Thursday, November 29, 2012

Do My Homework for Me!

On occasion I get requests from students at other institutions who want me to do their homework for them. I try to explain to them that they need to do their own homework. They do not want to read anything, they just want me to give them the answer over the phone or in a four sentence email. Please, they beg, just give me your opinion on this subject. At that point I usually need to explain the difference between facts and opinions: Asking a dozen Egyptologists how they think King Tutankhamun died provides one with a dozen opinions but no facts.

I received a phone call this afternoon from an anti-Mormon in Idaho who is trying to develop a new program for his sect to witness to Mormons (more here), but he was trying to hide his identity and his purpose. He wanted me to discuss a complex subject in just seven minutes, and furthermore he refused to read anything. I told him that he needed to do his homework first, and like many young students he insisted that getting an expert to tell him what to think was doing his homework. After all, he had already consulted with an atheist expert to tell him what to think about Mormons. (Would he listen to this same atheist if he were to tell him what to think about Evangelical Christians? I happen to have heard what this particular atheist thinks about that subject.)

I am hardly the first to notice this phenomenon, although I have some other comments on it buried in here. One of the best books on the subject is Mark Bauerlein's The Dumbest Generation. Wait a minute, someone interested might actually have to read something. Perhaps they can get someone else to read it for them and just tell them what to think.