Ivy league profs warns of the vice of conformism: “Think for yourself”


This is a good sign.  Fifteen Ivy league professors have offered advice and a warning to students everywhere –to recapture the spirit of truthseeking and free debate. The message might just catch on, because although the young strive to conform to fashionable norms, approximately none of them want to be seen doing so. Who wants to be a the weak minded conformist?

The real bigots are those who fear open-minded enquiry…

It’s sad that it needs to be said, but we don’t train children to question fashionable truths and always look at both sides.

Our advice can be distilled to three words:

Think for yourself.

Now, that might sound easy. But you will find—as you may have discovered already in high school—that thinking for yourself can be a challenge. It always demands self-discipline and these days can require courage.

In today’s climate, it’s all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion on your campus or in the broader academic culture. The danger any student—or faculty member—faces today is falling into the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink.

It is great to see them stepping into the fray:

Thinking for yourself means questioning dominant ideas even when others insist on their being treated as unquestionable. It means deciding what one believes not by conforming to fashionable opinions, but by taking the trouble to learn and honestly consider the strongest arguments to be advanced on both or all sides of questions—including arguments for positions that others revile and want to stigmatize and against positions others seek to immunize from critical scrutiny.

The love of truth and the desire to attain it should motivate you to think for yourself.

They are calling out the name-callers who have distorted the meaning of the word “bigot” and use it to shut down questions:

Merriam-Webster’s first definition of the word “bigot” is a person “who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.” The only people who need fear open-minded inquiry and robust debate are the actual bigots,…

So don’t be tyrannized by public opinion.

The Wall St Journal comments on it: “The Tyranny of Public Opinion”

“These views should probably come with a trigger warning on Ivy League campuses, but are likely to be celebrated by parental check-writers from sea to shining sea.”

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