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August 15, 2019

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Shifting the Focus

When you have a body of people (law professors in this country, say) whose claims of possessing "actual knowledge or expertise" are very much doubted by the preponderance of the profession for whom the former claims to speak/embody, in what, then, does that body's authority really consist? Nothing more than being the expositors of the "normal science" of the in-group power-holders? Can this even be the case when their claims and work products are mostly ignored? (Are they the real in-group? Is theirs the true "normal science" of the profession?)

When, moreover, obnoxious and nakedly partisan (of any sort) academics sign such letters, particularly concerning matters far OUTSIDE of their areas of expertise, does this provide a pro tanto reason to discount the merits of their scholarship?

Enrique Guerra Pujol (priorprobability.com)

One man's "consensus" is another man's "groupthink."

Dave Garrow

I don't think I disagree with Steve often, but on this my instincts are about 100% that Callard is right on target. I no doubt have this reaction 'cause as the years have gone by & the # of such group statements (& AC briefs) has seemingly proliferated, they're inherently watering down their own impact. What's more, on topics I pay at least glancing attention to, it seems as if *some* names--I can think of one at YLS, another now at HLS--are on virtually every one, leading me to conclude that these are gentlemen who'll sign almost anything that comes before them. To my mind, there's a relationship here to book blurbs too, as I'm increasingly of the impression that 90+% of blurbers have NOT taken the time to read the ms. in question before seeking to get their names on the back cover & in various ads. No doubt someone with a wider field of vision than my own can explain how both of these trends are among the many deleterious results of the proliferation of 'social' media...

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