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Do Advocacy Groups Belong in Academia?

A few months ago, The Washington Post published an opinion piece by Suzanna Danuta Walters. Its title was: “Why can’t we hate men?”

Walters’s byline, printed before the body of the article, read:

Suzanna Danuta Walters, a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University, is the editor of the gender studies journal Signs.

As the byline suggests, Walters isn’t a layperson sharing an opinion; she’s a social scientist writing within her field of expertise. Her position as programme director at a prestigious university and as editor of an academic journal further underscore her academic credentials.

Walters begins the article by describing incidences of abuse of women by men and notes that “it seems logical to hate men.” Although acknowledging the value of institutional analyses of power, she describes the “universal facts” of various forms of male domination (as opposed to citing examples of men abusing power within various structures and frameworks). Since men “have gone low for all of human history,” she writes, “maybe it’s time for us to go all Thelma and Louise and Foxy Brown on their collective butts.” She finishes the article by stating a set of criteria for men to follow if they “would like us to not hate you for all the millennia of woe you have produced and benefited from,” which include “[d]on’t be in charge of anything,” and “[s]tep away from the power.”

Remarkably, despite her social scientific credentials, Walters makes no attempt to explain the phenomena she’s addressing. Early in the article, she declares the institutional explanations that are popular in her field inadequate for explaining the “universal facts” of male behaviour. Now, there’s nothing inherently unscientific in any of this, of course; many academics think institutional explanations of male and female behaviour are unable to satisfactorily explain the commonalities of male and female behaviour found across different human societies. This is where evolutionary explanations come in. They seem to be able to account for precisely the kinds of “universal facts” that Walters describes in a way that institutional explanations can’t. But Walters makes no attempt to engage with evolutionary explanations. Instead, her response is condemnation, declaring that men have “gone low for all of human history.”

What kind of science condemns phenomena instead of trying to explain them? Biologist E. O. Wilson, cited in Wikipedia, defined science as: “a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.” Granted, the world is complex, and explanation can be difficult, especially when dealing with social phenomena. But Walters has two readily available sets of explanatory models from which she can draw: institutional and evolutionary. She dismisses the first and ignores the second. If each of these models is deemed inadequate, one might reasonably expect a scientist to try and combine them. Perhaps male behaviour is best explained by a combination of evolutionary and institutional causes.

Yet what’s blatantly apparent is that Walters has no interest in explanations. In fact, she deliberately avoids them. Why? Well, because explanations and condemnations are mutually exclusive: the more one can explain something, the less one can condemn it. By simultaneously dismissing both institutional and evolutionary explanations, Walters can treat instances of male behaviour throughout human history as uncaused, and thus condemnable. Furthermore, by first dismissing institutional explanations—which by their nature are particular to certain societies—Walters is able to universalise her proclamation, and then by ignoring evolutionary explanations—which are typically universal—she’s able to make that proclamation condemnatory. Thus, she ends up with a proclamation that is both universal—it applies to all men throughout history—and is causally unexplained: their behaviour is condemnable.

There’s a reason Walters does this. She isn’t writing the article to explain male behaviour. She’s doing it to advocate for a set of proposals, and the best way to do that—the best way to break the inertia of everyday life—is to argue from a position of injustice: men have behaved immorally throughout human history towards women, so women today are justified in being angry and men in feeling guilty, which in turn justifies her proposals. The more condemnable she can make historical male behaviour appear—and the more universal she can make it—the more justifiable she can make her proposed actions, not just towards certain individual men, but towards men as a historical collective.

This touches on a fundamental conflict between science and advocacy. Science seeks to explain the world, but explanation conflicts with condemnation, which is an important component of injustice and in turn advocacy. It’s possible to have injustice and advocacy without condemnation, but probably not with quite the same emotional appeal. If Walters were to provide an explanation for male behaviour it would diffuse her condemnation and with it some of the intensity of her appeal to advocacy. (Recall that a central part of her advocacy is for men to “step away from the power” in order not to be hated for the “millennia of woe you have produced and benefitted from.”)

It’s important to note that the difference between science and advocacy is not the presence or absence of data or even academic theory. Advocacy groups often appeal to both. The difference is that the aim of science is to explain, while the aim of advocacy is to advance the interests of a particular group. The fact that Walters’s article contains references to studies and observations isn’t sufficient grounds to label it science; what matters is the aim. Does it include conflicting data? Does it address opposing theories and arguments? This is where the distinction becomes clear. Unsurprisingly, every one of Walters’s studies and observations supports her case. And as mentioned, she dismisses or ignores explanatory models completely.

Clearly, Walters is not doing science, she’s doing advocacy. Her aim is to build a case that advocates for the interests of her constituency, women. She selects supportive observations and studies, condemns rather than explains, and utilises emotionally charged language. Now, scientists sometimes do advocacy work. And, obviously, Walters isn’t writing in an academic journal. But this is why Walters’s lack of explanatory models is important: her entire case is constructed around their non-existence. The universal condemnation of historical male behaviour she advances conflicts with any explanatory model. I don’t see any reasonable way Walters’s article can be viewed as an extension of a body of work attempting to explain male behaviour.

But maybe Walters isn’t representative of her field? Certainly, we shouldn’t draw too much from the actions of one person. Is there reason to think Walters is unique in her approach?

*  *  *

Earlier this year, Columbia University undergraduate philosophy major Coleman Hughes wrote a short article comparing his experiences in two courses he was taking: 1) a course on feminist epistemology and queer theory, and 2) a generic philosophy introductory course. “Leaving aside what is taught,” Hughes notes in the article, “the courses differ greatly in how they’re taught.”

In the generic course, no viewpoints are considered sacred, and the class spends much of its time trying to expose weaknesses in the arguments of the philosophers covered. In the other course, however, students rarely ask questions let alone make critiques, and when they do the professor “has a mysterious way of answering without ever suggesting that the argument could simply have a weakness.”

The contrast is not just with the generic introductory course, but with all the philosophy courses Hughes has taken:

Of the seven philosophy courses I’ve taken at Columbia so far, not a single one has operated even close to this way—philosophy professors are always the first to point out logical weaknesses, strong counterarguments, and alternative points of view, even when they fundamentally agree with the course material. In this class, I got the sense that the professor was wedded to the material, such that a critique of the material would have been synonymous with a critique of her. As hyperbolic as this might sound, voicing a strong pushback against any idea that the Professor favored was nearly unthinkable.

Instead of debate, a recurring feature of the course is the professor advocating for specific ideological views and encouraging political action, Hughes notes. The purpose of this class it seems—unlike the other philosophy classes Hughes took—was not the pursuit of truth, but the inculcation of a particular set of advocacy arguments.

This demonstrates another aspect of the fundamental antagonism between science (or philosophy) and advocacy mentioned earlier. The best way to approach the former is to adopt a reflective attitude and to consider arguments provisional and open to criticism. On the other hand, the best way to approach the latter is to convey one’s arguments with conviction, which naturally discourages both self-criticism and criticism from others.

This even extends to the characteristics of the professor. Hughes gives a description of his professor as someone prone to occasional outburst of anger and condemnation. While these traits might make one an effective advocate, they aren’t conducive to one’s ability to be open to alternative viewpoints, as Hughes suggests in his article. (The classroom atmosphere he describes clearly discouraged criticism.)

This reminds me of an episode late last year at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. A graduate student’s Facebook post included the following sentence: “A gender studies course might discuss identity politics with an experienced and knowledgeable leader, but a first-year grammar class taught by a dispassionate Master’s student is a different story.” Note how the word “leader” is used for professor or lecturer, and how “dispassionate” is considered a vice.

So, Hughes’s example indicates that Walters isn’t unique in her advocacy approach, and that this same approach is present within an academic setting as well, but it also adds to the distinction between advocacy and science. Not only are condemnation and selective appeal to data conducive to success for the former, but so are leadership, passion, and conviction. Whereas for the latter, explanation and embrace of conflicting data are what drives success, supplemented by openness, dispassion, and self-criticism.

But this is still only a couple of examples. Can it be generalised more broadly?

*  *  *

Last week, Helen Pluckrose, James Lindsay, and Peter Boghossian published an essay in Areo magazine describing their efforts over the past year to expose bad scholarship in a set of academic fields they refer to as “grievance studies.” They submitted a total of twenty academic papers to leading journals in the relevant fields, testing the boundaries of what would be accepted for publication while also documenting the responses from reviewers and editors. Seven of their papers were peer-reviewed and accepted for publication (four already published online) with several more still under revision. They were forced to end the experiment prematurely after one of their papers was discovered by journalists who started asking questions.

The authors argue that the centre of the problem is what they call “critical constructivism,” essentially the idea that “many common features of experience and society are socially constructed,” dictated by powerful groups to “maintain power over marginalized ones,” and that this worldview “produces a moral imperative to dismantle these constructions.” As long as academics in these fields adhere to this worldview, and make sure to refer to existing literature and use appropriate terminology, they can write whatever they want and get published. This appears to have been the authors’ ingoing hypothesis, which they considered validated by the results of the experiment.

While this was an interesting experiment, and I recommend reading the essay in full, I depart somewhat from the authors in their characterisation of the core problem, which seems to me to be more related to advocacy than to any particular epistemological or moral worldview. In other words, women’s and gender studies fields, for example, have become attached to a radical version of constructivism because it’s an effective way to support advocacy of women’s interests, as they define them, not because of abstract philosophical beliefs.

Walters demonstrated this in her article. She was quite content to dismiss institutional (i.e., constructivist) explanations of male behaviour in favour of “universal facts,” precisely so she could make a stronger case for the collective condemnation of men and thus for the advocacy of women’s interests, as she sees them.

What the experiment really showed, it seems to me, is that these fields will accept anything that advocates for the interests of their constituents, provided it meets minimal academic standards. It just so happens that a radical constructivist worldview allows for these standards to be quite low. The journals are not going to turn away, say, statistical research papers for being insufficiently constructivist, so long as the data supports advocacy of their constituents’ interests. Indeed, the authors appear to have submitted and received positive feedback for everything from poetry to an ideological manifesto to field research.

This seems to me to be the main takeaway from this experiment. It’s not just that these fields have an element of advocacy, which I suspect many people were aware of, but that they’re seemingly entirely founded in advocacy. And as we’ve seen, there’s a deep conflict between advocacy and science.

Now, I should also say that I don’t completely share the authors’ disregard for “critical constructivism.” Clearly, there’s a kind of radical constructivism that goes too far, but nevertheless, many social phenomena are at least in part socially constructed, and the way to uncover them is through a critical examination of societal beliefs and concepts. In no way is this unscientific. Modern physics, for example, relies on a redefinition of our commonsensical notions of space and time. Similarly, understanding human behaviour may well require critical examination of seemingly commonsensical concepts like gender, race, and sexuality. One cannot reject a critical constructivist approach entirely without rejecting a central part of science.

The problem is advocacy, and its commitment to a particular set of interests, rather than to the pursuit of universal knowledge. This isn’t to say that there’s no place for advocacy groups. Political and social change could not be achieved without them. But they don’t belong in academia. There are undoubtedly many implicit biases present in academia, but this doesn’t justify introducing explicit ones. Rather, it justifies identifying and removing the implicit ones, even if one can never get rid of them entirely. Objectivity is a direction more than a state.

Even setting aside academia itself, a well-functioning society is a transparent society, and a situation where a select subset of advocacy groups conceals itself under the cloak of academia is not transparent, especially given academia’s privileged position in our society. We need to ask ourselves whether it makes sense for advocacy groups to continue to operate within academia indefinitely.

 

Uri Harris has a MSc in Business and Economics. He can be followed on Twitter @safeortrue

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81 Comments

  1. TarsTarkas says

    First Wave Feminism was about getting equal rights.

    Second Wave Feminism was about getting equal opportunities.

    Third Wave Feminism is about getting preferential rights and opportunities.

    Fourth Wave Feminism (just getting into gear) is about eliminating male rights and opportunities.

    Fifth Wave Feminism will be about eliminating males. Ban cloning!

    • I fear you are right. I studied the 3rd Reich at university back many years ago when they really were places of academic study. And what’s happening now smells worryingly similar to what happened then. The propaganda against jews, the blaming ( wrongly ) of many of society’s issues and problems on jews. Just change jew for men….

      The fact a fake feminist article based on Hitler’s Mein Kampf was accepted for publication only helps highlight the similarities.

      As long as white males still have the vote and are still a large percentage of society we’re relatively safe. Once either or both of those are gone I fear a second final solution.

    • Caligula says

      I would argue that “equal rights” was always a fig leaf. It’s just simpler and more accurate to view feminism as “advocacy for women and girls” than to view it as a movement for equality.

      Advocacy for women and girls doesn’t necessarily imply antipathy toward equality, it’s just that that’s not its focus. It’s core belief will always be “we don’t have equality yet” and so inevitably its message will always be “never enough.”

      Thus, if one were to find 60 instances in which men are disadvantaged and 40 in which women were disadvantaged, feminists would ignore the 40 because “that’s not our problem.” Thus, “equality” to a feminist could only be realized when in all 100 instances women were at least equal. And since equality is difficult to define or measure, in practice feminists (as advocates for women and children) would not be motivated to declare equality until all 100 instances favored women.

      Of course, advocacy is not necessarily evil and need not be banned from campus, but (1) realizing that “advocacy for women and girls” is not at all the same as “advocacy for equity between the sexes” seems a good first step in understanding what feminism is (i.e., as with all political movements it is what it does, not what it says) and (b) advocacy is not science; at best one would expect advocates to suppress (or at least remain silent about) any research that fails to support the (political) aims of the advocacy. And at its worst, an advocacy-based “science” will start with the desired conclusions and then work back to finding evidence that supports these (even while disregarding evidence to the contrary).

      • V 2.0 says

        Was going to write a comment but this sums it up better than I ever could.

    • Except that men won’t willingly become slaves to women. By this third wave, men will be beyond fool me once and fool me twice, and the result will be unhappy for tyrannical wannabe women.

      • I’m assuming all of the commenters in this thread are Incels … that would explain the bitterness, paranoia and conspiratorial thinking. Do you realize that you’re the mirror image of the radical feminists you despise? You’re the equal and opposite reaction to their extremism — and you seem to be equally deranged. Unless your comments are meant to be parody, in which case: Well done!

        • Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson says

          @lemurlover
          The people in this thread are not “mirror images of radical feminists”. Radfems hate all men. We don’t hate women at all. We fight back against a specific group of people who hate us for immutable traits we were born with. What you’re saying is like saying “Jews are mirror images of the SS”. Also you made 0 counterarguments.

          P.S. anyone who uses the word “incel” unironically is ridiculous.

          • Counterarguments to the idea that feminists are Nazis who want to eliminate men? I’m pretty sure that argument refutes itself …

            I’m not sure the victims of Elliott Rodger see the irony in the Incel movement, which is unfortunately real.

  2. As usual, Quillette hits the nail square on the head. No, advocacy absolutely does not belong in TAX PAYER FUNDED academia! They need to do what the conservatives did when they were pushed out of the academy in the 70’s and 80’s and find a source of private funding and move into a think tank. If the gender/race/sexuality trifecta of advocacy “studies” is truly valuable for society the way the radicals claim, then they should have no problem finding a benefactor to fund them.

    • Jack B Nimble says

      @KDM

      Northeastern U. is a private university. Does Prof. Walters have a federal grant? I don’t think so.

      Look, advocacy absolutely DOES belong at a university, and it happens all the time and everywhere on campus. Examples include:

      professors of evolutionary biology advocating against creationism
      professors of public health and immunology speaking out against anti-vaxxers
      professors of geography and geology speaking out against ground-water pollution
      professors of social work advocating for marginalized segments of the population

      Let’s be clear–Walters is being singled out not because she engages in advocacy but because she is an assertive, opinionated lesbian. Interested readers should read her follow-up opinion piece in the WaPo:

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mob-misogyny-is-nothing-new-i-have-the-death-threats-to-prove-it/2018/09/20/7193574a-b21c-11e8-aed9-001309990777_story.html?utm_term=.3b9d9c100a3c

      I happen to disagree with much of what Walters says, but I support her right to speak out without having to deal with death threats, etc. Harassment of academics by online mobs is the real story here, and it would be the topic of Harris’ piece, if Walters were a conservative provocateur.

      • Uri Harris says

        Jack, I can assure you I was unaware of Walters’s sexual orientation. It’s irrelevant to my critique anyway.

        The issue isn’t that Walters is being a provocateur, but that she’s able to represent herself as a scientist writing within her field while doing so. It’s a structural problem. I’m not aware of a comparable situation for conservatives.

        You seem to have misread my argument. I’m not saying scientists should never engage in advocacy, I’m saying it’s a problem when academic disciplines are built around advocacy. As I point out, Walters presents herself as a scientist writing with her field of expertise. Yet, it’s clear she has no interest in explaining male behaviour. This is not a scientist advocating for something as an extension of their scientific knowledge, it’s someone who has never engaged in scientific work to begin with, defined as an attempt to explain the phenomena she’s addressing. To make a claim about the “universal facts” of male behaviour while completely ignoring evolutionary explanations and instead condemning the phenomena is remarkable.

        • @Uri, an analog would be Walter’s (in this case, presenting as a scientist while ignoring scientific tenants) is the same as someone like Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh presenting themselves as journalists versus talk-show hosts. O’Reilly and Limbaugh do not portray themselves as journalists any more so than Stephen Colbert does — yet some people get all their news-information from their programs. Ironically, when you counter a point from Colbert or Limbaugh, versus Walters, you aren’t labeled anti-science.

          Now, to @Jack’s point, advocacy does exist in academia in all forms. However, I think the difference being pointed out here is that when a professor of immunology advocates against anti-vaxxers or a professor of evolutionary biology advocates against creationists they lean on the science to explain the phenomenon. In this case, Walters leaned on hyperbole and emotion which is what this author was pointing out. Walters did not lean on the two pillars of science explaining behavior to explain, only threw out “all men evil.” Really? Are all white women evil as well then since a large number of black males where hanged by lynch mobs on claims of having raped or looked at or similar a white woman in the South in the early 1900s? Snce she’s caucasian, does her description of “all men” include black men? If so, isn’t she racist and declaring that black men should NOT be in power? Wow, she must have been enraged when President Obama was elected and re-elected. Really offended that Rev. MLK has a holiday for his drive for equal rights when a woman hasn’t.

          • Kevin Herman says

            There is no one that gets all the news from someone like Rush Limbaugh. Liberals control way too much of the culture. There are however tons of people that only get news from liberal sources.

          • Kevin Herman says

            Also, it shows your progressive leanings that you mention Limbaugh and O’Reilly and leave out all the people on the left that some young progressives get almost all there news from that aren’t journalists in the least: Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, John Stewart to name just a few. Also, whats so special about journalists in this day and age? I guess its all Trump’s fault that like 80% of the public views them unfavorably. People like Katy Tur, Chuck F Todd, George Stephenopolous and even someone like Jake Tapper are a joke. They all have ties to the demoractic party in one way or another and are little more then Democratic hacks. What are the credentials that make one a “journalist” worth listening too? Going to so ultra left journalism school and working for a major network or the New York Times?

          • @Kevin i’m definitely NOT a progressive. Voted for Trump and proud of it. You missed my point, please re-read. Walter wrote opinion/clickbait-esque work but used her bona fides as an academic to give her opinions credibility. That is the conservative description of it. My point about Limbaugh is providing a parallel to illustrate for a Progressive that her doing that would be like Limbaugh stating his opinions with a byline of “Journalist for News Agency” which many a prog often does as a way to justify FoxNews being “FauxNews” simply because they play opinion shows at certain hours — progs conflate Limbaugh with FoxNews similar to how Walter is conflating her “scientist” creds to try and get lemmings to accept their opinions as facts. How many times did we hear, during Obama’s presidency, of how “FauxNews” was fake..just look at O’Reilly/Limbaugh/Hannity’s programs. They’re doing the same thing here…”See…Walter’s points are facts because she’s a scientist”

        • Jack B Nimble says

          @Uri Harris,

          I was responding mostly to @KDM’s comment, not to your post.

          As to Walters presenting herself as a scientist, I wonder if the WaPo house style requires outside opinion writers to use their academic affiliation when they have one, to provide background info. It’s like if an opinion writer happened to work in the Bush admin from 2001-2009 and was identified as such. If that is so, then she wasn’t making an argument from authority.

          I didn’t read her pieces in the WaPo as being part of her academic portfolio [on her website http://www.suzannawalters.com/, she clearly separates her scholarly work from her popular and op-ed writings ]. So I think your argument is overblown.

          As for academic disciplines being built around advocacy, that happens a lot in American higher ed. To pick one example, Ag professors at A&M campuses are expected to be advocates for, and sensitive to the needs of, the farmers and ranchers in their state. And no one thinks that is remarkable, except for a few cranks.

      • I had no idea she was a lesbian, but I don’t know why that would matter in evaluating her argument. Playing the victim identity card shuts down debates.

        I have become rather unsympathetic to the “I made an outspoken unpopular statement on a high volume public website and somebody said something mean to me on Twitter” argument. If she doesn’t want aggressive pushback, then don’t publicly advocate for hating an identity group. Is this difficult to understand in some way?

        She wants to scream uncivil things but have everyone treat her with respect. The reaction to her acerbic statements was 100% predictable. These viewpoints are poisonous and are only held by a minute number of people in the academy. If you bring them out into the public, expect to be ridiculed.

      • “Let’s be clear–Walters is being singled out not because she engages in advocacy but because she is an assertive, opinionated lesbian. Interested readers should read her follow-up opinion piece in the WaPo:….”

        Bull. She is being singled out because she is an assertive, opinionated bigot who wrote a piece in the NYTimes, one of the biggest bullhorns in the country, which argued why it was ok to hate certain people due to their gender. No one would give two hoots about her, except that she is arguing why 1/2 of the population deserves to be hated, and frankly driven out of political/social power, for their ‘choice’ of being born male. She sounds like the sexist’s she ‘studies’, and deserves the exact same scorn.

        On a secondary note, why is it that every time someone from the left puts their foot in their mouth ( be it Cathy Newman or Prof Walters or any number of others) all is forgiven because they suddenly get lots of ‘death threats’? I am sure Trump gets all kinds of death threats, it doesn’t exonerate him or his bull.

      • Perhaps she should then not advocate for hatred towards any others. Evolutionary biologists and the other scientists you mentioned are happy to discuss evidence that shows a reasoned approach versus a faith-based one, and none advocate for hatred/harming those who disagree.

      • Anonymous says

        Well of course she’s a lesbian: she’s not going to get much heterosexual action with attitudes like that. I wonder what her real view is of women who have the wrong ‘parts’? Would she sleep with one?

        I also wonder what her real view is of children? She was a child once, and has a biological mother *and father* because she is obviously a product of the pre-IVF age. No father, no Suzanna Danuta Walters. What does she think of her father?

        She looks as if she may still be of childbearing age. Becoming ‘broody’ and wanting a child is an irrational impulse that can suddenly overcome even those previously sworn against reproduction. I speak from personal experience. Would she abort a male foetus?

        Anonymous. Obviously.

      • Circuses and Bread says

        @Jack B Nimble

        This individual is being singled out because she is acting like closed minded, radical bigot.While I don’t agree with people being threatened online or elsewhere for expressing offensive views, I have to wonder if there would be the same concern were the shoe on the other foot? If for example this was a white male in academia making similar statements about women, would there be the same concern for him bearing the consequences? I think not. Actually, I find it highly unlikely that such a person would still be employed in academia let alone given access to a platform like the WAPO to express their views.

        So what we’re really talking about is whether select, socially protected groups such as homosexuals or people of color should have a sort of “cloak of invincibility” to make bigoted, hateful remarks without consequences. I’m not a fan of that idea. I believe in equality of opportunity as well as responsibility and consequences. If you insist upon sowing the wind, you shouldn’t be surprised when it comes time to reap a whirlwind.

      • peterschaeffer says

        Let’s consider a possibility here. Perhaps the push back against Walters might have something do with “Why can’t we hate men?” rather than her sexual orientation. Clearly, ‘hate” is unobjectionable and her sexual preferences are the real issue.

        • Isn’t the problem that she suggests persecution (for what else is hate from a large group focused on a somewhat smaller group) of all men regardless of their individual behaviour and merit?

  3. Circuses and Bread says

    The authors question of whether advocacy groups belong in academia is going to be rendered moot in the next 10 years. While academia will valiantly try to defend its turf, for-profit universities, online degrees and non degree certification programs are eating their lunch. Universities already have to compete for students.

    Not requiring students to take classes in the various “silliness studies” fields is going to be a selling point, especially for those demographics who are the target of this “universal condemnation.” How long do the academics within the various “silliness studies” fields think they’ll survive once the inevitable paring down of programs occurs?

    • Garry A says

      All the more reason for academia to regain its ground, which is the ground of proper academic thought and discourse.

      Our ‘low resolution’ perception means that we are forced to place faith in institutions because we can’t parse, in real time, the volume of data that proper analysis requires. Intelligent discourse necessarily relies upon the authority of the source, otherwise on every academic endeavour we’re all starting from scratch. Universities need to remember that that’s where their selling point over online degrees is. Their authority is reliant upon the public’s perception of that authority. Partisan pseudo-scientific politicising and moralising is eroding universities’ reputation at light speed.

      • Jack B Nimble says

        @Garry A

        “…. Universities need to remember that that’s where their selling point over online degrees is…..”

        This statement is flat-out wrong. Let me count the ways….

        First, students generally make friendships [or at least acquaintances] in college that will follow them for the rest of their lives. See, e.g., Brett Kavanaugh.

        Second, students in college can be mentored by a professor if the they choose. Then their mentor can write an informed letter of recommendation to graduate or professional school.

        Third, non-commuter students can take advantage of all the non-academic enrichment activities on campus: concerts, sports, student clubs and groups, etc.

        Fourth, students who attend colleges with competitive admission gain an imprimatur of elite status that will follow them for the rest of their lives. See, e.g., Brett Kavanaugh

        Fifth, students have a chance to gain valuable hands-on experience working in a professor’s office or lab on campus, doing an internship arranged through their college, or engaging in service learning….. and so on.

        • peanut galley says

          The wokest of campuses appear to be where the rich kids and well connected already go. Every other person has to make it where they can. Of course, if you have enough sense to chose a vocation and not an avocation, you probably just got a degree in something worth money, so you can send your kids can go get woke later. There’s a diminishing return on attending college. Connections are good, but is having to conform to their ideology worth the cost? I dunno, at this point I feel like I understand progressive thought pretty well. I’m sort of bored at being disgusted with it. Articles like this don’t tell me anything I don’t already now about this mode of thought. Ending their subsidy and popping the education bubble would be a good start. I don’t see that on the horizon though.

        • “Let me count the ways….”

          Yeah, and all those “ways” will only cost $100,000, without the promise of employment in a particular feild of study. Probably why Chinese Unis dont bother with College sports teams and such.

          Eventually people are going to wise up to the fact that the product isnt worth the price.

          • Jack B Nimble says

            @roundedpeaks

            If cost is an issue, then community colleges are the way to go–I made that point in a different thread several weeks ago.

            And yes, other countries’ higher ed systems generally lack intercollegiate sports, fraternities and sororities and even dorms and dining halls. Maybe that lack of amenities is a good thing, but it is not where higher ed is at right now in the U.S. And why do so many top foreign students want to study in the U.S.?

            Is change coming? Beats me…..

          • Caligula says

            Before saying “the product isn’t worth the price,” you need to define what “the product” is. Is “the product” education, or is it an educational credential? And if your answer is both, which is it that is or is not worth that $100,000.?

            I’d argue that a good deal of education is available for free, or at very low cost, and therefore what you’re paying for is the credential. A degree indicates that you were conscientious enough to put in the required seat-time and, if it’s from a school with highly selective admissions, that you were smart enough to get in.

            As in all markets, high demand and limited supply produce high prices. There are not that many schools with highly selective admissions, and in any those who can award recognized credentials are limited to schools that can at least obtain accreditation.

            Arguably a recognized set of well-proctored comprehensive exams in recognized academic fields might better measure educational attainment, and would provide students flexibility in obtaining the education required to do well on such exams. Of course, exams can sometimes be “gamed,” but so can any system. If exams became the primary means of credentialing then some students would still opt for the traditional four-years-at-old-ivy model, but others might choose less costly means of educating themselves.

            Of course, the accredited schools (and those who work atthem) are not going to go gently into that good night, and won’t quietly permit lower-cost competition to challenge its business model. I’d expect tremendous blowback from accredited schools toward any attempt to establish alternate credentialing.

          • Circuses and Bread says

            @rounded peaks

            I believe the educational paradigm is going to change dramatically in coming years. I’ll put a 10 years hence number to it. While I wouldn’t be be surprised to see some private universities and Ivy League public schools continue to provide The University Experience®️ that won’t be the way forward for most. Economics has a nasty way of bringing reality into the picture.

            The cost/benefit relationship of a university degree has declined greatly. Skipping it entirely and say, going to trade school or community college is rapidly becoming a preferable alternative. For someone who is bright and reasonably capable with their hands, becoming say an HVAC tech is a good alternative. And you’re earning an income rather than simply paying tuition over a 4 to 6 year span.

            Spending $100,000 to get a degree that qualifies you to earn maybe as much as an apprentice HVAC tech isn’t viable economic choice. In the end what can’t continue, won’t continue.

        • “If cost is an issue, then community colleges are the way to go–I made that point in a different thread several weeks ago.”

          True, but CC doesnt offer all of those “ways” you listed. Which is probably why so many people skip going to CC first, and opt to pay higher tuition for the same 1st and 2nd year classes.

          “And yes, other countries’ higher ed systems generally lack intercollegiate sports, fraternities and sororities and even dorms and dining halls. Maybe that lack of amenities is a good thing, but it is not where higher ed is at right now in the U.S. ”

          Because American Unis are not into selling educations, they sell The College Experience (Trademark). Again, why would a 17 year old kid go to CC when he could take out thousands in debt to go live with dozens of co-eds away from their parents watchful gaze?

          The answer to that of course is “to save money”, but 17 year old kids are usually not that bright in the face of college recruiters. Yet.

          “And why do so many top foreign students want to study in the U.S.?”

          Good question, but from my time and Uni working with international students I can say with certainty ii had nothing to do with college sports, concerts or fraternaties.

      • @ Caligula

        You are absolutly correct in that Unis no longer sell education. Or, at least, dont have a monopoly on education. In many cases you are just paying tuition to read and opine on a particular set of books.

        The default to your comment is that they sell credentials. They do, but I dont not think that is their primary product, ouside of Community College. Universities mainly sell an experience. Community College doesnt have a bad reputation because the teaching assistants at Universitites are somehow so much better at teaching expository writing than the full-time staff at Community Colleges. No, CC’s are just not near as fun. Thats ultimately what they are selling, and kids who wouldnt even qualify for a credit card are being allowed endless loans to have that fun.

        I think that is not worth the money, and I think people are ging to start to realize that.

  4. John McCormick says

    Ladies and gentlemen, if you have been following the script (all the world’s a stage, you know. ;-), you will note that social scientists play the same role for those in power now that diviners, astrologers, and soothsayers played for those in power in the past. Where in the past these people produced prognostications and counsel based on the way some tossed bones lay or an from an evaluation of the emperor’s excrement, they now use…data, or really, their impression of what they believe the output of their SPSS or R routine is “telling them” about some large collection of numbers. Of course, what the data “says” depends a lot on who is paying to produce it. Take it from someone in math: numbers (or numerals) have no intrinsic meaning. Anything asserted by the use of numbers must include verbiage and logic produced by humans which must be subjected to scrutiny to have any qualification. Even physicists will tell you that science is a narrative constructed to describe nature. The difference is that in social science, everything is opinion and nothing has to be demonstrated. Please compare this to the work of Kepler, Newton and Einstein, the accuracy of whose work is evidenced in the common use of the now ubiquitous GPS/SATNAV reciever, every second of every day.

    Please see for yourself the roots and development of the social sciences, and you will no longer be suprised by the judgement aspect: Puritans>Great Awakening>New England Protestant Ascendency>Social Science>Progressivism (take a moment here to stop by Eugenics and “Race Science”), and finally secularization of the mainline protestant sects. Joseph Bottum fleshes it all out in his book _An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America_ (Image/Random House, 2014)

    Many who talk about universities and college as an institution refer to them as “The Academy”. Well, the original Academy, the one established by Plato, had the following as its motto: “Let no one ignorant of geometry* enter here”. While it may not have been inscribed over the entrance as many say, it was certainly the school’s philosophy. Compare this to the *original* mottos of today’s elite universities. Here’s Harvard’s: Veritas pro Christo et Ecclesia (Truth for Christ and Church). BTW, only Philosophers and Theologians discuss Truth while mathematicians establish Proof, and scientists construct (and argue about) narratives from observations (data).

    *The Greeks used geometry as a tool to explore mathematics, and “mathematics” could replace “geometry” here.

    • I haven’t read Bottum but if you read the old classic “The New England Mind; The 17th Century” by Perry Miller and substitute “psyche” for “soul” and “doctor of the psyche” for “minister” or “teacher”, it’s tempting to describe 17th C. puritianism as an early form of cognative behavioral therapy.

  5. Jezza says

    A note to S D Walters: Your obvious hatred will destroy you. Do you want children, or do you hate them, too? If you do, I would be pleased to know how you would select your sperm donor, because men tend to shy away from women who hate them. While you are encouraging your students to blight their lives with hatred similar to yours, do you not see that you are at the same time fomenting hatred from the other sex. There is only so much abuse a man can tolerate and, driven to despair, in my seventy odd years of experience, a man will either kill himself or turn on his tormenters. Men love women who love men. We will care for and die for and love forever those women. Please don’t make it more difficult than it already is. May God heal your heart.

    • Garry A says

      I would make the uneducated suggestion that people who say they hate men don’t, in fact, hate men. They hate people. Because, for the most part, that’s what men are.

    • TarsTarkas says

      To Third and Fourth Wave Feminists children are the patriarchy’s way of keeping them down by burdening them with the horrors of pregnancy and child-rearing and thus preventing them from fulling their personal destinies. They hate the fact that unlike men sexual enjoyment for them includes a risk of permanent enslavement to puling wailing idiots foisted on them by the soldiers of the Male Establishment. Only by refusing to reproduce, or destroying lives forcibly imposed upon them, can they shake off the chains that bind them to a life of endless toil and misery (or so they believe). They cannot conceive that a woman might want to bear and raise children, in fact they consider such females as benighted and traitorous. That was the only women who can be believed are far left in belief. They have the fact that they are women, they want to be men, just without that nasty toxic masculinity. Talk about toxic feminity!

  6. Actual Яussian Troll says

    “The journals are not going to turn away, say, statistical research papers for being insufficiently constructivist, so long as the data supports advocacy of their constituents’ interests.”

    I agree author. But calling it “advocacy” may not be the right word. How about evangelism?

    Identity politics and postmodernism is spiritualism with the words shuffled round. Social “sciences” that traffic in post-modernism and identity politics aren’t science at all.

    The “identities” are transcendent beings, fundamentally contradictory (as all pantheons are), and needing of worship, not advocacy.

    Walters shows this nicely. She speaks of Men and what they’ve done for 1500 years. This sort of statement rings insane if one thinks of men as the plural of individuals who do or have done a spectrum of good and bad deeds for or against women through history and who die after 60 or so years. That is, unless you believe that some sort of (sinister!) spiritual identity unites all men through time, even the ones who have been oppressed like hell by other men.

    If the identities are spiritual archetypes of some sort, a lot of post-modernist and far Leftist banana bread starts to make sense. Harridans in Washington can assert that, for example, Women (the spiritual identity) oppose Brett Kavanaugh, even though one can easily verify that millions of individual mortal women support him. It also starts to make sense why certain people will start waaaay too many sentences with, “Speaking as a black woman….” or some such. What they mean is, they are not speaking as an individual mortal. Like the Delphic Oracle, they are channeling the transcendent Identity, with a particular edge on Truth. We are supposed to take their utterances with particular gravity because of this, as though they contain the disembodied souls of the oppressed from long ago.

    If you want to test this and have some fun, I encourage you to try something: next time someone says something like “speaking from the experience of a Latinx pan-sexual man…”, ask him or her–or zer–point blank: “Do you think you are a god?” If your experience is anything like mine, you will watch a human mind melt in front of you, because you have just called him on his deepest BS, the truth he can’t even admit to himself. Prepare yourself for a fit of confusion, and perhaps a physical assault.

    I have a theory as to why identity politics arises. You desire to hear it, you say? Well, if you insist:

    Humans need something transcendent in their lives. Virtually all cultures that we know of have had some form of transcendent communal spiritual life. It’s hardwired.

    People who have had structured religion and spirituality beaten and shamed out of them–as the Left has done in American education and many other spheres in this country–find something to fill that place in their lives reflexively. (if this triggers any atheist/anti-theist readers who believe man can and in the State of nature does live by sweet flowing reason alone, the sandbox is round back, pound away. Get it out and feel better.)

    For many on the American Left these days, the Identities are the answer, a set of pseudo-spiritual doctrines that are sacred, absolute, and socially powerful while also avoiding the nasty patriarchal and uncool Judeo-Christian, Muslim, et al., associations. When you are speaking with a Leftist who doesn’t seem all the way nailed down (Ta-Nehisi Coates just flashed in my mind for some reason), I find you are probably talking with someone who has made politics his religion and The Identities his gods and goddesses and … zoddesses …..(?) He worships a pantheon of good and evil Beings called Blackness, Whiteness, Queerness, Privilegeness, Conservativeness, Womanness, Transness ….

    America really doesn’t have a political divide. It has a religious divide. Walters et al. are not professors, they are priests and priestesses of a religion that has captured the educated and powerful of America and is only resisted by a rather old and frayed Judeo-Christian contingent scattered here and there. If history from ancient Rome and Egypt to the Lutheran Reformation is any guide, they can do tremendous damage to society with their ultra-orthodox tendencies. Someone needs to plant pictures of naked children on their computers right away.

    • I think you make some very valid points.

      It would make some interesting academic research to explore the commonalities of ideological movements – whether religious or otherwise.

      The gods and ideas may vary but suspect there’s a lot of common themes.

      It might seem off topic but one thing I’ve noticed since working on customer support, is there are common personality types. One of which I call my 101 customers – the customers from hell! 101 as in George Orwell’s room 101 – being stuck in a room with these people is my own personal hell.

      What they have in common is their inability to empathise or see things from another point of view. Their general and rather extreme narrow mindedness. They are the ones most likely to demand a discount and the least likely to say thank you.

      I suspect the upper echelons of many extreme groups, religious or otherwise, are populated by these 101 people.

      • I like the description of “101 customers” for those who just can’t see anything from anyone else’s point of view.

        There should be a university course about people like that, to prepare students to deal with them.

        The course could be called “101 Customers 101”.

    • Henry says

      I agree. There’s a saying, “Everyone worships something. The only choice we get is what to worship.” I think it speaks to the fundamental need for meaning.
      Some people have rejected the traditional, Judeo-Christian worldview. And replaced it with the bizarre idea that past injustices can be rectified today, that the world is full of invisible power structures which only they can discern, that racism and sexism are EVERYWHERE. At least some classes in universities are not teaching science, they’re teaching a post-modern theology. And the true believers act like religious fanatics.

    • George G says

      This is very interesting. The Grievance Studies hoax academics, Pluckrose, Lindsay, and Boghossian said something along a similar line in a YouTube lecture from a few years back, (apologies I’m at work so can’t get on to yootboo to provide a link) They were pointing out how “Privilege” (white and male natch) equates to Original Sin in these social justice studies.

      I think you are all on to something here. There’s a fanatical, zealous fervour in the rhetoric of these Social Justice activists and Grievance “Academics” that puts it a step beyond just the political realm into the religious. I think your spot on calling them out as priests. There’s a website that’s a derivative of Vice media, called Broadly, it’s alternating articles about social justice issues and astrology, Astrology! ASTROLOGY!!! This stuff would be hilarious if it was in a satire but the fact it’s so prevalent in real life is chilling.

    • Conan the Agrarian says

      @Troll

      Hold up.

      Let’s say you’re right. If this is true … then the grievance industry is running on metaphysical grievance, not historical grievance.

      That’s mind-blowing. Because metaphysical grievance is what drove ancient religions and cultures to sacrifice to the gods. They believed the gods were constantly aggrieved with humanity, and sacrifice would dispel that grievance. Now for example, Blackness (the Identity, as you call it) is pissed, and we need to throw Roseanne Barr and others into the flames to dial back the supernatural ass kicking.

      That feels like a reversion, I guess. It makes political correctness seem like something really, really old instead of something new. I’m just thinking of the Aztec slaughtering captured enemies and throwing them down the steps of the pyramid to keep the world from ending.

      Your post above and a couple others I have seen makes me wonder: who are you? I know pro essay writing, and you have both ideas and wacky entertainment value going. Your scribble bears an uncanny resemblance to the prose of this Williamson guy I read sometimes. I’m suspicious you are a ringer. 🙂

    • OfCircuses and Bread says

      @russian troll

      Your writing style is extremely funny. I agree with the other poster: you’re a ringer.

      Regarding your point, I’ve been arguing on these exact same Quillette comment sections that politics has devolved into cults. Each with its own catechisms, rituals, and cadres of wild eyed True Believers. The skills of logic and persuasion are not needed so much when engaging these folks. What they need is a healthy dose of anti politics and the help of a cult deprogrammer.

      Blessed Be the Franchise.

    • Ponerous says

      “Virtually all cultures that we know of have had some form of transcendent communal spiritual life”

      “BONG!” Okay, this gives an explanation for something the has been puzzling the hell out of me for a while: why is the Left so focused on making sure people get easy access (and easy take-backs) to ever-expanding sexual variety? And why so hostile to traditional sexual mores at the same time?

      Now I wonder if what we are seeing is a competition to supply the feeling of transcendence. At the risk of generalizing too broadly, the Left wants to supply you transcendence from passionate political empathy, legal pot, and sexual novelty; and the Right wants to supply you Jesus hallelujah at church, the joys of heterosexual marriage and children, and a Miller Light buzz at the Brad Paisley concert. (Or something like that.)

    • Farris says

      @Russian Troll

      Naturally, if the highest authority to which mankind (excuse me, personkind) is ultimately accountable is the State, then those in control of the State are gods or at the very least angels.

    • “Social “sciences” that traffic in post-modernism and identity politics aren’t science at all.”

      Social sciences? An oxymoron perhaps?

  7. AC Harper says

    How many “professors of sociology and director of the Man’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program” are there? Failing that how many “professor of sociology and director of the Human’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program” are there? If there are not similar numbers, why not?

    • “How many “professors of sociology and director of the Man’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program” are there?”

      That’s easy to answer. There are as many men’s programs as there are conservative studies programs and outside of Hillsdale College and perhaps a few others, that number is between zero and nothing.

  8. E. Olson says

    Feminists/Leftists such as Walters hate reality, and unfortunately they represent the majority of faculty in the Social Science and Humanities faculties of Universities. The facts that 80+% of human achievements since peak Greek times have come from European Culture/White Males drives them up the wall. Thus rather than enjoy the wealth, comfort, and health benefits derived from these achievements, they have made it their life’s mission to criticize/tear-down/hate these benefactors of mankind because women generally, non-European cultures, and non-white races contributed relatively little and therefore must have been oppressed and discriminated against. As the article profoundly points out, the problem isn’t their irrational criticism/hatred for Western Culture/males/ whites, but the fact they teach it to generations of children and young adults, and are given status and voice as “experts” because of their degrees and “research”. Yet it should be clear that anyone doing research with such obvious biases are going to get results that support their biases, because the “truth” is not their objective. I would attribute 90+% of all the recent replication crises and researcher frauds to “scientists” who simply “can’t handle the truth”.

    • I think you’re right about the intellectual dominance of European culture since the 16th century (Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment), but the Indian and Chinese civilizations were incredibly sophisticated and accomplished before then. Arabic culture also flourished during the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries; it was significantly more advanced than Europe at the same time.

      It’s undeniably true that men have achieved more than women over the course of human history, but I think this disparity can be attributed to lack of opportunity rather than innate differences.

      • E. Olson says

        lemurlover – your belief that the disparity in achievement between men and women is due to lack of opportunity is likely a key reason for why we have all these crazies in academia. US women (and most Western women) have had the right to vote since the 1920s, had federally protected rights to equal pay (for equal work) since the early 1960s, and have outnumbered males on university campuses since the late 1970s. Status fields such as STEM, medicine, politics, and law have bent over backwards for years to increase female enrollments and representation, while federal and state regulators have been constantly scanning the environment for signs of unequal outcomes as signals of discrimination. In other words, woman have had equal rights and more than equal opportunities for at least 40 years, and yet persistent achievement gaps persist – particularly at the top of fields. Certainly some progress has been made, as fields such as medicine and law are now 50% or more women, and women are being promoted/elected to leadership roles in increasing numbers. Yet even in these fields the people that work the most hours, apply for the most patents, write the most cited and awarded research articles, take on the riskiest cases, etc. are overwhelmingly men, even though the leadership of the fields are invariably on constant lookout for high flyer women they can promote and publicize. Thus the crazies in academia and the feminist movement in general are faced with the dissatisfying prospect that the continuation of unequal gender outcomes, which they have always attributed to patriarchy, misogyny, and just generally evil men, are in fact more often caused by biologically determined gender differences in interests, personality, and abilities. Yet instead of admitting “defeat”, they choose instead to double-down with biased research that “proves” and advocates their desired world state, which is also invariably and increasingly in conflict and creating conflicts with the real world. Rather than researching/teaching the evils of men in keeping women down, perhaps they might consider that innate gender differences are the reason that “traditional” gender roles have evolved from thousands of years of trial and error to determine what pattern of social organization works best for keeping the species/tribe alive.

        • @E. Olson, I sincerely hope you don’t have any daughters. Are you part of the Quiverfull movement? I think you’d fit right in.

          I think it’s likely that women (on average) have less aptitude in certain scientific disciplines due to sex-based brain differences. However, it definitely doesn’t follow that women are less intelligent in general, or that they are less capable of making significant contributions to the culture. I don’t believe the that U.S. is a “patriarchy,” and I don’t think that unequal outcomes are necessarily evidence of bias. However, I am committed to the idea that every individual should be given the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential. The “traditional gender roles” you celebrate would preclude that possibility.

          • E. Olson says

            lemurlover, I agree that every individual should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential, but where I get off the equality bandwagon is the expectation that equal opportunity will result in equal results and that a consequent failure to achieve equality of result is due to discrimination or patriarchy.

          • E. Olson, looks like I can’t reply to you so I’ll reply to myself instead. What do you mean by “traditional gender roles”? Depending on how far back you want to turn the clock, it’s hard for me to see how they would be compatible with providing equal opportunity for women to fulfill their potential … unless you define their “potential” very narrowly.

        • E. Olson says

          Lemurlover – traditional gender roles throughout time had the men doing the tasks that required the most hard physical labor and physical danger, and being the primary “breadwinner” for the family, while the woman stayed close to and took care of the home and family. I am sure that by accident or unusual circumstance there have been occasions through time where women have been forced or wanted to try male roles, but apparently the success rate of such attempts has never been high enough for it to become a trend that caused a permanent change in gender roles. Perhaps that is changing, and if a woman has the chops to start or run a Google, or be a leading physicist, or fighter pilot, or virtually anything she want to do, I don’t believe she should be prevented from trying just because she isn’t a he. I do draw the line at lowering standards to artificially increase female participation. The facts suggest, however, that relatively few women will actually want to do such things, and even fewer will actually have the skills, determination, and abilities to succeed. Furthermore, it is far from certain that society benefits from the breakdown of traditional gender roles. Women have more opportunities and freedom than at anytime in recorded history, and yet studies consistently find they are becoming steadily less happy across all demographics. It would also appear that female entry into a number of “traditional” male fields is leading to less efficiency or effectiveness – for example the expensive training of medical doctors becomes even more expensive when women doctors are found to work fewer hours, go to part-time status, or leave the profession early much more often than their male counterparts, and woman in combat military units are found to decrease their combat effectiveness. Smart, educated, career women are also less likely to marry and/or have replacement level or above number of children, which does not portend good things for the future of humanity given the genetic component of IQ. The allowance of female voting has also coincided with the enactment of the welfare state that primarily benefits women, but which men mainly pay for in higher taxes, reduced economic growth, and the breakdown of work ethic and family life. One thing you can be absolutely sure about, however, is that none of these potential problem areas of female empowerment will be topics of feminist/gender studies faculty.

  9. Damian O'Connor says

    I wrote about what the Left have done to the subject of History in ‘A Short Guide to the History of South Africa.’ Nothing in the above (excellent) argument has not already happened in the field of History.

  10. Farris says

    What the author may understand but does not appear to acknowledge is that persons like Professor Walters and her milieu do not believe they are engaging in advocacy. Rather they see themselves as practicing counter advocacy. They believe a classic education or teaching the classics is fraught with white patriarchal advocacy. This rationalizing leads to their justification for counter advocacy. They believe not that they are teaching but that they are reforming and saving society. They self righteously believe they are societies betters and saviors. The self righteous lack humility, whereas the righteous practice humility.

    • Exactly right. They believe that the end of “social justice” (as they define it) justifies the means of distorting data and pretending that they have privileged access to the truth. Some academic activists have openly admitted that their ideological agenda takes precedence over intellectual honesty. Others aren’t even aware that they’re lying because they’re so completely committed to their cause. In effect, they’re fundamentalists: they’re so convinced their perspective is correct they can’t even consider the possibility that other points of view could be valid. Of course, there are people who hold the opposing perspective (some of whom comment on this site) who are equally arrogant and close-minded. Fundamentalism is the enemy — humility is an essential virtue.

  11. It’s not science, and as advocacy, she advocates for violence, tyranny and hatred towards half the population based on misandry (and likely racism against whites). You’d think that since men have willingly given up such power as the understanding of Liberty and Equal Protection has expanded, she’d prefer a better world rather than turns the tables and continues with a new oppression in the name of vengeance for “a millennia of abuses.”
    No concern whatsoever for punishing people today who are not committing any violence because their “class” did so in the past.
    No concern that women have given birth to all those males and then raised them in their culture, and thus are fully culpable for breeding and training only horrible men. (?!?!)
    This is clear evidence that some women can be as miserable tyrants as some men once they believe they have the power. She is the problem that western values has been resolving. She’s a reactionary to past values of authoritarianism and hatred of others.
    Apparently men have never been kind or fair to any women ever in history. And women have only been kind and fair to all men throughout history.
    What’s particularly weird is that such a backlash would far more likely end up with men oppressing women again rather than have any intellectual, social and moral progress.

  12. Farris says

    The great irony here is that the majority of people who under take these grievances and protests are some of the most privileged people in the world. They have adequate food, running water, outstanding health care and attend or work at top universities. To persons living in third world countries the complaints of these elites must be akin to the Christmas tree is too small or I didn’t get the car I wanted for my birthday. How many third world Muslim women would like to be a western woman for a day? Many may rightfully condemn their detachment from the real world, but actually they are more pitiable as persons unaware and unappreciative of their own blessings. It’s just so darn difficult to be a member of the elite these days. Hopefully one day those peasants will know how much these patricians have suffered.

    • I feel the same way when I read about uber-privileged students at elite college campuses complaining about the “oppression” they experience. Institutions like Evergreen College are among the least racist places on the planet (at least, racist against people of color). If students are triggered and traumatized by their experiences there, they have little hope of surviving in the real world. College should teach students to become more self-confident and resilient, not train them to be hyper-sensitive to perceived racist, sexist, etc. slights. Students should learn to think critically and arrive at their own conclusions after exploring different perspectives, not become indoctrinated with a grievance-fueled ideology.

      • E. Olson says

        No need to worry about the poor fate the might befall Evergreen graduates in the real world, because just as soon as Hillary, Fauxcahontas, Joe, and Bernie get back in charge they will no doubt bring back a new and improved “Life of Julia” where the federal government will give lifetime protection and support for all the precious snowflakes.

        • @E. Olson, you seem very angry and embittered. I would encourage you to apply the principle of charity to people with whom you disagree. You might discover that you know less than you think you do and have something to learn from other perspectives.

          • E. Olson says

            lemrulover – I’ve never run around a campus with a baseball bat looking for opposition to hit. I’ve also never tried to shout down a speaker I disagreed with or sought a safe space to avoid hearing things that might offend. What irritates me is that these elite snowflakes are so unappreciative and even angry and violent with regards to all the bounty that has been bestowed on to them by mostly dead white males, but then again their lack of perspective is somewhat understandable given the leftist biased garbage they get from their history, sociology, and grievance studies professors.

          • We’re in full agreement about the sanctity of free speech and the injustice of deplatforming. However, I don’t think it’s fair to blame all Leftist protesters for the violent actions of Antifa militants, any more than people on the “alt-right” would want to be held responsible for the behavior of neo-Nazis. You have a habit of making extremely sweeping assertions about groups of people and failing to recognize the diversity of views within groups (like historians and sociologists, for example). Yes, SJWs are guilty of the exact same offense, but “tu quoque” is a fallacy for a reason. Meaningful conversation is impossible if we refuse to extend the principle of charity to our interlocutors.

          • E. Olson says

            Lemurlover, Glad we can agree on something, but have you seen the statistics on leftist bias among social science and humanities faculties? Have you actually looked at the most popular history textbooks or taken a look at the research in sociology or grievance studies? Sure there are a few centrist or even right leaning people in those fields, but if they try to teach or publish a non-leftist oriented point of view they get shouted down or fired or physically assaulted. Can you point to any calm and collected leftists in academia, or politics, or the media who are strongly condemning Antifa? What I see daily are the leading lights on the left (Democrats) who are actually encouraging their crazy followers to physically and verbally assault anyone they see that doesn’t agree with them, where are the condemnations from leftist leaders on the calls to violence by Hillary, Maxine, etc.? Until people like you face up to the severity of the problem, it is only going to get worse in terms of attacks on free speech.

          • The version of my comment with links is still awaiting moderation, so I’ll post it without the links — they’re easy enough to find.

            Uh, yes. It took me about three seconds to conduct a Google search. (Not sure why you felt so confident in making an easily disproved assertion without doing the same.) I think it would be much more difficult to find a mainstream politician who *supports* Antifa. In contrast, President Trump HAS explicitly encouraged his followers to engage in violence, and refused to clearly condemn the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville who murdered a protester. Out of curiosity: have you ever had an actual conversation with someone on the left, or does your “knowledge” of progressives derive exclusively from conspiratorial caricatures on right-wing websites? As a college instructor, I have discussions about controversial issues with people across the political spectrum. In my experience, very few people are evil or stupid. Some are misinformed — and everyone engages motivated reasoning to different degrees — but nobody deserves to be disrespected and demonized the way you dismiss everyone to the left of you.

        • @E. Olson
          This comment thread is a few days behind but I thought I’d add in a reply to your Fauxcahontas comment. I normally agree with your responses for the most part but you should know that Elizabeth Warren has released her DNA publically proving her native american heritage, can we please stop calling her that! I lean towards the right but this has always bothered me as I live in Oklahoma which is Native American territory and my kids have a tribal card from their fathers side but they are the most euro-whitest looking kids ever. Green eyes, pale skin ect… There are tow headed blue eyed kids that have tribe cards from native ancestry here.
          You just cannot tell the ancestry of the native american populations by appearance alone.

  13. Farris says

    “College should teach students to become more self-confident and resilient, not train them to be hyper-sensitive to perceived racist, sexist, etc. slights.“

    There is a risk reward element at play. There is little risk to being hyper-sensitive or even committing a hoax but there is tremendous reward, one could go viral or be seen as a leader or difference maker.

  14. Mattthew says

    Three issues:

    First, the idea that scholarship (even science) and advocacy (even political advocacy) have no communion is downright absurd. If some economists discover that (say) privatization is good, should they not write a newspaper article saying that privatization is good? Or take the example of the philosophy class. Lots of philosophers have political opinions. If a student reads Plato and says, “Democracy sucks!,” is the professor just supposed to say, “Okay, I respect your opinion and offer none of my own?” No, this is a classic teachable moment, where the professor has the opportunity to instill (that is, advocate for) the values of liberal democracy and free thought and so on.

    Second, “advocacy group” is never defined, and surprise surprise, the whole essay is not about “groups,” it is about individual professors. This lack of clarity is unscientific and speaks to the confusion inherent in the essay’s argument.

    Third, and speaking of unscientific, anyone could point out anecdotes of this professor or that professor acting less than ideally. To be scientific, you need to show big trends. This essay shares this problem with all of the many essays of its type, though few have the gall to hypocritically accuse its opponents of unscientific thought at the same time.

    • Your third point is spot on. Critics of the humanities and social sciences often make sweeping assertions about whole disciplines on the basis of examples which may or may not be representative. If someone is serious about demonstrating that a field like sociology (for example) is intellectually bankrupt, they should conduct a systematic survey instead of cherry-picking quotes from a handful of scholars.

  15. “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket”.
    — Eric Hoffer

    It’s unfortunate that a really good cause like this gets eclipsed by the racketeers. It’s even more unfortunate that the racket itself becomes institutionalized, otherwise this would be no different than listening to the harangues of the average 13 or 14 year old boy complaining about his parents and parents’ generation. Implied in all this is a sense of superiority by these women, a sure indicator that they’ll succumb to what men succumb to when presented power and position.

  16. > Unsurprisingly, every one of Walters’s studies and observations supports her case. And as mentioned, she dismisses or ignores explanatory models completely.

    > What kind of science condemns phenomena instead of trying to explain them?

    To be fair, there’s been a long history of ignoring or understating anomalous results in the hard sciences as well when they don’t conform to the prevailing theory (and even of socially shunning those who develop conflicting models). Whether or not you buy the full Thomas Kuhn “paradigmatic” view of scientific history, he’s surely presented plenty of evidence that scientists dismiss models in conflict with their own preferred interpretation.

    The article partially addresses this at the end:

    > Modern physics, for example, relies on a redefinition of our commonsensical notions of space and time.

    but it doesn’t recognize that the condemnation of researchers with opposing viewpoints has been severe throughout much of history. In my view, the interesting (and alarming) observation is that the “penalty” for straying from current theory has intensified lately.

  17. Greg Maxwell says

    This advocacy is a cancer on educational institutions – cut off ALL public funding for post HS and watch the cancer die. Then re-introduce public funding for productive areas of learning and gradually include some very limited social ‘science’. Any other direction is wasted time and resources. And no sports . . .

  18. I’ve never voted Republican. I cannot abide the anti-science claptrap it has spewed for so long. I used to read the WaPo daily. But no more to all that. Cancelled my subscription after that OpEd. Was a last straw moment for me.

    “I love Michelle Obama as much as the next woman, but when they have gone low for all of human history, maybe it’s time for us to go all Thelma and Louise and Foxy Brown on their collective butts.”

    Foxy Brown had a man castrated while awake and then walked around with his parts on display in a jar. Is this what she is advocating? This is what is fit to be published in the WaPo? Apparently. I find it hard to wrap my mind around that the WaPo editorial board would publish a hate filled (just check the title) very thinly veiled call to violence.

    And then there’s this, from last week, another gem from another feminist professor:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/10/12/thanks-not-raping-us-all-you-good-men-its-not-enough/?utm_term=.85eaf72f81f3

    When one of the high cathedrals of the fifth estate repeatedly publishes OpEds which collectively argue that all men, “even good men,” are terrible and stained with original sin and should be subject to mass prosecution and castration, well, I just don’t know. And to those who might call me an Incel or whatever, I’m not exaggerating. Just read the two OpEds.

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