Monday, July 18, 2016

A progressive would say she is a product of her bad environment, a conservative that she is simply a bad journalist of some ignorance

I think it is the work of Jonathan Haidt which has revealed that conservatives tend to know a lot more about progressives (liberals) and their mindsets than liberals do about conservatives. His explanation is grounded in Moral Foundations Theory which posits that conservatives interpret all elective actions through a six sided prism: Care, Fairness, Liberty, Loyalty, Sanctity, and Authority whereas liberals tend to assess an action primarily or only through the lenses of Care and Fairness. There is the further complication that liberals tend to define Fairness as equality of outcomes whereas conservatives tend to define Fairness as equal rules for everyone.

Haidt observes that the liberal mindset is prevalent in the communication industries - Technology to an extent, but certainly in Entertainment (particularly Hollywood), Media (news), and Academia (K-12 and Universities). The closer people are to producing things, the more conservative or libertarian they tend to be. The closer they are to simply talking about things, the more liberal they tend to be.

As a consequence, if you are of a libertarian or conservative mindset (about 80% of Americans based on self-identification), you are surrounded everyday by the miasma of the liberal worldview on TV, in the newspapers, in entertainment, in school. If you are part of the 20% with a liberal worldview, you often live in a bubble that shields you from all the alternative worldviews. You live in a city, you are college educated, you talk about ideas and abstractions a lot, you are upper middle class, etc. You live a Pauline Kael existence (notorious for making a statement later paraphrased as "I can’t believe Nixon won. I don’t know anyone who voted for him.") Conservatives cannot escape the liberal worldview, it surrounds them. Liberals have to actively seek out the conservative worldview(s) despite those views being by far the more prevalent.

All this brought to mind by this "Analysis" of excessive Pauline Kael obscurantism, The first female space shuttle commander will speak at the GOP convention. Huh? by Sarah Scoles. Scoles is a recent graduate of the women's college Agnes Scott, both factors (recent and women's college) increasing the probability of lack of exposure to the real world where things are done, from exposure to alternate ideas, and an excessive exposure to gender ideology and progressivism. A progressive would say she is a product of her bad environment, a conservative that she is simply a bad journalist of some ignorance.

It is a well documented observation that on average, women vote for Democratic candidates more than they do Republican. But among women voters, in the most recent election, 44% voted for the conservative candidate (i.e. Republican). That is a six point gap on either side of 50. Big, but not overwhelming, and indeed, though you wouldn't know it from the press, we have had a couple of elections where the majority of the female vote went to the Republican candidate.

For Scoles though, it is as if that 44% of women don't exist. Space shuttle mission commander (and former fighter pilot) Eileen Collins will speak at the Republican Convention. It is inconceivable to Scoles that a woman could be conservative. In her second paragraph:
With its implied support of Donald Trump, this appearance has left many scientists and space experts scratching their heads. Why would someone who rode a rocket through glass ceilings speak at this event?
Hello Pauline Kael!

Lots of alternative perspectives to explore. How many female space shuttle mission commanders have addressed a Democratic National Convention. None as far as I am aware. What do Democrats have against female astronauts?

Why does Scoles see there as being an incompatibility between being a scientist or space expert and supporting Donald Trump? This seems to go to the implied liberal assumption that you cannot be smart and conservative at the same time, a prejudicial assumption held despite all the voluminous data against it. It is a position of tribal faith not of empirical evidence. Scoles is betraying her core self-conception by indulging in negative prejudices which have no objective basis in fact.

Ironically, Scoles provides the evidence to refute her position that people with a STEM background can't be Republican. It is right there in her article (and confirmed in Wikipedia). Scoles cites the evidence but doesn't do the numbers. In the particular category of astronauts who later became politicans, fully 66% were Republican, including the only scientist among them (Harrison 'Jack' Schmitt). John Glenn (D) and Jack Swigert (R) were out of the fighter pilot tradition while Schmitt (R) was a geological scientist. From this sample of n=3, it would appear that Republicans are the party of science.

The subtle denigration of Commander Collins is not so subtle. Scoles quotes someone describing Collins as a "throwback." Scoles has plenty of space to quote people (Democrats) who see Collins speaking to Republicans as anti-science, anti-female, and anti-progress. Not so for people who see Republicans as fellow Americans, equally smart and equally oriented towards and supportive of science.

It is probably worth noting that across all the campus protests, speech suppression and other progressive repressions which have emerged over the past five years, rarely does any of it come from the STEM departments of the universities. It would appear that progressive utopianism is a symptom of the humanities (and studies departments), not the sciences.

About halfway down the article, we begin to get to what might have Scoles, a Democrat operative with a byline, upset about Collins' speaking to the Republican convention.
Still, her status as a multiple “female first” complicates people’s reactions — especially in an election where Hillary Clinton is a female first, potentially, for commander in chief — no matter how nuanced Collins’s views may be.
Ah. This isn't about Collins, this is about Democrats being concerned that a competent, successful Republican woman with great achievements in STEM might diminish their candidate's record. Why mark this as "Analysis" if it is actually an internal Democratic Party communications planning memo?

There is a passage that I think helps clarify the differences between the mindset of progressives and conservatives. Progressives are greatly given to celebrating firsts. First African-American in space, first female Space Shuttle Commander, first Hispanic mission specialist, etc. Its about group identities and checkbox diversity. Conservatives, tinctured with the tragic view of humanity, see firsts as almost incidental. It is the individual and their achievement against the odds. For a traditional conservative Collins stands out because she bucked the odds as a pioneer and who earned her role as commander through her cumulative achievements. For progressives, it is a diversity box to be checked.

Scoles quotes another Democrat operative taking the odd (for a progressive) position that:
“Being a ‘first’ frequently provides a platform or credibility, and yes, it also often makes people think they ‘know’ everything about you,” Jemison added. “But that single accomplishment doesn't define you."
Scoles' mental gymnastics become excruciating.
And it is true that we are all allowed our own views.
Well thank you. Very generous.

But Scoles still isn't done badmouthing Collins through selective quoting of Democrat operatives.
“She is a career military pilot, so her views on science are no different than many other people's,” he said. “She has no particular expertise in science. She has expertise in flying complex systems. The people who flew the shuttle didn’t do the science.”
Yeah, that's right. Collins doesn't have a background in evidence based reasoning and logic. She was probably a poetry major. Or maybe, like Sarah Scoles, her masters was a MFA in Fiction from Cornell. No you say? Collins got her BA in mathematics and economics from Syracuse University? And she has a Masters of Science in Operations Research from Stanford University? Oh, and a second masters in Space Systems Management from Webster University. Well, what does she know about STEM compared to Scoles' MFA in fiction? Or compared to John Logsdon (NYU PhD in Political Science) whom Scoles is quoting?

What reprobates these people are.

Scoles continues her desperate stretching to shield her candidate from comparison to a woman of real accomplishment.
And just because a person has made a trip to space doesn’t mean their thoughts align with mainstream science (although we don’t know that Collins’s do not).
What? What kind of analysis is this? We are going to raise the prospect that Collins holds eccentric, non-mainstream science views and then immediately acknowledge that in fact we don't have any evidence at all to support that speculation? This isn't journalism, this is political operative smearing of individuals in order to further a political/ideological end. Disgusting.

There is someone who does have some non-mainstream science ideas who will be addressing the Democrat National Convention. I wonder what Scoles thinks of her? From the New York Times.
“You know, there’s a new name,” Mrs. Clinton said in the March appearance. “It’s unexplained aerial phenomenon,” she said. “U.A.P. That’s the latest nomenclature.”

Known for her grasp of policy, Mrs. Clinton has spoken at length in her presidential campaign on topics as diverse as Alzheimer’s research and military tensions in the South China Sea. But it is her unusual knowledge about extraterrestrials that has struck a small but committed cohort of voters.

Mrs. Clinton has vowed that barring any threats to national security, she would open up government files on the subject, a shift from President Obama, who typically dismisses the topic as a joke. Her position has elated U.F.O. enthusiasts, who have declared Mrs. Clinton the first “E.T. candidate.”

“Hillary has embraced this issue with an absolutely unprecedented level of interest in American politics,” said Joseph G. Buchman, who has spent decades calling for government transparency about extraterrestrials.

Mrs. Clinton, a cautious candidate who often bemoans being the subject of Republican conspiracy theories, has shown surprising ease plunging into the discussion of the possibility of extraterrestrial beings.

She has said in recent interviews that as president she would release information about Area 51, the remote Air Force base in Nevada believed by some to be a secret hub where the government stores classified information about aliens and U.F.O.s.
Just to clarify, for Scoles, her candidate having a BA in political science and a JD constitute superior STEM bona fides compared to having multiple science degrees from multiple prestigious universities. Indulging in UFO conspiracy theories constitutes a superior STEM achievement over commanding a Space Shuttle mission. Just checking because I was a little confused there for a while.

Go to the Washington Post article and read the comments for a further raucous mockery of this pretense at reporting and analysis.

Sarah Scoles apparently isn't even a Washington Post reporter. She is a freelance "science" writer. Wherever it is that she lives, apparently the boundaries are dreadfully circumscribed. Women can't be Republican, Republicans can't be scientists, and whatever you write has to support your preferred party regardless of the cost to your journalistic reputation.

Shame on Scoles but even more so on the Washington Post for such pathetic tripe.

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