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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/8/19

Paul Craig Roberts has it all wrong in his condemnation of young people for being irrational and unscientific

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This article is written in response to Paul Craig Roberts' latest post on this site headlined "The Growing Opposition to Factual Knowledge." I'm writing it here because Paul has asked OPN to not permit comments at the end of his articles.)

Paul,

Example of 'white' intelligence?
Example of 'white' intelligence?
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Let me state from the outside that I admire you tremendously. You have been courageously speaking out about the failure not just of liberals but also of his own conservative colleaguesor former colleagues to speak the truth and to support true democracy and the US Constitution.

But your recent article, published here on OpEdNews.com , headlined "The Growing Opposition to Factual Knowledge" falls back on the very kind of fact-free opinions posing as objective truth that your are decrying.

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Examples:

You write, "I have noticed among younger generations the disappearance of the very concept of objective truth. They see truth as the mere expression of some identity interest." But you give your readers no evidence to support this libel of not just one but two or more generations presumably a reference to millennials and the group of younger people in their mid-30s to mid-4s0.

I don't know how many millennials you know, Paul, but as the father of two of them one 26 and the other 35 and knowing many of their friends and associates, I'd have to say you're badly off the mark. Young people today in my experience are profoundly aware of the mindlessness and corruption of war and of America's grotesque militarism and the cost it has in terms of foregone assets for dealing with this country's underfunded needs in education, infrastructure, health care and dealing with increasingly terrifying climate change. These are young people who in their individual lives try to live with minimal carbon footprints, to recycle diligently, who oppose war, who vote for candidates who want to take action on the above important issues. They, in ways far deeper and more heartfelt than older generations, oppose racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people. They are not afraid of ideas simply because they get labeled by the media and the political class as "socialist," which for older generations has long been all that was needed to shut down rational thought.

You claim these young people don't know how to distinguish between an explanation and a justification. I would say that characterization far better fits an older generation set in its ways than it does today's young people.

With no supporting evidence you claim that a "deterioration in the ability to think and reason " is also happening in "science itself," and goes on to say "in economics for example" that "neoliberal economics and globalism are ignored and their arguments are left unanswered."

As for your complaint that "science itself is "said to be" a white male construct that serves white supremacy" you give no evidence proving that this is in any way a prevailing opinion of young people (it isn't). But let's be honest here. I grew up as a faculty brat at a university (UConn) and was initially a science major at Wesleyan, before going to grad school at Columbia (in Journalism). My wife is a faculty member at Temple University and as an active member of her faculty and her faculty union is well aware of the under-hiring, under-promotion and underpaying of women, especially in the "hard" sciences like chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, etc. Believe me, the statistics show that science, if not a male construct, is male-dominated and "serves white supremacy" too. That can be scientifically proven. (In 2013, there were 114,000 women with doctorates in academics in the fields of science and engineering compared with 200,00 men. Among professors, women were only 24%, and in the hard science, rather than psychology, sociology, etc., women were an even lower percentage. There are facts, as reported by the National Science Foundation.

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Now let's turn to your assertion that these days, "in studies of intelligence there can be no reference to its genetic basis."

Jeeze Paul! You know, I hope, that there is in fact no genetic basis to variations in human intelligence. There are smart caucasian people and also incredibly stupid ones, just as there are smart Africans, Asians, Inuits, Polynesians, Australian Aborigines, Native Americans and Ainu and also stupid ones. The differences genetically among these various races (all of which are very mixed, by the way) are so trivial as to be as meaningless as hair color or freckles. What the hell is your point? That we should tolerate ignorant bigots touting pseudo-scientific claims that whites are smarter than other races?

But beyond that, let's talk about economics. I've long felt that economics, along with some great economists like Robert Lekachman and others, that the topic is actually a social science, given that it is the study of a particular aspect of human behavior. As such it is not quantifiable or predictive in the same way that biology or physics or geology is. Yet most economics, particularly in the US, is ideologically driven by an almost universally held religious conviction that markets are the most efficient way to distribute goods and services. If you don't accept that dogma, you are outside the realm of acceptable discourse. That is the problem, not the unwillingness of the economic mainstream to accept criticism of neoliberalism or globalization. It's really any rational discourse about socialism in its many variations that established economics in the US is unwilling to accept.

Defense of "whiteness" you claim, with no evidence to back you, is "impermissible." What though, pray tell, is "Whiteness?" Could we have a definition of that term before we go on? Is it Aryan? Because some very dark-skinned people from the Indian subcontinent are genetically Indo-aryan? Are Turks Aryan? Half of the Jewish population, contrary to Hitler's formulation, are actually Aryan. Are they "white"? The other half of the Jewish population is, genetically speaking, Arab, but that begs the question, are Arabs "white"? A lot of them, particularly in the northern regions of iraq and Iran, sure look pretty white to me. The same can be said of many Afghanis and Iranians.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)
 
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7 people are discussing this page, with 10 comments  Post Comment


Devil's Advocate

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I generally appreciate what PCR writes, as it most often contains the cold bitter truth we all need to stick to.

Having said that, I have to mostly agree with you, Dave, on this one. There are those in ALL age groups that either understand what's going on around them, or just don't. And, there seems to actually be MORE from the older generations that DON'T.

In most of the conversations I have had about today's world realities, it was the YOUNGER generations that seemed to be more aware. And, this only stands to reason, when you think about it - as you say, it was the older generations that brought with them all the harm we're trying to figure our way out of, and it's the younger that are finding themselves in the position of having to repair the damage.

As for the "anti-white" stuff, I can see where identity politics has created some confusion as to who is being persecuted these days. I think it stems from the fact that EVERYONE who is not in the ruling class is being subjected to some form of character assassination.

That's the very way the masses are being divided. I don't see any one group being purely the focus of this insanity.

Submitted on Monday, Apr 8, 2019 at 11:42:05 PM

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PCM

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I've picked up this trend in PCR's articles myself and have a couple of thoughts on the matter:

* I think it's plausible he might be in the early stages of cerebral senescence or dementia, or have had a series of undiagnosed TIAs, and that his intellectual faculties may no longer be able to override certain atavistic, primitive instincts and impulses, especially where sexual orientation, race, and gender equality are concerned. ("Young people" may be the messengers, but sexual orientation, race, and gender equality are the messages that seem to be getting PCR's goat.) I've seen it happen often enough in people I know/knew personally, and I pride myself in having spotted early symptoms of Alzheimer's in Reagan by the end of his first term, long before anyone was even discussing the possibility. Sadly, this is the best-case scenario where PCR's humanity and character are concerned. In his prime, he did some outstandingly honest analysis and writing ("for a conservative!" ;-) and if my speculation is on the money, people close to him need to either encourage him to retire or help him keep his worst impulses in check before he ruins his legacy.

* To the extent PCR is attacking the Democratic Party and allied media's cynical exploitation of "identity politics" to divert and divide-and-conquer the hoi polloi, I'm with him 100%. The problem is, the Republican Party and "their" media are equal partners in this vicious ploy. So, PCR is actually just siding with the Republicans in the divide-and-conquer game.

And finally, what better way to conclude this comment than with Tom Lehrer's "National Brotherhood Week" and "When You Are Old and Gray"? (YouTube link)

Submitted on Tuesday, Apr 9, 2019 at 12:53:06 AM

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Maxwell

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When I see kids today staring at their smart phones and walking like lemmings off a cliff I remember how amused I used to be at geezers who would shake their heads and proclaim they just don't get the younger generation--and now I am one!

Submitted on Tuesday, Apr 9, 2019 at 8:11:02 PM

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Paul Haeder

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Wow, both the eugenics message of Paul Craig Roberts and this milquetoast Dave response, just shows how broken intellect is and how mollifying the "liberals" like Dave are.

Paul was a backer of Bush, and he believes in America. Maybe Dave believes in America, too.

This is, alas, the broken belief system most Americans take hook-line-and-sinker. But attacking youth? Has that already been done a hundred times in this society? Oh, the wise elders like Roberts. Oh-oh-oh.

Forget that some of us are teachers of PK12 and college and work with so-called millennials. Paul and Dave have a soapbox, but the real workers -- teachers, social workers, and, yes, I am a writer -- our ground truthing is what, folly, flawed, fable?

It's about America and the un-politics of this military society. Paul is not going to go up against that. And I doubt he questions the motives of 36 million millionaires and 2,400 billionaires on planet earth.

Paul's a capitalist, and now Dave is too. They have many laments about America the Myth.

I doubt Paul would take a few classes on patriarchy, white patriarchy, and intersectionalities of race, poverty, class, gender, the environment, etc.

He is who he is, and flippancy seems to be the norm in his generation, whether it's Trump saying it or Joe Biden or Paul Craig Roberts

Submitted on Tuesday, Apr 9, 2019 at 4:05:05 PM

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Dave Lindorff

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You clearly don't know how to have a rational discussion. If I criticize Paul Craig Roberts for some things he says, it doesn't mean I support his ideological position. I made one point in my critique: that he was himself using unscientific arguments to support his incorrect statements of "truth." You took that to mean I support his libertarian ideology. What crap and nonsense.


If that's how you argue, you will go nowhere. If you're a teacher, I feel for your students.


For the record, my wife is a teacher (Prof. at Temple), my daughter is a teacher (seven years as a high school math teacher in urban high schools in Lawrence MA and New York City schools), my sister is a teacher (elementary school art) and my mother in law was a teacher and ultimately superintendent of Passaic Schools in NJ. I know a lot about today's kids and was defending them against Robert's libel against them as irrational and ignorant.


If you want to simply trash Roberts, go ahead, but I, while disagreeing with much of what he says, respect him for being willing to attack many of his Republican colleagues as hypocrites and apologists for crony capitalism.


For the record, I am totally opposed to capitalsm and have been a socialist (not social-democrat or democratic socialist) and anti-war activist probably longer than you've been alive (I just turned 70).


Just for the hell of it show me where I'm a capitalist from what I wrote about Roberts.


FYI Just because you sport a beret in your photo doesn't make you Che or Fidel.

Submitted on Wednesday, Apr 10, 2019 at 12:28:40 PM

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Daniel Geery

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I gave a "Must Read" to Dave's piece here. I greatly appreciate PCR but on this topic, the best I can do is present an older piece that still rings true click here

Submitted on Tuesday, Apr 9, 2019 at 5:03:16 PM

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Maxwell

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PCR is sometimes right on the mark, sometimes wildly off it. He's like the little girl with the little curl. In the instance critiqued here he was off it, but as in almost all his writings there's a grain of truth.

Of late Roberts is particularly exercised by "political correctness". He's right to be, he just goes way too far.

The last I heard scientists were pretty well in agreement that there is both a "nature" and "nurture" component to human intelligence. The $64 question is whether there is a correlation between the "intelligence genes"--the "nature" part--and race. Some time ago Nobel laureate and DNA structure co-discoverer James Watson started a furor by proclaiming statistics reveal there is, and the genetic basis would eventually be discovered. Rather than prove him wrong, which is pretty easy to do (for example, many tests that purport to measure intelligence are notoriously culturally biased) his detractors labeled him a racist, his theories "hate speech" (a term which IMO should be banned unless referring to advocating something like going to a synagogue and killing people) and they pretty well killed his career as a speaker and elder statesman of science. PCR came to his defense but as usual in instances like that, indulged in much hyperbole.

Anecdotally, of course, there are many white morons, and many non-white geniuses. One of the latter was the subject of a film Rob Kall just reviewed, Srinivasa Ramanugen. He was of a race and culture some westerners regarded as inferior, and back home in India he was of an inferior caste, and had no formal training in mathematics, yet he was able to derive theorems that stumped Cambridge professors. According to conventional wisdom, nature and nurture were both against him.

I believe the appropriate response to controversial ideas is not to shout them down and not to hyperventilate over "political correctness police" but to challenge them to stand or fall on their merits.

Submitted on Tuesday, Apr 9, 2019 at 8:04:11 PM

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"I believe the appropriate response to controversial ideas is not to shout them down and not to hyperventilate over "political correctness police" but to challenge them to stand or fall on their merits."

That might be the most constructive thought presented in this whole conversation.

Submitted on Tuesday, Apr 9, 2019 at 8:24:22 PM

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Dave Lindorff

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I agree with this. I have always opposed the banning of speakers at universities. What I object to is the way mainstream media ban leftist writers completely, whether it's me or someone as prominent as Noam Chomsky, who can never be published in the NY Times or Washington Post, or invited to speak on CNN or CBS. I write for and do interviews on RT-TV regularly, because I'm never contacted -- even for the December Cover story I did for the Nation exposing two decades of pure fabrication of annual budget reports to Congress by the Pentagon -- by the mainstream media, which blacked out and has never on its own reported on that scandal (It just won me an "Izzy" award this year, which of course is for "outstanding achievement in independent media.")

That award, which is being shared this year by Laura Flanders, Aaron Mate' and the staff of Earth Island Journal, has not and will not be reported by the corporate media, either.

Submitted on Wednesday, Apr 10, 2019 at 12:37:49 PM

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BFalcon

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PCR is often wrong, deep inside probably still "Reagan man".

Submitted on Wednesday, Apr 17, 2019 at 2:55:33 AM

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