Open Thread and Link Farm, Cartoon Physics Edition

  1. Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship – Areo
    This trio of writers wrote twenty deliberately bad hoax papers to submit to prestigious “grievance studies” journals, and were able to get seven papers published, or accepted for publication, before questions were being asked and they felt they had to fess up. I want to wait and see what more knowledgeable people’s takes on this are (eta: see here, for example), but my initial reaction is that – even though the authors are obvious ideologues – this is rightly embarrassing for women’s studies, fat studies, etc., and indicates that work needs to be done to make their peer-review process more skeptical. That said, I also note that the hoaxers lack any control group; that is, they didn’t bother testing to see if similar hoax papers were publishable in journals outside the fields they targeted.
  2. Unlearning the myth of American innocence | US news | The Guardian
    How people in Turkey see the US. Thanks to Grace for the link!
  3. Twelve years ago, Amber Wyatt reported her rape. Few believed her. Her hometown turned against her. – Washington Post
    A well-written, enraging long-form article.
  4. Science Says Toxic Masculinity — More Than Alcohol — Leads To Sexual Assault | FiveThirtyEight
  5. If you’re shocked that Brighton University is offering advice on sex work at freshers’ week, you need a reality check | The Independent
    A sex-worker-safety group sets up a table with pamphlets at the new students’ fair, and some people – including, alas, some feminists – lost their shit. I clicked through to the Sun article to see which feminists are angry about this, and was not surprised to see that both feminists the Sun quoted are TERFs. I don’t know why being anti-trans and anti-sex-worker are linked, but in practice they usually are.
  6. London’s Super-Recognizer Police Force | The New Yorker
    I have prosopagnosia, or “face blindness.” So it was interesting to read about people from the opposite end of the face-recognition spectrum. I was amused to read that, like prosopagnosiacs pretending to vaguely know everyone they meet (to avoid offending actual acquaintances), super-recognizers often lie and pretend not to have met people before (because saying “oh no, we chatted in line to a movie four years ago” creeps people out).
  7. Why Dallas Authorities Are Desperate to Attack Botham Jean’s Character – Rewire.News
  8. Critique of Just Love, Part Two | Thing of Things
    This blog post discusses the differences between “no means no consent,” “enthusiastic consent,” “verbal consent,” and “affirmative consent.” Like me, Ozy comes to the conclusion that “affirmative consent” is the position that makes the most sense.
  9. Trump Administration to Deny Visas to Same-Sex Partners of Diplomats, U.N. Officials – Foreign Policy
    It’s just so fucking petty. I guess this is what conservatives want – or at the least, what they vote for.
  10. The truth about false rape accusations — Quartz
    False rape reports, and the people who make them up, have a pattern. “… it’s radically unlikely — and in practice does not happen — that a false accuser would invent a story where the issue of consent could seem ambiguous.”
  11. ‘Designing Women’ Creator on Les Moonves: Not All Harassment Is Sexual [Exclusive] | Hollywood Reporter
  12. How Hungary’s Viktor Orbán destroyed democracy, and what it means for America – Vox
  13. Wodaabe Wife-Swapping Rituals | Sex in a Strange World
    “The Male Beauty Pageant Where Female Judges Sleep with the Winners”
  14. 10 Questions We Need Radical Feminists to Answer Pronto, Answered | Thing of Things
    Answering questions from a right-wing website. (They don’t mean “radical” the way we do.)
  15. FACT CHECK: The Unsolvable Math Problem – Snopes
    A urban-myth-sounding story, about a math student mistaking an “unsolvable” proof for homework and then successfully completing the proof (two, actually), is more-or-less true.
  16. “Through an online advertisement, we found 67 people who had never been on a 10-meter (about 33 feet) diving tower before, and had never jumped from that high. We paid each of them the equivalent of about $30 to participate — which meant climbing up to the diving board and walking to its edge. We were as interested in the people who decided to climb back down as the ones jumping. We filmed it all with six cameras and several microphones.”
    I found this short film strangely enthralling. Here’s an alternative link if the Times doesn’t let you in.
  17. FYPhysics! – The Moving Sofa Problem
  18. Critique of Just Love, Part One | Thing of Things
    As in “love that follows principles of justice,” not as in “only love.”
  19. Seven endangered species that could (almost) fit in a single train carriage | Environment | The Guardian
  20. What Julia Salazar’s Win Means About Our Changing Tribe – The Forward
    The “our” in this case refers to us Jews. “…young Jews and Jews of Color are increasingly moving to a model of Jewish identity that involves choice rather than ethnic purity or religious affiliation. And they are rejecting exactly the kind of truth-finding missions that Salazar has been subjected to.”
  21. Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong – The Huffington Post
    I don’t think much here will be new to most “Alas” readers, but it gathers a lot of stuff together, and I like the interviews and photographs.
  22. Researchers “Translate” Bat Talk. Turns Out, They Argue—A Lot | Smart News | Smithsonian
  23. This city banned cars and no one seemed to mind | DriveTribe
  24. How Money Affects Elections | FiveThirtyEight
    It matters a LOT less than we think (at least, for the question of who wins). Except during primaries.
  25. The Spider-Man Proposal Easter Egg has a Darker Side | Houston Press
    Like more than a few stories about gaming, this one ends “…has deleted her her social media accounts due to harassment.”
  26. Rihanna’s beauty is subversive – Cheryl Lynn Eaton
  27. I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn’t Confirm Him – The Atlantic
  28. 11 Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation Into Trump’s Wealth – The New York Times
  29. Alternate link.

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263 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm, Cartoon Physics Edition

  1. 101
    lurker23 says:

    If I were to lose my mind and violently attack my husband, I might, if I surprised him and was very lucky, get in one punch and bruise him before he could peacefully restrain me.
    If my husband were to lose his mind and violently attack me, I would be helpless. He could kill me.This is the reality in most (NOT ALL) heterosexual relationships.

    yes that is true because men are bigger and stronger, and they can win a fight

    Women are twice as likely to end up dead. That is an oppressive system.

    i do not understand this, though. why is being bigger and able to win a fight “oppressive”? what do you mean when you use that word?

  2. 102
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    Jobs which are more dangerous than they need to be – like coal mining and logging – are also things that are really change-worthy. I wish that men like you would focus more on issues like those

    Men commonly refuse to care for their own well-being, in many more ways than by doing jobs dangerously. Specifically focusing on developing safer methods to do logging is fairly useless, because the issue is not so much the lack of safer methods, but more an unwillingness to demand and use safer methods. Many men refuse to use the safety equipment that is available to them. Trying to change the culture of loggers ignores that the issue is not the culture among loggers, but in society in general.

    To address this issue head on, we need to challenge the forces that discourage men to recognize, care about, complain about, ask help with their problems, suffering, etc. A man or boy who gets laughed at for behaving safely learns that he is only accepted if he demonstrates a (willingness to) disregard his safety. Nothing fundamentally changes unless we stop laughing.

    Attacks by men cause more injury (both physical and psychological)

    I disagree with the certainty of that claim, as I’m not convinced that the unwillingness by men to say or even recognize that they have suffered psychological harm, means that they actually suffer less.

    I’ve read a comment by a man who had sex with a woman against his will. He initially didn’t think that he was abused and/or harmed, because he thought that rape was something that men do to women. Yet he started to suffer from trust issues, anger issues and such. Surveys into the consequences of sexual abuse generally ask people whether they believe that they have suffered harm due to the abuse. This man would have said no at the time…because he was taught that what actually happened to him can’t happen to him. Only later did he reject these harmful beliefs and recognize that he was victimized and that it did impact his mental health. How many men suffer, but never reject these harmful beliefs and thus never recognize why they suffer?

    So I don’t trust these particular statistics, because other evidence suggests that the statistics are incorrect. For similar reasons, I trust victim surveys over police statistics, because there is substantial evidence that men are discouraged to go to the police more than women.

    [I wish that men like you would focus more on issues like those] and less on trying to tear feminists apart.

    In the past, it was primarily traditionalism that discouraged men from self-care, asking for help, offering help to men as much as to women, demand separate rules for women and men, discriminating by gender, etc. Nowadays, it is increasingly feminism that does those things, especially in relatively progressive environments. I live in such an environment, so I address mainly what I know best and what offends me most, because I see it happening.

    Criticizing feminism, especially by pointing out the double standards, falsehoods, etc is crucial, because (some) feminist activists go on the offensive to (for example) prevent recognition of male suffering, while the rest of the feminists don’t push back against this in an effective way. I refer you back to the paper by Straus for how this works in academia. Straus didn’t target feminists or seek to discredit feminism. Simply doing good science that clashed with common feminist dogma was enough to clash with oppressive feminists. Only after enduring this for decades did he speak out against feminists at the age of 83 when he no longer needed many favors in the waning days of his career and he could afford to offend the feminist establishment.

    As far as I can tell, no (group of) feminists did anything meaningful against the abuses he noted. So if you want people like me to not call feminism harmful, perhaps you should work to make feminism less harmful.

    Academia are increasingly abandoned by and/or cleansed of moderates and conservaties, so even just for the sake of protecting science from dogmatic lefties, it is crucial to push back against them.

    Yes, actually, you did [argue that women are not greater victims than men]

    Frankly, I consider the question which group is more victimized to be utterly uninteresting, because it is unanswerable (as it requires comparing apples with oranges) and because it makes no difference for what I consider to be an ethical approach.

    There are situations where men have it bad. We should seek to improve those situations if we can because of a concern with the well-being of fellow humans, just like we should seek to improve things for women who have it bad. The goal should be to minimize suffering, not to equalize it, where we refuse to help people if their gender is deemed to be less victimized on average. Aside from being unethical, it’s also absurd because individuals don’t experience the average suffering of their gender. Both genders have individuals who suffer greatly and individuals who are incredibly well off. We also don’t refuse to treat the millionaire with cancer, because the average millionaire has it so good. So why should we refuse to help a victimized man, even if one believes that man have it better on average?

    The statements that you quote were aimed at people who claim exclusive or near-exclusive victimization of women and/or who refuse to help men where we can do so very reasonably. Especially when those people base their claims on falsehoods and double standards, or even worse, when they work to suppress scientific data that (could) prove them wrong.

  3. 104
    Kate says:

    Lexus sustains minor damage when it drives into a group of peaceful protesters crossing the street in a crosswalk where they had the right of way. No injuries have been reported.

  4. 106
    Kate says:

    Many men refuse to use the safety equipment that is available to them. Trying to change the culture of loggers ignores that the issue is not the culture among loggers, but in society in general.

    This just looks like rank victim-blaming to me. I have a working class job* with mostly men. I don’t see this. All the men I work with are very happy to use safety equiptment as needed. But, I work for a company and in a country** that encourages that. But, in any case, how is attacking feminism going to change the situation?
    * I was raised middle class by parents who were raised working class. I have a Ph.D., and am married to a Professor. But, I essentially work in a warehouse, and most of the people I work directly with don’t have college degrees [eta again – nor does my job require a college degree].
    ** Australia. And it has struck me how much kinder Australian men are to each other than American and British men. [edited to add: and in my experience feminism is stronger here than in the U.S.; the company I work for is also more feminist than average]

    I refer you back to the paper by Straus for how this works in academia. Straus didn’t target feminists or seek to discredit feminism.

    The paper you support when it fits your views and disregard when it doesn’t. O.K. then…

    Academia are increasingly abandoned by and/or cleansed of moderates and conservaties, so even just for the sake of protecting science from dogmatic lefties, it is crucial to push back against them

    .
    This is actually, demonstrably untrue. I’m exhausted, and can’t find the link at the moment. But, I have linked to it before. The most lefty professors are the oldest. The yonger generation is far more moderate.

    I trust victim surveys over police statistics, because there is substantial evidence that men are discouraged to go to the police more than women.

    Men are discouraged from presenting themselves as victims, but “Bitch just went crazy! Women, what can you do, am I right mate?” I suspect happens a lot – both legit and not.

  5. 107
    Kate says:

    Why did Marvel drop Chuck Wendig, and why was he suspended from Twitter?

  6. 108
    Sebastian H says:

    Kate “When I was younger, I would look at First Things and complain that all these Catholic theologians are taking certain premises for granted. But, of course they are – combined they are the premises of Natural Law – it is their foundation! I don’t agree with the premises of Natural Law, but I recognize that if you accept them, debates within that framework are logical. ”

    Right, but we tend to think that there shouldn’t be a vast number of Natural Law departments in most of the major public universities in the United States. So having an internally coherent set of assumptions isn’t really enough.

  7. 110
    Kate says:

    Sebastian – to the best of my knowledge, there are no “Departments of Natural Law” “Departments of Feminism” or “Departments of Scientific Method” anywhere. At the very least, they are not common because that’s just not how things are generally named.
    There are a lot of public universities with Departments of Religious Studies, many of which have sub-specialties in Catholicism at public, as well as private and religious institutions.

  8. 111
    Gracchus says:

    There aren’t “Departments of Feminism”, but isn’t a “Department of Women’s Studies” pretty close?

  9. 112
    closetpuritan says:

    It sure seems like a large portion of the discussion of “grievance studies” in this thread has involved comparing feminist studies with “science”, arguing that it’s not scientific, and basically conflating women’s studies with academic work done with feminist goals or a feminist perspective in mind, and further conflating that with postmodernism. The bell hooks excerpt doesn’t sound too different in terms of its assertions from the not-specifically-feminist Freudian literature critique that my professors seemed to love when I was taking literature classes. Neither of them is really the kind of writing that appeals to me, but just as you judge a work of art based on how well it does what it’s trying to do and not based on whether you like what it’s trying to do, it doesn’t make sense to judge a humanities paper based on how well it would work as a science paper.

    Nancy Leibovitz mentioned Sarah Hrdy’s Mother Nature earlier. That focuses on biology and anthropology and is a lot different than, say, the bell hooks piece. This was something from that book that really stuck with me (I had it all typed up and was able to find it from back when I mentioned it in a blog post):

    …Wilson published his pioneering work on Sociobiology, which included a notoriously inaccurate description of foraging societies that claimed that “During the day the women and children remain in the residential area while the men forage for game or its symbolic equivalent in the form of barter and money.” A Victorian (and a 1950s suburban) ideal of mother tending the hearth was substituted for the actual life of a highly mobile Pleistocene gatherer.

    But Wilson, let’s recall, was an entomologist and had to give himself a crash course in ethnography in order to write the chapter on humans for Sociobiology. Perhaps more telling, professional anthropologists themselves failed to register this whopper–even anthropologists who had actually helped collect the data indicating that a woman in a hunter-gatherer society might travel a full 1,500 miles in a year while carrying a year-old baby. The error was simply overlooked because it corresponded with expectations about how the world should appear. (p. 496)

    ***

    Not specifically related to the discussion here: some of the discussion of the Sokal Squared hoax seems to imply that the very premise of the hoax papers, and not just the way they were written, should have been obviously ridiculous. In the case of the “feminist AI” one, it seems equally obvious to me that the premise is not ridiculous, in light of this recent news story (which also briefly summarizes some previous examples of AI “learning” sexism from the examples provided for it to learn from).

  10. 113
    Ampersand says:

    Ozy argues that almost none of the published Sokal Squared papers actually have obviously ridiculous premises.

  11. 114
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    But, in any case, how is attacking feminism going to change the situation?

    Because feminists generally refuse to discuss the issues in a way that is respectful & helpful to men and try to prevent other views from being heard (and so aggressively that is creates a culture of fear).

    For example, there is an attempt by feminists to apply feminist theory to men in academia. The most prominent professor in this field is Michael Kimmel, who founded and runs the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook. They have published two white papers:
    – Gender Inequality in: STEM Fields and Beyond The Case for Engaging Men and Boys
    – Men as Allies in Preventing Violence Against Women: Principles and Practices for Promoting Accountability

    Both are about men doing things for women, not about how men’s lives can be made better or how inequality that harms men can be reduced. Kimmel is also the spokesperson for the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS), which used to be called the ‘National Organization for Changing Men.’ That former name seems a lot more honest.

    What does NOMAS have to say about child custody:

    Abuser groups—who would call themselves men’s rights or father’s rights groups– have promoted shared parenting as a way to get their foot in the door. In our still sexist societies, the mother is usually the primary attachment figure and more involved parent so if one parent had to be chosen it would be the mother.

    and:

    There is good research that found shared parenting is always harmful to children because it is so disruptive. There is legitimate research that shared parenting can work if it is voluntary, the parents are able to cooperate and live nearby.

    Or this other article:

    How can a dad – unemployed or working outside the home – be a good father? Not by fighting for custody or demanding “shared parenting” after divorce or breakup. The best way a dad can be a good father is by providing support to the mother of his children, including both financial and emotional support. According to Florida attorney Elizabeth Kates, “a father’s most important role, and the one common “father factor” in all research that indicates any correlation between father involvement or presence and positive effect on child well-being is: a father who emotionally cares for, financially supports, respects, is involved with, takes some of the work load off of, and generally makes life easier, happier and less stressful for. . . his children’s mother.”

    So being a good father is being a provider and if the mother doesn’t want the father to parent, then being a good father is accepting that you will never see your children again. Of course, all mothers are perfect angels who never abuse or unfairly refuse shared custody to fathers. This is both misandrist and anti-egalitarian.

    The paper you support when it fits your views and disregard when it doesn’t.

    I don’t just blindly believe or disbelieve things, I actually consider things critically. I don’t think the claim in the paper that I disagree with is absurd, because a lot of evidence points to it. I just think that the evidence is tainted.

    This is actually, demonstrably untrue. I’m exhausted, and can’t find the link at the moment. But, I have linked to it before. The most lefty professors are the oldest. The younger generation is far more moderate.

    Demonstrably true.

    Your claim, even if it is (objectively) true, actually doesn’t actually rebut mine. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find more Marxists among older professors (or more heterodox beliefs among older professors in general). It is quite possible to be more moderate/conservative than a Marxist and yet not be a moderate or conservative.

    Men are discouraged from presenting themselves as victims, but “Bitch just went crazy! Women, what can you do, am I right mate?” I suspect happens a lot – both legit and not.

    Sure, my claim is not that women don’t experience this. My claim is that it happens more to men and that feminists typically claim the reverse & demand solutions to help women who experience this, but rarely for men who experience this.

    This is the general pattern when it comes to feminism/SJ: the issues of groups deemed to be oppressors are downplayed, by cherry picking, telling falsehoods, ad hominem attacks, whataboutism, etc, etc.

  12. 115
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    closetpuritan,

    Freud’s methodology was completely unscientific. Most of his claims have been debunked by real science. I strongly disagree that science is merely a matter of taste.

    Your quote seems a lot closer to the truth: that people who do anthropology tend to discover what they expect to discover.

  13. 116
    closetpuritan says:

    LimitsofLanguage, you’ve misunderstood and/or I wasn’t clear.

    Freud is not (currently) science; I agree with that.

    Freud was extensively used in academic literary criticism in the college literature classes that I took (IIRC, especially in the French literature classes), but not at all in the science courses I took.

    My point was that not all academia is either “grievance studies” or science, and comparing it to academic writing I’ve encountered in the humanities (but not in the “grievance studies” parts of the humanities) the bell hooks quote sounds pretty typical… in fact it’s arguably a little more anchored in concrete reality than some of the Freudian-influenced academic writing I’ve encountered. Science is not a matter merely of taste, but bell hooks is not trying to do science.

    Somewhat tangential thought: scientists are often conceived of by the public as either striving to be, or in fact, objective, but even when there are no questions of political ideology involved, scientists are often pushing their pet theories–debate can get heated on something as apolitical as, say, plant hydraulics. It might be more accurate to conceive of science as similar to the adversarial legal system used in courts in many countries.

  14. 117
    Sebastian H says:

    Closetpuritan—capital C ‘criticism’ share all the problems that are being highlighted in this discussion. So you’re right, it’s typical in various strains of the humanities. That’s the problem. The fact that Freud is still taken seriously in the humanities is a problem, not a good thing.

  15. 118
    nobody.really says:

    Look, Landsburg just wants to summarize our old Bach vs. Bieber debate.

  16. 119
    Kate says:

    The fact that Freud is still taken seriously in the humanities is a problem, not a good thing.

    Scientific methods dominate in academic research, as they should until something better comes along. But science can only tell us what is and is not. It can tell us facts. It can’t tell us what is right and what is wrong. It can’t tell us what is beautiful and what is ugly. It can’t tell us what is important. Therefore, it can’t tell us which questions scientists should ask in the first place. Scientists themselves will be the first to acknowledge that.
    So, look, Freud’s theories have been very harmful, particularly to survivors of child abuse and sexual assault. His perspective is marginalized (but not eradicated from) in the social sciences, as it should be. But, the notion that his thought shouldn’t be taken seriously in the humanities, when it played such a huge role in the art, literature, politics…whole culture of western Europe and the U.S. (and perhaps beyond, I don’t know) in the 20th century; and continues to have such a major influence in popular culture is absurd…and dangerous.
    Colleges and Universities are supposed to represent a wide range of view points and approaches understanding the world. Of course, I want my perspective to be dominant. I think I’m right. But, I don’t want it to dominate every other perspective out there. I want wrong things being taught alongside right things, because what if I’m the one who’s wrong?
    It is true that academics are more liberal/left leaning than the rest of society. But, conservatives, as we see in this thread, don’t share the values of the academy. They think it is unfair and oppressive to them if people support views they oppose anywhere out there in the world. Then, when people on the left object to them coming into our spaces and trying to dominate our conversations, they think that we are oppressing them when we tell them to shut up and let us have the conversation we want to have.

  17. 120
    Ampersand says:

    Nobody Really, that thread turned into quite a debate! And Nobody did a really great job in it.

  18. 121
    Gracchus says:

    We only know Freud is deeply flawed -because- people active in the humanities questioned, deconstructed and ultimately refuted his hypothesis. It’s not like a bunch of physicists and engineers disproved Freudian theories.

  19. 122
    closetpuritan says:

    Sebastian–
    That type of writing is both way outside my expertise and not to my taste–but my instinct is to agree with you at least on the Freudian stuff that I’m thinking of. Kate mentions that Freud has been a huge influence on literature so if, say, we’re studying Lord of the Flies we need to understand it from that perspective, but a lot of the stuff that I’m thinking of seemed to treat Freud as someone that the critic agrees with and not just someone that the author agrees with.

    I’m just trying to point out that it seemed to me like a lot of the discussion was setting up a dichotomy of “‘grievance studies’, which is always postmodernism/Criticism, and pomo/Criticism is always ‘grievance studies'” vs “science, which is not done with any of the same motivations as ‘grievance studies'”. There can be pomo/Criticism/etc that is not feminist/antiracist etc, and science that is done with feminist motivations (example), and it seems like many people who don’t like pomo/Criticism etc think that what they dislike is only the social justice and not the Criticism. It doesn’t seem productive to have the starting point of the discussion be “this isn’t good science” on something that isn’t trying to be science, any more than it would be productive to criticize a novel for not being good science.

  20. 123
    SEBASTIAN H says:

    Kate, “Then, when people on the left object to them coming into our spaces and trying to dominate our conversations, they think that we are oppressing them when we tell them to shut up and let us have the conversation we want to have.”

    Yes, I think you’ve accurately reflected the feeling academics in those areas have. It is just a matter of some contention whether or not huge swaths of the university are “left spaces” where one should be able to tell conservatives to “shut up and let us have the conversation we want to have”.

    Closetpuritan “many people who don’t like pomo/Criticism etc think that what they dislike is only the social justice and not the Criticism.” Speaking only for myself, I strongly detest the pomo/Criticism and therefore dislike the fact that otherwise important study areas such as gender studies, ethnic studies, and other social justice oriented studies seem to be teeming with it.

  21. 124
    Kate says:

    Yes, I think you’ve accurately reflected the feeling academics in those areas have. It is just a matter of some contention whether or not huge swaths of the university are “left spaces” where one should be able to tell conservatives to “shut up and let us have the conversation we want to have”.

    Should we also insist that biologists allow all of their discussions to be interrupted by creationists? That Egyptologists (like myself) and scholars of Afrocentricity settle our disagreements before delving deeper into our respective approaches to study of the ancient world? While I disagree with the approach of Afrocentric scholarship, writ large, a lot of their criticisms of Egyptology are actually valid, and I am both a better person and a better scholar for having wrestled with them.

    And….”Huge swaths”? Really???? Departments like women’s studies, African American studies, queer studies (I’ll call them “cultural studies”), are a tiny, tiny fraction of the academy. They were created in the first place because views of entire genders and racial groups were excluded from the academy. Now, a few areas of the humanities and social sciences have some departments dominated by them. But, the hard sciences, engineering and design, computer science, law schools, business schools, art and music academies, philosophy, theology … the list could go on, including much of history, and classics…. All of these areas are areas where the influence of cultural studies ranges from practically non-existent to an important part of the debate. And some of the influence that cultural studies have come to have is because they are actually sometimes right about some things.

  22. 125
    Ampersand says:

    Sebastian wrote:

    This misunderstands what they were doing with the Mein Kampf paper. The gotcha isn’t “you failed to recognize plaigarism”. The gotcha isn’t “you failed to recognize Mein Kampf”. The gotcha is “an unhinged screed which is deeply based around defining and demonizing its unfavored ‘other’ can be mistaken for scholarship”.

    You made a similar point in the comments of “Thing of Things.” As I said there, I wonder if we’re reading two different Mein-Kampf-based hoax papers? The Sokal Squared hoaxers wrote two Mein Kampf papers, but only one was accepted for publication, and that on – “Our Struggle is My Struggle” – was focused primarily around the idea of solidarity, and of criticizing “choice feminism.” (The one that was never accepted was focused on whiteness.) I think the point of the hoaxers, in “Our Struggle is My Struggle,” was to try and slip Hitler’s fascist, anti-individual ideas into a feminist journal.

    However, as I said earlier, they weakened that point by pointing out that there are limits to what sacrifices can reasonably be made – a nuance that Hitler didn’t include. Indeed, that nuance was not in the first draft of “Our Struggle is My Struggle”; a reviewer told them to add it.

    (I suppose you could mean that “choice feminists” are being “demonized” in “Our Struggle Is My Struggle”? But that seems like a stretch, unless you consider criticism of a political ideology to be the same as demonization of the people who hold that ideology.)

  23. 126
    Ampersand says:

    Incidentally, after reading “Our Struggle Is My Struggle,” I wonder if part of the secret to a successful hoax is to make the paper mind-numbingly boring to read. The “fat weightlifting” paper was pretty damn boring too.

  24. 127
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    But science can only tell us what is and is not. It can tell us facts. It can’t tell us what is right and what is wrong.

    Completely correct. Scientists should not pretend that their work mandates certain politics or ethics, but neither should people who favor certain politics or ethics pretend that their views will tell us what the facts are. Proper science and proper ethics is recognizing the difference between objectivity and subjectivity. Note that this is also how I distinguish between proper postmodernism, which is about pointing out true subjectivity that exists vs improper postmodernism that denies objectivity.

    Colleges and Universities are supposed to represent a wide range of view points and approaches understanding the world.

    Which is decreasingly the case, as academics are decreasingly diverse. While many leftists claim that diversity and inclusivity is what distinguishes them from their opponents, the reality is different. Many progressives don’t actually believe in diversity and inclusivity, but want a specific kind of diversity and inclusivity, that is actually quite intolerant. This is similar to how many ‘anti-racists’ are actually merely pro-PoC, not anti-racist, as they demonstrate by racist comments about white people and such.

    Actual liberals like me call this out, pointing out how people don’t actually believe in and/or act like they say they act. The result is then that I get called a conservative by people like you, which demonstrates how you lack understanding of what actual liberalism is. The immature political discourse in the US is presumably partly to blame, where ‘liberal’ is often used for everyone on the left, including (highly) illiberal leftists. So then the only label left for anyone who is not ‘liberal’ is ‘conservative’.

    Of course, I want my perspective to be dominant.

    In a well-functioning democracy, it is mostly fine to want to have your ethics be dominant when making policy. However, it is not fine for institutions that are paid with public money and/or that are intended for all of society, to only serve a subset. When that happens it results in what the left tends to call ‘institutional discrimination’ and the right ‘the deep state.’

    So again, I must point out that if you are actually serious about (social) justice, you can’t just limit it to those you like, but everyone. The true measure of tolerance, diversity and inclusivity is accepting things that hurt, not those that you like anyway.

    If that argument is not persuasive, I’ll add that being in a bubble where everyone shares a perspective makes people stupid, as dogma is left unchallenged. That bubble then also loses the ability to persuade others, so you’ll probably fail at politics as well.

    If that can’t convince you, I’ll add that if you exclude others, they are unlikely to take it lying down. It seems to me that the group to which you belong has a strong tendency to overestimate its popularity. Go too far and a backlash is likely.

    Then, when people on the left object to them coming into our spaces and trying to dominate our conversations, they think that we are oppressing them when we tell them to shut up and let us have the conversation we want to have.

    When ‘you’ are unwilling to let others have the conversation they want to have, how is that fair? Why would they respect your wishes if you refuse to respect theirs?

  25. 128
    Mandolin says:

    Barry – yes, that’s got to be essential. Boring and probably obfuscatory.

  26. 129
    desipis says:

    Kate:

    It is true that academics are more liberal/left leaning than the rest of society. But, conservatives, as we see in this thread, don’t share the values of the academy. They think it is unfair and oppressive to them if people support views they oppose anywhere out there in the world.

    When was the last time that conservatives put so much political pressure on an academic journal that it unpublished an article?

  27. 130
    Ampersand says:

    Desipis, are you saying that “the last time that conservatives put so much political pressure on an academic journal that it unpublished an article” is the only relevant measure, or would other measures – such as conservatives putting political pressure for certain professors to be fired, or certain subjects to not be taught, or for academic departments or programs to be shut down – also qualify?

    The article you linked to is understandably very one-sided (understandably because it is written by the author of the retracted paper). A couple of the people he is accusing, unsurprisingly, have different takes.

    If anyone would like to read an account that isn’t written by one of the direct participants, The Scientist Magazine published an article.

    Basically, there’s a lot of things here that were handled badly. I’m not going to defend every action by every critic of the paper, but I do think that for a right-wing, anti-feminist editor to fast-track a substandard and off-topic paper to publication, handing a rush peer review job to non-experts, because he agreed with the paper’s politics OR because he was deliberately courting controversy, is something that other editors at the same journal, and the editorial board of the journal, and the editor-in-chief of the journal, have every right to object to, up to and including retracting the substandard paper.

    By rushing to bypass the usual procedures, the right-wing editor put the journal in a completely impossible position; either they hurt the journal’s reputation by allowing a substandard, politicized paper that could never have passed the journal’s normal peer review process to stand, or they hurt the journal’s reputation by retracting the paper.

    Some interesting discussion of the issue (the first two links are to blogs from people in the maths community):

    On the recently removed paper from the New York Journal of Mathematics

    Has an uncomfortable truth been suppressed? | Gowers's Weblog

    Discussion of, Has an uncomfortable truth been suppressed? | Hacker News

  28. 131
    Ampersand says:

    I watched the first episode of “The Connors,” and – somewhat to my surprise – it’s genuinely good. Not “Good Place” level good, but an above-average sitcom.

  29. 132
    Gracchus says:

    @Ampersand: I think we all underestimated how strong the supporting cast of Roseanne was.

  30. 133
    Michael says:

    Conor Friedersdorf just offered a great summation of the problems with a certain leftist method of argumentation:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/coddling-american-mind-and-its-discontents/572965/
    “Are Haidt and Lukianoff correct or incorrect about Herbert Marcuse? Is Antifragile a good book? Is cognitive behavioral therapy a worthwhile approach? Is there wisdom to glean from the Stoics or the discipline of psychology? Weigel offers the reader no arguments of substance—just the Idioms of Non-Arguments that all of those things raise questions because ostensibly bad people are tenuously associated with each of them. ”
    And just to show that he’s Completely Missing The Point, Noah Berlatsky basically makes the argument that if you criticize the left, you’re a fascist, since the Left opposes fascism:
    https://twitter.com/conor64/status/1052745250605694976
    This is not a new argument- apologists for the Soviets argued that any criticism of Soviet human rights violations came from the fascists- a letter to this effect appeared in the same issue of the Nation that announced the Hitler-Stalin pact. :)

  31. 134
    Ampersand says:

    Michael, I doubt that Conor would agree that the bad arguments he critiques in that review are unique to leftists, i.e. “a leftist method.”

    And white that tweet of Noah’s was bad, your “basically makes the argument” summation of Noah’s tweet is unfair. Noah explained what he meant at more length here (“more length” = 9 tweets instead of just one, so it’s still extremely short); among other things, he makes it explicit that he doesn’t believe that Conor is a fascist.

  32. 135
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    A major problem with Noah’s longer defense is that it hinges on defending the status quo against reformist outsiders, while:
    – he himself is a reformist, so opposed to the status quo
    – many of the people he criticizes see themselves as defending the traditional institutions as well as important freedoms and believe that they have been or will be damaged by recent and/or proposed reforms.

    What he says is only persuasive to those who already agree with his kind of reform and/or the relatively recent changes to universities. Many of the people he attacks could actually write something very similar to what he wrote, where they blame Social Justice for “undermin[ing] institutions which support freedom.” I’m sure that you are aware that ‘feminazi’ is a term that is used by some to accuse feminists of fascist tendencies.

    His statements ultimately provide no arguments why his view that his opponents are enabling fascism is more correct than those who believe that Noah is enabling fascism, aside from his claim that the wrong kind of people have those opinions and that Haidt, Connor, etc must be wrong because they supposedly align themselves with the Hungarian government, conservatives, etc.

    The problem with this argument is that it is based on a black and white & dehumanizing point of view, where some people are declared evil and then everything they favor is assumed to be evil. An example of how this fails is that Hitler passed anti-smoking legislation, so by the same reasoning, modern anti-smoking activists are supporting fascism and enabling anti-semitism.

  33. 136
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    National Review has a story about disparities between scientific outcomes and left-wing narratives & the ways in which people then protect their narratives.

    In the main, it’s what I argued, although I would argue that this kind of behavior is not specific to the left, but to everyone with strong beliefs in a narrative or a strong interest. So it’s something that also happens to the right and something that is common outside of academia, to organizations of all stripes.

    This is why it is crucial to have checks and balances, especially in the form of researchers (& journalists) with weaker narratives who are generally more willing to follow the evidence, rather than make the evidence follow them. Academia nor journalism should have many activists or be dominated by partisans from one side of politics. Research has been done among both ‘liberal’ and conservative partisan researchers, showing that both have a high tendency to discriminate in favor of their own politics, so it’s important to at least have a balance or even better, have a large number of moderates to keep the extremists in check.

  34. Jeffrey, you wrote:

    I do think the essay I’m quoting is written for people who are familiar with a larger body of scholarship who “know” things I don’t. I just don’t think that these people “know” these things in the same way a biologist understands “genetic drift.” I think they know these things in the same way a misogynist redditor on a PUA sub knows how a woman’s mind works. I don’t believe there to be a rigorous research that justifies the claims made in “Eating the either,” instead, I suspect their to be a bunch of uncareful unscholarly work propped up by a poor epistemology. I do not think there is a body of work that justifices Hooks’s excersizes in mind reading. Perhaps you should ask yourself whether or not it is Hooks who is arrogant. She’s the one making the extraordinary claims. I’m just asking her and her fans to reconsider her certainty while laying down her theory, and provide the same rigor I’d expect to see in a text on evolution. (emphasis added)

    And so you are doubling down on your own lack of “epistemological humility” (which is what I believe you said hooks lacked). Too bad. Not surprising, given the history of your comments here. But, still, too bad.

  35. 138
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    And so you are doubling down on your own lack of “epistemological humility” (which is what I believe you said hooks lacked). Too bad. Not surprising, given the history of your comments here. But, still, too bad.

    Being skeptical when faced with Bell Hooks’s extraordinary claims presented without evidence (as I am) is one thing, Making those claims, and claiming they are in any way academic is another. Your argument is double-edged. If professor Gad Saad makes claims about sex differences using pop-evo-psych and game theory, must you accept what he says until you’ve immersed yourself in the literature? Are you wrong to criticize him if you see his reasoning as uncareful? I don’t think so. Both of us can see unverified or unverifieable claims, as well as other evidence pointing us to suspect that we are dealing with motivated reasoning. Humans have to do this- if we don’t we’re left forced into believing everything, even theories that are fatally contradictory. There would basis for rational decision making. Without something like a bullshit detector, you and I are both poor, starving, or dead.

    You keep appealing to some theory that, if only I understood it, would support “Black Looks” as good scholarship. This is what clergymen say those doubting god’s existence. Can you explain it, even a little bit? Can you tell me about the theory that lets Bell Hooks read minds? Can you explain how she is so intimately familiar with the feelings and motivations of horny white men? I know enough about psychology, and sociology to know that no experts in those fields would be so bold as to make the claims Bell Hooks makes in “Black Looks” (it would take years of research to examine the claims in a single chapter) so where is she divining this knowledge? my suspicion is that she hasn’t divined any knowledge at all, but is engaged in activism. You should apply your own argument Hooks herself. She writes an awful lot on the need to tear down capitalism, but maybe she just hasn’t read enough Deidre McCloskey.

  36. Jeffrey:

    I do think the essay I’m quoting is written for people who are familiar with a larger body of scholarship who “know” things I don’t. I just don’t think that these people “know” these things in the same way a biologist understands “genetic drift.” I think they know these things in the same way a misogynist redditor on a PUA sub knows how a woman’s mind works. I don’t believe there to be a rigorous research that justifies the claims made in “Eating the either,” instead, I suspect their to be a bunch of uncareful unscholarly work propped up by a poor epistemology. I do not think there is a body of work that justifices Hooks’s excersizes in mind reading. Perhaps you should ask yourself whether or not it is Hooks who is arrogant. She’s the one making the extraordinary claims. I’m just asking her and her fans to reconsider her certainty while laying down her theory, and provide the same rigor I’d expect to see in a text on evolution. (emphasis added)

    And:

    You keep appealing to some theory that, if only I understood it, would support “Black Looks” as good scholarship. This is what clergymen say those doubting god’s existence. Can you explain it, even a little bit? Can you tell me about the theory that lets Bell Hooks read minds? Can you explain how she is so intimately familiar with the feelings and motivations of horny white men? I know enough about psychology, and sociology to know that no experts in those fields would be so bold as to make the claims Bell Hooks makes in “Black Looks” (it would take years of research to examine the claims in a single chapter) so where is she divining this knowledge? my suspicion is that she hasn’t divined any knowledge at all, but is engaged in activism.(Emphasis added in both paragraphs.)

    The problem, Jeffrey, is neither your skepticism nor the fact that I have not provided the kind of explanation/evidence you ask for in your second paragraph in this comment. The problem is that, based on your own very limited knowledge and very narrow conception of what constitutes intellectual/scientific/academic rigor, you’ve already made up your mind. And so I don’t see much point in engaging with you on this any further

  37. 140
    Michael says:

    @Ampersand#134- I mean that these particular kinds of bad arguments in that article come from leftists- like accusing a white man of not wanting to admit he was privileged to avoid addressing the particulars of his arguments. I’ve encountered the right-wing equivalent as well- if you suggest that Kavanaugh was guilty, they’ll bring up left-wing support for Stalin or whatever instead of dealing with the evidence for and against his guilt.
    The problem with Noah’s initial defense isn’t just that he seemed to accuse Conor of being a fascist. His longer tweet said that criticism of the universities is dangerous because fascists are responsible for much of it and Conor and Haidt don’t understand that. But the entire point of logic is that an argument is true or false no matter who makes it. Noah’s argument is an excuse to avoid taking criticisms seriously. And it makes him less intelligent. The Coddling of the American Mind contains a lot of interesting information about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy , for example, even if you don’t agree with everything the authors write. But instead of engaging with the material, Noah dismisses it out of hand because the fascists make arguments against universities.

  38. 141
    Kate says:

    But the entire point of logic is that an argument is true or false no matter who makes it.

    No, the entire point of logic is that IF you insert true statements into a logically structured argument, you will get a true result. If even one of your premises is false, some of your logically flawless arguments will result in false results. If all your premiese are false, your results will be false.
    Garbage in, garbage out. Logic cannot tell you which premises are true and which are false. There needs to be agreement on the starting point at the outset. That’s why these debates keep going in circles. We do not have a foundation of facts that we all accept as a common starting point.

  39. 142
    Ampersand says:

    Michael, Noah is under no obligation to address Conor’s argument, unless they’re in a formal debate of some sort. It’s perfectly legitimate to, instead of rebutting a particular argument, talk about how that argument fits into larger social trends, and why a particular argument seems to be popular at this moment in history. It’s fair to ask “why are most of the pundits talking about X while ignoring Y?”

    Conor and all the other “free speech pundits” talk a lot about threats to the free speech of wealthy people with lots of access to speech, and are more concerned with the danger of lefty students than any other threat to free speech. In contrast, much more dire threats to the free speech of less powerful people – prisoners, sex workers, undocumented immigrants, etc – are ignored by almost all the free speech pundits (the exception being Reason Magazine).

    I’m not obliged to answer Conor’s arguments (some of which I agree with) in order to criticize the way Conor frames free speech issues, or talk about the harms I think that framing does. Debate is fun, I enjoy debate a lot, but it’s not the only legitimate way to criticize other people’s writings.

    ETA: The thing about how Noah writes, I think, is that he’s writing from a radical left perspective, and insofar as he’s serving a persuasive function, his writing is not aimed at persuading moderates to endorse his views. Rather, it’s trying to persuade left liberals to move further left.

    Honestly, I like his political writing much more than his writing about comics. Some of his writing about comics really pisses me off. It’s not that I always agree with his political writings. It’s that I’m actually much more emotionally connected to comics than I am to the difference between leftism vs radical leftism.

  40. 143
    desipis says:

    Ampersand,

    Desipis, are you saying that “the last time that conservatives put so much political pressure on an academic journal that it unpublished an article” is the only relevant measure…?

    No, of course not. It’s just a recent and egregious example of political interference in the academic process.

    By rushing to bypass the usual procedures, the right-wing editor put the journal in a completely impossible position; either they hurt the journal’s reputation by allowing a substandard, politicized paper that could never have passed the journal’s normal peer review process to stand, or they hurt the journal’s reputation by retracting the paper.

    If they had followed established procedure of issue a retraction containing an explanation of why they were retracting the article it wouldn’t have been a problem.
    The problem is they circumvented this process to “unpublish” the article and tried to pretend it had never been published.

    If the article had not been through the peer review processes established for the journal then retraction would be an appropriate thing to happen. If however, it had been through a peer review process, and there was no form of academic fraud involved, then the article should stand. The correct response in this cause would be to publish a subsequent article analysing the original and detailing its flaws.

  41. 144
    desipis says:

    RJN:

    The problem is that, based on your own very limited knowledge and very narrow conception of what constitutes intellectual/scientific/academic rigor, you’ve already made up your mind.

    Firstly what does constitute academic rigour in a general sense? Secondly, how does the work of Bell Hooks fit into that general sense? And finally, what is the epistemological framework that such works operate in?

  42. 145
    Erin says:

    desipis queries:

    Firstly what does constitute academic rigour in a general sense? Secondly, how does the work of Bell Hooks fit into that general sense? And finally, what is the epistemological framework that such works operate in?

    I think you’re going to be frustrated by the type of or more likely lack of an answer because you may be operating in the wrong framework.

    If you picture a court setting, the usual style of argumentation is between the opposing attorneys. One attorney says something, and then the other one disputes it with his evidence and reasoning etc.

    That’s not the framework that Richard Jeffrey Newman is operating under. He is putting himself in the position of the judge, who then does not have to provide any arguments, he simply has to rule out arguments and/or simply unilaterally decide the issue. As examples of this, Richard Jeffrey Newman is simply throwing out ad hominem statements instead of making any kind of argument:

    Not surprising, given the history of your comments here.

    The problem is that, based on your own very limited knowledge and very narrow conception of what constitutes intellectual/scientific/academic rigor, you’ve already made up your mind.

    Et cetera, and then the flounce, no further discussion is necessary:

    And so I don’t see much point in engaging with you on this any further

    There is just no argument here that anyone can get traction on. The problem with the argumentation style of Richard Jeffrey Newman is that in order to pull it off, he has to have an indisputable position of superiority over all of the other debaters here, which may not be the case.

    This is meant as an analysis of the argumentation style here, which is helpful for an avoidance of frustration on the part of some of the posters and for further advancement towards whatever objective truth may exist in the situation.

  43. Erin @145:

    I bothered to read through Jeffrey’s commenting history here before I made my comment. Did you?

    Also, apropos of this, which I wrote:

    The problem is that, based on your own very limited knowledge and very narrow conception of what constitutes intellectual/scientific/academic rigor, you’ve already made up your mind.

    The limited knowledge I was referring to, in context, was Jeffrey’s admitted lack of knowledge regarding what has been written in women’s and gender studies and—again, this would be clear if you had read my comment in context—his own, admitted, privileging of scientific intellectual/academic rigor over other ways of knowing, which is to me a “very narrow conception.”

    If you want to critique my style of argumentation, that’s fine, but don’t use a half-assed reading and critique of my comments to attack me personally, which is what you’re really doing. That, as you have been told more than once, does not have a place on this blog. Thanks.

  44. 147
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I’ve read almost nothing on Astrology. I’m less knowledgeable on astrology as I am on Critical Theory. I feel OK dismissing Astrology, though. I don’t think Critical Theory is as useless a lens as an Astrological one, but I do think all lenses should be judged according to how they allow us to see the world in more accurate detail than we could see before, and I doubt that Hook’s provides such a lens in Black looks. I’d go so far as to say that she rejects the very metric I’d use to measure such a lens, and that’s whether or not this lens allows her to make more accurate predictions about the world than should could before. In every policy proposal, social criticism, and utopian ideal expressed by hooks is an implied prediction- she’s just not very careful to express her ideas using probabilities (why not I wonder?).

    In my 37 years, I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by many incredibly intelligent and passionate thinkers and intellectuals. I was even lucky enough to marry one. The most thoughtful always anticipate criticism of their ideas as they explain them- recognizing that no ones owes them agreement or understanding. I haven’t experienced this with some of the theorists I’ve encountered in academic feminist spaces (not all!). Bell Hook’s ideas are not obvious. Many are probably not correct. Why does she make such little effort to reach out to the people that probably don’t already agree with her theory? When I was a kid and I didn’t understand something my Dad (such a great dad) would always take the time to try to explain it to me, when he couldn’t, he’d help me find a person or a book that could. The most enjoyable books on evolutionary biology spend a great deal of time making their case, anticipating doubts. People are biased and closed minded, but we aren’t unreachable. Hooks seems to be operating in an epistemological framework where my inability to understand something has less to do with my limited knowledge and more to do with my white maleness and desire to maintain my privilege. I think this is why she spends less time taking on the ideology of those who would oppose her, and more time taking on their identities (even if I were a black man thinking as I do, she would attribute it to internalized white supremacy, she does this frequently). I understand why she might do this, but her failure to anticipate and take seriously her opposition is a huge weakness, and creates a massive blind spot. As I read her book, obvious counter arguments keep springing into my mind, and I’m really bothered why she doesn’t address them. My gut feeling is that she rejects the adversarial nature of western epistemology- she’s a fan of the phrase “alternate ways of knowing.”

  45. 148
    Kate says:

    When ‘you’ are unwilling to let others have the conversation they want to have, how is that fair? Why would they respect your wishes if you refuse to respect theirs?

    I don’t want to prevent them from having their own conversations. I’ve defended the teaching of both Catholic Natural Law theory and Freud – both perspectives that I not only disagree with, but find profoundly harmful, in this thread. I did that because I think they are less harmful by far than tactics used to silence them would be.
    By the way, the part of my post @119, that you selectively quoted @127:

    Colleges and Universities are supposed to represent a wide range of view points and approaches understanding the world. Of course, I want my perspective to be dominant.

    was immediately followed by:

    I think I’m right. But, I don’t want it to dominate every other perspective out there. I want wrong things being taught alongside right things, because what if I’m the one who’s wrong?

  46. 149
    Sebastian H says:

    Richard Jeffery Newman, it seems to me that Erin got it almost exactly right. Before I even got to her post I was reading you at 139 and thinking “isn’t it weird how RJN is almost always approaching commenting from critique mode, rarely ever exposing his own arguments or thoughts to critique, always picking at the nits of other people’s arguments and in a very heavy handed way with little empathy from where they are coming from”

    She absolutely nails it when she says you approach it like a judge who thinks he’s authoritatively above it all rather than a person engaging in discussion.

    Your 139 is a perfect example. You attack the nit of his absolutely defensible (and in my mind not nearly strongly enough worded) statement about rigorous knowledge. He is 100% correct that Hook doesn’t ‘know’ all the things mentioned to nearly the rigor that biologists know things. Even if the statements were allegedly supported by psychological research (which they are not) the state of psychological research isnt remotely comparable to biological research in terms of authoritative understandings of things. You attack his hedges, but he essentially shouldn’t have hedged. The type of knowledge claimed is not currently available, and pretending it is available is a huge flaw in how gender studies (and economics and psychology) presents itself.

  47. 150
    Sebastian H says:

    The above may be too biting, and I apologize for that.

    Look at what you could have done. You could have said “no, Hook really does know the interior thoughts of men” and then shown why she scientifically knows that to the level of biological knowledge. That’s how you would deal with the object level of Jeffery’s concerns.

    I would tend to suspect you didn’t do that because it can’t be done. Hook is indefensible on that point. But then it isn’t fair to attack Jeffery’s knowledge.

    If you want to defend Hook you could say something like “yes she doesn’t have biological level knowledge but she has some reason to think that, and while maybe she should have softened the certainty with which she made some statements she is usefully explicating the following even with uncertain knowledge”

    And trying to extend empathy to you, I wonder sometimes if academics just don’t notice how often caveats that may exist five or ten iterations before don’t get involved when the ideas get commonly passed around. It’s the same problem I have with post modern thought. If forced to pin it down academics will usually say “well of course there is an underlying scientific reality” we talked about that in a rarely cited paper 50 years ago so it is settled. But 7/10 times when you encounter pomo arguments in the wild they will act like that isn’t true. My sympathy for that is the same that I have for Christians who say “our religion isn’t warlike” but don’t want to deal with the fact that IN PRACTICE it is.

    In practice gender studies claims to have a lot more access to a lot of knowledge than it really has. And then it insists on conclusions from that knowledge being applied as if it actually had access to it, rather than the reality which is that they are making barely informed guesses guesturing in a direction. And sure that’s where science starts. But we shouldn’t pretend we are at the end point already.

  48. 151
    Ampersand says:

    Another comment or two and this will officially be a pile on of personal attacks on rjn. Please stop it now.

  49. 152
    Sebastian H says:

    It’s a little disconcerting to have critiques of his method, much more fairly drawn than RJNs critiques of Jeffery’s discussion described as attacks. I even try to see where he’s coming from, a courtesy he does not extend to Jeffery. Would you characterize his responses to Jeffery as attacks? He makes broad and IMO unfair characterizations of Jeffery’s commenting history, inviting comparison.

    How can we respond if techniques he uses are not attacks, while when we use them they are characterized as attacks?

  50. 153
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    The evidence strongly suggests that it is impossible for the extreme left (or extreme right) to be dominant in (parts of) academia and then still leave sufficient room for researchers that have the opposite ideology. I especially want to point you to the large number of ‘liberals’ who are willing to discriminate against a (perceived as) conservative job candidate, which shows a high willingness to exclude.

    Conservatives also report experiencing hostility. Earlier, I’ve linked to the paper by Straus that shows that this hostility can result in researchers being undermined in their work (note that Straus seems center-left to me, but he ran afoul of the extreme left nevertheless). I also know from personal experience that moderates are frequently seen as being conservative by leftists (and leftist by conservatives) and can thus get treated the same.

    Previously, I’ve also linked to evidence that shows that this is not merely a theoretical worry, but that moderates and conservatives have been replaced by ‘liberals’ in academia during the last decades.

    I think that I’ve made a rather strong case for my claims, while those who disagree haven’t shown any problems with my evidence (and have mostly ignored it).

    When someone favors a policy, but believes that the outcome will be much better than the evidence suggests, I will treat them as advocates for what the evidence suggests is the outcome, not their fantasies.

    For example, if someone wants to ban abortion, I hold them responsible for illegal abortions (and women dying as a result). If they claim that (almost) no illegal abortions will happen, I will point out that the evidence disagrees with their claim. However, if they accept the evidence, but are willing to accept more illegal abortions (and women dying as a result), then our disagreement is a matter of subjective values. Getting to this point is progress (especially since this often requires that people resolve inconsistencies in their views).

    So, Kate, you might want your ideology to be dominant and yet not to “dominate every other perspective out there,” but the evidence strongly suggests that:
    – the left is already extremely dominant, in particular in certain parts of academia
    – that the left has been getting more dominant over time
    – that this dominance results in discrimination, which presumably gets worse the more the left dominates
    – that the left considers themselves much more tolerant than the conservatives experience (suggesting that the dominant majority* are blind to the mechanisms and extent of the oppression)

    * Perhaps we should call them the privileged, who are blind to the perspective of those who are facing discrimination?

  51. 154
    Kate says:

    There is absolutely no danger of conservative voices being silenced in modern American culture. NONE. Conservatives and the right control the presidency, both houses of congress, the judiciary, law enforcement, the military, Wall Street, most corporate boards and most religous institutions. In short, almost all positions with real power in our society are currently dominated by conservatives. This includes many of the state governments which control state universities and entities that award grants for academic reseach.
    No one disputes that universities are one of the only sectors of socieity which tend to be liberal/left of center (along with Hollywood, and the arts). This is good. We need a counterbalance to the conservative dominance everywhere else. But, that is very different from claiming that they are “extreme left”. Outside of a few departments like cultural studies and maybe English (among the least powerful and least financed departments at most universities), they are not. Scientists generally try to stay apolitical. Engineering, law (FFS John Yu teaches at UC Berkely), medicine, business…none of these disciplines are know for liberal bias.
    But, people like you will not be satisfied until the few marginal voices on the left are completely and utterly crushed.

  52. 155
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    There is absolutely no danger of conservative voices being silenced in modern American culture.

    I was talking about science, not ‘modern American culture.’

    Scientists generally try to stay apolitical.

    That was true in the past, but Social Justice advocates seem to often favor politicizing science.

    I fundamentally oppose your goal of making universities into political entities. Science should be about what is true, not about ideology. You destroy science as a truth-seeking endeavor if you politicize it.

    It’s also fundamentally self-defeating, since science is so valuable because it can generate facts that transcend ideology. If you destroy that, then many in society will dismiss scientific findings. Then what is left is little more than institutions that provide jobs and talking points for one side of the political spectrum, like (some) think tanks. I oppose turning science into partisan think tanks.

    Your claim that conservatives control almost all ‘positions with real power in our society’ seems to speak more to your bias than to the truth. The media is one of the most powerful entities and one that dictators always seek to control for that reason. Yet you don’t even acknowledge it or its leaning.

    You ignore the bureaucracy, which has leeway in how they implement policy, and its leaning.

    Your claim that the judiciary is conservative is dubious. Note that the article claims that judges tilt to the right, but this is when compared to lawyers, who lean to the left. You can see in the figure that judges seem to be close to center, with some courts being center-left and others being center-right, on average.

    Anyway, the the entire discussion about this is rather pointless. I get that you feel besieged and that you are losing. That’s what’s to be expected for someone on the far left, just like people on the far right feel similarly besieged and that they are losing. Such feelings are very subjective and need to be calibrated against objective facts.

    Outside of a few departments like cultural studies and maybe English (among the least powerful and least financed departments at most universities), they are not. Scientists generally try to stay apolitical. Engineering, law (FFS John Yu teaches at UC Berkely), medicine, business…none of these disciplines are know for liberal bias.

    The paper I linked before shows that over 60% of academics in ‘business’ identify as liberal, vs less than 20% for both moderate and conservative. Engineering is similar, although a bit more lopsided. I refer you to the earlier NYT story, which shows that law professors lean quite far to the left. FiveThirtyEight wrote an interesting analysis of economics, showing the average liberal bias and how the ideology of professors correlates with their research results.

    Of course, fields like economics are less extreme than certain other fields. My suspicion is that the difference is not only the percentage of people that self-identify as liberal vs moderate or conservative, but also that the liberals in some fields are far more extreme. The studies I linked found that the academics who are more ideologically extreme were more willing to discriminate. So while I understand that you want to defend extreme left parts of academia, for sharing your ideology, the evidence strongly suggests that such fields are quite intolerant.

    Note that research into academic bias and ideological discrimination is a relatively new field of study, so a lot more research can and should be done. However, the initial results are quite concerning.

    But, people like you will not be satisfied until the few marginal voices on the left are completely and utterly crushed.

    Yes, the suppression of left-wing voices is horrible.

  53. 156
    Ampersand says:

    But, people like you will not be satisfied until the few marginal voices on the left are completely and utterly crushed.

    Kate, please say “the right will not be satisfied” or “some on the right will not be satisfied” rather than “people like you,” in order to avoid making the comment a personal attack.

  54. 157
    Ampersand says:

    Kate wrote:

    Colleges and Universities are supposed to represent a wide range of view points and approaches understanding the world. Of course, I want my perspective to be dominant. I think I’m right. But, I don’t want it to dominate every other perspective out there. I want wrong things being taught alongside right things, because what if I’m the one who’s wrong?

    Lol quoted this as: “Of course, I want my perspective to be dominant.”

    Lol, responding to that isolated phrase as if Kate was advocating views that disagreed with hers not being taught – when she unambiguously said the opposite – was dishonest and hurts conversation. Please don’t repeat this sort of deceptive quoting.

  55. 158
    Ampersand says:

    Sebastian:

    We cross-posted; my comment about personal attacks was written before I read you saying “the above may be too biting and I apologize for that.” If I had read that first, I probably would not have posted my comment.

    It’s a little disconcerting to have critiques of his method, much more fairly drawn than RJNs critiques of Jeffery’s discussion described as attacks. I even try to see where he’s coming from, a courtesy he does not extend to Jeffery. Would you characterize his responses to Jeffery as attacks? He makes broad and IMO unfair characterizations of Jeffery’s commenting history, inviting comparison.

    How can we respond if techniques he uses are not attacks, while when we use them they are characterized as attacks?

    If you feel that RJN is making personal attacks, say so; do not attack in response. And since you yourself acknowledged that your comment “may be too biting,” it seems weird to me that you’re now saying I was wrong to moderate you.

    The reason I posted was because there were two comments in a row making personal attacks on RJN and I wanted to cut off a potential pile-on.

  56. Sebastian,

    The part of my discussion with Jeffrey that you seem to be responding to started here, where I wrote:

    So, if I understand what you have told us about yourself in relation to Women’s/Gender Studies as a field, you are someone with a self-confessed limited exposure to it, and you are also someone who has a bit of a chip on his shoulder when it comes to methodologies and pedagogies in Women’s/Gender Studies because of a negative experience you had in a single class when you were a nineteen-year-old undergraduate. It may be that you have more exposure to Critical Race Theory (CRT), which you have referred to in passing in at least a few of your posts, but nothing you have posted, in my memory and in the brief survey of your posts that I just did, actually deals specifically, substantively, with what CRT actually is or with any of the claims it makes, and I am going to assume, since CRT emerged specifically from legal scholarship, that your exposure to much of what has been written elsewhere in Africana Studies, Ethnic Studies, etc. is on par with your exposure to Women’s and Gender Studies. In addition, you have continually expressed your preference for the methodologies traditionally associated with the physical or life science over what you understand the methodologies of what I will broadly call cultural studies (to incorporate Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, etc.) to be. (And thank you, Harlequin, for that corrective about the term “exact sciences.” I had meant to put it in quotes and note it as a problem when I used it, but I got lost in the argument I was trying to make and that point got lost.)

    All of the above—in addition to the fact that you’re smart, a generally perceptive reader, a pretty sophisticated writer, and a good and tenacious advocate for your positions—is a summary of the relevant-to-this-discussion parts of what I think I know about you from what you’ve written on this blog.

    As far as I know, Jeffrey as not contested this characterization of what he has contributed here that is directly relevant to the discussion at hand. More to the point, that is the context of every response I have written to him. All I have done is point out that, in comment after comment, he has doubled down on an ignorance he himself has admitted to. That I have done so in terms that are as strongly worded, but nowhere nearly as derisive as his—to me, profoundly uninformed—critique of hooks is not a personal attack on him. Rather, it is a response to the way he has tried to use his response to define the terms of the debate. If you go back and look at the comment in which I quoted and boldfaced some of his statements, you’ll note that every single thing I highlighted is an attempt to frame this discussion in his favor. He does the same thing in this comment where he implicitly compares the discipline within which hooks writes to astrology.

    I’m not criticizing Jeffrey for doing this. It’s part of what good debaters do, and he is, in writing at least, a very good debater. Indeed, we all do this. I do it. Amp does. Limits of Language does it. Kate does it. You do it with the sweeping and unsubstantiated statements you make about (particularly left-leaning) academics. In this case, however, I believe his framing is rooted in an ignorance that, for me, makes it very difficult to take not only his framing, but also the entire discussion he wants to have at all seriously.

    There is a legitimate discussion to be had about the differences between how knowledge is constructed in the sciences and how it is constructed in the social sciences and humanities, and also about the uses to which that knowledge is put, and why and how. As (I think) both Harlequin and ClosetPuritan pointed out, however, pretending those differences don’t exist, or to be more precise, assuming that you can create a hierarchy of apples and oranges that is based in more than just your own personal preference for the taste of, say, apples—which is what you do when you claim that scientific knowledge is somehow more authoritative than other kinds—does not further that conversation at all.

    If you choose to respond to this comment, Sebastian, please do not take my lack of response personally. I am tired of this discussion and I have an awful lot of work to do.

  57. 160
    Sebastian H says:

    Richard, I don’t understand what you are trying to do with that comment (159 and the part you quote).

    The question you and Jeffery are engaging is how sound the methodologies of gender studies (as outlined by Hook) are, and to what extent they should be treated authoritatively. Your quote, and indeed much or your discussion involves some sort of general characterization of Jeffery’s deep research into the field. Those are mostly irrelevant, because unless Jeffery’s lack of deep research in the field is causing him to have a fundamental misunderstanding of Hook, he (and other people) are capable of forming useful understandings of how sound the methodologies as outlined by Hook are, and to what extent they ought to be treated authoritatively.

    Now there are clearly some areas where it is possible that Jeffery’s lack of deep research in the field might cause problems. He might misunderstand Hook’s usage of jargon, especially jargon that is foolishly very close to common terminology. Hook might gesture to some well discussed item in an offhand way, which might be confusing to the lay reader. That may or may not bear on the question of how sound the methodologies are, or whether or not they ought to be treated authoritatively. Or he may be mistaking the whole endeavor. Maybe gender studies isn’t meant to have any particular relationship to objective reality, and produced works are considered to be good so long as they follow the rules of internal consistency (like a type of Kabbalah or many types of Bible Study). There are probably other traps for an unwary lay reader, some of which bear on the question, and many of which don’t but might make them look silly anyway.

    So to my view, your constant harping on his lack of years of commitment to becoming a PhD in gender studies is pretty much irrelevant. If you believe that he is falling into one of the above traps, you could point out: how he is misinterpreting jargon in a way that bears on the question of sound methodologies; how he is being confused by a well discussed item that Hook gestures to without explaining; or that gender studies isn’t meant to be applied objectively to the real world (if that is the case).

    If I were to thumbnail Jeffery’s position it would be that gender studies advertises itself as making useful and counter-intuitive insights that are supposed to further our understanding of the objective world (i.e. not the astrology/kabbalah/Bible Study case). Its methodologies (especially as outlined by Hook) are not nearly strong enough to support the claims that it makes. Its methodologies (especially as outlined by Hook) aren’t particularly good at recognizing errors, and aren’t currently good at moving understanding forward.

    Which isn’t to say that gender studies couldn’t do those things. It just doesn’t do so under current methodologies.

    It isn’t clear where you think Jeffery goes wrong, you just keep insisting that since he hasn’t studied it intensively for years, that he doesn’t have the knowledge base to criticize the methodology. But that isn’t true. There are a fairly large subset of well understood ways that social sciences can go wrong. If you are aware of those, it is absolutely possible to notice them without becoming a PhD in the criticized field.

    “which is what you do when you claim that scientific knowledge is somehow more authoritative than other kinds—does not further that conversation at all.”

    It depends on what you mean by authoritative. Scientific knowledge is reliably and reproducibley connected to real world outcomes. Certain humanities are are much less so (either being historical overviews or have large components of taste or style). Others are sort of a middle ground, they strive for reliability based on very imperfect understandings of people and based on very incomplete information (economics or psychology). Those ‘soft’ sciences, seem to me to often get well ahead of themselves in terms of evidence, rarely are as reproducible as they claim, but often try to cloak themselves in scientific sounding certainty. There are a number of methodologies in the soft sciences which are used to try to minimize those types of problems.

    From my perspective gender studies is currently functioning with a methodological status appropriate for music or poetry appreciation, aspires to (and could function) in the way that economics or psychology does when those fields are done properly, but talks the way that economics and psychology does when done improperly. Your discussion regarding Hook reinforces my understanding, because you repeatedly appeal to in-discipline authority and seem to be resistant to outside verification.

    Edit: to be super clear, music and poetry and literature appreciation are wonderful fields. For a while I saw myself becoming a literature professor and in a different world with a different university culture I could have seen that happening.

  58. 161
    Harlequin says:

    Note that research into academic bias and ideological discrimination is a relatively new field of study, so a lot more research can and should be done. However, the initial results are quite concerning.

    They look especially concerning here, because you have only cited the evidence that supports your argument and not any evidence that disputes it (some of that supports what you say, but by no means all). That research has its flaws (a major one in any survey of professors is survivorship bias, for example), but so does the research you cite (the discrimination measurement was based on a fairly abstract question, and based on information that might not be available in real-world situations, for example).

    I would also point out that even if the surveys you’ve mentioned do show an increasing liberality to the academy (I don’t really have time to look through them to see if they’re methodologically sound, so I’ll grant it for the sake of argument), that’s not necessarily because of discrimination. “Republican”, “Democrat”, “conservative”, “moderate”, “liberal”–none of these are fixed identities. Over the last 50 years, the Republican party has become much more anti-intellectual than it used to be. Rather than measuring the academy pushing out academically-oriented Republicans, I believe at least part of any change is measuring Republicans pushing out academically-oriented conservatives. So you have a similar population of people going into academia, only now the formerly marginal moderates call themselves liberals, and the formerly marginal conservatives call themselves moderates, because the Republican party has moved away from them. This is similar to how Trump’s popularity numbers tank, but stay constant among Republicans: the change isn’t entirely liberals getting more negative, it’s that Trump is so toxic that lots of marginal Republicans have started calling themselves independents instead, so his popularity stays high among Republicans but Republicans are an ever-smaller part of the polling sample. It’s also similar to the way white Democrats are getting more anti-racist: it’s not just individual white Democrats changing their opinions, it’s that the more racist white Democrats are preferentially likely to stop identifying as Democrats, and the least racist white non-Democrats are preferentially likely to start calling themselves Democrats.

  59. Thank you for that, Harlequin.

  60. 163
    Kate says:

    Well said Harlequin.

  61. 164
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Harlequin,

    The (actual) evidence from the article is actually mostly consistent with the evidence I presented, as well as the claims I made. Some of the claims that it disputes, like colleges indoctrinating students, are not actually claims that I or the papers that I linked to made. Similarly, I didn’t claim that the cause for conservative and moderate underrepresentation is discrimination. For obvious reasons, I don’t feel obligated to present evidence or counter-evidence to claims that I don’t make.

    My claims are also rarely categorical. For example, I don’t claim that all conservatives and moderates experience a hostile climate due to their political beliefs, but merely that this seems way more common for moderates and conservatives. For example, in the Inbar & Lammers paper, liberals on average reported 1.9 on a 7 point scale (1 = not at all, 4 = somewhat, 7 = very much), while moderates reported 3.7 and conservatives 4.7. Furthermore, the paper correlated the answers with whether the subjects indicated that they had personal experience with hostility. This correlated almost perfectly, showing that the belief that they are in a hostile environment is likely based on personal experience, not due to believing in a narrative. This statistical evidence is perfectly consistent with the existence of conservatives and moderates who don’t experience a hostile climate. So when the article presents some anecdotes of people who noticed hostility and some who didn’t, this is perfectly consistent with the paper and my claims. Of course, anecdotes are generally highly inferior as evidence, so I rarely present them as evidence for or against my claims (although I may use them to counter a categorical claim or as an example).

    I get a sense that you misperceive my claims and thus believe they clash with the article when they don’t. Perhaps you would be willing to point to one or more parts of the article that you believe contradict my claims and explain why you think they contradict me. Then I will tell you whether you misperceive anything or have found an actual contradiction, which I will then address.

    Note that I do have some misgivings about how your article presents the evidence. It claims that “the most complete study of the politics of professors” has found that: “Faculty members were more likely to categorize themselves as moderate (46.1 percent) than liberal (44.1 percent). Conservatives trailed at 9.2 percent.”

    This is a falsehood, because the study actually disregarded the self-identification of faculty members, reclassifying ‘slightly liberal’ and ‘slightly conservative’ faculty as moderates, despite also having people self-identify as moderates. This methodology is inconsistent with other studies that do respect people’s self-identification. If you add up the percentages in a way that does respect self-identification, the counts seem quite similar to other studies that also survey people about their own beliefs (like the one that the Higher Education Research Institute does every other year, which allows us to see change over time). I worry that the way the article presents this evidence deceives and/or confuses people.

    Another example of a questionable presentation of the evidence is: “The authors interviewed 153 conservative professors in the humanities and social sciences on 84 campuses. Some complained of discrimination based on politics, but not of careers being ended.”

    It should be obvious that people whose careers were truly ended are no longer (or never became) professors and thus would not be part of the survey. Yet this very obvious weakness is not addressed/noted.

    The problem with your claim that the Republican party has become much more anti-intellectual is that anti-intellectualism cannot be measured objectively, while there is obviously a lot of incentive to believe that people who you disagree with are stupid. I personally see a lot of beliefs that can be described as anti-intellectual on all sides of the political spectrum, so no party has a monopoly on wisdom (to quote Obama).

    You claim that people may loath identifying as conservative and moderate due to supposed anti-intellectualism on the part of Republicans, but if your narrative was true, you’d expect that conservatives would decline in number much more than moderates. After all, one can be a moderate and be a/vote for Democrats. Yet the data shows that representation of moderates declined just as much as conservatives. To me, that seems a lot more consistent with an environment that is biased (one way or the other) against non-liberals, than one that is biased against conservatives.

    Ultimately, my concern is not equal representation in science, but to have an environment that upholds scientific standards. The studies I presented show a high willingness to discriminate against people based on their beliefs, rather than based on the quality of their work, mainly among those with extremist political beliefs. Furthermore, they show that moderates and conservatives report hostility due to their beliefs much more than the left. One can discuss these issues without discussing (possible) causes and remedies, which are more complicated topics, with not that much strong evidence. If there is no agreement on the topic where the evidence is far stronger and more obvious, then I don’t see much point in discussing the more complex issues in detail.

    PS. Note that while studies show that the ex-Democrats are less anti-racist, this doesn’t make them racist, per se. ‘Anti-racism’ is a specific ideology about the causes of racism and is orthogonal to actual racist beliefs or behavior (like that certain races are inferior and/or should be treated differently).

  62. 165
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Sebastian H,

    Your thumbnail of my position is so much better than anything I’ve written here, thanks.

    I should say I never felt attacked by RJN or anyone else on this thread. I felt a little dismissed, but that’s ok. People have real world jobs and better things to do that try to explain things to a random internet guy.

  63. 166
    lurker23 says:

    “the formerly marginal moderates call themselves liberals, and the formerly marginal conservatives call themselves moderates, because the Republican party has moved away from them.”

    i think you have this almost exactly backwards? the power of not-science departments in university is growing much larger, not smaller. also, the power of not-science departments OVER the science is growing much larger not smaller. and definitely the not-science departments are moving more left.

    for example it used to be that there was no african studies or womens studies or gender studies.
    then there were those departments, but they were very closed ranks and they mostly focused on themselves or on the issues that they wanted.
    now those departments are more and more important. and they are now large enough that they are using their political power and the thoughts from those departments to try to change OTHER departments. Like they want to change the english curriculum and the history curriculum, right? and now they are also flexing their muscles and trying to make influence on science departments too.

    and in all of this i think the “people who used to be conservative are now moderate” thing is literally backwards. at the moment the pendulum is winging towards the left and the universities are pushing more towards progressivism. and on many issues the center-left position of not so long ago is now considered (by progressives and therefore by universities) to be center-right.

    within my lifetime there are a lot of positions that started out at “mostly held by left wing progressives” and the moved to “held by many liberals”. Now many of those positions would be strongly opposed and if you were up for faculty consideration at any university, holding those positions publicly would probably get you not-hired.

    THESE ARE NOT WHAT I THINK THEY ARE EXAMPLES OF OPINIONS

    1) men/women are basically equal and it is wrong to think of them as very different, even if but men/women may have small and relevant bio differences which benefit one or the other gender depending on circumstance.
    *discussions of bio differences are strongly opposed by most feminism departments.

    2) white people should stop discriminating on the basis of race and strive to treat everyone equally, as if everyone were similar.
    “I don’t see race” or “not the color of their skin” is now considered extremely racist. Opposing strict race-based standards like AA is racist.

    3) subjective ideas about race and gender and stuff has led to bad outcomes in hiring education etc. and we should use anonymous or objective measures instead, like the sat or written tests
    **current thinking focuses on disparate results, not on neutral testing.

    4) gay people should be allowed to be gay without anyone bothering them, even if they have to stay private
    the acceptance of gay people was radical; now the slightest bit of discomfort is homophobic.

    5) transgender people should be allowed to do what they want and people should not bother them, even if third parties do not agree with the claimed gender.
    the acceptance of trans people was radical; now the slightest bit of discomfort is homophobic.

    6) illegal immigration is a growing problem and we should have less of it.
    Opposition to illegal immigration is considered racist and nationalistic (which is also inherently bad).

    7) when people immigrate, immigrants should try to become more american.
    cultural appropriateion / silencing; bad.

    8) we should focus on providing everyone freedom from direct government oppression, in particular focusing on criminal defense, freedom of speech, and presumption of innocence; the constitution is important; we should make sure to extend those rights to even the most-despised among us.
    growing calls for hate speech suppression, non-judicial judges (title 9), rape issues, etc.

  64. 167
    Kate says:

    1) men/women are basically equal and it is wrong to think of them as very different, even if but men/women may have small and relevant bio differences which benefit one or the other gender depending on circumstance.
    *discussions of bio differences are strongly opposed by most feminism departments.

    Actually, feminists fought very hard to get biological differences between men and women included in medical studies. Using only male bodies used to be pretty standard procedure. It depends on the questions you’re asking.

    2) white people should stop discriminating on the basis of race and strive to treat everyone equally, as if everyone were similar.
    “I don’t see race” or “not the color of their skin” is now considered extremely racist. Opposing strict race-based standards like AA is racist.

    “I don’t see race” and similar platitudes are racist. To say that they are considered “extremely” racist is hyperbole.
    Affirmative action is not a “strict race-based standard”, it just says, if all other qualifications are equal, go for the minority hire. Quotas have been found unconstitutional and are not used in college admissions or hiring.

    3) subjective ideas about race and gender and stuff has led to bad outcomes in hiring education etc. and we should use anonymous or objective measures instead, like the sat or written tests
    **current thinking focuses on disparate results, not on neutral testing.

    In most cases, we don’t object to neutral testing, we question the neutrality of the tests. Truly neutral testing – blind auditions in symphonies, controlled studies with resumes (which I’ve linked to in the past), show that sexism and racism are still significant obstacles for women and people of color. Some have produced results surprising to liberals – like the study of lawyers which showed discrimination at second tier law firms was least for working class women, and greater for wealthy women and working class men; or the Israeli study that showed that teachers discriminated against girls when grading math tests, but not language tests.

  65. 168
    Harlequin says:

    LoL:

    Perhaps you would be willing to point to one or more parts of the article that you believe contradict my claims and explain why you think they contradict me.

    Well, first, the claim I was responding to was this:

    Note that research into academic bias and ideological discrimination is a relatively new field of study, so a lot more research can and should be done. However, the initial results are quite concerning.

    If what you meant by “academic bias and ideological discrimination” as a “field of study” was something like, paraphrased, “the specific categories of bias and discrimination from the single paper I have cited”, then my comment was not a response to what you meant. But I can only respond to the words you wrote, not what you were thinking when you wrote them. And the words I quoted were far broader and more damning than the specific claims you’d made earlier in your comment.

    You’re right that that article I linked does not rebut your specific earlier claims. I can do that, though, with some results from Matthew Woessner and April Kelly-Woessner (which I thought were included in the original article I linked to, actually, but on second read the article only cited two of their other studies). From your response comment:

    For example, in the Inbar & Lammers paper, liberals on average reported 1.9 on a 7 point scale (1 = not at all, 4 = somewhat, 7 = very much), while moderates reported 3.7 and conservatives 4.7. Furthermore, the paper correlated the answers with whether the subjects indicated that they had personal experience with hostility. This correlated almost perfectly, showing that the belief that they are in a hostile environment is likely based on personal experience, not due to believing in a narrative.

    So: moderates report a more hostile environment than liberals, and conservatives even more; this correlates with personal experience with hostility; therefore, conservatives have experienced more hostility, on average, than moderates, and moderates more than liberals.

    Woessner:

    Fewer than 2 percent of faculty (Republican or Democratic) reported being the victims of unfair treatment based on their politics. Only 7 percent of Republican faculty believed that discrimination against those with “right-wing” views was a serious problem on their campus, compared with 8 percent of Democratic faculty who expressed concerns about discrimination against those with “left-wing” views.

    So, this study did not find differences in hostility or discrimination. I don’t think either study is dispositive (as I said earlier, all of the research we’re talking about is flawed in some way or another–I specifically cited survivorship bias, for example, so I’m not sure why you explained that to me in the comment I’m responding to). But there is dispute in the literature that will need more investigation–it’s not clear-cut that this hostility and/or discrimination exists.

  66. 169
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Kate,

    The claim that affirmative action (AA) merely selects the minority candidate when people are equally qualified is false. First of all, it is false because people almost never have the exact same qualifications. So if what you said was true, the actual effect of AA would be minimal, while the actual effect is substantial. So it cannot be true. We also have many people who do or did engage in AA admitting to prefer less qualified candidates and/or not even considering non-minorities. There is also a study showing that (racial) affirmative action hires are less qualified.

    Secondly, you are wrong because AA is also used to disadvantage minorities. The group whose chances are most diminished due to AA when applying for (elite) college are Asians, not whites.

    The one point where I do agree with you is that affirmative action is not always a strict race-based standard. At Harvard, affirmative action is inseparable from a larger system of discrimination, where the elite and rich are advantaged. Despite the pretense that affirmative action helps disadvantaged minorities, the truth is that the black students at Harvard are mostly from wealthy backgrounds. Note that this kind of discrimination against the poor can explain some things, like why affirmative action seems to do little for the majority of blacks (as it helps those who least need help), but also why poor whites feel discriminated against by race (which is partially true, although it is actually the combination of their race and socioeconomic background that is discriminated against).

    PS. Note that the ban on quotas merely disallows universities to (openly) target a specific percentage of certain ethnic groups or genders. They may still discriminate in favor of some groups and to the disadvantage of other groups, merely for the purpose of creating a diverse learning environment. Since there is no objective definition of diversity or measurement of diversity or norm for when sufficient diversity has been achieved, this effectively allows discrimination to whatever extent universities like.

    PS 2. ‘Fun’ fact: In the past, Harvard and the like used to discriminate against Jews because they didn’t want so many of them. Initially this was done openly, but later this was done by explicitly choosing a non-meritocratic admissions policy, which included a requirement to submit a photo, so they could judge applicants by their nose suitability. Currently, Harvard claims that Asians have inferior characters which is why they are less likely to be admitted, yet their character doesn’t actually get rated lower when interviewed. Instead, their character seems to suddenly appear worse when Harvard holistically examines their application in a completely non-racist way (wink, wink).

    Your claim that studies show that sexism and racism are still significant obstacles for women and people of color is highly questionable. There are many studies and experiments that show opposite outcomes. For example, various attempts to increase the hiring of women and minorities by blinding resumes were abandoned when this actually caused fewer women and minorities to be hired, suggesting that the hiring discrimination was already in favor of those groups at those organizations.

    Furthermore, many of the studies that are used to bolster claims of substantial discrimination fail to replicate and/or have severe methodological errors. There is an excellent paper that showed that the resume studies that purport to show racial discrimination, may actually have shown class discrimination. Those studies made the mistake of using black names that people identify as being of a poorer socioeconomic status than the white names they used. This explains why a study that used a different set of names failed to replicate the various studies that all used the flawed list of names.

    Note that one of these flawed studies is actually the 9th most cited article since 2000. So this shows the importance of good scientific practices and heterodox thinkers who question outcomes, including those that might seem right to many people because it fits their ideology.

    Note that the above doesn’t mean that there are no cases of discrimination, but I think that this is often greatly exaggerated and other explanations not given sufficient consideration.

  67. 170
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Harlequin,

    And the words I quoted were far broader and more damning than the specific claims you’d made earlier in your comment.

    My claim is that a stated willingness to discriminate in various ways, which people admit to when surveyed, indicates bias and hostility. I don’t know what the people who give these answers actually do in reality. My impression is that people on the (extreme) left are typically relatively tolerant of people saying that they are conservative or otherwise on the (non-extreme) right, as well of opinions that they don’t oppose that strongly, but get very upset when they say or do things that violate certain taboos. So from that perspective, I would expect that conservatives and moderates can function in environments dominated by leftists if they study non-controversial topics, don’t have or state controversial opinions, etc. This then effectively means that the advantage of having alternative views present is lost, because they are not expressed.

    I don’t have data about self-censorship by researchers, but there have been surveys where many students say that they self-censor (linked here).

    Another thing that the heterodox can do is self-segregate into fields and subfields that are less hostile. This would then remove alternative views from the fields that they avoid (and possible remove alternative views from the fields they go to as well).

    Ultimately, bias and discrimination can happen in many different ways and have different consequences. What I consider a little strange is that I frequently see SJ advocates argue that measured bias or hostility is the cause for underrepresentation, even where there is no evidence for a causal link. In fact, even mere disparity of outcome is often attributed to bias or hostility that hasn’t been shown to exist. Yet my argument, which is merely that we should be concerned about the bias and hostility that is measured, but does not claim that disparity in outcome is caused by this (I merely argue that part of the disparity may be), gets a lot of push back.

    I wonder if you, Kate, RJN and Ampersand are similarly critical of Social Justice claims and evidence?

    So, this study did not find differences in hostility or discrimination.

    Woessner and Woessner didn’t actually do a study. They based their book on a 1999 survey called NAASS. The results of that survey were much delayed because of health problems and the deaths of the initially involved researchers.

    The problem with the data being so old is that the longitudinal data shows that the decline in the percentage of conservatives and the rise in the number of leftists begins around 1999 and only becomes fairly significant around 2004. The decline in moderates begins around 2004. Obviously, to analyze the consequences of a change, the measurement must be after the change happened. So that means at least after 2004, but preferably after 2010. This is not the case here, so I don’t see your evidence as relevant.

    However, I appreciate your attempt to bolster your position with evidence.

  68. 171
    Ampersand says:

    First of all, it is false because people almost never have the exact same qualifications. So if what you said was true, the actual effect of AA would be minimal, while the actual effect is substantial.

    I’ve been involved in hiring, and although it was possible to make broad categorizations – i.e., this bunch of applications is people who clearly don’t have the qualifications, this bunch is barely qualified, this bunch is strongly qualified – that last category would always include many applications that looked equally strong, without any clear way of ranking them from most to least qualified. (For example, if a job requires both dealing with the public and computer work, and I have one application with 3 years of computer experience and another with 3 years of customer service experience, there’s no clear “this person is more qualified.” Or if one person has seven years of experience and another has eight – is that really an important difference?).

    So yes, pragmatically, it is common for some applicants to be equally qualified, in my experience. Your mistake is assuming that in the context of assessing applicants, “equal” must mean “exact same.” It does not.

    There is also a study showing that (racial) affirmative action hires are less qualified.

    The same study also states that “we do not find evidence of weaker job performance among most groups of minority and female Affirmative Action hires.” Which indicates that the “qualifications” measured by the study (years of college) don’t seem to effect job performance. Which indicates, to me, that that particular “qualification” – the difference between 3 and 4 years of college, say – doesn’t actually matter. Hiring managers might know that.

    …here is an excellent paper that showed that the resume studies that purport to show racial discrimination, may actually have shown class discrimination. Those studies made the mistake of using black names that people identify as being of a poorer socioeconomic status than the white names they used. This explains why a study that used a different set of names failed to replicate the various studies that all used the flawed list of names.

    Or people didn’t understand that the names in the outlier study were Black names. My association with “Andre” isn’t “Black”; it’s “French.” (Which may or may not be Black.)

    I know that the post you linked to did an experiment purporting to show that most people read names like “Andre” as Black names. But its method was unconvincing. If you say “pick which names are Black and which names are white,” and give me a choice of “Greg” or “Andre,” I’m going to guess that Andre is Black not because I actually associate “Andre” with Black, but because “Greg” is a name I associate with white “Greg”s I’ve met, and therefore “Andre” is probably the Black name by process of elimination.

    Of course the real test he used had six names, not just two, but the same objection applies; if you give people a list of 3 common white names, and 3 less common names with no particular racial association, and tell them to sort the names into white and Black, then of course the non-white names will be associated with “Black” by most test-takers. To really find out if people assume “Andre” is Black, you’d need a test that wasn’t leading them to answer “Black” in the way this one does.

    Or maybe you’re right, and people are equally likely to associate “Jamal” and “Andre” with Black Americans, and it’s only about class. But I don’t think you can dismiss the possibility that “Jamal” is recognizably a Black name in a way that “Andre” is not.

  69. 172
    Harlequin says:

    now those departments are more and more important. and they are now large enough that they are using their political power and the thoughts from those departments to try to change OTHER departments. Like they want to change the english curriculum and the history curriculum, right? and now they are also flexing their muscles and trying to make influence on science departments too.

    So…I have not worked at every institution in the country. And the ones I have worked at have all been large research institutions, which make up only a small fraction of the universities in the US; I’m also not familiar with non-U.S. institutions. But at the places I’ve worked…this is not the dynamic.

    Departments can have power in a few ways. They can teach lots of students; they can bring in lots of research money; they can win lots of awards or otherwise be very visible to alumni and prospective students. Gender studies, African-American studies, etc…they almost never have any of those kinds of clout. They’re almost always small departments with small enrollment and little grant money. (My general impression is that, if any broad field is throwing their weight around university campuses, it’s the sciences: we generally have the most grant money, the highest salaries, etc, and are more linked to the traditional liberal arts than the business, law, and medical schools that are the other high earners and high spenders.) This might be different at smaller schools than the ones I’m used to–though we were originally discussing research practices, where the large research universities are probably the most salient.

    Let me put it this way: I don’t know if either of the institutions where I have been a postdoc even have women’s studies departments. That’s how low-profile they are. (I just looked it up; one does, the other has an interdisciplinary program hosted mainly within the English department. Which is what I expected, based on the academic character of the two institutions.)

    Some of the work done by gender studies and other such departments have been incorporated into other fields, that’s true. Not by unwilling takeover, but rather, in general, by making arguments that the people in those other fields found convincing. There are obviously people within academia who are not convinced (see: the whole reason we are discussing this). But the negative things you’ve heard about gender studies etc…those are not dominant opinions within academia, in my experience. And sure, maybe that’s because academics are pretty liberal on average, and we like things that flatter our biases; I’m not saying that those scholars are correct about gender studies etc. But those fields don’t need to “flex their muscles” for other academics to take them seriously as scholars.

    To address the more general thrust of your comment: yes, both liberalism and conservatism have gotten more extreme (though not symmetrically) in recent decades. I was speaking more of things like how a significant* chunk of Republicans now see universities’ main goal as job training, and universities as enemies of the country, in a way that they did not used to. And sure, maybe this is because universities got more liberal–it’s still, in my opinion, throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and I’m sure it’s uncomfortable on some level for academically-oriented Republicans. (I think the job training thing is actually an issue, in that lots of jobs now require university degrees not because of anything you learned at university, but just as a way to exclude some kinds of potential applicants. But as far as I can tell that’s different from the claim some Republicans make about certain majors being better than others because of the kinds of jobs they prepare you for.)

    *Ideologically significant, I have no idea about numbers

  70. 173
    Sebastian H says:

    “Some of the work done by gender studies and other such departments have been incorporated into other fields, that’s true. Not by unwilling takeover, but rather, in general, by making arguments that the people in those other fields found convincing.”

    From what I can tell it is the reverse. The errors aren’t originating in the gender studies/cultural studies departments, but they are seen in full flower there because there aren’t pre-existing counter traditions in the disciplines to rein it in as much as in some of the other departments. I see it as an extension of post-modernism and Criticism where those ideas are the foundation of the departments, instead of just trying to take over the departments. Almost all of the flaws people complain about in gender studies fall under the critiques that were pioneered in literature departments, sociology departments, philosophy departments and all the other departments that went through various post-modern phases and big ‘c’ criticism. That’s why gender studies has more in common with art appreciation courses than hard psychology courses. The problem with Criticism is what the original Sokal hoax was about–that it had come so unmoored from reality that it didn’t know which direction was up.

    “There are obviously people within academia who are not convinced (see: the whole reason we are discussing this). But the negative things you’ve heard about gender studies etc…those are not dominant opinions within academia, in my experience. ”

    This is a science/humanities distinction. I’m not sure if they are “dominant” in the humanities, but the types of errors in thinking and methodological approach are a very strong force in the humanities. My impression is that they are dismissed as silly by a large portion of the science side of universities (especially the more extreme relativisms regarding knowledge), but they think that of even the more real social sciences so it is hard to know what to make of it.

  71. 174
    Kate says:

    My experience with universities (U.S. and Australian) are similar to Harlequin’s. I am in an area* frequently attacked by people in cultural studies, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not (IMHO). I think that these debates have greatly improved the quality of scholarship in my field, in large part by exposing some of our unconscious biases and inspiring us to be more respectful of the people we study. I have never felt intimidated or silenced by these discussions in the slightest. However, I don’t feel entitled to voice my opinions without getting pushback. I think people have a right to disagree with me – and even tell me that they think something I said or did was racist, sexist, homophobic and so 0n (having gone to an almost all white Catholic high school in the 1980’s, those occassions were all to frequent when I was an undergraduate). Sometimes, upon reflection I have agreed, and I am thankful that they took the risk of confronting me and helped me become a better person. Other times I have not agreed, and there have never been any negative consequences either way.

  72. 175
    desipis says:

    Kate, not everyone gets to avoid the negative consequences.

  73. 176
    Harlequin says:

    Sebastian, I think I wrote something unclear. You quote me:

    “There are obviously people within academia who are not convinced (see: the whole reason we are discussing this). But the negative things you’ve heard about gender studies etc…those are not dominant opinions within academia, in my experience. ”

    This is a science/humanities distinction. I’m not sure if they are “dominant” in the humanities, but the types of errors in thinking and methodological approach are a very strong force in the humanities.

    It’s the “negative things about gender studies” that I was saying were unpopular opinions: in my experience, most academics think gender studies is just fine. I was not making any claims about whether the things you don’t like about gender studies are common or not. But I can see that that sentence could be read either way; my apologies.

    A more substantive disagreement:

    My impression is that they are dismissed as silly by a large portion of the science side of universities (especially the more extreme relativisms regarding knowledge), but they think that of even the more real social sciences so it is hard to know what to make of it.

    You’d have to quantify “a large portion” for me to be sure, but my personal experience contradicts you on both points: while there is a range of opinions, the majority of my colleagues would not dismiss either the humanities or the social sciences. They wouldn’t necessarily, like…agree with everything they heard, because one thing scientific training does is to inculcate a love of trying to poke holes in other people’s arguments (see: my entire commenting history here). But that’s the kind of attention you pay to stuff that at least has the possibility of teaching you something new. But again–my own personal experience, not hard data.

    (Personally speaking, I guess, my field produces people talking about Boltzmann brains and I don’t see how that’s any stranger than the more extreme claims about subjectivity. My brain is currently experiencing something that it perceives as writing this comment, but I have no objective way of checking, because everything comes into my mind via neural systems systems that might themselves be corrupted–assuming I exist at all rather than just being a chance alignment of particles that happened to produce something like the cognitive process of writing this comment for an infinitesimal length of time. I try not to think about it because it freaks me out. But it’s a possibility.) (Jeez, why does my Boltzmann brain have anxiety?? Thanks, universe.)

  74. 177
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    Ampersand,

    The same study also states that “we do not find evidence of weaker job performance among most groups of minority and female Affirmative Action hires.” Which indicates that the “qualifications” measured by the study (years of college) don’t seem to effect job performance.

    The paper correctly notes that one cannot conclude that promotions and such can be used to show that affirmative action hires have equal job performance, because promotions may also be subject to affirmative action. What I don’t understand is why they presume that job evaluations could not be subject to that.

    Anyway, an interesting question is how accurate the initial filtering that companies do, is. I’ve seen a lot of complaints by hiring managers that the ‘standard’ process that looks at qualifications doesn’t filter out a bunch of people who lack even minimal skills. It also seems likely that there are quite a few people whose skills are not evident from their qualifications. However, I don’t see that as a justification for affirmative action, because it probably makes the situation worse. A person who is only rejected because their qualifications don’t match their skills, can often get more qualifications. However, when race or gender is explicitly used to filter, this allows no opportunity for that person to change this part of their application to pass the filters. They cannot change their race.

    Or people didn’t understand that the names in the outlier study were Black names. My association with “Andre” isn’t “Black”; it’s “French.” (Which may or may not be Black.)

    I think that this is a strange objection on your part, because if Americans evaluate a resume for an American job, I am quite confident that they will assume that the applicant is American by default, not French. This is similar to how, if someone writes ‘I hate the president’ on an English forum, I will assume that they are referring to the American president, not Macron. My understanding is also that very few French migrants came to the US. If anything, I would expect Americans to assume that an Andre is black American or white Canadian, not white American.

    However, Canadians and French people usually have recognizably French last names, while black Americans generally don’t. So if the first names are coupled with English or German last names, I would expect people to guess: black American.

    I looked at the wiki page for ‘Andre’ where some notable Andre’s are listed. Of those who are identified as American, one looks white (Andre Agassi), although he is actually half-Iranian. The other 10 all seem to be black. Also, the French Andre’s on that page have mostly extremely French last names, while only one of the Americans does (Andre President).

    I know that the post you linked to did an experiment purporting to show that most people read names like “Andre” as Black names. But its method was unconvincing. If you say “pick which names are Black and which names are white,” and give me a choice of “Greg” or “Andre,” I’m going to guess that Andre is Black not because I actually associate “Andre” with Black, but because “Greg” is a name I associate with white “Greg”s I’ve met, and therefore “Andre” is probably the Black name by process of elimination.

    The ‘racist resume judges’ theory assumes that the people who judge the resumes are consciously or unconsciously distinguishing between black and white names, no? How is that meaningfully different from this experiment where people were also asked to distinguish between black and white names?

    If you are correct that one cannot believe the outcomes of an experiment where people are asked to judge people’s races by name, then why would we believe the resume experiments where people are expected to judge resumes based on judgments of people’s races?

    But I don’t think you can dismiss the possibility that “Jamal” is recognizably a Black name in a way that “Andre” is not.

    The issue here is that the replication study didn’t show any difference in callback rates. If the names in that study were merely less likely to be identified as black, you’d still see a difference in callback, just smaller. The paper I linked to showed that the ‘black names’ of the new study were perhaps not equally likely to be seen as black, but still far more likely than the non-black names.

  75. 178
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Harlequin,

    I really enjoyed reading wiki’s article on Boltzmann brains, and the whole thing reminds me of the “is it more likely we actually live in a simulation?” argument.

    Your scientific training teaches you to poke holes in other’s arguments, but why? I’d say it has something to do with centuries of thinkers figuring out the staggering number of ways that a person can come to wrong conclusions, as well as developing a useful notion of what it means to be wrong and how we go about testing for wrongness. I think these concepts are useful enough to be applied to other areas of study that make truth claims.

    I don’t think Gender, Fat, or Queer studies should be defunded or anything, but I think it would be helpful if these fields came under sharper criticism from the outside, in much the same way that Social Psych came under criticism from statisticians. I think scientific epistemology is applicable to Bell Hooks’s truth claims in much the same way that statistics is applicable to the methodologies of those who conduct social psych experiments.

    I suspect that most people don’t bother to criticize the worst offenders in the humanities because they think postmodern scholarship is either irrelevant, or because attacking thinkers like Hooks and Butler is viewed as “punching down.” (I know it feels like punching down when I hear Pinker criticize Butler, and the other day I heard the guys on the Very Bad Wizards podcast accuse James Lindsay of punching down as well) I also think there is a feeling that criticizing this scholarship is anti-feminist. In these very comments, RJN writes:

    “Feminist scholarship” is an academic way of “reading the world” that wears its political agenda on its sleeve. No doubt that agenda can, and has, been described in many different ways, but one political point I think it’s fair to say all feminisms and their scholarships have in common is a desire to dismantle patriarchy. To oppose feminist scholarship, then, is to oppose the dismantling of the patriarchy. Or, to state it positively, it is at least implicitly to argue for the patriarchy as a fundamental element of the status quo.

    This quote is a cudgel. Those who think this way can take your scientific training, and place it in a bucket called “Patriarchy.” It’s a perfect tool for motivated reasoning. Adam Smith’s free market? Patriarchy. Marx? Not Patriarchy. Karl Popper? Patriarchy. Foucault? Not Patriarchy. The Marketplace of ideas? Patriarchy (Hooks actually says this). It’s not necessary to provide evidence that women would actually be better off in a world with less Karl Popper and more “alternate ways of knowing,” nor is it necessary to prove that women would thrive in a marxist paradise. It’s enough to point out that Popper and Smith are the status quo. Even my demand for evidence can be dismissed as a manifestation of patriarchy. In a world where the very best ideas take years to evolve, a bias against the status quo is every bit as harmful as a bias for the status quo, and likely more so- there are way more ways to be wrong than there are to be right.

  76. 179
    lurker23 says:

    the only realistic way to look at AA is to try to use some sort of objective information because otherwise you lose a lot of your information to bias or counter-bias: if you ask a racist person to rate a POC they might give an answer that was too low, but if you ask a woke person to rate a POC they might give an answer that was too high.

    a job evaluation is a lot like a college admission. both the hiring company and the college are trying to get more than one goal at the same time, including “diversity” as well as “quality,” so they do not seem like they are a good way to evaluate quality.

    so the best places to look are ideally race blind things like tests, and if you do that you see that affirmative action makes a big different in quality.

    for example based on test scores and grades, POC get into better schools than they “should” across the board. so do athletes and super rich people. it probably does not matter all that much at schools #1-3, like Harvard, because there are enough high testing and high-grade POC, athletes, and rich people to go to Harvard but by the time you get down to school number 20 you get a very big gap between them and the ordinary admitted students.
    and you also see the same gap when it comes to actual grade performance and major selection.

    the schools who have a lot of AA of any kind end up having very few of those AA folks who can manage to graduate with good grades at all, much less in the hard majors like STEM. And generally despite the support that most schools dedicate to AA students, a disproportional number of them do not do well in grades in ANY major much less engineering.

    it does not seem that those things are unlinked to quality. quality students are measured by how well they do, and how well they learn, and how well they perform, and with tests you can get a good idea of how well those things are working, i think? so in schools at least i think we know pretty much for sure that AA is going to decrease overall student quality for the students who are helped. and that applies to ALL kinds of AA, race, sports, rich people, and legacy people.

  77. Jeffrey,

    Since you have quoted me, I feel the need to jump in here. When I wrote “To oppose feminist scholarship, then, is to oppose the dismantling of the patriarchy” I meant opposition, not criticism. Of course, feminist scholarship can and should be critiqued, as it very often is, both by people who are feminist and those who are not. I believe I was responding in the comment you have quoted to something you said in which you used the word oppose—I am not going to bother looking it up, since I don’t have the time—which I understood in context to mean opposing to the entire endeavor of feminist scholarship. (Not that you oppose it, but that you were asking a question or making a statement about those who might/do.)

  78. 181
    lurker23 says:

    these things are very hard to talk about but sometimes with an example? say you are at a stock brokerage and you are choosing a broker.

    One of them is a white dude who is the owner’s nephew. you might hear “he is a great employee!” but you would be cautious because you are concerned with the possibility that he might only be getting those reviews and assignment because he is the nephew, not only because he is good.

    if you are concerned about the possibility of bias in favor of the nephew then you should also be concerned about the possibility of bias for anything else that the company might value OTHER THAN “how good a broker is this person,” and depending on the company that might also include “diversity.”

  79. An interesting article from The New York Times, in light of some of the discussion in this thread, Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science.

  80. 183
    Sebastian H says:

    Yes I linked to Latour about a month ago. This paper here. It’s refreshing to see one of the original popularizer of deconstruction admit that things got out of hand, though not until people on the other side of his politics started using it. In the article you link he says something very interesting—he felt safe attacking science because it was so strong. I think a lot of deconstruction works like tha— it feeds on the idea that the good parts of the things it’s attacking will survive the assault. It’s why moral relativism can be appealing so long as you have a closely shared enough culture to think that people won’t do things you don’t like with it.

    Since you brought him up, I want to point out something important in the article that I linked again. Here he talks about why Criticism seems so powerful, and why people begin to think it is just an intellectual game.

    Let me try to portray the critical landscape in its ordinary and routine state.21
    We can summarize, I estimate, 90 percent of the contemporary critical scene by the following series of diagrams that fixate the object at only two positions, what I have called the fact position and the fairy position—fact and fairy are etymologically related but I won’t develop this point here. The fairy position is very well known and is used over and over again by many social scientists who associate criticism with antifetishism. The role of the critic is then to show that what the na ̈ıve believers are doing with objects is simply a projection of their wishes onto a material entity that does nothing at all by itself. Here they have diverted to their petty use the prophetic ful mination against idols “they have mouths and speak not, they have ears and hear not,” but they use this prophecy to decry the very objects of belief— gods, fashion, poetry, sport, desire, you name it—to which na ̈ıve believers cling with so much intensity.22 And then the courageous critic, who alone remains aware and attentive, who never sleeps, turns those false objects into fetishes that are supposed to be nothing but mere empty white screens on which is projected the power of society, domination, whatever. The na ̈ıve believer has received a first salvo (fig. 2).
    But, wait, a second salvo is in the offing, and this time it comes from the fact pole. This time it is the poor bloke, again taken aback, whose be- havior is now “explained” by the powerful effects of indisputable matters of fact: “You, ordinary fetishists, believe you are free but, in reality, you are acted on by forces you are not conscious of. Look at them, look, you blind idiot” (and here you insert whichever pet facts the social scientists fancy to work with, taking them from economic infrastructure, fields of discourse, social domination, race, class, and gender, maybe throwing in some neurobiology, evolutionary psychology, whatever, provided they act as indisputable facts whose origin, fabrication, mode of development are left unexamined) (fig. 3)… (sentence omitted because I’m on my phone and for some reason can’t grab that part of the pdf)

    You are always right! When na ̈ıve believers are clinging forcefully to their objects, claiming that they are made to do things because of their gods, their poetry, their cherished objects, you can turn all of those attachments into so many fetishes and humiliate all the believers by showing that it is nothing but their own projection, that you, yes you alone, can see. But as soon as na ̈ıve believers are thus inflated by some belief in their own importance, in their own projective capacity, you strike them by a second uppercut and humiliate them again, this time by showing that, whatever they think, their behavior is entirely determined by the action of powerful causalities coming from objective reality they don’t see, but that you, yes you, the never sleeping critic, alone can see. Isn’t this fabulous? Isn’t it really worth going to gradu- ate school to study critique? “Enter here, you poor folks. After arduous years of reading turgid prose, you will be always right, you will never be taken in any more; no one, no matter how powerful, will be able to accuse you of na ̈ıvete ́, that supreme sin, any longer? Better equipped than Zeus himself you rule alone, striking from above with the salvo of antifetishism in one hand and the solid causality of objectivity in the other.” The only loser is the na ̈ıve believer, the great unwashed, always caught off balance (fig. 4).

    He goes on to explain how Critics never allow their own facts to get eaten up by the two step. Their facts are of course not fetishes, and their logic is not sufficiently polluted by heredity and such as to call it into serious question.

    He then outlines how of course this is clearly not ok, and tries to describe what they should be doing. The problem is that a huge portion of how post modernism/Criticism functions does not turn into anything like even the unconvincing to me right way that he outlines. He has not been nearly as successful since his come to Jesus moment about truth as he was in spreading the word about deconstructing it. He literally spent the whole first half of his career arguing that science had enormous political components, even in the hard sciences, and now he’s annoyed that people took him seriously.

    But really read the whole thing. I think he properly diagnoses a big part of where things went wrong, but they are still going wrong in much that same way. The two step he describes shows up all over the place in public discourse of the social sciences.

  81. 184
    Kate says:

    It’s refreshing to see one of the original popularizer of deconstruction admit that things got out of hand, though not until people on the other side of his politics started using it. In the article you link he says something very interesting—he felt safe attacking science because it was so strong. I think a lot of deconstruction works like tha— it feeds on the idea that the good parts of the things it’s attacking will survive the assault. It’s why moral relativism can be appealing so long as you have a closely shared enough culture to think that people won’t do things you don’t like with it.

    But deconstrution isn’t unique in these respects. Theories are tools. They can be applied to both good and bad ends. A knife isn’t a bad tool to cut up vegetables just because it can also be used to stab someone in the back. Scientific method has been used to save millions of lives…and to kill millions as well. No matter what methods we use, we will always reach a point at which we must make moral judgements.

  82. 185
    Sebastian H says:

    The problem with deconstruction is that you can’t easily get to a useful notion of what the difference between good and bad ends are because it actively attacks your ability to make those judgments. It attacks the foundations so it’s difficult to predict which walls will fall down.

  83. Sebastian,

    First, thanks for the link. The paper is quite dense and I have read it relatively quickly, so I am sure I would have to read it once or twice more, but I am not so sure that it represents what you call “a come to Jesus moment” about truth—by which I assume you mean a realization that he was wrong in some way—as much as it does an awakening to the fact that the tools he’s been using are now outdated, that they did what they were supposed to do and that it’s time to move forward, to develop new tools to deal with the situation those old tools created. Those are very different stances and place the diagnosis you quote in very different contexts. I was struck, as I read, by this passage from page 246:

    The stubbornness of matters of fact in the usual scenography of the rock-kicking objector—”It is there whether you like or not”—is much like the stubbornness of political demonstrators: “the U.S., love it or leave it,” that is, a very poor substitute for any sort of vibrant, articulate, sturdy, decent, long-term existence.

    In other words, I don’t think he is backing off one bit from the notion that truth/facts is/are constructed. Indeed, I think—as it says somewhere in the article I linked to—that what conspiracy theorists, climate change deniers, etc. are able to do when they “artificially maintain” a scientific controversy demonstrates how right he was about the nature of truth/facts. It seems to me that what he’s doing in this piece is asking what the ethical, morally defensible stance is towards the fact that he was right; and that feels very different to me that a come to Jesus moment.

  84. 187
    Kate says:

    The problem with deconstruction is that you can’t easily get to a useful notion of what the difference between good and bad ends are because it actively attacks your ability to make those judgments. It attacks the foundations so it’s difficult to predict which walls will fall down.

    Those are also its strengths. If deconstruction were the only theoretical tool in our toolkit, I agree we’d be in a very sorry position. But that is very, very far from the position the academy is in, much less society at large.

  85. 188
    Sebastian H says:

    Richard, you’re right that “come to Jesus” is the wrong metaphor. He doesn’t say that he was directly wrong, he says that his tools have been destructive to discourse rather than helpful. He says that they are like nuclear bombs, and suggests they should be used much less frequently. Since the tools still make very frequent appearances, I’m willing to accept statements that they should be used significantly less as close as I’m likely to get in a world where humans rarely admit to being directly wrong.

    One hint that he doesn’t directly point out, though he alludes to it in the stubbornness of facts zone is that the main reason the facts end up being stubborn is that most of the working sciences have stubbornly not listened to the Critics. For the most part physicists, chemists, electrical engineers, civil engineers, astronomers, and all forms of physical engineers haven’t cared that post modern Critics thought their beliefs were constructed. For the most part scientists ignored them. Which turns out to have been a good thing.

    Kate, you’re super cryptic there. Which theoretical tool is post modern resistant in a way that will let you resolve whether or not it is being used for good ends or bad? The problem with it is that as applied (whether or not it could be used properly as Latour hopes I’m talking, as is he about how it tends to actually be used) it functions either as a bad faith argument (your views are dismissible socially constructed fetishes while my views are perceptive insights) or it functions as a universal solvent of ideas.

    Now from my point of view, the problem with post modernism is the same as that of libertarianism. Both offer useful limited critiques of highly functioning systems. Both are terribly destructive once you elevate the critique to an organizing principle. When you try to use them as guiding principles, the institutions they were counting on become more and more disfunctional.

  86. Sebastian:

    He says [his tools] are like nuclear bombs, and suggests they should be used much less frequently.

    Actually, if I have read him right, his conclusion is that they should be used differently, not less frequently. I still think you are misreading him. I don’t think he is backing off from the value of Criticism one iota. Rather, I think he is acknowledging that the methods of criticism are, in and of themselves, value free; in other words, they are not inherently good or bad, but acquire their value from the uses to which they are put—which means, in large measure, from the values of the people who use them. And the mistake that Critics made was that they did not see this, choosing instead to believe that their motives and values somehow inhered in their methods. In other words, and he says this somewhere, if I remember correctly, one of the mistakes Criticism made was that its practitioners did not turn their lens on themselves and so did not recognize the ways in which they had come to see Criticism as an end in itself, rather than as a critique of something.

    I also think you misread what he means when he points out that scientists resisted the notion that certain things are not socially constructed, but to go further than this, I would have to read the article again and I just don’t have the time to do that. (I know I keep begging off for this reason, but I want to be transparent.)

  87. 190
    Sebastian H says:

    He doesn’t go as far as I would, but here he is describing the state of Criticism as it is practiced.

    If you think I am exaggerating in my somewhat dismal portrayal of the critical landscape, it is because we have had in effect almost no occasion so far to detect the total mismatch of the three contradictory repertoires— antifetishism, positivism, realism—because we carefully manage to apply them on different topics. We explain the objects we don’t approve of by treating them as fetishes; we account for behaviors we don’t like by disci- pline whose makeup we don’t examine; and we concentrate our passionate interest on only those things that are for us worthwhile matters of concern.

    That is the core of the complaint about how many of the X Studies disciplines function. You’re correct that his proposed solution is allegedly more Criticism. But his sketch of that works involves more vague gesturing because he still doesn’t have an explanation which both fits with Criticism and for deciding which things get to be treated as fetishes, facts, and objects. He’s just moving us back to where things were before, back when opponents of Criticism said “no those are facts”. I agree. I think they were right back when they were resisting Criticism. But We don’t need Latour and post modernism for that. We could have ignored him entirely and done that. It’s great that he’s getting to the point we were at before post modernism took the academic world by storm, but it represents such an enormous waste of decades.

    The problem I see, which I think is sort of where LaTour is going is that post modernism is really only (and even then only sometimes) useful at the borders of what we are learning, but the Critics and post modernist practitioners act as if it works on everything everywhere. Academics love getting sucked into nitpicky edge cases, because that’s how our minds work. But a lot of times we get lost on the edge, and fail to see the whole. For example all cultures have the moral concept of murder. There are variations on the very edges about which things separate murder from just killing, but if you knew nothing about cross cultural comparison you could still correctly identify what counts as a murder in any society in the world a vast majority of the time. That’s because most of the cases aren’t the edge cases. Most of the cases are just the typical cases. Post modernism has very little useful to say about those. And when it tries to, it ends up looking very silly.

    Latour is just barely getting to that point—and as he acknowledges the rest of the field hasn’t even followed him yet.

  88. 191
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    I think that postmodernists have a strong tendency to take a claim that has some explanatory power and then to argue that this (fully) explains something specific, without ever providing evidence. This effectively makes them into conspiracy theorists, who selectively interpret facts to fit within a preconceived narrative.

    It’s exactly the step of going from (fairly banal) generic claims to a methodology/tool where I think that postmodernism loses the plot. So I mostly disagree with those that argue that postmodernism has provided a useful tool for the scientific toolbox.

    Ultimately, empirical science already has the tools to deal with valid criticisms. Those who believe that scientists are applying their methodology in a biased way can try to replicate the study with the same methodology. Those who believe that the methodology of a study is faulty can do a study with another methodology that seeks to answer the same question. Scientists can even do studies to find an explanation for why other studies give wrong, inconsistent, biased, etc results.

    For example, earlier someone here made the claim that studies show that the resumes of black people get discriminated against. I pointed out that a study with a slightly different methodology (a different set of ‘black names’ and ‘white names’) didn’t replicate that result. Other scientists then came up with a theory why this fairly small difference in methodology would cause the outcomes to change and did some studies that showed that their theory is plausible and that the original studies may very plausibly not only have changed the variable whose effect they wanted to test (ethnicity), but also changed another variable (socio-economic status).

    I challenge the proponents of postmodernism to argue how critical race theory can/could have been helpful to answer the same question (whether black people are discriminated against during hiring merely for their race). When I say ‘answer’, I mean to rigorously provide evidence for a claim (so not just to come up with an hypothesis that still needs to be tested).

  89. My union’s statement on the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.

  90. 193
    lurker23 says:

    Richard, i am very much liking to read your recent posts here (i do not yet know whether i agree with you but that does not matter either way) and i am glad you are taking that side. it is very interesting to read! and it is also very clear, which makes me want to apologize (sorry) for suggesting you would not be clear.

    can i ask a union question? actually two, although of course you do not have to answer!

    i read the letter at the link. it was a very nice letter (what happened was very horrible) and very well written too, but at first read to me it sort of looks like a letter that came from a political group, a GOOD political group that i agree with, but not so much like a letter that came from a group that focused on workers. i assume you agree with the letter–so do i (and maybe you are ON the committee that sent it?) but i am having a hard time answering why “sending this kind of letter” is the sort of thing that unions in general should be doing. (i sort of think they should not do it. if i was in a union so that i could get better pay, which i think is much of the point of a union, i would not want the union to send political messages for me, i would just want them to think about pay and benefits.) do you think that is okay and can you sort of try to explain why? would you be okay with your union sending the opposite kind of letter that you disagreed with politically, even if it made you have to split between liking your job and hating your agreement?

  91. 194
    RonF says:

    Harlequin @ 161:

    Over the last 50 years, the Republican party has become much more anti-intellectual than it used to be.>

    LimitsOfLanguage @164:

    The problem with your claim that the Republican party has become much more anti-intellectual is that anti-intellectualism cannot be measured objectively,

    I think what you’re seeing is not people becoming anti-intellectual. I think what you’re seeing is that people believe many in academia are no longer intellectuals but are ignoring or perverting the process of true intellectual pursuit to concentrate on promoting and indoctrinating students in a given political or social agenda.

  92. 195
    Harlequin says:

    I don’t know that there’s much practical difference between “I hate academia because I think intellectual investigation is useless” and “I hate academia because I don’t like the conclusions some of the academics are coming to, so I’m just going to write off the whole enterprise.”

    I mean–many Republicans write off climate science as fake science (it isn’t), many will happily cite Regnerus but not any of the many sociologists who show how flawed his work is, some Republican officials (as I said above) propose that state universities should provide only job training and nothing else, important studies were included alongside (arguably) wasteful government spending in the “Wastebook” Senators Coburn and then Flake used to put together. (Do they still? I couldn’t find one later than 2015.) I am not basing my characterization of Republicans as anti-intellectual solely, or even mainly, on the basis that they don’t approve of a large chunk of current humanities scholarship.

  93. 196
    LimitsOfLanguage says:

    lurker23,

    What you are seeing is the balkanization of society. In a more unified society, organizations stick to the things their organization is focused on. So you’d see statements by Jewish organisations, religious organizations, advocacy groups with related causes (like gun control), etc; but not by unions or other organizations that have no relation to the event.

    In a balkanized society, it’s crucial to be accepted by one of the tribes, because society becomes like a war zone. You need to be behind the front lines to be fairly safe. If you are cast out into no man’s land, both sides will identify you as the enemy and shoot at you.

    So you get statements as those by RJN’s union, where they speak out on things that have nothing to do with their purpose as an organization. The statement takes events that fits within the ideology of one tribe to claim that the tribe is good, while the other tribe is evil. It uses the classic vilification technique of claiming that the other side (as a whole) is guilty of a variety of horrible crimes. So it’s good against evil. Of course, no mention is made of the evil of their own tribe, nor the good on the other side. So the statement is highly ironic, as it is a hateful call to “take a stand against these hatreds.”

    It’s unfortunate that many don’t actually hold the principles that they claim to hold, but instead a tribal reduction of the principle. So they don’t oppose racism, but racism against certain groups. They don’t oppose sexism, but only sexism against certain people. They don’t support science, but science that support their side. Etc.

    Harlequin,

    A problem with the balkanization of society is that institutions often become ‘owned’ by a tribe, which makes them subject to tribal warfare.

    Once that happens, that tribe is incentivized to ‘clean up’ the institution to fit better with the ideology of the tribe, getting rid of critics who point to inconvenient truths or otherwise challenge the narrative. The other tribe is incentivized to write off the entire institution as partisan and try to damage it. These two behaviors then reinforce each other, as more and more people in one tribe start believing that critics act in bad faith and try to destroy the institution (resulting in more support to remove critics from the institution and not listen to critics outside of it), while more and more people of the other tribe believe that the institution is no more than a weapon in the hands of the other tribe. So you get two echo chambers. Harlequin, your claim that the other tribe has such an echo chamber, but your blindness to a very powerful echo chamber in your own tribe, makes you contribute to this issue.

    Tribal warfare eliminates moderates as a force for unity, which is the most damaging effect of all. Studies show that moderates are the least discriminatory, have the best political understanding, etc. Empowering them is crucial. Having right-wing OR left-wing extremists in power is horrible.

  94. lurker23:

    i assume you agree with the letter–so do i (and maybe you are ON the committee that sent it?) but i am having a hard time answering why “sending this kind of letter” is the sort of thing that unions in general should be doing. (i sort of think they should not do it. if i was in a union so that i could get better pay, which i think is much of the point of a union, i would not want the union to send political messages for me, i would just want them to think about pay and benefits.) do you think that is okay and can you sort of try to explain why? would you be okay with your union sending the opposite kind of letter that you disagreed with politically, even if it made you have to split between liking your job and hating your agreement?

    First, full disclosure: I am the secretary of my union and, while the statement reflects the sentiments of the entire executive committee—the union’s elected leadership—I was responsible for the actual text.

    I have put in bold a couple of sentences in the above passage because, as I understand them, they represent a fundamental difference between how you and I understand what unionism is, what unions do, and why one might want to join a union. But let me not assume that my reading is accurate. When you say if I was in a union so that I could get better pay I read that as meaning, first, that you believe negotiated salary and benefits are the only aspect of a person’s work life with which a union should be concerned and, second, given the context of your question, that you believe negotiated salary and negotiated benefits can be treated as if they do not exist within—as if they can be discussed and negotiated without being cognizant of—the socioeconomic, cultural, and political context in which the workers covered by that particular contract live. Is that the case?

    I also don’t understand this question: would you be okay with your union sending the opposite kind of letter that you disagreed with politically, even if it made you have to split between liking your job and hating your agreement? What do you mean by opposite? A letter in support of white supremacy? Or do you mean, simply, a letter that expressed a viewpoint with which I disagreed? ETA: I also don’t understand the second part of that question at all. What agreement would I be hating? What does liking my job have to do with anything?

  95. 198
    lurker23 says:

    Richard Jeffrey Newman says:
    First, full disclosure: I am the secretary of my union and, while the statement reflects the sentiments of the entire executive committee—the union’s elected leadership—I was responsible for the actual text.

    you wrote an excellent letter. i will break up the responses a little to make them easier to read.

    first, that you believe negotiated salary and benefits are the only aspect of a person’s work life with which a union should be concerned

    i am always worried by terms like “only” or “never” but if you are willing to stretch those meanings perhaps a bit less than literally i think that is fairly close to correct.

    i do think that originally unions were mostly about working conditions (that i will generally call “benefits”, hopefully that is clear enough) and pay, and seniority, and so on. and i think it is true (am i wrong?) that all of the special protections which unions get under the law are because unions are working for those things. and i think that to a large degree unions mostly make sense when they negotiate for those things.

    you believe negotiated salary and negotiated benefits can be treated as if they do not exist within—as if they can be discussed and negotiated without being cognizant of—the socioeconomic, cultural, and political context in which the workers covered by that particular contract live.

    this one is harder to answer with yes or no, especially because i am sure that “the socioeconomic, cultural, and political context in which the workers covered by that particular contract live” means something very different to you than it does to me! i do not think you are intending to abuse the term and we do not need to define it in order to for me to answer!
    but terms like “the socioeconomic, cultural, and political context in which the workers covered by that particular contract live” are hard for me because it seems like that can in theory include almost ANYTHING that someone wants to include. and sure there may be some things which happen off the job and outside working hours that a union should reasonably (in my view) consider but those things are going to be, in my view, very limited.

    in my analysis i am not sure i am able to precisely define where the line is without a lot more thinking, and i concede there is going to be some grey area.
    but i know that “horrible synagogue shooting in another town” is so far outside my view of the line for “professional union” that it does not matter where the grey area is, it is not even close.

    as for the second part

    What do you mean by opposite? A letter in support of white supremacy? Or do you mean, simply, a letter that expressed a viewpoint with which I disagreed? ETA: I also don’t understand the second part of that question at all. What agreement would I be hating? What does liking my job have to do with anything?

    i was not clear. i will try again.

    to me a union has some power and special status in law, and maybe some moral authority to act for members, because it is so very limited in what it does and is therefore almost certain that it represents the wishes of the people in the union. and that is very important because the laws make it very hard NOT to be in a union in a union shop and they often make it very hard to form a competing union, at least in the USA you often seem to be mostly stuck with one union.

    i think that for example it is safe for everyone in the union to assume “our members want more money” or “our members want better benefits” and so the way union works makes god sense. but it is not even slightly true that any general union can assume their members want to explicitly make a lot of political statements–including an apparent strong opposition to someone who just got elected president and got roughly half of the vote.

    in fact this seems odd to me because you would assume that a worker rights platform would OPPOSE political tests and would OPPOSE things like “having your main employment group that you sort of have to join, sending political things you don’t like, and you are to worried to protest.”

    illustrating this was why i asked you how you would feel if you felt like you had to lay low and keep a member of a group but that group started doing very offensive to you views, white supremacy or anything else.

  96. 199
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Lurker,

    I’m not in a union now, but I was apprenticed and became a journeyman with the local plumbers and pipefitters union in Columbus Ohio.

    My union did the kinds of things you’d expect a union to do to give us the highest pay and benefits possible, but it was also pretty political, sometimes more than I wanted it to be, but in ways I understood. They were trump-ish when it came to trade and immigration (naturally), but mostly they were very supportive of democrats because democrats worked to increase our bargaining position.

    It’s true that I didn’t agree with some of the messaging, but I think unions are necessarily political because their existence really does depend on the law. As a journeyman, I was free to travel wherever there was union work to be done, and in many right-to-work states, there was no union presence at all. Many unions can’t exist without legislation to keep them competitive, so naturally most every member expects the union to fight for that. Union membership is definitely about more than benefits, there was also the whole solidarity aspect. I was fortunate the my union didn’t strike while I was a member, but others did, and crossing that picket line was out of the question. It wasn’t good for our paychecks, but we stayed home anyways.

  97. 200
    lurker23 says:

    i am interested to hear that, and maybe i am wrong? the things i have heard of from other people were different but it does not sound like Richard thinks that his union is unusual, and now you are saying your union was also political. do you think this is the way that unions work? also do you think this is always the way that unions work or is that more recent?

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