Estranged from beauty and grace

James Lileks at The Bleat.

“These are people who are estranged from beauty and grace, by their own hand. Not dark souls but lazy ones. Not bleak hearts but banal ones, looking for the perpetual frisson an adolescent male gets when he drifts to the brotherhood of the numb and the bored. They have nothing to rally around except rejection; they have no cause but the tiresome imperative of the Transgressive; they have no idea where they stand in human history, how a hundred million people would claw and climb over a mountain of broken glass to sample the ease and bounty they take for granted. They believe in nothing except the self, but as it happens they hate themselves as well.”

RTWT, it’s almost all that good.

Lileks is talking about the impulses displayed by the Dayton shooter, who apparently took his “pornogrind“ subculture a tad too seriously. Much to the chagrin of his fellow nihilist poseurs.

Jordan Peterson is not so poetic, but he would agree completely.

See also: Meaning and Millennials

Meaning and Millennials

“I think that often people come to the conclusion that life is meaningless because that is a better conclusion to come to than the reverse, because if life is meaningless, well then who cares what you do. But if life is meaningful, if what you do matters, then everything you do matters, and that puts a terrible responsibility on the individual. And I think that people are generally unwilling to bear that.”

-Jordan Peterson

Professors Jordan Peterson and John Vervaeke are colleagues in the University of Toronto Department of Psychology. They share an interest in the study of life’s meaning and reject moral relativism as nihilistic. They’re students of science and metaphysics.

Vervaeke, psychology specialties: Perception, Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience
PhD 1997 University of Toronto, Philosophy
BSc 1991 University of Toronto, Specialist in Cognitive Science
MA 1985 University of Toronto, Philosophy
HBA 1984 McMaster University, Philosophy, Summa Cum Laude

Peterson, psychology specialties: Social, Personality and Abnormal
PhD 1991 McGill University, Clinical Psychology
BSc 1984 University of Alberta, Psychology
BSc 1982 University of Alberta, Political Science

Their voices are sorely needed as the Humanities move ever deeper into postmodern despair, absurdity and self-deception; and Science faces political pressure to abandon scientific method as sexist and/or racist.

Our educational system has gone to a lot of trouble to replace such sources of meaning as family, competence and merit by deconstructing individual responsibility into a collectivist competition for victimhood participation trophies. Reason is similarly challenged: There are no truths, only interpretations.

This has negative consequences, especially for those who grew up during this cultural shift. To be sure, much of what follows doesn’t apply to most Millennials, but we see evidence daily that there’s a problem.

One example: We’re told Millennials in the workplace desire “purpose over paycheck.”

Purpose should be easy: “You do this. We pay you.”

Instead, it seems likely “purpose” in that phrase substitutes for “precisely aligned with my life values and goals,” or “meaningful.” There’s nothing wrong with such an aspiration, but it isn’t realistic. For one thing, your colleagues would all have to be of one mind. That’s one reason jobs that provide life meaning are not common. Even self-employed I couldn’t be sure my job would always fulfill a particular “purpose,” including meeting payroll. And who could make sure the customers would co-operate? But, some people expect job “purpose” to be supplied by others.

In any case, as we’ll see, Millennials don’t appear to be finding deep meaning through their employment. That might indicate they are incapable of finding it in themselves.

And why would they be? They’ve been conditioned by effusive praise to expect meaning to find them. Meaning becomes external. Like a job. Or ‘Likes’ on Facebook.

A Millennial meaning deficit is strongly suggested by the fact that Millennial suicide rates are soaring: They experience high rates of depression: And they may be the “quintessential postmodern generation.”

They’ve been cut adrift in a sea of narcissism by their parents and their professors, who should have taught them moral values and how to think, but handed them participation trophies and moral nihilism instead. Many Millennials have come to expect constant and instantaneous validation of their merit, whether they’ve displayed any or not. That applies to their opinions too, many of them are convinced that simply taking offense grants them some sort of moral authority.

They’ve been misled about their capabilities. They’ve been lied to about their prospects. They’ve been suckered into huge student debt by what amounts to academic fraud.

A growing cultural anomie should not be surprising. Nor should we wonder why Millennials flock to hear Jordan Peterson, and increasingly John Vervaeke, speak for two hours about how to find meaning. For a dozen lectures.

Reason and meaning are under siege because of guilt by association with Western Civilization. Peterson and Vervaeke are playing defense. Some examples:

I’d say watch the whole thing, but this link will start at 2:04. Watch until you want to stop. TWT is 20:49.
Jordan Peterson *NEW* The Meaning of Life

Here’s an interview about meaning: John Vervaeke: The Meaning Crisis (39 minutes) Again, the whole thing is worthwhile, but the link starts at 18:32. There, Vervaeke puts his finger on the epistemological question raised by Postmodernism. It’s a serious question.

Vervaeke has recently started a series of lectures on YouTube: ‘Awakening From the Meaning Crisis.

Immodest proposals

Freedom distributes everything unevenly (diversely). Obviously, Statism does too. The difference is that when the state decrees who should be favored it relies on the opinion of the currently fashionable gang of ‘intellectual’ nannies. They know how we should conduct ourselves. Where we should live; what we can say; how we should eat; the conditions of employment we should desire.

Too many female doctors go part-time or stop working — why that’s a big problem

“Female doctors are more likely than their male peers to shift to part-time work or stop working a few years after completing their medical training, according to a recent study published in the journal JAMA Network Open. Women, moreover, are more likely than men to cite family as a consideration in determining their work status…

“It’s very common for people to see this and say some women are just choosing to put family first — which is wonderful and a great choice for anyone who wants to make that. But in reality, what we’re seeing is that often there isn’t choice,” lead study author Elena Frank, the director of the University of Michigan’s Intern Health Study, said in a statement.

“Medicine has a big opportunity and, really, an obligation to set an example for how to support women and families,” she added.

I think this is confusing “medicine’s responsibility” (whatever that is) with feminist politics. That doesn’t mean women’s preferences don’t present a problem, though:

The U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of between 46,900 and 121,900 physicians in both primary care and specialty care by the year 2032…”

Research shows that hospital patients treated by female doctors are less likely than those treated by male doctors to die or be readmitted within a month of being discharged…

You can project a decline in the quality and quantity of available health care, exacerbated by female M.D.s leaving the work force.

How can “medicine” seize this opportunity? The suggested solution is “[W]ork flexibility, paid parental leave and on-site day care” for female doctors. We’re being told that government has to seize the opportunity on behalf of “medicine:” That these policies would keep female M.D.s on the job, though there’s no evidence presented for that, and there is evidence that women might still respond to motherhood the same way they do now.

It’s not just medicine, either: Why Are Seemingly Satisfied Female Lawyers Running For The Exits?.
Law is mentioned at about 2:23, but watch the whole 13 minutes.
This is really salient:

Even if we apply more resources to support female careers in medicine, work remains attention to other things even while someone else is bonding with/watching your child.

Nonetheless, I’d support Dr. Frank’s options for any woman for whom it would solve the problem. All they have to do is negotiate for it: “Look, I want part-time work where I have significant influence on the specific hours I work. No ‘on-call.’ I want a parental leave savings account matching contribution. And I want you to pay for day care at a nearby provider. I’ll take a salary reduction in order to get that.” That is a choice, but it isn’t the “government as caretaker” idea being promoted. Leadership diversity would not be served.

So, are you surprised women are more likely to cite family? Well, men are more likely to internalize their responsibility – to economically support their family. How, for example, are these female doctors able to quit a lucrative profession they worked hard to get into? Did they marry into the patriarchy?

Even worse, according to Elena Frank, director of the University of Michigan’s Intern Health Study the problems are (emphasis mine) “not just because of the blow to leadership diversity in health care.”

That made me laugh. Sexual-apparatus-based diversity as a leadership credential is more important than health care quality and quantity.

There’s more angst along the same lines. The author proceeds from an assumption that while it may be fine for women doctors to choose family over work, the real problem is that they don’t have a choice because they are forced want to spend time with their children. They are hostages to housewifery and motherhood, lost to the leadership diversity project.

There are some questions we might ask about this. First, “Did Dr. Frank think to search for any female doctors who labor under her recommended conditions?” It’s likely there are some, and would nicely test her hypothesis.

Second, “Assuming approximately the same resources are required to educate each medical student, does that mean women are, on average, a non-optimal use of those investments?” Much of the investment is made by the female medical students, of course, but one can rationally argue that society is worse off because these women later abandon their profession – having occupied a scarce seat in med school.

What to do? Provide “free” female medical school education on the stipulation they must work until they’re at least 60? Somehow I think quality of care might suffer. And why wouldn’t that option be open to males, too?

That’s rhetorical. It wouldn’t promote chromosomal ‘diversity.’ Though now I’m wondering about trans people… First, for which side are they counted, diversity-wise? Anyway…

First, let’s stipulate that women do make different choices than men, including working conditions. See here and here for rigorous proof. In one case there’s a free wheeling entrepreneurial startup from the “woke” era. In the other case there’s a extensive, hidebound rule-set.

It is not arguable that males and females are not treated equally in either case. And they make the same choices.

I know the counter argument will be that the system was set up by males, and so favors a male view of working conditions. But, if you look at the reasons there is a “wage gap” you’ll see it’s just reality that’s in the way, and accommodating women’s choices would require… well, you think about what could be done without dedicating even greater resources exclusively to women.

But, back to female M.D.’s plight. Let’s look at some other possible fixes in order to grant women (for whom a medical career is only temporarily most important) Dr. Frank’s prescription. Can we give them incentives to consider that initial choice more carefully? Or, can we establish disincentives to following their own later anti-leadership diversity choices?

1- We could have the government insist female M.D.s must never marry, or must promise only to become married to a lower earning spouse. This might lock them into their chosen profession, making it sort of equal to most men, who are typically willing to work longer hours in more dangerous and uncomfortable occupations. Choice. For family.

2- Alternatively, I suppose, we could psychologically screen female Med school applicants. We could reject those most likely to care about children (though feminine empathy and compassion probably get lost, too), or we could find those women who will insist their husband be the primary caregiver, or women who agree to sterilization. This isn’t optimal, but it’s surely cheaper than mandating paid leave, on-site daycare, and employee selected work hours. In total, it’s no more or less coercive than making everyone, including the childless, pay for female M.D.s post-partum guilt.

After all, whoever is a stay at home parent gets continual compensated leave, intimately directed day-care, and work hours only constrained by the children’s needs – which seems to cover the whole objective.

3- Or, maybe these potential leadership diversity exemplars could work part time, and/or save up so they can take leave, and/or get together and fund their own day care close by their workplace. Doctors can afford these perks without outside support. Giving female doctors extra money to accomplish this is like requiring taxpayers to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control pills.

Taking leave and working part time don’t help so much with the doctor shortage, of course, and I have a suspicion that what’s meant by “work flexibility” (since part time work is readily available already) is fewer hours for the same salary.

None of these remedies solve the economic problem: female doctors not only are a riskier initial investment than male doctors, but would end up costing more for maintenance. If I were a feminist, I wouldn’t be advertising it.

As a species, we might prefer a biological imperative which didn’t require trade offs based on sex. One where men didn’t die from work-related accidents 10 times as often as women, for example, though I’m sure we’d just be exchanging the current trade-offs for other (maybe worse) inequities.

But leadership diversity must be served.

IDW lacks diversity

Caricaturing the Left Doesn’t Benefit the Intellectual Dark Web

Well, it isn’t possible to caricature the Left any more. It’s downhill from the headline.

The article itself is a Progressive apologist’s semantic-quibble, word-salad fantasy. The comments are worth some attention. At 5PM there are 156. So it’s not short if you want the good stuff.

Quillette is an enterprise worthy of support. Which I have not yet done because it’s through Patreon – which JBP felt compelled to leave. He is creating a competitor. Stay tuned to Quillette. I don’t think their long term future is with Patreon.

From one of my comments:

“[W]e can’t simply assume that the IDW is politically diverse because many of its members hold policy positions that have traditionally put them on the left. If they generally hold positions that place them on the right with respect to the culture war (i.e., regarding issues such as identity, structural oppression, and privilege), then they could very well lack political and ideological diversity on questions that are becoming more and more central to cultural and political discourse.”

IDK, maybe we can assume “the IDW is politically diverse” when defending ideological diversity is the whole point; while the core tenet of today’s Progressives is that ideological diversity must be stamped out.

The substance of disagreements internal to Progressivism is characterized by debating micro-aggressions based on identity-victim-group creds. The substance of internal disagreements for the IDW is, shall we say, more diverse than that.

The IDW is (more nearly) ideologically neutral in allowing other ideologies to be professed. Requiring the IDW to profess no opinion on anything, is a joke, right? Apparently not:

“…Emmons is claiming that members of the IDW are classical liberals with a distinct set of beliefs (individual liberty, personal responsibility, free speech, rationalism, logic, critical thought), but also that they are essentially ideology-free (not in service to any ideology, not driven by any ideology, not proponents of any ideology, questioning the basis of all ideologies).”

One might say, instead, that the IDW is open to the possibility that other ideologies may have some points. The Progressives deny this possibility. One might also observe that ideology-free means allowing other ideologies, even if you disagree with them. I.e., not “driven” to impose your ideology via politics.

“[T]his ideological shift carries over to activism, leading to a greater desire to regulate speech, to ensure more diversity, and to prioritise structural changes. These accompany a shift away from classical liberalism as a model of human society and behaviour.”

The “ideological shift” left is not a shift to any new ideology, it’s just the ancient totalitarian impulse being applied to First World problems. Problems created in part by Progressive ideological rigidity applied to moving the Overton window.

I read “activism” as suppression of any mode of thinking other than Progressive, “regulate speech” as just what it says, “more diversity” as something desirable only so long as it excludes diversity of thought, and “structural change” as totalitarian.

The central point Mr. Harris is making is a diversion, for all its false concern about IDW diversity. Any time some naif tries to build a bridge to the professionally aggrieved, they’ll find the bridge (and their careers) blown up before it extends half way – by people with thumbs in their ears, and with middle fingers extended toward the bridge builders.

Victimhood competence hierarchies

“Tyrannical pathological hierarchies are based on power…”
-Jordan Peterson

Dr. Peterson sometimes refers to our traditional hierarchies as hierarchies of competence, since they arise organically out of our necessity to act in the world.  To do something is to want to improve the way you do it.  Some people will become better than others in some given action.  Some people achieve higher ability to cook, some become more proficient in math, others in music, or sports.  There are infinite hierarchies in which you may compete.  You can even create your own, like Paul Durand-Ruel, Steve Jobs, or Lee Felsenstein, Efrem Lipkin, Ken Colstad, Jude Milhon, and Mark Szpakowski, and enable millions of others to invent new hierarchies.

While any hierarchy is subject to corruption, they are inevitable, biologically ancient, and not by necessity pathological or tyrannical. Though those based on power usually are.  It’s sort of the point.

Social Justice practitioners are telling us all hierarchies are entirely socially constructed, unfair,  and oppressive – excepting theirs – which they don’t admit to having.  But what else is the jockeying for power in the identity group/victimhood sweepstakes about?

We haven’t yet seen a merger of the many contenders trying to prove they are the biggest victims and the smallest oppressors.  The hierarchy of victim hierarchies is yet to be settled science. The Intersectionalist Progressive Social Justice Cartel is having some nasty fights trying to sort out their pathological hierarchy:

QTIBPOC vs. LGBTQ
Trans vs. feminist
Indigenous group vs. Indigenous group
Black LGBT vs. White LGBT

Given what they insist all the rest of us must believe, I think tyrannical also applies.`  And we don’t even have the comprehensive doublethink manual yet, since they’re fighting over it.

To advance their cause with less embarrassment they need is a kinder, simpler way than Twitter fights to sort it out, preferably based on objective analysis of the victim/oppressor ratio. Because nobody is a perfect victim.

If they did find the perfect victim, they’d have to make him/her/it/zir/xe/Mr. Mxyzptlk the Dear Leader of the world utopia. You might think of it as the ultimate inverse hierarchy, because actual competence in any real thing is a Western, white, colonialist, patriarchal concept.  To be avoided.

I surely don’t understand the intersectional nuances that would allow me to compare a black gay male who hires a fake hate crime attack on himself, with a brown cis-gender (and why do I have to use a made up term now to indicate ‘normal’?) female who spouts anti-semitic drivel in the US House of Representatives.  An objective assessment may well be impossible.

Each individual objecting to someone else’s existence will have their own criteria. We could ask them all their opinion of everybody else and average the results (sort of like Facebook); Throwing out those rated below some arbitrary score – by other voters whose ratio was in the top 1% on the victim/oppressor ratio scale  (sort of like Twitter).

Running, especially enforcing, that system would be the prize for winning the victim/oppressor ratio sweepstakes.

Still, if we were to attempt objectivity, even to arrive at an informed individual opinion, a complex spreadsheet to calculate power rankings might serve. We’re after a way to model other people’s thoughts. We need to place the technology into individual hands, since it is obvious we can’t depend on the SPLC anymore.

Let’s consider the complexities via example. Rate a black, homosexual male, wealthy actor; vs. a white, trans-female, wealthy former Pentathlon champion; vs. a brown, female, anti-semitic, Islamist congressional member; vs. a white, 1/1024th Amerind, biological female, wealthy United States Senator. It’s not easy, and those are only a few of the factors. The enterprise seems very difficult.

victim-oppressor axis

This is the type of analysis intersectionalists demand as a principle of governance.  And, that’s just a poor preliminary attempt to begin to capture the variables currently driving the SJW power struggle. It doesn’t include anywhere near the required profile information. I tried filling it in for a couple of people I thought would help refine scoring. Maybe you can guess who they are.

Complicating this further, just when you might think you have a workable algorithm someone gets offended by something you did not expect. For example, here’s an example of a lesbian, trans, Leftist, female academic in the Humanities you’d expect to score moderately well even if you’re white: A concrete example against which to test our calculation of the victim/oppressor ratio.

Students demand controversial prof be replaced by ‘queer person of color’

That controversial prof is Camille Paglia. You might think this means race trumps homosexuality as a factor on the victim/oppressor scale. I don’t think we can depend on that. From the complainers:

“In recent interviews she has blatantly mocked survivors of sexual assault and the #MeToo movement, and in classes and interviews has mocked and degraded transgender individuals. She believes that most transgender people are merely participating in a fashion trend (“I question whether the transgender choice is genuine in every single case”), and that universities should not consider any sexual assault cases reported more than six months after the incident, because she thinks those cases just consist of women who regret having sex and falsely see themselves as victims.”

Aha! The problem is Paglia’s opinions and outspokenness, which one could at least imagine being held by a “queer person of color.” It isn’t about color.

The entire identity politics internecine war is about thinking the right thing. Thinking correctly is hard to define, though. It depends on the thought processes of the person thinking about someone else’s thoughts. See: Red Guards.

Full circle we have come. When objectivity is thrown out the postmodernist window, objective rankings are simply impossible. And that’s intentional, since any reference to a set of rules could inhibit the exercise of power.

So, it’s back to imagined victimhood points minus perceived privilege points times influencer points divided by the reciprocal of Twitter followers. The factors for race, sexual orientation, biological sex, wealth, income, religion, political affiliation, etc. are left to the student.  If you are intersectionally woke the answer just pops into your head.  Of course, that may not be the same answer another woke intersectional arrives at…

Clarity of thought, rational arguments, philosophical consistency are irrelevant. We don’t need no freaking spreadsheet to identify thoughtcrime. Besides, Excel itself is oppressive because it uses numbers, and its very name is a violent affront to nihilistic mediocrities cowering in their safe spaces everywhere.

It’s not so bad though, those of us not caught up in the victim-identity Olympic trials can eat lots of popcorn while we watch.

Man In Critical Condition After Hearing Slightly Differing Viewpoint