She’s at it again…

… this time the target of this loose cannon are Canadian Universities, but the usual script is followed…

… bizarre assertions not sustained by a shred of factual evidence, amusingly ill-informed assessment of a Canadian Academia supposedly marred with inefficiency and plagued by “marginal research” (but of course no attempt whatsoever to compare it with other higher educational systems, e.g., south of the border), random swipes taken at a category for which she ostensibly has no sympathy, to conclude with a “recipe” to address the (non-existent) problem — the same old, trite, ideologically-driven call for a system of few “elite” and many “pariah” institutions.

I was at a get-together among friends on Saturday, and a friend of mine, a colleague from my same institution, mentioned this “editorial” to me, expressing her outrage and urging me to join her and others in an effort to draft together a common response, perhaps in the form of a letter to be sent to the newspaper. Her point is, leaving this kind of attack unchallenged has the effect of conferring it legitimacy.
I respectfully disagree. I must re-iterate what I have written elsewhere: a pulpit does not a sermon make. The fact that one has access to a blog, possibly even one hosted but a (reputedly) prestigious national newspaper, does not mean that the person is worthy of attention, much less of a response. This day and age, when it is so easy for anyone to publish one’s babbling over the internet, great care must be exercised in assessing worthiness and reliability. The risk is concrete of lending credibility to voices that ought not be given any, by virtue of simply engaging them.

If Canadian Academia really has to defend itself, it should be in response to (welcome) substantive, quantitatively documented criticism.
For example, if one is going to make the case that Canadian scholars are overpaid, the least that one should do is compare our salaries with those of countries on par with which Canada is supposedly wanting to remain, e.g., the United States. If one is going to call research-based education a relic of the past, inadequate to meet the needs of modern society, one should at least try and put together a factual case to the effect that graduates of Canadian Universities are intellectually ill-equipped to join the industrial and educational workforce of this country.
Few half-assed and mean-spirited remarks by someone with not only no qualifications whatsoever, but who cannot even be bothered to do some minimal research on the subject about which she is writing, should not be elevated to the rank of a pointed indictment, of a serious j’accuse that simply cannot be ignored.

This is the last time I blog about her, because she is really not worth my time. I do not believe that she deserves the attention that she is receiving, I wish people stopped responding to her “editorials”, and frankly I think that by responding to her, at the newspaper’s site or on blogs, all one does is give her the unwarranted publicity that she is seeking.
Responding would be tantamount to taking this type of “opinion-making” seriously, to contributing to lowering the level of the discourse. The job of this editorialist is not that of stimulating or informing — it is that of increasing the traffic at the journal’s web site by making people angry, and anger is not a good catalyst for informed, fruitful discussion.
She, and others like her, can and should simply be ignored.

9 Responses to “She’s at it again…”

  1. Ian Says:

    But what if her opinions are shared by those of policy makers and politicians or university administrators? Or even by a large chunk of the population.

    Just like creationism, even if it doesn’t have facts or evidence at some point it will need to be addressed or our progressive society that has things like universities will be at risk.

    • Massimo Says:

      You cannot respond to everyone. If her opinions are shared by a large chunk of the population, it means that that province or country is inexorably headed toward decline.
      Our only hope is that the people we educate, who at some point will be the majority, will be aware of the value and importance of their education and will be outraged at hearing this stuff — much like you and I are incensed when the category of high school teachers is slandered.
      If they aren’t, then we have done a lousy job and deserve our fate.
      I shall never debate a creationist, or a UFO believer, an astrologer or someone convinced about the healing power of crystals — I don’t care what chunk of the population agrees with them. I am sorry, the bar has to be set somewhere.

  2. transientreporter Says:

    Dude, did you just write a 500+ word non-response?

  3. James Day Says:

    Wait – what’s wrong with astrologers?!

  4. Cath@VWXYNot? Says:

    I love that this time she didn’t even bother to ask her friend for an opinion, choosing to invent one instead:

    “If you ask the professoriate, the answer is likely to be” (emphasis mine)

    Awesome research skills there. Yup, I think we can safely ignore this one…

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