Category Archives: Social Commentary

It’s That Time Of The Week Again

Lileks examines the train wreck that is Garrison Keillor’s latest:

I’m sorry, but I’m just fascinated by his column. Each is nearly identical in formlessness, subject and general pointlessness. To be fair: we all write at haste and repent at leisure, unless we can somehow get it out of the Google cache. We all make inelegant remarks that seemed wonderfully writerly at the moment but curdle when exposed to another pair of eyes. It’s the perils of blogging. But he has an entire week to write these things. Never does he attempt to make an argument or explore a line of thought – it’s just flat assertions ladled out with nuance or shading. The sun rises, Bush is bad, life is long but also short and so you should sit outside and drink lemonade and think of the people who came before you and sat outside and drank lemonade and there is a comfort in that continuity and we need all the comfort we can get in these days when nihilists in golf pants are everywhere and the Republic lies in ruins. Also, he is given to run-on sentences. This week has perhaps the finest example yet.

If that’s not enough, there is some cereal blogging, too.

Science As A Religion

And a fundamentalist one, at that:

When Salon interviewed me about my new book, “Saving Darwin,” I suggested that science doesn’t know everything, that there might be a reality beyond science, and that religion might be about God and not merely about the human quest for a nonexistent God. These remarks got me condemned to whatever hell Myers believes in.

Myers accused me of having “fantastic personal delusions” that could actually lead people astray. “I will have no truck with the perpetuation of fallacious illusions, whether honeyed or bitter,” Myers wrote, “and consider the Gibersons of this world to be corruptors of a better truth. That’s harsh, I know … but he is undermining the core of rationalism we ought to be building, and I find his beliefs pernicious.”

Myers’ confident condemnations put me in mind of that great American preacher, Jonathan Edwards, who waxed eloquent in his famous 1741 speech, “Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God,” about the miserable delusions that lead humans to reject the truth and spend eternity in hell. We still have preachers like Edwards today, of course; they can be found on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. But now we also have a new type of preacher, the Rev. PZ Myers.

And they don’t even recognize it in themselves. Dawkins and Myers and Hitchens are doing more harm than good for science in their evangelizing, I think.

Watch Where You’re Going

Randall Parker, on the newest dangerous addiction:

The texters would be less dangerous to themselves and others if they didn’t have to look down to see the screen. What is needed: Head Up Display Glasses tied to a cell phone. Then one could look ahead and see the text mixed in with sidewalk or whatever else is in front of you.

It’s all part of a larger problem as we become a multi-tasking society.

Can Women Be Explorers?

Of course they can, despite this misreading of my exploration piece on Monday. History is replete with them, though there are far fewer of them than men (more now, with more opportunities for them). For instance, the “mountain men” who explored much of the west were, pretty much to a…man, men.

I recently received an email from someone who made an analogy between what I wrote and saying that a “white” boy could be an explorer as long as the school system didn’t “blacken” him. I find the analogy completely spurious. Briefly, race is not gender.

This was my point, and one that will no doubt set off a crowd of angry blank slaters who think that gender is purely a social construct charging up the hill to my mansion with pitchforks and torches.

There are such things as masculine and feminine traits. All people have some of both–they are androgynous to one degree or another. We define the two by noting that most men are (by definition) more masculine, and most women are more feminine, and viva la difference. So things that most men do, and few women do, are called masculine, and vice versa for feminine (and of course there is a wide range of things that are neither). When men cook, garden, sew, etc., (as I do, though I don’t sew much) they are indulging in their feminine side, and when women explore, go shooting, chainsaw trees, drive Indy cars (among other things) they are being sort of manly. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with either doing either. There’s plenty of femininity to Danica Patrick, from what I can see.

There are a number of evolutionary psychological reasons to think that an urge for exploration is more of a male trait, and the Economist piece gives one more. If such an urge is an attention-deficit issue, it’s indisputable that (at least as it’s currently diagnosed) the preponderance of occurrence of it is in boys. At least, it is they who are being medicated the most for it in the schools. There may be some girls who are being similarly abused who would also be good explorers, but girls can be good explorers even when they act like girls in the classroom, because it’s a lot easier for them to act like girls in the classroom (even if they have some male characteristics) because they are, well…girls. They still learn, but aren’t having their exploratory urges browbeaten out of them. So to the degree that we are inhibiting budding explorers with a misguided educational system which defines good behavior as feminized behavior, the boys are taking the brunt of it. I could have, when referring to the future Neil Armstrong, said “her,” instead of “him,” but it would have seemed a little strained in political correctness, not because Neil was a man, but because not that many girls are being diagnosed ADHD and getting Ritalin.