Thursday, February 16, 2006

Manliness

News: Czech President Klaus has just vetoed the registered gay partnership bill which means that his country won't become the first post-socialist country with such a legislation because the Parliament won't have enough votes to undo the veto.

As you know very well, the politically correct activist groups can't stop discussions about the nature of human beings and about the specific attributes of the sexes - even though they would obviously like to do so. Why can't they stop it? There are two reasons: freedom codified in the laws of this civilization and manliness.

What the hell is manliness? :-) Harvey Mansfield, Kenan Professor of government, described "Manliness", which is also the title of his new book that he promoted among the Harvard community, as
  • confidence in times of risk and an exercise of freedom.

He has also used the term "heroines of science" for the female scholars who have played such an important role in the last 30 years to identify the significant differences between men and women.

Are there other examples of manliness in Cambridge? Yes, Spare Change News, a homeless-run newspaper that you may buy at Harvard Square, joined the Harvard conservative bi-weekly, The Harvard Salient, and they republished the prophet cartoons.

Judith Kidd, an associate dean of Harvard College who is also known as the New Kidd on the Block, asked the kids from The Salient to be careful about "dangerous fallout". A debate started whether the threats are real or not. Well, I personally think that the danger is somewhat real and JK has good reasons to warn our conservative students.

Incidentally, TK, the editor of The Salient, has also become a rather influential editor of The Crimson - the color indicates that this important paper is mostly "liberal", to put it modestly. ;-) For example, this paper uses every opportunity to attack Bill O'Reilly.

Today's issue of The Crimson offers many other interesting stories. For example, Judith Ryan who proposed the "new" resolution about the lack of confidence in Summers (the word "new" means that the verb "continues" was added to the resolution) - a resolution that will once again divide Harvard after the FAS faculty meeting on 2/28 - answers 15 questions.

The interview is subtitled "15 questions for a whining professor" or something equivalent. In question 11, she even says that an ideal president should have exactly the same characteristics as Summers who is moreover brilliant, she says, but she can't deduce the right conclusions. At the end of the interview, she displays her lacking contact with reality when she says that probably everyone is on her side. It may be useful to learn that virtually all of physics department - and probably also a majority of other science departments - is worried and kind of disgusted by her resolution.

The Faculty Council wants to halt the FAS dean search. Not sure whether they have any official right to actually stop it - but they certainly have a great deal of unofficial ability to influence the events. And many of them have a great capacity to produce poison. An example:

  • Council member Richard F. Thomas, the chair of the Classics Department, said that conducting a search while Summers remained president would be “difficult in the extreme.”

I would put it differently. The FAS dean search will be rather difficult if the president won't find enough courage to follow the law and standard procedures to choose the dean - and if he won't find enough moral support to remove various barriers such as the thoroughly unconstructive troublemakers from the process.

Economists vs. sociologists

Today, another controversy appeared in the Boston Globe and it is about the intelligence of various fields that study the society. In a debate with the ex-dean Ellison, the president made a remark that seems absolutely obvious to The Reference Frame - namely that the economists are smarter, in average, than the political scientists who are smarter, in average, than the sociologists. In my opinion, there can't be any reasonable doubt about the first statement and the second statement is likely to be true.

The economists represent the only field in the list that tries to study the true mechanisms that are actually relevant for the society by scientific methods - methods that attempt to be as sharp and quantitative as possible. These methods should be based on actual research as opposed to philosophical preconceptions. And sometimes they even have scientific results. If you allow me to add an example, the Czech President is an economist and one of the brightest people in the nation.

The other fields are as non-quantitative as possible and they are satisfied with vague or even scientifically vacuous verbal proclamations. It's almost always the case that the scholars in these other fields become prominent because they say something that is politically convenient for sufficiently large groups of people. The selection in social sciences is political, not scientific, in nature. It is much like the question about the "popular courses" at the university. Of course that the lower intelligence and efforts a course requires, the more popular it will be. But being popular is very different from being serious science. And the president must be applauded for his effort to keep or increase the ratio of serious research as opposed to popular exercises.

Nevertheless, such observations seem to be another taboo and the atmosphere in the Academia is such that the president effectively does not enjoy the freedom to say any of these things or any other things that are based on the basic observations. He is often forced to say untrue statements. That's bad but it's not his fault.

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