Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
After I posted my piece last night on The Perils of Intellectual Apostasy, a colleague drew my attention to the comments attracted by Leon Wieseltier’s defense of Thomas Nagel’s controversial recent book Mind and Cosmos.
These, too, deserve attention — and none more so than the reply composed by Steven Pinker of Harvard University, which captures brilliantly the closed-mindedness that typifies the modern academy. Here is a juicy snippet:
The fact that Nagel’s wildly intemperate subtitle (that Darwinism is “almost certainly false”) will give ammunition to disturbing anti-science, anti-reason forces in the contemporary political power structure is, of course, not in itself a refutation of his argument. But surely it is not inappropriate of reviewers to bring this issue up. Nagel—and Wieseltier—have to know that there is a powerful and well-funded lobby in this country that is trying to discredit the entire institution of science as a close-minded, ideological propaganda front which is determined to promote a secular, materialistic, anti-Judaeo-Christian liberalism. This is emboldens them to blow off the scientific consensus about man-made climate change, corrupt science education, suppress research on gun violence, and criminalize lifesaving medical research. For several years Nagel has been expressing casual opinions and overstating claims in ways that are guaranteed to credit and energize this lobby. While the substance of his claims have to be evaluated on their merits, it is completely legitimate to criticize the way he has expressed them. This is not about the culture war. This is about the future of the planet.
If Wieseltier had wanted to gather further evidence for the strength of political correctness in the academy and the politicization of science, he could not have found anything elsewhere quite as compelling as this. When a distinguished scholar, such as Pinker, writes of “the scientific consensus about man-made climate change,” you know he lives in a bubble where he talks only with those who agree with him. There never was such a consensus among scientists on this matter, and with every passing day there is less of one.