So says a commenter over at Volokh, provoking are great response from Volokh:
Now if these comments just complained about people who write definitive-sounding op-eds or blog posts about subjects they know nothing about, I wouldn’t be responding to it here. But of course the author of the e-mail wasn’t writing an op-ed aimed at persuading the public. She was continuing a conversation with a friend. The recommendation is that non-scientists who don’t know much about the subject shouldn’t even discuss it....The law school classroom experience requires students to discuss complicated and sensitive subjects in front of other students. How on earth are we going to be able to do that if the students think there's a terrible risk in saying the wrong thing — or the right thing the wrong way?
[W]hat a narrow, stultifying notion of education that is. Read quietly, on your own, with no discussion with others who are interested in the subject, until you become knowledgeable enough. Only then should you feel authorized to discuss it. Only then will we be “sympathetic” should you be publicly pilloried for your e-mail to a friend that raises the question — because only then could we say that “actual science is being foreclosed” by the condemnation of you.
The way most people actually educate themselves effectively, it seems to me, is very different. They get interested in a subject. They talk to friends about it. They read some more. They talk some more about their readings, perhaps especially with people who are also learning about the matter. Their friends might help correct their errors. Enlightenment might emerge in a conversation when it didn’t emerge in mere reading.Yes. Exactly. Human culture emerges as people interact with each other. Life would be very different if it was all about reading and studying. In fact, this is why we value diversity in the classroom, so that different kinds of individuals will converse and react. We will get to a better understanding of things that way.
Now, part of that really is seeing and feeling what makes other people angry. This conversation that is so valuable can't be bland and emotionless. Emotion is a part of reasoning and learning. But what does the group do to itself? What should the law school classroom (or any classroom) be like? There is an ideal level of interaction that includes ease and care in the expression of ideas and the response to what other people are saying. I want students to debate and even argue, to get excited and even angry, but not to the point where the exchange breaks down.
Back to Volokh:
That’s supposed to be one of the joys of intellectual life. It’s supposed to be one of the advantages of life in a university, where you can find classmates who — like you — have intellectual interests beyond your narrow field of study.My law school, the University of Wisconsin, prides itself on interdisciplinary study. We encourage students (and faculty) to import other fields of study into working within law. We like the cross-fertilization and don't see the academic disciplines walled off from each other (with the walls staunchly guarded by the experts). Do you think law should be aridly academic? Do you think cases should be argued and decided by people who are intensely specialized in the study of legal texts? If you think you do, I don't think you'd keep thinking that if we had a way to run the experiment and see the results.
Back to Volokh:
Some of the people who learn about the subject may end up working on it professionally. People with Ph.D.s in physiology and membrane biophysics might write prominent books on anthropology and geography. Computer programmers who get interested in law, and who spend years talking to their friends about policy questions unrelated to their formal educations, might become lawyers.Volokh himself is that computer programmer. Jared Diamond is the biophysicist.
I think the lesson here is that we should want to experience our full humanity and to understand and respect and help each other as full human beings. This is an idea that completely harmonizes with the rejection of racism.