Scientists are apologetic because the scientific establishment or its political leadership is apologetic and the scientific establishment is apologetic in its effort to justify its very existence by an erroneous hypothesis; the erroneous hypothesis identifies the intellectual or scientific establishment with the intellectual or scientific leadership. This way our culture in general and particularly our science is debased: the false equation of the scientific establishment with the scientific leadership automatically justifies the fact that such scientists as Barbara MacClintock are not recognized for decades. (Agassi, "The Politics of Science," [emphasis added--ES] 36).
[P]retending, especially to our students, that we are ideal, even pretending that we always try hard to become ideal, is very harmful. It forces on our students either the view that they are much inferior to their teachers, or, alternatively, the dreadful observation that their leaders, too, have clay feet. And training them to try to be ideal is not training them to live in an imperfect world and control their own imperfection and the imperfection of the general situation. When they grow up and face their own imperfections they get terrified, do not know what to do, and in a desperate effort to cope get swept into the intrigues that they find all around. (Agassi, "The Politics of Science," 39; [emphasis added]) [HT Joel Katzav]
Agassi's 1986 paper is barely cited by others. One explanation for this, is that it is anecdotal and not rigorous according to acccepted standards. A more subtle reason is that it doesn't cite others, although it mentions a few (high status) fellow travelers. It would be nice to think that it was ignored because people realized that Agassi was basically rediscovering Gordon Tullock's (1966) point about how academic disciplines become a "racket." While Tullock's book has very decent citations, it's primarily cited in works at the intersection of public choice theory and philosophy of economics. My amusing (and partial) experience with referees suggests, it is not well known in philosophy. Perhaps, Agassi's piece was ignored because Agassi is rather combative in print. (I have never met the man; maybe he is sage-like in person.) But in philosophy that has never prevented attention.
Here I want to explore the possibility that Agassi's piece was ignored because its truths hit too close to home. By this I do not mean that people would really honestly deny that there is politics in academic disciplines. Rather, the point is that we are en-cultured into a set of practices and norms that exact terrible costs on our psyches, especially, perhaps, for the most successful among us. To be clear: I do not introduce this topic to diminish the suffering of the adjuncts, the exploited, and the disadvantaged. (In what follows, I'll stick to professional philosophy because that's what I know best.)