In a letter in response to a solicitation of funds by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Steven Pinker pushes back – eloquently yet firmly – against the politicization of science. (HT James Freeman) A slice:
Science magazine appears to have adopted wokeism as its official editorial policy and the only kind of opinion that may be expressed in the magazine. An example is the recent special section on the underrepresentation of African Americans among physics majors, graduate students, and faculty members. This situation is lamentable and worthy of understanding. But the six articles in the issue assume as dogma that the underrepresentation is caused by “white privilege”: that “the dominant culture has discouraged diversity,” and “white people use their membership in a dominant group to assert political, cultural, and economic power over those outside that group.” Though Science is ordinarily committed to open debate on scientific controversies, no disagreements with this conspiracy theory were expressed. And though the journal is supposedly committed to empirical tests, no data were presented that might speak to alternative explanations, such as that the cause of the under-representation lies in the pipeline of prepared and interested students. If we want to increase the number of African Americans in physics, it matters a great deal whether we should try to fix the nation’s high schools or accuse physics professors of white supremacy. Yet Science magazine has decided, without debate or data, to advocate the latter.
This is worth remembering when considering Mr. Musk’s purchase of Twitter. His much-publicized bid stirred little competition, perhaps because some feared getting into a bidding war with someone of his net worth. But a more realistic scenario is that Mr. Musk sees possibilities for Twitter that the rest of us don’t—possibilities so distant from the Twitter we know that Mr. Musk is taking the underperforming social-media company private—at least for a few years—to put his contrarian stamp on it.
Mr. Musk sits atop the wealth pyramid not because he’s a copycat, or because he has prudently invested in index funds, but because with each venture he has tried to usher a widely dismissed or unseen future into the present. Mr. Musk is incredibly rich because he continues to pursue the impossible.
I’ll admit to being struck when the media began to slip the words “disinformation” and “misinformation” into stories almost daily. Reporters can be clever in how they make words work for them, and here it was clear that associating those words with a person was shorthand for erasing them from the debate. It was a one-way ticket to ostracism on social media.
Last weekend, Mr. Mayorkas was on Fox News expressing wide-eyed wonder at the controversy over the Disinformation Governance Board, which he claimed is only about “disinformation from Russia, from China, from Iran, from the cartels.”
But foreign propaganda isn’t quite how the board’s proposed singing director, Ms. Jankowicz, defines the national-security threat from disinformation. Her definition extends to something called “gendered and sexualized disinformation.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the Disinformation Governance Board will be “apolitical.” If you believe that, you still think Mary Poppins and the children climbed a stairway made of smoke.
Elon Musk took over Twitter in part because he sensed, like many of us, that something isn’t quite right with how progressives and much of the media handle what they call the truth.
For better or worse, everything today is political: climate, Covid, race, gender identity, crime, abortion. And social media is where many people talk about it.
When Democrats, the media or the country’s huge domestic security agency starts tossing around words and phrases like disinformation governance, gendered abuse, misinformation and false narratives, one hopes they don’t profess shock that some people think they are being euphemized into silence.
In fact, if you look at the actual budgetary baselines published by the Congressional Budget Office—that is, the ongoing amount of annual federal spending absent any emergency stimulus bills like the ones passed on several occasions during the height of the pandemic—Biden has overseen a noticeable increase in the deficit above the pre-pandemic baseline. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a fiscal watchdog group that advocates for lower deficits, Biden’s policies have added about $2.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.
“In reality,” wrote former Reason Editor Virginia Postrel way back in 1989, “overturning Roe would put the abortion question back where it belongs—in the legislative arena.”
The Court didn’t overturn Roe that year, but a leaked draft of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has raised the possibility that, more than three decades later, it is now poised to do so.
By finding that “the Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” and by “return[ing] that authority to the people and their elected representatives,” the draft would allow New York to have extremely permissive laws on abortion while Mississippi has much more restrictive ones.
Many people on both sides of this issue understandably recoil from the idea of what they see as a fundamental human right being subjected to a vote. (There’s more to life than mere democracy!) Yet on a practical level, if not on a moral one, there is a case in favor of devolving decision making on an issue that has split the country for decades.
These regulations will shrink the number of defense suppliers willing to do business with the Pentagon, both at home and abroad, potentially choking off the US military’s access to critical technology. In order to prove they are meeting the Biden administration’s higher domestic content threshold, companies will be required to produce complex and expensive compliance documentation to the government. For those US companies that sell exclusively or primarily to the government, they will have no choice but to shoulder this enormous paperwork burden while passing the cost of compliance on to taxpayers.
But many other companies have a choice of whether to do business with the government, which is not their only or even primary customer. That’s especially true of innovative companies leading the way in emerging technologies in the commercial sector—technologies our warfighters need to stay ahead of Russia and China. These American companies may very well conclude that complying with so-called “Buy American regulations—not only through administrivia, but potentially by changing the content of their products—just isn’t worth the hassle.