The Issue at a Glance

For the Flourishing of Our State Affiliates: A New NAS Policy (10.1007/s12129-016-9617-1)

Peter Wood, National Association of Scholars

On the verge of “thirty years of principled defense of civilization and liberal learning,” the National Association of Scholars continues to operate nationally, with a local presence in nearly every state. In alignment with the original goal of the NAS state affiliate model, the new policy aims to make affiliates “a more vital part of the lives of NAS members.”

I Came. I Saw. I Confess. My Years at the NAS (10.1007/s12129-016-9607-3)

Stephen H. Balch, Texas Tech University

Stephen H. Balch, a founder of the National Association of Scholars, reviews with fondness, humor, and honesty his productive twenty-five years as NAS’s first president, before he handed the reigns over to current president Peter Wood in 2009.

Safe Spaces and Defending the Academic Status Quo (10.1007/s12129-016-9611-7)

KC Johnson, Brooklyn College

In the first article of this issue’s special section, “Wrong Turns, Dead Ends, and the Way Back,” KC Johnson reviews the reactions—from backlash to praise, on campus and beyond—to dean of students John Ellison’s August 2016 letter to the incoming class, which celebrated the University of Chicago’s commitment to “freedom of inquiry and expression” and most decidedly did not support “trigger warnings” or “the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

The Pseudo-Science of Microaggressions (10.1007/s12129-016-9613-5)

Althea Nagai, Center for Equal Opportunity

The concept of microaggressions “was put forth by academics,” so it’s unsurprising that the search for microaggressions occurs primarily on college campuses. It’s also no surprise (despite “a substantial drop in overt racial prejudice” among the public) that in today’s campus climate they are somehow found everywhere. Althea Nagai reviews the literature on microaggressions and reveals that our colleges and universities endorsed all “findings” even before any claims “could be subjected to serious social scientific investigation and critique.”

The Dangers of Racial Thinking (10.1007/s12129-016-9615-3)

Dan Subotnik, Touro Law School

The recent wave of student protests has unsettled academia and garnered the concern of the wider public. Dan Subotnik locates the roots of this angry behavior in the rise of critical race theory in the 1980s and 1990s, and argues that the appropriate response is neither to condone “trigger warnings” nor to ignore cries for “safe spaces,” but to challenge students with the truth.

Compounding Error: The Afterlife of Bad Science (10.1007/s12129-017-9621-0)

Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

Judit Dobránszki, Institutes for Agricultural Research and Educational Farm of the University of Debrecen

The failure to discover and correct errors in published scientific papers “poses significant risks for authors, editors, journals, and publishers” as well as for the wider academic pool and the public, and weakens reader and peer confidence in the credibility of scientists and their research. When errors in the published scientific literature are discovered they must be reported, and corrections made “quickly and completely,” urge Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva and Judit Dobránszki, who lay out the case for strengthening post-publication peer review.

Economic Illiteracy: Why Has K–12 Economic Education Failed? (10.1007/s12129-016-9610-8)

Robert Highsmith

“Why are American voters so ill-informed about basic economic understanding? What kind of economic understanding do pre-college teachers and students have? Why do they appear to have so little?” In the final entry of this issue’s special section, Robert Highsmith addresses these questions firsthand as he details the history of nationwide efforts to instruct K–12 teachers and students in the basic concepts and principles necessary to economic literacy.

Really Safe Spaces (10.1007/s12129-017-9619-7)

James W. Springer

The public museum, a place anyone may encounter “the human adventure in all of its manifestations from high art to mundane technology,” belongs to a larger Enlightenment enterprise where “disinterested scholarship, and public inquiry and discussion” were considered “valuable undertakings.” Today those achievements and such scholarship are often disparaged as bigoted by specialists themselves, which has led, James W. Springer explains, to the “intellectual and moral confusion” reflected in such works as Keeping Their Marbles: How the Treasures of the Past Ended Up in Museums—And Why They Should Stay There, by Tiffany Jenkins, and Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums, by Samuel J. Redman.

Studied Ignorance (10.1007/s12129-016-9616-2)

Jeff Zorn, emeritus, Santa Clara University

Agnotology, “the systematic study of ignorance,” is the focus of A.J. Angulo’s edited Miseducation: A History of Ignorance-Making in America and Beyond, which Jeff Zorn reviews alongside Angulo’s Diploma Mills: How For-Profit Colleges Stiffed Students, Taxpayers, and the American Dream. While they “contribute to our understanding of school and society,” Zorn finds that both books also wear “agnotological blinders of their own.”

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