Professors Urge Students: 'Think for Yourself'

August 30, 2017

Fifteen professors -- from Harvard, Princeton and Yale Universities -- have issued an open letter to new college students, urging them to keep open minds and to be unafraid of challenging conventional wisdom on campus. The professors write that their advice can be summarized by the words "think for yourself."

The letter says in part: "In today’s climate, it’s all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion on your campus or in the broader academic culture. The danger any student -- or faculty member -- faces today is falling into the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink. At many colleges and universities what John Stuart Mill called “the tyranny of public opinion” does more than merely discourage students from dissenting from prevailing views on moral, political, and other types of questions. It leads them to suppose that dominant views are so obviously correct that only a bigot or a crank could question them. Since no one wants to be, or be thought of as, a bigot or a crank, the easy, lazy way to proceed is simply by falling into line with campus orthodoxies."

The full letter and the list of signatories may be found here.



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