I have come to the conclusion that academia is a lie, and not for the reason you might think I’d express that sentiment. The whole institution is built on the premise of being evidence-based, scholarly, rigorous, rational. Which holds true some of the time. But when we are talking about change, when someone has their identity or world view or authority or beliefs challenged and thus an emotional response triggered, all bets are off. Once you have triggered that response, there is literally no amount of evidence, no degree of rigour, no quality of intellectual argument you can make to change that person’s perspective. None. The work to be done lies wholly in the emotional domain and pays no mind to rational thinking or logic or compelling evidence-based arguments.

But we don’t. Or won’t. We don’t even acknowledge that this is the case, let alone do the work that is necessary. We continue to try and build arguments and cases and proposals and briefs, and they continue to be rejected or resisted with the claim that the evidence isn’t valid or robust or the methodology isn’t sound or any number of other intellectual claims. But it’s a lie. What we don’t say is, I reject this because it challenges my identity and I am uncomfortable. I resist this because examining my world view and beliefs is uncomfortable. We don’t say, I am acting out of fear.


2 Comments

Colin · April 5, 2019 at 1:56 am

Yup

Jess · November 10, 2020 at 3:44 am

Completely agree. The hierarchy of scientific/evidence-based philosophy, and the emotion associated with the belief system around that philosophy, is strong. It is refreshing to meet researchers that have the ability to be challenged, that are comfortable with a different way of thinking, and whom can remember that research is about exploring the new – whatever that may be. Thank you for posting this.

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