By Steven Yates
A useful idiot is someone who, while zealously promoting one cause, ends up advancing a very different one through stupidity, naivete or inattention. The useful idiot never sees the big picture.
Vladimir Lenin, the first Soviet dictator, is credited with coining the phrase, although according to P. Boller and J. George’s They Never Said It, he—well—most likely never said it. Not even in Russian. Whatever its origins, the phrase sometimes comes in handy.
My first two experiences with radical feminists in academia didn’t make much of an impact on me until later. The first was in Fall 1987 at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. It was my first full-time job out of graduate school, and I was making a presentation on what was then my area of expertise: theories about the conceptual foundations of science and the dynamics of scientific change. After outlining four…
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