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Proper Disposal of Hazardous Ideas: An EPA-Isador Nabi Bulletin

Isador Nabi is undoubtedly one of the most controversial (some would say “notorious”) names in science today, whose always provocative papers have appeared in Nature, Science and Nature, Gene Watch, Monthly Review, and elsewhere. For further information on Nabi’s extraordinary career see the Wikipedia article “Isador Nabi” and the December 2007 issue of Monthly Review—Ed.

(For authorized persons only. If you do not know whether you are an authorized person then you are probably not, and should stop reading right here.)

The office of Occupational Safety and Health has ruled that the proper disposal of hazardous materials is required under regulation 1.848 section b of the Clean Minds Act. Our lawyers have ruled that in academic settings hazardous ideas can be included under these regulations because although they are not obviously materials, as Marx wrote, ideas become a material force when they grip the masses. When they haven’t gripped the masses they may still be regarded as hazardous materials under the talmudic principle of building a wall around the Torah: something already is what it may potentially become in the wrong hands and may be treated as such. Thus a centrifuge might concentrate uranium and therefore is practically a nuclear weapon, or teaching geography in a Bad Country may train children to pick targets.

Hazardous ideas can jeopardize the rapid completion of data set analysis for dissertations, obtaining of grants, finding employment, or achieving promotion and must therefore be disposed of according to the following guidelines:

1. Low-level hazardous ideas (yellow alert) such as questioning the objectivity of hiring procedures can be neutralized by types 1–3 sneers, raised eyebrows, and condescending glances. The office of the Associate Dean for Conventional Excellence is offering workshops on eyebrow raising, introductory and advanced sneering, and generalized condescension. Practice is needed to raise eyebrows one at a time since if both are raised together the impact might be received as frivolous. These workshops may be charged to your research grants.

2. Intermediate-level hazardous ideas (orange alert), including but not limited to explicit expressions of doubt as to the wisdom, integrity, or courage of the powers that be. Questions as to whether there are alternatives to the prevailing neoliberal economics or molecular reductionism in our curricula may be resolved by containment, saturation with proper ideas, and intermittent or continuous harassment. The offending nonauthorized person can be quarantined, kept away from Visiting and Accreditation committees and recruitment searches. Consult your Administrator’s Guide to Harassment for details about harassment through resource denial, harassment through elimination of a program or exclusion from the courses required for a major, and harassment through exclusion from normal collegial activities. Grant applications can be disposed of by proper labeling as “not innovative” or “unproven,” but it is better not to use both designations in the same paragraph. Or they can be praised to oblivion as in “we know that dynamic isolinear topo-hypobolics is a cutting edge of mathematics, but it just doesn’t fit into our program.”

3. High-density hazardous ideas (red alert) such as those which may jeopardize relations with donors or potential donors or attract unfavorable publicity to The Institution or cast aspersions on accepting funding from federal terrorist-related agencies, may require removal of the carrier of those ideas. Some forms of removal include fatherly advice (“wouldn’t you really be happier at some less demanding Institution?” or “you are really quite a good sociologist, just not quite good enough for This Great Institution”), bribery for early retirement (but this can be expensive if the proposed retirement is more than thirty years early, and if word got out, other professors might adopt hazardous ideas just to get that offer), non-promotion, denial of tenure, or public smearing. A long-term goal of abolishing tenure is to facilitate hazardous person disposal.

If all else fails, there is always assassination (character or somatic). This is the sole domain of the Associate Dean for Special Projects who is also curator of the university-wide special collection of classical Pens and Swords.

The public’s cooperation is necessary for this program to succeed. Please report all suspicious or potentially hazardous ideas to your driver or notify our nearest office at 1–800–(number withheld for reasons of natural security).

2008, Volume 59, Issue 09 (February)
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