URLs du Jour

2021-03-01

[Amazon Link]

  • John McWhorter wonders Is it racist to expect black kids to do math for real?. And, yes, Betteridge's law of headlines applies.

    There is a document getting around called Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction, a guide put together by a group of educators. It has a black boy on the cover.

    The idea is to show us how our racial reckoning of late ought change how we expose black kids to math. I suppose the counsel is also intended for kids of other types of melanin, but this is in essence a document that could be called “Math For Black Kids.”

    The latest is that state-level policy makers in Oregon are especially intrigued by this document. There is all reason to suppose that its influence will spread more widely.

    And this is to resisted, as this lovely pamphlet is teaching us that it is racist to expect black kids to master the precision of math. To wit – its message, penned by people who consider themselves some of the most morally advanced souls in the history of the human species, is one that Strom Thurmond would have happily taken a swig of whiskey to.

    We've mentioned that "Equitable Math" document before, and you may have seen it elsewhere, but Professor McWhorter shows how it fits in with his wokism-is-secular-religion insights.


  • You may have noticed that that "Betteridge's law of headlines" link above goes to Wikipedia's entry about that term. Wikipedia is great for things like that.

    But it's not great for everything. In short, you might have to go elsewhere for anything where contentious political beliefs are involved. Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger (yes, that's a Wikipedia link) is a longtime skeptic, and Just the News reports the latest: Citing Wikipedia's capture by the left, site's co-founder launching free-speech-friendly competitor.

    Last May, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger wrote an op-ed on his personal website titled "Wikipedia is Badly Biased" claiming that Wikipedia's neutrality policy — known as "NPOV," or neutral point of view — "is dead."

    Now, when schoolchildren visit the Wikipedia website to look up answers to questions about the meaning of socialism, "they're going to find an explanation that completely ignores any conservative, libertarian, or critical treatment of the subject," Sanger told "Just the News AM" television program. "And that's really problematic. That's not education. That's propaganda."

    Sanger referred to a Fox News report last week by Maxim Lott, which noted, "The two main pages for 'Socialism' and 'Communism' span a massive 28,000 words, and yet they contain no discussion of the genocides committed by socialist and communist regimes, in which tens of millions of people were murdered and starved."

    Sanger's new project is Encyclosphere, and it's not ready yet. Hopefully soon.


  • It has been six years since George Will observed that colleges had made "victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges". Outrage ensued, but can there be any doubt that subsequent events had proved Will not only to be correct, but also somewhat prescient?

    At Quillette Cory Clark looks at The Evolutionary Advantages of Playing Victim.

    Victimhood is defined in negative terms: “the condition of having been hurt, damaged, or made to suffer.” Yet humans have evolved to empathize with the suffering of others, and to provide assistance so as to eliminate or compensate for that suffering. Consequently, signaling suffering to others can be an effective strategy for attaining resources. Victims may receive attention, sympathy, and social status, as well as financial support and other benefits. And being a victim can generate certain kinds of power: It can justify the seeking of retribution, provide a sense of legitimacy or psychological standing to speak on certain issues, and may even confer moral impunity by minimizing blame for victims’ own wrongdoings.

    Presumably, most victims would eagerly forego such benefits if they were able to free themselves of their plight. But when victimhood yields benefits, it incentivizes people to signal their victimhood to others or to exaggerate or even fake victimhood entirely. This is especially true in contexts that involve alleged psychic harms, and where appeals are made to third-parties, with the claimed damage often being invisible, unverifiable, and based exclusively on self-reports. Such circumstances allow unscrupulous people to take advantage of the kindness and sympathy of others by co-opting victim status for personal gain. And so, people do.

    My local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat often features an editorial column by Robert Azzi. His work from yesterday could be used as an illustration of the kind of thing Clark and Will discuss.


  • So have you heard about Amazon's removal of Ryan T. Atkinson's book When Harry Became Sally from its virtual shelves?

    Well, not if you get your news exclusively from the Washington Post. Information about that dies in darkness.

    The Washington Free Beacon points it out, however: Bezos's Post Silent on Amazon Fiasco.

    The Post covered Anderson's book extensively when it came out in 2018. The piece, headlined "Ryan Anderson's book on transgender people is creating an uproar," originally contained several misstatements of Anderson's positions. The original version said, "Anderson makes an inflammatory claim—that transgender people are mentally ill." It also claimed Anderson had championed "conversion therapy." When critics pointed out the falsehoods, the Post amended the piece to say, "Anderson makes what some feel is an inflammatory case against transgender people."

    Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, bought the Washington Post in 2013. Post editors say they have never experienced editorial pressure from Bezos on stories. Shani George, director of communications for the Post, told the Free Beacon, "We do not discuss our internal coverage plans, and all editorial decisions are made independent of the interests of any outside party or company."

    Look, I think Amazon should be free to sell what it wants.

    But (as near as I can tell) its decision here is unprecedented. And it's certainly newsworthy. What other books has it decided that are too hot to handle? Are its decisions objective and fair, or just some woke staffer deciding "I know bad stuff when I see it"?

    You need news organizations to find this stuff out. If they ignore it, they aren't doing their job.


  • I remember at some point in the past I gave up on Amnesty International for its leftish tilt. Looks like that hasn't changed. David Harsanyi writes: Amnesty International’s Position on Navalny Is Unconscionable.

    Amnesty International has stripped jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny of his “prisoner of conscience” status after the organization was “bombarded” with complaints highlighting some of his unseemly rhetoric from the past.

    Navalny was nearly murdered by a nerve-agent attack last year, almost surely perpetrated by the Putin regime. His life was saved only after he was airlifted to Germany. Determined to return to Russia, Navalny flew back in January, at the same time releasing an investigation into the opulent lifestyles of Putin and other corrupt Russian oligarchs. Navalny was promptly arrested for violating the terms of his parole on an earlier sentence (for a trumped-up embezzlement conviction) by not checking in with a parole officer — from his German hospital bed, where he spent weeks in a coma. Initially held in a Moscow prison, he was recently moved to what is reportedly a “penal colony.”

    Sorry, Alexei. No Amnesty for you.