mercredi, avril 12, 2006


Why do we need scholars in the media?

In this day and age, when you ask a simple question like Why do some persons vote for such our such Political Party?, you may get not all sorts of possible answers from the easily available sources of information. Indeed, it is almost the case that you always get the non- skilled or uninstructive answer from both intellectuals and illiterates, or, to be more specific, from either from non-experts or experts. In the aforesaid illustrative case, what (non-) experts frequently tell you is that you choose your Political Party based solely on your personal convictions and taste. Thus, if you like certain marques and colours, e.g. ‘Volvo cars’ and ‘pink’, you may vote for the Liberal Party of Canada or the Democratic Party of the United States. Or if you are a regular church goer of strong Protestant background, you will vote for the German Christian Democrats, the US Republicans or the Ulster Unionists, etc. Or, perhaps you’re a Francophile, a firm believer in the superiority of everything that is French, in which case you could be an ardent Gaullist. Beware of these who claim to be experts or simply scholars and tell you these nonsensical things. You hear this kind of thing everywhere you go and read it anywhere around the web from plain and low educated citizens, who have no idea of what Political Science could possibly mean. To my and your dismay, however, you will get the same from the very men who should in principle be the intelligentsia of the Global Community!

Personally, I do not like telling my readers what to do and think. Here, I rather prefer to provoke them with hypotheses they have never considered before, like the far right wants to expel all foreigners: the Indians of the Americas had this idea first, and say serious things together (that is the basic idea of an upsetting thought blog). But there are many blogs around the internet (I shall not link to them), written by People holding higher educational/ professional degrees (e.g.: PhDs), which aim to inform readers, providing wrong information to them. These blog authors happen to write for newspapers and sometimes go to talk shows as well. Basically, they repeat exactly the same kind of fanciful stuff you read in newspapers or hear from Radio or TV News. Their presupposed erudition and analytical capabilities do not make much difference. At the end they pass subliminal messages to their readers, telling People who they should vote for, what should they say, do or believe. They endorse the low minded doctrines of the establishment.

I do not see the point of a scholar writing for a newspaper, magazine or blog, unless he or she really aims to add new inputs to arena of public debates, challenging commonly spread misconceptions that lack any support on fact or scientific analyses. That is the ideal case, but often actual cases are from this. For instance, a very common and highly equivocated misconception shared by most people is that collective social and political movements may start out with single individual tragedies. In that old movie directed by DW Griffith, The Birth of a Nation, the origin of the Ku Klux Klan knights is told as an attempted rape and manslaughter story, where a White girl prefers to die rather than to loose her virginity and her body is later on found by a White adult male, who decides to avenge her death. This is the same kind of story one hears when an Economist, Book Author or College Professor claims that Anti-Communism in North-America began when someone had a dream, in which an angel told him to fight atheism by all means, and started to call everyone to join forces against the most dangerous enemy of our Civilisation. Nevertheless, it is a well known scientific fact that Social and/or Political movements do not evolve from single individual tragedies, but rather result from complex interactions between agents and contextual injunctions, under very objective circumstances. And when a scholar says something about a specific Social and/or Political movement he should not conceal this kind of information from the audience and instead tell another fairy or witch tale about how that movement originated from a bad day in John/Jane Doe’s life.

It is already adamantly damaging that popular absurdities be repeated, like Latino is a race, Afghanis raise camels mainly to eat their meat, cowboys in the Old West [certainly a macho society] used the pronoun they as the generic pronoun, because it is gender-inclusive, or nowadays there is a serious[sic] and heated scientific debate between Creationists and Evolutionistsetc. It is already shameful that PhD Students, Linguists or others reaffirm these expressions of pure ignorance (just to please vast audiences or reassure them of their prejudices and myths). However, it is by far much worse to reinforce misconceptions or suppress important information, disabling concerned citizens to counteract or interact in an effective manner or keeping them in the state of permanent confusion. (And this is exactly what mainstream mega-corporation mass media oftentimes seem to aim.)

Indeed, incalculable is the extent of the material and human injuries caused by a wealthy Country which wages war against a poorer one. In these instances, can anyone seriously and responsibly discuss the pretences, under which an invasion was carried out? Does anyone of normal intelligence sincerely believe that war does not consist of infrastructure destruction and mass killing? Well, in some aggressor Nations there have been those who participated in or promoted debates on whether war on another People is a form of helping the latter or not, as if this notion could be a plausible hypothesis.

The examination and discussion of Political, Social and Economic issues is not a matter of guessing and wishing different happy endings for TV series episodes, let alone a mere game of words. What is said and proposed has extensions in the real world and consequences for living human beings. And the damaging consequences of misinformation supported by scholars are twofold: they not only might endorse great crimes against humanity, such as genocide or war, but contribute to perpetuate ignorance. The first aspect is a wrong that many can make, while the second is an instance of moral irresponsibility that is specific to scholars and, as such, constitutes a major intellectual misdemeanor, for it is incumbent upon them to eradicate ignorance and thus help the erection of a better world.


At 6:32 AM, Blogger fpn1ex71 said...

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