All posts filed under: Culture Wars

A Glimpse Into the Ideological Monoculture of Literary New York

In the Spring of 2016, I fell into a conversation with my brother about how automation and artificial intelligence were making many forms of human labor obsolete. It wasn’t just an economic problem, I observed: Without meaningful work to do, a lot of us would fall victim to boredom and vice. My brother, an oncologist, countered that people would simply have to work harder to cultivate the diminishing number of jobs that machines couldn’t do. When he cited his own occupation as an example, I pointed out that in 20 years, AI-enabled computers might be able to make better medical decisions than he could. (In some areas of medicine, this is already happening.) He disagreed. But out of our discussion came my idea for a soon-to-published novel, set in 2036, about Henri, a wealthy doctor at risk of having his job taken by a robot. As Quillette writer Gabriel Scorgie noted recently, it’s become difficult for beginning writers to get book contracts. But I dove in, nonetheless. At the time, I was living in Albuquerque, …

Trans Activists’ Campaign Against ‘TERFs’ has Become an Attack on Science

In a recent article for Forbes, “The Vaccination Debacle,” I discussed the frightening rise in the number of European measles cases. The reason for the spike is simple: Fed a daily online diet of nonsense and ideologically motivated activism, many people have come to reject mainstream medical science—including the science behind vaccinations. You’d think that “get vaccinated” would be a relatively straightforward message. But in the days following the article’s publication, I received a good dozen emails from doctors thanking me for writing the piece, and describing how difficult it has become to convince some patients that their local paediatrician isn’t part of an international conspiracy. But at least the effort to push back against anti-vaccination conspiracy theories is seen as a respectable form of discourse. In other spheres, it’s not so easy to speak common sense. Consider, for instance, last year’s saga involving Rebecca Tuvel—who was hounded by trans activists and scholars after applying a theoretical application of transgender ideology to the idea of “trans-racialism.” Scandalously, the article in question was edited post facto …

How An Anonymous Accusation Derailed My Life

In early October, 2017, following the emergence of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, a writer and activist living in Brooklyn named Moira Donegan created a Google Doc entitled “Shitty Media Men.” She sent it to female friends working in media and encouraged them to add to it and forward it on. The idea was to spread the word about predatory men in the business so that women would be forewarned. Anyone with access to the link could edit and add to the list. At the top of the spreadsheet were the following instructions: “Log out of gmail in order to edit anonymously, never name an accuser, never share the document with any men.” In the first column was this disclaimer: “This document is only a collection of misconduct allegations and rumors. Take everything with a grain of salt.” Nobody did. The list had only been live for 12 hours when word reached Donegan that Buzzfeed were preparing to publish a story about it. She immediately closed it down. By that time, there were already 74 entries. …

“Dear Millennial….”

Dear Millennial, I am a 60-year-old white male without a college education. Make of that information what you will. I can lay no claim to be the least racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic person you’ve ever met, but I do try to treat people—regardless of their creed, color, gender, orientation, etc.—the way I’d like to be treated. And, to be honest, I probably deserve some of the scorn I often see heaped onto working-class white male Boomers without a college degree. I haven’t been smart with my money. I work in a low-paying service-sector job. I’ve eaten more red meat and rich desserts than is good for anyone, and I like things that every enlightened individual knows are awful: the Eagles, pork chops with mint jelly, the paintings of Bob Ross, Jerry Lewis movies, Billy Joel, cargo shorts, TV shows like Blue Bloods and Castle and Two and a Half Men. Nevertheless, I am writing to ask you to go easy on me and on my formative cultural influences. The reason for this letter is, …