Paul sent me this link to a recent NYT op-ed piece. Here Bruni discusses the fate of two academics that get entangled in hollywood celebrity culture and appear to compromise their standards and standing in so doing. One of these leaves stuff out that one can guess he believes to be important so as not to embarrass an important "guest" (or financially compromise his sponsor) . The other promotes quack remedies for the sake of eyeballs. Before you tut-tut and wonder how this could happen, recall that this is a blown up version of what we see in our neck of the woods every day. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the little Language discussion we've been having (here) is the shriveled version of the same phenomenon. How shriveled? Well, they are talking "real" celebrity and mega-bucks and we are talking peanuts. To my mind, that makes our situation even more cringingly awful for we don't even have the excuse of the siren sounds of riches (cue: ruffling greenbacks and tinkling god coins) to fall back on. It's one thing to sell your principles, quite another to sell them so cheaply.
I am an old guy now so take what I say with a grain of salt. It is my impression that academia has become a branch of the entertainment industry, and not in a good way. Journals embargo scientific results until publication to maximize buzz, teachers are feted for their entertainment value, Nobelists are celebs, administrators want to make sure that our student customers are happy and not overly disturbed, and some journals will print anything so long as they attract traffic and generate revenue. It don't recall it ever being thus. But remember, I am an old guy and my memory is going. What I am pretty sure is that it should not be thus. That's not what academia should be. And we see this clearly when others embarrass themselves in the ways Bruni noted. But before you laugh, a little peak in the mirror might be salutary.