NPR | August 13, 2018 A new academic guidance book that claims to give academic researchers “academic leadership” and “academically prophetic guidance” is giving academic researchers new ammunition to criticize the field.
“Academic prophetic advice” is a term coined by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to describe a book that provides academic leaders with advice to help them make sound and accurate predictions about the future.
A new book, titled “Academy of the Prophets,” argues that the book can “direct your research and scholarship, help you create, evaluate, and improve your research, and guide you in your work.”
Critics say the book’s focus on academic leadership, and its lack of acknowledgement of other aspects of science, makes it a disservice to scientists.
“A lot of the best science has been done by people who have had no experience of leadership or of how to lead,” said Jonathan Baskin, a professor of history at the University of Virginia.
“I’m hoping this book will help people get to a place where they can have a sense of who their colleagues are and where they want to go.”
The title of the book, A Guide to Academic Leadership and Prophecy, doesn’t make it clear if the book will address the challenges scientists face when making predictions.
But it makes a lot of assertions that are very, very similar to some of the advice that the AAAS has given to scientists in the past.
For example, it says that the future is “more likely to be dominated by a few elites, than by a diverse mix of the broadest range of ideas and views, and it will be dominated for the time being by those who have already achieved the status of the great leaders.”
It also claims that scientists “will be more likely to become a minority in their field” because of a “growing minority of white males, who are increasingly excluded from the academy.”
“The future is more likely than not to be controlled by a small minority of the elite, and not by a wide range of the diverse views, ideas, and perspectives of the vast majority of the American public,” the book says.
But critics say the AAAs claims of academic leadership are “nonsense.”
“These claims are just nonsense,” said Christopher H. Smith, an associate professor of communication at the City University of New York and a leading expert on scientific leadership.
“There’s been no research done that has shown the ‘academicians prophetic guidance,'” he told NPR.
“If they had a study of that, they would find that they have been consistently overstated by this book.
They’ve been overstated on numerous fronts.”
And critics say that “Academics Prophecy” is “just the latest example of the AAAC using academics to make a political statement.”
In a statement, the AAI called the book a “tout” for the AAS.
The AAS, the association of professional scientific societies, is the largest professional organization in the U.S. It represents about 3.4 million members and is a membership association for more than 1,000 professional scientific organizations, including more than 350,000 academic and scientific journals, and more than 300,000 universities and colleges.
It’s also the main funding source for some academic departments and research centers in the country.
In a letter to the AAA, the American Psychological Association said it has received no complaints about the book.
But Smith told NPR that he was surprised that the organization did not do more to address concerns about the title of a book on its website.
“It’s like they have a whole playbook of how they are going to make their case against the academy,” he said.
“But it seems like they’re not really doing it.”