Weekly Roundup
Weekly Roundup, Wednesday November 1th, 2021

Weekly Roundup

Claire Lehmann
Claire Lehmann
7 min read

Dear Readers,

Thank you for subscribing to the Quillette newsletter. This week I would like to recommend three articles in particular, that I think you will find are remarkable in their insight and analytical rigour.

The first is from Peter L. Levin, an entrepreneur and former government administrator, who has written an impassioned defence of objective knowledge in the face of rampant anti-intellectualism on both the Right and the Left.

The second is a terrific review of Steven Pinker's new book Rationality—written by a world-leading expert on rationality—the emeritus professor of applied psychology and human development, Keith E. Stanovich. I learned a lot from reading Stanovich's assessment of Rationality, and I know you will too.

And finally, you absolutely must read Jon Kay's new column on a 46-page leaked document for Canadian university presidents—a document that extols the elimination of such principles as tolerance, colour-blindness, and equal opportunity, in the pursuit of "racial equity" and "social justice".

This week we've also published articles on the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia, deep fakes, political theory, a Twitter memorial to Holocaust victims, global coffee shortages, academia’s existential self-presentation crisis, the maladies of America’s public schooling system, and the everlasting vitality of unfettered speech. We are also pleased to bring you a review of Nancy Segal’s new book Deliberately Divided, and a podcast interview with Michael Shellenberger on San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities.

Below is our “Comment of the Week” (you can join Quillette Circle here for $US5 per month) as well as some suggested reading from around the web.

Thank you, as always, for your loyalty and commitment to Quillette and its advocacy of Enlightenment values.


Weekly Roundup

Politics and Culture

In Defense of Objective Knowledge
Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. ~Martin Luther King Some ideas achieve longevity because they are relentlessly exposed to challenge, falsification, and disconfirmation. At the scale of nations, anti-fragile constitutions that enshrine individual freedoms, personal li…
Human Nature and Political Philosophy
1. The constraints of human nature If chimpanzees thought about political philosophy, the schemes they advanced would be very different from those advocated by Plato or Hobbes or Jefferson. Chimpanzees are our closest cousins—we are genetically quite similar—and yet chimpanzee nature is different fr…
Quillette’s Best on Free Speech
We Must Defend Free Thought | Claire Lehmann “There is a small subset of hard-line ideologues who oppose open discourse altogether. The fact that you may not feel comfortable speaking your mind openly, and may feel afraid of serious consequences, is viewed by these people as an accomplishment.” Fre…


Face to Face with the Auschwitz Memorial Twitter Project
The Nazi concentration camp system still remains a unicum, both in its extent and its quality. At no other place or time has one seen a phenomenon so unexpected and so complex: never have so many human lives been extinguished in so short a time, and with so lucid a

World Affairs

Ethiopia’s Stunning Battlefield Reversal
A year is a long time during warfare, and the Tigray conflict that began last November has now been flipped on its head. Not many observers saw the current scenario coming. The world’s recurring tendency to forget Ethiopia, noted by the eminent 18th-century British historian Edward Gibbon, has reass…


Anti-Racism as Office-Politics Power Play: a Canadian Academic Case Study
Last week, 53 top Canadian academic administrators convened in Ottawa for a biannual membership meeting of Universities Canada, a group dedicated to “providing university presidents with a unified voice for higher education.” The 89-page meeting agenda, which was leaked to me after the event, makes…
Academia’s Identity Crisis
Two months into my first semester as a doctoral student, Donald Trump was elected. A few years later the coronavirus hit. That summer George Floyd was murdered. Each of these events, along with many less seismic ones in between, elicited a similar response from the faculty, students, and administrat…
The Demoralization of the American Teacher
“Never, ever, think about something else when you should be thinking about the power of incentives.” ~Charlie Munger Ten years ago, I showed up for my first day as a high school teacher. I had landed a job in the best school of what is often called a “destination district.

Science and Tech

Deliberately Divided—A Review
A Review of Deliberately Divided: Inside the Controversial Study of Twins and Triplets Adopted Apart by Nancy L. Segal. Rowman & Littlefield, 520 pages (November, 2021) When I first heard about the Louise Wise Services-Child Development Center (LWS-CDC) twin study, I was shocked but also skeptic…
The Need for Rationality in a Hostile World
A Review of Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters by Steven Pinker. Viking, 432 pages (September 28, 2021). “Academic Writes Engaging Book for the Masses.” Now there’s a shocking headline. Totally man bites dog. Oh, oh, scratch that. It’s not man bites dog
Machine Learning, Deep Fakes, and the Threat of an Artificially Intelligent Hate-Bot
Fake news isn’t new. More than a century ago, newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer helped stir up enthusiasm for war against Spain by hyping the dubious claim that Spanish agents had used explosives to sink the USS Maine in Havana Harbor. The cry of “Remember
A Perfect Storm: The Chocolate, Coffee, and Climate Crises
The major food staples are essential to human survival. Chocolate and coffee are not essential, but try to imagine a world without them. One of the numerous concerns with climate change is that many species will lose their habitats. Scientists are projecting that, in the coming decades, this could l…


Podcast #171: Michael Shellenberger on How Progressive Activists Are Making American Cities Poorer, Dirtier, and More Dangerous
Author Michael Shellenberger speaks with Quillette podcast host Jonathan Kay about his new book, San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities.

Quillete Circle Comment of the Week

Deliberately Divided—A Review
A highly informative essay. One wonders whether the researchers of the study wanted to prove the nature or nurture argument. Some might doubt that they possessed a clear intent, but in my view embarking upon such an ethically compromised endeavour would be the sort of thing which only those with a c…


A highly informative essay. One wonders whether the researchers of the study wanted to prove the nature or nurture argument. Some might doubt that they possessed a clear intent, but in my view embarking upon such an ethically compromised endeavour would be the sort of thing which only those with a clear ideological axe to grind would even attempt.

It is interesting to note that a quick glance at Google Scholar shows Dr. Peter B. Neubauer’s published studies were primarily Freudian. Freud believes that human nature contains powerful uncontrollable innate drives and repressed memories. For Freudians the only way that these forces can be unleashed is by nurture, because the innate drives have been imprinted through one’s upbringing. Far from being ‘Nazi Science’, it is highly likely he was attempting to prove the nurture hypothesis, and it may well be the case that the reason why the data remains unpublished is because it gathered evidence to the contrary- flawed as the study was from the outset.

As usual, my essays are to be found on my Substack, which is free to view and comment.

From Around the Web

The God That Failed
The collection of essays by disillusioned former communists has been largely forgotten after decades of global popularity. In our age of ideological extremism, it’s well worth revisiting.

Claire Lehmann

Claire Lehmann is the founding editor of Quillette.