Ignore Your Parents’ Advice at Your Peril

On being an outspoken and iconoclastic academic.

Posted Aug 10, 2018

Personal photo album
Yours truly circa 1980.
Source: Personal photo album

There is a natural rhythm to parent-child interactions including the fact that some parental insights prove poignant and veridical decades after they were first shared with us. I recall my mother sharing two pieces of advice with me:

1) “Gad, you cannot exist in your pure bubble. The world does not conform to your purity.” She was referencing my purity of spirit, exacting personal conduct, and deep sentimentality.

2) “Gad, your love is akin to that of a dog. It is pure, deep, and unconditional. Never get a dog. You will be crushed.” She was recognizing the brutal reality that a dog’s lifespan is painfully short.

No psychotherapist could have ever uttered truer words. That I ignored these two insights has had a profound effect on me albeit in radically different ways. Today’s article focuses on the first piece of advice. Stay tuned for an upcoming article on the second piece of advice.

My purity manifests itself in countless ways, including an utter inability to sit idly when exposed to attacks on truth, reason, logic, and/or individual dignity. My refusal to accept the pathological biophobia exhibited by the great majority of social scientists (fear of biological explanations of human behavior) led me to found and develop the field of evolutionary consumption (at great professional cost). My refusal to accept a broad range of other pathogenic ideas and viruses of the human mind (postmodernism, radical feminism, identity politics, social constructivism, cultural relativism, acquiescence to religious ideologies that are antithetical to every foundational tenet of Western liberties, political correctness, equality of outcomes, culture of victimhood, etc.) shaped my career as a public intellectual and social commentator (at great personal and professional cost).  In other words, my intellectual purity has always superseded any careerist calculus.  My next book, tentatively titled The Parasitic Mind, addresses these pathogenic ideas and ways by which to inoculate ourselves against such cancers of the human mind. To those interested in this topic, I am attaching herewith some of my relevant academic lectures:

A Tsunami of Maladies Afflicting the Soul of Our Universities

How Political Correctness Limits the Free Exchange of Ideas on Campus

Death of the West by a Thousand Cuts

Departures from Reason: When Ideology Trumps Science

Ostrich Parasitic Syndrome: Terminal Disease of the Human Mind

All told, that I pursued the path of greatest resistance in my professional career (and in doing so ignored my mother’s first advice) has yielded both positive and negative consequences. To be an outspoken professor in academia is a very dangerous proposition. Academia is ruled by a pathological herd mentality. Stick out and be prepared to get ostracized. On the other hand, my intellectual purity permits me to lay my head on my pillow at the end of the day knowing that I’ve stayed true to my dogged pursuit of the truth. Also, in being indignant about the tsunami of nonsensical gibberish that has plagued our public discourse, this has allowed me to build a very large platform from which to spread my ideas (few professors can make a similar claim).

My advice to you: Belong to the tribe of truth rather than being loyal to ideological tribalism. The pursuit of truth is the highest ideal.

Addendum: Needless to say, the two quotes from my mother are accurate paraphrasing of the gist of her words as uttered many years ago some of which were likely in Arabic. Both my Psychology Today editor and my wife thought that this was an obvious point that did not require further clarification (and I obviously agree).  But my pathological purity compelled me to add this note!