August 19, 2017

Now Playing

(Reviewed July 28, 2017)

A great movie as spectacle, though also an illustration of the limits of spectacle

The Wedding Plan
(Reviewed June 2, 2017)

An amusing fairy tale that sometimes flirts with over-seriousness

(Reviewed May 26, 2017)

"In short measures life may perfect be." — Ben Jonson

The Lovers
(Reviewed May 16, 2017)

A not-so rollicking comedy about infidelity and divorce? What’s wrong with this picture?

ENTRY from August 16, 2017

In all the fuss over Google’s firing of an engineer named James Damore (surely a corruption of "D’amore"?) for expressing an opinion about sex differences, the main focus has been upon the poor fellow’s right to freedom of speech, if any, with only secondary consideration being given to the merits, if any, which may be allowed to his point of view. When that subject comes up, so, inevitably, does science. Or "science," since when science is invoked to resolve a political argument it is rarely science in the strict sense. Usually it means the opinions of some scientist or group of scientists whose political views almost certainly antedate their scientific researches but, nevertheless, somehow turn out to have been confirmed by them.

At the weekend, we had a good example of this process in contrasing articles which appeared in London’s Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times. In the Telegraph, Zoe Strimpel writes that "Damore seems oblivious to the vigorous critique of these ideas that has been ongoing for a good twenty years or more," mentioning in particular "such books such as Brain Gender by the Cambridge professor of psychology Melissa Hines and Columbia professor Rebecca Jordan- Young’s Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences." We infer that these books take a different view of sex differences from Mr Damore’s, though Ms Strimpel seems to suppose that their scientific credentials, reduced here to the universities where they do their research, make any rehearsal of their arguments unnecessary.

Meanwhile, over at The Sunday Times, Dominic Lawson cites "a recent article in the journal Stanford Medicine on ‘the cognitive difference between men and women’" and "a fascinating article by the academic psychologist Lee Jussim" as being equally conclusive the other way. Professor Jussim isn’t assigned to a prestigious institution of higher learning like Cambridge or Columbia (or Stanford) but if you look up his Wikipedia article you will find that his affiliation is with Rutgers University in New Jersey. You will also find that the article is "being considered for deletion" on the ostensible grounds that the professor "doesn't appear to meet any of the notability guidelines for academics."
  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.

Recent Articles

A Wilderness of Mirrors May 31, 2017.
To the media it’s scandal, scandal everywhere but never touching them — From The New Criterion of May, 2017 ... Full Article

Of leaks, links and lies April 30, 2017.
If "viewpoint discrimination" is a crime, the media are the biggest offenders — From The New Criterion of April, 2017 ... Full Article

Who Governs America? March 31, 2017.
If it’s not (yet) the media, that’s not through any lack of effort on their part. From The New Criterion of March, 2017 ... Full Article

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