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Professors and Intelligent Design:

[Bernstein responds to Leiter here.]

According to the survey of academics' ideology linked in my previous post, "creationist identity was also low, but with less identifiable shift by age group (the range was 3.9 to 4.7 percent) and with the strongest disciplinary support in the social sciences (17.6 percent) and humanities (5.0 percent), with negligible support elsewhere. Gross and Simmons cautioned, however, that in fields like sociology and literature, scholars who identify as theocentrists are in many cases talking about specific approaches to their research and analysis, and not necessarily about a ideology they wish to see in operation."

Whoops, my mistake, substitute "Marxist" for "creationist" and "theocentrist" in the quote above. It turns out, according to the study, that 17.6 of professors in the social scientists consider themselves Marxists. Only academics doing a survey of other academics could possibly think that this is low (actually, the authors use the term "rare"!). The next time someone tells you that conservatives avoid academic positions in the social sciences because they believe in nonsensical superstitions with no empirical or logical support, while liberals believe in the scientific method, remember that 17.6% figure. (Update: See also Freud and Freudianism, whose time thankfully seems to have largely passed.)

UPDATE: Among actual scientists, in the physical and biological sciences, the percentage who identify themselves as Marxists is zero.

neurodoc:
Whoops, substitute "creationist" and "theocentrists" for Marxist and Marxists.
That was a mistake, wasn't it, you really meant the opposite?
10.9.2007 2:30pm
AF:
This is sophistry an unfair analogy. Marxism is a broad term that does not necessarily entail literal belief in all of Marx's arguments or predictions. A better analogy would be the percentage of academics who are "religious." Though many religious claims and predictions are scientifically suspect, most would not conclude that because an academic is religious she believes in "nonsensical superstitions with no empirical or logical support."
10.9.2007 2:32pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
It would be important to explore what they mean by Marxist.
I don't think, in this context, that they mean "people who support a violent revolution to create a dictatorship of the proletariat" so much as they mean statements like "economics is a driving force of history" and "one's social class influences how one looks at things." Marx, along with Durkheim and Veber, is one of the big names in sociology, which is a legitimate discipline. Of course, too many in the academy are Marxists in both senses, to at least some degree.
10.9.2007 2:38pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
AF, that's exactly the point. Some commentators say that conservatives avoid the social sciences because they dogmatically adhere to nonsensical notions that the scientific method will contradict. Marxism has about as much empirical support as intelligent design.

Marx is a big name is sociology. So what? Freud is a big name in psychology and his work (or at least the vast majority of it) can't stand up to the scientific method, either, and people who follow his theories do so because they find them congenial, not because they have any empirical validity.
10.9.2007 2:44pm
scote (mail):

Whoops, substitute "Marxist" for "creationist" and "theocentrist." Only academics doing a survey of other academics could possibly think that 17.6% of social science professors identifying as Marxist is low


You are missing the relevance. You can't just substitute attributes with completely unrelated ones and declare a valid analgoy. Low compared to what? The general population? Yes! Low compared to believers of literal word of Zeus? No.
10.9.2007 2:46pm
This post by David Bernstein is based on ignorance (mail):
Actually, Marxism can refer to a particular set of approaches to problems, rather than a particular set of results. That is, one does not have to agree with Marx at all in terms of results to call oneself a Marxist under certain definitions of the term. Further, the methodologies that Marxism entails have evolved beyond those that Marx himself employed. Thus, you do not even have to agree with Marx on either methodological matters or results to be a Marxist.

I do think that the label Marxist to refer to a particular set of approaches to problems, or methodology, is confusing and unfortunate. But, academics are not always known for making the best choices when it comes to naming stuff.

Anyway, Mr. Bernstein's post here is based on ignorance, not inside knowledge. The caution that Gross and Simmons make is exactly right, Bernstein is exactly wrong.
10.9.2007 2:48pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
17.6% Marxists is low compared to the general population? Of North Korea?
10.9.2007 2:49pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Someone give me a citation to a serious study showing empirical support for Marxism, however defined, and I'll entertain claims that my post is based on ignorance.
10.9.2007 2:50pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
And btw, if you read the study, the respondents were asked whether to what extent they consider themselves "radicals," "activists," or "Marxists." I doubt someone who occasionally used a methodology that is somehow loosely based on something that someone who calls himself a Marxist but doesn't really follow any of Marx's teachings would have had a strong "yes" response to that question.
10.9.2007 2:53pm
This post by David Bernstein is based on ignorance (mail):
DavidBernstein writes:


Some commentators say that conservatives avoid the social sciences because they dogmatically adhere to nonsensical notions that the scientific method will contradict. Marxism has about as much empirical support as intelligent design.


First, it would be nice if Bernstein actually knew what Marxism was before commenting. He obviously does not.

Second, with respect to those in the social sciences dogmatically adhering to nonsensical notions, that, it must be admitted is true. But, there is a huge amount of ideological diversity among social scientists, such that different social scientists dogmatically adhere to conflicting nonsensical notions. Hence the beyond nasty and rather unpleasant faculty meetings that are all too common in many departments.

Third, I am not sure what counts as empirical to Mr. Bernstein. Does narrative count as empirical. After all, if narrative is based on ones senses, it is could be said to be empirical. Yet, there is an undeniably subjective element as well. Actually, the problem with many claims made by social scientists is not that it is contradicted by empirical evidence. The problem is that they are not necessarily falsifiable, because they are in narrative form. But, that something is not falsifiable does not make it not useful. Libertarianism is not falsifiable, but Mr. Bernstein does cling to that ideology with an unfortunate tenacity. Apparently, we cannot get by in life with only beliefs that are falsifiable, and thus subject to the exact same scientific method that is employed with success in the natural sciences. All of this is not to say that ideas should not be tested in the market place of ideas, but even so, any such market place will have systematic biases that allow ideas that are far from the truth to exist, even thrive. The continued existence of libertarianism is a good example of market failure in the market of ideas.

Finally, social scientists tend not to adhere to their nonsensical notions anymore dogmatically than Mr. Bernstein adheres to the nonsensical notion known as libertarianism.
10.9.2007 3:03pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Short answer: Nope, I can't even define Marxism for you, much less claim that it has any empirical validity beyond some storytelling.
10.9.2007 3:06pm
GV_:
The next time someone tells you that conservatives avoid academic positions in the social sciences because they believe in nonsensical superstitions with no empirical or logical support, while liberals believe in the scientific method, remember that 17.6% figure.

Marxists are, by definition, not "liberals," so what's your point?
10.9.2007 3:10pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
And by the way, libertarianism is an ideology, of course ideologies are not "scientific". This approach notes that Marxism is a methodology (or a set of methodologies), and if one uses a methodology that has no sound empirical basis (see again Freudianism) you might as well be using a divining rod. Note also that to the extent respondents were talking about ideology and not methodology, they could have contented themselves with "activist" and "radical" and abjured Marxist. Since they didn't, they either must be followers of Marxism as a methodology, or be ideological Marxists to some degree (labor theory of value? dialectical materialism? believers in the idea that class interest dictates people's behaviors?).
10.9.2007 3:10pm
Ben P (mail):
Someone sort of pointed this out.

It is at least marginally worth noting that you still see at least a number of works that speak of "Marxist approaches to X" whether it be history or some other social science.

That may or may not have more application to this than the pure application of Marxism as a political doctrine. But is certaianly a different use of the term.
10.9.2007 3:10pm
Kieran (mail) (www):
Someone give me a citation to a serious study showing empirical support for Marxism, however defined, and I'll entertain claims that my post is based on ignorance.

My feeling here is that any names that get suggested will be discounted by you on the grounds either that they are insufficiently Marxist, regardless of the self-identification of the author; or because they do not provide empirical support in the form you had in mind for whichever of Marx's views you had in mind. As a tradition of thought, Marxism is rather varied and there are flavors ranging from the obnoxious to the absurd to the serious -- much like Libertarianism, in fact, which is the right-wing intellectual tradition it most resembles. It's one thing to claim that particular Marxist predictions or theories haven't stood up to empirical or logical scrutiny over the long term, or that they are have been associated with evil political regimes, etc. It's quite another to suggest that anyone who calls themselves a Marxist is ipso facto some kind of fraud or that there is no good research or scholarship that a reasonable observer would say was in the Marxian tradition.
10.9.2007 3:10pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
GV, you're right, but the other side is the one that constrasts the "conservatives" with the enlightened liberals of the academy, by which THEY are apparently including the Marxists.
10.9.2007 3:11pm
VC Rita:
The "whoops" is tired when Eugene does it. If you have a point, make it; the feigned surprise--"Hey, it turns out there are yet more people in academia I hate, imagine that!"--is awfully corny.

And the strawman cometh: "The next time someone tells you that conservatives avoid academic positions in the social sciences because they believe in nonsensical superstitions with no empirical or logical support"

Uh-huh... who says such a thing?
10.9.2007 3:12pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
"It's one thing to claim that particular Marxist predictions or theories haven't stood up to empirical or logical scrutiny over the long term, or that they are have been associated with evil political regimes, etc. It's quite another to suggest that anyone who calls themselves a Marxist is ipso facto some kind of fraud or that there is no good research or scholarship that a reasonable observer would say was in the Marxian tradition."

Kieran, I'll buy that, but one can say the same for people whose scholarship is motivated by religious ideology. Some religious archeologists trying to prove the inerrancy of the Bible did some quite good work in the 19th century. My point wasn't that anyone who calls himself a Marxist is a fraud, my point was that dogma is hardly limited to "conservatives."
10.9.2007 3:14pm
Kieran (mail) (www):
My point wasn't that anyone who calls himself a Marxist is a fraud, my point was that dogma is hardly limited to "conservatives."

That's a substantially weaker proposition, and -- dogmatists excepted -- not one that you'll get a lot of disagreement on.
10.9.2007 3:18pm
AF:
Marxism has about as much empirical support as intelligent design.

Unlike intelligent design, Marxism is not an empirical claim. It is, among other things, a political philosophy and historical methodology. To say Marxism lacks empirical support is like saying libertarianism lacks empirical support. It's a category error.

I doubt someone who occasionally used a methodology that is somehow loosely based on something that someone who calls himself a Marxist but doesn't really follow any of Marx's teachings would have had a strong "yes" response to that question.

There are plenty of Marxists who reject Marx's specific teachings. Even "orthodox" Marxists such as George Lukacs reject "the uncritical acceptance of the results of Marx's investigations." And most Marxists are not orthodox Marxists. You can criticize them for using loose terminology to describe themselves, but it's simply absurd to conclude that all or most academics calling themselves "Marxists" are equivalent to creationists in that they believe demonstrably false empirical claims.
10.9.2007 3:24pm
David Bernstein is guilty of using narrative in his work (mail):
Having had the unfortunate experience of reading some of the stuff you have written academically, I was shocked to find that you used narrative, if you apparently think is valueless.

Let me be the first to stand here and say that your scholarship is not useless, even though it does depend on narrative and not strictly on scientific method.

You may think your scholarship, like the scholarship of many social scientists is useless. But I beg to differ. Many ideas are only available to us through narrative.

Indeed, even papers that use empirical data often depend on narrative as an essential means of communicating certain less than falsifiable inferences from that data. Would you ban such explanatory narrative from papers that contain empirical work, on the grounds that such narrative is no better than "using a divining rod" because that narrative itself is not falsifiable or empirical? I am afraid that doing so would neuter scholarship and make it much less useful.

You really are not living up to your own standards for scholarship here. Do you really think your own work is no better than "using a divining rod?"

And by the way. Michael Klarman was right. =)
10.9.2007 3:30pm
Roach (mail) (www):
Freud had such a monumental impact on English and art criticism in the Mid-20th Century, it's remarkable that he's faded away with barely a wimper. Perhaps everyone noticed: hey, this guy purports to describe how the world works but (a) has no real evidence (b) his method consists of idle speculation and (c) his conclusions lack predictive value. It's a scandal his myth-making had such prominence for so long.

PS Marxism is similarly grand and ambitious and the product of pure speculation, and it also purports to be predictive, though I haven't seen that English Marxist workers revolt yet.
10.9.2007 3:31pm
rarango (mail):
What AF said! A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I took a political philosophy course that described Marxim as having three fundamental elements: (1) dialectical materialism; (2)economic determinism (although more of an Engel's contribution); and (3) scientific (read atheistic). At those levels it is more an approach to the study of phenomena than it is a political system.
10.9.2007 3:38pm
tvk:
I really don't understand the relevance of the comparison. Let me say at the start that I have no problems at all with creationists teaching, say, theology, or even something like linguistics or economics. So not all parts of the humanities and social sciences need adherence to the scientific method in every part of that person's life. And while I would find economists who identified themselves as Marxists rather outdated in this day and age, does anyone care if their linguistics or psychology professor is a Marxist or not?
10.9.2007 3:39pm
Davy Banks:
"AF, that's exactly the point. Some commentators say that conservatives avoid the social sciences because they dogmatically adhere to nonsensical notions that the scientific method will contradict. Marxism has about as much empirical support as intelligent design."

What do you mean the scientific method? I assume you refer to a particular philosophy known as positivism. Some of the tenets of positivism include a theory of causation where the presence of X leads to Y but that X and Y are "independent" of one another; that experiments should be conducted in controlled closed-system environments; that experiments should use a double-blind method etc. None of these conditions can ever be met in the social world (and sciences )although some methods, like statistics, attempt to approximate them. However, many of these methods make incredible assumptions on reality (for example in regressions: constant variance in the error term, linearity in parameters) that some social scientists make extremely powerful arguments that they distort the results rather than clarify them.

As a result, some use philosophies of science that outright reject the statistical method (what I think you are implying is the scientific method; correct me if I am wrong) but nonetheless usually support their arguments empirically. (For the record, I am amenable to using statistics to measure outcomes). A commitment to a rigorous and appropriate empiricism is sufficient to qualify for what most in the natural sciences consider "good science".

Another result of the fact that the social world is an open system and not testable in the traditional sense means that many different theories can attempt to account for it. Marxist theory (as opposed to ideology) purports that to understand the social world one must begin by understanding the division of its material components and their production. An emphasis on material factors hardly strikes me as something radical or "leftist" so it should not surprise you that some social scientists use this approach.
A confusion of the theory and the ideologies that derived from it is, despite what you may think, a function of your ignorance.

Lastly, two points.
Firstly: Marxist theory can still be tested using statistical methods or indeed other methods. The problem with statistics is it is unable, as a method, to properly model the structural model that Marxism uses (indeed, stats is not great on most structural theory) as it cannot measure the constitutive effects of variables as well as a host of measurement issues (e.g. how would you measure the "means of production" to turn it into a number). It really can only measure outcomes or behaviour. Nonetheless, a Marxist might use stats as part of their evidence, just not all of it. Therefore, a priori, Marxism is not any less scientific then say, democratic peace theory.

Secondly (and much more significantly): unfortunately for "creationists" and their ilk, evolutionary biology is, as a natural science, able to fulfill many of the more stringent conditions of positivism (especially its ability to test in a closed system) and therefore is much more readily falsifiable than social theory. Creationists have to meet their opponents on that ground, which is why they bollix it up so much.



I might just mention at the end that I am not a Marxist in the political sense of the word, nor do I use it in my own research. I just can't stand this kind of sophistry.
10.9.2007 3:39pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
"What AF said! A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I took a political philosophy course that described Marxim as having three fundamental elements: (1) dialectical materialism; (2)economic determinism (although more of an Engel's contribution); and (3) scientific (read atheistic). At those levels it is more an approach to the study of phenomena than it is a political system."

And what makes dialectical materialism and economic determinism "scientific" as opposed to "just made up?"
10.9.2007 3:40pm
The Ghost of Xmas Past (mail):
I'm assuming you feel the same way about Religion Roach?
10.9.2007 3:42pm
Hoosier:
"Unlike intelligent design, Marxism is not an empirical claim"

It was for Marx.

If you read "Capital," you find his empirical claims in all their dull detail. And, yes, he did think that his empirical analysis has predictive capabilities.
10.9.2007 3:44pm
rarango (mail):
Hoosier is dead on: marx claimed his system was scientific because it was materialistic, not idealistic. He found the truth in Hegel, but standing on its head: Hegel said ideas precede things (very rough paraphrase); Marx said material things create ideas. That is also why Marxism is atheistic: god cannot cannot be shown empirically.
10.9.2007 3:49pm
Actually, I defended your work. (mail):
[EDITOR, sorry, I missed some sarcasm/irony in the previous exchange.]

Are you denying that you make non-falsifiable claims using narrative?

[No, but I don't claim to be a "social scientist," nor to I claim to be using a "scientific" methodology, nor do I try to squeeze my research into a preconceived notion of class conflict, etc.]

[And BTW, the author of the above is the same person who posted in the last thread that conservative ideas have no value, and conservatives (and libertarians) are overrepresented in academia compared to their actual worth].
10.9.2007 3:51pm
rarango (mail):
David: Of course its just made up. Someone asked for a definition of Marxism and I provided one--I certainly didnt say I believed it! It's a metaphysical system, and all such systems are just made up. Marx uses his metaphysics to go on and "explain" European history based on economic factors. That was his "proof."
10.9.2007 3:52pm
Actually, I defended your work. (mail):
Hoosier writes:


"Unlike intelligent design, Marxism is not an empirical claim"

It was for Marx.


As has been noted, Marxists do not necessarily agree with Marx. Imagine that. Think of Marx as the root of a tree that has grown root-hating blood sucking leaves. Or something.

Of course, I am not saying that all Marxists disagree with Marx about everything.
10.9.2007 3:54pm
Elliot Reed:
I'm pretty sure that when people like sociologists claim to be Marxists they mean something like "writing in an intellectual tradition that can be traced back to Marx". I'm no great fan of these people but that's not remotely comparable to creationism. A better analogy would be belief in Marx's particular theory of history, and I think more or less no academic Marxists believe that.
And by the way, libertarianism is an ideology, of course ideologies are not "scientific". This approach notes that Marxism is a methodology (or a set of methodologies), and if one uses a methodology that has no sound empirical basis (see again Freudianism) you might as well be using a divining rod.
Gosh, you might even say that about basing an elaborate theory of society on the basis of assumptions about the shape of preference sets that were chosen principally because they let you prove a particular set of ideologically congenial results rather than because they have any sound empirical basis. Especially if said claims about preference set shapes turn out, on empirical examination, to be complete nonsense.
10.9.2007 4:01pm
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
It is really more shocking that so many academics still are willing to describe themselves as Marxists because that's their methodology than it would be if they called themselves political radicals. One can be a Nazi, or an anarchist (or a libertarian) and still do good academic work. If you say you do Nazi biology, or Nazi sociology, that's when we really have to worry.

Some commentors disagree, but that's what we'd expect if so many academics call themselves Marxist. Apparently some people still think that approach is not only worth taking, but worth identifying as their major methodology.
10.9.2007 4:17pm
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
It is really more shocking that so many academics still are willing to describe themselves as Marxists because that's their methodology than it would be if they called themselves political radicals. One can be a Nazi, or an anarchist (or a libertarian) and still do good academic work. If you say you do Nazi biology, or Nazi sociology, that's when we really have to worry.

Some commentors disagree, but that's what we'd expect if so many academics call themselves Marxist. Apparently some people still think that approach is not only worth taking, but worth identifying as their major methodology.
10.9.2007 4:19pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I am not much of a fan of Marx. But Professor Bernstein is comparing a doctrine (creationism) which offers nothing to contribute to modern knowledge (other than its study as a phenomenon) to a doctrine that, for all of its errors and misuses and even fundamentally evil aspects, still has quite a bit of explanatory value. (And Professor Bernstein is stacking the deck by comparing this to religious archeologists-- those religious archeologists were using archeological techniques, not prayer, to discover ruins and relics. Creationism contributed nothing but the inspiration.)

One example of a valuable construct of Marxism is the concept of false consciousness, which can explain why people will sometimes advocate and defend practices that are bad for them (think of the women who perform or have their daughters get genital mutiliations in Africa).

Another example is that an entire branch of American feminism comes from feminist followers of Lacan, who in turn was an intellectual descendant of Marx. As a result, there are many concepts in feminism that had their genesis in Marx's theories about class.

This is a really bad post by Professor Bernstein (who I generally like; even though I disagree with him, his posts on Israel, for instance, are cogently argued), because I think what he is really trying to do is make Marxism into the intellectual equivalent of Naziism-- i.e., an ideology that nobody would draw any influence from. In fact, Marx got some things right (or at least had much more colorable arguments than the creationists!), even as he got many things wrong.
10.9.2007 4:23pm
Hoosier:
Actually--Well, you're right of course. There are plenty of grad students in our econ department here who call themselves Marxist, but who have never read "Capital." When I harass them--and I do; it's a hobby--they give out with some fictitious version of what Marx supposedly wrote. But which he did not.

These are the sort of people that Engels and later Marxists would label "Revisionists." And whom later communists would conflate with "Jews." And would kill.

But poor Marx. Having his name adopted by all of those "unscientific socialists". When he KNEW what the science of economics taught. Much like that bumper sticker about the speed of light:

"Workers Control the Means of Production: It's not just a good idea. It's the LAW".
10.9.2007 4:32pm
Hoosier:
Dilan Esper --

When I teach this stuff, I try hard to get my students to distinguish bewteen A)MARXIST: Advocate of a political ideology that leads to totlitariamism, terror, and really bad art; and B)MARXIAN: Someone who used the tools suggested by Marx to look into the economic underpinnings of society and it's thoughts and rules.

(B) Does not imply any positive agenda. It simply asks questions.
10.9.2007 4:36pm
jpe (mail):
Marxism has about as much empirical support as intelligent design.

As does, say, Romanticism. I guess we can boot all those zany, superstitious Coleridge scholars out of the academy.

Category mistake much?
10.9.2007 4:41pm
Hoosier:
jpe--This is not a category error if one takes Marx himself seriously. Again, he called his work "Scientific Socialism." And he meant it. It does not come with good grace to tell someone who has read "Capital" and slogged through it's s***load of empirical data --about such matters as how long does it take the wooden spool on a factory loom to wear out--that empiricism is not relevant to the study of Marxism.
10.9.2007 4:50pm
frankcross (mail):
Marx contained multitudes. And some of it clearly has empirical support. For example, he stressed the benefits of capitalism as opposed to the prior monarchical/aristocratic ordering. I doubt that is what academic Marxists are talking about, but it certainly has empirical support.

And I would think that economic determinism also has a great deal of empirical support. Indeed it forms the groundwork for the conservative claim that economic liberty produces political liberty. There's lots of evidence that people vote their economic interests. It surely has vastly more empirical support than creationism.
10.9.2007 4:55pm
Latinist:
Lots of people have already defended, better than I could, the use of Marxist theory in social sciences and humanities. But I want to put in a bit of a defense of Freud, too, against all these snide dismissals (even though I'm not particularly the best person to make that defense either).
Freud, like Marx (or, for that matter, Aristotle), made a lot of factual claims that were demonstrably false; but he also established some terms and concepts that can be useful for better understanding, say, Greek tragedy. I'm not as into that kind of thing as some are, but if you don't think there's been any valuable recent work done by people using Freudian methods and terms (I don't know to what extent they tend to call themselves Freudians), you're wrong.
10.9.2007 5:01pm
advisory opinion:
It's an excellent comparison. An even better comparison can be made to Intelligent Design and its scientific pretensions (much like how Marx and Engels believed in "scientific" socialism). The methodological debate over pseudo-science and scientism in the social sciences is nothing new. Popper attacked such scientistic conceits more than 60 years ago (Freud also being one of his targets).

So when someone claims that "conservatives avoid academic positions in the social sciences because they believe in nonsensical superstitions with no empirical or logical support, while liberals believe in the scientific method," he's at best, philosophically naive.

(Bernstein's point is spot on.)

As for "Marxism is not an empirical claim" . . . that's funny, since Marx and Engels claim precisely the opposite. Engels' _Socialism: Utopian and Scientific_ condensed from the Anti-Duhring, might clue you in. And please don't claim "heterodox/re-constructed Marxists no longer state such and such" when you are clearly specifying 'Marxism'. That's just sloppy bait and switching.
10.9.2007 5:02pm
Gregory Conen (mail):
Your off-hand remark about Freud is a little rough on him. Being a (non-neo) Freudian now is irresposible, and Freud certainly did speculate rather more than he should, and was sexually fixated.

He did, however, advance the study of the subconcious in important ways, and pioneering the basic method of "talk therapy" (which has its shortcomings, but is effective for many patients).

That he took the wrong track in places and delved into unscientific speculation is understandable, if not excusable, given the state of psychiatry at the time.

Judging Freud is like judging Lemarck. You have to realise he was wrong, but that he was generally less wrong than his contemporaries, and advanced the field.

He also did a fair amount of meanful (and often forgotten) work in neurology, particularly on cerebral palsy.
10.9.2007 5:04pm
DCP:

Any data on the percentage of chemistry professors who identified themselves as "alchemists"?

Because to me that's only slightly more humorous (frightening?) than all of these social science professors identifying themselves as "Marxists".

In fairness, I had two college professors who were unapologetic Marxists (sociology class at a very liberal school) and, political views aside, they were very nice people, took their teaching obligations seriously and graded me fairly eventhough I was a hardline "dittohead" conservative back in those days, which was surely reflected in the papers and essays I submitted.
10.9.2007 5:21pm
Elliot Reed:
As for "Marxism is not an empirical claim" . . . that's funny, since Marx and Engels claim precisely the opposite. Engels' _Socialism: Utopian and Scientific_ condensed from the Anti-Duhring, might clue you in. And please don't claim "heterodox/re-constructed Marxists no longer state such and such" when you are clearly specifying 'Marxism'. That's just sloppy bait and switching.
That's like complaining about "bait-and-switching" when I tell you that contemporary "Platonists" in philosophy departments don't believe in Forms or support a totalitarian state run by celibate male philosopher-kings. "Marxist" is a term of art in several academic disciplines, and as a term of art it doesn't mean the belief system Popper was attacking.
10.9.2007 5:26pm
advisory opinion:
Reed, learn to read. Because I knew someone would come up with the predictable boneheaded reply as you just did, I specifically added:

And please don't claim "heterodox/re-constructed Marxists no longer state such and such" when you are clearly specifying 'Marxism'. That's just sloppy bait and switching.

Marxism and what heterodox "Marxists" believe are two different things, just as Platonism and what self-identified "Platonists" believe are different things. Try again.
10.9.2007 5:36pm
Randy R. (mail):
Many of the complaints made about Marxism could also be made about
Ayn Randism. Yet, many people will defend her philosophy to the death.

Very strange.
10.9.2007 5:36pm
Frater Plotter:
If you can't define "Marxism", then what are you doing asking people whether they believe in it? You're not -- you're just asking whether they identify with a label.

Actual, serious, honestly-intended studies on the level of belief in creation or evolution do not just ask "Are you a creationist?" They ask, rather, whether a person believes in particular propositions of creationism, such as:

* God created the animals and plants in more or less the same appearance that they have today.

* Human beings share ancestors with apes such as gorillas and chimpanzees.

Asking people "Are you a Marxist?" really means asking whether they identify with a label, regardless of whether they know what it means. Consider all the people in the U.S. who identify as Christian but can't even tell you what their church's creed says that Christianity stands for, or even distinguish the teachings of Jesus from those of (say) Buddha, Rabbi Hillel, or Baba Ram Dass.

In order to find out how many Marxists you have, you need to figure out what you mean by "Marxist" first and then ask if those claims are true of those people. For instance, some useful questions would be:

How do you define economic class?
A. Based on income
B. Based on wealth (net present value)
C. Based on source of income (e.g. wages vs. profits)
D. Based on inherited vs. acquired wealth
E. Based on the social status of one's profession or trade

Where does people's political ideology come from?
A. Their upbringing
B. Their education
C. Their economic interests
D. Imitating the political ideology of intellectuals, politicians, or media personalities
E. The Sunday comics, especially "The Boondocks" or "Mallard Fillmore".

How would you characterize the relationship between workers and employers?
A. Cooperation
B. Collective bargaining
C. Class struggle
D. Envy
E. Incest

Which word are you likely to use: "capitalism" or "the free market"?
A. Always "the free market"
B. They mean the same thing
C. Always "capitalism"
D. They mean very different things and I get annoyed when people confuse them.
E. I prefer "libertopia"

Revolutionary political violence is justified ...
A. Never
B. To establish independence of an oppressed colony
C. To establish a workers' state
D. To overthrow a dictator
E. Whenever I feel like it, for fun
10.9.2007 5:40pm
Elliot Reed:
Reed, learn to read. Because I knew someone would come up with the predictable boneheaded reply as you just did, I specifically added:
And please don't claim "heterodox/re-constructed Marxists no longer state such and such" when you are clearly specifying 'Marxism'. That's just sloppy bait and switching.
Marxism and what heterodox "Marxists" believe are two different things, just as Platonism and what self-identified "Platonists" believe are different things. Try again.
Of course. The word means what you mean by it, no more than no less. If other people use it to mean something else, they're just wrong. Because the One True Meaning of "Marxist" was handed down by God on Mount Sinai?
10.9.2007 5:54pm
Elliot Reed:
Correction: no more and no less.
10.9.2007 5:56pm
advisory opinion:
Reed, you just don't get it do you. TPBDB made a claim about Marxism, not Marxists. How many times do you need the distinction drummed into your head?

Marxism = "The political and economic philosophy of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels."

And the political and economic philosophy of Marx and Engels most assuredly involved empirical claims and socialism on a "scientific basis" (see Anti-Duhring).

Look it up. You'll be surprised how conceptually confused you are.
10.9.2007 6:03pm
Kieran (mail) (www):
Tout ce que je sais, c'est que je ne suis pas marxiste.
10.9.2007 6:06pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Frater Plotter: "If you can't define "Marxism", then what are you doing asking people whether they believe in it? You're not -- you're just asking whether they identify with a label."

Now that throws a real wet blanket on the party. The fun of any discussion where labels are hurled around is that nobody knows what they really mean. It's the label that carries the emotional appeal.
10.9.2007 6:34pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
In the literary realm, Marxist criticism makes more sense than many of its competitors -- even though Marx was wrong in just about every significant way, his ideas are at least applicable to Dickens or Fitzgerald, but applying feminism to Twain, or Freudianism to Shakespeare just leads to half-baked wankery.
10.9.2007 6:40pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Are you trolling in your posts now? This seems like a poorly thought out post with the goal of getting people riled up
10.9.2007 7:06pm
Frater Plotter:
Elliot123: Then it's intellectually dishonest to be making claims about what professors believe, when one's data only cover what labels they identify with.

Speculation beyond the data: how to tell bad social science from good social science. :)
10.9.2007 7:07pm
Hugh:
The authors of the study weigh in on what being a Marxist means:

Gross and Simmons cautioned, however, that in fields like sociology and literature, scholars who identify as Marxists are in many cases talking about specific approaches to their research and analysis, and not necessarily about a ideology they wish to see in operation
10.9.2007 7:09pm
Malvolio:
I am not much of a fan of Marx. But Professor Bernstein is comparing a doctrine (creationism) which offers nothing to contribute to modern knowledge (other than its study as a phenomenon) to a doctrine that, for all of its errors and misuses and even fundamentally evil aspects, still has quite a bit of explanatory value.
A fundamentally evil doctrine that has quite a bit of explanatory value. OK.

Explanatory value is truly useless. Creationism has universal explanatory value -- whatever happened, it happened because God willed it -- but that doesn't give it much appeal for most people.

The advantage to creationism is that it makes no pretense to predictive power. The exact thing that infuriates us atheists gives its adherent some comfort: it cannot be proven wrong.

Marxism can be proven wrong -- and has! Marx himself made many predictions, none of which came true. Many countries have tried to organize their economies according to Marxist precepts, those economies collapsed.

Someone who clings to a doctrine that is unfalsifiable I find somewhat smug and bizarre. Someone who clings to a doctrine that is has actually been falsified I can only describe as insane.

And arguing that "Marxism means different things to different people" is claiming that there really is no such thing as Marxism. Hey, maybe Milton Friedman was a Marxist, according to his own interpretation of Marxism.
10.9.2007 8:23pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
Among actual scientists, in the physical and biological sciences

Don't sell yourself short, Mr. Bernstein. Instead of wagging your finger at the liberals who want to insult and degrade real science (for holding open the possibility that right-wing hypotheses might be correct) and at the same time claim its mantle, you could join them:

Dr. David Bernstein, Professor of Jurisprudential Science

That sounds pretty good, right? Or what about:

Professor David Bernstein, Doctor of Constitutionology
10.9.2007 8:30pm
Frater Plotter:
Malvolio: No, creationism doesn't have universal explanatory value. It isn't actually able to offer an explanation for anything -- but realizing this depends on understanding what's meant by "explanation".

An explanation of something is not just a claim about why something is. Rather, it tells you why it is the way it is rather than being otherwise. Why do clams have shells made of calcium instead of tin? "God wanted it that way" is no good of an explanation, since it would work just as well if the shells were made of tin instead.

A better explanation is, "Calcium is more abundant in the ocean than tin, so genes for calcium shells are more likely to succeed than genes for tin shells." This explanation would not work if clam shells were made out of tin: tin is less abundant, not more, so this explanation would be false. As a result, it has explanatory power: it actually tells us something that is the case about the world as it actually is, but wouldn't be the case if the world were otherwise.
10.9.2007 9:51pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
A fundamentally evil doctrine that has quite a bit of explanatory value. OK.

Explanatory value is truly useless. Creationism has universal explanatory value -- whatever happened, it happened because God willed it -- but that doesn't give it much appeal for most people.

Marxism can be proven wrong -- and has! Marx himself made many predictions, none of which came true.

Explanatory value is not useless. A hypothesis' value lies in its ability to explain or provide accurate insight into observed phenomena.

The creationism that Bernstein references does not provide any such accurate insights. It is simply the blind acceptance of a 2,000 year old legend that is either wrong or not helpful (because observed phenomena in nature do not depend on whether there is a god or not).

In contrast, Marxism has many insights that have indeed proven useful as explanatory devices. Again, false consciousness is a great example. Even some of the things that he said about class are useful-- it really is true that many upper class individuals attempt to seize control of the state to entrench the class structure and preserve their position.

Marx, of course, got a lot of things wrong, and many of his ideas inspired evil men. I should note that this does not mean-- as you say-- that Marx himself was evil. Marx didn't send people to the gulags or rape the Germans or imprison Eastern Europe. His followers did.

Again, there's just this great desire on the right to say that anything associated with communism must be completely excluded from permissible discourse (except to be condemned). In fact, Marx wrote a lot of things, and he and his followers generated many new ways of thinking about social phenomena. There's no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater other than the desire of some conservatives to score political points.
10.9.2007 10:47pm
markm (mail):
"Marxist" is a term of art in several academic disciplines, and as a term of art it doesn't mean the belief system Popper was attacking.

But the choice of this term of art seems to me to be revealing in itself. A political scientist might well find Hitler's Big Lie theory useful in analyzing recent political campaigns, but would never describe himself as using "Hitlerian Analysis". Marx's followers murdered at least ten times as many people as Hitler's, and yet "Marxist" is considered value-neutral...
10.10.2007 12:11am
Bartleby (mail):

"It doesn't matter much whether a professor believes that their political views should be kept out of the classroom if those views aren't relevant to the subject he or she teaches anyway."

Exactly--so why is this debate happening at all? That is, since a professor's personal views, whatever they be, are NEVER relevant to the subject taught, even if the subject taught deals in politics / ideologies to a great degree, and the professor knows this and doesn't inject their own views into the discussion but nevertheless allows the class to struggle with multiple views as a form of critical thinking and evaluation where that is relevant to the course, what's the problem? Why even argue about this?

Oh, right, now I remember... we seem to be assuming that a professor can't be trusted to leave her personal opinions at the door when she teaches. And where did that assumption come from? Is it not simply a fine example of confirmation bias at work--you hear the nasty anecdote of the crazed prof who went on an anti-Bush tangent in class, and that anecdote of a single, shitty moment in one professor's career (or, at worst, a sign of a single teacher out of line, not an entire profession) confirms what you already believed without any data to back it up?

Most of the arguments i'm seeing in these posts hang on two things only: the myriad anecdotes of such-and-such crazy professor who poisoned the class discussion or lecture by airing his own views (whether they were relevant to the discussion at hand or not), and (2) the apparent data confirming the hunch that most profs are lefties.

SFW? The only reason it could possibly matter that most profs are lefties is if you honestly believe that they genuinely fail to exercise restraint in the classroom, in the planning of courses &selection of textbooks, and (least importantly of all) in the conduct of their research. This is from a leftie who tiptoes around ever saying anything politically charged in his classroom, and who has noticed same in most classes (I don't even know what most of my profs political positions were during my undergrad, nor did I suspect that it ever mattered.)
10.10.2007 12:16am
neurodoc:
Even some of the things that he said about class are useful-- it really is true that many upper class individuals attempt to seize control of the state to entrench the class structure and preserve their position.
"Class structure" may have a Marxist ring to it, but we owe these sorts of "insights" to Marx? Without him, this wouldn't have occurred to any person of average intelligence and experience of the world? (BTW, it does happen, doesn't it, that some lower class individuals attempt to seize control of the state to change the class structure and improve their position? Or, is that too a Marxist "insight"?)
10.10.2007 12:33am
Bartleby (mail):
Apologies-- my previous post was intended for a related topic from Somin on ideology &academe, not DB's post here.

- B.
10.10.2007 1:08am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
What a bunch of sophistry.

I think intellient design is what happens when abrupt climate change due to global warming gets out of hand and heats up the Earth 10-30 degrees Celsius, and a few pockets of survivors try their hand at repopulating the Earth using some DNA databanks. Historically, they got it wrong the first time, and created dinosaurs instead of humans. Better luck the second time out, Neanderthals, and they lasted a little longer. Third try, we got humans, but we weren't perfetc either, and so the cycle repeats itself: the need for more intelligent design ...
10.10.2007 2:22am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Marxism has nothing to do with it.
10.10.2007 2:23am
whit:
"Marxism has about as much empirical support as intelligent design. "

actually, it has less. the problem with intelligent design is that it is not science. period. it may be right or wrong, but that's tangential to the fact that it is not scientific theory. it's philosophy.

marxism otoh, is based on various theories about the nature of man, and unlike evolution or intelligent design, we have many real world examples that marxism DOES NOT WORK.

which is highly suggestive (to say the least) that the whole lattice of conceptions that marxism is built upon (lol 'scientific marxism' is my favorite) are simply WRONG.
10.10.2007 5:26am
plutosdad (mail):
we seem to be assuming that a professor can't be trusted to leave her personal opinions at the door when she teaches

In my experience, no they did not. Except the hard sciences and math, my other professors would lecture and rant about whatever topic had them hot under the collar that day.
10.10.2007 9:45am
geekWithA.45 (mail) (www):
I've noticed an odd coincidence, apropos of nothing.

If I recall my Hungarian history correctly, the Communist party got about 17% of the vote in the first post WWII election. The Small Freeholder's Party got something like a whopping %57 of the vote, rare for pluralistic European elections. The Soviet er...'liberators'... over rode the elections results, preventing the SFP from forming a government, and instead forced them to form a coalition government with the Communist party, seeding their henchmen into critical posts.

This allowed the communists to bootstrap and accellerate their plan of infiltrate and subjugate, and within about 5 years they had completely borged the Hungarian polity.
10.10.2007 10:08am
c.gray (mail):

One example of a valuable construct of Marxism is the concept of false consciousness, which can explain why people will sometimes advocate and defend practices that are bad for them


Its interesting someone should make this claim. The concept of "false consciousness" carries almost precisely the same problems of non-falsifiability as "intelligent designer".
10.10.2007 11:14am
Christopher Taylor (mail) (www):
Amusing watching all of the academics stand on their heads desperately trying to defend the position of their colleagues. They say they are Marxists, but they aren't REALLY Marxists, because what in the end is Marxism anyway, and besides, what would it matter?

This is the best we can get from academia these days and people wonder why the quality of education and philosophy is so poor.

One does not publicly identify with an ideology if you don't mean what is generally understood by that position.
10.10.2007 11:33am
Christopher Taylor (mail) (www):
Incidentally, about Intelligent Design:

"An explanation of something is not just a claim about why something is. Rather, it tells you why it is the way it is rather than being otherwise. Why do clams have shells made of calcium instead of tin? "God wanted it that way" is no good of an explanation, since it would work just as well if the shells were made of tin instead."

This is one of the times you have to sigh. ID advocates do not say "God wanted it that way" they point out that mere randomness does not explain the complexity and results we see, but an intelligent designer does. The dichotomy is not between process and science... and divine fiat. It is between random fantastical results and careful guidance and oversight. The exact same reason is used (calcium in the water, viability for life forms, etc) but the cause is viewed differently.

If people bothered to take the slightest time to learn and understand the positions of Intelligent Design before pontificating on it (ironic in a series of posts so outraged someone would not find out why someone would identify themselves as Marxists without finding out why), they would notice that most ID advocates are actually evolutionists as well.
10.10.2007 11:47am
whit:
"which can explain why people will sometimes advocate and defend practices that are bad for them "

this is actually similar to what a lot of leftists say (for example about blue collar workers in the south who vote repub) , that they are "voting against their own interests" (because they are dumb, uneducated, unenlightened etc. usually follows as their explanation...)

what this fails to address is the implicit assumption that people should vote for what is GOOD for them, or in their best interests.

i disagree. i try not to vote or support policies based on how they affect ME or my GROUP.

i try to vote for policies that benefit society, promote justice, etc. even if they may not benefit me, or may even hurt me. in a democracy i think people SHOULD think that way - because what is RIGHT may not always benefit you.

example. i would never support an initiative to ban smoking in private businesses (our wonderful liberal legislature already did such a thing fwiw in my state)

this would benefit me if it passed. i hate cigarette smoke, i don't smoke, and i don't want to be near it

but the principle MATTERS.

just because it would benefit me does not make it right, nor something that i would vote for
10.10.2007 12:23pm
Roy:
I don't know about that data on the hard sciences, I am an Academic Geologist and a Marxist, however a odd freaky sort of Marxist who is more Second International and Kautsky than anything else, I supported, and still support the war, but unlike Hitchens I am no Leninist. While my support for the war is unusual I can name at least 5 full Professors in Geology and about a dozen more off the top of my head in other sciences, especially Agriculture for some reason, who would also freely admit to being Marxists if you asked them about it. I know it is considered kooky but we are still out there.

About ten years ago when I was at a Major upper midwestern University I met an Ag professor and a Chinese History asst prof who specialized in Ag, and wrote a couple articles for the New Left Review, and we actually set up a Marxist study group where we and about 5 others spent two semesters reading The Capital, other than myself their were two other Earth Sciences people and a Chemist who came to the US in 1989 as a refugee after Tiananmen. It was very interesting and I learned a lot and modified my views considerably.

As an aside, while I am the only one out of that group to support the Iraq war, I think it is interesting of the geoscientists I know of Marxist persuasion (as opposed to hippy leftist third worlders, not one is much of a believer in anthropogenic global warming.

In short I suggest you take that survey with a large grain of salt.
10.10.2007 12:32pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Freud had such a monumental impact on English and art criticism in the Mid-20th Century, it's remarkable that he's faded away with barely a wimper. Perhaps everyone noticed: hey, this guy purports to describe how the world works but (a) has no real evidence (b) his method consists of idle speculation and (c) his conclusions lack predictive value. It's a scandal his myth-making had such prominence for so long."


Actually, what's interesting is the repression of the acknowledgement of Freud in the name of being politically correct. Like most pioneers, he was right about many things and wrong about many things. The things he was right about have now become accepted without attribution and constitute a useful part of clinical psychiatry, particularly child psychiatry, while the things he was off base about have been used to vilify him and ignore his real contributions. The importance of childhood experience, the concept of transference, etc., and even the foundation of more "objective" behaviorist (see Overskeid's review of Freud's influence on Skiiner in last months Am Psychol)approaches are all Freudian (particularly if one includes Anna Freud).

One might as well state that Darwin has been discredited because classical "Darwinism" doesn't work, or Isaac Newton has been discredited because his laws of motion turned out only to be approximations and only valid under limited circumstances.

Freud hasn't faded away. His name is being airbrushed away no differently than the old Soviets used to remove purged officers from official photographs.
10.10.2007 1:58pm
Art - SF Bay Area (mail):
Like intelligent design, Marxism isn't a failure, it is yet to be tried.
10.10.2007 2:06pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"but the principle MATTERS."

What "principle" is that?

initiatives to ban smoking, to ban garlic, to ban loud music in private business are all good things -- makes it so everyone can be employed.
10.10.2007 2:30pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Whatever he "principle," I view these things as more of a ban to protect people with chemical sensitivities. Is that somehow wrong?
10.10.2007 2:54pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"he"=the
10.10.2007 2:58pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Like intelligent design, Marxism isn't a failure, it is yet to be tried."

An interesting comment. Unrestrained capitalism is being blamed as the cause for our currently unfolding abrupt climate change due to global warming. Castro's Marxist Cuba went green technologies a long time ago. Yet, now, Cuba, along with Florida, will be finding itself going under water as the sea levels rise due to global warming.

So how do we say Marxism has "yet to be tried" and "isn't a failure?"

And are we so sure intelligent design (definition capable of encompassing manipulation of life using DNA databanks) has not already been "tried?" I mean, isn't this the argument pro-intelligent design -- i.e., Id is (as the argument goes) how we all got here 9with a little help from evolution)?

I'm just asking ...
10.10.2007 4:43pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Id" meant to abbreviate intelligent design
10.10.2007 4:44pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
"Whatever he "principle," I view these things as more of a ban to protect people with chemical sensitivities. Is that somehow wrong?"

Yes, it is. Tolerance means that we accomodate people who do things we don't approve of. We live in a world where "tolerance" has become identified as "allowing anything that I don't find offensive." This rush to ban all behaviors that one doesn't like on the grounds that there exist people who are "sensitive" or somehow harmed by it is specious -- it is nothing more or less than a prohibitionist agenda wrapped int the flag of accommodating special needs. This is particularly true in the case of these "second hand" smoke claims where the "sensitivity" simply means largely "I don't like the smell, and I don't like people who do it." Most of the physical reactions are psychosomatic -- physical hypersensitivity generated by the sublimated desire to be offended. This is shown by the fact that most of these reactions are not dose-dependent, but are in fact more related to the act of exposure. People who claim to by "hypersensitive" to tobacco smoke, for instance, react to the smell, not to any threshold of irritant. The true cases of dangerous hypersensitivity are very rare.

As noted by Professor Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney School of Public Health, the tobacco prohibitionists have completely abandoned science-based reasoning in their push towards prohibition. He notes:


Staudenmayer et al have examined the evidence for idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI; embracing environmental illness, multiple chemical sensitivity and chemical intolerance) against Bradford Hill's nine criteria (strength, consistency, specificity, temporality, biological gradient, biological plausibility, coherence, experimental intervention and analogy) and an additional criterion (reversibility). They concluded that toxicogenic theory fails all these criteria, with there being "no convincing evidence to support the fundamental postulate that IEI has a toxic aetiology" and that "the hypothesised biological processes and mechanisms are implausible".8 Moreover, they also concluded that "psychogenic theory meets all of the criteria directly or indirectly", being "characterised by a progressive research programme including double-blind, placebo-controlled provocation challenge studies". They concluded "that IEI is a belief characterised by an overvalued idea of toxic attribution of symptoms and disability, fulfilling criteria for a somatoform disorder and a functional somatic syndrome. A neurobiological diathesis similar to anxiety, specifically panic disorder, is a neurobiologically plausible mechanism to explain triggered reactions to ambient doses of environmental agents, real or perceived. In addition, there is a cognitively mediated fear response mechanism characterised by vigilance for perceived exposures and bodily sensations that are subsequently amplified in the process of learned sensitivity."



In fact, in a culture of true tolerance, those who are offended by such things make allowances for people who do things they don't approve of. Tolerance, particularly on the liberal side of the street, today simply means "You can't criticize things I like, and things I don't like should be outlawed." Thus, if social conservatives don't like porn, they should just change the channel, but if a liberal doesn't like a conservative speaker, he or she should be silenced. The prohibitionist approach to drug-related behavior -- whether it is cigarette smoking or pot smoking is no different.

The culture of victimhood is alive and well, and this is simply one more instantiation of attacking liberty in the name of being offended by something. Worse, it calls for the abandonment of scientific thinking in the name of intolerance.
10.10.2007 5:07pm
whit:
""principle" is that? "

that it's not an issue for government to regulate. that private business should make the decision as to whether THEIR bar, nightclub, etc. is smoke free or not.

"initiatives to ban smoking, to ban garlic, to ban loud music in private business are all good things -- makes it so everyone can be employed."

it makes yet another example of government restraining private business and wanting to be our "mommy".

if you don't like smokey businesses - don't give them your business. let the MARKETPLACE decide.

there's gotta be a least a few who respect libertarian principles, i would think.

like i said, i love the EFFECT of these smoking bans, but i am adamantly opposed to them.

in principle.
10.10.2007 5:36pm
whit:
"it is specious -- it is nothing more or less than a prohibitionist agenda wrapped int the flag of accommodating special needs"

right. and yet again, in liberal seattle/WA state, it is amazing how liberals who supposedly value personal freedom (yea, right) are so quick to pass these laws.

in contrast, i have no problem with bans of smoking in PUBLIC buildings. among the reasons is that these are places you HAVE to go to (vs. you can choose the bar, nightclub of your choice or not)

DMV, Courthouses etc. of course should be smoke free. private bars, restaurants, nightclubs - i WISH they were, but i don't want the govt. imposing these restrictions
10.10.2007 5:40pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
WO, quite a mouthful you have said, but I believe the three examples I gave are all different from each other and cannot be simply lumped into some subjective notion of "tolerance" sweepingly brushed aside as "Yes, it is [somehow wrong]."

Allium sativum L. (garlic), though it has been used throughout recorded history for both culinary and medicinal purposes, is imbued with a long and ancient history of folklore, most significantly it has been regarded as a force for both good and evil -- e.g., a Christian myth considers that after Satan left the Garden of Eden, garlic arose in his left footprint. Central European folk beliefs considered garlic a powerful ward against demons, werewolves, and vampires. To ward off vampires, garlic could be worn, hung in windows or rubbed on chimneys and keyholes. Such history is, indeed, unfortunate, because garlic wards off many people with autism.

Smoke and loud music "tolerance" have nothing in common with the history or qualities of garlic aversion, their basic essence is therefore distinguishable. Smoke is largely objectionable due to its particulate exposure, breathing it in results in respiratory problems, burning lungs, stinging eyes, and smokes fragrance permeates all hair and clothing. Loud music appeals to some and not to others, and unlike smoke and garlic, loud music may be subject to viewpoint or content objections or just simply regarded as offensive. But to me, it is WAY too loud.

And, while one can simply remove themselves from the place of loud music, it is more difficult to swallow smoke with one's food, unless a person likes eating tobacco. Additionally, I am not sure I would regard myself in the category of "[p]eople who claim to by 'hypersensitive' to tobacco smoke," but I am quite sure walking around smelling like a cigarette will not improve my chances to be both autistic and achieve any measure of social acceptance, nor do I wish to get cancer.

Moreover, while you (and I am sure a significant silent majority of others) might wish to impute "a prohibitionist agenda wrapped int he flag of accommodating special needs" to me with respect to loud music or smoke, I can assure you most definitely I have no special need whatsoever for garlic.

In fact I suffer an extreme traumatic aversive event every time I experience just one little whiff. I have been known to run out of garlicked out spaces ... screaming, having neither liberal nor conservative tendencies. And when this occurs, yes, I want my "Mommy," my government to protect me with a garlic ban, lest I should suffer death from garlic.

I doubt even "pot smoking," with all its vices and virtues, could overcome the aversive effects of garlic. Maybe not sufficiently "scientific" for some, but garlic is by no means a neutral substance, either; garlic --

1. is claimed to help prevent heart disease, but does no such thing, an NIH-funded randomized clinical trial published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2007 having recently found that consumption of garlic, in any form, did not reduce cholesterol levels in patients with moderately high baseline levels;

2. In 2007 a BBC news story reported that garlic may have nasty properties, such as increasing the chance of getting the common cold;

3. Garlic is also alleged to help increase blood sugar levels, and has been shown to increase the chance of getting some complications of diabetes mellitus;

4. Garlic may cause abortion; and

5. There have been several reports of serious burns resulting from garlic being applied topically for various purposes, including naturopathic uses and acne treatment. On the basis of numerous reports of such burns, including burns to children, topical use of raw garlic, as well as insertion of raw garlic into body cavities is strongly discouraged and could lead to serious injury.

Despite some indication of garlic passing into the bloodstream, thereby causing the belief it may be a useful mosquito repellent (most likely cause of the myth that vampires hate garlic), persons with autism have a deep aversion to it going back to ancient times -- no doubt arising from the association of garlic to evil spirits causing numerous well-meaning pro-garlic forces to act on their beliefs that the antibacterial, antiparasitic value of garlic can prevent infections that lead to delusions, and other related mental illness symptoms -- a great stereotype, true, though none such of it experienced by autistics.

So quickly and completely does garlic repell people with autism, there can be no tolerance, nor is it desireable to leave any option whatsoever for the marketplace to decide.

Such course of action is necessary as a safeguard against the dangers of being charged as a suspect -- people who are suspected of an aversion to garlic; those persons who are repelled by garlic suspected of being vampires, and everyone knows vampires were feared because of the folklore that they killed, and through the killing created more of their own kind. Moreover, and a worse fear -- they look like ordinary people, but they don't have a shadow, a reflection, and they can change into a bat, this makes them impossible to catch.

In sum, though I can respect libertarian principles, and acknowledge the feelings of some that "if a liberal doesn't like a conservative speaker, he or she should be silenced," when it comes to garlic, at least, there is no rooom for anything but complete prohibition,

In principle, effect, and fact.

How am I wrong in my analysis?
10.10.2007 6:59pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"'it is specious -- it is nothing more or less than a prohibitionist agenda wrapped int the flag of accommodating special needs'

right."

Right? What ?? In light of the above analysis, which I have graciously provided, please discuss and explain.
10.10.2007 7:02pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"like i said, i love the EFFECT of these smoking bans, but i am adamantly opposed to them.

in principle."

Does the whit posited "principle" admit of an exception?
10.10.2007 7:06pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
WO?
10.10.2007 7:12pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
I think a garlic exception is most deserved, or at least, perhaps, if a ban remains objectionable, perhaps some thought may in good faith be given toward seeking to address the feasibility of intelligently designing everyone to have a garlic revulsion. If we could all get along, why would we need a ban, in princple or otherwise? We could very simply solve the forces of good and evil. That's why its called intelligent design.
10.10.2007 7:20pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
I was finished, but before I leave to ride under the cover of nite, I just wanted to make a disclaimer that I do not turn into a vampire by darkness of nite.
10.10.2007 7:32pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
"One example of a valuable construct of Marxism is the concept of false consciousness, which can explain why people will sometimes advocate and defend practices that are bad for them "

LOL, Marxism consists of two things bad economics and bad methodology. They threw away the bad economics and kept the bad methodology. No, you are wrong about false consciousness. The purpose of false consciousness is to support the Marxist position with a fallacy. In this case an economic fallacy.

Most of Marxist methodology is fallacious.

You guys really need to read Thomas Sowell's book "Marxism" to get your heads back on straight.
10.10.2007 10:33pm