In US Universities, A Divorce Is Needed – OpEd

For a century or so, U.S. universities have been an adornment of American culture, and indeed of world culture, but, with notable exceptions, only in the sciences. Bright people have flocked to the USA from all parts of the world to study, research, and teach in physics, chemistry, biology, other physical and life sciences, and related fields such as medicine, mathematics, and engineering. The products are all around us, from life-saving drugs to the Internet, smart phones, GPS guidance systems, and countless other marvels.

But in the humanities and social sciences, the story has been different, especially during the past forty years, as Marxist-spawned doctrines such as Critical Theory and Multicultural This and That have proliferated, destroying disciplines such as English, history, sociology, anthropology, and even in large part economics and replacing them with tendentious dogmas cum jihads such as black studies, gender studies, and LGBT studies.

Moreover, aggressive administrators and zealous faculty adherents of these doctrines have now begun to extend their gaze toward and their interventions in the STEM fields, threatening to destroy the last bastions of what was glorious and truly progressive in the universities. For a long time the faculty in the substantive fields tended to ignore the crazies in the humanities and social sciences, being satisfied to be left alone to do real work. But whether they will be able to continue in this strategy seems now to be in serious question. Pusillanimous administrators have been easily swayed, if they did not in fact lead the way, in favor of the bullshitization of the U.S. universities, turning institutions away from understanding and scholarship toward ideological crusades and identity politics.

If the worthwhile parts of the U.S. universities are to continue to thrive, or even to survive as serious endeavors, it would seem that a parting of the ways must come. The STEM fields must separate themselves from the bullshit parts of the universities. The latter can then go their own way to fester in their nonsense until the general public awakens to the need to cease supporting such activities altogether. This divorce cannot come too soon. Scientific and technical progress is too important to mankind to allow it be be taken hostage by practitioners of anti-rational, mumbo-jumbo-talking, ideological zealots.

This article was published at The Beacon.


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Robert Higgs

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute and Editor of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, and the University of Economics, Prague. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.

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