A Northwestern University student, reflecting on the Laura Kipnis fiasco, targets groupthink. He’s absolutely right.

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7 Responses to ““When we said that ‘Kipnis does not speak for us,’ we lent credence to the idea that Kipnis was responsible for speaking for us in the first place.””

  1. charlie Says:

    Simply because a 17 year old scored in the top 5% in achievement tests, had a 4.0 or better, participated in clubs and plays the flute, doesn’t mean they’re ready for college. Scholarship requires curiosity, an ability to question what you believe and what you think is certain. Claiming you’re terrified because a prof has written something that isn’t found within your mental front yard, and attempting to shut them up, pretty much shows that you have none of the actual requirements necessary to attend a uni, your ACT scores be damned….

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    charlie: I agree that the form of open-mindedness you describe is key to being ready for university.

  3. david foster Says:

    A question for UD and others here who teach: to what extent are today’s college students less open-minded about challenges to their opinions/worldviews than were those of 10 or 20 or 30 years ago…versus, to what extent is what we are seeing the effect of small numbers of strident people amplified by institutional machinery (and possibly also social media) that prevously didn’t exist?

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    david: My experience is that most students do in fact want to be shaken up intellectually in college – most understand that this is one of the most important things a serious college represents – a kind of provocation – the kind of thing that makes you less provincial. Allan Bloom in Closing of the American Mind is really eloquent on this…

  5. charlie Says:

    One in four Americans read no books in 2006.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com › Nation › Wires

    More to your point, the number of non-book reading Americans has tripled since 1978.


    According the OECD, Americas are poor in literacy and numeracy, but slightly below average in problem solving in technology rich environments. (Page 2 of 15)

    http://www.oecd.org/site/piaac/Country note – United …

    OECD data indicates that the trend has worsened over the years. That would lead me to think that growing numbers of Americans read far less than prior generations. I would say that would lead to a constricted point of view. Some would say that the internet has supplanted books, but OECD data indicates that it hasn’t made Americans any more literate, or knowledgeable….

  6. david foster Says:

    The suggestion that a decline in book-reading leads to a decline in open-mindedness makes intuitive sense. There is actually some research that suggests novel-reading is associated with the development of improved empathy:


    …and it would make sense for this to extend to improved open-mindedness.

  7. charlie Says:

    @davidfoster, I grew up in Northern California, not far from where Cesar Chavez organized farm workers. Initially, I thought only Mexicans had ever done that work. That was, until I read The Grapes Of Wrath, and came to realize that manner of labor exploitation was not limited to those with Latin surnames. If I hadn’t been forced to read that amazing book, it wouldn’t have led to my reading the biographies of Harriet Tubman, Eugene Debs, Harry Bridges, and other American political and labor agitators and polemicists. TGOW gave me, and many others, a perspective that would never have been developed if we allowed our personal experiences to be what guided us. Steinbeck also gave me a very important realization, I would make a far better accountant than novelist….

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