Saturday, August 01, 2015

Brian Leiter and Joseph Heath on "Me Studies"

   I actually think these guys go a little too easy on their targets...  And Heath is under the mistaken impression that political correctness is on the decline in academia...largely because he seems unaware that (a) it's rather recently resurgent and (b) it now goes under the label "social justice (warrior...ism?)" So, yeah..."political correctness" so called isn't that common anymore...but that's a merely nominal point...
   Heath is right--and I've long argued for this claim--that there are radicalizing social pressures in the politicized sectors of academia. These pressures make you're not radical enough basically the only acceptable criticism. Heath thinks that "jerks" also tend to voice criticisms to the effect that the relevant kind of oppression isn't real...  All I can say is that I've never seen such criticisms in academia...
   Some of what has prompted this is the fact that the grad student who leveled insane Title IX-related charges against Laura Kipnis at Northwestern was a philosophy student... Ugh.
   I used to think that philosophy was better than most of the humanities and social sciences at resisting the insane left...  But I'm far less confident now...
   At any rate...and sorry for the hasty writing and bad organization: Heath gets something really, really right with the "Me studies" thought:
[S]ome people take the advice, to “follow your passion,” as an invitation to choose a thesis project that is essentially about themselves. For example, an old friend of mine in Montreal studying anthropology wrote her Master’s thesis on, I can’t remember the exact title, but it was something like, “Negotiations of difference in Quebecois-Jewish couples on the Montreal Plateau.” At the time, she was living with a Jewish guy on – you guessed it – the Plateau. So she basically wrote an MA thesis about issues in her own relationship. This is classic “me” studies....
I think this is roughly the same phenomenon that leads to things like feminist metaphysics. People come into philosophy, they're interested in metaphysics and they're interested in feminism...and then we end up with a sub-sub-sub-area of metaphysics that makes basically no sense at all...
   Finally, as for the dust-up over this between Leiter and Yap: Leiter is right, Yap is wrong.

Friday, July 31, 2015

We Are All Confident Idiots


Actually, I don't like that way of putting it. We're not idiots...but damn we've got a lot of room for improvement...

Is Eating Chicken Worse Than Killing Cecil The Lion?

Well, there's an obvious case to be made that it is...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More Evidence That The F-35 Can't Dogfight

But not unforeseeable when you try to make one plane that does everything.
One response that holds out some hope: it takes awhile for pilots to develop tactics for new planes.

Anti-White Chic: Pop Culture Crap Edition

   Well, it's trendy to hate on white people, that's for sure... That's the point, for example, of talking about "white privilege" instead of discrimination...
   I mean, I'm not going to discuss this pop culture nonsense, I'm just gesturing at one crappy article out of thousands.
   Race is, of course, still a big problem for the U.S. I'm sympathetic to the idea that we may have become complaisant about it (or perhaps just worn out by our inability to fix the problems...). Re-energizing discussion might be good... But the current trendy crap is driven by the lefty-left, which, IMO, rarely says or accomplishes anything serious and positive. The real gains are to be made by making real policy changes...not by spewing trendy new terms.
   My conservative acquaintances used to accuse liberalism of covert anti-white racism. I always thought they were wrong...I still think they were wrong back then...but one thing the far, "social justice" left is injecting into the current cultural discussion is anti-white racism. (Another thing is anti-male sexism..trendy misandry...).'s typically harder to do real harm to whites or to males with such attitudes. I'm not up in arms about this nonsense, nor do I think it's likely to do a lot of real, long-term harm to, say, me... But just as an intellectual/moral point: I'm still an adherent to the liberal ideal of color-blindness. The contempt for "white people" is loathsome. Racism is racism. Barely-concealed contempt is contempt. And "progressives" that are going down this road are not friends of liberalism. It's all pretty gross, and it's very easily avoided. But fads sell, and I'm sure we'll see this fad milked for money and political gain until it gets gross enough that more centrist liberals (typically a fairly invertebrate lot) work up the guts to criticize it.
   Of course anti-black racism is still a much bigger problem... Who would deny that? But trendy anti-white racism is not the solution to anti-black racism and its fellow travelers.

State Permit-To-Purchase Policies Can Reduce Gun Violence

Monday, July 27, 2015

I'm Drunk

In the middle of the day
On a Monday

Just thought you should know...

The Cosby Number... now 35.
What does one even say about something like this?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

NAS: A Crisis Of Competence: The Corrupting Effects Of Political Activism In The University Of California

This is an absolute must-read.
There are some bits that can be questioned...and it's not as if this is some big surprise...but seeing it all together like this is sobering indeed.

Bernie v Black Activists At Netroots Nation

Make of this what you will...

Alyssa Rosenberg: Jonathan Chait, Radicalism and the Future of the Left

   Another extremely weak criticism of Chait contra the neo-PCs.
   Rosenberg avoids the substance of Chait's criticism, and wants to suggest that irrational, shrill contributions to the cultural conversation also have their place. That's going to take a lot more to establish that what we get there. The obvious response--never mentioned--is that shrill insistence and a refusal to reason can come in on either/any side of the discussion. The SJWs are wrong at least as often as they're right--more often, probably. Sure non-rational methods--like their beloved bullying and shaming--can be effective in coercing belief. But such methods have no tendency to favor true belief over false belief. In fact, they tend to be the methods employed by those who don't have good reasons to back up their views.
   It really is amazing how crappy the prominent responses to Chait have been.

Grilling, Feminism and Masculinity: A Parody of Contemporary Web Essays?

   Studying English and literature can be a really great thing. Currently, however, the stupid is rampant there. Here's a concentrated dose of much what's currently wrong with it. In short: it makes you stupid. Accepting a bunch of dumb theories--especially theories with implications for how we ought to think about things, which questions are worth asking, and how we should go about trying to answer them--is like running a stupidity emulator. Even if you're not innately dumb, you'll reason as if you were.
   Or maybe it's a parody.
   I can't really tell.

(h/t S. rex)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saletan on GMOs

I'm a Saletan fan...though I'm also one of the folks he derides for having vague, gut-level concerns about GMOs...though I'm also derisive of lefty my biases largely cancel out here...
Anyway, this is worth a read. It's really more anti-(anti-GMO-movement) than it is pro-GMO...but still, there's a lot that's interesting there.

Friday, July 24, 2015

An Ideological Turing Test

Interesting idea.
I wish somebody'd actually do an experiment on this. My prediction: liberals will be a little better at it than conservatives, but not much.