The former Minister for Education and Training in the Australian Government, Simon Birmingham, had the gall to reject some of the worst proposals for public funding put to him by the Australian Research Council.* The twitterati is incensed, because of course they are, and beyond their primary complaint (everyone in the ingroup has the right to suckle unconditionally at the public teat and no-one outside that group is allowed to interfere), they are aghast that the Minister wouldn’t rubber-stamp proposals put to him by a group of… experts.
I see some of the logic in that, but – practically speaking – academic expertise is a mixed bag and needs to be handled discriminately. Academic expertise (whatever exactly that may be) paired with the right disposition can make awesome human beings that are able to shift the world in wonderful ways. Knowledge alone though is almost useless, and knowledge situated in the stagnant academy, which is itself a notoriously toxic hive of the worst office politics, stuck between a dying culture and sacks of gold, is a blunt instrument. Especially in a democracy we have a responsibility to discriminate between the experts that are worth listening to, and the experts that aren’t.
This is a story about experts that aren’t worth listening to:
We managed to get seven shoddy, absurd, unethical and politically-biased papers into respectable journals in the fields of grievance studies.
And this is the reality check that everyone who deifies academics needs, or even just everyone who thinks academic experts are the best people to give a blank check and other people’s money to. It is a collection of the academy’s best, and all of it is peer reviewed, by experts:
— New Real Peer Review (@RealPeerReview) August 28, 2018
* The Guardian is trash, but I wanted to link to the most hysterical article.