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November 30, 2015

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John D

the terminal stages of leftist academia

It will get worse (and more worthless) before it gets better. If it ever does.

Anon

the rejection of reason and of the Western intellectual inheritance

Have you read Scruton's Fools, Frauds and Firebrands? I've just finished the chapter on Althusser & Lacan and, well, basically it explains everything.

David

Have you read Scruton’s Fools, Frauds and Firebrands?

No. I suppose I should add it to my ever-expanding list of things to get round to.

the chapter on Althusser & Lacan

It amazes me that supposedly intelligent people can read Lacan without falling about laughing.

Novus

the terminal stages of leftist academia

That's optimistic, David, not to mention unusually historicist of you. I think if we mock those who talk of "late capitalism" we shouldn't make it a working assumption that the sense of academia as competitively idiotic is on the way out in the near future.

On Lacan, try being taught him and having to withhold your contempt.

David

we shouldn’t make it a working assumption that the sense of academia as competitively idiotic is on the way out in the near future.

Heh. I don’t see much prospect of the educators and administrators in question suddenly developing a mortified self-awareness, and I doubt internal, voluntary reform is at all likely. But the economics of the Clown Quarter seem unsustainable. At some point, I suspect, something will give.

On Lacan, try being taught him and having to withhold your contempt.

I doubt I could do that. It would probably end in a scuffle.

It’s been a long time since I read Lacan’s horseshit and there’s a natural tendency to try to forget as much of it as possible. From what I can recall, he, like many of his peers, objected to the clarity and precision of language, especially scientific language, claiming that it serves as a vehicle for repression, “hegemony,” etc. The usual tendentious guff, and mysteriously short on evidence. Lacan’s solution to this alleged repression was to churn out indigestible question-begging prose and a kind of pseudo-algebra, which is at best uselessly vague and more often simply absurd.

Microbillionaire

> It amazes me that supposedly intelligent people can read Lacan without falling about laughing.

At least Lacan is laughable, in his way. You can easily spot him abusing five-dollar words for word salad quite often. Compare and contrast John Rawls, who uses relatively plain language for an entirely different sort of fuckup. Here's a summary of what I came away with from reading his longwinded Theory of Justice where he explains the veil of ignorance:

"Imagine a million people. Now imagine that they're ghosts, being bodiless and propertyless and generally disconnected from the material world. Also imagine that they're aliens, being unafflicted with various human drives and not having basic human knowledge. Now imagine that they are going to be incarnated into human bodies soon, but they don't know which ones, and they're negotiating beforehand how they should divide the Earth between them after reincarnation. Finally, imagine that they're all very risk-averse. Therefore, here's what I conclude will be the logical endpoint of their negotiations: everyone being equally well off, because they'd be very afraid of the possibility of incarnating into someone who is worse off. Clearly, now, my speculation as to the result of million-person peer-to-peer negotiations among hypothetical ignorant risk-averse alien ghosts planning mass incarnation is the correct way to redistribute goods in our present society, because justice."

It's a cliche to say that there's so much wrong with this I don't know where to begin, but there's certainly enough wrong with this that you could start unraveling it from several places:

-Rawls is using "justice" to mean an outcome he likes (hmm, that sounds familiar of late)
-The whole scenario involves massive amounts of fact-free speculation about the nature of alien ghosts
-What these alien ghosts might agree to has no moral force
-Picking one virtue and turning it into the whole of virtue
-Treating goods as though they'd fallen from the sky five minutes ago

David

Regarding Clown Quarter economics…

A relative of mine works at the local university and sometimes has to endure meetings with students who are determined to display their radical credentials, generally by airing at length the latest identitarian buzzwords and demanding “free” things that someone will have to pay for. One of the latest demands involved gender-neutral bathrooms, which the students wanted installed in every major building in order to avoid “oppressing” any transgender students who might one day express a preference on the issue.

The students didn’t seem to know whether any transgender students had raised the issue, or whether any transgender students even existed on campus. They didn’t seem to think this was in any way relevant. And the fact that numerous gender-neutral bathrooms already exist, chiefly for people with wheelchairs and other access needs but available to anyone, was also deemed irrelevant, in fact insulting. Apparently, one mustn’t imply that gender dysphoria is, or could be, in any way disabling.

Of course the same clique of student scolds will regularly express their outrage over the cost of their tuition, a large and growing chunk of which has to cover the ever-expanding list of facilities and “diversity” bureaucracy that they themselves demanded. But which they don’t wish to pay for.

Novus

Lacan's horseshit

If I could stomach it, I would dig through the materials for the course on which I encountered him - I have devoted the intervening four years to forgetting - but suffice it to say that it was on a course for a Law degree called "Crime Fiction and the Law". I suspect that the only useful aspect of this course will be to provide comic relief in job interviews.

That said, I must conclude the story I began here where I noted with surprise that even though my teacher was teaching the most godawful nonsense, she at least had the intellectual fortitude to give me high marks for pointing out in no uncertain terms that it was godawful nonsense. That same tutor convened my Jurisprudence course in my final year, which of course was not called Jurisprudence but "Legal Theory", because if you can style yourself a "theorist" then pretentious idiocy is already yours; again we were invited to plough through a load of postmodernist hackery; again (in an exam this time) we were offered a range of loaded questions; again a red mist descended on me and I wrote an intemperate and furious defence of what she insisted on calling "neoliberal" economics, in which I was sure to make space to quote Tom Sowell's demolition of the left-wing straw-man "trickle-down economics", knowing that it would especially infuriate her to quote a black conservative. I came out of the exam exhilarated but confident that I would be invited to sit it again. She gave me 75%, my best mark for the whole degree.

R. Sherman

My middle son attends a public STEM university with 60/40 male-female split. It's been remarkably free from all the identitarian bru-ha-ha at other universities. My son noted that a professor inquired in class why the university had escaped the craziness. A black student raised his hand and said, "We're studying to be engineers. We don't have time for that bullshit." Added a female student,"That, and Fallout 4 just came out."

David

Added a female student, “That, and Fallout 4 just came out.”

A far better use of time. But then, so is gnawing at one’s own elbows.

David

Tim Worstall highlights the deep thinking of the Guardian’s Jessica Valenti.

Nikw211

… there’s a natural tendency to try to forget as much of [Lacan’s horseshit] as possible.

From Chapter 2: Jacques Lacan from Sokal and Bricmont’s Intellectual Impostures

    … although Lacan uses quite a few key words from the mathematical theory of compactness …, he mixes them up arbitrarily and without the slightest regard to their meaning. His ‘definition’ of compactness is not just false: it is gibberish

And here:

    … Lacan confuses irrational numbers with imaginary numbers, while claiming to be ‘precise’. They have nothing to do with one another. Let us emphasise that the mathematical meanings of the words ‘irrational’ and ‘imaginary’ are quite distinct from their ordinary or philosophical meanings.

And also this:

    First, from the moment that Lacan claims to speak ‘in simple terms’, everything becomes obscure. Second - and most important - no argument is given to link these paradoxes belonging to the foundations of mathematics with ‘the gap that constitutes the subject’ in psychoanalysis. Might Lacan be trying to impress his audience with a superficial erudition?

I rather think it might.

Nikw211

Tim Worstall highlights the deep thinking of the Guardian’s Jessica Valenti.

Perfect.

David

Perfect.

Seems as good an excuse as any to link to this item from the archives. Note that the blog Feministing, whose delightful readers are quoted in the piece, was founded by one... Jessica Valenti.

Trimegistus

I've said this before but it bears repeating: we keep telling ourselves how silly these people are, how this bullshit can't go on . . . but it does keep going on, and getting worse, and nobody is proposing any way to stop or reverse it. We console ourselves with the thought that mockery can undo it, but these people are mockery-proof.

Can anyone think of actual, concrete, achievable steps to stop this madness?

Microbillionaire

Can anyone think of actual, concrete, achievable steps to stop this madness?

Whippings! (Well, not necessarily whippings in specific, but some kind of mandatory painful initiation ceremony to university and to all high and prestigious office.) University students henceforth required to be flogged or beaten at least once a year. This filters out the pampered paranoid ones and selects for those dedicated to learning in the face of adversity. It also grants a sense of perspective regarding what constitutes "oppression" and "suffering".

Tom

"Can anyone think of actual, concrete, achievable steps to stop this madness?"

1. Sweet Meteor of Death (SMOD)
2. Cthulhu
3. ...

Not to be flippant but the rot has gone so deep that it really will take a world shaking catastrophe to put an end to this kind of idiocy, a literal 'when things can't continue they won't' situation, and an awful lot of innocent people will have to pay for it.

As I'm likely to be in the innocent-and-paying-for-it category I really hope I'm wrong.

David

Victor Davis Hanson on the angry studies hustle:

An empiricist from Mars might observe that the chief beneficiaries of the protests are [angry-]studies academics. They alone will win more jobs and classes, which otherwise few students wish to attend and from which fewer gain any factual knowledge, written and oral speaking skills, or improvement in inductive thinking.[…] If some right-wing nut wished to harm leftist students and wanted to ensure that they stay indebted, leave college poorly prepared, and do not impress future employers, then he would likely advocate [as the students do] for the curtailment of traditional history, language, science, math courses and their faculty, and the expansion of more [angry-]studies courses and professors.

And being so terribly radical, so immensely clever, they just don’t get it.

Rob

For all of you who wondered how the Khmer Rouge happened and thought it could never happen here:

http://www.thecornellreview.org/ithaca-college-prof-at-cornell-lecture-agriculture-is-capitalist-racialized-patriarchy/

It starts with people like this.

PiperPaul

"...objected to the clarity and precision of language, especially scientific language, claiming that it serves as a vehicle for repression, “hegemony,” etc."

Of course they object to this! So much of what they teach is bullshit that clarity and precision would lay bare the bafflegab they're advancing!

Crazed Weevil
For all of you who wondered how the Khmer Rouge happened and thought it could never happen here:

http://www.thecornellreview.org/ithaca-college-prof-at-cornell-lecture-agriculture-is-capitalist-racialized-patriarchy/

It starts with people like this.

Wow! The crazy is strong with this one...like David Icke level strong.

...she began thinking about the topic of agriculture by first asking what is intellectually and politically “invisible” in agriculture...

Do you hear the voices too!?!?

“The idea here is gender… can’t and doesn’t stay static, and yet of course it does,” Eisenstein said.

Sanity is for the weak!!!

Seriously, this a Chaos God worshipper isn't it?

Farnsworth M Muldoon

So much of what they teach is bullshit that clarity and precision would lay bare the bafflegab they're advancing!

Speaking of which, in New York, because only 63% of students pass the Algebra regents exam, some look at making the test easier.

Of course being so heavily invested in the bafflegab they are advancing it would never occur to these idiots that perhaps the way they are teaching algebra is FUBAR, particularly given that as early as 30 years ago students passed harder exams at a higher rate.

wtp

"Can anyone think of actual, concrete, achievable steps to stop this madness?"

No easy answers. While it is all well, good, and necessary for one's sanity to ridicule and such this idiocy in our own "safe spaces", these things need to be engaged and challenged on their turf. Either engage them on their lunatic blogs, and granted you will likely get banned but at least make the effort, or better get involved in your local communities either via the schools or by helping in needy areas. Do the latter by offering a hand up in the context of helping people get their lives and/or finances oriented in a positive direction. Eventually they will figure out that their struggles are based on a false sense of reality.

The schools, etc. are a problem as they are always whining about needing help but often fail to follow up when such is volunteered. First make the effort. Then make a point with whatever media you have available that help is available but resistance is creating futility.

But that just one crazy idiot right-wing nut job fanatic "anyone's" thoughts. I'm open to other or similar ideas.

Watcher In The Dark

"And the fact that numerous gender-neutral bathrooms already exist"

David: I always thought that the transgender/people playing dress community up were best served by railway carriage toilets. Anyone, frocked or not, can go in and no one cares. Of course Beeching axed many railways and, in the spirit of our modern age, one should condemn the man for not having a vision of the future when many gender-neutral bogs should be available. Except I bet you still couldn't use the things in a station. Grrrr.

David

gender-neutral bogs

Ah. The language, she is beautiful.

Deborah

Many of us, here and elsewhere, wonder how to stop the advance of this insanity. Social justice madness, and the agenda of the left generally, is the teaching/preaching of the unnatural. The entire thrust of the left is anti-science and illogical and as such it cannot stand because it lacks any real foundation. Unfortunately, we have allowed this cancer to metastasize and radical treatment is the only hope. Of course, the radical treatment will be in the form of the societal pendulum which will swing to the opposite extreme when It completes the arc, this is the natural course of things and it cannot be avoided.

Yes, we should always pushback, but at the same time preparing ourselves and loved ones for the inevitable fallout, and you know there will be fallout as it must be. Naturally.

dicentra

“deferring to the experiences of people of colour.”

It is absolutely true that in academia this admonition is used to bully, punish, and generally lord it over other people. Because they can, and because they're all fetid little Maolings.

On the other hand, I've recently been learning about the grain of truth on which this scam is predicated: when your engagement with an issue is at the level of raw experience, there's nothing more annoying than someone piping up with theory and platitudes and recitations of general principle, all absent a trace of insight that comes only through experience.

If you're Black In America, your involvement with race issues is Pure Experience, whereas most of us white folk in flyover country see it all from 30,000 ft. Even when we say something that's true ("Race is merely cosmetic"), it has the same impact as a form letter from your sweetheart, more of a WTF? than "thanks for your contribution."

I've decided to swear off telling black people on Twitter what's what when it comes to Race In America, on account of how much I hate it when people do similar things to me.

The Left ALWAYS exploits something that's true; otherwise, the scam wouldn't work.

*spit*

dicentra

From Novus's link to his 2013 comment: "For a laugh in my second year I selected the option 'Crime Fiction and the Law'. I didn't quite know what to expect. We discussed Lacan and Derrida; we read Oedipus Rex and Freud."

Did they at least give you Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose? His exploration of clues as a semiotic system inhabited the same plane as reality, and he wrote that novel to demonstrate his topic — that although the clues appear to "point" in a particular direction they don't necessarily point to the truth.

SORRY THAT WAS A SPOILER

After that, yes, it's all bollocks.

WTP

The entire thrust of the left is anti-science and illogical and as such it cannot stand because it lacks any real foundation.
Oh, the right has, and continues to have, an anti-science and illogical streak itself. Such partially explains how we got into this mess in the first place.

Of course, the radical treatment will be in the form of the societal pendulum which will swing to the opposite extreme when It completes the arc, this is the natural course of things and it cannot be avoided.

Except when it doesn't or is and civilization descends into chaos and long term institutionally imposed stupidity for a couple of centuries or idiocy is turned back. Maybe I'm just moving deck chairs from one to the other side of the Titanic, but it beats acceptance. I've always felt Kübler-Ross was a load of crap, but perhaps that's the anti-science in me...or in Kübler-Ross.

dicentra

how to stop the advance of this insanity

Let's look at history to see how similar types of insanity were quelled before they metastasized into Death & Destruction for the nation entire.

..... [looking] .....

Yeah, I got nuthin'

Jewish tradition says that the languages were confounded at the Tower of Babel by a kindly God who gently stopped them from racing headlong into insanity (not an angry God who was punishing them for Aspiring Too Much).

The dollar is on the verge of collapse. China and Russia are doing their dead-level best to de-dollarize the world market. As soon as the dollar loses its status as Reserve Currency—as soon as the coyote realizes he long ago walked off the mesa and is standing in thin air—the heavily debauched dollar will collapse in on itself and the entire world will be thrown into economic chaos such has never been seen in Earth's history.

In other news, Moloch pulls ahead of SMOD in the Apocalyptic Candidate's race.

WTP

As soon as the dollar loses its status as Reserve Currency—as soon as the coyote realizes he long ago walked off the mesa and is standing in thin air—the heavily debauched dollar will collapse in on itself and the entire world will be thrown into economic chaos such has never been seen in Earth's history.

Wishful thinking. I'd put my money (pun intended) on a slow, miserable decline to a world lacking any reserve currency, excepting maybe gold or some other commodity, thus putting demand pressure on that commodity driving it from any useful purpose. But I see this happening slowly. I once read that the Hindu sanctity of the cow was based on ancient Aryan practice of using cattle as a store and/or sign of wealth. Like most knowledge today, that was probably more likely based on some academic's need to publish or perish than on any actual research, but like Dutch Tulip inflation, it's too good of a story to check.

Deborah

WTP,

I'm not suggesting acceptance of things as they are, but one must be realistic. In our complacency we have let the left's agenda advance so far that I believe we cannot avoid the inevitable correction. It will come. In what form and in how much time remains to be seen.

The pendulum has always been swinging away, else we wouldn't be here having this conversation.

WTP

Please don't take this personally, it's the argument that I disagree with...

but one must be realistic. In our complacency we have let the left's agenda advance so far that I believe we cannot avoid the inevitable correction.

Being "realistic" and "pragmatic" is much of what has gotten us into this situation. Yes, there are things that can't be helped. Yes, there are perspectives in which neither side can be viewed truly objectively and compromise may be necessary. But there is objective truth out there. People who build bridges, land airplanes, transplant organs, etc. rely upon it. Because we have been complacent in the past is no reason to continue to be that way. Many an inevitability has been turned back and pendulums have been reversed. Else we would not be having this conversation...unless we just happened to meet each other and were speaking in Persian or French or German or Japanese or Russian or etc. etc. etc.

Perhaps I overstate my case, but I am quite confident that were my parents more "realistic" and/or "pragmatic" I would not be here. Though I suppose that could be a flaw I inherited from them.

Squires

Especially when there are no adults around who don’t share their values.

They do not have values. They have a value. It is defend ego at all cost!. The first thing it costs them is their veracity, followed eventually by their sanity. That is for those who ever began to develop either, during an earlier stage of life, in the first place.

See also a certain very young Arab girl's comment to her very much older husband some fourteen centuries ago; your God is too hasty in granting you all of your wishes.

Their God is the fragility of their egos; it rules every moment, everywhere. It must.

Jamie

Our favourite affirmative-action fire non-fighter, Choeurlyne Doirin Holder, has had a little slip while doing a routine equipment check and is now recuperating on medical leave - only 10 days into the job.
Poor Choeurlyne !

http://www.unz.com/isteve/firewatcher-update/

rabbit

A cynic might say that academia became fiercely supportive of free speech when such a stance was useful to protect leftists within its ranks, and lost interest in free speech once the leftists took control.

Or as someone who I can't remember once said...

Having walked through the door of freedom of speech, they slammed it shut behind them.
Deborah

WTP,

Absolutely not taking it personally at all. My skin is quite thick. I love the back and forth, only wish I was as educated and erudite as so many on this site seem to be. I read here always, but don't jump into often as you fellers are just too dang smart for me. I'ma learnin' tho!

rabbit

The good news is that university administrators are starting to take free speech and inquiry more seriously. FIRE deserves much credit for this, particularly when they started suing universities, a tactic which always gets administrators' attention.

Many students, however, have yet to get the memo. The natural fascist instincts of the young have been nurtured like a prize begonia.

Anon

how to stop the advance of this insanity

Well, it's on a collision course with the electorate this Thursday in Oldham. We'll see how it fares then.

Novus

Dicentra, they did not. I have never read it; I confess that your precis of it is somewhat baffling, and a quick perusal of the Wiki entry scarcely more illuminating. That said, it would have been, from the sound of it, a more appropriate work for the course than some we did study. I wish I could remember the justification she gave for having us plough through reams of psychoanalytic theory for our study of the relationship between crime fiction and the law. I'm sure it was a gem.

R. Sherman

. . .[W]ish I was as educated and erudite as so many on this site seem to be.

The operative word there is "seem." There may be drinking involved.

WTP

There may be drinking involved.

According to Buffalo Theory (often misattributed to Cliff Claven from Cheers):

A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it’s the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.

And that is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.

Dom

What you are seeing in universities are students placed there because of government programs like affirmative action. They are in over their heads and they know it.

R. Sherman

And that is why you always feel smarter after a few beers.

To steal a joke from P.J. O'Rourke, the problem is we wind up realizing that what we thought was the pain of genius is, in fact, a hangover.

Joan

Milo Yiannopoulos & Rebecca Reid - "Have We Reached an Age of Gender Equality?"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyQWY5Wdec0

David

Milo Yiannopoulos & Rebecca Reid

I did smile when the mention of variations in IQ distribution elicited a gasp from the student audience. You could practically hear people shifting in their seats, like someone had just sworn at a nun. Apparently, we’ve reached a stage of such cultural advancement that acknowledging such things even briefly is somewhere between scandalous and titillating - for an audience of would-be intellectuals with higher-than-average IQs. Another telling moment was when the moderator announced that the parties had finally reached provisional agreement that gender differences have “some biological basis.”

And I did chortle at the belief, asserted quite emphatically, that in a world corrected by feminism huge numbers of women, including mothers, would suddenly, voluntarily, rush to do jobs that entailed shovelling sewage, or hauling timber, or working on oil rigs in appalling weather for weeks on end, hundreds of miles from home. To an extent that these occupations would no longer have any gender connotations. Though for me the highlight was around 26 minutes in, when Ms Reid suggested skipping any reference to statistical and economic evidence during the debate itself and instead posting it on a blog afterwards, when everyone had gone home, as it were immaterial to the discussion. A mere footnote.

As a small snapshot of student life and some popular assumptions, it’s quite revealing.

The Sage

While American students try to bring back segregation and apartheid, it's good to know the Gauniad is dealing with the real tough issues -- http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/29/before-we-set-up-colonies-on-mars-we-need-to-discuss-renaming-its-moons

Anna

Milo Yiannopoulos & Rebecca Reid

Best bit.

https://twitter.com/PizzaPartyBen/status/671570747127500800

David

Best bit.

Heh. Shame it cuts off just as Ms Reid admits that her own dazzling double standard (or at least public knowledge of it) is “really problematic.” A word she uses throughout like salt on chips.

Jonathan

Can anyone think of actual, concrete, achievable steps to stop this madness?

It could be stopped very easily if the adults reacted like this instead of caving in on all fronts:

sackcloth and ashes

'Imagine a million people. Now imagine that they're ghosts, being bodiless and propertyless and generally disconnected from the material world. Also imagine that they're aliens, being unafflicted with various human drives and not having basic human knowledge. Now imagine that they are going to be incarnated into human bodies soon, but they don't know which ones, and they're negotiating beforehand how they should divide the Earth between them after reincarnation. Finally, imagine that they're all very risk-averse. Therefore, here's what I conclude will be the logical endpoint of their negotiations: everyone being equally well off, because they'd be very afraid of the possibility of incarnating into someone who is worse off. Clearly, now, my speculation as to the result of million-person peer-to-peer negotiations among hypothetical ignorant risk-averse alien ghosts planning mass incarnation is the correct way to redistribute goods in our present society, because justice'.

Isn't this basically what Scientologists believe in?

'My middle son attends a public STEM university with 60/40 male-female split. It's been remarkably free from all the identitarian bru-ha-ha at other universities. My son noted that a professor inquired in class why the university had escaped the craziness. A black student raised his hand and said, "We're studying to be engineers. We don't have time for that bullshit." Added a female student, "That, and Fallout 4 just came out."'

If I could set up a university from scratch, it would focus initially on STEM subjects. Then I might include an International Studies school which will major on diplomatic, political and military history; a Business school; and a Languages school (no linguistics - you are either there to learn French, or Mandarin, or Arabic, or you can fuck off).

Any proposal to set up a topic with the word 'studies' will be vetoed.

mojo

So far, the damage is mostly limited to the "Humanities". If it takes solid hold in the Engineering and Sciences, God help us all.

Henry

Can anyone think of actual, concrete, achievable steps to stop this madness?

Well that question becomes: how do you reverse a large sociological trend (or how do you create a competing one)? To which the answer is obviously, you can't.

But reason prevails surprisingly often. You just have to fight the good fight. If nothing else, imagine that Milo has been run over by a bus and it were only you defending freedoms.

Certainly hones your debating skills anyway :)

dicentra

If it takes solid hold in the Engineering and Sciences, God help us all.

What do you think the climate change thing is? Po-Mo science, that's what.

I confess that your precis of it is somewhat baffling, and a quick perusal of the Wiki entry scarcely more illuminating.

It's a crime novel set in medieval Italy at a monastery. Several bizarre murders take place. A brilliant monk and his young protege set about solving the crimes In The Usual Way: analysis of clues, deduction, etc. Everything you'd expect in a good, solid murder mistery from Sherlock Holmes to Midsomer Murders.

You follow the problem-solving process through twists and turns and plenty of dense explanations of medieval philosophy, politics, theology, etc.

Then the monk comes up with a brilliant solution. And then you find out what really happened, and it's totally different from what the monk thought it was, and yet it fits the same set of clues.

It's just that the monk was using Occam's Razor, whereas the real events were so strange that no sane person could have interpreted the clues that way.

The movie has the events but doesn't emphasize the slipperiness of the semiotic system that the monk used to come to his errant conclusion.

It's a long novel and hard to plod through unless you find minutae about medieval philosophy to be fascinating.

So that's why they didn't include it in the course: it demonstrates something true about crime-solving novels and by extension potential truths about reality, and We Can't Have cogent discussions about reality because Patriarchy.

JeremiadBullfrog

Re: Lacan

I'm not sure I would so swiftly throw him and his ilk out the window. While I certainly agree that his writings are confusingly obfuscating to an obscene degree and that admiration for this sort of thing frequently borders on religious fanaticism, I still think there are some good and interesting points to be made.

For instance, the whole business with complex numbers. I certainly don't think Lacan's lack of clarity does him any favors, but the mathematical analogy does seem to bear out. To wit, although there is nothing in our daily macro-physical existence that corresponds to complex numbers (in the way that we can model, say, direction or gain/loss by positives & negatives), there nevertheless are at the micro-physical level things that DO behave in these ways (or at least our best models say so). Lacan seems to be saying that there are concepts operating at the unconscious level which don't behave like anything we can clearly model off of our conscious experiences. So just as we can't point to anything macro-physical to represent the square root of negative one, we can't point to anything conscious to represent the concepts Lacan claims accurately model our unconscious processes.

Now, maybe I'm totally wrong about it, but when put that way, it's not a terribly unclear or radically far-fetched idea. It's just that whenever you read anything from these guys, everything is so larded up with pseudo-intellectual padding and show-off obscurity that it drives away anyone who's not already predisposed to fawn over the supposed genius of it all. And with the fawning comes an antipathy against clear, testable statements, which would lead to actual progress in the field, since one could begin to discard models that don't actually bear out. But then, the fewer theoretical accretions, the smaller your field and the more accessible your specialty to non-experts...so it's no wonder: Bullshit propagation qua job security over actual intellectual investigation/communication. *SIGH*

Microbillionaire
"Isn't this basically what Scientologists believe in?"

Not quite. Scientologists also believe that the alien ghosts are psychic leeches and there are several of them attached to each human, inhibiting our power over space and time. If you pay $$$$$ to the Scientologists to perform Thetan Removal Operations, you can remove these psychic leeches (it's not really their fault, though, they're just attached to you because they have traumatic memories of a galactic genocide and being thrown into a volcano) and you will regain the power to control space and time with your mind.

TomJ
To wit, although there is nothing in our daily macro-physical existence that corresponds to complex numbers (in the way that we can model, say, direction or gain/loss by positives & negatives), there nevertheless are at the micro-physical level things that DO behave in these ways (or at least our best models say so). [...] So just as we can't point to anything macro-physical to represent the square root of negative one...

Err, no. All power engineering is done using the mathematics of complex numbers, wwith the imaginary component corresponding to the imaginary part; throwing gigawatts around is, I would suggest, macrophysical.

WTP

although there is nothing in our daily macro-physical existence that corresponds to complex numbers

Oh, i dunno...Ever work a government project? The schedules depend on complex numbers and are printed on mobius strips.

JeremiadBullfrog

TomJ: yes, I'm well aware that macro-things like electricity and fluid flow are modeled based on complex analysis. My point is that you don't experience the complex numbers in those forces like you do experience the integer 3 by, say, tapping your toe 3 times. I can very easily show you +5 and -5 by walking 5 steps forward and then 5 backwards. I can't as easily show you i. Yes, there's the complex plane representation, but a clearly visible 2D axis doesn't quite capture it all since you can do the same with R2.

dicentra

I finally got to watch the Milo video. I love Milo. He's in the same camp (SWIDT) as Jeff Goldstein and Our Host, who gleefully alternate between deep, cogent analyses and crude but sophisticated humor.

(1) The Feminist never explained why so many women cannot find their True Vocation in life without being "encouraged" in a particular direction. Maybe she's too young to remember when medicine and biology were very definitely NOT female-dominated nor thought of as "girly."

(2) The reason men continue to dominate math, physics, engineering, and software programming is that most people on the Asperger/autism continuum are boys. Born that way. Unless you have a brain with the Aspie organization, you will not enjoy -- and often will not even grasp -- the type of work that's required in those fields. As a tech writer in IT, every day I am exposed to how those guys think, and it's crazy different from how I think (I'm half-Asped myself) and how the rest of the population thinks. They're the kids from chess club who are absolutely LOVE to obsess over minutia in quantities great and small, the more complicated the better. Either you have the chops or you don't. Unless The Feminist would like to induce autism in more girls, the gender disparity will remain.

(3) The Feminist rhetorically assumes that the "consent classes" contain mere Useful Information, no more politically charged than a driver's ed course. The Feminist also fails to acknowledge that churches and families and Civil Society used to "teach men not to rape" (or play grab-ass in the bus, or otherwise assault a woman) until the Sexual Revolution destroyed it all, egged on by whom? By feminists, natch.

(4) The Feminist asserts that the existence of an aggressive woman (her) and a nurturing man (her squeeze) proves that gender is totes fluid. She does not bother with the idea that female aggression might be qualitatively different from male aggression or that male nurturing might differ from female nurturing in ways that are important to the psychological development of children. You can have 1000 shades of red and 1000 shades of green without any overlap.

(5) The Feminist's foundational assumptions about the malleability of human nature serve to create the Illusion of Control, wherein everything The Enlightened find "problematic" can eventually be rectified by that illustrious tribe.

(6) The Feminist failed to explain why raising children with gender-related expectations is malum in se. With the exception of effeminate boys being brutalized by their peers (and fathers, often), the effect of gender expectations isn't such a big deal. I was never a girly-girl like my sisters, I was never told to "be a lady" (and if I had, I'd have ignored it), and the coolest person in the neighborhood (by us kids) was an athletically talented girl who played Little League Baseball with the boys and bested them all.

(7) The Feminist likewise failed to recognize that children choose their toys and manners of play according to what interests them, not by what the larger culture expects. I played with dolls when I felt like it, I played with Tonka trucks in the sandbox when I felt like it, and if there were gendered expectations about my playtime I was blissfully unaware of them. She has obviously not raised her own children: she'd be shocked by how early little boys begin to delight in construction equipment and little girls take interest in babies.

David

I love Milo.

I like that his approach is unforgiving and unrepentant. The standard feminist boilerplate, which so often goes unchallenged out of politeness or social habit, or reflexive sympathy, is poked and mocked, which can prompt his opponents to reveal things that are quite… instructive. There’s a disregard for social propriety that’s more than just amusing.

For instance, one feminist opponent claimed, post-debate, to have been besieged on Twitter with misogynist hate and unspecified “threats,” thereby confirming her own righteousness. Milo promptly combed through said tweets in search of anything remotely matching her descriptions - and then pointed out, very publicly, that in fact she was bullshitting. In terms of the mainstream UK media, one isn’t supposed to entertain the possibility that sometimes feminists lie.

The reason men continue to dominate math, physics, engineering, and software programming is that most people on the Asperger/autism continuum are boys.

It’s often struck me that the feminists complaining about “male dominance” in STEM subjects are generally women whose poor logic skills and disregard for evidence suggest they wouldn’t thrive there, even if they were vocationally interested in the subjects.

The Feminist’s foundational assumptions about the malleability of human nature serve to create the Illusion of Control, wherein everything The Enlightened find “problematic” can eventually be rectified by that illustrious tribe.

Yes, mankind could be fixed, permanently, if only we’d hand over the keys, if only we’d surrender.

[ Edited. ]

dicentra

There's a disregard for social propriety that's more than just amusing.

I love how he kept asking whether his comments were in violation of the "Safe Spaces Code."

You just KNOW that they had to factor in his homosexuality as a mitigating factor before ruling on it.

David

You just KNOW that they had to factor in his homosexuality as a mitigating factor before ruling on it.

Absolutely. And so he exploits it, quite rightly.

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