Dr. Thomas G West, discussing John Locke and the misinterpretation of him
As a graduate student in Political Theory at Claremont (College) I ran into Locke, I was taught Locke in an Intro class, never anything serious. We read the Second Treatise and that was it, boom. Spent maybe a week or two on it. I taught, and began teaching Locke in my teaching career starting at the University of Dallas and then here at Hillsdale and I continued to repeat stuff I had heard and read in graduate school about Locke. One of the things that is good about graduate school is that you learn a few basic ideas. One of the things that's bad about graduate school is that you think that 's all you need to know. And I had, in my own understanding of Locke, a kind of revolution, kicked off by a scholar named Peter Meyers called "Our Only Star and Compass"... (Italics mine.)This section of the discussion was about skepticism and curiosity, which you are encouraged to develop all through school through the late undergraduate degree. But somewhere in late college the focus shifts to convincing you that now you have arrived, you really know something and you should accept what you are taught rather than be skeptical of it. After that, students apply skepticism only to their area of specialty, and sometimes not even that.
This accords with my limited observation. Therapists remain curious about developments in therapy and have opinions based on new reading, research, and their own experience. But they treat what they learned about social psychology and anthropology as unmoveable, far more than a less-educated person would. Worse, it extends even to the references to history and literature that came into their graduate studies in psychology. I have had frustrating discussions with young psychiatrists explaining patiently to me about something called Implicit Bias and looking shocked when I tell them that Implicit Bias turns out not to have much effect or foundation. They usually just walk away, irritated at this person who clearly knows nothing but contradicts what they picked up in passing while studying something else. Pastors do something similar with regards to the economics and social science they were taught somewhere along the way.
At best, they top off their knowledge listening to NPR or reading popular sites treating in ideas. Actually, that is actually "at worst," because those echo the same fashions they started with, reinforcing them while providing only selected snippets of new information.
When one has to keep up with a topic as complicated as acute psychiatric interventions one has considerable disincentive to apply that curiosity and skepticism broadly. It is easier to regard things learned as fixed objects. Yet it leaves you forever at the mercy of the prevailing fashion of your university at the time of your studies. I think I have spent more time unlearning what I learned in Introductory Anthropology than I have saved time relying on it. Unlearning is hard, because it takes a willingness based on character traits.