Monday, May 7, 2018

Academic Conformity Stifles Innovation

Check out this video from one of my favorite Youtubers, Black Pigeon Speaks, on the seemingly strange disconnect between high average East Asian group IQ and the relative lack of technological innovations from that region. One measure of this is the relative number of Nobel laureates by nation. The Nobel prize is overwhelmingly awarded for achievements to Americans (155) and northern Europeans (Germany, the UK, France and Switzerland). Switzerland has 24 which is precisely double that of the leading Asian nation of Japan with 12.

Here is the video....



What causes this, in the eyes of a few critics, is a culture of conformity in East Asia that stifles innovation. I don't know if that is true or not but it certainly seems plausible. What is more interesting is the way BPS applies this cult of conformity to Western campuses.

To any even modestly attentive observer,  the university environment in the U.S. is a monoculture of political correctness and single-sided thinking. You don't go to college to get an education or to explore multiple viewpoints, you go to get an academic credential to help you get a job. For example this story came out a few days ago and the title gives you a pretty solid clue as to what is going on at universities: Democrats Outnumber Republicans 70 to 1 in College Religion Departments, 10 to 1 Overall. Of interest to me, in STEM departments the ratio of Republicans to Democrats was far more even ("engineering (1.6-to-1)") but in the generally useless humanities departments the ratio was deeply skewed.

Among the Humanities, not one subject had less than 15 Democrats for every Republican. Psychology (16.8-to-1), history (17.4-to-1), philosophy (17.5-to-1), language (21.1-to-1), classics (27.3-to-1), theater (29.5-to-1), and music (32.8-to-1) did not quite reach the absurd imbalance of 40 Democrats to 1 Republican, but other disciplines did. Some science disciplines also had surprisingly high imbalances: biology (20.8-to-1), environmental science (25.3-to-1), and geoscience (27-to-1). Perhaps the influences of evolution and scientism in biology, and climate change orthodoxy in environmental and earth science explain these imbalances.

In art (40.3-to-1), sociology (43.8-to-1), and English (48.3-to-1), there were more than 40 Democrats for every Republican. As noted above, religion proved even worse, with 70 Democrats for every Republican — a surprising statistic considering the hubbub about evangelical Protestants supporting Donald Trump.

Little wonder our colleges and universities are pumping out snowflakes that are incapable of thinking critically or engaging in ideas outside of their own narrow political cults.

As BPS pointed out, many (most? essentially all?) universities are more interested in "social justice" than they are with truth. The truth is often messy and controversial but social justice can mean whatever you want it to mean so it is far easier to simply push an agenda and to focus on the supposed injustice of the colonization of the American continent than to deal with the human condition and the reasoning behind the Bill of Rights. Few people are courageous enough to challenge the politically correct social justice narrative so "students" get a single, narrowly focused indoctrination that bears little semblance to reality. Even still we grace this anti-intellectual enterprise with the term "education".

One of the keys to academic growth and exploration is the willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom. This is becoming harder and harder in the modern university setting. Try to imagine a PhD student that wanted to do his dissertation on why man-made climate change wasn't real. He would be run out of the campus on a rail. Entire topics like climate change, race and IQ, human evolution, etc. are off limits for discussion. Our university system, once the envy of the world, is turning into a network of anti-intellectual re-education camps that we subsidize and perpetuate.

To quote Satoshi Kanazawa: "Science is not democracy; it is inherently elitist.". In trying to turn universities into hyper-egalitarian monocultures we are destroying the very nature of what made them incubators for innovation and exploration in the first place. I am not sure what the solution is. If there is a more cowardly group of people than the adminstrators of colleges and universities, I haven't run across them but something needs to change or innovation will die (outside of new and exciting ways to amuse ourselves to death). To paraphrase BPS, you can pursue truth or you can pursue social justice but you can't pursue both.

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