I’m enjoying Brent Simmons’ weblog a lot. (Simmons writes my favourite and most-used Mac and iPod application, NetNewsWire.) From back in March, for example, consider these notes on how to develop a cult of personality:
If you want your own corps of zealots, first you need some truly great technology. Don’t skip this part.
Then you need a philosophy that people adopt as a cause.
Then you need to state your opinions boldly. Make them as simple and direct and uncompromising as possible. The impressions of deep intelligence, candor, and certitude are key.
Your goal is to turn off the skeptical and analytical gears and ignite the pack-following engines.
Classic. “The ambition of every pack follower is to be the beta dog,” he goes on to say. You could substitute “truly great technology” with “novel argument” and you’ve covered the same phenomenon across most of academe as well.