Category Archives: Education


does not make you a better person.

I’m reading a review copy of an interesting new book from Bob Zimmerman on the history of slavery in America. One of the points he makes is that one of the things that created the cultural environment for it was the nature of how the Cavaliers founded Virginia, with the class bias and denigration of physical labor they brought from England.

“Rapid Fire Bullet Delivery Systems”

I just saw this tweet:

It reminded me of this old post I wrote in the early aughts. Here is the original, with comments at the time.

Kevin Williamson

Has not been silenced:

I hear this line of criticism fairly often from people who are not very bright or well-informed; in truth, I have never complained of “being silenced.” As I have written and said probably 200 times, the mob-mentality culture of conformism and homogeneity is a relatively minor problem for people like me — people who are in the controversy business, for whom this sort of thing is only a vexing professional hazard — but it is a very large problem for people who are not employed in writing and speaking about public affairs but nonetheless threatened with educational or employment sanctions for holding unpopular views. You hear about people like me because we are media figures, but the people who really have to worry about this sort of thing are Starbucks managers in Philadelphia and Silicon Valley nerds who are dumb enough to believe that the bosses at Google mean it when they ask them for their opinions.

Which brings us to the problem of trying to have a productive conversation with people who are caught up in the vast sprawling electronic apparatus of self-moronization. It does not matter what anybody actually has said or written. The rage-monkeys have an idea about what it is they want you to have said, or what people like you are supposed to think about x or y. I cannot count how many times I have had some person respond to something critical I’ve written about some lefty fruitcake with “What about Trump, huh?” When I point out that, among other things, I wrote a little book called The Case against Trump, the response is: “Well, Republicans . . .” And then when I point out that I am not one of those, either, the retreat into ever-vaguer generality continues incrementally.

Yes, I get this sort of idiocy a lot, too. I’m always amused when morons assume that (a functional atheist) am a Young-Earth creationist, or a Christian, or Republican, because I’m skeptical about hyperbolic climate claims.

I should say, though, that at least when it comes to Professor Mann, I have in fact been somewhat silenced (which is ironic, given that prior to the time he sued me, I’d hardly ever discussed him).

The Ideological Divide

This is interesting (and partially confirms Haidt’s thesis).

The survey asked Democrats: “How many Republicans believe that racism is still a problem in America today?” Democrats guessed 50%. It’s actually 79%. The survey asked Republicans how many Democrats believe “most police are bad people”. Republicans estimated half; it’s really 15%.

The survey, published by the thinktank More in Common as part of its Hidden Tribes of America project, was based on a sample of more than 2,000 people. One of the study’s findings: the wilder a person’s guess as to what the other party is thinking, the more likely they are to also personally disparage members of the opposite party as mean, selfish or bad. Not only do the two parties diverge on a great many issues, they also disagree on what they disagree on.

This much we might guess. But what’s startling is the further finding that higher education does not improve a person’s perceptions – and sometimes even hurts it. In their survey answers, highly educated Republicans were no more accurate in their ideas about Democratic opinion than poorly educated Republicans. For Democrats, the education effect was even worse: the more educated a Democrat is, according to the study, the less he or she understands the Republican worldview.

“This effect,” the report says, “is so strong that Democrats without a high school diploma are three times more accurate than those with a postgraduate degree.” And the more politically engaged a person is, the greater the distortion.

This strengthens my long-standing thesis that either there is no strong correlation between “education” and knowledge, or that in many cases it’s negative. Non-STEM academia is a national disaster.

Blood Pressure

This isn’t news to me. I’ve always been concerned (to the degree that I am concerned) about both, and in fact, I worry more about diastolic than systolic. I’m trying to get it down with 20 mg of Lisinopril, but it’s still 150/100 on waking. Fortunately, I’ve never had a cardiovascular event, despite having lost both parents relatively young to heart attacks. I think I have a much healthier lifestyle, though. They were both life-long smokers, and overweight (partly as a result of horrible nutrition advice from the government).

Back To Basics

The military is being trained (for the first time in decades) how to manage without computers.

This is good, not just as a defense against cyber attacks, but because it will give them a lot more insight. Even when I started my career in aerospace, I worried that young people were being too confident in computer output, without understanding the fundamentals sufficiently to know whether or not it made sense.

The Truth Comes Out

“Washington has laid all the ugly cards out on the table, and at last we have clarity.”

What a scene it presents. On the one hand is a group of people who think America is the source of all evil that should spend the rest of its historical existence atoning for the mischief it has loosed in the world. On the other hand is a group who believe that for all its faults it is the greatest country in the world and that those who want to destroy it should go back to Somalia. Whichever point of view you subscribe to (or neither) it’s hard to deny that these factions have existed for some time and are only now coming to grips in the open.


[Update a while later]

Trump is not a racist: He’s just moving the Overton Window back to normal.