We’re publishing an original piece today by regular contributor Dr Sinéad Murphy, an Associate Researcher in Philosophy at Newcastle University, about why it’s a mistake to ask academics for advice about managing the pandemic. She doesn’t base this on the fact that the advice of professors of medicine and public health over the past 18 months has generally been poor, but on the disconnect between life in the academy and the real world. Here is an extract, taking Devi Sridhar’s advice to the Scottish Government as an example:
It is not surprising that the likes of Professor Sridhar run for cover to academia when the going gets tough – insofar as our universities have been institutions of enlightenment, they have long been a refuge for irresponsible opinion and wild theories of every kind, which they absolve of all sin by rendering them as purely academic.
What is surprising is that Sridhar and her like were ever allowed out of academia in the first place, that their ‘expert’ models and theories and forecasts and projections were ever accorded the dignity of relevancy.
Our universities – more is the pity – have evolved as little more than soft-play areas for amoral and impractical thought, for ‘critical’ projects wielded at any target that presents itself. It is a serious category error to assume that anyone employed in them is qualified to pronounce on anything of material significance.
To give him his due, Kant warned against this grave error. He saw that once we were busy submitting everything to ‘but’ questions we would be far too reckless to determine anything of practical or moral significance. “Argue as much as you like about whatever you like,” he encouraged his readers – “but obey!”
Worth reading in full.