[extropy-chat] Academic Fights

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Wed Apr 25 22:49:46 UTC 2007

The author sent me this great paper:

Why Are Academic Fights So Nasty?

	John Orbell
	Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, University of Oregon
	Eugene, OR 97403

"That academic fights are so nasty because there's so little at stake is a 
clever verbal quip (thus probably invented by an academic ), but obviously 
wrong.  Even academics have better things to do with their time than 
fighting for no reason at all.  But academic fights are often very nasty 
indeed.  So the interesting question is: Why are academic fights so often 
so nasty? What is at stake?


"The second is: Ideas are a uniquely volatile medium for status fights 
because they are critically important to our psychic welfare, making any 
attack on our particular ideas an attack on that welfare.   This requires 
us to think, for the moment, about human nature in general, not just 
academic nature, and that gets us to evolution.  Implicit in a Darwinian 
view of life is one simple fact: The world is a very dangerous place.  It 
is probably less dangerous for humans living in modern, secure, urban 
environments than it was for our ancestors living on the savanna, but the 
important fact for understanding human psychology is that it was a very 
dangerous place when their brains were evolving.  And having ideas might 
have played an important role in helping brain-owners survive and reproduce 
in this ancestral period."


I wonder if this is the explanation for many fights on the net?

The article isn't going to be published though it has been widely 
circulated.  I may try to talk him into putting it on his web site.  In the 
meantime folks who would like to read it could probably get a copy from me.


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