Monday, July 27, 2009

Why academics are conformists

Minnesota psychologist Thomas Bouchard said academics are conformists in the July 3, 2009 edition of the journal Science, according to New York Times blogger Nicholas Wade in the TierneyLab blog.

Wade reports that Bouchard said:
The strength of this urge to conform can silence even those who have good reason to think the majority is wrong. You’re an expert because all your peers recognize you as such. But if you start to get too far out of line with what your peers believe, they will look at you askance and start to withdraw the informal title of “expert” they have implicitly bestowed on you. Then you’ll bear the less comfortable label of “maverick,” which is only a few stops short of “scapegoat” or “pariah.” (See Source, below)
This psychological insight explains why Doubt about Will founder John Shahan's campaign for theDeclaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare is so effective in eroding that hole in the dike of academic resistance to the authorship question. Once the looney lable is eliminated, honest query will flood the swamp of ignorance about the writer who created the English language.

Source:"Newsmaker Interview: Behavioral Geneticist Celebrates Twins, Scorns PC Science" by Constance Holden. Science 3 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5936, p. 27

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