By Dr N. et al.
[...] Reasonable arguments cannot succeed here. Willetts is not interested in winning an argument of that kind; indeed he is not interested in argument in the way that you are interested in it at all: he simply does not esteem argument as you esteem it. He is interested in only one thing — in managing his policy through Whitehall. You can’t talk him out of it. Politicians are immune to having “flaws” in argument exposed: that just isn’t how argument appears to them to work, isn’t what they believe argument is for. They do not behave like academics in debate; they do not behave reasonably, and cannot be reasoned with. Willetts’ views, right down to his responses to sharp questions on policy, are well-known. The man hardly lacks a platform. Only the most cloth-eared participant in our higher-education culture could be unaware of Willetts’ arguments, and only the most staringly loyal tory squire would be unable to mount his own description of its egregious opportunism, myopia, and chauvinism. His policy will not change: it’s not like a research paper which we can subject to an especially swingeing peer-review. There is no super-sophisticated, high-level, “interdisciplinary” argument which we can deploy to change his heart. To entertain such fantasies is vain and self-deceiving [...] I can only suppose that such fantasies vibrated in the minds of those behind the invitation which CRASSH extended to this person.
Original context: statement from Jeremy Prynne & discussion thread.
Sections of the goatscape: Ian Patterson in the LRB | Alice Jones in the Independent | Matt Russell (Varsity) on rustication protest | Rees Arnott-Davies in The Guardian