29 December 2014

Professor H.H. Price

copy of a letter to an academic

I have been thinking about Professor H.H. Price’s role in my attempts to return to academia. These are preliminary notes.

* * *

Henry Habberley Price
(1899 - 1984)
Professor Price was unusually open to my ideas about the existential uncertainty. Nobody else at the Society for Psychical Research had taken any interest in Alexandra David-Neel, for example. His awareness of my ability did not seem, as it so often did, to arouse hostility, which would sometimes express itself violently.

Professor Price said that I was the ideal DPhil student. He always wrote glowing reports on my work to the electors of the Perrott Studentship at Trinity College, Cambridge, and to others who gave financial support.

He appreciated the way I wrote, and said that I could say in one page what it would take most people three pages to say. He said that I had an alpha mind.

W.H. Salter did not like Price having this attitude towards me. He said that it was all too easy to get Professor Price’s approval, so that he (Salter) would not find this of any use in obtaining financial supporters for me. I needed to get the support of people who were less of a soft touch, said Salter. I needed to get the support of someone such as Professor Dodds.

E.R. Dodds
(1893 - 1979)
I knew that I could not get the support of Professor Dodds, and did not think it was possible for anyone to do so who was not merely wanting to criticise other people’s work. The fact was that by this time Salter was hostile to me himself.

What Professor Price’s support did for me was that I had a clear run through the years for which I held the Perrott Studentship, and the widespread hostility could do nothing to deprive me of it, as it would have wished to do. So, in the hostile circumstances in which I found myself, Professor Price’s appreciation of my ability was a considerable asset.

09 December 2014

Eight high-achieving siblings, from a poor home

Celia Green with
one of her uncles,
Leonard Green
It was not only the case that my father came top of the grammar school scholarship, in spite of living in an impoverished home with very little reading matter. It was also the case that each of his seven siblings similarly got grammar school scholarships, at a time when there were only twenty of them available per year in the borough, and that every one of them became successful and respectable in spite of their ostensibly disadvantaged early life. They all became headmasters, or entered similar professions.

The modern ideology likes to assert that if there is a correlation on a large scale between deprivation in early life and lack of success later, the relatively deprived should, by means of intervention, be enabled to ‘catch up’ during their time at school.

In fact it is unlikely that my father and his siblings seemed to be in any way ‘behind’ when they first went to school. They had, for example, probably learnt to read before they went to school, in spite of the lack of books in the house in which they were living.

On a large scale, there may be a correlation between lack of books in the home and lack of success in exams at a later age. However, there are many factors which affect the situation, and a sub-population, such as my father’s family, may occur in which the correlation does not apply at all.

In the case of my father’s family, which had aristocratic East European antecedents, genetic factors would appear to have prevailed over environmental ones.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position. I need people to provide moral support both for fundraising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.

05 December 2014

Self-important academics

Researchers found that many parents ‘overvalue’ their children and believe them to be more special and entitled than others.

These parents are more likely to be conceited and self-important themselves, according to Dutch academics ...
(Daily Mail, 3 December 2014)
The ideology recently explicitly expressed by Dutch academics* (themselves agents of the collective) was present, although much less explicitly and universally, three quarters of a century ago when I was born in London in 1935. In retrospect it is easy to see that my father was habitually accused of believing me to be exceptional, or of ‘wanting to me to be a genius’, and as I was in fact precocious it was scarcely possible for him to say anything about my interests or achievements without arousing attacks on himself. Agents of the collective such as the Dutch academics referred to above, are, by virtue of being agents of the collective, regarded as an infallible source of value judgments.

The theory that some parents have a tendency to ‘overvalue’ their children, and that they should be corrected for doing this, had a deleterious effect on my education, and on the lives of my parents and myself. It was used to justify much of the hostility against me which resulted in my being prevented from doing things I wanted to do, such as take exams young.

* E. Brummelman et al, ‘My Child Is God’s Gift to Humanity: Development and Validation of the Parental Overvaluation Scale (POS)’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2014.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position. I need people to provide moral support both for fundraising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.