When Did Barack Obama…?

really meet Bill Ayers? I think that the speculation that it was Columbia is entirely reasonable, and that he doesn’t want us to know that, not just because of the Weathermen connection, but because it would put the lie to the claim of “just a guy in my neighborhood.” And that may be one of the reasons (and perhaps a big one) why he won’t let us see his transcripts.

And I remain in awe at the continued incuriosity of the media about this. But if the honeymoon is really over, maybe we’ll start to hear more about it. I won’t hold my breath, though.

The Left’s War Against Science

Speaking of what is and is not politically correct in academia, there are a lot of interesting posts over at Volokh’s place on the “racist” email incident at Harvard. I agree with Eugene:

I, for one, am disheartened that — for perfectly understandable reasons — a student at a research university feels the need to apologize for having the temerity to be open to scientific evidence on a scientific question, and for deciding to express her openness to her friends.

Now there was something “sad and unfortunate” and lacking in “responsibility” in the circulation of the original e-mail: As best I can tell, the recipients forwarded the sender’s e-mail without the sender’s permissions. That is generally not proper with regard to personal mail, especially personal mail that refers back to an earlier conversation and may be hard to evaluate fully without knowing that conversation. If that were all that the Dean was condemning, I would agree with her. But my sense is that the Dean is condemning the sender, not the forwarders.

Hernstein and Murray were unjustly condemned for The Bell Curve, in my opinion. It may indeed be true that their research wasn’t valid, but that’s not what they were condemned for. They were condemned for even asking the question.

I have no idea whether blacks are on average less intelligent, or more intelligent, than whites (and of course there are different flavors of intelligence, so they could be smarter in some ways, and less so in others). But I’m open to believing that either could be true, because it seems obvious that blacks are unlikely to be exactly as intelligent as whites on every axis. In order to believe that they are, you have to believe that intelligence is not heritable (i.e., you have to be a leftist who denies human nature and believes in the tabula rasa). Because any trait that is heritable, like height, or athletic ability or…skin color, is going to have different averages within a population.

But while it would be ludicrous to argue that blacks don’t have darker skin, on average, or that Inuit tend to be more stout than Kenyans, on average, to have such a discussion about intelligence is completely taboo in academia. Stephen Jay Gould took this to the greatest heights in his Mismeasure of Man, in which he took great pains to gather as much research as possible to “prove” that all homo sapiens, everywhere, have the same innate capacity to learn. And he did this not in the interest of science, though I’m sure that he flattered himself that he did, but in the interest of his Marxist ideology, which could not morally tolerate any other conclusion.

Do I think that such research is socially useful? No, not particularly, but that doesn’t mean that I oppose its being done, as long as it isn’t with my money. But the left considers it socially dangerous research. It’s clear why they consider it so, but the reason that I consider it pure research (that is, not having any societal implications) is that unlike them, I am an individualist, whereas they are collectivists. I treat people as individuals, whereas they treat them as members of favored or disfavored groups. So for them, any research that can result in a group being favored or disfavored, particularly if it isn’t derivative from their own notions of social history, is beyond the pale.

Me? I say what difference does it make how smart the average black is? I’m uninterested in averages — I only want to know how smart the particular black that I’m considering hiring is, and I don’t particularly care whether or not she’s black. Suppose we did find out that blacks were ten points higher, or lower, than whites? Does it mean that we’re going to educate them differently simply because they’re black? I would certainly hope not, but that’s the instinct of the collectivist.

And of course, this is why I find complaints from the left about the “war on science” by the “right” so tendentious. Because in many ways, theirs is even more serious, and unrelenting. Trofim Lysenko, or Margaret Mead, or Margaret Sanger were certainly not right wingers.

[Update a few minutes later]

This seems somewhat related: Why can’t a man be more like a woman?

Echoes Of The Thirties

The words of John Mearsheimer, and others. It’s truly appalling how respectable these sorts of views have become in academia. Not to mention on the left and among Democrats in general.

As a side note, while Coughlin did hate communism, it was only because it was a competing form of socialism to his own — it’s nonsensical to call a man who thought that Roosevelt wasn’t socialistic enough “right wing.” To do so is simply more of the rewriting of history by the left over the past decades.

“US Missed Chances To Act”

I stand second to none in my low opinion of the competence of the federal government, and particularly of DHS (and particularly of this DHS with its current secretary). So I’m not exactly surprised that there was apparently a lot more that could have been done to prevent the oil spill from spreading early on. But I also find it interesting that a government that is clearly opposed (despite lip service) to serious proposals for off-shore drilling accidentally on purpose took an action, or inaction, that is going to make such proposals now politically difficult, if not impossible.

I don’t think that George Bush and Karl Rove steered Katrina into New Orleans and blew up the levies and then sat on their hands for days because they hate black people, though exactly those kinds of ridiculous charges were flung around (and I’m sure there are still many people who believe them). But while not necessarily endorsing the theory, I don’t find it completely implausible that the administration may have taken actions that may have been viewed as potentially politically convenient because it hates fossil fuels (particularly cheap ones) and oil rigs. If one wanted to go all black helicopter, one could even postulate sabotage. But as usual, incompetence remains the most likely explanation. I don’t think that this administration could get it together to pull something like that off, though it would be easier than steering hurricanes.

And like Glenn, I’m a little surprised that the Gray Lady has jumped on this, and not buried or ignored it. I think that the honeymoon might be over, and if so, it doesn’t portend well for the White House either this election cycle or next.

[Update a few minutes later]

A time line of presidential delay.

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