Alex Williams | Research in Computational and Theoretical Neuroscience

The NAS Study of Bowdoin College: Why Politicizing Academic Debates is Counter-productive

Here is a lengthy critique of the NAS report: Download PDF.

This experience has taught me how difficult it is to have a constructive two-sided debate. The overall issue of intellectual diversity is an interesting one for the academy to consider, but once the issue became politicized the goal of the debate became "winning one for the team" rather than making any real progress. Thus, a critical role of academia should be to engender modes of thought and analysis that are not politically charged or motivated. One obvious non-political intellectual framework would be the idealized "scientific method." But more generally, I think that good research in history, philosophy, economics, and even political science, is not politically motivated.