Equality or absurdity?

Latest post in my blog on popular science:
Equality or absurdity?
http://populscience.blogspot.com/2020/10/equality-or-absurdity.html

Regards,

From the article: "We are getting closer and closer to the kind of society that Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four describes.”

I have thought this for a few years. Yesterday in the UK a lady lost her court case for unfair dismissal at the school where she worked. Her crime? Sharing her concerns about compulsory Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) to her friends on Facebook.

Eric.

it claims that the criterion should be the current number of students in each group.

Yeah, I caught that too in the article excerpt you posted. Given a long enough time frame (probably not the 500 years claimed by the article, but off the top of my head, I’d guess more than 100), you’d expect the numbers to converge–there’s no reason I know of to assume that black would-be chemists (or whatever other field you care to mention) have significantly-different aptitude than white[1]. Thus, 40 years from now, it’s reasonable to expect that they’d distinguish themselves roughly in proportion to their representation in the classrooms of today.

But, of course, that doesn’t do anything about history. Galileo did his thing hundreds of years ago, as did Newton, Kepler, etc. Even Einstein was nearly a century ago. Again, the numbers would be expected to converge (there are a lot more scientists today than there were 300 years ago), but the process will take time. And even if (as was the case in .us for a time) blacks were deliberately excluded from this field, what’s done is done[2]. You can’t simply guess that (for example) this 19th-century slave would have been a great engineer if he’d been allowed to pursue that, so therefore honor him. Nor can you legitimately honor a thoroughly mediocre physicist simply because she happens to be black.

But I believe your concern over the collapse of Western society is valid–moreover, I believe that it’s the goal of the PC crowd.


  1. Of course, innate aptitude or intelligence is only part of the puzzle. Excelling in any field, even for the most gifted, requires a great deal of hard work. It also often requires no small amount of luck (or Providence, to speak more accurately). This, so far as I can tell, is the only real point of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, which I wouldn’t really recommend.
    Ability notwithstanding, cultural factors play a major role. Much of American black culture has little use for formal education, contributing to poorer educational outcomes–it’s the reverse of the situation with Asian-Americans, whose culture (broadly speaking) greatly values education, resulting in their excelling in academia. Which is why many of the elite universities have racial quotas to limit the number of Asian students. ↩︎

  2. There may be other remedies that could be applied. We may, for example, want to provide special educational opportunities or assistance for people we deem to have been impacted. But to try to rewrite the history and manufacture excellence where there was none is simply nonsensical. ↩︎

Lewis devotes the last half of “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” to the abuse of the concepts of “equality” or “Democracy”, culminating in the following words of Screwtape:

" ‘I’m as good as you’ is a useful means for the destruction of democratic societies. But it has a far deeper value as an end in itself, as a state of mind, which necessarily excluding humility, charity, contentment, and all the pleasures of gratitude or admiration, turns a human being away from almost every road which might finally lead him to Heaven".

Dimitry

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

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8 oct. 2020 12:16, Dan Brown via SpareOom (<noreply@talk.spare-oom.com>):

Thus, 40 years from now, it’s reasonable to expect that they’d distinguish themselves roughly in proportion to their representation in the classrooms of today.

This doesn’t follow. You must take into account that most of the students in scientific subjects won’t become scientists at all, they’ll just graduate and work in different things from research. What you say is true if you don’t take the proportions from the students, but from those students who end up doing research (they needn’t be the same proportions). That’s what I meant with the sentence “Wouldn’t it be better to wait for them to do something, as Obama said when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?”

Again, the numbers would be expected to converge (there are a lot more scientists today than there were 300 years ago), but the process will take time.

It’s true that there are many more scientists now than one or two centuries ago, but what about their “quality”? Are you sure there are as many “great scientists” now as there were at the beginning of the 20th. century? See in this post in my blog https://populscience.blogspot.com/2019/10/no-great-men-today.html what Chesterton said about this.

But I believe your concern over the collapse of Western society is valid–moreover, I believe that it’s the goal of the PC crowd.

Agreed!

Regards,

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I think it follows closely enough–my “roughly” covers a lot of simplifying assumptions. The proportion of students who enter may not be the same as the proportion who graduate, and that proportion may not be the same as the proportion who enter research vs. other fields, but unless those proportions are wildly different (and if so, it’d be interesting to consider why that is), they could be considered “roughly” the same. But certainly, any sort of award should be based on what they have accomplished, not on what we can reasonably expect them to accomplish.

Not in the least, but that cuts both ways. Within any generation, there will be those who relatively excel. They may not measure up to Mendel or Newton on the grand scale (though whoever figures out FTL transport will easily be a match for Einstein), but there will be noteworthy things to achieve for a long time to come. That doesn’t, of course, change the history–the foundations of science were largely laid by white men[1], and unless the entire system is overturned[2], that will remain the case.

Yes, that’s it–thanks for the reminder.

Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose. The good work which our philological experts have already done in the corruption of human language makes it unnecessary to warn you that they should never be allowed to give this word a clear and definable meaning. They won’t. It will never occur to them that Democracy is properly the name of a political system, even a system of voting, and that this has only the most remote and tenuous connection with what you are trying to sell them. Nor, of course, must they ever be allowed to raise Aristotle’s question: whether ‘democratic behaviour’ means the behaviour that democracies like or the behaviour that will preserve a democracy. For if they did, it could hardly fail to occur to them that these need not be the same.
. . .
No man who says I’m as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.
And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority.
. . .
What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence.

Cessationist though I am, I still say Lewis was a prophet.


  1. George Washington Carver is always praised during Black History Month in the US as (as Wikipedia describes him) “the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century.” He worked in agriculture–addressing soil depletion from cotton farming, and coming up with myriad uses for the peanut (he’s popularly, albeit incorrectly, credited with inventing peanut butter). All good work, to be sure, but not in the same league with the likes of Mendel, Copernicus, et al. ↩︎

  2. In the context of this as the goal of the PC crowd, it would obviously be a bad thing. I can imagine the possibility of something else replacing science as a methodology for understanding the material world, and that being a positive change. I can’t really imagine what that “something else” would be, but I don’t claim the sort of comprehensive knowledge that would be needed to outright deny the possibility. ↩︎

9 oct. 2020 14:29, Dan Brown via SpareOom (<noreply@talk.spare-oom.com>):

  1. George Washington Carver is always praised during Black History Month in the US as (as Wikipedia describes him) “the most prominent black scientist of the early 20th century.” He worked in agriculture–addressing soil depletion from cotton farming, and coming up with myriad uses for the peanut (he’s popularly, albeit incorrectly, credited with inventing peanut butter). All good work, to be sure, but not in the same league with the likes of Mendel, Copernicus, et al.

George Washington Carver was one of the 1000 great scientists I selected for my biographical dictionary of scientists, which I mention in the post in my blog. :slight_smile:

Regards,

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