[extropy-chat] Academic Fights

Benjamin Goertzel ben at goertzel.org
Wed Apr 25 23:56:40 UTC 2007

Well, but only a small percentage of academic fights are actually about

On 4/25/07, Keith Henson <hkhenson at rogers.com> wrote:
> 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?
> snip
> "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."
> snip
> 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.
> Keith
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