Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Humility and Integrity Shortage: Statistical Certainties

There are two things one can depend on in faculty meetings:

1. People with the least useful information to impart will hold the floor the longest.

2. One or more people will disregard the truth in order to advance their positions.

I am not sure which is worse.

The first one means 20 to 50 (depending on the faculty) are held hostage. You cannot shut the person up. (That would be oh so inappropriate.) and, for the most part, you know what he will say before he says it.  Worse yet, he may be utterly unprepared to speak about the issue at hand. Does that stop him? Not on your life.  More likely than not these droners have not  paid attention to whatever is being discussed and then "opps" they realize either 1) this could affect me or 2) I need to make my presence felt. What is the arrogance that drives these folks to think they have something anyone in the room or the world, for that matter, care about. Was it the As their sorry ass professors at their elite schools gave them? Was it their parents who completely missed the unit on teaching your children even a modicum of humility.

The second eliminates the small possibility that rational discussion can take place. The need to make things up comes from wanting to be viewed as an authority.  Interestingly the same things that are a big deal in class (Mr. Jones is that really what the facts are?) is not valued at all in faculty governance.  I have been in appointments meetings in which the chair announces a candidate got only positive responses when it is demonstrable false. I have heard people tell of a policy designed to address someone's misbehavior when the misbehaving person retired way before the policy and was not mention in the discussion.  Funny, it's a bit like getting change back in Italy -- the mistakes always cut one way. When things are made up those new facts always favor the speaker's position.

And then there is the not technically a lie problem.

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