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July 2005, Week 3


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Leo Enticknap <[log in to unmask]>
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 20 Jul 2005 20:00:31 +0100
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Donald Larsson writes:

>If, for instance, a committee member discovered that a candidate had 
>created a blog denying the Holocaust, it would be very likely to 
>have some effect on that candidate's chances, even if the job 
>description had no direct relationship to the blog content.

The key phrase here, IMHO, is 'If, for instance, a committee member 
discovered'.  Even though the humanitites-based academic study of 
film and broadcast media is a relatively small profession, I'd still 
be surprised if an interview panel (I presume this phrase is pretty 
much the UK equivalent of 'search committee') member would take it 
upon him- or herself to do the Google searching to find out if an 
applicant writes a blog about life, the universe and 
everything.  I've now been a member of two panels, and I didn't have 
the time to do that, let alone the inclination.  My judgements were 
based purely on the application documentation and what the candidates 
said during the interview.

>That's an extreme example...

Hence the reason I used a hypothetical example which is equally 
contradicted by the overwhelming majority of qualified professional 
opinion (i.e. someone contending that smoking tobacco is not a health 
hazard) but which isn't quite as notorious as Holocaust 
denial.  Anyone who publicly expresses a view of that extremity is 
likely to fall foul of one or more of the published criteria for the 
job spec, anyhow.  Holding, arguing and defending a rationally 
defensible but minority view is one thing (honestly, I know all about 
that, as a Conservative Party member working in a profession 
populated mainly with colleagues whose political views are somewhat 
to the left of Arthur Scargill's), but believing something which is 
contradicted by an overwhelming mass of empirical evidence in the 
belief that the evidence is all wrong must surely rule anyone out for 
a job, the basic skill for which is the ability to identify, analyse, 
draw conclusions from and communicate such evidence.  Anyone who 
denies that the Holocaust took place has shown a fundamental lack of 
ability to do those things, so I really don't think there's any 
danger that the kind of safeguards I'm describing in the application 
process would enable a Holocaust denier to get a job in a British university.


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