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David French: Male Vulnerability Isn't a Virtue | National Review

"Here is the key question -- what better equips a man to confront a difficult and challenging world? Is it more tears? Or is it more toughness? Is it teaching men to be compassionate or to be objects of compassion? The vulnerable male's cry is "help me." The masculine male's quest is to become the helper....

"Boys will be boys, but they won't all become men. At their best, shorthand admonitions such as 'man up' or 'be a man' carry with them the weight of tradition and morality that makes a simple, though difficult request: Deny self. Don't indulge your weakness. Show courage. Avoid the easy path. Some men fall naturally into this role, for others it's much more difficult. The proper response to those who struggle is compassion. It's not to redefine masculinity for the minority.

"For a father, there are few more rewarding things in life than helping a son become a man, to watch him test himself in productive ways and to help him cultivate and demonstrate a protective spirit. Among the great gifts a father can give a son is a sense of masculine purpose, and no that purpose isn't a 'box,' it's a powerful force for good."

JC in transition | Climate Etc.

Climate scientist Judith Curry is retiring from her tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech in order to enjoy

"A deciding factor was that I no longer know what to say to students and postdocs regarding how to navigate the CRAZINESS in the field of climate science. Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment -- funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, professional recognition, etc.

"How young scientists are to navigate all this is beyond me, and it often becomes a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide (I have worked through these issues with a number of skeptical young scientists).

"Let me relate an interaction that I had with a postdoc about a month ago. She wanted to meet me, as an avid reader of my blog. She works in a field that is certainly relevant to climate science, but she doesn't identify as a climate scientist. She says she gets questioned all the time about global warming issues, and doesn't know what to say, since topics like attribution, etc. are not topics that she explores as a scientist. WOW, a scientist that knows the difference! I advised her to keep her head down and keep doing the research that she thinks interesting and important, and to stay out of the climate debate UNLESS she decides to dig in and pursue it intellectually. Personal opinions about the science and political opinions about policies that are sort of related to your research expertise are just that - personal and political opinions.  Selling such opinions as contributing to a scientific consensus is very much worse than a joke....

"At this point, the private sector seems like a more 'honest' place for a scientist working in a politicized field than universities or government labs -- at least when you are your own boss....

"We'll see how all this plays out, but I figured I've earned the right to explore and do what I want. This is my definition of academic freedom (and I'm not asking anyone else to pay for it)."

An Update on Gender Imbalance in MIT Admissions Maker Portfolios

This is a disappointing bit of obsessing by MIT's administration about an insignificant difference in behavior among students seeking admission. Applicants can submit various kinds of portfolios -- research papers, video/audio of music or theater performances, art or architecture, and "maker" portfolios -- something you've built. Female applicants are more likely than male applicants to submit portfolios in every category except maker portfolios -- three times more likely than men to submit an art or architecture portfolio -- but MIT isn't worried about that. They're worried that men are about 2.5 times more likely than women to submit maker portfolios:

"We solicited advice from readers and took additional steps to increase the representation of women and the diversity of projects featured in public presentations and portfolio materials. After another admissions cycle, we regret to report that the patterns have not changed much.... As we approach the next admissions cycle, the Admissions Office is continuing to work on improving representation and recruitment, including an initiative, in partnership with Maker Media, that will leverage their intellectual property and community of Maker Faires with admissions' database of prospective students to help encourage more women to take up 'making' and identify as makers."

The researchers write: "However, the persistence of this pattern, despite several years of prior work to improve representation and reach targeted populations, leaves us questioning what other dynamics may be in play." Maybe reading Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus would help.

Here's the stat that jumps out at me: Men make up almost 70% of the applicant pool, but are only 51% of the admitted students, and only 53% of the entering freshman class. (By comparison, in 1984, women made up 29% of the incoming class.)

Afraid to speak up: In the era of trigger warnings, a tenured professor stays silent - The Washington Post

Prof. Rajshree Agarwal, director of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, and a Cato adjunct scholar, says that self-censorship in the face of social pressure can be as deadly as government censorship to innovation and inquiry.

"German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann first wrote about the 'spiral of silence' in 1974. She recognized the human fear of isolation and people's willingness to keep unpopular opinions to themselves to avoid backlash. Even majority opinions can be stifled when the media amplify minority voices and makes them seem dominant.

"People often discuss academic freedom in the context of the First Amendment, which prohibits prior restraint imposed by heavy-handed governments. The spiral of silence is something different, and perhaps an even greater threat to the human spirit that drives innovation....

"Most people recognize the financial risk involved in starting an enterprise. But fearless leaders also take reputational risks. They must overcome the fears of retaliation, ostracism and derision that feed the spiral of silence....

"...I have been frontally attacked as a Koch 'stooge' by a professor in philosophy who did not even know me, when I chose to become the founding director at the Ed Snider Center. Such comments can take a toll on anyone, including tenured professors. Students and assistant professors who 'think different' are even more vulnerable because of the imbalance of power in academia....

"Greg Lukianoff, president and chief executive officer of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, highlighted the dangers of shutting people up under the guise of political correctness during a Snider Center free speech forum last week. 'It's really hard to innovate if you're afraid to open your mouth,' he said.

"People need filters. Self-regulation is part of emotional intelligence and necessary for reasoned and respectful discourse. But the distinction between self-regulation and self-censorship becomes blurry when a culture of fear silences opposing viewpoints in higher education.

"Rather than looking to others to fix the problem, though, it is imperative to remember that we are intellectual entrepreneurs, who must muster the courage to speak up. Because ideas matter, and academia is their marketplace."

The Intellectual Yet Idiot - Nassim Nicholas Taleb - Medium

"What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking "clerks" and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think... and 5) who to vote for....

"Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats who feel entitled to run our lives aren't even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They cant tell science from scientism -- in fact in their eyes scientism looks more scientific than real science. (For instance it is trivial to show the following: much of what the Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types -- those who want to "nudge" us into some behavior -- much of what they would classify as "rational" or "irrational" (or some such categories indicating deviation from a desired or prescribed protocol) comes from their misunderstanding of probability theory and cosmetic use of first-order models.) They are also prone to mistake the ensemble for the linear aggregation of its components as we saw in the chapter extending the minority rule....

"The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn't understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are "red necks" or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term "uneducated". What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: "democracy" when it fits the IYI, and "populism" when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences. While rich people believe in one tax dollar one vote, more humanistic ones in one man one vote, Monsanto in one lobbyist one vote, the IYI believes in one Ivy League degree one-vote, with some equivalence for foreign elite schools and PhDs as these are needed in the club."


Progressively Regressive Sexuality - Eric Metaxas - Breakpoint

"How often have you heard sexual progressives claim that those of us who hold to traditional sexual morality and marriage are 'on the wrong side of history?'

"But as one new book points out, it's the proponents of the sexual revolution who are embracing a sexual morality that history left behind millennia ago--in the dusty ruins of the Roman Forum....

"It's precisely in times like this that we need some historical perspective. Which is why Lutheran pastor Matthew Rueger's new book, Sexual Morality in a Christless World, is a timely godsend. In it, Rueger shows how Christian sexual morality rocked the pagan world of ancient Rome. The notions of self-giving love, sexual chastity, and marital fidelity were foreign, even shocking to the people of that time."...

"Folks, we can't look away and ignore this unholy revival of pagan sexuality and its cheapened view of human beings. But we also can't wring our hands in fear or throw them up in defeat. As Rueger points out, Christ and His Church radically transformed a far more sexually cruel and chaotic world than ours.

"Look to those ancient believers who went before us: Rather than succumbing to or accommodating the spirit of the age, new converts in the early Church came to understand, as Rueger writes, that 'Christian morality is based on Christ's all-encompassing purity and self-emptying love...Christians could no longer live as the Greeks or Romans. Their worldview and self-view was distinctly different. They were now one with Christ in heart and soul.'

"Now, their distinctiveness, as Rueger writes, 'would not spare them from suffering; it would invite suffering.' It's pretty clear now that the same holds true for us. Will we bend the knee to this revived pagan sexuality, or will we hold out to a needy world the freedom of God's plan for human sexuality?"

The Uses of Patriotism - The New York Times

You want change? Sing the National Anthem. David Brooks explains how patriotic ritual reinforces social cohesion, which is essential for producing the kinds of societal change that the protesters say they want:

"Sitting out the anthem takes place in the context of looming post-nationalism. When we sing the national anthem, we're not commenting on the state of America. We're fortifying our foundational creed. We're expressing gratitude for our ancestors and what they left us. We're expressing commitment to the nation's ideals, which we have not yet fulfilled.

"If we don't transmit that creed through shared displays of reverence we will have lost the idea system that has always motivated reform. We will lose the sense that we're all in this together. We'll lose the sense of shared loyalty to ideas bigger and more transcendent than our own short lives.

"If these common rituals are insulted, other people won't be motivated to right your injustices because they'll be less likely to feel that you are part of their story. People will become strangers to one another and will interact in cold instrumentalist terms."

Traditions such as Christmas celebrations will die out unless people stand up for British values, government review finds - Telegraph

"British laws and traditions such as the celebration of Christmas are under threat and must be vigorously upheld to stop ethnic segregation dividing society, according to major government review.

"Waves of immigration have rapidly changed the character of some state schools and left residents in parts of Britain feeling unsettled, the landmark report will say.

"These issues must be tackled head on, rather than swept under the carpet by politically correct council officials who fear being labelled 'racist' if they assert British values or raise concerns, it will say....

"[Dame Louise Casey, Government integration 'tsar,'] criticised councils for 'over worrying' about causing offence among minority groups. This attitude led one community centre she visited to put up a 'festive tree' because the 'incredibly well-meaning white manager' did not want to offend his Asian and Muslim staff by using the word 'Christmas'.

"'What offence did he think he was causing? What did we ever think would be offensive about celebrating Christmas with a tree?' Dame Louise said....

"Only by promoting 'core' British laws, traditions and cultures in every ethnic community can Britain hope to ensure that diverse communities integrate fully, and defeat the 'hate mongers' from the far Right and Islamist extremists who want to divide the country, she argued.

"'I have become convinced that it is only the upholding of our core British laws, cultures, values and traditions that will offer us the route map through the different and complex challenge of creating a cohesive society.'...

"'It is not racist to say that the pace and rate of immigration has created a lot of change in Britain and for some people that feels too much. Or that when a large number of people from a different ethnic or religious background suddenly move into an area that it can be unsettling for those already resident there; or that when a school has a large religious minority population, it can change its character quite quickly.

"'Not talking about this and the issues that arise from it only creates more tensions.'"