Scholariness

The internet is full of self-promoters.  Either they are trying to make money or trying to jockey for a lead position in some movement (or both).  Some of the self-promoters try to make themselves look like more of an expert or scholar than they are.  I’ll call this scholariness.  This is because they know that if others view them as a scholar or expert, they will be perceived as an authority.  And such perception enhances their efforts at  self-promotion, and/or the promotion of their social and/or political agenda.

For example, imagine there is some guy named George Hershey who has become obsessed with changing the country’s tax policies.  Let’s say that George has a B.S. in Economics, works as a realtor, and has set up a web page to promote his political views and ideas about taxation.  Problem is that George Hershey is just another guy with a college degree and an opinion about taxes.  He needs something more.  So George promotes himself as “Professor of Public Policy, The Institute of Eco-Analysis.”  Yet it turns out that George created The Institute of Eco-Analysis and runs it from his basement computer and he is a professor in the sense that he sells tapes of himself lecturing about taxes and other things.  This is scholariness.

Keep in mind that George may actually be quite knowledgeable about taxes, as it is something he likes to read up on.  Nevertheless, what makes it scholariness is that he tries to create the perception that he is more of a scholar/expert than he is.  He knows that when the average person reads or hears he is Professor of Public Policy, The Institute of Eco-Analysis, they will assume he is a professor at some university or some government institution.  They will thus see him as an authority.  And if his readers happen to agree with his position and arguments, they will want to see him as an authority. They will become followers and defenders.

What’s more, the internet is a big place, and some of George’s readers may themselves be self-promoters who advocate for the same thing.  Next thing you know, they all begin to network and some join The Institute of Eco-Analysis. They might even set up some type of publication, “The Journal of Analytical Taxation,” where internet postings can now look like scholarly publications.   Scholariness is now enhanced, as the average reader will get the impression that with all the collaboration and shared technical talk among the “experts,” the Institute and its publication must be a serious academic entity.  Yet all you really have are a bunch of misfits who have found a way to make themselves appear more authoritative than they really are.

Since none of us want to be hoodwinked by people who are not quite what they say they are, here are some tips for detecting scholariness.  Do not get distracted by the “scholars” or “scholarly groups” ability to mimic scholarship with technical jargon or fancy pants arguments.  Look for the following:

  1. Is the “scholar” a professor at a mainstream university or college and is he/she talking about an issue that would fall under his area of expertise?
  1. Is the “scholar” heavily promoting himself ?
  1. Does the “scholar” have a political and/or social agenda?

 

If the answers are No, Yes, and Yes, then I would say there is a very strong chance you are dealing with scholariness.

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4 Responses to Scholariness

  1. William Francis Brown says:

    As a realtor,and as a guy who pays taxes, I’d say that this guy is indeed probably more qualified to start this blog than a college professor and certainly more so than a government worker. I’d say that you might be a too enamoured by ‘professorism’ (my neologism).

    The fact that this guy is expending as much energy as he is to share and discuss information on a topic he’s passionate about says something as well. If he’s not an accredited expert, he’s probably going to the equivalent if he sticks with the project and is assiduous enough about it.

    Any notion that there should not be bias and agenda is a red herring. Everyone has a bias and an agenda. The only question for
    his readers to decide is whether his bias and agenda is toward truth and what is good, or away from it. That comes under the aegis of discernment.

    What is a “mainstream university” ?

  2. Michael says:

    William:

    As a realtor,and as a guy who pays taxes, I’d say that this guy is indeed probably more qualified to start this blog than a college professor and certainly more so than a government worker. I’d say that you might be a too enamoured by ‘professorism’ (my neologism).

    You miss the point. It’s not about George being qualified or not. It’s that he is presenting himself as some type of college professor when he is not one.

    The fact that this guy is expending as much energy as he is to share and discuss information on a topic he’s passionate about says something as well.

    Sure, it suggests he cannot be objective or intellectually honest about his pet issue. He is so deeply invested in it that he is willing to advance it by presenting himself to be something that he is not.

    If he’s not an accredited expert, he’s probably going to the equivalent if he sticks with the project and is assiduous enough about it.

    No. He is going to become the equivalent of an apologist or advocate. His “expertise” will simply serve his confirmation bias.

    Any notion that there should not be bias and agenda is a red herring. Everyone has a bias and an agenda.

    Bias and agenda are not a red herring when it comes to the question of who we should trust.

    The only question for his readers to decide is whether his bias and agenda is toward truth and what is good, or away from it.

    Sure, but George knows that many of his readers will see his inflated credentials and status and lean on that, especially if they agree with him. Others, such as myself, will note the scholariness as evidence there is no “bias and agenda toward truth and what is good.”

  3. bbrown1 says:

    Thanks for the reply Michael.

    I still suspect that you are placing too much stock in credentials. My point is more in support of the spirit of the true amateur, in the classical sense. The one who achieves expertise for love and not for money. The concept seems to be lost on most moderns, mostly for cultural reasons.

    But I agree that I am wandering a bit from your main point in the post.

    –Bill

    Forest, VA

  4. eveysolara says:

    Are you talking about Tom Woods lol

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