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Crimson but unembarrassed

It appears that the result of Larry Summers’ rather unadventurous but still non-PC comments on women’s tendency to avoid the hard sciences is that Harvard will have feminist victimologist Drew Gilpin Faust as president. Some thoughts:

  • Once those in power have started lying about fundamental political issues it’s hard to stop. If you insist on the truth of obvious falsehoods, like the claim that there are no differences in aptitude or attitude that would cause different levels of achievement for different kinds of people in different fields, so all disparities in representation must be the result of irrational discrimination, and you make that insistence the basis of a claim that you have the right to tell everyone else what to do, because they’re all a bunch of ignorant bigots whose views have no legitimacy, there’s really no way to reverse yourself. You have to follow through to the bitter end, and the more resources you have the farther you’ll end up going.
  • I seem to recall a survey of recent wars that showed that the side with the fanciest uniforms always loses. Something similar holds for the other professions, I think, even though you get clearer results faster in the wartime military. The huge amounts of money that go into higher education, the immense power of institutional expertise, the numbers of people involved, and the careerist orientation of present-day life all mean that at a place like Harvard Veritas can’t really be the issue. Concern with truth though is the only rational basis for their claim to special consideration. Institutionally, they’ve got a problem.
  • In a sense the expected appointment is good news for people like me, who have no academic or other formal status but still want to comment on grand issues. The people officially charged with dealing with such things, on some level, are evidently incompetent. It Really Is True that any Joe off the street can, on fundamental issues, outdo the collective institutional wisdom of Harvard University. So if any Tom, Dick or Harry can do it, why can’t I (so prompts vanity) do even better?