Fighting the Idiocracy with Sapience

Freedom of expression and the vigorous exchange of ideas are particularly important to the truth-seeking mission of higher education. Without the back and forth of scholarly challenge and debate – without the rigorous testing of both commonly-accepted and seemingly-outlandish ideas – intellectual weaknesses and “blind spots” rarely get exposed. Consequently, students enter post-college life with a warped understanding of the world and an inability to deal constructively with intelligent criticism and dissent.

Most importantly, these new metrics should help underscore the importance of intellectual freedom in the pursuit of truth. Because when it comes to measuring the true quality of a learning institution, conventional measures of academic quality – such as highly-credentialed professors and small class sizes and low faculty-student ratios – are relatively useless if the intellectual life of the university is skewed in a manner that (intentionally or unintentionally) suppresses unfashionable ideas and alternative points of view.

As John Stuart Mill famously wrote in “On Liberty”:

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion… Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them… …he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

The primary focus and practice of sapience is freedom of expression, viewpoint diversity and intellectual humility for the open-minded student. The basis of truth, facts and reason are scrutinized by practical logic, researched using non-fake news sources and empirical evidence, and guided overall by wisdom with the goal of defining and creating sapience. Sapience trumps all other ideologies whether it be liberal or conservative, progressive, or illiberal, capitalistic vs. socialistic. Sapience trumps all (no pun intended) and is the cure for the idiocracy!

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