as a useful cog in the machine. The results display themselves in our thriving high standard of living, high technology corporate driven life styles.

We are excellent at instrumental rationality and deficient at developing the rationality and understanding required for determining normative values. It seems to me that our societies are not prepared intellectually for the demanding task ahead. The only solution seems to be a change that will significantly increase the intellectual sophistication of the society as a whole. We need a rising tide of intellectual sophistication and Self-Actualization might be the way for our adults to add an intellectual life to their acquisitions.

To get an idea about S-A you might examine http://www.performance-unlimited.com/samain.htm You can do a Google and find other sites that you might find more interesting.

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