Tuesday, May 30, 2017

- The Dark Star of The Social Sciences

There are some phrases that while you may be relieved to be hearing them, still give you a bit of a shake. “Don’t worry, it's just syphilis.” is a good if somewhat graphic example. Given the full range of possible outcomes in any situation where you hear something like that, it’s way better than lots of other options. But it’s still not exactly the kind of thing that makes your heart leap for joy.

My daughter gave me one of those this past weekend, thought thankfully it was totally unrelated to the topic referenced above. She’s getting ready for college – not next year, but the following year. And she’s so smart and such a hard worker, that I’m sure she’ll be successful at anything she does.

There was the question of her intended major though. Up to now she’s been very successful at only a few activities outside academia. Photography is one. She’s entered contests with tens of thousands of entrants and still ended up in the finals. She’s actually having some of her work published as a result. She's really very good at it, but I have to confess, as a sole major it gave me pause.

Think about it. In an era where roughly 1.5 billion people are now walking around with a digital camera from their smart phone in their pocket, it seemed to me that the law of supply and demand would certainly be lowering the commercial value of the good photo. And that would have to have an effect on the earnings power of those who are trying to keep body and soul together by taking them. It's never been a particularly lucrative field on average anyway. And these days it can't be any better.

But she still loves it, and is still very good at it. I have her photographs all over my apartment and she really is talented. So I smile, and hope that she get’s a really great teacher next year for Calculus or Economics or something, and a newfound interest lights a spark.

But this past weekend she told me that she’s now had a slight change of heart. She’s now considering a ‘double-major’ of Photography and Political Science. Now god knows you can make a good living in politics. Bill and Hillary turned a little political juice into hundreds of millions of dollars (and only explicitly broke a few laws to do it) and their daughter is an empty bucket of a woman who still lives in a multi-million dollar penthouse.

But I know my daughter, and I’ll be honest. I think she’s too idealistic to succeed at it the way the Clintons did. Politics requires the kind of compromises of character that will be very hard for her. Low cunning, which is what the path to political greatness is always about, simply isn’t her way. And it’s very hard for me to imagine her developing the skill for it. She's just too honest.

Does it pose a better option than photography? I think so yeah. And at least she’ll meet boys with more of a potential future. But my really big concern is that it will also put her dangerously close to the Black Hole of Social Sciences that is currently destroying the rest of academia. The grievance majors of ‘gender’ and ‘ethnic’ studies are so devoid of serious intellectual support that they’ve begun ruining other departments as well. And I’m deeply concerned that Political Science is too close for her to successfully escape their orbit.

A part of it, it seems to me is how we argue against it. Gender studies, and ethnic studies aren’t just built on a core of anti-intellectual lies but are in fact built on just a singular anti-intellectual lie – that the subjective experience of someone who feels aggrieved, is as much a part of objective reality as anything else. But when we describe the obvious problems with that idea, the things we say to our kids sound like overly broad simplifications.

Meanwhile, the academics who lead these exercises in narcissism have had decades to come up with all the cult style mental tricks and traps to keep kids from seeing the obvious falsehood. It’s more like they’re spreading an intellectual disease than ‘teaching’. They’re embedding in the minds of a new generation, all the tools necessary to keep them from being able to learn... really anything. They are providing them a delusion so total in it's scope, that the very act of learning is prevented. And in the process they are condemning them to a life of misery, where everywhere they look is an enemy of the righteous, and all they have to do to see new enemies is imagine them into existence. How happy could I be about my daughter getting close to a circumstance like that?

Anyway, she’s still just a 17 year old high school junior so I’m not getting too choked up about it. It’s entirely possible that when she learns how much of 21st century academic life is about the baseless demonization of people exactly like her father (who she does not really resent the way most high school kids do) it’s possible she’d snap back from it, end up transferring to Hillsdale, and eventually working for the NRA. So I’m not going crazy about it.

In the meantime, I’ve reconciled myself to these issues being mostly outside my control. I can help, and try to steer a little, but I won’t command her. It’s her life. And she’s going to have to make her mistakes. All I can do is hope that the mistakes are small and the effect of them short lived. Like syphilis. Instead of longer lasting, like the mental illness of gender and ethnic studies.

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