Thursday, July 9, 2020

Another defense of Pinker

The NY Times reports:
Ever since the coronavirus emerged in Europe, Sweden has captured international attention by conducting an unorthodox, open-air experiment. It has allowed the world to examine what happens in a pandemic when a government allows life to carry on largely unhindered. ...

“They literally gained nothing,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.” ...

Sweden put stock in the sensibility of its people as it largely avoided imposing government prohibitions. The government allowed restaurants, gyms, shops, playgrounds and most schools to remain open.

Dr. Quantum Supremacy is politically triggered again:
If there were ever a time for liberals and progressives to put aside their internal squabbles, you’d think it was now. The President of the United States is a racist gangster, who might not leave if he loses the coming election—all the more reason to ensure he loses in a landslide. Due in part to that gangster’s breathtaking incompetence, 130,000 Americans are now dead, and the economy tanked, from a pandemic that the rest of the world has under much better control. The gangster’s latest “response” to the pandemic has been to disrupt the lives of thousands of foreign scientists—including several of my students—by threatening to cancel their visas. (American universities will, of course, do whatever they legally can to work around this act of pure spite.)

So how is the left responding to this historic moment?

This weekend, 536 people did so by … trying to cancel Steven Pinker, stripping him of “distinguished fellow” and “media expert” status (whatever those are) in the Linguistics Society of America for ideological reasons.
I don't agree with canceling Pinker either, but here is what Pres. Trump said at Mt. Rushmore:
Donald Trump: (09:17)
One of their political weapons is cancel culture, driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees. This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and to our values and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.

Donald Trump: (10:24)
This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty must be stopped and it will be stopped very quickly. We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children from this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life. In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. It’s not going to happen to us.

Donald Trump: (11:25)
Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.
Today, the Left stands for canceling its enemies more than anything else.

I usually try to avoid politics on this blog, but today's Leftism is a threat to all academic science. Scott concedes:
The fundamental problem is that, as far as an outsider reading the news and social media can tell, the cancel culture that you and I both oppose has by now almost completely taken over “the Left,” just like Trumpism has almost completely taken over the Republican Party.
We have a two-party political system. You are either with Trump, or you are aligned with the modern witch-burners. I quote Aaronson and Pinker because they are two of the more honest Trump-haters, but they are inviting their own destruction. Unfortunately, most academics are much worse.

And what do they hate Trump for? The latest is that he wants the schools to reopen in the fall, and if the colleges refuse to let foreign students attend classes, then he sees no need to give them visas. These are completely reasonable centrist opinions.

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