Men (and Women) Without Chests

There was an excellent article by Jack Kerwick yesterday on FrontPage Magazine describing how academia is producing men (and women) without chests. You may well know that the phrase is from C.S. Lewis and is entirely apt.

Jonathan Haidt, a liberal and professor at New York University, pulls no punches: “Because of a lack of viewpoint diversity, policies are implemented to promote ends that are sometimes antithetical to free inquiry and the Socratic spirit.”  Haidt knows all too well that of which he speaks.  Continuing, he remarks that his own university has instituted “‘a bias response line’” that “encourages” students to “anonymously report anyone who says anything that offends them.”  Thus, “as a professor, I no longer take risks; I must teach to the most easily offended student in the class. I therefore avoid saying or doing anything provocative.”

Consequently: “My classes are less fun and engaging.”

And as such worth neither the time nor money to attend, which I suspect Professor Haidt would agree with.

Charles Murray, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, is to the point:

The telos of the university is truth.  It cannot have a second telos. There is no such thing as a university that fully supports the search for truth and also pursues a social-justice agenda, for example….

Spot on, there is quite a little more, and you should read it all. It’s been quite a while since I read Lewis’ The Abolition of Man which is where the phrase comes from, and so so quick research was indicated. The very best analysis I found was from The Art of Manliness, which surprised me not at all. It didn’t because The Art of Manliness is one of the best sites for men to learn how to be men, and not the whimpering whingers we see all around us. It’s worth some of your time, if not daily, regularly. Brett and Kate write:

Nearly all religions and philosophical schools, whether Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, or Platonism, Lewis observes, posit that there is an underlying natural order to the world, and Truth is that which most clearly reflects and explains this reality. To uphold this “doctrine of objective value” is to believe that “certain attitudes are really true, and others really false, to the kind of thing the universe is and the kind of things we are.”

Lewis feels this perspective is best described by the Chinese concept of Tao:

“It is the reality beyond all predicates . . .  It is Nature, it is the Way, the Road. It is the Way in which the universe goes on, the Way in which things everlastingly emerge, stilly and tranquilly, into space and time. It is also the Way which every man should tread in imitation of that cosmic and supercosmic progression, conforming all activities to that great exemplar.”

Within the objective reality of Nature, exist people, places, and things which possess an objective value, and are thus deserving of varying levels of esteem and respect:

“until modern times all teachers and even all men believed the universe to be such that certain emotional reactions on our part could be either congruous or incongruous to it — believed, in fact, that objects did not merely receive, but could merit our approval or disapproval, our reverence or our contempt.”

Given that the value of things is objective, then they should elicit certain responses from us. The night sky should elicit a feeling of humility; the story of a courageous warrior should elicit a feeling of veneration; little children should elicit a feeling of delight; a friend’s father’s death should elicit a feeling of empathy; a kind act should elicit a feeling of gratitude.

While the nature of emotional responses is partly visceral and automatic, a man’s sentiments also have to be intentionally educated in order to be congruent — to be more in harmony with Nature. Such training teaches a man to evaluate things as more or less just, true, beautiful, and good, and to proportion his affections as merited. As Lewis notes, this training was considered central to one’s development throughout antiquity:

“St Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind of degree of love which is appropriate to it. Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought. . . . Plato before him had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful.”

Read all of that too, and if we begin to act accordingly, we will begin to heal our society.

Maleducation

Over the weekend, American Thinker published the thoughts of Abraham H. Miller, in his own words an old white college professor. They are some excellent thoughts.

In a few weeks, some of you will be going off to college. But before you commit yourself to the decision and the ensuing financial burden, there are a few things you should know.

Nearly all college experiences begin with a series of orientation sessions. Most start with the assumption that you are the cursed offspring of a flawed society. You come to college not to be educated but to be reeducated. You have imbibed of racism, sexism, and homophobia. And for some outrageous amount of tuition that will send many of you into perpetual debt, the modern-day Gletkins of academia will purge you of these impure thoughts.

The brainwashing will begin in orientation but will not end there. If you live in a dormitory, there will be required sensitivity sessions run by minions from the office of residence life. These generally are graduate students who are shouldering the intellectual rigors of a degree in education administration.

Heh! To continue…

You will learn that there is such a thing as “true truth.” This is the shared reality of an “oppressed” group whose common belief makes something true. Or in the profound words of Alexandria Octavio-Cortez, you can have moral truth without factual truth — whatever that means.

In these classes, you will never say that the trans-Atlantic slave trade was the product of Africans who shifted the trans-Saharan slave trade westward. You will never point out that two African potentates, King Tegesibu of Dahomey and King Alvare of the Congo, were among the wealthiest men in the known world, having gotten rich by selling slaves. […]

Do these classes change attitudes? Yes, but not as the intellectual Gletkins think. As one of my students told me:

I grew up in a rural community. There were no black people. They were not important to me. Then, as a resident advisor, I was told to go to a sensitivity session as part of my training. There I was told that my parents chose to live in such a community because they wanted to get away from black people. I said my ancestors came to the Ohio Valley after the Revolution, and my family has lived in the same community since the late 18th century. In response, I was told I was a racist. I wasn’t before, but I sure to hell am now.

Yep, I can relate to that, it’s how I react, to this day. In any case, read the whole article (link above). John Hinderaker at PowerLine is also thinking about this after an article by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal linked in John’s article.

In the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens decries the decline of higher education. He cites a familiar litany of leftist presumption and abuse:

Anyone who has followed the news from college campuses over the past few years knows they are experiencing forms of unrest unseen since the late 1960s.

Now, as then, campuses have become an arena for political combat. Now, as then, race is a central issue. Now, as then, students rail against an unpopular president and an ostensibly rigged system.

I, like John, assume he meant the Democrat Johnson since Nixon carried 49 states for reelection.

Unlike the campus rebels of the ’60s, today’s student activists don’t want more freedom to act, speak, and think as they please. Usually they want less.

Most strange: Today’s students are not chafing under some bow-tied patriarchal WASP dispensation. Instead, they are the beneficiaries of a system put in place by professors and administrators whose political views are almost uniformly left-wing and whose campus policies indulge nearly every progressive orthodoxy.

There is considerably more such sophistry, which John ably dissects, do read it. Professor Miller sums up in his penultimate paragraphs this way:

I do get it — you can’t get a job in retail or, as one of my students told me, unloading boxes at the local soap factory without at least a two-year college degree.

You can get the same politically correct, meaningless education at your local community college for less than a third the money and without the student loan debt. Unless, you have secured entrance to an elite school, the first two years of undergraduate requirements are indistinguishable from the courses in a good suburban high school.

College must have improved or High School gone downhill. The survey courses, with a couple of exceptions, were not nearly as good as my high school courses. YMMV, of course.

And John this way, noting that his organization has done an earnings study, it’s interesting.

Most of these technical fields–CNC programmers, millwrights, plumbers, electricians, electrical power line installers, and so on–earn significantly more than most college graduates, normalized for a 2,000 hour work year. (Including overtime would probably increase this advantage.) And they do it without incurring crippling student debt.

If a four-year degree is no longer, for most young people, the best path to a high-paying and satisfying job, and if much of what is taught is useless or worse, why should parents spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to send their kids to college? Or, worse, incur hundreds of thousands in debt?

University administrators are making fools of themselves and their institutions and subjecting themselves to well-justified contempt. I don’t think they begin to understand how precarious their position has become.

I agree with them too. I didn’t finish college for several reasons, some of which are private, but one of the main motivators was that I wasn’t willing to spend my life sitting on my butt telling kids the nonsense that so-called teachers were trying to teach me. (I still say Joyce wrote Dubliners because he was a drunk and out of booze, by the way.) And yes, I made comparable money, more than a high school teacher, although perhaps less than a professor, but I would have gotten fired from that, where I worked they expected me to do a good job, safely, and in time lead my people well. No degree required to do that. In fact, if I had learned and believed that nonsense (and yes, much of it was around in the 70s) it would have hurt my prospects.

And fresh air (mostly) and I didn’t have any use for a gym membership, either. Think, those of you that are parents or students, what you really want.

Debunking Education

Over at Chicago Boyz, the Assistant Village Idiot (How I admire that nom de Internet!) Has some thoughts about education, and they do not involve much handwringing at all. I approve.

I don’t think we argue quite enough around here. Perhaps there have been good arguments in the posts I don’t read the comments of, but it seems too much of “Yeah, and let me tell you another thing about that!” lately. So I will go after a conservative favorite, of how much better education was in the Good Old Days, which I think is bosh. I don’t defend much of what I read about education today, but neither do I think it was any better then. Since 2011, I have increasngly concluded that schools don’t matter quite as much anyway. The worst 20%, where it is dangerous to even go and hard to concentrate – that’s bad. The rest, it doesn’t make much difference. Never did. It’s all right to disagree with me about that, it won’t hurt me. I have seen lots of schools, old days and new; I know lots of teachers, old and new. I have read some of the real research, not the media-driven crap where they still can’t tell causation from correlation, and I have discussed this widely for decades. I know what the disagreements are (though I do get an occasional surprise). Have fun with it.

I am leading with this as a teaser, for its entertainment value, and because it introduces some concepts I’ll be bringing in later. I have edited it only a little from 2011. With the recent elite school admission scandals, parts of this are wryly humorous now.

THAT 1869 HARVARD ENTRANCE EXAM

An anonymous commenter linked to the 1869 Harvard entrance exam that was dug up by a NYTimes writer and made the rounds last year.  It looks pretty intimidating at first glance, and the commenter used it as evidence that Billy Sidis’s entrance into Harvard in 1909 was a pretty solid accomplishment in itself.  Interestingly, the boy’s getting in was probably even better than the exam would indicate.  Harvard was no great shakes in 1869, but had improved considerably by 1909, and was one of the world’s best by then.  I will note that it was still not what we think of today.  Competitive university admission is mostly a post WWII, or even post 1960 phenomenon.  Many of the brightest did indeed go to the Ivies, the Little Ivies, or the Seven Sisters,* but you simply couldn’t count on it.  The rich and the alums got their kids in, and nationally, people stayed closer to home and many of the brightest went to other schools, far more than, say, in 1990.

The gap exactly covers the period of Charles William Eliot’s presidency of Harvard, if you want more background than I will give here.

Read the headings over each section. See how few questions were required.

Also – it doesn’t say what a passing score was, does it?

185 out of 215 applicants got into Harvard that year.

But the test.  That Latin and Greek look awfully impressive right out of the gate. If you are older, and/or a reader of history, and/or a traditionalist, you may still have Latin Envy, believing that a “proper” education must include it, and Greek!  Why, that just seals it.  A different alphabet and everything.  Weren’t they smart, then?

No, not especially. They had had six years of Latin and four of Greek by then, whether by tutor or at academy.  If you took any languages at all in late 20th C, and make the mental comparison of what, exactly, they were being asked to do after six years, it looks much less impressive.  Note also, there was a standard set of works studied in those languages, which these questions are drawn from. There was frequent drill in grammar. Even if you had Latin yourself, you should note that the primary authors studied now are not quite the same as studied then, nor in quite the same way. These exam questions are essentially “Did you have proper teachers, are you reasonably bright, and did you make a moderate effort these last few years?” Nothing more.

Before I get into the math, let me note a major difference, then and now, in the test as a whole.  Look at what is missing in this exam.  There is no biology, no chemistry, no physics, and certainly no other sciences such as geology or economics.  There are no questions on English Literature – no Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton – and certainly no American literature (Horrors!  To even imagine such a thing!).

A lot of what is being said here is, in my opinion, is that teaching to the test is what happened then and happens now, and will happen in 2230. Teachers’, and schools’. reputation is based on how students do on tests, so not teaching to the test is professional suicide, and that ain’t gonna happen.

Could schools be better? Of course, they could. That’s true now, that was true in the ’60s when I went, a hundred years ago when my parents went, a hundred years before that when Abe Lincoln did his semester, and when Socrates taught Plato, who taught Aristotle, who taught Alexander the Great. It just is. Schools run on a logarithmic curve like anything else. Some few are amazingly good, some few are terribly bad. Most cluster around average (because that is what defines average). School improvement is based on raising the average infinitesimally.

Always remember half of the kids in school, like half of the teachers, and half of the schools themselves, are below average.

You know what makes the most difference in education? The kid’s parents’ attitude. If a kid is taught to be curious, to attempt to learn, instead of to shut up and do what he’s told, he’ll learn, in school, or not. Vice versa is true too.

Almost all the rest, the theories, the books, the lecturers, the bureaucrats, are a scam, to make a living, often a good living, off of the fact that half of everything is below average. Some may help, many will probably hurt, all will cost you (or you as the taxpayer) money. Caveat emptor.

Long ago it was declared that education was the parents’ responsibility. It still is. Schools are a tool, but only a tool, whether it is Oxbridge, or an Ivy, or Podunk Central Junior High. You get out what you put in.

Nothing more and nothing less.

College-Admissions Fraud; Color Me Unsurprised.

So the completely unsurprising scandal of celebrities buying their stupid offspring into elite so-called universities for credentialing purposes continues. In truth, nothing could be less surprising. Heather MacDonald in City Journal writes:

The celebrity college-admissions cheating scandal has two clear takeaways:  an elite college degree has taken on wildly inflated importance in American society, and the sports-industrial complex enjoys wildly inflated power within universities. Thirty-three moguls and TV stars allegedly paid admissions fixer William Singer a total of $25 million from 2011 to 2018 to doctor their children’s high school resumes—sending students to private SAT and ACT testing sites through false disability claims, for example, where bought-off proctors would raise the students’ scores. Singer forged athletic records, complete with altered photos showing the student playing sports in which he or she had little experience or competence. Corrupt sports directors would then recommend the student for admission, all the while knowing that they had no intention of playing on the school’s team.

None of this could have happened if higher education had not itself become a corrupt institution, featuring low classroom demands, no core knowledge acquisition, low grading standards, fashionable (but society-destroying) left-wing activism, luxury-hotel amenities, endless partying, and huge expense. Students often learn virtually nothing during their college years, as University of California, Irvine, education school dean Richard Arum writes in Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. They may even lose that pittance of knowledge with which they entered college. Seniors at Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Berkeley scored lower in an undemanding test of American history than they did as freshmen, according to a 2007 study commissioned by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. College is only desultorily about knowledge acquisition, at least outside of the STEM fields (and even those fields are under assault from identity politics).

Yep, pretty much covers it, for me at least.

What the pay-to-play admissions scam does not demonstrate, however, is that “legacy” admissions are somehow more corrupt than race-based affirmative-action admission policies—which seems to be the primary lesson that left-wing commentators and politicians are taking from the scandal—or that meritocracy is a “myth” that has now been debunked. Racial preferences are a far more significant deviation from academic meritocracy than legacy preferences, which are not even implicated in the current scandal. An underreported but salient detail in the Singer scam is that he “falsified students’ ethnicities,” according to the New York Times, because “some families and students perceive their racial backgrounds can hurt or aid their chances of getting in to schools that consider race in their admissions decisions.” This is not a mere perception; it is the truth. […]

To be sure, legacy preferences and racial preferences should both be eliminated.

Colleges should adopt a transparent, purely merit-based admissions system based on quantified tests of academic preparedness. Such a system would guarantee that entering freshmen were all equally prepared to compete academically, and would have the additional benefit of putting most college admissions officers out of a job. These self-important bureaucrats view themselves as artistes, using their exquisite insights into character to curate a utopian community of “diverse” individuals. The Harvard racial-preferences trial put such airs on nauseating display. In fact, admissions officers are simply allocating a scarce resource based on their own prejudices and inclinations.

Yes, anything else is smoke and mirrors, or in good flyover country English: Bullshit. If you are going to college, and fewer than half of our kids have anything to gain from it. I personally found two years in that I didn’t. Luckily Purdue was a land grant University so I wasn’t saddled with huge debts for my trouble, and I learned quite a lot, and like most alumni, love the place (as you know). But not finishing has not hurt my career, which has been pretty satisfying and paid the bills, as well.

The real losers here though, are the kids who thought they were getting an education but instead have found out their parents were buying them credentials, but without the skills that must go with those credentials to be useful in the real world.

Until the ‘elite’ schools once again teach how to think instead of indoctrinating leftists, I, as a business type person would simply shitcan any resume with a degree other than engineering, or other stem fields. And yes, Purdue would be favored, I’m a bit corrupt, as well, I prefer excellence over mediocrity.

Social Constructionism’s Epistemic Rabbit-Hole

This is the Samizdata quote of the day from yesterday, and it leads to a most interesting article by Kåre Fog in Quillette. Not a particularly easy read, but very valuable and highly recommended.

From this laborious work, and from all my other efforts in this field, I have drawn the conclusion that the evidence for social constructionism is a mirage in the desert. It does not exist. Most people in the humanities – including those who are able to express their opinions freely without fear of being fired – presuppose that gender roles are social constructs, and that the results obtained by natural scientists are determined by their social and political environment. Thousands of pages of academic ‘research’ express such notions, and thousands of university students are taught that this is how things are. But it is all hot air. The whole scenario is reminiscent of The Emperor’s New Clothes – nobody listens to the little boy who alone has the courage to point out that the Emperor is naked.

Much of this material – and Judith Butler’s obscurantism, in particular – functions like a Latin liturgy. It is not meant to be understood. About 600 years ago, the clergy in England supposedly existed to combat evil and make the world a better place. The sermons were in Latin, and the Bible was only available in Latin, so laypeople had no means of verifying what the clergy told them about religious doctrine. When a number of idealists translated the Bible into English so that common people could read and understand it, the idea – in principle, anyway – was that this would give more people direct access to God’s word. But instead of embracing this opportunity, the clergy fought all attempts at translation. And when the Bible became available in a language that people understood, the clergy burned the English translations, and those who distributed them were caught and executed. Given the choice of either supporting the wider dissemination of God’s word or preserving their own power and authority, they chose the latter.

A similar pattern of motivated self-interest is in evidence today (although opponents are no longer executed). Social constructionism has transformed the humanities departments of many universities into a kind of postmodern clerisy. In its own understanding, this clerical class strives to improve the world by insisting that all differences between groups of people are social constructs that testify to the unfairness of society. Society, therefore, can and must be reconstructed to dismantle these iniquities. But if wide-ranging social change is being demanded, then the basis for those demands needs to be firmly established first. Scholars ought to be labouring to prove the extent to which such differences are indeed social constructs and the extent to which disparities can be mitigated or dispelled by the radical reorganisation of social policy and even society itself. But this step in the process is simply absent. Instead, theorists make claims without bothering to substantiate them. Confronted with a choice between the disinterested pursuit of truth and understanding, or preserving their ideologies and positions of influence, they consistently opt for the latter.

And so, large swathes of the humanities and social sciences have been corrupted by ideology. Pockets of integrity remain but they are the minority, and they are only tolerated so long as they do not contradict the central planks of the accepted narrative. The unhappy result is that our universities are corroding, and our students will graduate with nothing more than the ability to further corrode the rest of society.

These are the concluding paragraphs of the paper and summarize very well what is documented in it. Many of us often wonder why the scientific method is falling into disrepute, and here is our documented answer. Do read it, and take it to heart, it will clarify many things.

Saturday Videos

This video is nearly viral this week, I think I may be the last conservative site to run it 🙂 That’s OK.

 

Preach it, Brother. Why? Here’s why!

Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky

This is interesting

These are fun in small doses, but it doesn’t make a hill of beans difference, really

As far as the founders were concerned, well, Tenche Cox who served under Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison said this:

The power of the sword, say the minority…, is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for The powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of Americans.

Note that phrase “every terrible implement of the soldier“, he was quite prepared to see private citizens own anything up to warships, as citizens did in those days, as well as artillery, and the founders thought the citizens should not have ‘military grade’ weapons, they should be better than that. Pretty clear to me.

Here’s a woman who lost her job in one of Canuckistan’s kangaroo courts. What for? She ran a tape of a debate (it had already been televised) in her class, and horrors, it had Jordan Peterson in it.

How about a little history, from Jordan Peterson? Good stuff.

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