I think the dialogue was revealing, thanks for sharing it. He said:

> "cancel culture is not about moral suasion or transforming the moral universe of the aggressor. It is about power, and stripping them of their platforms that allow them to spread such views. "

He finally put his cards on the table. We haeve to believe him, that questions of "learning" or "growing" or "redemption" really are irrelevant to him and many like him, because they don't care about any of that. They are after power, and any morality assertions are shallow tactics for gaining power, nowhere near any core issue.

You are trying to say "we are all humans trying to get along and to find the best path, and we need to cut each other some slack along the way, see bad or misguided past behavior in context, and mutually grow as we learn to do better". And his response is basically "fuck that, I just want to get power by any means I can access, who cares about persuasion or understanding or growth". That in my opinion is often the case, but usually not so openly admitted.

Whenever I see somebody use the word "power", I ask myself "is this power from within, or power over other people?". Power from within involves growth, reflection, earned self-respect, earned confidence, and it's completely compatible with (and in fact works best with) other people also having power from within; win/win options (non-zero sum game) options are often possible, where each party can treat and be treated with respect and negotiate from their own clarity.

"Power over" is unidirectional, and incompatible with other people also being on top - it inherently must involve a win/lose. And it feels threatened by anybody with "power from within", because often (but not always) it's as important that the other person lose, as that one wins.

The outrage game, the victimhood game, the "accountability" game are all about obtaining "power over" by exploiting guilt and sympathy for weakness - specifically in this and many other ases, the power to control the narrative, the power to suppress viewpoints which might be persuasive if they can be heard.

The folks who want to deplatform Joe Rogan (and others) NEVER EVER (that I have seen) suggest that their audience listen to a representative sample - seeing full context - and judge for themselves. In fact, they urge just the opposite - take my word for it, and avoid tainting your ears by exposure to a source I have told you is not only wrong, but morally tainted such that decent folks should never see it for themselves, or be allowed to see it for themselves.

Progressives and liberals were not always like that; that is one reason that I call this neo-progressivism, which differs from traditional progressivism in key ways (another being whether they demonize or valorize the working class, or alternately whether their core base is in the social, media, educational and financial elites or in the working class). I see distorted versions of the traditional values and framing of progressivism in this new ideology, mixed in with ideas and framings which are nearly the opposite of traditional liberalism and progressivism. When I moved to the left in my youth, it was far less dogmatic and more welcoming to open discussion and free thinking. Neo-progressivism (wokism, successor ideology, identitarianism, whatever) is quite different in nature.

And the tactics which are used to gain more "power over" have a lot to do with that change. Rather than "stop discriminating and give us an even chance because we are confident that we can success on the same terms", it has become "we (and/or our protectees) are weak and easily wounded, so you must apply different rules, and give us unearned "power over" to control society, or else". Coming to rely on that kind of tactic is inherently corrupting, even if the original goals were very well intentioned.

The Prime Directive of neo-progressive ideology is "Reinforce the Narrative (of Oppression) at all costs" because the Narrative of Oppression is the source of our power over other people (not one's own ability or skills or accomplishments or persuasiveness or example). That means they have to control the mindspace, like a modern army trying to control the airspace over the battlefield. There must not be any marketplace of ideas, because they do not have confidence that their ideology could survive open scrutiny. They must try to deplatform any "wrong think". And they must try to demonize any source they cannot sufficiently suppress - convincing devotees that to actually read or view any dissent would be to be morally tainted by exposure to "right wing trash". Better to stick to believing the priesthood of Neo-progressivism, cheer and boo when the tribal cue cards tell you, and enjoy smugly mocking the strawmen that the leaders create for you.

Has anybody else noticed something similar to this? Does it resonate as a valid facet of the complex truth of society today?

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Mar 14, 2022·edited Mar 14, 2022Author

"He finally put his cards on the table. We have to believe him, that questions of "learning" or "growing" or "redemption" really are irrelevant to him and many like him, because they don't care about any of that."

Yeah, I was impressed by his honesty here too!😅 It's not often that cancel culture's defenders even admit that it exists, never mind that it's about exerting power over others. And yes, in my experience of dealing with these modern-day puritans, the point is entirely power over others. But not in a way that has any political ends (or at least the ends are incidental). The primary goal seems to be the same as the typical bully; a way to calm their own insecurities and/or self-loathing by finding a target to attack.

I think you're spot on about the lack of interest in nuance and a fair hearing of the offenders' "crimes", but I think the reason so many of them are willing to do this is that they don't really care what the person said. They aren't even particularly interested in defending an ideology, and certainly not in making the lives of any particular group of marginalised people better. They want a target that they can attack whilst being praised by their peers. They want to be able to indulge their darkest, most vindictive instincts but still tell themselves the they're the "good guys." It's genuinely horrifying to see this psychosis spreading.

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Later thoughts. Back the the quote from your correspondent:

>" cancel culture is not about moral suasion or transforming the moral universe of the aggressor. It is about power, and stripping them of their platforms that allow them to spread such views. "

That identifies one of the goals - direct deplatforming of an ongoing source.

But cancel culture has other facets as well. For example, Majdi Wadi was a Palestinian Muslim businessman (selling middle eastern food) in Minneapolis, supporting a mixed race community and Black Lives Matter, when somebody discovered some terrible racist and homophobic tweets by his daughter from many years previous when she was a mixed up teenager. She (who had radically changed since that time) was by then marching with BLM protestors; she apologized profusely and denounced the sentiments of those old tweets; her father fired her and apologized, tried to find a path towards redemption. (As mentioned previously, cancelling is not primarily about moral growth or redemption, but about gaining "power over").

But the company got pretty well cancelled, losing their contracts, being kicked out of a lease, had to move for safety, lay off 69 employees, etc. In this case, there was no platform being used to spread wrongthink - indeed there was no platform (the company wasn't a media company and had never been used as a platform) and no current or ongoing bad things happening on any other platform - just some long buried immature and wrongheaded tweets from a teenage daughter. Cancelling was punitive, and retributive, and disproportional, and was in no way protecting people from ongoing wrongdoing or harm. (See Bari Weiss' substack for more)

So "shutting down the ability for person to engage in ongoing bad speech or behavior" is not the only purpose of cancel culture or of flexing power. Sometimes it's just to intimidate and show the world how much "power over" a narrative or group has.

"Cross us, no matter whether there is real harm or not, and we can get you fired, get leases canceled, get contracts cancelled, get businesses damaged or closed, and make your family afraid by publicizing your names and sponsoring protests at your home and business"

And if the attempt to flex that cancellation power fails (as in the case of folks like Joe Rogan/Spotify and Dave Chappelle/Netflix), boy does that grind their gears. Not just because somebody might still have a platform for future unapproved speech, but perhaps even more so because they hate to have the limits of their power to destroy demonstrated, even in exceptional cases like these. (They can still destroy lesser folks).

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"For example, Majdi Wadi was a Palestinian Muslim businessman (selling middle eastern food) in Minneapolis, supporting a mixed race community and Black Lives Matter, when somebody discovered some terrible racist and homophobic tweets by his daughter from many years previous when she was a mixed up teenager."

Yep, I mention this story in the article. It's such a perfect example of everything wring with this brand of "justice". And positively dystopian that he actually fired his daughter over the tweets in a desperate attempt to save his family business. How anybody involved, from the people on social media applying pressure, to the leaseholders and other business who reacted by disavowing the company, felt as if they were doing the right thing is totally beyond me.

Again, this is just evidence that this isn't about doing the right thing at all. In no moral universe I want to live in was that the right outcome.

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Mar 14, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

Othering based on self-righteousness is a brain high (I'd love to know the chemistry involved) that makes the humanity of the person being othered invisible to the person othering them. This pattern is insidious. It can make people who otherwise appear normal and compassionate into monsters. I've had first-hand experience with this phenomenon. No appeal will sway them from seeing things a certain way. They are right. And that's that. It's the hardest rock I've ever banged myself against. I've twisted myself into pretzels trying to reach someone on the other side of othering. And I never was successful in convincing them that they were hurting me and that I didn't deserve their enmity. I had to remain the scapegoat in order for their worldview to stay intact.

Perhaps you've exposed some of the truth of this phenomenon when you tie it to revenge. When we deliberately seek to harm someone out of malice, it is frowned on by society. But, if we can gin up a good enough excuse as to why we must harm, then it's not malice, it's justified and legitimate. And, what greater excuse than that of "I was or am a victim. Someone hurt me so therefore, I am pushing back." Who can argue with someone standing up for themselves? “'Cancel culture' may have started out in good faith (much like Christianity) but it has since morphed into something gross and ugly.” - Nicole Chardenet

Maybe the whole thing is about legitimating revenge.

Outside the Wall

All alone, or in two's

The ones who really love you

Walk up and down outside the wall

Some hand in hand

And some gathered together in bands

The bleeding hearts and the artists

Make their stand

And when they've given you their all

Some stagger and fall, after all it's not easy

Banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall

—Pink Floyd, The Wall

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"Has anybody else noticed something similar to this? Does it resonate as a valid facet of the complex truth of society today?"

Yes, although you put it far more succinctly than I could have. Which leads to the question - how do we harness our own personal power against these weak-ass pretenders? Without seeking power over others ourselves which is ultimately self-defeating and validates the idea that absolute power corrupts, and power corrupts absolutely?

I'm reminded of the olden days of the Catholic Church (which only ended in the 20th century) when they told the flock, "Don't read the Bible yourselves, let us read it to you, you'll interpret it wrong, we know what we're doing." It's why they feared the Gutenberg printing press - holy fuck, what if the literate read this and tell the illiterate morons what it REALLY says?

I've been thinking for awhile that maybe where we need to apply the pressure is in academia and the corporate world who are, pardon my vulgar French, a big bunch of pussies when it comes to standing up to the unemployed, psychologically disturbed rabble with too much time on their hands.

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Also, Thomas Sowell covers the topic of college-educated failures and their impact on social cohesion in his book “Intellectuals & Society.” Apparently, it's a known phenomenon.

This ties in handily with pushing too many kids into academic educations and the resulting fallout - which is that many, many jobs in the skilled trades are going vacant presently because we haven't stressed vocational training for at least the past several decades. That said, it's always been an upper class meme that there is something lesser, even shameful about working with your hands and so it makes sense that people interested in social mobility would pursue academic training rather than vocational.

Who would have thunk that an overabundance of educated people would result in a weakened, fractured society? That empowering people through education would lead them to strive for "power over" rather than simple being empowered. Perhaps we should be teaching some humility as well.

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Ironically, I spoke with two plumbers last week for a sales campaign I'm on who addressed the problem of not being able to find good help. They need young people, willing to learn the business. Not many want to do the dirty work, or are willing to learn; one pays for courses for them but they don't do the work; they won't read the material and always have some excuse for why they didn't. These young people aren't reliable, both say, and they can't get or hang on to a driver's license, which they often lose due to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or they didn't pay their child support (not sure how that works, may vary state to state, this is a US campaign) which you can't be on drugs or alcohol when you're a plumber. They're both willing to train but the young won't stick with it. So, this kind of lends something to what's behind the story of *some* (not all!) lazy younger generation members. And something to think about when the unemployment numbers roll around. I asked these guys about folks from lower-class backgrounds without criminal backgrounds and they said they've tried them but they're lazy and don't do the work - and BTW neither these guys nor I talked colour at all, but one I'm pretty sure was black, a successful business owner himself. One of them, I forget which, complained about how 'overeducated' the young are, how they got sold on a college education but can't get a job and don't want plumbing work, although, *good* home improvement people don't come cheap (do you really want a third-rate plumber fixing your septic system?) Okay, plumbing work is REALLY unsexy and unglamourous but these are similar complaints I've heard for a month from the HVAC set, where the work is unglamorous but a lot less unseptic.

Good point about social mobility and a disdain for manual labour. Now we've got teachers leaving the profession in droves because one of the most critical, valuable intrinsic-to-survival jobs pays so little, and offers mostly neglect, disdain from parents and administrators, and often outright abuse from untamed children that they're throwing in the towel. America, I sometimes fear, is doomed, and it was a joint effort by partisans, hacks and lazy thinkers on both sides.

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I do want to wonder about how little teachers are paid. Locally, around the time we moved to California 17 years ago, there was a big issue about teachers, and the paper dug up salary information for local school districts. The median pay for teachers was about $70K, for less than 12 months work. If that was the median, imagine what most were making by the time they retire. At the time, a social worker with similar training was generally paid significantly less.

This is in a semi-rural county on the periphery of the SF Bay Area, for context.

I'm NOT against teachers, but I think we need to find out how much a particular district pays before automatically assuming the stereotype of being underpaid is always true. Even in our area, some districts paid significantly more than others.

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How about women in the trades?

Jordan Peterson likes to cite the extreme sex disparity in bricklaying and ask why feminists are not trying to get more women into the field.

There are a couple of reasons: real physical differences, and seeking equal outcomes in regard only to higher status desk jobs.

The latter influence is shared by educated young men as well.

From what I've heard, Germany does a better job of providing a respected path towards the trades as a parallel track to college, and the effect on their society is said to be positive. That's the kind of solution that old style progressives might really get behind - but the new elite-based neo-progressives find unappealing.

I went the higher education route myself, but I have a real respect for the folks who can get stuff done in the real world. We recently had an earthquake retrofit (bolting the frame to the foundation) done, and the young men doing the work were very polite, communicative, and respectful. And I respect them in turn.

I hope that liberals do not push more and more of the working class into "the other camp" through their elitism.

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Thanks for sharing this anecdote. It is instructive.

We have become spoiled and in turn spoil our children because life has become progressively easier as technology and infrastructure have become more sophisticated. It is an unfortunate externality of the pursuit of comfort. In addition to this, glam is sold by Hollywood and the American marketing engine (unparalleled in the world) as the only desirable course (note the popularity of the Kardashians and the glam coiffures and clothing and jewelry pushed in all reality shows). Of course glam is faux and superficial and is a path that leads away from true substance and character building. And yet, because our visual sense is our most powerful, we get sucked in and our psyche gives it weight - as if it matters more than character or honor. Even I am not immune and I know better.

Somehow, we need a marketing campaign that "glamorizes" getting dirty and sweaty, building muscle and character and working outside in some cases. One thing I have learned in my life is that even good ideas have to be sold to people. The UMC always sets the cultural tone in any society and right now, the UMC is behaving very badly toward the working classes - demonizing and shaming them in the worst way possible. And the press are their handmaidens—gleefully communicating this arrogance and malice (at times) into the ether for all to consume.

There was an article by a reporter a couple of months ago asking whether it was okay to hire and/or speak to a plumber because the homeowner suspected that he was a likely Trump voter. I mean, seriously? This author was considering whether it was okay to dehumanize this guy in the full light of day simply over suspected (not even proven) political beliefs. The condescension and arrogance on display with this virtue signaling/fear mongering is just staggering! https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/01/13/donald-trump-class-rural-white-democrats-glenn-reynolds-column/96413412/

Of course, as you point out, our younger classes also have not been taught a healthy work ethic. They have not been taught to take pride in a job well done; to strive for excellence regardless of whether you are getting paid for it or not. We have the power to change this. Where there is a will, there is a way.

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"Somehow, we need a marketing campaign that "glamorizes" getting dirty and sweaty, building muscle and character and working outside in some cases. One thing I have learned in my life is that even good ideas have to be sold to people."

...And also detoxify these trades for young women. I have a female friends who is a pipe layer and works with mostly men and when she was living and working here in Toronto years ago she told me about how misogynist they could be, especially after listening to Toronto's top morning drive show host who had, like most morning drive show hosts, the emotional maturity and enlightened attitudes of a 14-year-old boy. She said while listening to this shitbrain the guys became more misogynist, and then calmed down an hour or two after the show was off the air. It doesn't help when you're locked into an 'old boys' network', emphasis on the 'boys'.

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Point taken. But you can learn to navigate this. I was in the Army, one of the most misogynist boys clubs around. And, I not only survived but learned a few tricks and how to stand up for myself. Believe it or not, it is a known fact that within the Army, units that include female soldiers like support, medical, commo, admin, the men behave in a more civilized fashion. So, she needs to recruit a second female and/or learn how to clap back when they get out of line. Just a thought.

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What is the UMC? Unaccountable Media Corporations?

It's interesting how values are promulgated to successive generations; partly by parents, partly by schools and organizations, partly by media (including social media today). Often through fiction, like with relatable characters demonstrating traits in positive or negative ways. The cultural elites who were among the first infected with neo-progressivism (or wokeness if you prefer) are very aware of this.

I recall being very impressed at some early age by an episode of a TV western, The Rifleman, where the protagonist defended somebody coming through town and expressing unpopular ideas, even while not agreeing with the man. It was like a version of "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." framed for TV viewers and children. I think it had an effect on the values I internalized.

So what values are children's media instilling in kids today? And what values have been instilled over recent decades?

I agree that showing positive and respectful portrayals of working class folks, and of skilled tradespeople, would be helpful.

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Upper Middle Class. Agree with the rest. I think media has been an outsized influence and it would be nice if they would take more responsibility. Doubt if we see it happen any time soon. Pardon my cynicism on this topic.

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The article was roughly 5 years ago. Apologies for the error.

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"Perhaps we should be teaching some humility as well."

When an organization I volunteer for was undergoing a make over a few years back, including crafting mission statements, vision statements, values documents and all of that - on of the values was "humility". I kind of wondered about it then, as it was unlike the other values, and sounded more Christian (this was a very liberal California organization).

But I have since come to see that it's a critical value, being the antithesis (and possible partial antidote) to self righteousness. Whenever we are tempted to become a zealot or self-righteous, it's good to remind ourselves that we don't know the full truth, that some of our beliefs may be inaccurate and may need changing, that our prescriptions may have side effects we haven't realized.

I have come to see belief that one has the moral high ground as a spiritual and intellectual pitfall from which springs many injustices and misguided policies.

We kind of have to believe that our own take on things is likely more right than wrong, or we wouldn't forge ahead and engage with the world. But we don't have to be smugly sure of it, we can qualify our support of individual ideas or policies with our current degree of confidence, we can openly recognize which of our opinions should be treated as hypotheses we are trying out for now (with good reason to think are probably good, but no certainty). We need to be open to other views, and to feedback from reality. In short, we need some thoughtful humility or we become tyrants (or would-be tyrants waiting for a change to be on top, in control).

I very rarely see this kind of humility in neo-progressivism, and have never seen it valorized as a positive (let alone essential) trait. There is a poor facsimile in terms of fostering guilt and self doubt among those labeled "privileged" - but that's more like trying to break down all resistance and discard critical thinking, not a reasoned and nuanced balance. And those trying to tear down the "privileged" evince the opposite of humility, a smug certainty that they are on the right side of history and supporting designated oppressed folks, which means there is no need for respectful discourse - just execute the program as you have been told.

So I want to distinguish functioning humility from outwardly imposed (or internalized) self-abnegation. One is about fostering more awareness and moderation, the other about someone else seeking to gain power over us.

I would guess that I question myself several times a week, as I read and watch political things. I question whether I'm certain my take is right or is it possible that I'm wrong in part or whole. I question whether I'm setting up a strawman, or demonizing an opponent, or over simplifying. I have my own biases, and am subject to confirmation bias. And sometimes I rewrite or revise my internal dialogue. Less often, I try within myself to "steelman" an argument clumsily or emotionally made by an opponent - is there some nugget of (inconvenient?) truth buried under even an infuriatingly dishonest or inept argument?

And I do an imperfect job of all that.

Alas, I do not find this form of good faith discourse to be the norm, or even common. So we muddle on.

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Absolutely. Your post inspired me to look it up. The connotation I was promoting is "freedom from pride and arrogance." Thanks for unpacking this further. Good stuff!

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Anybody who knows and uses the term hubris has my support from the get-go

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I'm an old man with a long list of things I wish I could go back and do better, but I don't have a way to turn back the clock. The best that I can do is learn and try to do better moving forward. I think it proper to give others the same consideration that I give to myself.

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It reminds me of how unforgiving Republicans had become when they invented the 'flip flop' in political discourse. If you ever changed your mind on anything it was a 'flip flop', during the 2004 campaign, when John Kerry was said to have done so on various campaign issues, when in fact it was more of an evolution of thought. As opposed to Bush I, who flip-flopped on his support of abortion rights for Reagan so he could become his running mate.

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On a Coleman Hughes podcast I was just listening to as I hiked today, the guest quoted something like "when the facts change, I change my opinions; what do you do?"

(The editor in me wants to substitute "the balance of evidence" for supposedly less volatile "facts", but it was their phrasing not mine).

Of course, as Dave Murray says, changes are not always due to such positive factors, and sometimes really are flip-flopping.

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With politicians one never knows if it is evolution of thought, political expediency or the criticism is just, "you're not on my side with that." Probably the last choice in many cases.

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Mar 13, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

Isn't it exhausting for you for engage with people having this level of cognitive dissonance? I really admire your tenacity.

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Not going to lie, it can definitely be exhausting. But the more I speak to people like these, the better I'm able to express the flaws in their thinking. Engaging with people like these has made me a better, ore effective writer and communicator. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.😅

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'Cancel culture' may have started out in good faith (much like Christianity) but it has since morphed into something gross and ugly. There are still a few healthy branches left but since the roots are rotten, the tree is rotten, and the rot always reaches the healthy branches.

I make that comparison because as a Pagan who's done a lot of research on the history of Paganism, ancient and modern, and the role the Church (Protestant as well as Catholic) played in the witch and heretic hunts of the Inquisition (heretics were real, witches were not), I see these people as you do, Steve, the modern ignorant, semi-literate, torches 'n' pitchforks mob. I call them semi-literate because they have little input into their brains as their ancestors did in days of yore, when the Bible was their sole or near-sole source of thought and 'learning'. Today, it's intellectually constipated 'woke' culture, which produces fanatics as vicious as their Puritan ancestors. It's no coincidence that woke fanaticism (all flavours) closely resembles Christian fundamentalism, sans a god.

I will note one interesting ethical question posed by Hal's (albeit creative) use of Rogan's guest's racist opinions. I'm with you on Rogan; he's largely uninteresting except when he's talking about psychedelics as therapeutic, which is a fascinating and growing new field in promoting mental health, with a lot of legal challenges and public prejudice. I agree that this clip was selectively edited most likely to make Rogan look more racist than he probably is. But I wonder: Did Rogan know this guy was likely to say something like that? Maybe he didn't. I *do* think we need to start coming down hard on anti-science beliefs or expressions, which we've already begun doing because, from both the left and right, such expressions have become demonstrably harmful to others, preventing parents from getting childhood vaccines for their children to worsening a pandemic in the US because of views based far more on politics than science.

I'm very pro-science and we have GOT to get back to a standard of established facts, and we must hold the 'woke' as firmly to it as we insist on doing to the right. So, in retrospect, should Rogan have perhaps edited that out, if not at the time then later, retrospectively?

I've always been a staunch First Amendment supporter but both the left and the right have forced me to question whether we need more boundaries than the few outlined in the Constitution that present clear and present danger to the Republic. And honestly, maybe I'm wrong about this, but I think the guest who expressed those opinions should at the very least have those opinions edited out. Whether Rogan wants to tell his audience what he did if he did that I don't know, but it IS a scientifically invalid view. Social media platforms have been forced by government and public pressure to remove or just warn people about fake news, fake facts, and to flat-out remove certain types of content that are demonstrably harmful. It's a very sticky wicket for the First Amendment, but the Founding Fathers didn't have to deal with Twitter. I imagine a much more wired 18th-century British populace would have overwhelmed the Sons of Liberty and the Valley Forge gang in the court of Twitter and Facebook public opinion.

As for the so-called 'harm' that is caused - yes, I see genuine harm in what Rogan's guest expressed *even though anything else he said might have been valid or at least not run afoul of science*, but I discount the alleged 'harm' caused by his racist joke. Strong-willed people of all races aren't destroyed by something stupid even by someone as popular as Rogan, and the rest are, really, too weak-spirited to be on social media. What some call 'harm' the rest of us call 'challenge to your constipated worldview'.

I think those guest comments should be edited out, and also that the (theoretical) Rogan should say why. If we're going to hold the right accountable we MUST do the same with the left. And science is Ground Zero for me. Expect to be held accountable to it, everyone.

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"I'm very pro-science and we have GOT to get back to a standard of established facts, and we must hold the 'woke' as firmly to it as we insist on doing to the right. So, in retrospect, should Rogan have perhaps edited that out, if not at the time then later, retrospectively?"

I'm extremely pro-free-speech, including views I detest, because the fact is that these views are out there anyway. I don't think anybody who listens to this guy and finds him compelling wasn't already racist.

I do wish Rogan was smart enough to push back on his nonsense more effectively. But at least Rogan does push back. That will make a difference to some of his listeners. The fact that these views are so rarely exposed to the light means that most people who believe them never hear *anybody* question them.

I understand the concerns about the boundaries of free-speech, but I firmly believe that it's better to challenge bad ideas than to leave them to fester. Or worse, to "silence" them and have people even more curious about what is being "hidden" from them. In fact, I'd argue that one of the major factors that led to so much COVID misinformation was the decidedly un-scientific way that pandemic information was reported.

The scientific method relies on open and rigorous examination. When doing that becomes taboo, you feed all the fruit loops who want to say they're being censored.

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I too am an advocate for good science.

Alas, it's not that easy, however. Each side has the "scientists" or "doctors" who they listen to; both sides are pretty convinced that science is on their side. How can we teach people the skills and proclivity to fairly successfully evaluate which alleged science to believe? How can we instill an aesthetic of valuing accuracy over reinforcement of what one already believes? The former is a much more challenging acquired taste, compared to the easy payoffs of the latter.

I used to be a "question authority" person. Well, I still am, but now I'd insert "intelligently" rather than "belligerantly" as so many people now do. What used to make people willing to trust even authorities who tell you something you'd rather not hear - and why is that breaking down now?

Some of it is kind like the Dunning-Kruger effect - we've empowered the common folks to trust their own authority, to take on complex evaluations of truth which are above their pay grade. There are lots of roots to this disdain for outside authority - conflicting health stories in the paper every day, revelations of corrupted science by corporations (tobacco, pharmaceutical), the Tuskegee experiment, even things like mocking the "lab leak hypothesis" of Covid as a wild conspiracy theory only to later find out it was more credible (and from released Fauci emails, something his own advisors found credible at the time he was publicly dismissing it). There are many factors behind these confusing inputs - like people not realizing that wine might have good health effects in one area and bad in another, rather than "scientists can't make up their minds and keep switching". And it all gets too confusing and requires knowledge and skills and considerable effort to do a good job of sorting through.

So let's throw our hands in the air, make some cynical comments, and find some source which will confirm what we want to believe.

Is there any way to foster an iconoclastic democratic technological culture, composed of the normal range of humans in regard to intelligence and temperaments, without falling into this sand trap of overloaded rationality being swamped by irrationality? I don't know, but sometimes I wonder.

And alas, "trust the science" is having an ever weaker constructive influence.

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"Journalism' hasn't helped, for sure, and maybe some courses in critical thinking and fact-checking are in order as required before one graduates school. Journalists have, with a few specially trained exceptions (like actual scientists), been properly schooled in how to write about scientific matters, or explain to the reader what 'peer reviewed' or means or how this is an early study for this question so there will be many more to come, so the jury will be out on its meaning for awhile. Of course for many, that level of detail would be too haaaaard to handle, when, oh look! Kim K's got a new ass photo on Twitter! Is that her real ass? Really?

The problem with 'two sciences' is that one of them is clearly faulty and not real science and the other is not. Science will always, for all of us, be a little bit of a matter of faith...especially with science that's too complex for most of us to understand fully (like physics, which is so bizarre it's almost indistinguishable from magic for many of us, and I mean that in the intellectual sense). But the 'science' for, say, Creationism is clearly false and only critical thinking can discern the truth, and that's a skill that's fallen into disfavour and outright hostility. Parents have been fighting it in the schools of years; when I was in college, it was 'Christian' fundamentalists who fought it, now it's the far left and its religious devotion to critical theory who fight it. Thou shalt believe what we teach you, heretic!

I don't know what the answer is, but often I'm glad I'll be dead in another twenty or thirty years. I don't want to stick around to see how badly the left and right have fucked up America, if Putin and Trump don't destroy us first.

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Mar 12, 2022·edited Mar 12, 2022

“[C]ancel culture is not about moral suasion or transforming the moral universe of the aggressor. It is about power.”

And since, as you are endlessly informing us, Racism = Prejudice + Power, once you achieve the power you seek, your patent prejudice makes you a racist. Better watch out—wouldn’t want to be held accountable!

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"And since, as you are endlessly informing us, Racism = Prejudice + Power"

I don't think there's any need to buy into this framing. The good old-fashioned definition of racism already makes it clear that people like this are racist. Interestingly, an increasing number of these fringe "antiracists" are racist against black people who don't adhere to the narrative too.

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Mar 14, 2022·edited Mar 14, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

“The good old-fashioned definition of racism already makes it clear that people like this are racist.”

Of course it does. Which is why these people feel the need to rewrite the definition to exclude themselves and apply only to people they don’t like. My point was to point out the inherent self-contradiction in equating racism with power and then seeking power in the name of fighting racism. By their own definition, it exposes their blatant prejudice as yet another form of racism.

“Interestingly, an increasing number of these fringe ‘antiracists’ are racist against black people who don't adhere to the narrative too.”

. . . as I’m sure you, Steve, can attest from personal experience.

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"as I’m sure you, Steve, can attest from personal experience."

Haha! I certainly can!😅

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deletedMar 13, 2022Liked by Steve QJ
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If only more people had this self-awareness.

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