Paul L. Caron

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Jerks Of Academe: Are You One?

Following up on my previous posts (link below):  Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  The Jerks of Academe, by Eric Schwitzgebel (UC-Riverside; author, A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures (MIT Press 2019)):

JerkThis morning you probably didn’t look in the mirror and ask, “Am I a jerk?” And if you did, I wouldn’t believe your answer. Jerks usually don’t know that they are jerks.

Jerks mostly travel in disguise, even from themselves. But the rising tide (or is it just the increasing visibility?) of scandal, grisly politics, bureaucratic obstructionism, and toxic advising in academe reveals the urgent need of a good wildlife guide by which to identify the varieties of academic jerk.

So consider what follows a public service of sorts. I offer it in sad remembrance of the countless careers maimed or slain by the beasts profiled below. ...

The Big Shot. The Creepy Hugger. The Sadistic Bureaucrat. The Embittered Downdragger. This list is not exhaustive, nor are the types exclusive. Jerkitude manifests in wondrous variety, and not all the species have yet been cataloged. Hybrids abound — for example, the past-his-prime Big Shot who is becoming an Embittered Downdragger.

If you spot one of these jerks in the wild — at a conference hotel, on the other side of the seminar table, at a campuswide committee meeting — react as if you had spotted a bear. They are dangerous, unpredictable creatures, best avoided if possible. Do not try to cuddle up close, thinking you can befriend them without getting hurt. Do not try to seduce them with treats. Walk as far away as possible. Jerks are best viewed from a distance.

If surprised up close by an angry jerk, stand tall, if you can raise yourself to intimidating height. If it’s a grizzly, though, play dead.

But what if you are the jerk?

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People who call other people jerks are typically the biggest jerks of all

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Feb 13, 2020 3:06:24 AM