THE BLOG

Finding Truth in Madison, Wisconsin

02/18/2015 03:13 pm ET | Updated Apr 20, 2015

Ridiculing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for proposing to replace the "search for truth" with "meet the state's workforce needs" in the University of Wisconsin's mission statement was the initial plan for this blog.

I assumed there was copious evidence of Wisconsin students and faculty repeatedly searching for, and successfully finding, the truth. I expected to see headlines from The Daily Cardinal, the University's Student newspaper proclaiming:

• Wisconsin Prof Finds Truth By Employing Post-structural Critical Theory

• Sociology Department Pioneers Ten Idiot-Proof Procedures to Find Truth

• Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority Finds Most Truth in Winter Festival Competition

But I could not document a single case of anyone at the University of Wisconsin actually finding the truth.

In Madison, the University has 16,000 faculty and graduates assistants and 43,000 students. They have been searching for the truth since 1848. They require an original Ph. D Thetis annually from thousands of candidates. Faculty persistently publish scholarly tracts in Tenure Quarterly, The American Journal of Academic Promotion, and other prestigious academic periodicals. Clearly, the University's inability to find truth is not due to lack of effort. My guess is that they are simply not very good at it.

Though a contemptible philistine, Gov. Walker may have a point. If the University wants the taxpayers to subsidize their search for truth, shouldn't they occasionally find some?

Suppose your great-great-great-great-great grandfather misplaced his pocket watch in 1848 and ever since, your family's mission statement, "search for the watch," has yielded nothing. Should you modify your mission statement?

Walker also suggested that University could save money by asking professors to increase their teaching load. Such blatant anti-intellectual demagoguery ignores the obvious rejoinder, "If professors spend more time teaching, who will deconstruct?"

Hobbyists might partially ameliorate the ominous deconstruction deficit. I know a woman who spends her weekends deconstructing Dickens. But only professionals can produce the brilliant insights needed to properly comprehend literature, such as the paragraph below, written by a Professor of American Literature at the University of Wisconsin:

"The essential paradigm of the hegemonic biases, objectification of women and overarching hierarchical morphology in Huckleberry Finn creates partially situated identities out of actual or potential social reality that liminally contextualize synecdochic forms of human contact, thus renormalizing the phenomenology of dualistic narrative space and compel the naturalization of the intersubjective cognitive optionality, thereby resolving the dialectics of metaphorical thoughts, each problematic to the other, to collectively reify the doctrinal parables of dimensionality."

Aint that the truth.