TODAY'S ELECT LEFT IS AS ANTI-SCIENCE AS TODAY'S RIGHT
in a way that would have felt quite familiar living under Stalin.
That’s Trofim Lysenko in the photo. He was a brilliant but bad scientist, and we will see his eerie application to our times in a bit.
Watching the ouster of Liz Cheney, many of us marvel that so many of those serious adults in the Republican Party sincerely believe that the last Presidential election was stolen, or at least are willing to put up such a cast-iron front of pretending to.
The mendacity, the numbness to truth, is especially appalling coming along with the denial of science in their positions on climate change and so much else. The Republicans embrace The Big Lie, and to many it’s symptomatic of their being America’s main civic problem.
However, future historians will not see it that way. We live in an era of flabbergasting, shameless lie-mongering on both sides of the political aisle. On the left, this is especially clear in how baldly antiscientific the Elect left is, which is part of why their penchant for labelling their opponents “racists” is so dire – they make the rest of us pretend not to value science along with them.
It isn’t always clear how antithetical to scientific reasoning this fashionable “antiracist” thinking is. Its adherents express themselves with a handy kit of 20 or so fancy words, often with very particular meanings (equity, social justice), often have PhDs, and are culturally associated with enclaves of the educated such as universities, college towns, and cafes.
However, in the grand scheme of things, The Elect reason like Trofim Lysenko and for analogous reasons. Lysenko perverted the scientific endeavor under Stalin, dismissing the tenets of Darwinism and Mendelian genetics because they allowed too much of a role to individual actors, contrary to the focus of Communist ideology on history being shaped by grand, impersonal currents. Scientific research of a great many kinds was shattered in the Soviet Union for decades, and crop yields went down because of Lysenko’s insistence on crackpot notions of agricultural science.
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Take the idea that microaggressions are a grinding problem for black Americans, exerting significant psychological damage upon us, and motivating claims that black students ought be exempt from certain scholastic demands as well as that entire programs and schools should be transformed into Antiracism Academies. A prime motivation of this, reported endlessly, is to relieve black people of the eternal harm that microaggressions condition.
But Edward Cantu and Lee Jussim have patiently demonstrated that the academic “literature” undergirding this depiction is too full of holes to even begin to serve as the basis for societal reform. This is frankly obvious from reading almost any of the work in question – I recommend taking up just one such article and noting the hopeless circularity of argumentation – but Cantu and Jussim have done a useful job in summarizing the lot of it. The literature ignores legions of black people it surveys who deny that acts are microaggressions, does not show that supposed microaggressions correlate with racist sentiment of any kind, is based on tiny sample sizes, is never replicated, and explains away discrepancies with glum little speculations that would not pass as scientific reasoning among any evaluators not cowed by The Elect.
I’ll let the authors speak for themselves:
“Microaggression research provides a veneer of scientific credibility to vested critical premises, as those studies have statistics, p-values, and reliability coefficients, all useful for creating the appearance of scientific foundations for assumptions, so long as one does not examine the methodological details too closely. But the undertone of much microaggression research is not one of caution commensurate with the guardrails normally imposed by the scientific method.”
Yet nationwide, institutions are turning themselves upside down with a blithe assumption that black existence is deeply imprinted by the endless assault of these microaggressions. We can be sure that arguments such as Cantu and Jussim’s will be ignored, despite that if there were a single teeny article somewhere claiming that microaggressions were “the New Jim Crow,” that one would be endlessly assigned to parents and students as “proof.” (One way we know that is that the foundational article on “white privilege” appeared in Peace and Freedom Magazine.)
Another example – the jury has long been in: “diversity, equity and inclusion” training programs simply do not work. This has been proven by many scientific surveys. These programs neither further diversify the workplace nor foster interethnic harmony (and in fact, if anything, increase it).
This literature has no effect on the flowering of these programs nationwide.
As I mentioned in this space, it is an article of faith among The Elect that the cops murder black men out of racist bias. Arguments that the data do not demonstrate this are ignored as serenely as evidence against The Big Lie. Never mind that Roland Fryer has shown that when push comes to shove, it’s whites who are more likely to be murdered by cops; never mind calm, authoritative reports on these issues by black writers like Coleman Hughes; never mind that the numbers alone show that the cops murder many, many more whites a year than blacks.
Instead, we are demanded to assent to an idea that the United States is occupied by a murderously racist police force, as the media scrupulously neglect the myriad killings of whites by cops, leaving black people under the understandable impression that it’s only black people who the cops come after. (Remember, the fact that black people are 2.5 times more likely to be killed than our proportion in the population would predict is a statistic known mostly to policy wonks – what primarily moves people to protest is the news, not this statistic.)
Or finally, we have the idea that all discrepancies between the races must be because of “systemic racism” of some kind. This idea is presented as if it were “science” – viewed most generously as what is called by scientists “elegant” in explaining a great deal with minimal machinery. However, this is a generous take indeed, as social science is simply too complex to allow this “elegance.”
The idea that unequal outcomes must be due to unequal opportunity is, quite simply, anti-science, as I outlined here last week with a case study of sorts. It flies in the face of how hard people work to master fields like psychology, sociology, anthropology, and history. People who know this ought to be ashamed of themselves to pretend someone dumbing down reality like this is speaking some kind of truth – they ought self-flagellate themselves a blow for every year they were in school past sixth grade.
A science teacher conference in Washington state last year included a PowerPoint slide preaching that “If you conclude that outcome differences by demographic subgroup are a result of anything other than a broken system, that is, by definition, bigotry.” This should have been corrected:
“If you conclude that outcome differences by demographic subgroup are a result only of a broken system, that is, by definition, willful ignorance.”
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The reason smart people let this anti-scientific thought pass – while scoffing like the rest of us at people like Lysenko – is that they, like him and so many of today’s Republicans, are following a party line. Lysenko’s was Stalinism; the Trumpian right’s to the cult of Him; The Elect’s is the commitment to battling power differentials over everything. “Bravo, Lysenko!” Stalin stood up and cheered after one of Lysenko’s speeches. Ha – “Bravo, DiAngelo!!”
This is why I consider The Elect beyond address, and advise against the idea that we can have actual constructive discussions with them. To do is no more useful than it was to trying to get through to Lysenko and his fans.
Of course, The Elect are not exerting the physical violence and assassinations that Stalinists exerted. My comparison is of the relevant frames of mind. However, The Elect are indeed doing great harm to our society. Anyone who thinks the transformation of our educational establishment is not a real problem is someone I’m not sure I quite understand. And it may be only me who is chilled, disgusted and frightened to see an enlightened Establishment being transformed not by suasion but by simple fear. However, I doubt it, and simply cannot see that what happened in Washington, DC last January means that my concerns are trivial.
The mask-resistant person who sits soberly insisting that Joe Biden stole the election should mystify and appall us no more than the people soberly insisting that microaggressions saddle black people with ongoing PTSD, that organizations will benefit from DEI programs, that any claim of victimization from a descendant of an African slave is automatically valid, that black people should walk in eternal fear of being iced by a cop, that any way that whites and blacks are not equal is due to bigotry “somehow,” and that to disagree with these claims is to be a backwards, heartless pig.
That rhetoric makes perfect sense to them – just as Lysenko thought that the way giraffes’ necks got long was when they stretched upward to eat and this changed the neck genes they passed on to their offspring.
He put his ideas into books. It soon became clear that if you disagreed with him things weren’t going to go well for you – there, you got killed; here, you get called a racist on Twitter. As such, his fans read his stuff and celebrated themselves for “Doing the work.”