Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dangerous Data

Revenge of the Sociologists | The Weekly Standard

Nial tends to be wordy, basically this the old news story of "don't mess with the shibboleths of the the dominant culture". Gay has been decided to be good, gays raising kids was summarily judged to be good, maybe even better than "traditional families". End of story, woe unto all that would dare to question that "settled science".

For those of us of a certain age, we well recall when "divorce had no negative impact on children, and may even be positive because of the reduction of tensions". Much like the requirement to delay an hour after swimming to avoid cramps, this view has been "reassessed".  Naturally the reassessment came well after any chance of deciding to "make do" or "work it out for the kids" was far from as stupid as we were told in the 60's and 70's. I'm still sore about the swimming I missed.

In the '70s, the energy crisis was caused by the FACT that we were OUT of oil -- today, the reserves are many times larger than they were then. The climate was cooling in the '70s ... well known, but not as "settled" as the warming, er,  "change" today. Change would seem to cover it.

In the '70s when EO Wilson questioned the Blank Slate, he was a bigot, a neanderthal, a zealot. Today, the Blank Slate is considered absurd -- nature seems to have the strange idea that success breeds more than failure, and carrying along a few tendencies that turn out to be adaptive in the DNA is beneficial.

I'm not so concerned about "content" here -- it seems likely to me that when two sexes are required for procreation, and the idea of a "family" being one man and one woman having been by far the norm for at least a couple thousand years,  the outcomes for children MIGHT be better in that situation, but I certainly can't prove it.  I'm sure we will see much more evidence on at least the opposite view, with maybe some on the "common sense side" depending on the ability of the dominant culture to suppress pro man/woman family results vs Man-Man, Woman-Woman, etc. But that isn't the point here.

The point is the danger of massive politicization of research, science and common sense,  and the sort of environment that is engendered by that course. When the price of having and stating beliefs, hypothesis,  data, statistics, results, etc that are in disagreement with "the dominant elite culture position" becomes too high, many people shut up, claim to believe what they don't, or even just throw up their hands and actually switch sides. I seem to be one of the very few that actually enjoys being stupid.

If you are aligned with the dominant culture view, your response to this thought is likely "good, I don't really care how the fools that disagree with us get on board, but they have to!".

All well and good, but just try to recall the discomfort you may have had after 9-11 when 80-90% of the population was in support of attacks on terrorist bases in Afghanistan, and nearly the same numbers were behind the removal of Saddam Hussein under the suspicion of WMDs. When radio stations were told by their listeners to stop playing the "Dixie Chicks" after they disparaged the president overseas. When Tim Robbins didn't get some invite to a forum after one of his anti-Bush screeds. Remember how quickly the spectre of Nazi Germany and Hitler was raised by the left elites at that point?

Please realize that the real problem in Nazi Germany was UNlimited Government -- the kind that you get when you allow the government to say, force you to buy a product -- say, insurance. The kind you get when THE GOVERNMENT tells you that certain kinds of speech are "hate speech", or that certain kinds of religion are "not our values" indicating that you ought not hold those religions views (Rahm Emanuel , Chicago, Chick-Fil-a). The kind that you get when you are penalized for what you DON'T do ... today, "buy insurance', then "Heil Hitler". The kind where the government tries to remove you from your tenured university position because they don't like what your research shows. You know, the kind of government our Constitution was supposed to guard against.

What was being called "Fascism" in '02-'08 was private citizens making decisions on who they listened to on the radio or invited to some event. It wasn't the government or government officials. In a free country, people used to be allowed to hold even very unpopular views. The idea was that freedom of thought and speech went together and needed to be heavily protected.  ESPECIALLY unpopular speech!

That was the law, but more importantly it was part of the shared mores of a free country. Tolerance of free thinking may have even been the American "Prime Directive" for you Trekkers. Oh, POPULAR speech sometimes needs to be controlled according to the left as well -- if it looks like a Republican might win, then the amount of speech (money) they are allowed must be curtailed.

It was once expected, even considered honorable that your brother, your dad, your neighbor, your boss, the guy at work or down the street would have some crackpot and maybe even really bad ideas ... racism against Blacks, Jews, Irish, Italians, Orientals, Polish, etc.  Lots of folks thought that Communism was "inevitable" (pretty much up to '89 MANY DID, some still do), Socialism was clearly the answer -- right up to when "National Socialism" took a very bad turn in Germany under Hitler. Eugenics suffered a similar fate -- it was a really good idea for the left elite (Margret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood for example), and then, uh, not so much.

Wouldn't it be great if we could "educate" everyone to be a BO Democrat, or maybe a Christian ... or a Buddhist, or a Capitalist, or a Minimalist ... or ??

Why don't we just ostracize, marginalize, harangue the people that don't line up with our view of "correct"? Oh wait, I guess many DO do that now ... but we didn't used to do it as much. It was considered to be against our shared values as Americans. Even when the subject was ACTUAL sympathy and working with a foreign sworn enemy with nuclear weapons pointed at us, pushing to hard on that was considered a "dark period in American history" ("McCarthyism). My how far we have come with Chick-Fil-a and the whole Gay Marriage issue!

or is it just the ever present problem of it VERY much depends on whose Ox is being gored?

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