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How can students learn to think when suppression of dissent is the campus’duty?

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The trouble is, not all students experience a problem! Some students adjust brilliantly because they have always been clever “Aren’t I good!” girls and aspiring yes-men. They merely require more advanced socialization. When those groups pair off, they produce a world in which doubt is the enemy of Truth. Meanwhile, a much smaller, but potent, group are young thugs with a taste for enforcement.

But then there is the large, mushy middle, who find a world where:

In many intellectual enterprises today, only one view on key questions is accepted. The accepted view is not necessarily backed by good evidence; it could be backed mainly by interest groups, pressure groups, lobbies, and opinion leaders. Their key interests may lie in suppressing time-honored freedoms to peacefully express dissent. One result is that on university campuses restrictions on dissent from accepted beliefs have grown rapidly.

This is a major change from campuses of, say, 50 years ago. They nourished dissent back then – sometimes creative and useful, and sometimes not. But a university was thought to be the place for (preferably informed) dissent. Over the years, a different vision has grown up: At the university, no one is to be offended by anything they hear.

If you had informed a typical English prof in 1970 that you were offended by the anti-Semitism in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice or the unconscious racism of the characters in Huckleberry Finn, she might well have responded, “Have you considered the trade school down the road? It’s not my job to protect you from feeling offended. It’s my job to help teach you to think. One aspect of thinking is assessing ideas that quite properly offend you, that were widely supported for centuries.”

That “wild type” of teacher survives in pockets, under constant threat, and finding them, where possible, is one approach to a solution. Here is another.

OT new video upload: William Lane Craig: The Origins of the Universe - Has Hawking Eliminated God? Cambridge October 2011 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Tup-dA88aw bornagain77

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