Re: images of professors

Marie K Conrad (mkconrad@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Tue, 9 Apr 1996 11:43:23 -0400

No, I think it has more to do with the image of the professor as someone
rational, ie. "How could someone who is so smart and logical do something
as terrible as commit these crimes?" I am studying members of the religion
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), and a similiar
situation has been brought to my attention more than once. Many members have
noted that other people seem to know when criminals are Mormon, and that it
receives mention in the media, when no-one hears of a criminal being
Catholic, or Presbyterian. They seem to attribute it to a contrast
between the enactor and the highly public image Mormons have as
law-abiding, family oriented people. I think that their assessment is
probably correct.
Case in point: The serial killer Ted Bundy joined the Mormon
church when he was a student in Utah (why, we'll never know).
Even though he was only very briefly involved in that religion, the journal
"Skeptical Inquirer" published by Prometheus Books, prominently mentions
this fact to point out the obvious hypocrisy of a religion that accepts
serial killers into it's flock. Granted, this particular journal is
interested in skeptical humanism and "debunking" of religion, but
nevertheless, the point is made. Many Mormons I have spoken to (and I
certainly don't claim to make a statement for Mormons in general) see
this as an example of un-equal opportunity skewering.
Just my lengthy two cents about the "mad scientist" hypothesis.
Marie Conrad
On Tue, 9 Apr 1996, Robert Lawless wrote:

> Does anyone find it strange that journalists always identify the unabomber as
> "an ex-professor," "a former University of California professor," "the holder
> of a Ph.D.," and variations on this theme? --Despite the fact that he did
> this only for a few years some 30 years ago. Does this say something about
> the media's image of the mad scientist, the eccentric academic, etc.?