Indoctrination at Middlebury College

In the previous blog entry, I noted

Like cultists, the demonstrators clearly demonstrate a hive mindset that was obviously generated through indoctrination.  In fact, they are so deeply indoctrinated that they work themselves into a religious frenzy with the messages of their own chants (as the speaker says nothing).

When I mention that the protesters have been indoctrinated, I’m not trying to score debate points to plays to my fellow skeptics.  I think what we have here is truly a nice example of indoctrination.  Let’s consider the evidence.

First, if you watch the video, you’ll notice the protesters are all very young.  I would guess the average age to be around 20.  This simply means the protesters are not protesting on the basis of decades of life experience.  The majority of their life experience has consisted of parents housing, feeding, and nurturing them.  They are in the very beginning stages of becoming an adult and having to fend for themselves.

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The Cult of Intersectionality

In a previous posting, I hinted that activism is prone to developing into a secular cult:

In summary, I am proposing that activists are predisposed to radicalization.   One causal factor behind this radicalization is manner in which activists tend to retreat into a “safe space” where they surround themselves with people who think like they do.  Within these “safe spaces,” radicalization is engendered through intellectual inbreeding among members of the in-group, then defended and sustained using the out-group as scapegoats and threats.

If you think about it some more, activists are quite similar to cultists.

And in another posting, I noted:

I haven’t given this topic a lot of consideration, but the correlation between secularism and mental illness does seem worthy of further examination.  What’s more, does the social justice perspective represent a substitute for religion and functions as a way for millennials to find ” a meaningful philosophy of life?”  And if so, does this social justice “religion” actually help or make things worse?


Andrew Sullivan recently supported this hypothesis through his analysis of the social justice activists who protested and shut down a speech at Middlebury College.  Sullivan argues that Intersectionality is a religion.  What struck me about Sullivan’s article is that he noticed what I noticed when watching the video of the intersectionality  protesters: they behaved very much like cultists (I’ll put the video at the end of this posting).

Sullivan describes them as follows:

And what I saw on the video struck me most as a form of religious ritual — a secular exorcism, if you will — that reaches a frenzied, disturbing catharsis. When Murray starts to speak, the students stand and ritually turn their backs on him in silence. The heretic must not be looked at, let alone engaged. Then they recite a common liturgy in unison from sheets of paper.


And they shut down the event because intersectionality rejects the entire idea of free debate, science, or truth independent of white male power. At the end of this part of the ceremony, an individual therefore shouts: “Who is the enemy?” And the congregation responds: “White supremacy!”

They then expel the heretic in a unified chant: “Hey hey, ho ho! Charles Murray has got to go.” Then: “Racist, Sexist, Anti-gay. Charles Murray, Go away!” Murray’s old work on IQ demonstrates no meaningful difference between men and women, and Murray has long supported marriage equality. He passionately opposes eugenics. He’s a libertarian. But none of that matters. Intersectionality, remember? If you’re deemed a sinner on one count, you are a sinner on them all. If you think that race may be both a social construction and related to genetics, your claim to science is just another form of oppression. It is indeed hate speech. At a later moment, the students start clapping in unison, and you can feel the hysteria rising, as the chants grow louder. “Your message is hatred. We will not tolerate it!” The final climactic chant is “Shut it down! Shut it down!” It feels like something out of The Crucible. Most of the students have never read a word of Murray’s — and many professors who supported the shutdown admitted as much. But the intersectional zeal is so great he must be banished — even to the point of physical violence.

Like cultists, the demonstrators clearly demonstrate a hive mindset that was obviously generated through indoctrination.  In fact, they are so deeply indoctrinated that they work themselves into a religious frenzy with the messages of their own chants (as the speaker says nothing). .

Sullivan also makes some good observations.

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Coyne Throttles Myers

I’ve been warning about the dangers of politicizing science.  Jerry Coyne recently provided a nice example concerning PZ Myers, a huge supporter of the March for Science (HT: Dhay).

Watch as Coyne takes the social justice atheist to the woodshed:

But someone who should know better is the evolutionary biologist and blogger P. Z. Myers, who bought into Fine’s bogus argument and fallacious mathematics in a post called “Cordelia Fine is doing the math.” Myers accepts Fine’s contention that promiscuous males don’t really have more offspring than do choosy human females—females who are prevented from getting fertilized when they’re pregnant.  Her arguments are wrong—for one thing, she sets unrealistic error limits for promiscuous males to outdo monogamous ones—but Myers has always rejected biology that is ideologically unpalatable to him.

In a rare occurrence at his site, the commenters, usually a choir of osculatory praise, gave him pushback. In fact one,  “Charly”, did the math correctly and showed that males in relationships with multiple females (bigamous or polygamous) have the potential to have more offspring than do monogamous males, supporting the ideas that men are selected to compete for women. (Duh!) Charly ended his calculations with this statement: “But maybe my reasoning and math is wrong, I am sure someone will point flaws out.”

In the next comment, Myers admitted that Charly’s math was actually right—math that invalidates Fine’s argument—but then he said this:

Your math is fine. It’s your humanity that is broken.

And there we have it, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters: an admission that the biology is right, at least in theory, but the person who did the calculations is immoral. What better example can we find of someone who opposes the truth because it’s ideologically repugnant? Even Myers’s regular commenters couldn’t live with that pronouncement. …


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March for Science Threatens Public’s Trust in Science

In her article, Is the March for Science Bad for Scientists?, Emily Atkin made a point that is both dangerous and foolhardy:

If scientists are defensive in the first place, perhaps it’s because of conservative rhetoric portraying them as partisan hacks. That’s not likely to change. Regardless of whether there are anti-Trump signs at the march, outlets like Fox News and Breitbart will likely characterize it as further proof that scientists are hopelessly biased and untrustworthy. Their viewers might buy it, but most Americans do not. Public trust of scientists is high: 76 percent of Americans have “at least a fair amount of confidence” in scientists, the highest level of trust in any profession behind doctors and members of the military.

What Atkin doesn’t seem to realize is that the March for Science has the potential, depending on it’s success in terms of publicity, to change this.  I explained this before, so let me simply summarize:

  1. Yes, it is true that 76 percent of Americans have “at least a fair amount of confidence” in scientists, the highest level of trust in any profession behind doctors and members of the military.
  2. I would argue this trust exists because most Americans view scientists as being non-partisan. That explains why they cluster with doctors and the military.
  3. Point 2 is also supported by the data – almost 65% of Americans don’t think of scientists as being politically liberal or conservative.
  4. Yet the perceptions of most Americans are false – 55% of scientists are liberal and 9% are conservative. The skew is even more extreme with party affiliations. 81% of scientists are Democrats or lean Democrat, yet only 12% are Republican or lean Republican.

Atkin seems to think that 76% trust figure is a fixed number and can be used by the March for Science partisans to leverage their politicized agenda.  In reality, the 76% trust number is likely tied to faulty information about the skewed political leanings of the scientific community.  If the March for Science is a publicity success, that faulty information is vulnerable to correction and thus we might expect the 76% number to dwindle over time.

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March for Science Supporters Don’t Seem All That Interested in Science

The March for Science (MfS) Facebook page claims “We are people who value science” and ” What unites us is a love of science, and an insatiable curiosity. We all recognize that science is everywhere and affects everyone. Science is often an arduous process, but it is also thrilling. A universal human curiosity and dogged persistence is the greatest hope for the future. This movement cannot and will not end with a march.”

Yet, when you read through the postings on the MfS, we don’t see any evidence of a community that values and loves science with its insatiable curiosity.  Even though the page has 400,000 followers, apparently only the Organizers can start posts.  And they don’t post about and celebrate the recent discoveries in science.  Instead, check out the topics of the most recent 20 postings:

  1. The MfS celebrates International Women’s Day
  2. Article about Scott Pruitt, head of EPA, denying climate change.
  3. Article about Wikipedia tracking down photos of woman scientists
  4. Article about Scott Pruitt, head of EPA, denying climate change
  5. Article about the gender gap in science.
  6. A photo of a protest sign called Climate Science 101
  7. Article about Scott Pruitt, head of EPA, denying climate change
  8. Article about MfS gaining momentum
  9. Article about Scott Pruitt, head of EPA, denying climate change
  10. Article about women involved in Voyager research
  11. Article about EPA environmental justice leader resigning
  12. Article about science in the movies
  13. Article about Scott Pruitt, head of EPA, denying climate change.
  14. Article about science being political
  15. Article about the need for scientists to become activists
  16. Article about the need for scientists to become activists
  17. Article about women in science
  18. Article about girls wanting to become scientists
  19. Article about gender and racial gaps in science
  20. Article about A Day Without Women

The “insatiable curiosity” is apparently limited to an interest in the MfS itself, feminism and social justice in science, and the politics of climate change.  And notice that MfS organizers don’t even bother to write postings of their own and instead simply link to other articles.

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Friendly Atheist Alternative Facts

The Friendly Atheist blog is excited about Netflix airing a new movie about Madalyn Murray O’Hair.  O’Hair was the original New Atheist (Dawkins is just a polished version of O’Hair), so I always thought it strange that today’s New Atheists don’t pay her much attention.  Anyway, what’s interesting is the way the Gnus are trying to rewrite history by turning her into a some victim of religion.  The Friendly Atheist blog writes:

She was also murdered for having the audacity to not believe in a god and defend those who believed the same.

This could not be more wrong.  O’Hair was murdered by another atheist, David Waters, she once employed as an office manager for American Atheists.  And it looks like her murder was triggered by one of the those atheist fights that got out of hand.   Waters apparently stole around $50,000 from Madalyn Murray O’Hair.  She responded by writing this article for her magazine which publicized all kinds of dirt about Waters, including his past criminal history.  This humiliated and enraged Waters, who then began to fantasize about gruesomely murdering O’Hair.  With the help of two accomplices, Waters kidnapped O’Hair and her son and granddaughter.  Although it wasn’t simply about killing O’Hair.  As office manager, Waters believed the O’Hairs were able to embezzle money from their organization and figured he would be able to score all the hidden money.   Anyway, the details of the whole kidnapping are strange, but as it ended, Waters killed all the O’Hairs and one of his accomplices and cut them up into pieces.

Why anyone would try to blame any of this on religion is beyond me.

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Does Secularism Make You More Vulnerable to Mental Illness?

New Atheists blogs love to trumpet the fact that millennials are the most secular generation.  Apparently, this is supposed to mean that our culture will naturally become more secular, giving hope that eventually some sort of atheistic utopia is around the corner.

Yet the same New Atheist blogs don’t like to mention other concerning aspects of the millennials.  For example, as I playfully noted earlier, millennials also have the distinction of being the generation that shows the greatest hostility toward free speech.  

Another concerning aspect of the millennials is that they seem much more susceptible to mental illness:

Armstrong is one of more than 5 million college students struggling with mental health, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the country’s largest grassroots mental health organization. Rates of anxiety and depression in particular have skyrocketed in what many are calling a crisis of mental health on college campuses.

Like Armstrong, more students than ever come to college on medication or in treatment for mental health problems, according to a report by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2015. More than 25 percent of college students have a diagnosable mental illness and have been treated in the past year, according to NAMI.

At MU, 61 percent of 1,010 college students who responded to an American College Health Association assessment in fall 2014 reported feeling overwhelming anxiety within the last year. And 35.5 percent said they “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.”

Mental health problems don’t just start in college. According to Psychology Today, “the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s.”

You have to wonder is the millennial’s rejection of God and religion is connected to their increased levels of anxiety and depression.  After all, there are many studies that have shown religion to have a positive impact on well-being.  For example, consider one such study from 1994:

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Another Fake Hate Crime

From here

A 21-year-old Ann Arbor woman pleaded guilty as charged to one count of false report of a misdemeanor in 15th District Court on Monday, March 6.

Halley Bass admitted in court that she fabricated a story about a strange man scratching her face in downtown Ann Arbor on Nov. 15.

If you read the story, it’s about a college student who got scared by some of things being said in her Women’s Literature course after the election so she scratched her face with a pin.  Then, she claimed she was attacked by a Trump supporter, posted about it on Facebook, and reported it to the police.

Look, this is not what mental health looks like.


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The Big Picture Behind the March for Science

The March for Science (MfS) promotes and sells itself as non-partisan when there is no evidence for such posturing.  In fact, the evidence we have thus far indicates such posturing is misleading.  But there is more to the MfS than this.  The arguments among the MfS supporters have brought certain dynamics to the surface that indicate the true threat to science is not from outside (the Trump administration, whose ability to harm science is limited in extent and time), but from inside – the postmodernist ideology spread throughout academia .  And the irony is that this threat from within is actually embedded within the March.

A few days ago, TFBW nicely  summarized the situation:

Well, the whole “objectivity” thing isn’t a scientific discovery or derived from scientific research either: it’s a philosophy of science. That’s what’s potentially going to make for some interesting fireworks at this march: on the one hand, you have the dyed-in-the-wool objective types like Jerry Coyne who insist that science is science and it makes no difference what your gender, race, or politics; on the other hand you have an enormous rank and file of postmodern SJWs who insist that science is politics, and demand that there is a politically correct way to go about science. Jerry Coyne is rightly concerned that this thing is dominated by the latter mindset, and the whole thing won’t be a march for science so much as a march for a particular philosophy of science — one to which he is diametrically opposed (and yet it has nothing to do with religion).

The accuracy of this summary is supported by an article which appeared in American Scientist. It was written by Adam R. Shapiro, a research associate in the Science, Religion and Culture Program at Harvard University.  His article is fittingly entitled, ” News Flash: Science Has Always Been Political.

We can begin with more examples of the same thing we’ve been covering the last week or so. First, Shaprio clearly brings the SJW perspective to the table:

It may be true that gravitational waves don’t really care who won the last election, but the ability to discover these ripples in the fabric of reality is inseparable from the social, economic, and political circumstances within which scientists work. Scientists might rightly be worried that belief in science itself has become a partisan marker of political identity in the United States, but pretending that science stands in a position of detached neutrality is a tactic that no longer works (if ever it did.) The history of science—and the history of science and technology studies—reveals why.

Yes, we already know that many MfS supporters employ of post-modern perspective on science.

Interactions between science and politics are not new. Questions about who could be a part of a scientific community and what kind of knowledge they could obtain were a matter of political control from the very beginning.

In other words, scientific discoveries represent a fraction of reality – the fraction that just happens to support the political ideology of the discoverers.  Does Shapiro realizing he is making an argument for distrusting science when the March is supposed to be all about trusting science?

But let’s cover some new ground.  As you may have heard before,  New Atheist Steven Pinker put himself in the SJW cross-hairs:

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The Cult of Activism

Over the last few years, I have noticed a common thread among the influential, prolific, and/or very public activists – they are unemployed.  And because they are unemployed, they seek money through their activism in the form of speeches, books, donations, etc.  That’s how they support themselves. Consider New Atheist activist Sam Harris.  After getting his PhD in Neuroscience, he did not secure a teaching or research position.  Instead, he devoted his full attention to his atheist activism as “CEO” of his own “Project Reason.”  Or take atheist activist Hemant Mehta.  He quit his job as a teacher to devote his full attention to his internet-related atheist activism.  To make a living, he needs people to click on his blog and send him donations.  Then there is atheist activist Richard Carrier, who is unemployed and had to sue other atheist activists because they made accusations that cut into his activist money-making abilities.   There is no reason to think this theme is specific to atheist activists, for it would seem most of society’s  influential, prolific, and/or very public activists are professional activists.  Their job is their activism.  And I think this poses a serious problem.

Those who have regular jobs producing products or providing services, along with those who own small businesses selling products, all have something in common – they have to interact daily with people who may not think like they do and who may not share their values.   When your co-workers, customers, bosses, suppliers, etc. have very different religious, political, or metaphysical views, you have to nevertheless cooperate.   You have to get along.  And because of that, friendships can even occur.  And even if they don’t, those who are politically and/or religiously different from you have a face.  They are people you know and work with.

The activist is different.  They are not in a position of having to get along with people who are different.  They can have complete control over the people with whom they have to associate.  And if they do work, it is often within an activist organization, such that the activist is surrounded by like-minded allies.

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