Does the Greek letter chi
stand for Chicago?
Action anthro footnote
The article about the Meskwaki experiment (“Where
the Action Was,” April/04) was of particular interest
to me. I recall Sol Tax talking about his action anthropology program
as I was girding up to write a history department dissertation,
“A History of the Fox Indians,” whose official sponsor
was Daniel Boorstin, with Sol being the real mentor. For a variety
of circumstances I ended up with only the ABD.
Getting to one’s own truth
I read President Randel’s letter (“From
the President,” April/04) about “always tell[ing]
the truth” at four in the morning and could not wait till
dawn to send you my comment. President Randel described “the
tools with which anyone might try to discover the truth.”
He said that those tools, which the University tries to teach, are
teaching not “what to think but how to think.” He further
noted the problem that “not everyone possesses, or even believes
in, these tools,” referring to “those who believe that
the fundamental truths are revealed in a realm beyond human reason.”
How lies become truth
President Randel’s thoughts about truth in the April issue corroborate
the tactics of Joseph Goebbels of Nazi Germany. He said that if you
use radio and repeat lies enough times, they will be believed.
Bill Phillips, PhB’48, MBA’51
Truth in university advertising
President Randel should be applauded for advocating the University’s
goal of generating the tools needed to determine the truth. I find
it disappointing, however, that in the same article Mr. Randel furthers
the myth that Chicago “offers the best education in this or
any neighboring galaxy.” Although it’s handy as a recruiting
tool, and possibly even accurate, I wonder how much this statement
has eroded the University’s academic prowess by promoting
the same sort of complacency that Mr. Randel fears is present in
the American public.
Politics parading as truth
President Randel makes several questionable assertions in his column
on truth. He states that truth can only be reached through reason.
Apparent facts (sometimes turning out to be fictitious) can be discovered
by means of reason, but fundamental truth cannot; that is why many
people, particularly in the University, in the climate of a postmodern
and post-Christian age, deny the possibility of fundamental truth.
Without a belief in a transcendent truth, personal honesty becomes
just another value to be practiced when it is personally advantageous.
In my experience, personal honesty is not more common in the University
than in the outside world.
Pub offers no occasion for pride
This is in response to “By
the Numbers” in the April/04 issue, which provided information
about the pub in the Ida Noyes Hall basement. When I went to school
at the University, Ida Noyes Hall was used to relax, to be at peace,
to study, and to enjoy one of the vintage halls typical of a great
university. Having a pub there is a sorrowful event. To provide
beer and drinking is not a matter of celebration.
Writer can’t brook Brooks
It was interesting to learn in the Magazine (“Everybody’s
a Critic,” February/04) that David Brooks, a recent addition
to the New York Times op-ed page, has a U of C degree. Brooks’s
March 27 column makes clear the extent of his dishonesty and lack
M. G. “Brandy” Brandon, MBA’77, describes his
son’s failure to gain admission to the University of Michigan
as the result of “a combination of suboptimal resource allocation
and barefaced dishonesty” (“Letters,”
April/04). As a fellow U of C alum, I found this tired indictment
of affirmative action elitist, illogical, and embarrassing.
It’s not easy doing it all
I was appalled and, yes, even outraged to read Dawn Belt Davis’s
criticism of Lynn Margulis (“Letters,”
April/04) for admitting that it was not possible for her to be a
good wife and mother and a first-class scientist at the same time.
The company we keep
I started listening to Studs Terkel (“Letters,”
February/04) as a student in the Sixties and continued until his
“retirement” from WFMT. And I still listen to his occasional
programs on WBEZ. One of the more memorable things I heard on at
least two occasions was Studs’s reflections on the University
of Chicago Law School.
Hyde Park in 1979
I read with amazement your report about admissions officers reassuring
Wisconsin high-school students in 1979 that “Hyde Park isn’t
a dangerous neighborhood” (“From
Our Pages,” February/2004).
We are not contributing to the College Fund this year. We received
three mailings this past fall emphasizing the efforts of the College
in enhancing extracurricular activities. The last, from former Dean
Wayne C. Booth, AM’47, PhD’50, suggests that if “life
outside the classroom” were “less dry and dull”
there might not have been the “sequence of sit-ins”
in the Sixties.
Who’s in our X-files?
Am I the only alum in all of U of Chicago-dom who does not know
what “X” signifies in the identification by degree of
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