Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Growing List of Academic Aphorisms

Learn to receive criticism well before preaching others to do the same.

The single greatest enemy of a good thesis is the dream of a perfect thesis.

A scholar is an an exemplar rather than a crusader.

Dichotomies are a seductive danger.

Work to change the world, but don't martyr yourself for the ungrateful

In almost all circumstances, your intuition cannot fully grasp the complexity of an issue.

Root out logical inconsistencies.

Vague goals beget vague methods.

Make peace where you can.

You cannot solve problems you cannot see.

Never be satisfied if and when your position finds contingent sympathies.

If in your version of history nothing happened, your account is likely flawed.

Abandon reductionism of any form and favor seeing social phenomena in their dynamic totality.

Never confuse simple with simplistic.

Seek the the limits of a concept's utility.

The world is bigger than one method.

When public speaking, the larger the audience, the slower you should go.

You cannot defend a position you do not understand.

Study economies, not economics.

Write things simply without thinking simply.

Don't moan, mobilize.

It is imperative to start with something manageable.

More important you learn what to research than how to research.

Encourage real debate on fundamental issues.

It is easy to write beautifully condescending platitudes from the high seats of the stadium.

Inclines planes tell you something about the rate of fall; but Newton's laws don't refer to incline planes.

Avoid ambiguities but explore contradictions.

If you are unsure about your conclusions, state the alternatives clearly and make what you see as the strongest argument.

Don't be afraid to stick your neck out.

It is difficult but possible to express complex ideas in clear, concise prose. 

Don't make debating other's experience of oppression or exploitation a form of entertainment.

Learn to discern argument from quarrel.

The likelihood of error increases when all available evidence corroborates.