Category Archives: Society and Culture

C.I.V.

Brandeis University has rescinded its decision to award Aayan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree at this year’s commencement. You might have thought that a Jewish liberal-arts institution that was sufficiently impressed by Ms. Ali’s advocacy of women’s rights to offer her this honor wouldn’t be put off by her outspoken criticism of a culture that […]

Phase Transition

A story that’s making the rounds today concerns trending changes in the way people read. Here’s the lede, from today’s Washington Post: Claire Handscombe has a commitment problem online. Like a lot of Web surfers, she clicks on links posted on social networks, reads a few sentences, looks for exciting words, and then grows restless, […]

Another Witch-Burning

This time it’s Javascript inventor Brendan Eich, who failed to pull his neck in quickly enough as the Overton Window sped leftward. He was defenestrated today as head of Mozilla, for supporting a rational ideological position that every society on earth — and even Barack Obama himself — defended until just a couple of years […]

Charles Murray Responds to HuffPo Vituperation

Recently the Huffington Post took a big swipe at Charles Murray, with all the intellectual rigor we’ve come to expect from the blank-slate universalist Left. The argument appears to be that he’s a racist, sexist old white guy, so everything he says must, a priori, be false, and therefore beneath refutation. (When an idea is […]

The Heat Death Of The Universe

Back in February the New York Times Magazine published an article about the decline of eros in the modern-day marriage. The story noted a surprising fact: where there is less differentiation in gender roles, there tends to be less sex. We read: A study called “Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency in Marriage,” which appeared in […]

The Minimum Wage, Part 2

A while back I agreed to comment on a New York Times editorial advocating a rise in the minimum wage. (The editorial, entitled The Clear Benefits of a Higher Wage, is here.) The brief editorial’s main point is that a minimum-wage increase cannot be reliably expected to cause enough of an increase in unemployment to […]

You Get What You Pay For

WSJ columnist James Taranto has a regular feature in his Best of the Web newlsetter, in which he posts news items where obvious cause-and-effect relationships are presented as baffling paradoxes. A typical such item might be a headline that says “Despite Historically Low Crime Rate, Incarcerations Are At All-Time High”. He had a good one […]

Her Knight In Shining Armor

Here’s a depressing commentary on, among other things, the quality of the modern American male (my emphasis): Woman Going Into Labor Robbed in Anne Arundel County – A woman reported to be in labor and her boyfriend were robbed in Annapolis as they headed to a hospital, police said. The couple was confronted by three […]

Forward!

In a Takimag article called Useless Mouths, John Derbyshire looks at the road ahead, as technology displaces more and more workers. I recall that this sort of gloomy forecast was common when I was a boy, but I think this time round it’s more on the mark. (Barring a Butlerian Jihad, that is.) Things have […]

The Idols Of The Tribe

Our previous post touched once again on how liberal orthodoxy habituates its adherents to deny reality and suppress the expression of truth. One such truth is the near-total hegemony of liberal orthodoxy itself in the social sciences, and of course our leading liberal commenter has wasted no time in denying it. (As I said in […]

Battle Lines

Last year I wrote this about liberal orthodoxy’s unavoidable antagonism to truth: A sine qua non for the modern liberal ideologue is a flair for living comfortably in a state of cognitive dissonance. This is made necessary by the internal contradictions of his worldview, and by its frequent, and calamitous, collisions with the social, political, […]

Uh-Oh!

From Australia’s News.com.au: New forms of discrimination, known as “neoracism”, are taking hold in scientific research, spreading the belief that races exist and are different in terms of biology, behaviour and culture, according to anthropologists who spoke at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago. This would be bad enough […]

How Can This Be?

The CBS program 60 Minutes reported tonight, to everyone’s astonishment and dismay, on a recent, and heretofore completely unsuspected, scientific discovery. The context was specific — differences in the effect of the sleeping pill Ambien on men and women — but it appears, shockingly, that the scope of the problem might be far more general, […]

Food For Thought

A while back, the comment-thread of a post about the government shutdown turned into a discussion about the obesity of the American poor. A commenter remarked: The reason why many poor people are obese, of course, is that the cheapest foods tend to be high in carbs and low in nutrients, which often leads to […]

Paving The Road To Hell

Over the years readers have mentioned to me that too much of the discussion here takes place in the comment-threads, which are often far longer than the posts themselves. The days go by, the posts roll away down the screen, and exchanges that happen days after the original post are, effectively, hidden. I’ve been trying […]

Casting Out The Devil

Here’s something that seems to be in the air today. Yesterday I added a comment to our Benghazi thread from a few days back. As usually happens as threads lengthen, the conversation had wandered off-topic toward the more general sort of ideological scuffling that is a constant attractor in any discussion of current events these […]

This Isn’t Rocket Science

According to the New York Times, the “prolonged” execution of one Dennis McGuire — who had been condemned for the brutal murder of a young pregnant woman — has raised, once again, questions about the humaneness of various methods of execution. In Mr. McGuire’s case, the technique was lethal injection: As the lethal drugs flowed […]

Is All Inequality Created Equal?

For today’s reading, we have an essay on income inequality by tech entrepreneur Paul Graham. Mr. Graham makes two key points: First, he reminds us that in a free society, the natural diversity of human characteristics, talents, and dispositions will always result in inequalities of wealth: When people care enough about something to do it […]

Be Very Afraid

The psychotic, pestiferous torrent of cultural-Marxist sludge excerpted below is, apparently, what a college education in the humanities produces nowadays. This is the moment when you make of your fist the same clench in your teeth, make of your tongue all the textbooks your school was not funded enough to provide you with, make of […]

The Finger Pointing At The Moon

Here is a good example, from the Huffington Post, of a modern Eloi woman: a psychotherapist who responds to her young son’s naturally boyish play by wondering where she “went wrong”. (As one commenter remarks, it’s as if she sees her normal boy as a “defective girl”.) In particular, she is horrified that he might […]

Implosion

Today we have an interesting piece by Nick Land on John Smart’s novel approach to the Fermi Paradox (see here for more about the Fermi Paradox, if you aren’t familiar with the term): that advanced civilizations, rather than expanding into space, relentlessly turn inward. We read: John M. Smart’s solution to the Fermi Paradox is […]

Noblesse, Sans Oblige

In part 3 of his “Gentle introduction“, the reactionary and monarchist writer Mencius Moldbug examines a possible framework for the creation of a new ‘noble’ class: Let’s say you were a person who didn’t care at all about the Constitution, and you wanted to take America back to the past and establish a new order […]

It’s Different For Girls

In this blog post, a New York venture capitalist expresses his concern about an urgent national problem: the underrepresentation of women in software engineering. Why this would, by itself, be an urgent national problem is hard to imagine. From an end-user’s perspective, what matters is that software does what it’s supposed to, reliably and without […]

Bill On Phil

We’ve already discussed the Duck Dynasty brouhaha at sufficient length (and then some), but I wouldn’t want you to miss Bill Vallicella’s recent post about it: Some Points on Homosexuality in the Context of the Culture War.

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

The big news story of the day is that a good-natured Christian man from Louisiana has expressed an opinion that, while in full concordance with traditional Christian beliefs, is, in eyes of the modern Cathedral, a grievous heresy. (If “no news is good news”, I suppose we should all be relieved.) You can read about […]

Homo Rationalis

James Taranto had a very good piece in his daily Best of the Web edition yesterday, but before I could write it up, my pal Mangan beat me to it. So go and find it at his place.

Like A Rug

Well, political junkies, here it is: Politifact’s Lie of the Year. (One could bicker about which year it really belongs to, but it’s certainly a whopper, and had a major effect on the course of events.) Of course there are far bigger specimens out there — submerged monsters big enough to affect the very currents […]

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

Back in July, I wrote the following: To the conservative, traditions arise naturally from the workings of human nature, as part of the ontogeny and organic development of societies. They are not the result of scientific planning or sociological theorizing — and like biological species themselves, they only come into view in retrospect. They are, […]

Blow, Wind, And Crack Your Cheeks

Another of our steeples drench’d, I’m afraid. More here. We are dying, dying…

Forward!

From the blogger known as ‘educationrealist’, here’s a penetrating look at Common Core, and some of the reasons why it is such a bad idea. One of the reasons it’s a bad idea: it fails to acknowledge an essential and utterly self-evident truth, namely that the ability to learn and master complex topics is not […]

Diversity vs. Reality

Our e-pal ‘hbd* chick’ (a scholar of human reproductive patterns and variation whose outstanding blog should be on your regular reading list, if it isn’t already) posted an excellent item yesterday on the increasing difficulties confronting adherents of the ideological cult of Diversity in the face of damning and discrediting evidence. (At this point the […]

Race, Race, Race, Race, Race, Race, Race, Race, Race

It seems to me that race is more in the news today than ever — and I’m old enough to remember the 1960s. For something that, according to all goodthinkful people, doesn’t even exist, it sure does get a lot of attention. Or not, depending on the context. For example, the media seem just now […]

‘Orgasm Wars’

I pass this along without comment: an actual television show, from Japan.

The Toothpaste Has Left The Tube

Here’s a 3D-printed 1911. In metal.

A Nation Of Has-Beans

At Mangan’s.

Eppur Si Muove!

It is generally the case that bien-pensant women (and not just the women!) in advanced Western societies are eager to crush all vestiges of “gender” differences. They imagine a world in which half of all soldiers, network admins, metallurgists, auto mechanics, and oil-rig workers are female, and half of all librarians, nurses, pre-school teachers, cosmetologists, […]

Dying By The Seat Of Your Pants

With a hat tip to our friend Mangan: sitting will kill you.

Boogie Oogie Oogie

On the dance floor itself, a great seething mass of people move like maggots in a tin. – Theodore Dalrymple, visiting a club. From Life at the Bottom, Kindle location 1408.

Pravda

In a new worldwide evaluation of various cognitive skills, Americans have made a poor showing. Americans performed below the international average on math, reading and problem-solving on the exam, known as the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. U.S. math skills lagged far behind top performers, including Japan and Finland. The Organisation for […]

Two Evils

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own […]

Like A Splinter In your Mind

Here is the opening of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, pp 25-26, 1986. (My emphasis.) For “openness”, you may substitute “non-discrimination”. There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put […]

Texting While Driving

Here’s the comedian Louis C.K., with some remarkably insightful remarks on the popularity of smart-phones and the human condition. Blaise Pascal said: “All of man’s misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room”. We would rather see, or do, almost anything rather than be forced to look […]

Intrastate Income Inequality, 1977-2012

Cleverly displayed, using animated maps. Here.

Liberals vs. Liberty

Jonah Goldberg has posted a tart essay on the Left’s conceit that it is they, not conservatives, who stand on the side of personal liberty. We read: Alleged proof for this amusing myth (or pernicious lie; take your pick) comes in the form of liberal support for gay marriage and abortion rights, and opposition to […]

P And ~P

A sine qua non for the modern liberal ideologue is a flair for living comfortably in a state of cognitive dissonance. This is made necessary by the internal contradictions of his worldview, and by its frequent, and calamitous, collisions with the social, political, economic, cultural, mathematical, and biological realities of the actual world. The California […]

Faint Heart Ne’er Won… Anything At All, Really

Mark Steyn: The problem with the American way of war is that, technologically, it can’t lose, but, in every other sense, it can’t win. Here.

Then And Now

Writing at Taki’s, John Derbyshire marks the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s greatest oration by contrasting a world of genuine obstacles with a modern-day retreat into magical thinking. Here.

Whom The Gods Would Destroy

Sometimes, scientific research leads to conclusions that are starkly at odds with ordinary experience, with common sense, and with the received wisdom of the ages. Not so here, however: a new study from the UK finds a correlation between ethnic diversity (“lower own-group density”) and psychosis. From the abstract: Results For every ten percentage point […]

Steven Pinker On Scientism

Steven Pinker has just published an article that seemed to be getting a lot of attention earlier today. His essay is a rejoinder to the claim, made by many in the humanities, that scientifically minded secular types are besotted by “scientism”, which is nothing more than a new form of faith masquerading as pure rationality. […]

Small World

Note: I’ve taken down this post for now, in order to rewrite it. Feel free to email me about it: malcolm [at] malcolmpollack.com.