Comment 147

By sossux (registered) | Posted None at

Although I disagree with your position on hyperspecialization in academia, I do see the relevance of criticism of these "talking heads" put forth by Tetlock. However, I see it as a necessary evil. For the position of one of these heads on the issue, see Mark Kingwell's "The Intellectual Possibilities of Television" in the Dec. 12th edition of "The Chronicles of Higher Education". For an argument against this, see Bourdieu's pamphlet "Sur la television". Aside from all this, it is known that there is much disdain for these "talking heads" in academic circles. This is understandable: -Rationalizing the position of the Ivory Tower: Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life proposes that during early American development, unique forms of evangelism, egalitarian democracy, the culture of big-business, and the Progressive focus of public education led to a disdain of American intellectuals and academics. Hence, the focus on the virtues of pragmatism/the common man (Goldwater : “I don’t have much of a brain”; George W. Bush: …) So, the academic reaction to “talking heads” can be seen as a Durkheimian formation of in-group solidarity against a perceived transgression from the group’s norms. However, there is a need for this type of expert public discourse, regardless of its predictive inefficiencies: The necessity of vulgarization! Within the culture context proposed by Hofstadter, there is an inherent need for the vulgarization of scientific knowledge. This need is rooted in the Enlightenment tradition of using science to improve the condition of humankind. Also, look at Math proofs and the work of logicians: the key to communication is striking an appropriate balanced between brevity and simplicity. Best, Kevin Duska Jr.

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