Since dating apps launched in 2009, they have grown near exponentially and are a standard feature on any single person’s smartphone. Apps cater to specific communities, like the originators, Grindr and Scruff for the gay community, to apps for the senior set or people who are really into farmers. Is it any wonder that single celebs would want in in the action? Actress Sharon Stone (Casino, Basic Instinct) signed up for a Bumble account, only to have her account blocked by administrators who just didn’t believe it was really the Hollywood A-lister.
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s personal troubles are celebrated by his detractors. After his daughter, Mikhaila Peterson, opened up about the difficulties her father faced during this past year, a torrent of ill-wishes were released to social media.
A data scientist, engineer and social justice activist had this to say: “do I think he deserves sympathy despite him not extending it to others? Also no.”
Peterson’s legacy is evident in just how many people have been helped by his work. His message is simple, to take charge of yourself and your life, to avoid being controlled by aimless desire, and if you don’t know where to start, begin by cleaning your room.
A professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa also prefers to show no sympathy. Here’s hoping he doesn’t teach ethics.
Peterson’s message is one that so many who hear it can relate to, and he’s travelled the world speaking to sold-out audiences. His views are rooted in western ideas, stem from our most ancient myths and legends, and embrace the Christian hero story of self-sacrifice as the ultimate strength.
A writer for the Toronto Guardian had this to say.
Some guy with the Twitter username “im nice” who fancies himself a comedian had this to say:
Peterson has been vilified by detractors in media and the public at large about as much as he has been praised. The reasons behind this are that people don’t like to hear that relativism is not the best way to live life. People who are mired in our contemporary driving philosophy of meaninglessness, that no one way to live is better than any other, that no one choice is a better or worse choice than another, don’t want to listen to someone who says that the hard work of life is worth doing.
Yet a podcaster, community organizer, and author from Quebec City wishes eternal damnation on Jordan Peterson.
Peterson says that the idea that we should accept ourselves as we are is misguided, because at our core, we’re all probably monsters. He brings up the genocides and massacres of the 20th century as proof, invoking the memoirs of concentration camp guards to show that any of us are capable of the most horrific of human actions. None of us are safe from our own worst, or best, impulses. He holds us all accountable to ourselves, to each other, and to the people we love. He speaks about marriage as a relationship that must be nurtured and tended, not abandoned. Peterson recommends that you don’t let your kids turn into unlikeable children.
Not everyone wished him harm, and some pushed back.
Through podcasts, books, speaking engagements, interviews, and YouTube videos, he talks about how essential it is that we each take on our own hero’s journey. He brings up the legend of King Arthur’s knights, recommending that we must seek our journey in the dark place—meaning we must face our fears, not so that we can overcome them, but so that we can know that we are afraid and act bravely in the face of those fears. One very real place where this approach can be made is in the face of addiction. There is perhaps nothing more difficult than kicking an addiction that has you in its teeth.
On addiction and physical dependence, Peterson can speak from experience. That he has this understanding makes his message that much stronger. How trite it is to hear from a teetotaller who has never touched a drop that we should give up the hard stuff. Where it has more power is coming from someone who has been there before us, whether they’ve beaten the addiction or not.
The calls for Peterson’s head on a spike came from the contemporary left, which is a movement that mirrors the heavy-handed vitriol that we used to see with the late 20th century right. This moralistic grandstanding on a foundation based entirely on narcissistic pleasure principles is eating itself. An ideology that purports to care for others only cares for those who adhere to the ideology. There is a growing intolerance for disagreement.
Peterson’s struggle to overcome benzodiazepines is so incredibly humanizing and real. It shows us that, in many ways, he is right. We are all capable of losing control, even those among us who are so great at guiding us how not to. Peterson’s all too human struggle can give the rest of us strength to know that we are not alone in ours. The identitarian, intolerant left could do well to face its demons, just as Peterson is facing his.
The U.S. Military academy has concluded its investigation into cadets who flashed the “OK sign” during a live broadcast of an Army-Navy football game.
The findings of the West Point investigation were that “the cadets were playing a common game, popular among teenagers today, known as the ‘circle game’ and the intent was not associated with ideologies or movements that are contrary to the Army values.”
The footage of the “OK symbol” went viral as many activists on social media claimed that the cadets were signalling a sign for “white power.”
The circle game is a popular children’s game where one person makes an “OK” gesture with his hand below his waist in order to trick the other player into looking.
The origin of the “OK-symbol-as-white-power” meme is a 4chan hoax intended to trick liberals. The hoax worked, and many institutions and news outlets were tricked into believing that this was a legitimate hate symbol.
Up until now, one of the best characteristics of space was that it had no identity politics. Space was space, heavenly bodies were studied and charted, Jupiter’s many moons, named for mythical gods and goddesses, were marvelled at, their orbits mapped. Space was colour blind. But the good folks at Pink News have decided to ruin the galaxy by attempting to spread social justice throughout the stars.
Pink News cites Australian professor Lisa Kewley’s perspective that now is the time for “the participation of women to also actively recruit LGBT+, indigenous, disabled, and chronically ill astronomers.” The drive for inclusivity in the workplace, specifically in STEM fields, is something we’re hearing lots about. From toys that are designed specifically to encourage girls to go into engineering to demands for non-gendered bathrooms so no one researcher feels left out, inclusivity is a buzzword that drives industry.
Kewley’s article in Nature Astronomy emphasizes the importance of attaining diversity of all kinds in Australia’s astronomy field. It’s a wonder they have time to study the stars at all what with the sheer number of inclusivity measures employed by this field. Within this community, there are workshops on “how to bridge cultural gaps,” “international/cultural lunch[es],” “cultural morning teas,” “a convenience room which may be reserved for prayer, meditation, lactation or feeding/caring for infants,” sharing of personal hobbies and interests in professional newsletters, “mental health first-aid training to identify,” “lunchtime yoga classes,” and mindfulness leadership courses.
Much of the success of diversity and inclusion is measured through the giving the Pleiades Awards, recognizing those astronomy societies and universities that have undertaken diversity and inclusivity efforts over a period of years. The idea is that the mere attempt to include and diversify is worthy of award, and that success is evidenced by the striving to succeed.
Kewley states that “As the world prepares for the era of mega-telescopes, improving diversity in astronomy will be critical for maximizing new ideas and ensuring the future success of astronomy departments worldwide.” She writes about the “statistically significant correlation between greater levels of diversity in company leadership and likelihood of outperforming the relevant industry peer group on… profitability.”
From there, Kewley makes the jump that “It is reasonable to infer that greater diversity in astronomy organizations will also produce a greater likelihood of outperforming competition in astronomy key performance measures in discoveries and advances.”
Pink News leapt on this as proof that astronomy needs more LGBT+ people in order to make better discoveries. “A paper published in an Australian science journal has said that hiring diverse astronomers, especially those from the LGBT+, disabled and indigenous communities, is essential for the country’s success in the field.” While there’s no reason to believe that LGBT+ people would make worse discoveries, there’s no reason to believe that they would make better ones, either.
Identity factors themselves don’t drive discovery as much as they influence perspective. The article also points to a viral tweet by a trans activist that features a Hubble telescope photograph of Jupiter in a UV light. The activist saw the colours and perceived it to have the colour scheme of the trans flag, leading the activist to declare that “Jupiter says trans rights.”
Of course, in reality, the fifth planet from the sun doesn’t look like that at all. And Jupiter doesn’t care about your pronouns. These are far from the only claims made about identity factors being an issue in the hard sciences, or humanities, or anywhere in academia and research, really. A recent paper posits that “the exclusion of Black American women from physics impacts physics epistemologies.”
While the going progressive belief is that women leave careers, and careers in science, because they are discriminated against, there is mounting evidence to suggest that these are not even the primary reasons that women veer off career course. Writing for Quillette, Debra Soh doesn’t “deny that sexism exists, but sexism today is not so severe that it stands in the way of a woman achieving a career in science—or any field—if she really wants to. There are countless programs in place that encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in scientific disciplines.” Women reprioritize their lives because they want to. In the most egalitarian of countries, the Nordic ones, there are in fact less women in STEM careers.
All of this effort at sex parity in Australian astronomy is due, in large part, to a 2002 study, “Young Women’s Perceptions and Experiences of Becoming a Research Physicist,” conducted of women under the age of 30 in the U.K. It revealed that 15 percent of them felt they experienced sex-based bias, while 45 percent of their older, female counterparts felt that way. If it was 15 percent in 2002, down from 45 percent, how small must that number be now, 18 years later?
But of course, that’s not the point of all this anti-bias workshopping and ongoing mindfulness education. The point isn’t to ensure that those who are most driven, talented, and determined to succeed in these tough fields have the opportunity and access to do so, but to restructure progress, achievement and scholarship to be about who is doing the thinking rather than what is being thought. We no longer look outward to explore the cosmos, but in. We believe we comprise the universe.
New ways of thinking and new perspectives of problem-solving are important, but there’s no reason to believe that alt gender identity or sexual orientation inherently leads to different problem-solving abilities. Plus, we’re pretty sure space is colour blind.
The keynote speech Sacha Baron Cohen gave at the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Never Is Now conference showed that he is in favour of not only censoring others but unwittingly censoring himself. Cohen has been a funny, irreverent, offensive comic for some time. His entire brand is based on saying the wrong thing to the right people. Yet this man, who has made his name and his money pushing the limits of tolerable speech, wants to silence the social media speech of those he doesn’t agree with. Doesn’t he know that when free speech rights are curtailed, no one’s voice is spared?
At issue for Cohen is the political landscape of Facebook. While Twitter’s Jack Dorsey has curbed political ads on his network, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has refused to do so. Cohen blames the way people communicate for the evils in the world, but the methods of speech are not the problem. The problem is the same as its always been: bad actors who use whatever means necessary to spread lies and misinformation.
“Think about it. Facebook, YouTube and Google, Twitter and others—they reach billions of people. The algorithms these platforms depend on deliberately amplify the type of content that keeps users engaged—stories that appeal to our baser instincts and that trigger outrage and fear,” Cohen said. “It’s why YouTube recommended videos by the conspiracist Alex Jones billions of times. It’s why fake news outperforms real news because studies show that lies spread faster than truth.”
We didn’t need studies to tell us this. Lies have been spreading faster than truth even before the Mark Twain saying about how a lie can get around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on. Hell, it’s even a lie that Mark Twain said it! Lies and propaganda are not new. Prior to Facebook, Google, and Twitter, there were newspapers, magazines, and television news, which were also susceptible to falsehoods.
While Cohen is concerned that Hitler could hypothetically buy a 30-second ad on Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Ashe Schow of The Daily Wire points out that Cohen fails to address the fact that Hitler was given a platform by none other than The New York Times in 1941. The New York Times Magazine ran excerpts from “Mein Kampf,” headlining it “The Art of Propaganda.” And they ran articles both in favour of and against intervention.
The rise of anti-Semitism is one of the most pressing threats to our civil society. It is tempting to say that this alone is a reason to block, ban, or censure. But it is not that easy, that simple, or that solvable. Cohen’s call for regulation and censorship will not curtail hate—it will just cause it to flourish in darker, more radical places. The internet is boundless, and we cannot monitor it all. His proposed solution—to grant power to a select few arbiters of right-speak who would attempt to monitor it—would make things worse.
The ADL has long provided leadership in the essential fight against anti-Semitism, but it has not been without its own stumbles along the way in recent years. Critics have argued that the ADL has “betrayed its mandate” by taking a hard-left turn and focusing on the much more amorphous issue of “hate.” Take, for example, their recent labelling of the children’s “bowl haircut” and the classic “OK symbol” as “official hate symbol.”
Even the great Stephen Fry, who has dedicated considerable effort to combatting anti-Semitism on a global scale, was quick to point out how counterproductive and preposterous such an overreach was:
Another flaw in Cohen’s thinking is in his assumptions that the fact-checkers he is calling for will be non-ideological. One need look no further than the current incarnations of Wikipedia or Snopes to see that deploying a team of fact-checkers does not solve the problem of partisanship. Most fact-checkers have a left-wing bias, and this ideological creep has led to Wikipedia blacklisting many conservative news sources and Snopes embarrassingly “fact-checking” satirical articles.
Which brings us to Cohen’s own work. Cohen had been an effective satirist for so long because he played the role of a trickster who eventually told on his subjects’ and society’s own biases. Through characters like Ali G and Borat, he exposed the preposterous assumptions, values and beliefs that surround us. It was never great comedy, but it certainly achieved the effect he was going for.
In his unscripted Showtime series Who Is America, he duped Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Ted Koppel, Senator Bernie Sanders. He posed as an interviewer, asked them questions in order to reveal their flaws, and made them look foolish. Is posing as a reporter in order to access and exploit information for entertainment a reasonable thing to do? The answer should be yes, sure, why not, all’s fair in love and comedy.
But those who favour Cohen’s style might find themselves less on board with a guy like Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe, who posed as a pimp in order to expose, Acorn, a government home mortgage lending scheme. O’Keefe’s methods were roundly criticized by the left at the time as disingenuous. But perhaps that’s just the kind of work that Cohen would like to see disallowed from the platform, the kind that’s so like his own.
The greatest satirists in the current cultural age are ones like Titania McGrath who dupes an unsuspecting public into believing her identity-based personae is real. Titania taunts her audience with inconceivable calls to action in the name of wokeness, blurring the already blurry line between reality and mockery. That’s what good satire does.
It’s no surprise that Titania has been twice suspended on social media based on the misunderstanding of her satirical project. This is what Cohen is unintentionally advocating for—the silencing of satirists, comedians, and provocateurs.
The truth is Cohen’s own work would not survive the censorious cull he is calling for. It would be removed for reasons of “hate speech”—almost all of it. And the messages or lessons Cohen has hoped to convey with his work would be gone too.
It’s been said many times that the solution to bad speech is more speech. It’s disconcerting and depressing as hell to see that in 2019, those who made their careers by living this truth are now abandoning it.