IMAGE:  June 2004
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More than meets the eye  
Chicago Seven: take three  
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GRAPHIC:  Also in every issueLetters
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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 of ethics.
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Embarrassing elitism
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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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Distracting appeal
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.
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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 fellow alumni?
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