Harvard came up in conversation several times today.. and this reminded me of something that happened a number of years ago.
I once told a group of students about a scientific debate involving my research group and a group at Harvard. I explained the issue we were debating, then described how the Harvard group’s hypothesis differed from mine, and why I thought I was right. One of the students was incensed that I was besmirching Harvard, and said that I had no right to do this. This student, whose only connection to Harvard was via an alumni father, said that I probably had an inferiority complex because I was at a large state university. Interesting hypothesis, but just as flawed as that of the Harvard scientists who were soon thereafter proved wrong and who graciously and publically conceded that they were wrong and I was right. It was a minor thing -- the kind of debate that happens all the time in science, and sometimes gets resolved and sometimes doesn't. It does make one wonder, though: Do students really think that we have spent our entire lives in the place where we teach? Or perhaps that we spontaneously generated, full-formed as professors, right here in our offices?
[and, even if I had, why can't I disagree with scientists at Harvard?..]
6 years ago