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Remember David Gelernter on Darwin’s thugs? He’s hit the big time, sort of. “Fiercely anti-intellectual”


Here, on the thugs’ attack on Thomas Nagel for doubting Darwin:

The intelligentsia was so furious that it formed a lynch mob. In May 2013, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran a piece called “Where Thomas Nagel Went Wrong.” One paragraph was notable:

Whatever the validity of [Nagel’s] stance, its timing was certainly bad. The war between New Atheists and believers has become savage, with Richard Dawkins writing sentences like, “I have described atonement, the central doctrine of Christianity, as vicious, sadomasochistic, and repellent. We should also dismiss it as barking mad….” In that climate, saying anything nice at all about religion is a tactical error.

It’s the cowardice of the Chronicle’s statement that is alarming—as if the only conceivable response to a mass attack by killer hyenas were to run away. Nagel was assailed; almost everyone else ran.

Gelernter’s hit the big time now, in attracting irrational screeds:

David Gelernter, fiercely anti-intellectual computer scientist, is being eyed for Trump’s science adviser. – Washington Post, Jan. 18

From Jonah Goldberg, in response, at Townhall:

For those unfamiliar with David Gelernter, he essentially created parallel computing, which sounds like witchcraft to me, but I’m told it’s a really big deal. He was also one of the first people to see the internet coming, in his 1991 book “Mirror Worlds.” Bill Joy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, described Gelernter as “one of the most brilliant and visionary computer scientists of our time.” Ted Kaczynski — aka “the Unabomber” — agreed, which is why he maimed Gelernter with a letter bomb in a 1993 assassination attempt.

Gelernter, who teaches computer science at Yale and has degrees in classical Hebrew, has written books and articles on history, culture, religion, artificial intelligence and philosophy.

What [science reporter Sarah] Kaplan really seems to be getting at is that Gelernter is one of the few major intellectuals out there today who is critical of the intellectual establishment, which acts as a class or guild.

There are scientists whom science reporters know and go to for quotes. The Union of Concerned Scientists, historically a very politicized outfit, is a rich source of such pithy scientists. More broadly, the world of scientists involved in public policy is a very small subset of the world of science, and — as with almost every other profession and industry — a certain guild mentality develops among its members. As a result, they become inclined to say, in effect, “Back off, this is our turf.” More.

We know. The trade Kaplan practices is called “pop science writing.” And it is very much part of the reason most people don’t credit science claims in traditional mainstream media anymore.

See also: What? Is no political party the “party of science”?

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