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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 3. 4th April, 1957



Both while at Congress and since the criticism has often been voiced that it was "a good Congress but there was No Controversy" or "the speakers were excellent but no-one took them up" or "the discussion lacked fire"—all to the effect that Congress is not what it was. But a "controversy", a violent difference of opinion expressed in heated terms, is quite valuesless in itself; it is only worthwhile as a means of discovering the correct point of view. Every controversy means that at least someone is wrong, a slate of affairs less desirable than an agreement in which nobody is wrong. It may be, of course, that nobody is right, but if this is so the agreement will sooner or later disintegrate.

Secondly, uniformed controversy is worse than a common desire for information. It is sheer arrogance for an almost totally ignorant layman to differ with an expert for the sake of differing. I do not thing I was alone at Congress in being quite innocent of the issues currenly in debate among, for example anthropoligists, archaeologists, or psychiatrists, and it seems outsandingly foolish to bemoan the absence of a clot who will stick his ignorant neck out for spectators to wach being chopped. In this situation, with a general lack of the necessary specialised and detailed knowledge, intelligent questioning is far more appropriate.

Thirdly, controversy, [unclear: insofar] it [unclear: olves] some heat in debate, is not as good us discussion which is detached. Emotional intrusion into difference serves only to make the disputants more obstinately set in their own view and less charitably disposed to the other party; under these contion truth is even less likely to prevail than usual and the purpose of the discussion is virtually defeated. As has been pointed out. Congress maintained for the most part its "intellectual good manners"—I think this is success rather than failure. This unexcited attitude is, as Mr. Scott indicated in our last Supplement, the stamp of the educated, but arose. I found, not from an attitude of "you're so obviously utterly wrong you're not worth bothering about", as he suggests, but from a realisation that the "other side" has a far stronger case than you ever imagined, and one that deserves respect.

By all means let there be differences of opinion, and certainly let them let voiced at Congress, but let us also use a debate as an aid to the acquisition of correct opinions and not as an end in itself.

—K. K. Campbell