The modern university is dominated by Marxism. This is not a controversial statement, but if you insist on disputing it, I’d appreciate it you would wait until all the college Fresh Meats come home for Thanksgiving. Once they have had a chance to tell you how evil you are for pissing away five figures a year on their indoctrination, you’ll have a fuller understanding of the actual objectives of the professoriate.
Even so, it doesn’t do to assume that every academic is a Fifth Columnist. Most of them are simply rent-seekers, doing copiously-documented busy-work in exchange for a paycheck.
That’s worth remembering every time you run across a breathlessly-reported retelling of the results of a multi-year, multi-disciplinary, multi-million-dollar “study” of mindless minutiae. The reported conclusions might be obvious to any five-year-old child, but at least that particular team of plodding mediocrities did not have to go out and find productive work to do. Thanks to the miracle of tax-payer funded “research,” pedantic geeks who are inept at everything except taking notes get lifelong sinecures at the boundlessly beneficent university welfare trough.
Here is an example I saw cited today on Facebook: Are We Drawn To Music That Includes Reproductive Messages? I cannot imagine how many advanced degrees you have to accumulate in order to pretend not to know that the purpose of popular music is to induce sex — not reproduction, mind you, just sex — but you can be assured that no one would spend his own money “studying” something this obvious:
A total of 174 songs were included, and the lyrics of each song were coded by two independent raters to determine the extent to which they revealed “reproductive messages” (e.g., references to genitalia, hook-ups, long-term relationships, money, etc.). Results indicated that fully 92% of the songs contained at least one such message.
That’s 92% — not 91%, not 93%. A mistake about a matter this momentous could result in someone getting screwed — someone other than the tax-payers, that is.
In Man Alive I cited three very common types of breathless “news” reports on academic “studies:”
As a sort of pocket-reference to the kinds of bogus arguments made about your mind – claims you will see everywhere if you look for them – take note of these three general categories:
1. “We now know we know nothing!” Either your mind is inherently unreliable or the world outside your mind is fundamentally incomprehensible.
2. “Your good behavior is not to your credit, but at least your bad behavior is not your fault!” The actions you think of as being morally good or evil are either causally unavoidable or are caused by something other than your free will – hormones, brain chemistry, genes, brain defects, drugs, diseases, your upbringing, your environment, your wealth or poverty, memes, etc.
3. “Dancing bears are just like us!” Either animals such as apes or dolphins (or even “artificially intelligent” computer programs) are just as smart as you, or you are just as flailingly ignorant as an animal.
Note that all three of these categories are self-consuming: To uphold them, necessarily, is to deny them. If we know we know nothing, then we must know at least that one something – begging the question of how we can know even that little bit of nonsense. If the human will is not free, I cannot will myself to persuade you of this claim – nor even simply to make it – and you cannot will yourself either to accept or reject it. And if your mind works “just like” an animal’s brain, then you cannot discover anything at all about how your mind works, nor record or communicate your findings. Do you doubt me? If so, please have your pet or your software project write a peer-reviewed paper denouncing my egregious intellectual arrogance. No one believes this hogwash. They just want for you to believe it – or at least not dare to challenge it.
The counter-claim to item number 3 — the Dancing Bear Fallacy for short — is this: Human intellectual prowess is a difference of degree, not of kind. Dancing bears are just like us, just much, much dumber. Chimpanzees and bonobos and macaques are misunderstood geniuses who have much to teach us, and it’s mean to call them treetards!This is plainly wrong. Animal intelligence is a function of pattern-matching, and animal communication consists of bodily signaling, which I call Mothertongue. Conceptual thinking — cognition about conceptually-abstracted mental categories in notation systems, and the subsequent notational communication of that conceptual information — occurs in Fathertongue. Genetic Homo sapiens can emulate animal pattern-matching, and much of our Fathertongue communication is reinforced (or contradicted!) in Mothertongue displays. But human beings — genetic Homo sapiens within whom Fathertongue has been cultivated — are the only kind of entity we know of capable of reasoning and communicating in Fathertongue. This is a bright line distinction, a difference of kind and not of degree, and, consequently, dancing bears cannot ever be like us.
That matters because of this claim, which I saw at Instapundit: Human Ancestors Made Deadly Stone-Tipped Spears 500,000 Years Ago.
Human ancestors were fashioning sophisticated hunting weapons half a million years ago. An analysis of stone points from a site in South Africa called Kathu Pan 1 indicates that they were attached to shafts of wood and used as spears. The finding pushes the earliest appearance of hafted multicomponent tools back by some 200,000 years.
Previous discoveries had hinted at the potential antiquity of this technology. Based on evidence that both early modern humans and our closest relatives, the Neandertals, made stone-tipped spears, some researchers hypothesized that their common ancestor—a species called Homo heidelbergensis–shared this know-how. At half a million years old, the newfound stone points are old enough to be the handiwork of this common ancestor.
It is important to note — which breathless pop-sci reports never stress — that this claim is a matter of inference, not a defensible fact. But what is interesting to me about this report is that it puts the poor chimpanzees and bonobos and macaques that much further in the shade. If they are “just like us,” what the hell have they been doing for the past half-million years? I don’t require a geosynchronous satellite network from them, but if they are “just like us,” how is it that none of them have managed so far to tie a sharpened rock to a straight stick?
Dancing bears are never like us. Every claim you hear to the contrary is a lie — the purpose of which is not to exalt animals but to diminish and denigrate the human mind.
And I may need to wedge a new category of lies between items 1 and 2, something like this: You actually do know something, but it’s all a great big accident! Consider this nonsense, also spotted at Instapundit: Our brain can do unconscious mathematics.
What is nine plus six, plus eight? You may not realise it, but you already know the answer. It seems that we unconsciously perform more complicated feats of reasoning than previously thought – including reading and basic mathematics. The discovery raises questions about the necessity of consciousness for abstract thought, and supports the idea that maths might not be an exclusively human trait.
Shout it out loud: “Dancing Bear Fallacy!” That mess is everywhere, like so much monkeyshit. But that’s not the choice bit:
Previous studies have shown that we can subliminally process single words and numbers. To identify whether we can unconsciously perform more complicated processing, Ran Hassin at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and his colleagues used a technique called continuous flash suppression.
The technique works by presenting a volunteer’s left eye with a stimulus – a mathematical sum, say – for a short period of time, while bombarding the right eye with rapidly changing colourful shapes. The volunteer’s awareness is dominated by what the right eye sees, so they remain unconscious of what is presented to the left eye.
In the team’s first experiment, a three-part calculation was flashed to the left eye. This was immediately followed by one number being presented to both eyes, which the volunteer had to say as fast as possible. When the number was the same as the answer to the sum, people were quicker to announce it, suggesting that they had subconsciously worked out the answer, and primed themselves with that number.
In the second experiment, participants were subliminally shown a sensible or nonsensical sentence such as “I drank the coffee” or “I ironed the coffee”. The sentences were presented to the left eye until the people highlighted that they had become aware of any of the words in the sentence. People noticed words in sentences that didn’t make sense more quickly than in those that did, which suggests that the sentences had been unconsciously processed.
That sounds astounding when it’s written up by a pop-sci journalist, but it’s all just a reckless conflation of terms to imply that fully-conscious Fathertongue ratiocination is somehow “unconscious” or “subliminal.”
Did the distractions in the right eye prevent perception of the Fathertongue expressions by the left eye? Obviously not.
Were those expressions perceived as Fathertongue — as abstract notation — and not simply black blobs on a white background? Obviously yes.
Did the processing of that Fathertongue itself require the application of Fathertongue — the voluntary initiation of abstract conceptual reasoning in that learned notation system? Obviously yes.
Ergo, was the entire process fully conscious, even if habituated from long practice and impeded by exaggerated distractions?
Yes, of course. No possible doubt.
Are you sputtering out yeah-buts — academic quibbles?
Put a patch over the left eye. No perception, no results.
Anesthetize the test subject. No conscious awareness, no results.
Swap in a macaque. No human consciousness, no results.
Swap in a child of three-years-old. No Fathertongue, no results.
Use Roman numerals for the math problems and Attic Greek for the grammatical errors. No habituated fluency in the notation system, no results.
What we have is a breathlessly reported account of arrant nonsense disguised as “science.”
For what it’s worth, both the first and the third of these “news” articles are best classified as instances of the Dancing Bear Fallacy.
The important nouns from the first item are “evolutionary psychologists.” In other words, the “scientists” propose to explain the consequences of abstract Fathertongue choices as the unavoidable results of primal biological urges. Their refusal to accept free will as the cause of purposive human behavior leads them to a conundrum that their useless theories cannot explain:
if we were driven to prefer media that contains evolutionary themes, why wouldn’t we also be jamming to songs about finding food and water or fulfilling other basic needs?
Human priorities are not dictated by nature — as should be obvious from the intense need “scientists” feel to define away their own humanity — but this is just funny:
we can’t say for sure why sexy songs are so popular
It’s because they lead to sex, which human beings — uniquely among organisms — pursue for many reasons, the least among them being reproduction. This is news to no one.
This is how the third article ends:
Since arithmetic and reading might work at a level below conscious awareness, the study adds support to the idea that such reasoning may not be a uniquely human trait. “This is consistent with the idea of there being a continuum between animal and human reasoning,” says Ric.
Dancing bears everywhere! Non-human organisms are not capable of reasoning at all, so the idea of a continuum is absurd. A macaque will never do math, no matter how many flash cards it chews up. Moreover, there is no in-born “unconscious” fluency in any notation system. A three-year-old child will chew on those flash cards just as avidly as a macaque.
Fathertongue is unique to human beings — genetic Homo sapiens within whom has been cultivated the gift of mind. This is a matter of fact, plainly obvious to any normal five-year-old child. So why are these “scientists” wasting their time and the tax-payers’ money trying to “prove” that human reasoning can be unconscious? Are they simple rent-seekers, lazying away their days like any other government time-server? Or are they diabolical masterminds of evil, conspiring to rob you of your only source of intellectual self-defense, the indomitable human mind?
Whatever the objectives of the “researchers,” the “news” is full of this kind of crap, a daily monkey-house full of academic monkeyshit. You need to learn how to identify it before you find yourself locked in a cage.