The Unfortunate Fallout of Campus Postmodernism

Back home from a particularly relaxed, hot summer. So, I thought I’ll do some window dressing. Here is Michael Shermer’s latest Skeptic article. Enjoy.

The Unfortunate Fallout of Campus Postmodernism

The Unfortunate Fallout of Campus Postmodernism

The roots of the current campus madness

  • By Michael Shermer | Scientific American September 2017 Issue

     

    In a 1946 essay in the London Tribune entitled “In Front of Your Nose,” George Orwell noted that “we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”

    The intellectual battlefields today are on college campuses, where students’ deep convictions about race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation and their social justice antipathy toward capitalism, imperialism, racism, white privilege, misogyny and “cissexist heteropatriarchy” have bumped up against the reality of contradictory facts and opposing views, leading to campus chaos and even violence. Students at the University of California, Berkeley, and outside agitators, for example, rioted at the mere mention that conservative firebrands Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter had been invited to speak (in the end, they never did). Demonstrators at Middlebury College physically attacked libertarian author Charles Murray and his liberal host, professor Allison Stanger, pulling her hair, twisting her neck and sending her to the ER.*

    One underlying cause of this troubling situation may be found in what happened at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., in May, when biologist and self-identified “deeply progressive” professor Bret Weinstein refused to participate in a “Day of Absence” in which “white students, staff and faculty will be invited to leave the campus for the day’s activities.” Weinstein objected, writing in an e-mail: “on a college campus, one’s right to speak—or to be—must never be based on skin color.” In response, an angry mob of 50 students disrupted his biology class, surrounded him, called him a racist and insisted that he resign. He claims that campus police informed him that the college president told them to stand down, but he has been forced to stay off campus for his safety’s sake.

    How has it come to this? One of many trends was identified by Weinstein in a Wall Street Journal essay: “The button-down empirical and deductive fields, including all the hard sciences, have lived side by side with ‘critical theory,’ postmodernism and its perception-based relatives. Since the creation in 1960s and ’70s of novel, justice-oriented fields, these incompatible worldviews have repelled one another.”

    In an article for Quillette.com on “Methods Behind the Campus Madness,” graduate researcher Sumantra Maitra of the University of Nottingham in England reported that 12 of the 13 academics at U.C. Berkeley who signed a letter to the chancellor protesting Yiannopoulos were from “Critical theory, Gender studies and Post-Colonial/Postmodernist/Marxist background.” This is a shift in Marxist theory from class conflict to identity politics conflict; instead of judging people by the content of their character, they are now to be judged by the color of their skin (or their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, et cetera). “Postmodernists have tried to hijack biology, have taken over large parts of political science, almost all of anthropology, history and English,” Maitra concludes, “and have proliferated self-referential journals, citation circles, non-replicable research, and the curtailing of nuanced debate through activism and marches, instigating a bunch of gullible students to intimidate any opposing ideas.”

    Students are being taught by these postmodern professors that there is no truth, that science and empirical facts are tools of oppression by the white patriarchy, and that nearly everyone in America is racist and bigoted, including their own professors, most of whom are liberals or progressives devoted to fighting these social ills. Of the 58 Evergreen faculty members who signed a statement “in solidarity with students” calling for disciplinary action against Weinstein for “endangering” the community by granting interviews in the national media, I tallied only seven from the sciences. Most specialize in English, literature, the arts, humanities, cultural studies, women’s studies, media studies, and “quotidian imperialisms, intermetropolitan geography [and] detournement.” A course called “Fantastic Resistances” was described as a “training dojo for aspiring ‘social justice warriors’” that focuses on “power asymmetries.”

    If you teach students to be warriors against all power asymmetries, don’t be surprised when they turn on their professors and administrators. This is what happens when you separate facts from values, empiricism from morality, science from the humanities.

    *Editor’s Note (8/18/17): This sentence was edited after the print article was posted online. The original stated that students at Middlebury College “physically attacked” Charles Murray and his campus host, Allison Stanger. In fact, a police investigation determined that it appears several participants in the demonstration against Murray came from outside the campus community and that those wearing masks used “tactics that indicated training in obstruction and intimidation.” Although the attackers were never identified, and thus the police were unable to press charges, Middlebury maintains that the masked assailants were not students but outside agitators. It has also made an official statement that “the College disciplined 74 students with sanctions ranging from probation to official College discipline, which places a permanent record in the student’s file.”

    This article was originally published with the title “Postmodernism vs. Science”

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San Lorenzo and the cappelle medicee

Some more quick impressions from the local treasures.

The Sagrestia Vecchia, Filippo Brunelleschi

The Sagrestia Vecchia, Filippo Brunelleschi

Tomb of Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici with Dusk and Dawn

Tomb of Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici with Dusk and Dawn

Tomb of Giuliano di Lorenzo de' Medici with Night and Day

Tomb of Giuliano di Lorenzo de’ Medici with Night and Day

 

At the Bargello this morning

When you live in a city like Florence, it is easy to pass by and ignore the obvious treasures, the ones turned permanent tenants in one’s consciousness and seem to no longer require dusting, just because we know ‘they will always be there’.

Well, this morning, together with our art history teacher, we’ve visited the Bargello.

David Donatello 1440, Museo del Bargello, Firenze

David Donatello 1440, Museo del Bargello, Firenze

Here are some sketches from this visit. Do not miss the Bargello! It holds some very important keys to the understanding of the renaissance, why it started off in Florence at the time it did. The greatness of Brunelleschi, Donatello, Michelangelo and the path he opened for the great artists who followed in their footsteps.

David Donatello 1409, Museo del Bargello, Firenze

David Donatello 1409, Museo del Bargello, Firenze

San Giorgio di Donatello 1416, Museo del Bargello, Firenze

San Giorgio di Donatello 1416, Museo del Bargello, Firenze

Museo di Nazionale del Bargello di Firenze

Museo di Nazionale del Bargello di Firenze

Brunelleschi vs. Ghiberti

Brunelleschi vs. Ghiberti

 

The ghost of evil 

This coming Monday is Holocaust Remembrance Day In Israel.

The phantom of this dark chapter in the history of humanity keeps on it presence in the lives of millions of people across generations and nations.

Above, is my mindscape of its presence in Israel.

American Illustration Q&A with… me

This one’s just in. click HERE for my full Q&A with American illustration.

American Illustration Q&A Izhar Cohen

American Illustration Q&A Izhar Cohen

Grit vs Inteligence

Grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”. This illustration was made for an article in Calcalist. The topic has been discussed at length amongst our friends. At the end of the day, it has been agreed: Grit is more important.

Intelligence might at times, represent an obstacle on the way to success. Intelligent people tend to ask questions and verify the level of risk they might be facing. Driven people with a lesser tendency of consulting their minds in calculating risks, might achieve more by not being confused by facts, while staying focused on achieving their goal.

It might be that intelligence, is overrated…

 

GRIT-Intelligence might be overrated

GRIT-Intelligence might be overrated

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