Peter Thiel: Entrepreneur, Political Activist…Prophet? | MRNW #2

On Make Robots Not War #2, we share a video from the 1990’s featuring Peter Thiel that might resonate with those concerned with the state of higher education in the current year.

And after being denied visas, a high school robotics team from The Gambia are being allowed to compete here in the United States.

Make Robots, Not War: makerobotsnotwar.com
Annika O’Brien: annikaobrien.com
Jacob Santillan: digitalheretic.org

Biology Deniers and “The XX Factor”

Claire Lehmann published an article at Commentary Magazine about the dangers of ignoring or dismissing very real biological differences between men and women for the sake of ideology.

In “The XX Factor” she mentions the creeping, stultifying influence of “intersectionality” in the sciences.

In particular she mentions intersectionality creep in science and medicine, as gender feminists are apparently willing to sacrifice advances in human health by denying basic human biological truths in service to the dramatically untrue claim that “biological sex is a social construct“.

She cites as an example of this ideology a work the works of Australian social psychologist Cordelia Fine who in her 2010 book, Delusions of Gender  wrote (as Lehmann quotes) that neuroscientific findings “reinforce and legitimate the gender stereotypes that interact with our minds, helping to create the very gender inequalities that [they] seek to explain.”

In short, all neuroscientific findings must conform to intersectional feminist ideology, no matter how ridiculous, and no matter the damage it does to science or humanity:

Fine’s 2013 call for neuroscientists to incorporate intersectionality is just one of the more recent attempts by anti–sex difference academics to dilute the objective methods of the natural sciences with theories emanating from the humanities. This is bad news. The Ambien and Addyi fiascos make clear that women would benefit from more rigor in science, not less. Instead of injecting subjectivity into scientific methods, feminist advocates should be demanding that the influences of biological sex differences be investigated and accounted for systematically, as a matter of routine practice.

Most disturbing, Fine and her fellow travellers are often held up by the uninformed press as fearless advocates for women; “a pinnacle piece of feminist literature” is how one reviewer in the Huffington Post described Fine’s Delusions of Gender. In reality, their contributions amount to little more than obscurantism. That women have many more adverse drug reactions than men and that male subjects are consistently overrepresented in the early stages of clinical research at women’s expense seem not to register with them as legitimate issues to care about. These realities are merely mentioned in passing, or in glib disclaimers about why they are not prima facie opposed to studying sex differences (just as long as they don’t show that male and female brains are actually different).

The discovery of sex differences in the human brain and nervous system should not be seen as a blow to gender equality. Men are not the “gold standard” version of the human species, and women should not be viewed as a deviation from the norm. In stoking fears about difference, these political activists dressed in scholars’ clothing unwittingly imply that female-typical traits are something to be ashamed of and are by default inferior. Why would the discovery of differences be so ominous if one didn’t secretly harbor the view that female-typical traits were unsatisfactory? Whether such attitudes will ultimately be remembered as sexist or feminist is something only history can decide.

When the aims of political zealots converge with institutional inertia and profit-hungry industry, significant harms can result. And while it might be fun and games to the humanities scholars who spend their time waxing lyrical about the social construction of gender, for clinicians and their patients, ignoring the reality of sex can be fatal. Long impugned for being a “neurosexist,” Larry Cahill now has the beleaguered appearance of a man who has carried the weight of a heavy and inconvenient truth for years. Meanwhile, Cordelia Fine has just recently been celebrated in the New York Times and the Guardian with hagiographic reviews of her latest pop-science book

Anti-sex difference academics are not personally responsible for women overdosing on sleeping pills and not being able to access medical treatments tailored specifically to their sex. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the ideology they have pushed for years—that biological sex differences are trivial—almost certainly is. The scientific enterprise and its quest for truth will win in the long run. But how many casualties will this battle eventually claim?

It’s well worth the read, particularly how Lehmann cites the cases of Ambien, Addyi, and Thalidomide as why it’s so dangerous to dismiss sex differences in the science or medicine for any reason, to say nothing of appeasing radical ideologues.

You can read the rest of “The XX Factor” here.

Trump is Right to Kill Obama’s Transgender Bathroom Policy

On Feb. 22, the Trump administration reversed the Obama-era policy which requires public schools to allow transgender students to use whatever bathrooms and locker rooms they say corresponds with their professed gender identity, or risk the loss of federal funding.

The response from Trump’s detractors is predictable:

I’m broadly supportive of transgender people living however they like, the only exceptions which immediately come to mind are children and athletics.

I nonetheless think President Trump’s decision was correct.

Ben Shapiro over at The Daily Wire had a few thoughts to share I felt worth considering.

1. This Is Not The Federal Government’s Job. The federal government has no role in redefining sex for an entire country, particularly not under laws like the Civil Rights Act specifically designed to protect biological women from biological men in many cases. This is an issue for states and localities, if it is an issue for government at all – which it isn’t, since assaults are already prosecuted, and transgender people have equal access to protection from the police.

This is the easiest point of agreement for me and the main reason I support this reversal.

When the Obama policy first came down, I couldn’t shake the thought of “what if this were a policy I wouldn’t have liked that was rammed through this way?”

Well, the progressive-left now finds themselves on the wrong end of a presidential administration that wields enormous power.

Whether you agree with the policy or not, it’s worth considering that when both the left and the right freak out about what each other’s respective opposition will do once in power, it’s probably time to peel back at executive authority, even if that means giving up terrifying powers of the state which you might exploit to get what you want — as well as the other way around.

The past two years have been an interesting political journey for me after quitting left-wing politics and reconsidering everything I’ve ever believed in.

Some trips have been shorter than others, but the idea of limited government has appealed to me more than I ever considered before.

Though I haven’t been a fan of Obama for a long time, I do remember sections of the right behaving in ludicrous ways, such as claiming that Obama is a “mole for the Muslim Brotherhood“.

Now the left is so hysterically scared of Trump, they’ve become like the very people they laugh at in what one person cautions against as the “Alex Jonesification of the Left“.

Shapiro makes another point which needs to be discussed:

3. Sex Is Not Malleable. Nobody is arguing that transgender people shouldn’t be allowed to think whatever they want about themselves. They have the right to dress how they want, act how they want, and identify however they want. But their right to wave their fist – just like everybody else’s right – ends when they hit a nose. And mandating that everybody arbitrarily shift the definition of biological sex to self-identification – and threatening to punish those who don’t – is an imposition on the entire society. Society cannot simply begin undermining crucial truths like sex because some people are susceptible to more mental health problems due to that truth. That would be an argument for doing away with truth generally.

Yet the left refuses to acknowledge any of these ideas. They want a new civil rights movement, and that means government action, even without Constitutional or legal mandate or even biological support.

This is the point I struggle the most with.

Again, I’m broadly supportive of transgender people living how they please, but the notion that someone can issue an executive order that enacts radical, sweeping, unilateral changes regarding fundamental truths such as redefining sex for an entire country is more than slightly unnerving.

This is especially so considering that there are people who make demonstratively untrue claims such as “biological sex is a social construct” as though chromosomes don’t exist.

It’s not just dramatically untrue, but an assault on objective truth itself.

There are underlying fundamental questions about this issue that can’t be asked or discussed because the progressive-left took an issue that is as poorly understood as transgenderism and decided to be extraordinarily aggressive about it, proclaiming as if from on high that it’s “the next civil rights frontier” and smearing dissenters or anyone who questions it as bigots.

A troubling development related to this are the rise of confected, alphabet-soup pronouns and endlessly-multiplying fabricated genders.

Writing those into laws against discrimination or hate speech is a recipe for madness, as evidenced by — if you’ll pardon the language — some really strange shit coming out of universities these days:

As a side note, there’s a pretty good chance this stuff is publicly funded, like the study to determine whether glaciers are sexist for which the taxpayers were stung with a $709,000 bill.

There’s a soft authoritarianism underlying the notion of writing subjective perceptions of self into law.

It’s a kind of authoritarianism that doesn’t come wrapped in a flag or thumping a bible.

It doesn’t stomp around in jackboots or bear the menacing scowl of a die hard party ideologue who snarls through gritted teeth that you must comply “because the party says so”.

It’s a therapeutic authoritarianism wrapped in the language of “diversity and inclusion”, “human rights” and “multiculturalism” — dissent construed or criminalized as “hate speech” and “bigotry” — which demands that you dismiss fundamental truths and believe that there are five lights when you know there are only four.

It’s an authoritarianism with a kind-seeming face, bearing a smile that doesn’t quite reach the eyes but hides a knife behind the back of a “diversity commissar” who is all too ready to strike anyone who gets someone’s “preferred pronoun” wrong.

There are plenty of valid questions to ask about this issue, but it’s impossible to have any constructive conversations about it when any discussion outside progressive-left orthodoxy is met with incandescent hostility and even violence.

Canada is a country in which comedians are hauled in front of human rights tribunals for telling jokes, and its parliament recently passed Bill C-16, which writes into law protections of gender identity and expression without bothering to define what exactly that means.

Above all, the Obama-era transgender bathroom policy should serve as a stark warning as to the expansion of government power and what could be written into law and policy for the sake of being “on the right side of history”:

Clarification/Correction: Bill C-16 was passed by the Canadian House of Commons, but has not yet been approved by their Senate. 

According to Dr. Peterson, who has followed this extensively, Bill C-16 passed second reading on Mar. 2:

Student Paper Justifies Left-Wing Violence at Berkeley Riot

The Daily Californian, a student newspaper at the University of California at Berkeley, published a series of essays justifying the violence at the Feb. 1 riot that shut down a speaking event featuring Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

The series called “Violence as self-defense” provides justifications for the use of violence to shut down speech that leftists disagree with.

One piece conflates criticism of the violence with condoning “hate speech”.

“If you call the left hypocrites for being “intolerant” of Donald Trump’s token gay, you may not know what censorship or homophobia or terrorism or fascism is, but you’re correct. I won’t tolerate queer or undocumented students students being outed and harassed in my home, no matter who’s perpetrating it. Don’t play “Who’s The Real Fascist?” with me because fascists win that game every time.” writes Desmond Meagley in “Condemning protesters same as condoning hate speech“.

“If you condemn the actions that shut down Yiannopoulos’ literal hate speech, you condone his presence, his actions and his ideas; you care more about broken windows than broken bodies.”

Meagley also appears to contradict the claim that black bloc rioters were all “outside agitators”.

“These so-called militants are campus students, Berkeley residents and Bay Area locals; teachers, journalists, musicians, parents and athletes, united by love and concern for their peers.” writes Meagly.

“The black bloc is not an organization with an agenda. It’s a strategic approach to protest that, in the case of the entire “Dangerous Faggot” tour, was highly effective. The violence that forms the foundation of Yiannopoulos’ ideology is far worse than any tactic the black bloc uses. You don’t have to like property damage, but understand that without it, Yiannopoulos would have released private and sensitive information about innocent students and encouraged assault against them.”

The claim that Yiannopoulos was to publicly name students in the country illegally at his event is one that he denies:

Black bloc did what the campus should have” also directly and explicitly rebukes claims that the black bloc rioters were outside agitators.

“If you were in the crowd on Sproul Plaza that night, the antifa might have appeared to be a homogenous mass of agents of chaos descending on your “resistance dance party.” This is understandable. Black bloc tactics are primarily designed to protect the identities of the individuals in the bloc from doxxing, surveillance footage and being singled out for arrest. You couldn’t tell who was behind those masks, and that’s the point.” wrote Neil Lawrence.

“But don’t get it twisted. We were not, as the news, the chancellor and concerned progressives have alleged, “unaffiliated white anarchists.” Behind those bandanas and black T-shirts were the faces of your fellow UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College students, of women, of people of color, of queer and trans people.”

Former Labor Secretary and Berkeley professor Robert Reich claims that the riot was a false-flag operation organized by Breitbart and Yiannopoulos:

The claim, echoed on the university’s website, drew criticism from the Washington Post:

So let’s see: Yiannopoulos, who is an outsider to Berkeley and generally unwelcome there, succeeds in secretly arranging for more than 100 thugs to assemble in this city and then invade the Berkeley campus and cause more than $100,000 in damage, all to create a pretextual motive for Trump to alter federal funding for the UC system. And Yiannopoulos manages to do this without a single one of the thugs spilling the beans and tipping off the fact that this violent criminal conspiracy is organized by Yiannopoulos, not his opponents.

To even describe the plot is to make clear how phantasmagorical the whole idea is. Occam’s razor applies here. Or, as medical students are taught, when you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras. There is no way Yiannopoulos organized these protests, subjecting himself to serious criminal liability and placing the fate of his career on the sealed lips of more than 100 conspirators. Instead, the simplest explanation is the correct one: The persons responsible are left-wing anarchists, as the New York Times (among others) has described in this recent article.

The only thing that remains strange about the events last week is the fact that Berkeley police have proved so inept. While the police were praised for their “restraint” during the riots (and perhaps that praise was justified — I venture no opinion on riot-control tactics), they have been unable to now identify even a single one of these criminals.

The university is also looking into claims that a staffer was involved in the violence, and the FBI is investigating the identities of the black bloc rioters.

Yiannopoulos was slated to speak to a handful of students compared to the presumable thousands who heard him live when he spoke with Tucker Carlson on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” after being evacuated due to security concerns:

Carlson’s program has nearly double the ratings compared to “The Kelly File” which Carlson replaced as Kelly left for a daytime slot at NBC.

According to The Hill, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is up 95 percent among the 25- to 54-year-old  demographic coveted by advertisers.

Yiannopoulos’ forthcoming book “Dangerous” also spiked to first place on the Amazon bestseller list for a second time.

Yiannopoulos joined Carlson on the Feb. 2  edition of his program to discuss the media’s legitimation of violence against conservatives, saying violence at the Berkeley riot is “the price you pay for being a libertarian or a conservative on American college campuses”:

University of Houston Student Sanctioned for “#AllLivesMatter” Post

Republished from Refined Right

The University of Houston Student Government Association announced sanctions against SGA Vice President Rohini Sethi for saying “#AllLivesMatter” in a recent social media firestorm which engulfed the 42,000 student campus, sparking calls for her resignation.

Among the sanctions are requirements that Sethi serve a 50-day suspension from all official SGA duties without pay, mandatory attendance at a diversity training workshop, and mandatory attendance at three U of H cultural events per month, December excluded.

The sanctions also require her to draft a “letter of reflection” which “demonstrates an understanding of her responsibility as a public figure”, and give a public presentation about “the knowledge she has gained about cultural issues facing our society” at the upcoming Sep. 28 SGA Senate meeting.

The sanctions stem from a Jul. 7 Facebook post Sethi shared in which she said “Forget #BlackLivesMatter; more like #AllLivesMatter” the day three police officers were murdered in Baton Rouge, LA.

Sethi deleted the post but student newspaper The Daily Cougar published a screenshot:

i1-uhouston1
Sethi’s Facebook post in question, later deleted

Sethi apologized but was sanctioned nonetheless.

“Since her original post, I have not felt that she has understood or respected how her actions have affected the people around her, as well as the reputation of SGA and the university,” SGA President Shane Smith said in a Jul. 29 statement announcing Sethi’s sanctions. 

“I believe that many of the actions she took only further escalated the situation and were not in the best interests of the organization.”

During a Jul. 27 SGA meeting which lasted almost four hours, Smith was granted special emergency one-time powers to sanction Sethi.

The University of Houston appears to have distanced itself from SGA’s actions.

“The University of Houston has become aware that the Student Government Association (SGA) has suspended its vice president, Ms. Rohini Sethi, from participating in SGA activities,” the University of Houston said in an Aug. 1 statement

“Actions by SGA, a registered student organization subject to its own governance, are not University actions and do not affect the academic standing of a student at the University of Houston. The University of Houston continues to stand firm in support of free speech and does not discipline students for exercising their Constitutional rights.”

Sethi’s sanctions for expressing a political opinion come at a time in which concerns continue to grow about the state of free speech rights on college campuses.

“I view Rohini’s suspension and all her sanctions as abhorrent,” said Matthew Wiltshire, former SGA Supreme Court Associate Justice until he resigned in protest over what he says is the organization’s refusal to support Sethi’s free speech rights.

“They are precisely the type of thought policing that produce a chilling effect on the minds of young people. SGA made it clear that, in their view, anyone who disagrees with them should sit silently by or be attacked for expressing a contrary opinion” 

“I think it says that SGA doesn’t know how to run its own meetings and the fact that they need to make up a power they can’t grant in order to get what they want shows how far they are stretching,” Wiltshire said of the extraordinary powers granted to SGA President Smith to sanction Sethi. 

“Free speech is a principle of our society–not merely a law. By trying to grant the President dictatorial powers they have effectively said that free expression is a nuisance they need to deal with rather than a principle they should uphold.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is a nonpartisan organization the self-stated mission of which is “to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities” such as free speech rights.

FIRE points out that while student-run organizations at universities generally enjoy broad latitude in how they operate, student governments at public universities like that at U of H must make viewpoint-neutral decisions:

But is the Student Government Association a regular student organization, as the University of Houston suggests? Or are student governments at public universities more like governmental actors?

The answer lies in the powers wielded by the student government. When a student government at a public institution administers mandatory fees collected from students to support student groups, it is “intertwined with the state in collecting, budgeting, and allocating funds to create a forum for speech,” and thus “acts under the color of state law.” Amidon v. Student Ass’n of the State Univ. of N.Y. at Albany, 399 F. Supp. 2d 136, 145 (N.D.N.Y. 2005), aff’d, 508 F.3d 94 (2d Cir. 2007). The student government must therefore make its decisions in a viewpoint-neutral manner. If a student government entrusted with this power disburses or withholds mandatory student activity fees based on a student group’s viewpoint, the public institution must intervene.

In a joint statement released Aug. 5 Smith and Sethi announced her sanctions would be dropped. 

In place, Sethi has agreed to take an unpaid leave of absence until the Aug. 22 start of the school year and will voluntarily follow through with the other sanctions previously placed on her.

But by punishing Sethi for speech protected by the First Amendment, the SGA may have violated not only Sethi’s First Amendment rights, but by extension Section 2.01 of its own constitution which states:

As a component of University of Houston, a public educational institution of the State of Texas, the Student Government Association shall take no action abridging the rights, immunities and privileges granted to students under the Constitution of the United States of America, the Constitution of the State of Texas, U.S. federal law or under the laws of the State of Texas. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to deny or abridge these rights, immunities and privilege

While Sethi could have caused a stink over her sanctions by racing to any media outlet who would hear her story, she initially appeared to have accepted them.

”UH SGA has made its decision. I disagree with the sanctions taken against me by my SGA because I believe I have done a great deal to better understand the controversy I caused,” Sethi said in a separate Facebook post.

“I have also apologized for my words because no student should feel as though I do not have their best interests at heart. Even so, I will abide by the sanctions for as long as they are in place.”