Friday, May 03, 2013

Are Intellectuals at War with Reality?

Canadian left-wing intellectuals have a habit of saying the darndest things.

And most of the darndest things they say are associated with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government.

Some intellectuals, for instance, like to suggest Harper is on the verge of establishing a reactionary Star Wars-style military dictatorship, while others fear he will turn Canada into an Evangelical Theocracy, where citizens will be forced to worship an Alberta-spawned deity carved out of oil sands.

But that’s not the worst of it.

What really seems to get their collective academic knickers in a knot, is their growing belief that Harper is “anti-science.”

What’s the left wing intellectual proof for this charge?

Has Harper burned astronomers at the stake? Has he banned technology? Has he imprisoned Bill Nye “The Science Guy”?


It seems one of Harper’s main crimes against science is he has cut back funding to certain government-sponsored research projects.

Now before you lose any sleep over this, it should be pointed out that reducing government funding for “science” will not necessarily plunge Canada into a Dark Age of superstition and ignorance.

In fact, lots of scientific progress actually occurred on our planet before government funding for academics was even invented.

Important technological advances for civilization like the wheel, the telephone, the light bulb, the airplane, the steam engine and Playstation 3, were all created without government handouts.

That’s not to say government funded research isn’t important. After all, thanks to government money we were able to create a useful gadget that’s made the world a much better and happier place. It’s called the Atom Bomb.

Still many academics are concerned that Harper’s cutbacks will hurt the environment.

They pine for the days, I suppose, when the Jean Chretien Liberals poured unlimited amounts of money on scientists, while allowing them to dictate government policy.

Indeed, I’m sure it was Canada’s top scientists who came up with the brilliant idea for the Chretien government’s main environmental initiative known as the “One Tonne Challenge” program.

This program, which surely must have been based on “evidence-based” research and rigorous scientific analysis, concluded the best way to reduce Canada’s “greenhouse gas emissions” was to pay CBC comedian Rick Mercer lots of tax dollars to star in Kyoto Accord TV ads.

Anyway, in an effort to restore those glory days of scientific reason intellectuals are starting to emerge from their Ivory Towers to convince the unwashed masses (those who lack post-graduate degrees) that more taxes must be spent on science.

Just recently, in fact, close to one hundred intellectuals made their case in a letter to the editor to the Montreal Gazette.

And what a letter!

It paints a scary portrait of what a “dark” place Canada would become if the government doesn’t immediately divert tax dollars from things like health care and national defence so they can used to subsidize academic pursuits like history, literary criticism, philosophy, political science, anthropology, critical legal studies, political economy and feminist studies.

How dark would Canada become if these “sciences” are not properly funded?

Well get this: we would be unable, says the letter, to confirm things like Canada’s “long-standing colonialism in dealing with the First Nations” or the “patriarchal dividend” in employment or the “scapegoating of racialized immigrants.”

(Note: You probably have to be a government funded intellectual to understand what “patriarchal dividend” or “racialized immigrants”actually means.)

But wait there’s more. Harper’s war on science, the letter writers warn us, will also mean Canadians won’t have access to “data-based interpretations … that document elite, corporate, European and male abuse.”

Darn those elite corporate European males!

The letter also suggests the cutting of science funding will cause widespread “de-gendering”, which I must admit sounds awfully painful.

And finally, the letter writers bewail how the Harper government is embracing “reactionary commemorative practices, to militarize patriotic mythology.”

I’m not certain, but I think they are referring to all those War of 1812 events … you know the ones where middle aged guys in redcoats shoot muskets into the air.

At any rate, the bottom line for these intellectuals is that “in face of global capitalism’s mounting crisis, critical interrogation of social phenomena, causes and consequences is urgently needed.”

Translation: Only a massive influx of government cash will cure Canada’s drastically dangerous shortage of literary criticism

Clearly, a lot of superior intellectual brain-power went into writing this letter to the editor, yet I somehow doubt it will generate much public support for a social “science” crusade.

I suspect Canadians are more worried about how they will pay for their mortgages and about the price of groceries than they are about “patriarchal dividends”.

If anything, this letter might cause Canadians to demand these guys get even less money.

But then again, maybe I’m suffering from de-gendering at the hands of Canada’s elite, corporate, European males.


Pyrodafox said...

How smart can these people be if they believe that the word "sociology" is a verb.

Sebanders said...

Gerry: sometimes, some of your comments make me wonder which side of the universe you are on, even though I appreciate your ability at being critical of all sides on some issues. But most of the time, I find you are on the side of reason and rationale.

Now, about this article. You are dead on.

Although I consider myself having a fairly good command of the English language in order to express myself clearly when I need to, because I like people to understand what I am saying, I have, for many years, been frustrated by the language used by those you are talking about in your article.

Not only does it take an uncanny ability and knowledge of the language to manipulate it as these people do, but it is also an indication of very twisted minds to do so and to believe their own words. It is, I'm afraid, an intellectual infirmity for which there is no cure.

In order for these people and their pseudo intellectual prose to flourish, there needs to be other intellectually vacuous vessels in which to plant the seeds. The result of this being, of course, that they can all stand around in some "soiree", impressing each other with these phrases as the social norm. Why? Because without these, they have no life.

So I thank you for this. It was very well done indeed.

Anonymous said...

Your entire argument is a straw man because you assume that the Canadian public consider the PMO anti-science based on funding cuts to research. There likely are a small contingent who do believe this, but the overwhelming majority do not believe Harper is anti-scienced based on this. The more plausible explanation is that the PMO has taken risks with the health of Canadians, namely cuts to the Health Inspection Agency by allowing drug companies to approve their own drugs with little or no independent research by Health Canada. Food inspections by Health Canada has dropped dramatically under the Conservative governance, opting instead to allow companies to conduct their own inspection, sometimes with disparaging results.

Michael Laven said...

"And finally, the letter writers bewail how the Harper government is embracing “reactionary commemorative practices, to militarize patriotic mythology.”

Gerry, I think I know what this means. It means, among other things, that my father, 94 this Thursday, is finally getting a medal for his service in WWII. (He was an RCAF escapee = avoided being a POW and contacted the Resistance instead, and made his way to Gibraltar).

Imagine describing that as "to militarize patriotic mythology." I want my tax money for school English composition lessons back.

Cytotoxic said...

The more plausible explanation is that the PMO has taken risks with the health of Canadians, namely cuts to the Health Inspection Agency by allowing drug companies to approve their own drugs with little or no independent research by Health Canada. Food inspections by Health Canada has dropped dramatically under the Conservative governance, opting instead to allow companies to conduct their own inspection,

And there is not a shred of evidence to suggest we are worse off. So you see, it is you that cannot grasp evidence. You just like government a lot and are too unself-aware to realize it.

H.E. said...

Well, Gerry - I'm a Canadian, but have NEVER been called anything even close to a "left-wing intellectual" and I consider the Harper-led Tories to be anti-science.

I'll let another non-left-wing fella (who I've never heard called a "left-wing intellectual either) explain why HE might agree with ME:

Here's the doctrine he's talking about - read Chapter 9 carefully:
"A New Perspective on the Health of Canadians a working document" by Marc Lalonde, Minister of Health and Welfare - Ottawa, April 1974 (ISBN 0-662-50019-9):

Even though most Canadians now call this doctrine "the Precautionary Principle" - this steamroller that crushes the Scientific Method and risk-avoidance decisions more wisely made on the traditional "First Do No Harm" precaution requiring backing on hard evidence - is still anti-science no matter what name it's given. This pox on freedom is being used by every power-hungry level of government in Canada, to ostensibly "save the planet/environment":

April 1, 1999 commentary by Ron Bailey, for Reason magazine, titled "A Precautionary Tale":

By Lawrence A. Kogan, Esq:
Invasion of the Property Snatchers© - New ITSSD Article Outlines How U.S. Politicians Abducted By ‘Aliens’ Are Silently Replacing Your Private Property With Public Goods As You Sleep
Full speech: Private Property Rights - The Record & The Vision - Albany, New York October 14, 2006


We Canukistanians can thank "Canadian left-wing intellectual" Brian Mulroney for helping Trudeau's former Minister of Health and Welfare impose this previous plague on citizens of Germany on our hapless people Canada-wide, by signing Canada onto agreement with the Rio Declaration (in which that doctrine is Principle #15), Agenda 21, the UNFCCC and CBD - at the 1992 "Earth Summit" in Rio:

The Rio Earth Summit summary of the UNCED

We can thank the Harper-led Tories for accelerating Agenda 21's transformation of Canada's traditional social, economic and political systems to suit, with their imposition of the "Federal Sustainable Development Act" in June 2008:

The "Federal Sustainable Development Strategy" created as required by that Act now requires Canada report back to the UN on our "progress" as well (ie: on our progressive, economic self-destruction to suit?):
Excerpt: 9. (1) Within two years after this Act comes into force and within every three-year period after that, the Minister shall develop, in accordance with this section, a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy based on the precautionary principle.

The Progress Report on the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2010-2013:
In pdf format (67 pages):

So Gerry... how do you like the New International Economic Order that politicians leading member nation-states more often refer to these days as "the global economy" (aka "the Green Economy) so far?
1 May 1974 - Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order