never blame students for what lecturers and politicians do to them

A widely known problem is that students today have – supposedly – problems to read: are unwilling, only printed on exams and subsequently the reeding they need for proceeding. My personal experience suggest something different: if students have space: literally by way of sufficient “quality location”, time and mental space, not being pestered by problem-solving urgency, allowed to foster critical thinking (as Robert Cox outlines it in the piece from 1981: Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory; in: Millennium – Journal of International Studies 1981; 10; 126-155 DOI: 10.1177/03058298810100020501) most of them would love reading more, more widely, critically working with texts.

However, if politicians educate teachers who then educate students and then these students become politicians, educating teachers who then educate students who then become politicians … … … – it is quite natural that after going a couple of times around, policy documents and texts books look very much alike, nit even reaching the intellectual level of A Little Bit of Everything for Dummies.
Though already from 2011, a document issued by the Irish government can be taken as example for such dummies=stultification-strategy, showing on page 7 the following:
It reminds me that at some stage “Communications“, issued by the European Commission had not been allowed to be longer than 20 pages – politicians are not reading longer documents …  the paradox then and there: instead of producing one document with 30 pages, two documents with twenty pages each had been produced … , and so forth and so forth … at least the printing press being extensively used. The crux of “maths”: making two documents out of one 30-page document dos not mean having two 15-pages docs. because additional space is needed for the cross-references and the like. though we end up with something like 30 divided by 2 = 20+20 = 60, or in short: 30 divided by 2 equals 40. There is a German term “Milchmaedchen-Rechnung”, literally “calculation made by a dairymaid”, meaning fallacy, naive. Perhaps it should be changed, the new term being Commissioner- or Politician-Calculation.
May be it is still better then producing one document that is so much simplification of everything that it requires a guideline to show the reader the way through (though to sweet) nothingness.
In any case, please, never blame students for what lecturers and politicians do to them.
Some voluntarily, some lazily, some being forced .., and some still resisting.
Annunci

Avoiding Trivialities

The “Times Higher Education” published recently a piece by Adam Graycar, titled
(see also here).- one of the few occasions that I comment on any articles, briefly making two points:

All right and important. I still would like to add one point, subdivided: (i) generally, doesn’t result-oriented, mostly empirically-oriented (“evidence-based”) research as standard expectation and kind-off methodological ultimate ratio contribute ver much to such competitive orientation even before it comes to considerations concerning publication? I suppose such research is more inclined to competition than “fundamental research” (“Grundlagenforschung”). (ii) isn’t already the entire system of (mass)education as PRIMARILY “vocational training like education, driving (future) researchers into the direction of competition-driven instead of knowledge-enhancement driven? – This begins already when looking at the way of dealing with applications by students for courses – see some experience-based views.

The reason for mentioning it here is a short discussion I have had here in Helsinki in connection with a PhD-student. I was wondering that his work is cumulative and also based on/linked to earlier publications, co-authored with others. In Finland, at least it is a possible. I know about “collective/collaborative work” – actually my own diploma thesis in a cooperative manner.
Sure, there are terms and conditions as especially the need to sign and thus confirm that some part is the individual work …
My habilitation can be considered as cumulative. Now, here in the Finnish case it is about cumulative and collective. Shouldn’t that be the norm, also considering that cumulative is not only about the past, but also about “a stepping stone”, part of an ongoing cumulation and growth. Doesn’t the opportunity to co-author a thesis also acknowledge and highlight that any – tiny or large – work is part of a collective effort, actually the strive if humankind for truth? Making such exception of co-authoring cumulative work as thesis could be a tiny to overcoming individualist competition as foundation of academic work, too often resulting in arrogance or failure.
Indeed, Dante expressed it succinctly, reflecting the need to think about social and societal practice:
considerate la vostra semenza: fatti non foste a viver come bruti, ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza.

How serious(ly stupid) they are

… or: the de-academisation of academia.
The other day I received a mail – one of many of this kind, though this time I have had a closer look as it had been addressed to
Dear Xiaoming,
with
Greetings from Journal of Accounting and Marketing!!
Bit strange – though I get admittedly occasionally mixed up with names of my Chinese colleagues, Xiaoming did not ring a bell at all. Also admittedly I (= Peter) published recently something on accounting, I was a bit surprised as my take on accounting is not necessarily that which suits the mainstream. Anyway, I was reading on. The usual rubbish and spam. Noting about three different URLs is surely not a matter suitable for establishing trust. The fact that the URL fur submissions is a hidden behind the term MARKETING is surely not suggesting that all this is about serious academic stuff. Also their reference to something that I supposedly wrote, read by them with great interest and appreciation …
Well, Mrs. Nancy Lisa, Managing Editor, Journal of Accounting & Marketing … E-mail: accounting@journalinsights.org – you surely deserve more and other than a personal reply, marking your stupidity. You would even deserve more than a blog-post …. (though you may read this also with great interest and appreciation … – One day you may even have to read your-journals …
******
… and still there is a big
As bad as such publishing spammers are, there is another dimension to all this: the de-academisation of academia. Another example, side by side with others mentioned  earlier, we may also look at
about whom The Economist reported a while back. There is an interesting detail that deserves attention:
… one study found that for every dollar spent to comply with government rules, voluntary spending on bureaucracy totalled $2 at public universities and $3 at private ones. Robert Martin of Centre College in Kentucky, a co-author of the study, says the real reason for the growth in spending is that administrators want to hire subordinates, thereby boosting their own authority and often pay, rather than faculty, over whom they have less power. Bureaucrats outnumber faculty 2:1 at public universities and 2.5:1 at private colleges, double the ratio in the 1970s.
Should we be surprised to see that
[o]ne result of all this is growing “resistance, anger, grumpiness, and eventually backlash” to the proliferation of diversity officials.
Well, in this light Nancy is probably just a poor person, not willing and not able to see that she is actually a cogwheel of a machinery that is not much else then a mafia of today’s time. – … scrupulous … stultification!

fortaste

It may be that future referencing look like this, at least I felt obliged to add the underlined part while having written an essay for publication

Herrmann, ongoing [a]: Is it really about Industry 4.0.?; https://www.researchgate.net/project/Is-it-really-about-Industry-40; [b] Wandel des Wirtschaftens – Wandel des Rechts. Forschungsskizze zu Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik; https://www.researchgate.net/project/Wandel-des-Wirtschaftens-Wandel-des-Rechts-Forschungsskizze-zu-Sozialrecht-und-Sozialpolitik; 29/12/17; some of the references had been added by researchgate and are completely irrelevant to the work and/or content would be fundamentally criticised and even rejected. Actually thus confirms parts of what had been stated: the complete lack of competence of the algorithm jugglers and the lack of real power of users as those references cannot be manually deleted)

The paragraph I referred to reads as follows:

This pattern applies – cum grano salis – to many areas, and of course, it means higher efficiency, thus lower cost, the possibility of establishing user-friendly and comfortable use of services and purchase of goods, in selected cases even giving the customer/service user some space for interaction and increased influence, opening roads towards part-individualised services/goods. All this going hand in hand with decreasing prices. However, there is a price to be paid, and there are two different charges levied. The one is a – possibly twofold – pressure on working conditions; twofold means that pressure is increased on those who are directly involved as for instance UBER-drivers, foodora-deliverers but also hotels [individual or chains] that are engaging with booking.com. The other bill has to be paid by people and strata who are only peripherally concerned – we may even think about the click-workers on click-farms, boosting the image of their customers by making virtual reality to faked realities. The other reason is that the increased freedom and power of the customer/user is in actual fact more illusionary than anything else: one crucial point is that even the attempt to make use of the options requires a pre-empt formulations, making thus sure that ‘the system’ is able to process the data. In other words, increased variety is more qualitative than quantitative.

Adding a bit of the background: I am not extensively working with my researchgate-site, and the same applies to academia.edu which actually had been established a long time by my university in Budapest. Recently I saw by accident references to documents and texts as reference which had not been added by me, some of them I didn’t even know. I contacted the ResearchGate Community Support, complaining. I even received an answer whited not always been the case:

Thanks for contacting us. You are the only collaborator listed, so you are the only person who can add research items to this project.
If you are referring to the references (34), these are automatically added using the publications that you have added to your project. To remove the references, you need to remove the publication that you added as an update.

So, the first thing that can be said: they a liars – obviously they are also collaborators, to be more precise, a system that is not thought through is collaborating. On the point that this system is not thought through, the following my be said, quoting from my answer:

Thanks …, from the perspective of an academic researcher this is not reflecting how things should work. In the extreme – as known from an English case, doing research on fascism/right wing policy it ended up in the most contested position appearing as most outstanding work in this field of research. – It was not a researchgate-related case but shows that your management should revisit policies that are going into that direction.

Just showing up is thus sufficient, substance, positions of researchers are erased from the agenda. and still it has something of the Berufsverbote we had been fighting – be it under terms of Berufsverbote, McCarthyism, censorship or anything the like. All this is worrying enough.

There is still another point that deserves mention. Those days with the little encounter with the ‘community’ I wrote a mail to a friend in China:

I made yesterday a somewhat funny experience: the midwife saying something, i.e. ‘ I am obliged to inform you …. – but from my own experience …’ – so after her midwife-business was done, I asked what this would actually mean: ‘I am obliged …’. Who and what would oblige her. The professional organisation, the medical professionals, some administration …. – she did not know. All was based on some statistical surveys, not a matter of experience. – Doesn’t acceptance begin with such small things? Doesn’t it begin as well with people like myself simply completely accepting the requirements … put up by national ministries, by other universities like Bangor, Warwick, LSE etc,, by ministries from other countries … ? As said, difficult and there is probably no ‘one answer’. Refusing on some occasions to comply, I actually had to pay thousands of Euro over the years leaving aside other payments like being ignored, censored, bullied or not being accepted for certain jobs based on ‘political’ reasons. Still, this is also something linked to the issue of knowledge versus skills. Skills … it is something for computers and robots … – but knowledge …
And real knowledge is …, well another experience from one of the recent days, when I went to the opera in Munich. I met one guy who works there – after ??? some five years at least, he still remembered me …, bit of chatting, also about the performance – during the pause he said: you will enjoy the third act — one must really be a very good side and dancer to be able to sing and dance wrongly. – Similar to what Picasso once said – something like: it took me three years to learn painting like the classical painters, and it took me many more years to learn painting like a child.

The world isn’t flat – though accepting that some people suggest it would be is sad to say the least, and seeing them making a career and having the power to algorithm-ise the careers of others and the way knowledge develops is appalling. The fact that major journals do it, should for researchgate and similar a motivation to do better instead reproducing the publishers ‘artificial bashfulness’, borrowing a term from from Hito Steyerl.

laborious joy

It is a while back already … a small …, well, lets say dispute with Laurent:
Laurent
A propos, I am very happy with your article. Of course you have problems  to explain your thoughts (you know this) but according to me what you said is very interesting.
Peter
I know that you are to some extent right with what you say about my difficulties to explain certain things; however the other half is that we – probably all of us – unlearned accepting that reading and understanding is WORK, the stuff just flying at us is usually unruly rubbish, lacking depth and appearing nicely, deceiving. People jump into the water and … did you ever jump into a pool at the shallow end …, only sometimes you get away with it,
Laurent
Yes, yes, and in Dutch we should say  tja, tja
Right, reading and understanding is ‘work’. Right. But……it can not be an argument  to write something what can be better articulated.
Peter
took a while, Ja Ja …, oder: na eh [that could be Bavarian I guess …]
I think again 50/50, it is too often wrong that things are expressed in simple ways, leaving out the needed provocation, and that was part of that article too. In general, from my current experience: we have a major ’translation problem’, actually two problems – and this is important, without joke:
myself, being a hybrid, face again and again the problem that it is nearly impossible to understand things as soon as we ‘leave the box’. There are things in economics we cannot even think, articulate  in law and vice versa. Add political science and sociology and …
Second, I talked the other day with a colleague from Bolivia – she is also working here and asked me for some advise: she has to review an article for a book, the author being from Peru. There we have entirely different understanding of certain legal facts, paradigms etc. The author uses a more or less narrative style. However, somebody else in her project does not understand that and will not accept it, as he is academic in the area of law, strictly. So, while highly qualified, he has at times a narrow approach as well when it comes to putting things into forms. Now, you can do this, it is easy to ’understand’ ,…, and mostly wrong. I guess this is also part of …’s [or who ever wrote it] article on CSR. There had been in the first version [the one I know] at least certain things that cannot be written this way in an international journal: they had been simply wrong – so to be skipped or to be ’translated’ – and such translation would mean: the reader has to work it out. – Sure, in that case, the reader had to be informed about the Chinese context ….
This … had been a more or less great though rare pleasure in China: being together with a Chinese friend, and getting ‘permanently into trouble’, knowing that we need[ed] to work out what we mean. Dictionaries only tell shadows of truth — thus, coming back to the work, somewhat ruthless debate would be good, daring to dispute things, to disagree and speak about it and come to a conclusion …. . It may even end in lasting love if this is the correct term …
—— —— ——
The afternoon of the very day, after sending the last mail I was standing in the Lenbach Haus, the issue returning to me while looking in the one room at some paintings

Carl Friedrich Lessing: Eichenwald mit rastendem Jaeger, 1839

Joseph Wopfner: Haensel und Gretel, 1875

Adolph Henrich Lier: Buchenwald im Herbst, ca 1874

I would say ‘nothing special, though lovely capturing for the moment’. And of course it is hopeless to convey the clandestine, inner beauty by reproducing these works. Also as such beauty is one of the moment, the mood: permanent because immortal and nevertheless quickly elapsing as any shadow does with the change of the light by which it is aroused. It is the mood of the spectator that is part of the spectre.
The question of the said moment, linking paintings and the conversation is somewhat straightforward, presuming that the reader accepts that reading is more than the deciphering of sequences of letters – extensively discussed in semiotics anyway.
Paintings do what academics are expected to do – isolating certain matters, cutting the environment off in order to be able to cut the matter itself into pieces. That is what we see in the paintings: it does not give us any idea of the forest – where it is, its seize, its location in the universe … this way a lot of information is cut-off: not accessible.
  • It is like the surgeon – during some heart surgery the heart is somewhat disjoint from the body, its functions taken over by an artificial machine …, it is no problem, for some time …
  • It is like the economist who calculates opportunity cost when looking at the feasibility of the investment in a new technology – calculations may be for instance conjoined with what is called demographic scenarios, or with an estimated behavior of a competing investor or with any other variable. Even a Richard Thaler or Eleanor Estrom are depending by and large on such contractions – stimulating and still it remains cut off realities.
  • It is like a lawyer, looking at what exactly was happening, but taking it as action, at most as behaviour without being able to understand the entire ’scene’ as part of complex societal practice.
—— —— ——
Have a look at the paintings then – though isolating a small scene, delving enormously into details [especially the one by Lessing applying an extremely fine brushstroke; but also Bear’s, seemingly presenting a broad lash] maintain somewhat magically the universe within the painting
Fritz Baer: Abend im Walde, ca 1914
— the light, the movement … , magically, and requiring to work, with this arriving at the real joy of being spectator and magically e-merging as part of the spectre, playing in the best of its meanings   …
… yes, it may well be that this made life so laborious before the disenchantment, so-called at is still left us with its own bifurcation. And this work makes some prone to populism, and others obsessed to pretended clarity, in particular clarity dressed up in digits.

Easily ending in the death of the theorist and the emergence of data and algorithms in digital social researc.and then in boxing humans.

Sorrows of Young Werther – not only

It had not been just the young Werther plagued by sorrows, and among the many concerned are academics – some old, some young; some knowing, some innocent; some forced and some voluntarily … .

[scan from: Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Faust – Der Tragödie Erster Teil, mit Illustrationen aus drei Jahrhunderten, ed. by Hans Hanning, Berlin: Rütting & Loening, 1982, 2nd ed., p. 123
Teufelspakt_Faust-Mephisto, by Julius Nisle]

All this is by no means new, the fine-tuning changed while the symphony itself is still the old lyre …

Career settings – career is a nice word actually: ‘a person really made a career’, we say it is somebody reached ‘high ranks’, and to get to the heights one has to make a career, i.e. move along a given path. Going back to Latin and Italian it is about the via cararia – the carriage road, the path on and along which the car – carrus – chariot moves. And it is about carrying, of course.

A brief outline then, if one gets an important part of the picture – surely not the complete one:

First step, getting the weight that needs to be carried – well prepared, and well wrapped:

Influence and manipulation in Teaching Economics – Backgrounds and Examples[1]

– There is at least an abstract in English language – and there is also an article on the topic[2]

Next step, prostitution[3] – it is not about what one says but how and where one says something.

And mind, see the progress: from the wrapped being presented, it is now about oneself, the young academic, wrapping.

Well, the end of the career? For some … the eternal wrappers, stepping higher and higher, the chariot being increasingly beautiful, the golden grids appearing as louvre – is it by accident that this is also the name of the great galleries in Paris?

For others the story ends …, well one may say Wertherian, i.e. by suicide – the way that social science goes too often[4] – actually the other side of prostitution – or its other side.

And indeed, there is some cunning of reason in the fact that this obituary on the academic freedom is published in a journal with access-by-payment-only … – Well, the Goethe, in his Faust, was clearer than Hegel with his hope for the cunning of reason, writing

To nonsense reason turns,

and benefit to worry.

And we basically have to fail if we maintain reasoning by simple reason, accepting that we are not quantum mechanic beings but real ones.

And still, exactly therefore we have to look where and how exactly the cat moves – accepting also that it cannot be understood if we use those concepts that are hidden behind the eclipsed reason.

Sure, some leave the wrapping post and move on as rapper – against the rapists.

The answer history will give ????   – well, it may be that you have to go for it

******

******

[1]            Silja Graupe: Beeinflussung und Manipulation in der ökonomischen Bildung Hintergründe und Beispiele; Duesseldorf: FGW – Forschungsinstitut für gesellschaftliche Weiterentwicklung e.V.

[2]            Silja Graupe. The Power of Ideas. The Teaching of Economics and its Image of Man; in: Volume 11, Number 2, © JSSE 2012 ISSN 1618-5293

[3]            Frey: PUBLISHING AS PROSTITUTION? Choosing Between One’s Own Ideas and Academic Failure; http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp_iew/iewwp117.pdf

[4]            Holmquist, Carin and Sundin, Elisabeth(2010) ‘The suicide of the social sciences: causes and effects’, Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 23: 1, 13 — 23

… to the point …

Well, you may say I am burning in the Heraclitean Fire, carried away and not doing what the academic world-order asks me to do – moving on with the metaphor, one may add: this little bit of disobedience is like playing with fire, a dangerous not to say: life threatening game.

So to the point, reading Erwin Chargaff’s

Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life Before Nature.

He refers on page 171 to another work by himself**, which he wrote earlier and where he contended:

The fashion of our times favors dogmas. Since a dogma is something that everybody is expected to accept, this has led to the incredible monotony of our journals. Very often it is sufficient for me to read the title of a paper in order to reconstruct its summary and even some of the graphs. Most of these papers are very competent; they use the same techniques and arrive at the same results. This is then called the confirmation of a scientific fact. Every few years the techniques change; and then everybody will use the new techniques and confirm a new set of facts. This is called the progress of science. Whatever originality there may be must be hidden in the crevices of an all-embracing conventional makeshift: a huge kitchen midden in which the successive layers of scientific habitation will be dated easily through the various apparatuses and devices and tricks, and even more through the several concepts and terms and slogans, that were fashionable at a given moment.

Chargaff’s book had been published in 1978, he was, as widely known, professor in biochemistry, he emigrated from fascist Germany … – and one may ask if it is purely by accident that with this background already

[a]s early as 1949, this eminent scientist described certain irregularities in the composition of DNA and formulated the concept of ‘complementarity’ – later referred to as ‘Chrgaff’s rule’ and still later as ‘base pairing’ – which was the most important single piece of evidence for the double-helical structure of DNA’ [from the book-cover blurb].

‘Back to the fire’ – what he states, looking at methods, can cum grains salis also said for today and social science: where ‘methodology’ chapters in theses too often present methods, not showing any awareness of the difference between method and methodology, where publications and universities and people are ranked on the basis of algorithms and where entities are cut into pieces, making us forget the following:

The insufficiency of all biological experimentation, when confronted with the vastness of life, is often considered to be redeemed by recourse to a firm methodology. But definite procedures presuppose highly limited objects; and the supremacy of “method” has led to what could be called by an excellent neo-German term the Kleinkariertheit (piddling pedantry) of much present-day biological research. The availability of a large number of established methods serves, in fact, in modern science often as a surrogate of thought. Many researchers now apply methods whose rationale they do not understand. [170]

*****

End of term, and of the academic year – students, sometimes inviting lecturers, celebrating; preparing for holidays, but also asking for references, preparing the next career moves.

I have to admit, I am am happy that some say they did not ‘invite me to their celebration’ but invited me ‘to celebrate with them’; and I also have to admit that it is an honour to be seen by some as 老师, as lǎoshī – a bit like the hojam as we use it at ODTU in Ankara.

An unwritten chapter for the

Diary from a Journey into another World: Diaries against nationalism, inspired by trying to overcome personal resentments

to be closed.

======

** Chargaff, E. 1965. On Some of the Biological Consequences of Base-pairing in the Nucleic Acids. In: M.D. Anderson (Ed.), Developmentn.l and Metabolic Control Mechanisms and Neoplasw. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, p. 19.