By David Warfield Brown (auth.)

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Extra resources for America’s Culture of Professionalism: Past, Present, and Prospects

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Following the example of those who teach them, students pursue not only what they should learn but how they should learn it. ”53 Such a learning experience can also be a form of indoctrination. ”54 Those who share personal anecdotes soon learn that such offerings have little or no value in some fields. ” The center’s director and its senior members stiffened in stony silence, taking my words to be a gauche confession of personal delinquency, too embarrassing to be uttered in public. ”56 Nonetheless, it was Lindblom who spent much of his academic life casting a skeptical eye on his economics profession challenging its scientific and static tendencies.

Many situations that academic experts seek to investigate are far from static, but researchers often prefer to make reality hold still in order to explain it. Any mutations are seen as exceptions to a static rule. This leads to what I call the “hold still” mentality of researchers who model what are exceedingly complicated and dynamic phenomena. Not wanting to overwhelm a model with too many variables, and not being able to identify variables that may arise at some future time, “hold still” models focus on a limited number of known variables assuming they are sufficient to provide useful projections on which others can depend.

Their socialization in academe of professional deference restrains them from exploring for themselves in fields of knowledge and practice apart from their own. Many Americans are ambivalent about the professionalization of government. On the one hand, they have resolutely clung to the notion that “we, the people” know best, without being sure what they know or need to know in order to exercise responsible oversight of the activities of government. On the other hand, they have made insistent demands that government find efficient remedies for their problems but without too much cost or control.

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