Somebody called my attention to three new articles and op-eds in Scientific American that have no science in them, but are pure ideology of the “progressive” sort. I agree with some of the sentiments expressed in them, as in the first one. But my point is, as usual, to show how everything in science, including its most widely-read “popular” magazine, is being taken over by ideology. Not only that, but it’s ideology of only one stripe: Leftist “progressive” (or “woke,” if you will) ideology, so that the “opinion” section is not a panoply of divergent views, but gives only one view, like a Scientific Pravda. Remember that the editor refused when I offered to write an op-ed expressing different (but of course not right-wing) views.
Click on the screenshot below to read the pieces.
The first article’s argument is in the subtext: anti-LGBTQ+ “hate speech” leads to violence against members of that community. It’s clear that anti-LGBTQ+ belief does in some (but not all) cases, but of course as a First Amendment hard-liner I wouldn’t ban such speech unless it was created to promote imminent and serious violence. Still, I oppose it, or any speech that calls out not beliefs, but demonizes believers. The question though, which the piece doesn’t answer, though it takes it as an article of faith, is whether rhetoric leads to violence down the line.
The article indicts Republicans and white nationalists for their anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and actions (e.g., banning the teaching of CRT, for example—laws that I oppose). Of course “hate speech” doesn’t always lead to action, even at a temporal or spatial remove from the speech, and the article doesn’t give solid evidence for the connection between speech and action. Of course some killers are motivated by “homophobia” or “transphobia”, but not as many as the media suggests. Omar Mateen’s 2016 mass shooting at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando, for example, a horrific act that killed 49 people and injured 53, was immediately touted by the press as a likely act of homophobia, but no evidence was ever found that Mateen was motivated by hatred of gays. Rather, his motive appears to have been revenge for American airstrikes in the Middle East, and Mateen appeared not to even know that the club was gay. (He died in the assault.) The media likes what fits a narrative, particularly the progressive media—but they’re not always right.
However, the DOJ says that 19.2% of single-incident hate crimes were classified as crimes related to gender identity and sexual orientation, while 64.8% were related to race/ethnicity/ancestry. So what is the evidence that anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is a major cause of this violence? There’s very little in the paper, which mostly cites (and properly damns) the rhetoric but can’t pin it down as a cause of violence the cause, although there’s evidence that anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric does increase animus toward that group.
Here’s the evidence, but it’s all “may cause” or “can motivate”:
The false claims and rhetoric used by right-wing extremists dehumanize and vilify the LGBTQ+ community and provoke stochastic terrorism, a phenomenon in which hate speech increases the likelihood that people will attack the targets of vicious claims. Research has also shown that this type of rhetoric can motivate people to express and possibly act on their prejudiced views.
The potential for any individual extremist message to push people toward violence is low, Ophir says. But continuous exposure to this hate speech from many different media platforms and politicians can contribute to radicalization.
Check the final link in each paragraph.
I’m not denying the hypothesis, of course, nor am I excusing LGBTQ+ hatred or violence, only that the connection is not as clear as Sci. Am.’s headline suggests. More important, this connection has been made a gazillion times before, and not just for LGBTQ+ hate crimes, but also for the triply-frequent crimes caused by hatred of people’s race and ethnicity. So we have a familiar but largely unevidenced message, but one appearing in a science magazine.
What is it doing there? It’s because the editor, Laura Helmuth, has decided to turn Scientific American into a mouthpiece for the illiberal Left. Other magazines do that much better, and more regularly, and don’t harp on Mendel and Darwin being racists. It’s as if you picked up an issue of an LGBTQ+ magazine and found op-eds and articles on how genes can be edited or how we found gravity waves.
Finally, note that this is not an op-ed piece, but an article. In contrast, the two pieces below are labeled “opinion”,
I immediately saw though the one below without even reading it, for why would black men experience disproportionate violence in football? Are they being deliberately targeted on the field? If not, then the violence they experience is the same violence that every football player experiences.
In fact, it turns out that there is no evidence that football injuries disproportionately accrue to black men in football, at least compared to other players on the field. The author is trying to somehow find a racist slant to the fact that there are proportionately more black players in football than black people in the American population, thus turning football injuries (which I abhor) into signs of racism. Not the slippery use of the word “disproportionately” in the following:
This ordinary violence has always riddled the sport and it affects all players. But Black players are disproportionately affected. While Black men are severely underrepresented in positions of power across football organizations, such as coaching and management, they are overrepresented on the gridiron. Non-white players account for 70 percent of the NFL; nearly half of all Division I college football players are Black. Further, through a process called racial stacking, coaches racially segregate athletes by playing position. These demographic discrepancies place Black athletes at a higher risk during play.
Higher risk than white players? What’s the comparison here?
Read on; the author is a sports anthropologist at Duke University.
Indeed, if bigotry is cause of an underrepresentation of black managers or owners, that needs to be investigated, for there are causes other than racism. And if it is bigotry, then by all means efface it. But the “racial violence” clearly implied in the headline doesn’t seem to exist, and the author admits she doesn’t know:
While I am not aware of research that compares the rate of injury between Black and white football players, heatstrokes, ACL and labrum tears, ankle sprains, bone breaks, and concussions are just a few of the consequences of how these bodies are used.
Yes, but all that shows is that football is violent. So is hockey, and you could write the same headline, but using “the violence white men experience in hockey.”
Remember, though, that although Canada approvingly quotes someone saying that football fields “are never theoretically far from plantation fields,” the players play voluntarily, get huge salaries and public acclaim, and although I despise football for its violence, these men are making decisions to play an are aware of the possible consequences. For many, it’s a way out of poverty, and who’s to tell a talented black running back in high school that he shouldn’t try to make $2.7 million a year because there are disproportionately few white men in upper management?
What we have is just another propagandistic article that’s basically misleading the reader in its headline, admits that it misleads the reader, and, in the end, doesn’t belong in a science magazine. Even if you vetted propaganda like this on the basis not of ideology but on evidence for its claims, this article is a loser. But Laura Helmuth collects these risible pieces like Nabokov collected butterflies.
Finally, there’s this article (click to read):
I haven’t grappled with the issue of Universal Basic Income in the U.S., so I have no real opinion here, but do agree with the author that there should be a universal childcare allowance that’s higher than the tax deduction we get now. The article adds this:
No country has yet introduced a universal basic income sufficient for essential needs. But in the U.S., Alaska has enacted its Permanent Fund Dividend, which is an annual cash payment, averaging around $1,600, that goes to every resident without means test or work requirement. It contributes to poverty reduction and has no negative effect on people’s willingness to work.
In the U.S., a universal child allowance and Social Security for seniors would mean that the two most vulnerable age groups in our population would have near-universal and unconditional income guaranteed.
This doesn’t seem like much of a solution to me, and we do have social security for older folk, though it’s based on your lifetime earnings. If there’s to be a universal basic income, it’s got to be much higher than that, and of course would involve huge tax increases. (I’m not necessarily opposed to those.)