Friday assorted links

1. Sexual assault in North Korea.

2. Different academics pick the most influential book of the last twenty years.

3. “…we show that regions close to historical missionary settlements exhibit higher likelihood of HIV. This effect is driven by the Christian population in our sample. This suggests conversion to Christianity as a possible explanatory channel. Our findings are robust to alternative specifications addressing selection.”  Link here (pdf).

4. “A professor of surgery says students have spent so much time in front of screens and so little time using their hands that they have lost the dexterity for stitching or sewing up patients.

5. “Record labels’ study shows performances of Bach are almost 30 percent faster than they were 50 years ago.

6. Not citing the morally questionable.


6. That is what science needs, more feelings. It makes it much easier; you just don't read those complicated and hard to understand papers, you can simply dismiss them out of hand. And if you don't like someone, you can make up a new rule that marks them as morally questionable.

This should work.

Well, it 'worked' in Hollywood with #MeToo, which I see as a kind of forced retirement for old white guys, with no big dimunition of quality (so far). Then again, Hollywood is not science, agreed. Against that, if you subscribe to the Kuhn hypothesis as opposed to the Popper hypothesis on how science is actually done, then indeed 'feelings' have a lot to do with it.

Bonus trivia: would Woody Allen (what a name!) have been allowed to have sex with his step-daugher these days, or would he have, like Romain Polanski, been hounded into jail, registered as a sex offender, had all his honors stripped and when he died have his grave descrecrated forcing his cremation and ashes scattered to the wind like that UK music guy? Hmm, I wonder.

The relevant difference is the age of the women involved

And consent.

+1 (and consent)

Here's what's going through my head: Let's say your child has an illness which, if not treated, will result in their slow, painful death. Someone developed a procedure that would cure this illness. That person was also a complete jerk.

Do you sacrifice your child to avoid some sort of obscure, irrational guilt by association? Or do you accept that even jackasses can have true ideas on occasion?

For my part, I'm saving my child. Reality is what it is, regardless of who discovers the idea; refusal to accept that is not just unscientific, but anti-scientific. We can condemn the person all we want--but the facts exist regardless of that person.

Agreed. I can understand why some will avoid art and entertainment made by jerks, like some will no longer watch or listen to Bill Cosby now, because the personality of the creator feeds into your enjoyment of the art. I'm generally not that type but it sometimes matters to me.

But science is different, science is about what IS, and what is has nothing to do with the personality of the person who figures it out.

Social science is probably somewhere in between. How much of that is truly scientific?

With art, I think the line is "Does the person benefit from it?" What I mean is this: Let's say I enjoy reading a particular author. Let's say I find out that he was a racist, sexist pig. If the author's still alive I'll probably avoid buying books from him; I don't want to benefit such people in any way. If the author is dead, I'm perfectly happy to keep buying the books--at that point there's no benefit to the author. Art is separate from the artist; the question is whether I'm contributing to someone who I detest.

So I won't watch the Cosby Show anymore, not until Cosby passes away anyway. But I have no problem watching old Hogan's Heroes episodes.

Yeah that's pretty much my approach as well.

I think the "benefit such people in any way" line is a bit much, if the benefit to the artist is merely marginal, and the loss to the viewer is great, then I don't think it's very reasonable to abstain from actions which marginally put money in the pocket of that artist.

Case in point, Ice Cube has said some fairly horrific things about Jews, Asians, whites, and gays, and his attitude towards women is appalling, nor has he ever apologized for any of this. Does this mean I won't stream "It Was a Good Day" because Ice Cube will get some infinitesimally small royalties? No.

Sometimes, though, the persona of the artist and the image he projects is thoroughly undermined by his revealed misconduct which is extremely at odds with that image. Bill Cosby held himself out as America's dad from the late 80s through the first half of the 90s with moral authority; when I watch the show now, I can't help but wonder if he was secretly plying women with drugs on set or after filming. Not that I won't watch, but Cosby's good guy image was thoroughly broken and makes getting into the show difficult.

You're making pretty big assumptions about two factors here:

First, my costs are minimal. I don't watch "The Cosby Show". So I watch "MASH" instead. Not a major issue. It's more serious in books, but again, with the plethora of entertainment options, it's not a high cost.

Second, my threshold for boycotting is pretty high, mostly due to apathy on my part. I'm not interested in what an artist is like as a person, so they have to do something pretty vile for their personal lives to become a factor. The normal idiotic comments that musicians and actors/actresses make don't usually rise to that level.

Spokesperson at NBC
"Let us hope it was not Bill, but if it was, let us pray it does not become widely known."

So you didn't listen to Michael Jackson when he was alive but now you do?

I never listened to him when he was alive if I could avoid it.

I've found that artists morally reprehensible enough to warrant me boycotting them generally produce art I don't want to see anyway. I've not systematically studied it, and obviously opinions will differ, but that's my experience.

Yeah, who cares about Picasso & Miles Davis anyway?

People who care about Picasso, like people who care about the Kardashians, should be sterilized by the most expedient means available.

I get it. I stopped watch the NFL games after they started disrespecting the flag and the country.

I'm so sorry that you turn into butthurt snowflake when grown men play football. It must be psycologically scarring being so easily offended like that.

You can't have it both ways.

Either it is proper for people to about patronizing entertainers that they find morally reprehensible, or it is not.

Well, you can try to have it both ways, but it makes you look remarkably silly.

Basically every other episode of House.

#6 "Then ... when I got the manuscript back before final publication, surreptitiously remove the citations.”

So, she's a plagiarist then.

and historically that's we hate empathy

6. Why would anyone ever put "obvious downers" in their citations? It makes no sense.

(I don't believe you have to give up any ideas, you just cite someone else. Or mumble something about consensus.)

WTF is an "obvious downer"?

I am thinking that the only people who would really be dropped from citations would be the people who have the wrong kind of name recognition. That makes them an "obvious downer."

I must say it is odd that the usual champions are free speech are here .. critics of absence of speech?

If papers are an instance of speech they may certainly contain anyting the author thinks is favorable to the author.

Perhaps there is some implicit "my side-ism" in what people think will be excluded, but Hells Bells, they can write their own paper and put in it anything they want.

They are free to write whatever they want. However, if they wish to present it as an academic paper, it must meet the requirements of academic rigor. Failure to do so is a failure of intellectual integrity, and it's fair to call them out on such behavior.

It is entirely possible to be an advocate of free speech, and at the same time hold people to standards appropriate to the medium they choose to publish in. I mean, it's entirely within someone's right to publish a work of complete gibberish--but if they present it as an example of investigative journalism we're allowed to say "No, it fails to meet the criteria."

Advocating freedom of speech doesn't negate our right to criticize what others say, in other words. To say "You have the right to free speech, but not the right to criticize" is an obvious contradiction.

What you say is true, and that is the safety valve on the whole thing. That if it did become some kind of intellectual theft people should call them on it.

Isn't this the theory of some public systems of publishing, where there is no pre-publication review, but it is all post-publication critique?

With the press I agree absolutely. Everyone say whatever they want to. Everyone is free to criticize in turn. Trumps nonsense defamation lawsuits will get laughed out of court, as is appropriate.

With academia, no. Not citing is a form of plagiarism and antithetical to the standards of academic journals.

Know your terms, plagiarism would-be wholesale stealing a paper. If you somehow reproduce a work without citation that might be intellectual property theft.

But if you are doing new work, which probably descends from a chain of thousands of upstream scientific efforts, dropping a citation is not so much.

Today I learned, unsurprisingly, that polar bear doesn't understand academic journal standards.

Whenever your argument fails, you guys just makes strange insults.

Dropping a cite for related work is absolutely not plagiarism.

"For example, copying a passage straight from a book, a website, or any other source into a paper without using quotation marks and explicitly citing the source is plagiarism. "

Thank you. Yes, that is correct.

Nothing about citing everyone possible.

In case it wasn't clear, you guys seem to be assuming that every paper includes sections of some other paper and so dropping a cite is falling into plagarism.

Does every paper that mentions gravity necessarily quote Isaac Newton? Of course not. It is a concept and you can talk about gravity without plagiarism quite easily.

No, we don't. We assume that academia has standards, which are higher than the average publication, and that it has those for reasons.

Using someone's ideas without referencing their source may not be plagarism, fine. It's an egregious violation of intellectual integrity. THAT is the problem. You have proven you can't be trusted--and in scientific writing especially, once you give up your integrity you have nothing.

You have shifted the goal posts in your statement about Newton. Universal gravitation falls under the heading "General Knowledge", which is vague but generally considered to include a great deal more information in academic writing than in writing for the general public. If I were writing a book for the general public I certainly would need to cite Newton; in a physics paper it's considered a given that your audience understands the history of the concept.

If you know enough to argue about what is and is not plagarism in academic writing, you know this. This is literally first-year university stuff. So either you have no idea what you're talking about, or you're being intentionally dishonest in your discussion.

You sound like the type of dweeb I used to give wedgies to in high school.

If you think physical threats are appropriate, feel free to try. I mean, you can't do worse than my son already has--little jerk stabbed me in the kidney and the ear, and he's not 4 yet.

I'm just calling b.s. on the idea that every possible cite is of that significance.

I mean of course you can name situations where a missing citation would be bad, but you cannot possibly be arguing that in all cases N-1 citations is plagiarism.

Basically, you know someone is riding a hobby horse when they say all published papers are perfect, and if any of them dropped a sinlge citation that, would make plagiarism.

Since no one has done so, I'll just simplify my life and presume that the rest of your comments on this subject have nothing to do with the actual discussion, but rather with made-up arguments that exist only in your mind.

Or if you claim a paper could never be restructured to remove that conflict.

2. We're doomed (Putnam excepted).

+1 . And that is not to say that the picks are inaccurate as far as their influence.

No, and that is the problem. The fact that these particular works are highly influential further downgrades my opinion of the academics who are influenced by them.

I thought the book on neoliberalism might be a welcome exception, but then the conclusion appears to be that neoliberalism has been 'thoroughly discredited' and must be destroyed. Presumably in favor of whatever variant of socialism/marxism is currently in favor amongst the intelligentsia.

I am especially impressed by the ability of 'historians' to fail to learn from the sad history of their preferred beliefs.

Social science academia continues to beclown itself.

Is everyone hating on Damasio?

A William Calvin review is here.

+1. Putnam and Pinker were the bright spots in an otherwise dismal list.

+1. Some of the scholars who picked these supposedly influential books seems to have put roughly 0.05 seconds' worth of thought into their picks. For example, Jackson Lears claims that "The most important development in the past 20 years of historiography, from my perspective, is the recognition that capitalism has a history, and that historians can write it". The history of the idea that capitalism has a history is surely much longer than 20 years.

Seriously. Doesn't "historical materialism" ring a bell to these folks?

Seems like everyone took a perspective that was a little weird. The first answer was the only one that wrestled with the question properly.

I do think a much better argument could have been made for Critical Race Theory than this:

" ... some sister, somewhere, is using the language of intersectionality on social media to call out some fool ..."

A SM call out is hardly far reaching influence. I'd say that is way down the list of the book's influence. Not all of the book's influence is positive, but that's the strongest type of influence in some ways. Marx's doctrines had huge influence in the world, both positive and negative, and that is twice the influence of a mostly positive book that captured fewer people.

I think that book, of all of them, has had the most influence on people that haven't read it, yet disagree with it. That's an amazing amount of influence to have, to cause a radical shift in both your's and the other side of a topic.

Please list some of the positive results of Marx's theories. And hopefully it'll be something more than a rounding error compared to the untold misery Marxism has inflicted on the world.

Saying that Marxism had some positive aspects is like saying that Hitler had good and bad aspects - on the bad side there was the holocaust and a world war. On the good side, he treated his dogs well. So, a mixed bag...

Clearly you are suffering from the false consciousness induced by the fiendishly effective hegemonic capitalist superstructure that prevents you from recognizing your exploitation and alienation from your species-being.

If influence is the metric, Marx, sadly, qualifies to be on the list, but unlike Hitler, his influence hasn't waned nearly as much as it should have among academicians.

The difference between Marx and Hitler is that Hitler's ideals perished with his defeat in WW2 while Marx ideals were embraced further than ever with Stalin's victory. Even today people still use a lot of marxist language: "capitalism" for example is marxist jargon which plays no role in serious social science.

Communism in China brought over a billion people out of poverty and created the world's largest middle class. At the cost of tens of millions, the Chinese, ever practical, might consider that the price of doing business.

Communism in China delayed bringing the country out of poverty and creating the world's largest middle class by thirty years.

It is Kuomintangism that delivered those successes, after Deng purged the Marxist true believers that were given power by Mao. That the party that implemented the policies proved by the Kuomintang in Taiwan calls itself "Communist" is merely a memorial of the damage that Marx's poisonous ideas did in China.

And India, which in the 50s was at about the same developmental level as China, has been even further delayed. By what? Democracy? Minimal government? Capitalism? One can make up an argument like that for anything.

Are you trolling? if not, ever wonder why Mao invited Nixon? Because Mao's perpetual revolution had impoverished the country to the point it was unable to win in a fight with the Soviets, who were gearing up to go to war over border issues with China. There was no middle class at that point...

4 - There is also the other side of the coin: for what I have heard, the younger surgeons are better in working in the telecommanded surgical devices than the older, exactly because they are used to the playstations

Exactly. Indeed, many an older surgeon have mutilated the bodies of surgical patients using computer assisted surgical systems. Better to have a computer games expert than a surgical expert operating the systems.

Do a little forensic research on problems created by the use of Da Vinci technology and get back to us.

@#1 - I saw that one, it's almost like North Korean women are something out of the Margaret Atwood novel "A Handmaiden's Tale". Soon to be the USA if we let too many [ ] enter our borders? Or if we have a nuclear war with North Korea by allowing them to build ICBMs.

1. No wonder Little Kim can play The Dotard like a violin.

3. Curious. Idk...

4. My neighborhood friends dad was a general surgeon. His hobbies were making his own circuit boards for electronic gear, and ships-in-a-bottle.

5. Right. I guess you don't notice this as much while it is happening.

1. Also a reason to suspect that the deep male state in NK is not going to want too much openness in their lifetimes.

4. "And furthermore, their handwriting is not up to industry standards."

Honestly I didn't know surgeons had standards for handwriting.

#4 Undoubtedly another emerging consensus...

A prescription:

One hour of hand towel sewing a day for two weeks, once completed, one hour of sewing a week.
An accomplished seamster, like accomplished knitters, can multitask while sewing.

#1 That's the price of JuChe ladies. Crying to CNN won't help you.

#2 The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil. I would include this only because should his predictions turn out to be correct, the book will go down in history and his profile elevated that of a 20-21st century Nostradamus, Bacon or Pascal.

#4 How short-sighted, everyone knows dexterity won't be necessary what with Wallace Corp's purchase of Pauling Corp's MedPod technology. World-beating high quality surgery is just a app button push away!!!

#6 "Facts don't care about your feelings." This is true on the front end...doubly so on the back-end.

#6 Facts matter much less in the era of post-truth. Judging by our politics these days, feelings seem to matter more than facts.

6: The left always eats its own.

Should lefty academics be completely ignored for eternity, and their work thrown away, if they have done nothing "actionable" but some other lefty academic considers them a jerk?

Who the hell cares? Sit back and enjoy the show, I say.

"Should lefty academics be completely ignored for eternity,..."

Of course not! At least not until they're culturally rehabilitated. The left will let you know when that is btw. So, keep your ears open and your pen handy, ready to cite to your heart's content once the all's-clear has been given, they've been deemed "safe", and the stupids have moved on to the next in line for the 2 minute hate.

I'd rather the left eats its own than see the rightwing terrorism like we saw last week. We should have a rule that each side should eat their own. Keeps the overton window sane.

#5 Bach in Rolling Stone? In any case, the faster tempos found in contemporary baroque music performance as compared to those of decades ago seem mostly driven by a wish to produce a more authentic performance of that music, and thus are probably not much (if at all) related to faster tempos in popular music.

Spot on. The faster tempos are a result of the "HIP" movement - historically informed performance - not the need to meet shorter attention spans.

Everything seems slow after listening to podcasts at 1.5-2.0x speed. I'm only half kidding when I suggest perhaps my sense of time has been changed.

#1. Not surprising. Maybe if feminists actually looked around the world, they would hesitate to throw the phrase "rape culture" around willy nilly.
#3. Not surprising.
#6. It's almost as if you can actually separate the person from the work... shocking in this day and age.

#2. Holy sweet Jesus. We're doomed.

#5: I've noticed that about other music as well. Covers almost always seem to be noticeably faster than the originals, at least for Country and pop/rock songs. I haven't found a convincing explanation yet. This trend doesn't hold true for hard rock/metal, and may be inverted in some cases--it's really hard to play faster than Hammerfall or Dragonforce already does.

6. The Atlantic author argues the the persuit of truth is the goal of the university and of the scientific process. Many in academia disagree with this. Here is a hit from a search for “objective truth and white privilege:” From students at Claremont: “Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples,” they explain... “The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”
For these students (and some of their professors), social justice must replace objective truth as the goal of academic inquiry.

I watched the Joe Rogan podcast with the Grievance Studies people yesterday

It's really a religion thing, with the social justice folks.

Wanting fairness and wishing kindness towards all people independent of their personal characteristics is one thing, but claiming that Truth and objectivity is a facet of '''White Supremacy''' is just fucking bonkers.

Funny how people who argue there is no objective truth never question things like the law of universal gravitation, or the Central Dogma in biology, or the idea that microscopes work. They are always very inconsistent in their demands for subjectivity.

I don't necessarily see the students as denying the idea of objectivity, but worrying that (suppo-zed) objectivity has historically been used as a cudgel to oppress minorities. The eugenicists, for instance, thought they had an objective understanding of the superiority/inferiority of different races.

All that said, we should still uphold the search for Truth.

The eugenicists were progresssives back in the day, who used the same 'logic' to come to their conclusions as progressives use today.

When you abandon objective truth as a standard, you can justify anything.

Except of course for the facto they were as dedicated to the idea if objective true (as it fitted their prejudices) as "scientific" racists are today.
That is not the reason the were/are wrong.
You can as well say Aristotle failure to discover gravitation was because he had given up objective truth.

6. Ferreting out bad characters was once the province of the right: Joseph McCarthy was the social justice warrior of his time. And the right had the director of the FBI to conduct surveillance of suspects and compile the evidence, ruining careers and lives. Today's social justice warriors are impotent by comparison. No, I'm not affirming support for today's social justice warriors, just reminding their critics that today's social justice warriors are pikers compared to the social justice warriors of the prior era. And today's right wing populist president could be the precedent for tomorrow's left wing populist populist.

Not a good look when you have to reach so far back for such a poor analogy. SJWs are a moral panic crusade. They're not there looking for subversion by Russians and trying to preserve their society and protecting it from something external to it; they're out there trying to overturn public morals and ethics and impose their own vision of a pure society.

Ignore him.

>Today's social justice warriors are impotent by comparison.

He's ignoring the entire period of 2008-2016, when the left "had the director of the FBI to conduct surveillance of suspects and compile the evidence, ruining careers and lives" .... to quote ... himself.

Again. Ever get tired of useless posting?

#2 good to see that the first book on the list was from Steven Pinker - my vote for best public intellectual of the 21st century so far - but I would have picked The Blank Slate instead, particularly given what passes for intellectual rigor among the chattering classes nowadays. As amply demonstrated by over half of the rest of the list...

#2 suffers from intellectual dishonesty with its very citation: by now the journal could well have been re-titled (accurately) as "The Chronicle of Post-Secondary Training" -- valorizing "higher education" both by terming it "higher" and "education" these days is a highly dubious proposition altogether.

--which makes the Harvard motto "VERITAS" look a misleading stand-in for what might constitute its actual contributions to the history of the US and to humanity: "vanitas".

6. Give people a choice- Brown or Chicago.

Honestly, the experience of economics shows that if you can get a toehold and you possess some nugget of unorthodox truth, you can establish a place in the dialogue even if you're only 20% of the profession.

In 1980, economic orthodoxy extended well into the GOP establishment (Bush, voodoo economics). Friedman and Hayek were fringe characters in the GOP.

38 years later, economics remains well outside orthodox control. Not coincidentally, it has not suffered the same level of debasement seen in so much of the social sciences.

6. Yeah, I can't really disagree with this. But will add one caveat - one isnt required to give someone a nobel prize or other award just because they have a lot of citations. Awards are for recognition, citations are for accurately tracking the sources of research, they aren't just there for recognition - you need the citation in order to be able to dig up.original source material.
There might be a rew narrow cases where the citation is purely for recognition, but probably vanishingly small.

It would seem probable, at the point in time when the Nobel prize or other similar works ignore the quality of the work in favor of those with less transgressions, they've become a form of political approval and not a form of science.

I can understand where someone who did awful things in the name of science, Josef Mengele for example, would be an exception. But the idea that scientists would be blacklisted for mild transgressions is ripe for abuse.

This makes me think of the fictional Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory and his aspirations for receiving a Nobel Prize. It's clear from his behavior on the show, that his character would end up blacklisted by such a standard.

Nobody is entitled to a Nobel Prize and the selections have always been highly politicized.

SHOULD they be?

There's probably a few people who, like Nazi doctors, we wouldn't hand out awards to, no matter how impressive their work was. I'm not claiming to know where that line should be, but maybe we can put one somewhere between "made an awkward pass at a female employee" and "operated a rape camp during the Bosnian war".

"Nobody is entitled to a Nobel Prize and the selections have always been highly politicized."

Well I didn't say anybody was entitled to a Nobel Prize, but it does seem like a good idea if the awards are correlated with scientific genius. Otherwise you end up promoting dogma.

Hmmm, on second thought, that's a bad argument. You can have plenty of dogma and still manage a "correlation with scientific genius". However, it's clear the further you deviate from your primary goal, the less you'll achieve.

And frankly, #6 reeks. She's going to cite the person she doesn't like and then remove the citation afterwards. That's clearly dishonest and it's morally weak.

Well, it's clear that she knows much better than you or me.

Wouldn't want to have spend time with her.

5. For contrast Rolling Stone argued the opposite a mere year ago that music was slowing down:

Some things to note about #2, it's interesting that most books don't appears twice. This suggests there nowhere to a consensus about what's the most influential book. Just a bunch of opinions. Only Bowling Alone appears twice, and it seems like a reasonable addition. Agree with it or not, it's definitely been discussed a lot.

Also, the rules are that it has to be a book written by a scholar, so that means no The Secret, or Eat Pray Love, or Moneyball, despite that these have all (for better or worse) been huge bestsellers with big impacts.

Lastly, I think none of the people was really answering what was the most influential but instead answered, "What is the most important book in the area I'm most interested in?" since several of the books have a somewhat narrow focus and influence. And there's so many books that I hear talked about (whether agreeing or disagreeing) so much more from the past 20 years than most of those on the list, such as Team of Rivals, Freakonomics, Thinking Fast and Slow, The Blank Slate – all works by scholars from the past 20 years. In fact, besides Bowling Alone, the only other book that's really had a big impact is The Better Angels of Our Nature. The others might be good, but their impact has not been that big.

Really good examples Joseph K, especially Moneyball

#2 Good God, like 3/4ths of the picks are just leftist activism. Are things really that bad?

No, they are worse.

Yeah I bet you think they are worse, shitlib. Trump is in charge for 6 more years and you will just cry cry cry.

Evidence of the effects of the great stagnation: I'm accused of being both a Trumpian alt-right apologist and a liberal.

Nazis notoriously used to call some parts of science "Jewish physics" etc. Soviet Communists used to call some parts of science (not always different from what Nazis called) "reactionary bourgeois physics, biology" etc. You didn't cite or name bourgeois sources, except possibly to revile them, if you wanted to keep your career and your livelihood. Now apparently we have "sexist physics" and "sexist biology". Yay!

6. is right, and sad. I have clearly seen a lot this in the humanities, and actually much worse, in literary criticism : pressure not to study "morally questionable" writers.

I hope that this practice of not citing "morally questionable" scholars when you should otherwise cite them never gain much ground in hard sciences or in mathematics. So far we are spared, I believe.

A person would need personal direct knowledge of the "morally questionable" activities of another to refuse to cite them (or make use of their knowledge and opinions) or their refusal would in itself be morally questionable. Rumors and hearsay aren't good enough.

#2 - books
What?! No Harry Potter? (OK, I stretched to 21 years for the first book in the series.)

6. On the question of citing or not the morally questionable, this is very very dangerous. There are no pure humans. The politics of every scholar from more than a few years ago would not be considered questionable. On this basis some SJWs are indeed rejecting ALL dead white males. But this leaves us with no intellectual history, no precedents, no origins for our ideas. We can't point back to Aristotle as an influence because he is a dead white male. etc. It is also true that many great scientists and inventors were crazy or terrible people. Newton was a big jerk--do we stop using Calculus? It is even worse than that because many accusations are just accusations, not convictions for a crime.
The truth of a proposition has nothing to do with the person who proposes it. It is true or helpful or it is not. We do not determine that gravity does or does not follow Newton's law (or Einstein's) based on whether their politics is congruent with ours. That doesn't even make sense. In the arts, this still holds. I'm not a big fan of the personal lives of many artists but that should not detract from their work. To base our art collection of the politics of the artists is to favor propaganda art--ugly.

It's somewhat depressing, but I've had to point out, time and time again, that the past had different standards than the present. I mean, by modern standards pretty much every military commander from the Middle Ages back was a war criminal, to give one example. Holding ancient people to modern standards is insane.

"I'm not a big fan of the personal lives of many artists but that should not detract from their work."

As I said above: If my enjoying an artwork by someone who's egregiously rotten benefits them, I'll tend to avoid it. I'm not going to put money in Cosby's pocket, for example. If it doesn't--if the person is dead, or incapable of benefiting from it--I see nothing wrong with enjoying art by people who are of questionable moral standing.

But isn't destroying the history of western philosophy and science exactly the point? To a good deconstructionist, you can not build up a new historical worldview without hiding or destroying the old one.

To these people, getting rid of Plato and Aristotle and Locke and the others is a feature, not a bug. We can not elevate Howard Zinn's history of America until we get rid of the other histories which differ from the approved view.

Plato and Aristotle are pedophiles. Their ideas are repulsive. Besides, after western philosophy birthed Communism and Fascism it drove itself into a dead end and never recovered. Kids these days should learn science, math, and critical thinking. Not this liberal arts BS.

It would be an interesting intellectual exercise to attempt to draw a line between "Western Philosophy" and "science, math, and critical thinking". It's kinda like birds vs. dinosaurs--you can distinguish one WITHIN the other, but it's not really possible to distinguish one FROM the other in any meaningful way.

I wonder why the authoress is comfortable with admitting to what amounts to academic dishonesty (removing a citation which was added to gain approval). She admits he was just a jerk, but apparently she feels that anyone who annoys her should be sent to the 9th Circle of Hell. Whether his conduct was exceptionally bad or not, hers certainly was. I guess academia is even more of a popularity contest these days. Which spawns the question is the correlation between this and the increasing (more or less) number of women in academic positions just happenstance?

So (he said, whistling softly) were the Nigerians correct to list Trump in their citations?

4 is an extraordinary claim. Admissions standards could be changed. Not EVERYONE is in front of the screen all the time.

2) what about “The Great Stagnation”?????

(Very surprised that Naomi Klein “Shock Doctrine” wasn’t mentioned - that book brainwashed a lot of people)

Naomi Klein is such a low grade intellectual that maybe even people on 'her' side don't want to admit that she has influence.

Reminds me of Trump and Paul Ryan.

#2: influential in which circle? And why did you select such a bunch of clots to offer their opinions?

I'd like to think that the only 'circle' some of these books are indluential in would be a drum circle filled with addle-brained potheads. Sadly, that doesn't appear to be the case.

What's amazing is that people spend a hell of a lot of money to go to schools to be 'educated' by these clowns. I'd hire a random person off the street before I'd hire someone with a degree in 'critical theory', yet people pay tens of thousands of dollars to get those degrees. What a racket - getting people to pay you to be indoctrinated.

Bernard Williams was anything but a clown. Insulting authors you haven't read is not a praiseworthy endeavor.

Can we all just appreciate the aptronym of the professor of surgical education named Roger Kneebone.


Back before the internet I used to read the NY times about 50 times a years (a few days some weeks, not at all other weeks, it average out).

One week a reporter told us about how unfair it was that a famous female doctor, rising through the ranks, was not more celebrated - she pulled 20 hours a week of doctor duty with actual patients, another 20 hours mentoring young doctors, and worked MOST WEEKENDS on admin duties - and still she had not been as promoted as one or two of the male doctors in her teaching hospital.

Next month, I read about another doctor, a surgeon.
While the friends of that doctor often played golf every weekend, this particular doctor, although good at golf, spent half of his golf weekends, alone in his surgery room, practicing appendectomies on Rats.
The appendectomies, of course, were not required (rats do not have appendixes, but you get my point) , but the rats were sedated, and after the surgery, they were just as good as they were before. And they had done a good deed, preparing a good surgeon to be a better surgeon.

I remember thinking: who among us believes we deserve praise?
Those who work the most hours?
Or those who try their best to be what God wants us to be?

In the internet days, those 2 stories would not be occasions for such reflections, there would be too many of what Taleb calls "cute" replies to see through.

(in those days, I also associated "facts from the papers" with the limited number of good movies - one in a hundred, at most - that I say - and poor Wim Wenders understood less about what it means to be a good surgeon than you would think (the point I am making is there was this German film with Peter Falk and Meg Ryan that was worse than the American film with Peter Falk and Meg Ryan - something about wings of angels - but the original director could not have known what it takes to be a good surgeon, and he grew up in a world where few people typed more than a few minutes a day, and few people looked at screens all that much....
YMMV, but that is how I remember it.....)

#2: So, at least 5 books about racism (I stopped counting after a while). I mean, isn't racism like the biggest issue of US society since it is talked about so much? I guess it is. The US is a polyethnic country and the fact that it has dealt with it's polyethnic nature in many different ways over history lead to massive social issues. Still, it reminds me of Morgan Freeman's statement that to truly overcome racism one has to stop talking about it. I don't know if this avalanche of stuff on racism is helping to actually reduce it or to just transform it from one form of prejudice based on ethnic phenotype to another form of prejudice also based on ethnic phenotype.

#2: Interesting that nobody from the sciences or engineering, or economics for that matter, responded (were they asked?). Maybe books just aren't that big a deal in STEM fields compared to papers?

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