Are we unfairly demonizing partisanship?

Academia is becoming self-aware. Scholars now realize that academic communities are as prone to groupthink as any other community. That’s led to the Intellectual Dark Web: academia’s version of the emerging anti-woke counter-culture, and a vital corrective to decades of ideological radicalization in universities. We should applaud Quilette’s article about how myside bias (a propensity to believe our own side without sufficient evidence) leads to groupthink and the ways to fight it.

However, while the author, Keith Stanovich, is brave to take on the zealotry in corners of academia, it’s not black-and-white. Myside bias may…

The presidential debate of 9/29/2020

The first presidential debate of 2020 was nearly-universally regarded as awful. It was a toddler slap-fight played by grown men with an absent referee. Fortunately, that doesn’t matter.

What matters is what happened between the lines. Biden and Trump signaled their priorities with their focus. They also showed what positions are unpopular by using them as accusations.

Here’s a blow by blow of the topics and the hidden meanings of the candidates’ answers:


Trump praised Amy Coney Barrett, his candidate for the Supreme Court. …

Beat the common misconceptions

The first presidential debate

The 2020 Presidential Debates are beginning in America, so prepare yourself for an onslaught of articles about who won, who lied, and who dressed the best. That’s all good entertainment but don’t take it too seriously. Those pieces miss the point of the debates in two key ways.

Undecided voters don’t watch the debates

Debates are mostly watched by political junkies. “High information voters” are likely to tune in; “low information voters” are not.

That matters because undecided and swing voters are disproportionately low-information voters. They’re undecided because they don’t watch the news much and don’t care about politics. …

There’s a rising backlash against “Social Justice Warriors” in pop culture and academia

The Punk movement was borne from the conformity and hypocrisy of the ossified New Left. Photo by Ilya Mirnyy on Unsplash

The Left is experiencing a cultural sea change. Intellectual trends from the 1960s are coming to a head. The backlash has begun in earnest and it’s bubbling up to the surface of pop culture.

The dominant ideology in academia and the artist sub-culture has many names: Social Justice Warriors, “cancel culture,” woke, “cultural Marxism,” identity politics, etc. It began generations ago with well-intentioned efforts to balance the perspective of mainstream American culture with the perspectives of marginalized subcultures. Think of the work of academics like Howard Zinn and Edward Said. …

It’s time to fight smarter, not harder

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The last 150 or so years have seen continuous efforts to defeat racism in America. It’s a noble goal, but unfortunately most aspiring racism-fighters have made their plans based on emotions (e.g. moral outrage) instead of using reason and social psychology. That’s made their efforts useless or even counterproductive.

Instead of treating racism like a sporting match, where our side’s goal is to yell louder than the other team’s fans, we ought to take it seriously as a problem and solve it with techniques that can actually work. …

Don’t let this be your future.

If you’ve spent any time on social media in the last ten years, you’ve experienced the ascendance of “wokeness.” You can’t spend a minute on Twitter without seeing someone identify as a new gender or come up with a new definition for “racism.” With all this momentum you may feel tempted to join their club, but remember that fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Yes, fad-chasing is fun, and this fad is better for you than swallowing Tide pods, but why be a follower when you can be a leader? …

Dictionaries: not hard to use. Photo by Romain Vignes on Unsplash

Bad people always try to justify their bad behavior. Cheaters claim that everyone cheats and it’s no big deal. Thieves claim that they deserved what they filched and it was only fair that they took it. Racists claim that their behavior doesn’t count as racism.

That’s a big problem when these racists are gaining positions of power in academia and the media. They’re using their loudspeakers to spread their excuses for racism. That’s going to perpetuate the cycle. Fight back against their sophistry.

There isn’t any need to come up with justifications for being racist. …

Image by “@submedia” on Twitter

I was born and raised in Seattle. Last week I returned to the city that was my home for thirty years to visit my brother, still a true-blue Seattlite. While I was there I couldn’t resist touring the hotspot that’s bemused journalists across the nation. I had to go to the CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) and see this new pseudo-nation for myself.

The Birth of a Zone

The CHAZ is the center of protests for Seattle’s #BlackLivesMatter movement, and a whole lot more. Sort of. The more extreme CHAZes declared it an autonomous zone, almost like a separate country-within-a-country. A rapper named Raz Simone…

From Hell’s heart, I stab into my Kobe steak. For hate’s sake, I eat every last bite of it.

I don’t even like meat, so the delicacy is pearls before swine. I’d rather have my daily ration of synthetic protein. The AI nutritionists are great at tailoring it to my genome to keep me feeling fit and happy. One of my friends isn’t so lucky; his tailored diet makes him break out in a rash. He’s spent days filing paperwork to get it fixed, but the bureaucracy hasn’t done shit.

I may not like the blackmarket steak, but it’s the…

We don’t get a book of revealed truth, for better or worse. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

We thirst for meaning in our lives. As an atheist, I’ve struggled to find meaning. I want to be part of something bigger than myself but never believed such a thing existed. I’ve learned better.

As the psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl noted in his masterful Man’s Search for Meaning, people thrive when they have purpose. Cultural and technological changes over the past few centuries have eroded our sense of purpose and structure. Religion provided these in the past. Now our new, secular society needs a new, secular source.

Duty and purpose in older societies

Our distant ancestors didn’t face existential crises the way we…

Simon Greenwood

Armchair historian, working class philosopher.

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