Phi Beta Cons

Peter Wood Comments on L’Affaire Riley

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars and also a Chronicle blogger, comments here on the decision to can Naomi Schaefer Riley because — well, because an academic mob demanded it. He provides a sturdy defense for free debate rather than the Burn the Heretic mentality that drove the furious attack on Mrs. Riley.

Some of the comments there (and elsewhere) contend that she committed a terrible sin by offering a critical opinion about black studies based on just three dissertation titles. But blog posts are places for offering up opinions, not full-scale analyses. The dissertations sure look like the kind of extremely narrow and highly tendentious research that is common in many academic fields. I hope that someone picks up the gauntlet lying on the ground and reads, then writes a thorough critique of one or more of the dissertations. Are they scholarship that advances knowledge? Maybe so. Or are they in whole or part merely extended rants?

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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