Academics as bullshit detectors

I love this idea from the introduction to Mark Blyth’s book Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea:

Part of what academics do is generate ideas and teach. The other, perhaps more important part, is to play the role of “the Bu*l*hit Police.” Our job is to look at the ideas and plans interested parties put forward to solve our collective problems and see whether or not they pass the sniff test. Austerity as a route to growth and as the correct response to the aftermath of a financial crisis does not pass the sniff test. The arguments given for why we all must be austere do not pass the sniff test.

If you’re unfamiliar with his work, check out this YouTube video on austerity and consider buying his superb book:


Categories: Rethinking The World

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  1. While it is far from the only role we fulfill, that line and characterization of academics is a fun and fairly accurate one. I did a post on The Society Pages a while back that seems related, calling sociologists the “super egos of society:” https://thesocietypages.org/editors/2013/10/24/sketch-6-societys-super-egos/

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