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Think for Yourself

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James Freeman of the WSJ points us to some advice for students from 15 Ivy League professors.  Freeman calls the advice "a flagrant micro-aggression."
In today's climate, it's all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion on your campus or in the broader academic culture. The danger any student--or faculty member--faces today is falling into the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink.

At many colleges and universities what John Stuart Mill called "the tyranny of public opinion" does more than merely discourage students from dissenting from prevailing views on moral, political, and other types of questions. It leads them to suppose that dominant views are so obviously correct that only a bigot or a crank could question them.

Since no one wants to be, or be thought of as, a bigot or a crank, the easy, lazy way to proceed is simply by falling into line with campus orthodoxies.

Don't do that. Think for yourself.

Thinking for yourself means questioning dominant ideas even when others insist on their being treated as unquestionable. It means deciding what one believes not by conforming to fashionable opinions, but by taking the trouble to learn and honestly consider the strongest arguments to be advanced on both or all sides of questions--including arguments for positions that others revile and want to stigmatize and against positions others seek to immunize from critical scrutiny.

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From Sir Joseph's song (HMS Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan)(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLIyWcxPlEU, at 3:41):

Sir Joseph.

I grew so rich that I was sent
By a pocket borough into Parliament.
I always voted at my party's call,
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.
I thought so little, they rewarded me
By making me the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

CHORUS. — He thought so little, they rewarded he
By making him the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!


This might me re-cast today as:

I thought so little, they rewarded me
By making me the Chairman of SNCC

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