As the fall semester begins, 15 professors from Yale, Princeton, and Harvard have published a letter of advice for the class of 2021.
Fifteen highly accomplished scholars who teach at Yale, Princeton, and Harvard published a letter Monday with advice for young people who are headed off to college: Though it will require self-discipline and perhaps even courage, “Think for yourself.”
The “vice of conformism” is a temptation for all faculty and students, they argue, due to a climate rife with group think, where it is “all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion” on a campus or in academia generally.
They warn that on many campuses, what John Stuart Mill called “the tyranny of public opinion” doesn’t merely discourage students from dissenting from prevailing views:
It leads them to suppose 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. Don’t do that. Think for yourself.