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CALIFORNIA MADNESS: The Geography of



Two addenda to the postings on the Carnegie Endowment for the Advancement of Teaching. I was on the committee which established the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. The original plan was to locate it in Atherton, but, true to the California spirit, the locals shouted "NIMBY! NIMBY!" So it was located in the Stanford footshills, near where the Carnegie center was to have been established. It is a pleasant site, and everyone was happy. It looks as though California insanity has got worse in recent years. The Carnegie center would have a close affinity with the Behavioral Sciences Center.

Before losing the Carnegie Center for the Advancement of Teaching, Stanford shot itself in the foot by losing the Reagan Library. Be it noted that, as a mugwump, I do not idealize that ex-President as many Americans do, but neither do I demonize him. Admittedly, the promoters of the plan to bring the Reagan Library to Stanford showed a lack of dignity in the face of provocation, but the behavior of the Stanford community.was an academic disgrace. Reagan was vilified so much that the proposal was dropped, and Stanford lost an important document collection.

Now. a rectification to the posting "Are Californians mad?". We should ask "Is Northern California mad?" In the distant past, it was regarded as a beacon of sanity in comparison with Southern California, the home of weird cults. Now the roles are reversed, with Northern California the center of infection. I was brought up in a time when universities were havens of rational discourse, and exchanging ideas was a social pleasure for which dinner provided an opportunity. Life was leisurely, scholars went on walks, and German universities had their Philosophenweg.

The first university where I saw the future of universities was Berkeley in 1937. I was shocked by the campus atmosphere and foresaw that it would spread around the world, as it has. Later, the advent of television encouraged protesters to step up their vocal and body activities, but not their mental ones. The situation got worse at Berkeley with the misnamed "free-speech movement," which has been denounced in many articles, most lately be John Leo in "The no-speech culture. Even in paid ads, students quash views they don't like" (US News and World Report, 3/19/01). I look forward to the time when universities operate mostly on line, except for the laboratory sciences. Distance education avoids mobs of rioting students and TV coverage of them, and it forces students to write rather than to yell,

For another kind of insanity which may hit the United States, see the next posting, "Philatelic Madness".

Ronald Hilton - 3/25/01


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