In the Inside Higher Ed story, the rap against cognitive psychologist Pinker, who always seemed ready with a Darwinian explanation for everything, is that he offered some interpretation of language to Epstein’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz.
I used to think that Inside Higher Ed (IHE) was a pretty objective forum for reporting news from academia. But now, it seems, they’re going the way of BuzzFeed, publishing what is essentially a hit piece on Steve Pinker that, starting with his trivial assistance to Alan Dershowitz in the first prosecution of Jeffrey Epstein for sex crimes (Pinker interpreted the language of a statute, for chrissake), goes on to dredge up all the other accusations of Pinker from the last several years: he’s white, male, old, a sexist, and his scholarship is deficient. In other words, it goes beyond the ambit of the news to once again thrust a sword into Pinker…
Yes, the ending criticizes free speech as well as trotting out the “old white male” canard to denigrate free speech. Never mind that the head of the ACLU, and author of a very good new book on free speech, is a woman: Nadine Strossen. Never mind that one of the most stirring and eloquent defenses of free speech I’ve heard in recent years was given by Van Jones, a liberal (and black) commentator for CNN (watch it here). Never mind that minorities gained their rights largely through free speech—demonstrations and orations!Jerry Coyne, “Now Inside Higher Education has a hit piece on Pinker” at Why Evolution Is True
As Coyne points out, free speech takes a beating in the piece too:
Christensen said it’s important to contextualize Pinker in the ever-growing “economy of intellect” — think TED Talks and thought influencers.
Comparing Pinker to University of Toronto psychologist and quasi-guru Jordan Peterson, Christensen said Pinker “courts public attention and controversy after years of creating and publicizing work that is interdisciplinary and outward focused.” Over the past few years especially, he said, Pinker has joined “a cadre of older, mostly white male academics who espouse a purist view of free speech and debate” that “ignores significant scholarship from women and scholars of color about how free speech and academic freedom as traditionally construed overweight and privilege already privileged voices” — meaning mostly white, older men.Colleen Flaherty, “Pinker, Epstein, Soldier, Spy” at Chronicle of Higher Education
So the target audience believes neither in the defendant’s right to counsel nor in free speech. Glad we’ve got that clear.
Pinker may just be a blip on the radar screen of ambitious SJWs, for whom his celebrity made him a target. One wonders, who’s next?
This Twitter feed gives some sense of the SJWs at work.
See also: Jeff Epstein’s cultural dumpster fire spreads to ID vs. evo controversies Just because people are in the news doesn’t mean they did anything. It rather shows how a bad actor can change the news picture.
Is violence really declining, as cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker claims?
John Gray doesn’t think much of evolutionary psychologist Steve Pinker’s “better angels”
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