And now Andrew Sullivan goes. . .

July 14, 2020 • 2:30 pm

This series of tweets was just emitted by Andrew Sullivan. Since his venue, New York Magazine, didn’t (“wouldn’t” is probably a better word) publish one of his columns a few weeks ago—probably because they didn’t like the subject, which was presumably the demonstrations following the death of George Floyd—I am guessing he’s been at odds with them, and has been looking for a new home. According to the stuff below, he’s found one.

He implies the reasons is not “his editors,” but what else could it be?

All the unwoke are being purged, or resigning. What will journalism be like without contrarian voices?

64 thoughts on “And now Andrew Sullivan goes. . .

    1. No, they’re the public’s loss because it’s leading to even further polarization of media.

      People who might have been exposed to Sullivan’s views on NY Mag are less likely to do so if he’s writing for some other venue like City Journal or Quilette. It also becomes easier to dismiss everything that he says because you don’t like the platform, so you just write him off as a “right winger” (i.e., one of the “bad people”).

      I don’t think I can overstate how bad polarization of the media is for a country. It means no one is listening to each other and we can’t even agree on facts anymore.

      1. Oh yes, of course. I just mean NYT/NYM have shot themselves in the proverbial somewhat. Anecdotally, it seems to me that people whose subscriptions or support of those outlets was wavering a bit are now likely to give up on them entirely- and since they’re already struggling a little, it ain’t good news for them. And losing eloquent and interesting voices to dogma is a blow in itself- I wonder if they’re capable of even realising that now.

  1. Given the present media environment it’s hard to imagine either of these voices disappearing. Sullivan, let remember ran the Dish as a money making proposition. I’d gladly subscribe to something on those lines. The two of them together might also be fun. Perhaps the announcements of the departures were deliberately coordinated. (Probably not)

  2. Incidentally, given the post the other day about Slate, I wonder what would have happened to Hitchens were he alive and still a writer for them. I think he too would’ve resigned in the end (he had form for doing that with outlets he butted heads with, anyway).

  3. There’s no writing like good writing. Don’t much think of Sullivan, though. Aahh, for the days of poor Hitchens. Jerry, your’s is pretty good stuff too—duckery notwithstanding. Still a loyal and appreciative reader. Dig your references to early rock bands.

  4. If he has no beef with his colleagues, and the editors he’s worked with have been great, then I would submit it is not so self-evident what the underlying issue is.

  5. He agrees with the conclusions of “The Bell Curve” that IQ is heritable.

    I’m not a fan of conservatives and conservatism, and I have to admit, I have hardly ever read more than a few lines of anything he’s written. His name is filed in the “jerk” section of my mental file drawer, but I can’t remember anything specific. I had to look him up, and saw that Bell Curve info. I am not sure I want to see more from him.

    1. Why would IQ not be subject to genes and evolution?

      Surely you cannot believe that intelligence is purely environmental?

      Even within families you have cognitive differences due to gene variations.

      1. That’s true, but you would not necessarily expect IQ to be correlated with skin color which was a main conclusion of the book. I think the authors underestimated the cultural bias in IQ tests and the effects of various forms of deprivation on intellectual development.

        1. “not necessarily expect IQ to be correlated with skin color”

          They did not
          a) make a crude “skin color” observation
          b) made the argument that average IQ differences are genetic. (although they probably believed that to be the case)

          As you correctly point out factors like pollution, parasites, nutrition, cultural motivation etc all play a role.

          However the point is that the average SAT scores are different between different populations in the US.
          That is why Asians and Jews are over represented in elite colleges.
          Thus IQ differences exists, we can have an argument about the causes but should not ignore the problems it causes.

        2. “underestimated the cultural bias in IQ tests…”

          You mean the bias that make Asians perform better?

    2. Since brains are biological things and IQ is a measure, however unsatisfying, of the activity of brains, it is near-obvious that IQ has some heritable component. It could not be otherwise.

      1. It’s not just the measure, it’s the fact that treating IQ as a thing, a property, an “it” of any sort is highly problematic. Humans reify- anything we can give a name to as abstract as IQ we can treat as some type of property or homogeneous substance. It’s so deeply ingrained that I’m inclined to regard it as an artifact of our underlying neural architecture. And this particular “it” is particularly problematic in the fallacious and pernicious inferences it facilitates.

        My older brother, deeply racist, said it as clearly as I’ve heard. “On average, whites score higher on IQ tests than blacks. Therefore whites are smarter than blacks- can’t you see that”, said he. (I hope my answer was sufficiently correct and scathing.) He’d been to college, studied statistics, and had all the advantages of higher education. If he could make such an outrageous error, what chances do lesser-educated folks have?

        1. Whatever uses a fact might be put to doesn’t change the fact itself.

          IQ is real and is measurable. It is a thing.

          As are other physiological features.

        2. “it’s the fact that treating IQ as a thing, a property, an “it” of any sort is highly problematic. Humans reify- anything we can give a name to”

          Ok, so we should only reify concepts which promote justice and equality, no matter how ramshackle like implicit bias or unfalsibable like the “structural XYZ” coming out of various academic departments, and chuck ones that don’t tend towards those ends, no matter how robust, because they’re “problematic”? Thanks Dr. Gould, but I thought you’d died years ago. It’s good to know that you can still get your 40 year old arguments out from beyond the grave to get anyone, like Sullivan, who speaks in a fashion less than entirely condemnatory of The Bell Curve banished from the marketplace of respectable opinion.

        3. I think it’s largely irrelevant whether IQ might be tied to some concept of race. The important question is: how do you treat individuals of whatever measure you may want to gauge them by. We should treat people humanely and respectfully no matter what their skin tone, or heritage, their gender, or anything else, might be. So, it’s largely irrelevant to think of IQ as a racial statistic. We shouldn’t really care.

          1. On an individual level, I completely agree, but when it comes to a societal level, stark group differences in intelligence, behavior, etc., and the causes of those differences, have important impacts on the crafting of sane public policy.

            If differences in intelligence and malbehavior are to any significant degree innate (or otherwise unavoidable), then that leads to very different policies from if it’s completely environmental (or otherwise avoidable). And given the immense amount of public resources (and angst and tension) relating to these policies, it’s important to get them right.

        4. I think a point of confusion is that in US society blacks are segregated to a large degree and are therefor thought of as a separate population. The temptation is to construct policy based on this assumption which tends to exaggerate cultural divisions. If economic policy was generally more egalitarian and less of a laissez-faire phenomenon, the problem would likely be reduced. Less them vs us, and more us.

        5. Hi Lee, if I say that on average Jews and Asians score higher on IQ tests that whites, how would you interpret that?

          Now it does not necessary follow that the measured differences are mostly genetic but they do exists and it does correlate with group success differences.

          What do you make of these group differences?

        6. What do you mean by “outrageous”? Do you mean “a really bad or obvious error” or do you mean “an error that outrages right thinking people”?

          What would you say his outrageous error is?

        7. Your brother is a racist. I’ll take your word for that. He uses bad logic to support his racism. So what? This has nothing to do with the question of how heritable IQ is. Asserting that it can’t be heritable because racism exists is no better reasoning.

    3. “The heritability of intelligence increases from about 20% in infancy to perhaps 80% in later adulthood.” seems to be a reasonable summary of serious research. it would be extraordinary (given that genetic component) if separated breeding populations of humans all had the same average value for IQ.

    4. Charles Murray wrote that and admittedly it was a dog whistle. Read it and Michael Shermer’s criticism of it – don’t shun it. Murray wrote a second book and was interviewed by Dave Rubin. He’s worth listening to; we need to start listening and talking to people we don’t totally agree with.

      1. From my memory, Murray’s message was simply that racial IQ differences seem evident in the data, and if true, society should be prepared to make some policy that acknowledges it so as not to create unrealistic expectations. Something like that. Pretty tame really, but, of course the reaction to the book was completely off the wall and missed he real point. He was vilified as a racist.

        1. Murray’s core argument in The Bell Curve wasn’t even about race: it was about how the “meritocratic” structure of American society that had emerged after the social upheavals of the 1960s (decline of union power, offshoring, info economy, financialization) was resulting in the formation of a “cognitive elite” that tended only to marry each other, and that this would lead society to be highly stratified by IQ and therefore deeply unequal, because earning capacity would be highly influenced by IQ. Race was only one chapter in Murray’s book, but it got probably 99% of the attention.

          1. “was resulting in the formation of a “cognitive elite””

            Very good point. He explored that further in “Coming Apart”.

            He often mentions that before the 70’s everyone drank the same beer and watched the same television, now the elite have nothing in common with the poor and have no interactions with them.

    5. If IQ is heritable and IQ is a factor in how well someone does in a society, a decent society would recognize that and try to compensate somehow.

      As far as I know Murray was concerned about that sort of thing and condemning him and anyone who dares mention his name (so to speak) may be condemning some people to a ‘lot’ in life, especially in a society that does reward intelligence disproportionately.

          1. In the ordinary course of events, higher IQ correlates to expertise. Mose PhDs are above average I’d wager for instance. But that makes them elite and we really hate the elites.

    6. Heritability is a within-population measure of genetic variation, and cannot be simply extrapolated to the causes of variations between groups, because environments also vary between groups. The classic example is growing plants in a fertilized field, and in an unfertilized field. Heritability of plant size may be high in both populations, yet the difference in size between populations may be entirely due to the environmental difference. So, differences between groups in highly heritable traits may have no genetic basis at all. I learned this in my freshman year of college.

  6. My prediction is that he will be joining Yascha Mounk’s new centrist magazine, “Persuasion.”

  7. I’m sure these guys will continue to have a voice, heck anyone with a computer has a voice. There’s plenty of platforms for the enemies of the woke anyway, Murdoch is dedicated to making sure the unwoke can be heard, particularly by politicians.

  8. “Murdoch and the unwoke”—think I saw them play in the early 70’s. Cranky old bastards are still around.

  9. Believe me, journalism will be just fine. It will become independent again, pursued by good investigators again. It is not to be found anymore among these corporate dinosaurs.

    I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring again and speak out, too. My novel series is nearly complete and recent events make me want to prevent further harm. Independent voices will win the good fight again.

    1. Except … most of the “independent” stuff on the web has zero quality control. No editors. It’s entirely on the reader to discern problems.

      This is why I am highly skeptical of nearly everything online. (Sturgeon’s Law squared or cubed.)

      1. New publications are being started. I think some are promising. And I think quality control is going out the window, anyway. It’s buyer beware, ironically, in a woketopia.

  10. Just saw this come of the press:

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized Again

    Clap! Clap! Everyone. Clapping brings a dying fairy back to life.

  11. I don’t think it’s coincidence that both Weiss and Sullivan announced these departures on same day.

  12. Even though he’s a conservative he’s a conservative I could sit down with and have a civilized difference of opinion.

    He’d be welcome at or where I’m published I’m sure (have to ask the eds, respectively).
    Or even counterpunch.

    He’s like the little engine that could or – as in the woody allen movie – the ball player with no limbs “but he had heart”: despite his conservatism he’s got heart. And brains.
    D.A., J.D., NYC

  13. What I’ve noticed is that that media is so polarized now, that when an attempt to bring in a mildly ‘opposing’ viewpoint happens, people in those environments label them as extreme (because they’re the most ‘extreme’ thing they’re coming into any real contact with,) and the Overton Window is rapidly shifted, so that people like Sullivan are then decried as Far Right figures, when often they are barely right of center, if that, on many issues.

    The only acceptable role for conservatives in the media these days, from what I can tell, is to be trotted out occasionally to write hand wringing pieces about a lack of spiritual life in the modern world, and how this relates to a vague, unitarian version of Christianity. Then they are still, of course, pilloried as Ted Nugent-like extreme Right figures, but they are allowed to stay until they’re trotted out again, so that everyone can pat themselves on the back for their tolerant worldview.

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