These Are Trained Professionals: Don't Try This In Your Own Home

Three Duke professors, two of whom were members of the infamous group of 88 who advocated a presumption of guilt for the lacrosse players in the Duke non-rape case, have written their own self-serving version of history in an "academic" magazine.  The funniest part is where they claim that only trained experts like themselves are qualified to discuss any subject once the race card has been played:

"the most extreme marginalization was reserved for the faculty
whose professional expertise made them most competent to engage the
discourses on race and gender unleashed by the inaugurating incident
"” scholars of African American and women's studies. Instead, administrators,
like the bloggers themselves, operated under the assumption that
everyone was an expert on matters of race and gender, while actually existing academic expertise was recast as either bias or a commitment to preconceived notions about the legal case.
Some
faculty thus found themselves in the unenviable position of being the
targets of public discourse (and disparaged for their expertise on race
and gender) without being legitimate participants in it."

Beyond the hilarity of such a claim on its face, how does such a self-serving discussion meet the editorial standards of any academic publication?  For though they claim to have "professional expertise,"  all they really accomplish is to reinforce my impression that the social sciences in general, and racial/gender studies departments in particular, have the lowest academic standards of any group on modern campuses.  KC Johnson goes on to sample some of the outright mistakes, outrageous (and unproven) claims, and general lack of sourcing and footnoting that would likely have gotten them laughed out of most any university department with actual standards.  As I wrote about the Ward Churchill affair:

And, in fact, in the rush to build ethnic studies programs, a lot of
people of very dubious qualifications were given tenure, often based
more on ethnic credibility and political activism than any academic
qualifications.  Hell, Cal State Long Beach hired a paranoid schizophrenic
who had served prison time for beating and torturing two women as the
head of their Black Studies department.  And universities like UC
patted themselves on their politically correct backs for these hirings.

I could go out tomorrow and find twenty tenured professors of
ethnic/racial/gender studies in state universities whose academic
credentials are at least as bad as Churchill's and whom no one would dare fire.  This has nothing to do with Churchill's academic work or its quality.  UC is getting exactly what it expected when it tenured him.

  • delurking

    It appeared in Social Text, the same academic journal which swallowed Sokal's hoax hook, line, and sinker.

  • Anonymous

    "while actually existing academic expertise was recast as either bias or a commitment to preconceived notions about the legal case."

    Uh, it's really simple. You have to have a certain amount of evidence to take someone to trial on criminal charges. A shaky story by a shady character, lack of physical evidence, and a denial by another witness is not the kind of evidence I want to be able to bind someone over for trial, regardless of their race.

    Those stupid judges and their "preconceived notions" about criminal procedure.

  • bbartlog

    Some faculty thus found themselves in the unenviable position of being the targets of public discourse (and disparaged for their expertise on race and gender) without being legitimate participants in it.

    What's funny is that this is basically a dressed-up whine about not being taken seriously, but rather than wonder for even a moment why the 'public discourse' might give short shrift to their opinions these guys insist on casting themselves as victims of 'administrators' and other figures of authority. Of course when you have tenure your actual degree of victimization is pretty constrained. I guess once your position and salary are guaranteed you can still cry about 'extreme marginalization' (i.e. people laughing at your fool opinions), since you really don't have much else to hang your victim status on...

  • bbartlog

    Some faculty thus found themselves in the unenviable position of being the targets of public discourse (and disparaged for their expertise on race and gender) without being legitimate participants in it.

    What's funny is that this is basically a dressed-up whine about not being taken seriously, but rather than wonder for even a moment why the 'public discourse' might give short shrift to their opinions these guys insist on casting themselves as victims of 'administrators' and other figures of authority. Of course when you have tenure your actual degree of victimization is pretty constrained. I guess once your position and salary are guaranteed you can still cry about 'extreme marginalization' (i.e. people laughing at your fool opinions), since you really don't have much else to hang your victim status on...

  • dave smith

    These guys do have a point, "expert" opinion should matter. I wonder if they would apply the same theory on English professors discussing tax policy?

    What their problem is that they are really not "experts" about anything, and no one really cares what they might think.

  • Tim

    "Instead, administrators, like the bloggers themselves, operated under the assumption that everyone was an expert on matters of race and gender"

    I hate to come across as arrogant, but I consider MYSELF an expert on race and gender. You see, all my life I've been a member of a race and a member of a gender. In fact, I have numerous family members and friends who all happen to be a race or gender, some even different from mine. I'll go even further and state that I'm somewhat of an expert on differing age groups as well!

    This is not something I merely studied for a brief period of time while pursuing various degrees, but comes from decades of personal immersion in the subject matter.

  • Tomas

    Don't taint all of social science with this crap--some of us actually do have standards. One might even go so far as to suggest that is the emergence standards in mainstream social science that is at the base of the emergence of the pomo programs.

    a political scientist with standards

  • Dr. T

    Sorry, Tomas, "a political scientist with standards" is an oxymoronic phrase. There is no science in political science (data analysis and statistics do not count as science). The field is filled with fools who can't reason their way through simple problems and are lost in the complexities of citizen-governance interfaces and interactions.

    Many years ago, I had a full scholarship at a graduate political science program. I withdrew after seven weeks because the professors were dolts and the journals and textbooks were packed with polysyllabic verbiage that actually said nothing. I was unsurprised to learn that quite of few of the Duke 88 were PolSci faculty. The Duke 88's combination of illogic, bias, bigotry, absurd recommendations, and claims of victimhood and persecution were exactly what I expect of PolSci and Sociology "experts."