This is one of my favorite quotes of all time:
Regardless of how you may feel about Rand, the concepts and ideas contained in the quote therein are worth keeping in mind. Just how much are we drawn to doing something that is motivated entirely by our own guilt? If we have done nothing wrong, what guilt is there to be had… aside from guilt over what we are?
The quote mentions “government,” and this is certainly an accurate depiction of how any government maintains control over its citizenry.
However, if you think of “government” as not just a noun, but also a verb (i.e., “to govern”), you can see how this is applied in movements like Black Lives Matter, “Social Justice”, and in nearly every form of “virtue signaling” that is omnipresent in universities, colleges, and public schools today. This is, not to put too fine a point on it, what happens when you try to govern social interactions.
In order to control wide swaths of the population, proponents of “Social Justice” have taken to redefining terms to mean the exact opposite of what they mean. Even the act of redefining the terms has been redefined. It’s now “reclaimed.”
This blog post – which I’ve tried to trim as best as possible, believe it or not – explores the nefarious tactics that Social Justice “communities” use to control entire populations of people they consider to be undesirable. The means by which are not “like” Orwellian Newspeak, they are Orwellian Newspeak.
Fair warning – this is a “grab your vat of coffee” post.
More Than Just Language…
Much has been made of the terminology that is used by social justice advocates (and this includes observations of the language of Feminists, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA+, etc.). Academic institutions have spent more time, money, and energy focusing on non-standard pronouns, microaggressions, inclusive language and other investments into the wholesale genuflection and worship of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis than in many of the actual educational curricula.
The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis states, essentially, that our reality is shaped by the terms we use to describe it. In other words, language defines reality. Political Correctness expands on this to the idea that language creates reality.
When it became apparent that simply controlling the words wasn’t enough – preventing people from saying mean words doesn’t mean they won’t find other words to use in order to be mean – it became apparent that simply controlling the communication wasn’t enough. They had to control the metacommunication as well.
If you don’t know what this is, or wish to see examples of how this applies to Social Justice, please see my short post, “Weaponized Metacommunication.“
For example, look at the phrase “Political Correctness.” When the term came into being in the late 1980s, it was intended to be used as a force of change. That is, proponents of Political Correctness believed, erroneously, that by changing the language we used we could change the reality in which we lived (that is the essence of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, mentioned above).
It didn’t work.
Instead of realizing that language and reality are not the same thing (as Walter Ong wrote in Orality and Literacy, “the map is not the territory”), academics doubled down on the S-W Hypothesis and claimed that the term itself, “Politically Correct (PC) has been added as a dismissive term.”
In other words – we were wrong, but only because we used the wrong term to describe what we wanted. Because it was the wrong term, reality didn’t change. So, now we’re throwing everything we got at the problem, hoping something will stick.
More Than Just Control…
Academia has a vested interest in perpetuating these problems, even to the point of cannibalizing actual educational content: Money.
I’ve long since bemoaned the Participation Ribbon Generation, but that generation began entering college around four years ago. When helicopter parents began rewriting public education in the elementary schools in the 1990s by minimizing healthy competition (a more “masculine” educational approach, no more awards) in preference for a more collaborative approach (a more “feminine” one, where “community” becomes paramount over individual achievement), warnings abounded that these students were going to be ill-prepared for the harsh nature of the “real world.”
Speaking for myself, though I believe that I’m not alone in this misconception, I thought that these students would simply be facing a stark reality that if they didn’t actually want to do the work they wouldn’t be able to get mommy and daddy to do it for them.
How wrong I was.
What I didn’t count on was the axiom that “There is Quality in Quantity.” Just ask General Custer, or anyone unfortunate enough to face the Mongols. I was simply unprepared for the sheer number of snowflakes with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement that were going to be released into the “wilds” of higher education, and that those institutions would do unnatural acts to bend to their will.
Why? Because of the money.
Student loans, guaranteed by the government, have sent tuition prices skyrocketing. According to US News and World Report:
According to data from the Labor Department, the price index for college tuition grew by nearly 80 percent between August 2003 and August 2013. That is nearly twice as fast as growth in costs in medical care, another area widely recognized for fast-rising prices. It’s also more than twice as fast as the overall consumer price index during that same period.
Or, if that’s too much to take in, take a look at the growth in the price of college education compared to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) since 1980:
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 1979 to 2009 the price of college outstripped all others in 28 out of 30 years, and since 1981 it was a shutout: 28 out of 28 years.
University Boards and Presidents have zero motivation to change their status quo. If that means that they need to unofficially change their charter to being glorified babysitters, so be it. Who wants to tell paying customers with a guaranteed student loan that they’re not welcome, no matter how poorly they misbehave? After all, the higher the price tag, the more there is for them to lose when students unmotivated to get an actual education are willing to pay for their schools to “build a home.”
It’s why the students in that video were celebrated by the Yale administration, with no consequences for their behavior, and the professors were bullied into resigning.
The Devil is in the Demographics
In the 1990s there was an active move towards a more identitarian approach to academics. As an active publishing scholar, I had not realized it at the time but the academic conferences were the warning signs that us poor frogs were swimming in a pot about to boil.
The academic conferences, which were often proving grounds for peer-reviewed publications, were accepting more and more “opinion pieces” under the guise of “qualitative research” into the agenda.
I want to be clear, here. I’m a huge fan of qualitative research. My Masters Thesis was an Ethnographic Examination on the Culture of the Internet (well, a small part of the Internet, anyway). My Doctoral Dissertation was an Empirical, quantitative study, so I have experience with both methodologies. Nevertheless, Ethnography, Phenomenology, Historiography, and many other types of qualitative research are valid when the methodology is followed carefully.
Doing qualitative research is very hard, however. Valid scientific methods are only valid if they are (among other things) verifiable and falsifiable. Personal anecdotes and opinions are, by their very nature, neither. So, by that criteria, the qualitative researcher must ensure that the instrument of measurement – the researcher him/herself – properly scopes out the validity of the research and its applicability.
One of the limitations of qualitative research is that it is very, very, very rare that you can extrapolate results to a larger population. In the 1990s, however, this is precisely what we were seeing.
Gender, Queer, and Black Studies papers were presented in their own forums and tracks – think academic “safe spaces” before the term was coined. I was shocked at how unwelcoming those places were. Everyone was angry. It was as if each of them had found their cats murdered just before leaving for the conference. The hostility was omnidirectional – they lashed out at even their most ardent supporters who, to my surprise, encouraged that anger.
The thought of challenging any of these ideas was just silly. People were taking these opinion pieces (I simply cannot bring myself to call them “studies”) personally.
The echo chambers for these tracks were hermetically sealed. No dissent, no contradiction, no challenges. The research stagnated and devolved into a “who could be angrier and louder.” Of course, when they found that they struggled to get their tripe published into the “big” academic journals (because they never went through the re-write process), they claimed “isms.” Forget the fact that there was very little scientific rigor involved.
These academics found solace in the wiggle room that qualitative research provides. With no mentorship (that is, no one to say, “No”), and no external validation methods to guide them, these journals relied heavily on a set of “like-minded” individuals who would review each others’ “articles” and publish them with an incestuous quid-pro-quo, “you cite me, I’ll cite you” modus operandi.
Over time, it was easy to recruit new graduate students into the fold, as there is a self-selection among people who go into academia. As Neil Gross points out in “Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care?”, “most professors’ political views formed well before they stepped behind the lectern for the first time.”
A short anecdote: after graduation, one of the contemporary doctoral students in my class boasted to me how she never wrote a word of her dissertation; her advisor had written the whole thing, including ensuring that articles were published (her advisor was on the editorial board for several journals and “guaranteed” publication). None of the other members on her dissertation committee protested, because they were all too “indebted” (translation: scared of) to her advisor.
This, of course, has led to the dilution of any type of academic rigor. It’s why these kinds of “peer-reviewed” articles are allowed to exist (a very special hat tip to New Real Peer Review for making my research so much easier!):
Gorska, Magdalena. (2016). Breathing Matters: Feminist Intersectional Politics of Vulnerability. Linköping Studies in Arts and Science; ISSN 0282-9800; 683.
From the abstract:
“Breathing is not a common subject in feminist studies. Breathing Matters introduces this phenomenon as a forceful potentiality for feminist intersectional theories, politics, and social and environmental justice… Magdalena Górska argues that struggles for breath and for breathable lives are matters of differential forms of political practices in which vulnerable and quotidian corpomaterial and corpo-affective actions are constitutive of politics.”
Burdsey, Daniel. (2017). Race, Whiteness, and the Spaces and Places of Seaside Leisure. in Race, Place and the Seaside. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 111-147.
From the abstract:
Through an in-depth analysis of seaside leisure, pleasure, entertainments, and amusements, Burdsey argues that these features provide important contexts and stimuli for the articulation of race, racism, and whiteness in this setting. Yet, paradoxically, they also contribute to the failure to acknowledge the racialised nature of the seaside and coast.
Cote, N.G. & Deutsch, F.M. Gend. Issues (2008) Flowers for Mom, a Tie for Dad: How Gender is Created on Mother’s and Father’s Day. 25: 215. doi:10.1007/s12147-008-9066-4
Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations were investigated to understand how gender is created on these two occasions. Fifty-three heterosexual couples were interviewed about family holidays. Mother’s Day was given more attention than Father’s Day. Families spent more time celebrating; they were more likely to eat out, and were more likely to celebrate with others. Mothers were also more likely to receive gifts than fathers. The gendering of the holidays was reflected in the more stereotypical gifts received on Mother’s and Father’s Day than on birthdays, and in that mothers were more likely to report relief from chores on Mother’s Day than fathers were on Father’s Day (p < .01). Families in which women worked full-time and whose husbands contributed substantially to domestic labor were as likely to celebrate in gendered ways as traditional families were. These holidays reflect and promote hegemonic notions of the gendered nature of motherhood and fatherhood.
Mills, John P.(2015) An [AUTO]ethnographic account of constructing, deconstructing, and partially reconstructing a coaching identity. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 7:5, 606-619, DOI:10.1080/2159676X.2015.1008804
Let’s break this down. There’s an entire article that claims that breathing is an issue that affects women more than men. There’s a chapter on the racist aspects of a seaside vacation – claims that are impossible to validate or verify. There’s a “study” that attempts to confuse readers with statistics that have nothing to do with their ultimate claim. It’s a tautological treatise that discovers that gendered holidays are actually about… gender! I’m seriously wondering if they weren’t hugged enough as children.
And then there’s a personal diary masquerading as a virtue signalling “autoethnographic” examination (an Ethnographic study is one that examines culture, and this is an example of hubris that is rare, even among the self-aggrandizing articles that populate these journals). What we have is an author who vomited up his therapist’s notes onto the page and managed to score a vitae line.
There is absolutely no semblance of scientific rigor left. These are more science fiction than science, more “what ifs” than “this is.”
But there is one more that I want to highlight specifically, because it speaks directly to the heart of the matter:
Roy, Deboleena. (2004). Feminist Theory in Science: Working Toward a Practical Transformation. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy. Vol 18, Issue 1. pp 255-279.
Although a rich tradition of feminist critiques of science exists, it is often difficult for feminists who are scientists to bridge these critiques with practical transformations in scientific knowledge production. In this paper, I go beyond the general bases of feminist critiques of science by using feminist theory in science to illustrate how a practical transformation in methodology can change molecular biology based research in the reproductive sciences.
The fact that this article was published in a feminist philosophy journal, as opposed to a “hard science” journal, speaks volumes. This kind of approach would never be able to withstand scientific vigor, because the basic assumptions could never have been established as valid.
All of these authors, and many more, have opted for masquerading opinions and feelings as legitimate scientific research, and because there are enough people to create a critical mass of “me too” – in order to self-publish “academic” journals, there is no way for the non-academic layperson to know the difference.
Weaponizing Communication States
I teased this in my earlier note on Weaponizing Metacommunication, and so now we return to the scene of the crime.
The modus operandi of people who are incapable of addressing actual points is to shift into a metacommunicative state. That is, when Luce Irigaray is incapable of contributing to physics and science on its own terms (i.e., following the scientific method), she must instead shift to the conversation about physics and science in order to be able to contribute.
This is why she claims that “E=mc^2 is a sexed equation.” Why? Because “it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us”:
The privileging of solid over fluid mechanics, and indeed the inability of science to deal with turbulent flow at all, she attributes to the association of fluidity with femininity. Whereas men have sex organs that protrude and become rigid, women have openings that leak menstrual blood and vaginal fluids… From this perspective it is no wonder that science has not been able to arrive at a successful model for turbulence. The problem of turbulent flow cannot be solved because the conceptions of fluids (and of women) have been formulated so as necessarily to leave unarticulated remainders. (Katherine Hayles, as quoted by Richard Dawkins in Nature).
This is the process to which those who seek to weaponize language adhere. The actual content of the communication (in this case, E=mc^2) cannot be assailed upon its own merits. There is no analysis of internal or external validity. There is no falsification. There is simply the intellectual equivalent of “Nuh-uh!” and a dismissal based upon the opinions and feelings of someone who wants to talk about the Theory of Relativity but is intellectually incapable of doing so.
Obviously, this frustrates those who wish to control innocent people. You cannot demonize someone or make them feel guilty about who they are if they have actually done nothing wrong. The first step, then, is to change the terms that are acceptable and not acceptable (see my earlier conversation about the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis in Weaponized Metacommunication) and when that fails, simply refuse to discuss the communication content at all.
In this example, the “communication content” is science:
This short (4 minute) clip is filled with examples. The young lady, eager to control those who otherwise cannot be controlled by addressing the merits (or, in her mind, lack thereof) of science, has taken the metacommunicative stance. Before returning to her iPad created by African witchcraft, she spends considerable time not talking about science, the scientific method, the scientific process, or even the effects of science, has decided to talk about science as a black box – an entity that has no inherent characteristics, only an a priori dismissal because of what she can say about it.
I say a priori because it is evident that this poor young lady has been sadly misinformed as to what “science” is. She obviously has no understanding of the topic about which she speaks, but that is of no matter. What is important to this conversation is the metacommunication about science.
This is why she reacts with such glee when she finds someone to protest against her claims. When she asks the question as to why science cannot explain the African witchcraft practice of sending lightning to strike down people, a protester shouts in response, “It’s not true!” She is overjoyed; he has fallen into her trap.
To her, it would not matter if science could explain the practice or not. It would not matter if it’s true or not. It would not matter if it is based in reality or not. Many videos that I have seen in response to this – excellent though they are (specifically, Dr. Phil Mason, a.k.a. Thunderf00t) – make the same mistake this young man did. They are trying to refer to the communication of what she is saying, not the metacommunication.
Because of this, her position is absolutely immune from criticism and unassailable. As long as people are trying to address the content of what she is saying (i.e., the merits of science and the incoherency of her objection to it), she will perceive herself as “winning” the debate.
The woman sitting next to the speaker immediately jumps to her feet in order to chastise the respondent. She forces him to apologize – twice – for breach of protocol (this, despite the fact that the speaker asked a question and he was answering it, albeit in his own way). She is the guardian of the rules which, if you listen to her recitation of them after the breach of protocol, are all metacommunicative in nature.
- You are supposed to respect the “sacredness of this space,” not what happens inside the space.
- You are supposed to apologize to the panel, not to the speaker.
- You are prohibited from “collapsing the space,” which is done through disagreement towards the content
- It is a “progressive space,” which means that whatever communication that occurs in this content is immune from criticism because it has been metacommunicatively qualified as such, regardless of what the actual communication might be.
Most notoriously (and incongruously), this is a “progressive space for people to say their opinions.” The obvious question to ask is, “why are some opinions allowed and other opinions not?” Because, my friends, opinions are communication, opinions are content. She’s talking about the metacommunicative opinions that are pre-defined by the “space” in which to talk about them.
That’s why her opinions matter, and yours don’t.
In fact, nothing I have ever found exemplifies this shift from communication to metacommunication as perfectly as the University of North Carolina “Microaggression Checklist” (since removed). Swap out “Communication” for “Metacommunication” in the table headers and you will see precisely what I mean. Another example is the University of Minnisota’s “Examples of Racial Microaggressions.” Note how the “message” is not actually the content of the communication. It’s a shift to a metacommunicative state so that the actual communication is never conveyed.
The Perfect Example
In researching current events, I came across the perfect example of the metacommunicative state being a bulwark of Social Justice and the frustration that someone who has been trained in addressing communication issues is flummoxed:
The “pronoun game” has been a hot topic for about a year now, with universities falling all over themselves to make sure that snowflakes are addressed by imaginary words (see, e.g., The University of Michigan, West Virginia University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Champlain College (Vermont), and even Harvard University – among dozens more).
If you can make it through to the end of that video (and I am quite shocked that I could, in fact), you will start to see how this poor professor had no hope of winning. He was determined to try to discuss the communicative significance of what the pronouns were, and they were trying to keep it in the realm of metacommunication.
It does not matter whether he accepted the pronouns or not. Despite the claims that these were “legitimate English words dating back to Shakespeare,” the very instant that these snowflakes believed that the terms weren’t useful in controlling people any more they would change them again – because their feelings of marginalization were the real issue, not the words themselves.
And, of course, we’re back to the Ayn Rand quote. You cannot control an innocent – you have to make them (correct pronoun) feel guilty, make them believe that they have done something wrong (criminal) in order to control them to do your bidding. This professor did nothing wrong, and refused to be controlled by their insistence of his guilt by nothing more than their metacommunicative analysis.
It’s important to note that they’re talking about the creation of a law about this. If you do not do as you are told then you are now a criminal. When you are a criminal, the government has the power to crack down on you. We’re back to Ayn Rand: you create a nation of law-breakers and you cash in on the guilt.
Establishing an Immunity
Why is this, exactly?
One of the things that advocates of “social justice” learned long ago was that when they were able to redefine terms to suit their purposes there was no need to worry about flaws in their logic. “Logic” is communication. “Definitions” are metacommunication.
In the late 1980s, a sociologist professor from Boston University decided to redefine the term “racism” in terms of power and institutionalism. While it took hold in some of the more extreme (at the time) left-wing sectors of academia, that’s where it resided for a long time. Most psychologists, sociologists, and communication scholars rejected this revised definition for reasons that were (at the time) obvious.
First, defining racism as anything other than “prejudice based upon race,” added in qualifications and criteria that were unnecessary. In order to “prove” racism, then one would have to show the influence of a powerful agent and its corresponding institutional affiliation.
Second, it eliminated the ability for individuals to be racist. Individuals who were part of a power hierarchy in one country would no longer be defined as racist in another country. For instance, if an American was racist against Asian people, he would no longer be ‘racist’ simply by moving to, say, Africa. Not being part of the “power elite” his biases and bigotry would no longer be considered offensive or racist.
Third, and most importantly, it granted immunity to evil behavior by people who did not associate themselves with either being “in power” or part of “the system.”
It was this last part that was the most important, and the part that I (and others, I think) missed. It was this ability to redefine the term from the communicative state (prejudice based upon race) to the metacommuniative state (definition based upon group membership about race). Individuals could never be evaluated as racist or not racist – they were identified as such based upon group membership.
It’s how and why Bahar Mustafa, the “welfare and diversity officer” for Goldsmith University in the UK can publicly tweet – in all seriousness – “Kill All White Men” and actively ban fee-paying students from school events based upon race and gender, can claim she is immunity from criticism.
Watch as much as you can stand, but the key element of the video above begins at 1:50, where Bahar proudly declares herself immune from evil behavior:
“Furtheremore, there have been charges leveled against me that I am racist and sexist against white men. I want to explain why this is false. I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist against white men, because racism and sexism towards white men, because racism and sexism describe structures of privilege based on race and gender. And therefore women of color and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist, since we do not stand to benefit from such a system. In order for our actions to be deemed racist or sexist, the current system would have to be one which enabled only people of color to benefit economically and socially on such a large scale and to the systematic exclusion of white [unintelligible] men, who the past 400 years would have had to have been subjected to colonization. We do not live in such a system. We do not know of such a history. Reverse racism and reverse sexism are not real.”
From a communication perspective, Mustafa provides the perfect example of how the content of what she says does not matter, will never matter, because of her immunity at the metacommunicative state. She – like so many others, including the people standing with her – actually believe that they have been able to define away bad behavior by holding onto that state.
It’s important to remember that Mustafa was a representative of Goldsmiths University. As part of the institutional system, she was, indeed perpetuating the oppression of a class of people based upon race and sex. Despite this, Goldsmiths refused to remove her from her position, though due to the UK’s draconian speech laws she was arrested and charged with “sending a threatening communication” for using the #KillAllWhiteMen hashtag.
Not surprisingly, Mustafa’s flag-planting in her speech at the student union did not endear herself to many. Ultimately she resigned from the position – not for this racist incident, but apparently she had bullied someone even further up the Progressive Stack.
What’s the Progressive Stack? YouTube’s Sargon Of Akkad explains:
Immunity – I don’t Think It Means What You Think It Means
No reasonable person would think that you can simply define your way out of bad behavior. No one would accept this as a defense:
“I know you watched me kill that person over there, officer, but you cannot arrest me because I, by definition, cannot commit murder. Murder is the abstract concept of deliberate removal of life from this planet, but because I believe all life is interconnected, and you and I are still alive to discuss this, no murder has taken place.”
However, this is precisely the approach that both Bahar Mustafa and the young lady from UCT in the video above (and many, many others) are espousing. By redefining the terms into beliefs, which are intrapersonal by their very nature, they can hold themselves immune from any external validation criteria.
Mustafa believes she is immune and she has the posse behind her to fight for her right to have those beliefs, and therefore that is sufficient. The young lady who wants to abolish science in favor of “African knowledge” believes that people can cast lightning bolts upon others, and it is valid because she has community support that she has the “right” to believe this.
To put it another way, the content is incorrect, but because the metacommunciation (the right to have an opinion/believe something) is correct, then the content must therefore also be correct. To contradict the communication is to contradict the metacommunication, and since that is racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. then opposing the content is also racist/sexist/homophobic/etc.
Think about (or watch) those videos again in that light and it, hopefully, will become crystal clear.
This immunity based upon (for now) beliefs gives people carte blanche to behave in atrocious, horrific ways to each other. I believe that people who live in this metacommunicative state are genuinely surprised when it turns out that their terrible behavior isn’t immediately excused by their attempts at avoiding focus on the actual communication.
Watch this news segment below, for example. In this case, the Black Lives Matter movement had shut down a Gay Pride parade in Toronto that was organized to protest the Orlando terror attacks. In the video, the woman being interviewed is part of the BLM group that attempted to extort the Toronto Pride group and, failing to reach an agreement, disrupted and stopped the parade.
Expecting to being able to dominate a conversation by sticking to the metacommunicative message (the content of the march is irrelevant, it’s how the content of the march affects her group), this advocate is caught completely unprepared when the reporter addresses her on her own playing field. Watch how the woman being interviewed struggles to stay focused when the reporter doesn’t back down:
The reporter manages to understand the metacommunicative message and is willing to engage the activist using the same language. It’s painfully and embarrassingly apparent that the activist is not used to this – she is likely expecting to be able to befuddle with buzzwords as usual, only to be stopped dead in her tracks by a reporter who can not only use the same language, but talk at the same communicative state.
Even so, listening to that video it’s very difficult not to think of Sargon’s Progressive Stack description writ large, and Orwell’s “all animals are created equal, but some animals are created more equal than others.”
Reason, Logic, Reality = Science. Kill All Science!
Anti-intellectualism disguised as pseudo-intellectualism has given rise to a large number of atrocities in academia.
As we saw, science is seen by the “Fallists” (as the panel apparently call themselves), and those like Irigaray and her ilk, as something other than what it is:
- Science is not the detached, objective approach that requires controlling for error as best as possible
- Science is not the ever-narrowing down of hypotheses until you finally, begrudgingly, haltingly call an idea a Theory
- Science is not the attempts to Reject the Null Hypothesis in order to gain a better understanding of the world around us
- Science is not required to maintain falsifiability, which prevents tautological reasoning
No, instead, to these anti-science zealots, Science is whatever you feel it to be, and if you feel that it is a product of Western Modernity (a concept which itself was not conceived until millennia after scientific inquiry began) or masculine hegemony then so be it.
In other words, you cannot talk about science. You must talk about talking about science. This is why the fact that science works, bitches (thank you, Dr. Dawkins), and witchcraft doesn’t is completely, totally, 100% irrelevant to the Fallists and the Feminists.
Yes, Feminists. Biology must now be examined not through a scientific lens, but through the metacommunative analysis that a Feminist one – and only a Feminist one – can provide. When it became apparent that test animals (mice, in particular) were predominantly male instead of female, it wasn’t a scientific methodological issue, it was a feminist issue.
Science provides its own means for uncovering its own mistakes. It’s how Cold Fusion was debunked. It’s how the Piltdown Man was debunked. It’s how faster-than-light particles were debunked. But mice? You need a feminist.
In fact, since evidently it isn’t possible to replicate studies (or, at least, they really, really don’t wanna), there are now Feminist Biology positions that are designed to scour the literature for sexist biology. Hey, if you can’t do Biology (communication), you can at least complain about it (metacommunication), right?
No, I’m not being snarky. This is actually the logic behind it. It’s pivotal to understand that this position is not in the Biology department, where the “findings” would have to be subject to any scientific, academic rigor, but rather the Gender Studies department, where unchecked claims can be hailed as axiomatic truths – because all metacommunication is an axiomatic truth.
Metacommunication with Vague and Imprecise Language
How do people remain in this metacommunicative state for so long?
If you watched the video of the reporter and the Black Lives Matter representative (if that’s the right word), you will notice the constant litany of buzzwords. “Oppressed,” “Marginalized,” “Privilege,” etc. You’ll hear “Patriarchy,” “Community,” “Inclusiveness,” “Cultural Appropriation” and “Diversity.” Suffolk University has been kind enough to provide a Glossary of Newspeak that are used in Social Justice environments.
If you can stomach it, I offer up Chanty Binx, a.k.a., “Big Red”, who reads off a litany of bullet items of vague complaints associated with “Patriarchy.” She does not, however, ever identify what the term is, or what it actually means. That would be, of course, doing the communication part, not keeping things in the metacommunicative state.
It is absolutely critical that these terms not be defined in any meaningful way. Social Justice proponents will substitute denotative dictionary definitions for actual meaning of terms like “Feminism” (“It says right there in the dictionary what it is! Educate yourself!”) for actual operationalized definitions that they keep deliberately vague and ambiguous.
In the rare circumstances when terms are defined with specifics, such as in the debate between Kristi Winters and Sargon of Akkad, she defined the term “Feminism” so broadly and so widely that she literally claimed it meant “Everything Good.”
Even more accurately, Twilight Zone nailed the Social Justice phenomenon over half-a-century ago:
Again, these are not scientific principles, which is why they abhor science. Science is about precision to the best margin of error possible; these motivations come from the exact opposite incentives. With respect to the nature of their success, then, the assumption is that science “won” because it adhered to the same slipshod analysis mechanisms and therefore, what difference should it make if it’s swapped out for their more preferable method?
Kill All The Heathens
Ultimately, this is a warning. Living in this metacommunicative state is dangerous, but never more so than when you have governmental or institutional support. There is historical precedent for the criminalization and torture of scientific minds. It starts with some seemingly innocuous events, but quickly escalates:
- The University of Denver no longer allows “Hate Speech” on it’s “Free Speech” wall (e.g., writing “Trump” on the wall), and has a zero-tolerance policy towards messages that “intimidate, oppress, or exploit members of the community”
- The University of Missouri has initiated a faculty witch hunt, er, “diversity audit,” to determine which professors are following the party line.
- The University of Wisconsin-Madison has refused to allow a student to question its “diversity and inclusion” initiative.
Universities have adopted nightmarish and Kafka-esque star chambers that act outside the law:
- Wesley College opened up its own secret investigation, accused and expelled students on the same day, with no due process.
- Iowa State University knowingly punishes students who exercise free speech, according to an ever-fluctuating code of “harassment” that is as sensitive as any student who is “annoyed” by something someone says.
- Brooklyn College nearly fired a professor for mandating that “class effort” be a part of the grading system, calling it a “prelude to sexual harassment.”
The power of Title IX has been expanded so radically (and is worth a blog post on its own) that we have entered into an era where campuses have turned into “It’s a Good Life” from the Twilight Zone, and social justice mobs are Bill Mumy’s Anthony Freemont.
I highly recommend you watch this video from King Crocoduck about the anti-science discussion at UCT and the rise of Lysenkoism (Lysenko was a philosopher pseudo-scientist in the Soviet Union who caused the deaths of millions of people as a result of his “anti-capitalist” farming techniques).
Seriously, it’s well worth the 30 minutes.
Those of us with background and training in the scientific method can only look on at these events with wonderment and, well, fear.
Coming Full Circle
Let’s return to the Ayn Rand quote at the beginning of this post:
“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for me to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed or enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt.”
― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
At this point we can see just how proponents of social justice have managed to succeed without a single debate upon the merits of the arguments presented. As noted in Canada, they’re debating about making laws to instantly criminalize innocent people.
Social justice advocates have accomplished massive amounts of guilt based upon an a priori metacommunicative judgement. Any argument can be easily dismissed, and immunity conferred, as long as the conversation remains there.
It’s why the BLM activist floundered when the reporter refused to allow her to hide behind the metacommunication wall where she had so found so much succor. It’s why Anita Sarkeesian can complain about games ad nauseum without ever once commenting on what the game content is, only what it represents. It’s why social justice scholars can mentally masturbate all over their “reviewed” articles without any attempt to test out their claims (the Mills article cited above is a prime example of this).
It’s also why inconsistencies and incongruencies in logic are irrelevant. It’s why they can talk about censoring “free speech” zones without any irony. It’s why they can try to trample a reporter while shouting that they’re being oppressed – again, without irony.
Finally, it’s why institutions and governments motivated to perpetuate these egregious acts (through money and votes, respectively) are doomed to repeat the very atrocities that they use as motivation to obliterate the rights of others. Worst of all, they use the victims’ own guilt by sticking them in a metacommunicative hell out of which they don’t see any escape.
[NB: It will be interesting to see what sort of comments this blog article incites. I think I might be willing to bet that many will be metacommunicative in nature. 😉 ]