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Nature: “Unhelpful to exclude conservative voices from debate”

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From the editors of Nature:

The article by Mark Lilla, a researcher at Columbia University in New York City who specializes in the history of Western intellectual, political and religious thought, called for an end to what he described as an overemphasis by liberals on racial, gender and sexual identity politics. He believes that this focus distracts from core fundamental concepts of democracy and so weakens social cohesion and civic responsibility.

In short, he asserted that many progressives live in bubbles; that they are educationally programmed to be attuned to diversity issues, yet have “shockingly little to say” about political and democratic fundamentals such as class, economics, war and policy issues affecting the common good. Of direct relevance to the US election, he argued that the excessive focus on identity politics by urban and academic elites has left many white, religious and rural groups feeling alienated, threatened and ignored in an unwelcoming environment where the issues that matter to them are given little or no attention. More.

Identity politics in science does way more damage than that, actually. It undermines the idea that academic elites are even people to be taken seriously.

Elites can always be outvoted by the sheer numbers of non-elites. But usually they haven’t been. At one time, they were held in high regard: After all, they invented antibiotics and nuclear power, put man on the moon… you get the picture.

Even people who didn’t agree with their views had to respect them for what they achieved. Even though they did not properly recognize all the Hidden Figures who contributed.

But identity politics changes all that. For example, we are told that we need more “women in science.”  Sure, if it means that the hidden figures become visible figures so that other women are encouraged to imitate them.

But who needs another few hundred tax-enabled Aren’t I good! girls?, fronting the status quo?

Just to prove that women can be mediocre too? Do the elites not think that the rest of us are well aware of that fact? We deal with mediocrity in all types of people every day. We object to rewarding and promoting it in order to achieve, for example, parity in employed mediocrity between men and women, at our expense.

Actually, at least some editors of Nature have seemed reasonably sound on key issues lately, pointing out for example that the way peer review currently works is unscientific.

They must have felt a little foolish listening to all the scientists who were stunned by the recent U.S. election results. The results aren’t that difficult to understand, assuming that polling is really a science that analyzes the game, and not a player in the game.

As everyone now knows, when it comes to the life of the mind, the opposite of diversity is university. At this point, the university can sink or swim. Either it grows up or other venues will be found for the life of the mind.

See also: Professional skeptic Michael Shermer on convincing others when facts fail. Why does he need to believe in this stuff? Recently, he got as far as realizing that the social sciences he relies on are in large part replication desert, fraud squad files, and party pep rally.

Coffee!! Urban legends still alive and well in social psychology But as long as students pay without protest, it’s hard to see how anything will change. Except that, gradually, schools may just start de-emphasizing or dumping social sciences.

Here, alas, is a throng of women in science who will NOT be the next Lynn Margulis

and

Rob Sheldon: Don’t go home, Europeans

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7 Replies to “Nature: “Unhelpful to exclude conservative voices from debate”

  1. 1
    EvilSnack says:

    It’s been obvious for years that the focus on identity politics has added nothing of value at all. It’s also obvious that the social sciences establishment doesn’t care.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    It may be too late, the cracks in the foundation look fatal. And, we need to say to the sneering elites: there is a point when people you have repeatedly disrespected, bullied and insulted simply say “enough” and walk away from what you thought was the only game worth playing in in town. That’s what Brexit and Trump, in significant part, mean. Too late, game over — people are no longer interested in your rules and umpires henceforth. KF

  3. 3
    rvb8 says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I am liberal and hold all those opinions about homosexuality, freedom from religion, global warming is a fact, evolution is a fact etc etc.

    Nothing annoys me more than closing down alternatives to these views, and shouting down any one who does attempt an alternative read, as ‘racist’, or an ‘Islamophobe’, ‘a science denialist’, or my favourite, ‘privalleged white males’.

    Coyne also hates this and frequently writes about idiocy by some groups in US universities. These people seem to hold the view that anyone who disagrees with them is evil. But maybe they merely think what you are spouting is nonsense. These people are very rightly described as ‘snowflakes’. How apt that these gentle soles are heade for a nasty wake up when they realise that outside their campuses there are very few ‘safe-spaces’, and people frequently say inapproriate things. The rest of us get on with life, these twits are mortified that such things can be said, having just exited one of the most unreal, sheltered and pampered environments on earth.

    Of course the only way to oppose ideas that you hold to be wrong, is to first listen to those ideas.

    I personally hold that the Islamic community in all Western countries needs to seriously address the hatred spewed in their Mosques, and to seriously address certain Imams and real hate groups. Islam, in my opinion, needs to get rid of its victim mentality.

    I have seen some of the material used to teach young Palestinian boys and it is disgusting. A trail of mysogyny, anti-Semitism, and unsophistocated anti-Western nonsense that is unbelievable for pure bile. In Israel this would be criminal and those spreading this literature could face jail; not so in the Islamic world. This is not Islamaphobia, this is observation!

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    called for an end to what he described as an overemphasis by liberals on racial, gender and sexual identity politics. He believes that this focus distracts from core fundamental concepts of democracy

    There’s a conspiratorial theory I’ve encountered recently about this that actually seems reasonable.

    The emphasis on racial, gender and sexual identity was a deliberate attempt by Marxist intellectuals (Alinski, Frankfurt School) to destablize society. And it’s not just gender identity, but sexual revolution itself.

    When a society is confused and absorbed by sexuality, it is much easier to control and manipulate. The gay rights movement, highly politicized, was this in action. When the society is focused on gratifying sexual desire, it become blinded to governing forces. Courage and the will to fight are lost – people are enslaved.

    That all makes perfect sense to me. There are some ‘noble liberals’ of a sort, who think it’s all about ‘democracy’. But even the democratic impulse was a revolution that appealed to the baser instincts of the populace.

    So people can vote for their own interest, and they end up destroying themselves in the process.

  5. 5
    Silver Asiatic says:

    These people are very rightly described as ‘snowflakes’. How apt that these gentle soles are heade for a nasty wake up when they realise that outside their campuses there are very few ‘safe-spaces’, and people frequently say inapproriate things. The rest of us get on with life, these twits are mortified that such things can be said, having just exited one of the most unreal, sheltered and pampered environments on earth.

    Agreed, rvb8.

  6. 6
    News says:

    My own view is that identity politics is unfair to citizens and taxpayers of all identities.

    It assigns value to qualities that, however significant in themselves, are irrelevant to an assigned objective.

    As such, it promotes mediocrity in the same way that, centuries ago, the designation “of noble birth” cursed the Anglosphere with highly placed twits making critical decisions. We did better later, with freer competition.

    Identity politics also makes lobbies and claques much more important in politics than they should be. Such groups historically produce little other than ink, air time, and policies that primarily reward their members, not the people they are supposed to be trying to help. Old news that.

    In an open society, some degree of success typically follows from just not breaking certain obvious rules. I’ll speak for the girls here:

    Finish school, qualify in a trade where there are real jobs (even if you must travel), have kids with a life partner who cares about them the way you do, belong to a church or some other institution where you meet people who care about the meaning of life, and stay well away from anyone who is seriously into addiction, crime, and/or risky relationships.

    Dull? Sure, in the same way that the retirement party is dull compared to a night at the police station. Often, the difference is a few choices early on.

    Added: Obviously, some girls will show more talent in science, politics, business, etc. than the above implies. But most such women will benefit by avoiding obvious traps.

    And some women succeed against all the odds. But many more just get snuffed out and we never hear about it.

    That’s not injustice; it’s reality.

  7. 7
    rvb8 says:

    It is ‘dull’ NEWS, and I am very happy that there are some individuals who simply eskew this ‘proper’ life.

    I am talking of course about the Motzarts, and van Goghs.
    Those creative geniuses who do view ‘home life’ as a tedious night mare. Without them humanity would be like me and you, and that would point to no God at all.

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