We have seen the future, and it sucks.

A Question of Merit

10th August 2017

Read it.

Re the Google ThoughtCrime Memo:

The hysterical, fact-free overreaction, paired with a weak attempt at a scientific pushback using cherry-pickings from a complicated literature, is familiar to anyone who has followed the debate on race and IQ. Mostly, it is an attempt to silence people who notice the reality of group differences at all, regardless of their origin. (Damore himself that sex differences spring from a mix of both environmental and genetic sources.) But this kind of cultural pressure creates an enormous incentive to generate a weak empirical literature for what might be termed “progressive science.”

Progressive science is the academic wing of blank-slatist ideologues, providing a patina of scholarly respectability for their ideas. The principal objective of their research is to discover the oppressive mechanisms that generate unwelcome group differences and outline policies that might correct them. Favorite “discoveries” include items like stereotype threat or implicit bias while proposed correctives might comprise grit, growth mindset, and sensitivity seminars. This literature typically relies on tiny, underpowered, and poorly designed studies in social psychology. Thus Gaussian noise is weaponized for political purposes. Even when an idea like stereotype threat is killed by careful meta-analysis, it can be resurrected over and over again.

For academics, this sort of research can result in lucrative book deals, fawning interviews on NPR, and viral TED Talks. On the other side, Democratic politicians find it useful to cite research like implicit bias, even when it is scientifically unreliable, to create a sort of disembodied racism that must be psychologically cleansed (for a six figure consulting fee). That these results have all fallen in the reproducibility crisis stands in contrast to the success of behavioral genetics, where the high heritability of traits like intelligence has been affirmed. The media is attracted to any hint that contemporary first world social hierarchies are generated by “systemic” forces and repulsed by any science showing they are not.

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