Secular Right | Reality & Reason



Awkward Questions

Ten years after the publication of The Blank Slate, The Daily Telegraph’s Ed West asks some awkward questions:

…The blank slate doctrine affects almost every area of our lives. Take, for example, recent moves in Ireland to set quotas on women in politics, a move that is moderate compared to quota systems already implemented in Scandinavia. Whether one thinks this is right or not, what is wrong is that the starting premise is a totally pseudoscientific view of human nature – gender feminism.

As Pinker wrote, there are two types of feminism: “Equity feminism is a moral doctrine about equal treatment that makes no commitments regarding open empirical issues in psychology or biology. Gender feminism is an empirical doctrine committed to three claims about human nature. The first is that the differences between men and women have nothing to do with biology but are socially constructed in their entirety. The second is that humans possess a single social motive – power – and that social life can be understood only in terms of how it is exercised. The third is that human interactions arise not from the motives of people dealing with each other as individuals but from the motives of groups dealing with other groups – in this case, the male gender dominating the female gender.

“In embracing these doctrines, the genderists are handcuffing feminism to railroad tracks on which a train is bearing down.”
Gender feminism is no more scientific than astrology, yet the idea of total equality of outcomes is still some sort of vague official goal among the European elite, largely because “people’s unwillingness to think in statistical terms has led to pointless false dichotomies”, between “women are unqualified” and “fifty-fifty absolutely”…

…But just as the good name of feminism has been stigmatised by its radical wing, the whole of the social sciences have been damaged by the blank-slate orthodoxy, which has led to widespread anti-intellectualism, since the public at large come to view academia as a font of convenient untruths and agenda-driven nonsense (or to use the popular phrase, political correctness). Worst of all it has actually made it harder to help the most vulnerable, because we fail to take account of the fact that some people are less smart than others or, as Savulescu pointed out, more prone to vice or violence; and it has even made society less sympathetic to people who, because they have been less blessed by nature, lose out in the rat race.

A decade after The Blank Slate, why is human nature still taboo?

Mr. West effectively answers his own question here:

I don’t agree with Pinker about everything…His belief that there is no soul – “the ghost in the machine” – I find too awful to contemplate.

And that’s just why so many people cling to the belief in the blank slate.

Others, more sinister, find it politically useful.

Read the whole thing.


1 comment

  • Contemplationist · August 20, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Reads like a plea to his fellow media elitists to place the contemporary zeitgeist on a sounder footing before the fall comes. But, really, is a fall coming? I’m highly skeptical. The truth doesn’t always win out in people’s hearts or minds.
    However the following signs are ominous

    1) The student debt disaster and the increasing costs of higher education.
    2) The decline of the traditional media in prestige and corporate earnings.
    3) The debt disasters all around us especially in the European Union.

    All these things can’t be brushed under the rug. Let’s see how it all plays out.



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