An End to the Left’s Hegemony over Academia is Necessary

Universities offer courses on things such a women’s studies, gender studies, and all other kinds of nebulous, pseudo-scientific “academic disciplines” that are not only heavily biased towards a particular viewpoint, but entirely based upon them.  I mean, women’s studies, for example, is explicitly feminist.  And feminism isn’t exaclty “objective.”

However, these inherently ideological academic studies are all leftist (unless maybe you go to Hillsdale College, BYU, or some other non-leftist university).  And even nominally “objective” social sciences, such as linguistics and (especially) sociology can be influenced by (particularly leftist) ideology.  These so-called “soft-sciences” are so-called because their experimental results can (and usually are) highly susceptible to personal bias.  To be fair, even the hard sciences are susceptible to personal bias and it is never possible to be completely objective, but the hard sciences tend to deal with more concrete (i.e. experimentally replicable) or logical (i.e. logically or mathematically demonstrable) subjects.  Whereas the social sciences tend to deal with more nebulous subjects, like society.  That isn’t to say that social sciences have no value; they often produce valuable insights.  And things like women’s studies can’t even be considered soft-sciences.  There is nothing scientific about the methodology of women’s studies, and they are explicity derived from inherently subjective assumptions.  But again, that isn’t to say that such fields have no value.  Even if I don’t agree with the ideologies such fields are based on and even if I think such fields often have pernicious consequences, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value to the different ways of thinking such fields tend to produce.

Anyway, my point in all of this is that there is no well-established ideological academic discipline on the right.  I would argue, in order to gain more of a foothold in academics and present alternate theories to those presented by fields like women’s studies, and even to advance the intellectual side of the right, such disciplines should be established.  One reason women’s studies has been so influential is that it influences people when they are young and tend to be more impressionable, creating a lasting impact on the paradigm from which they view things.  And given that the right-side of academics isn’t well established, it might also have the effect of leading to novel ways of thinking about things.

I’m approaching this from maybe more of a hard-sciences perspective than others might, because I am a chemistry student and I have little exposure to humanities and soft-sciences (although I do have exposure to those things, even in an academic context, having taken some social science classes in the past, specifically geography and linguistics.  But given that the social sciences/humanites are less removed from society than the hard sciences are, especially if you are as into politics as me, it’s hard not to be exposed to some of their aspects).  It’s also hard to completely divorce my ideological and moral views from the hard sciences, not because science is ideological or supports my views (ideological is something that science should, ideally, never be, although it is inevitable that it sometimes will appear to be.  But when it does, that is a good indication that it’s junk science), but because my views are based on the same principle that led to the philosophy of science.  Namely, “objective” reason.  Of course, “objective reason” is barely a real thing in actual science, and when you start clouding it with less concrete concepts, it strays farther and farther away from that ideal.  That is important to keep in mind, and it is something I am cognizant of as I write the following.

A coherent ideology should be derived from first principles (some relatively simple assumptions, observations,  objectives, etc).  This is probably the biggest factor in determining your political views, because what first principles you subjectively decide are the most important to base your ideology on will vary.  If you develop your ideology from the objective of equality of outcome, your ideology will be very different from one that makes the assumption that equality of outcome is impossible to attain.

The more “intellectual” variety of modern American conservatism is often informed by the founding principles of the United States, the most important of which, I would argue, is natural law.  Conservatism also often draws inspiration from other sources, such as Christianity, but I will leave those kinds of conservatism be because those aren’t the ones I am advocating for and thus I have no interest in addressing them.  Because “conservative” is often non-specific, I tend to use “classical liberal” to describe my views nowadays, since that is more specific.  The term “conservative” is often interchangeable because natural law is fundamentally classically liberal, and the natural law-based constitution is what is being conserved in this case.  But if the “conservatism” being referred to is based on the principle that things should not change due to possible unexpected consequences, that is not at all what kind of conservatism I am addressing here.  Ultimately, though, these are just labels, and labels aren’t very important.

Back to science, the fundamental principle of science is that there is some objective reality (even if that objective reality sometimes relies on randomness).  The nature of this reality can often be elucidated through experiments or logic (an example of a logically elucidated objective reality is the existence of black holes, which was predicted mathematically as a means to explain observed phenomena and only experimentally “confirmed” after the fact, not that anything can really be proven beyond all doubt), and sometimes it can’t be, but the main idea is that all of reality can theoretically be elucidated with those things.  That is, reality has some kind of objective, predictable order to it (again, not predictable order in the sense that every outcome is predictable or deterministic.  That statement simply means that things are a certain way and that is possible to know what way things are).  That is an assumption made in science, and it usually seems to be correct, basically on humanity’s ability to explain a whole crap ton of phenomena using scientific inquiry and develop technology using that knowledge.

The assumption of an objective reality is the first assumption natural law is based on.  As I said before, no ideology can be completely objective, but objectivity is the ideal of the ideology.  That means that subjectivity is meaningless, just like if someone was convinced that water is made of fire.  Just because that person believes water is made of fire doesn’t mean that water is actually made of fire.  Subtectively, to that person, water might be made of fire, but objectively, water is not made of fire.  That person’s subjective “reality” has no impact on actual, objective reality.  Water isn’t made of fire simply by decree of that person.  Therefore, any one person’s subjective “reality” doesn’t supersede any other person’s subjective “reality.”  No one has the ability to decree that reality is a certain way because they arbitrarily believe that is how it is.

If the assumption is made that there is such a thing as “human rights” (and the basis of that assumption is more complicated than what I want to get into right now, so I’ll just summarize my thoughts on it quickly by saying that human rights exist because humans have nominally free will, and according to that will, humans do not want to be subjugated), and there is an objective reality, then it follows that the definition of human rights does not get to be arbitrarility made by one person.  It also follows that the natural state of being is one in which no one human has any rights that aren’t available to all other humans, because any other state would require the supersedure of one human’s rights over another’s.  From this basic premise, almost everything else pertaining to law and government can be derived.  Or, at least, it should be able to, theoretically.  That doesn’t mean it will always be clear.  And that is one reason why I believe there should be academic disciplines devoted specifically to this kind of thought, so the many questions left unanswered by it can be answered.  If the premise is that there is only one objective reality, no other manner of thinking is completely valid.

More importantly, though, the left’s hegemony over the humanities and social sciences is harmful not only to people who disagree with the left, but also to the state of ideas in general.  There is little alternative presented to things like women’s studies in an academic context, which is potentially intellectually limiting and therefore dangerous for everyone.  While the concept of natural law used to be common, it would be alien to most young people today.  All the implications of such a radical way of thinking don’t need to be considered right now, but it is important to get some kind of foundation in place so better solutions that don’t rely on the paradigm that “the government is needed to solve society’s problems” can be conceived of.  Regardless of how effective that paradigm actually is, approaches to solving society’s problems should never be that constrained.  As a society, it seems that we have collectively succumbed to tunnel vision when it comes to thinking about policy (and I’m not saying that everyone always goes to the government to solve every societal problem, but reducing government’s role certainly doesn’t seem to be an option and it is turned to solve many problems that it shouldn’t necessarily be).

NOTE: I also want to draw a fundamental distinction between the kind of thinking I propose above and the kind of thinking that occurs in fields like women’s studies.  Women’s studies draws from critical theory, which is meant to observe society and “criticize” it (hence the name).  I don’t think that is the way to think about society.  Instead of reaction to society being foundational, foundational principles should be established beforehand and then solutions to societal problems should be proposed based on those principles.

Always Question the Conventional Wisdom, Especially When You are Told Not To

As any actual scientist will tell you, in science, you do not prove anything to be true.  You can prove something to be false, and you can make a strong case for why something is probably true, but there is no way to prove that anything is true.  Competent scientists are expected to question conventional wisdom, because that conventional wisdom may be completely wrong. For example, the Ptolemaic model of the universe, which was geocentric, was accepted as conventional wisdom for well over a millennium.  The more accurate heliocentric model wasn’t accepted until after a very long, controversial debate.  It’s not comfortable for what you always held true to be questioned (by the way, the true center of the solar system (i.e. the spot around which the bodies of the solar system orbit) isn’t actually the sun, but the solar system’s center of mass, or its barycenter).

There are a lot of things that are generally accepted as “true” regardless, such as the shape of the Earth.  It is reasonable to conclude that the shape of the Earth is roughly spheroidal, based on all available evidence and the fact that there is no evidence it isn’t.  In this case, the evidence is so overwhelming that it would make little sense to question the shape of the Earth, at least not until there is evidence that the Earth is anything but a spheroid.

However, there is little else in science with such overwhelming evidence supporting it.  One controversial example is “climate change.”  It is obvious that the climate changes. Otherwise, there would have never been an ice age.  Whether or not the climate changes is not controversial (which makes it amusing whenever people use examples of the climate changing to support their political agenda).  What is controversial is the existence of anthropogenic climate change.  We are told that questioning the existence of anthropogenic climate change is “anti-science” because “97% of scientists believe in anthropogenic climate change.”  It may very well be true that “97% of scientists believe in anthropogenic climate change,” but accepting the existence of anthropogenic climate change as irrefutable fact is what is fundamentally “anti-science,” especially based on nothing more than an appeal to authority.

The vast majority of people who attempt to bully everyone else into accepting their position, that anthropogenic climate change is the reality, are not scientists.  They are politicians and political activists.  They have an obviously heavily biased agenda (and, for the sake of full disclosure, I do as well).  If their ultimate devotion is to their political agenda, it is not to being impartial.  They are susceptible to confirmation bias.  As is everyone else, even scientists.  That, in addition to the fact that the issue of anthropogenic climate change has been heavily politicized, as well as potential issues with the methodology of climate science itself, gives one more than a good reason to question anthropogenic climate change and refuse to merely accept the conventional wisdom and shut up about it, and give more power to the people that are demanding power so they can solve the problem.  You shouldn’t need any specific reason to be skeptical of it, though, or skeptical of anything else for that matter; what is important is that you investigate the issue and make a logical conclusion based on the evidence available (and, for the record, “there is inconclusive evidence to make a conclusion” is a perfectly valid conclusion.  Conclusions can be uncertain, and should be uncertain if the evidence leaves open a lot of questions).

Personally, I am not a “climate denier.”  I am a skeptic who believes that anthropogenic climate change is most likely occurring based on my limited knowledge of the subject.  Now, logically, that means I must support governments in their efforts to combat it, right?  Because that is what everyone who is concerned about climate change wants?  Nah.  Climate change is scary and it gives politicians a good reason (from a public relations perspective) to increase their own power, so they can do something about climate change.  That is, it is the perfect opportunity for fearmongering, which can be very politically lucrative.  But that is exactly why they shouldn’t be given that power.  As with every instance of government power, it will be abused.  And, as with most other problems the government has tried to solve by giving itself more power, the problem of climate change likely wouldn’t be solved to any great degree.  If anything, based on past examples of new government programs, it would create a whole new batch of unforeseen problems.

The solution to the problem of climate change, if there is a solution, lies in technology.  Technological advancement tends to occur in the private sector (or specialized government programs such as the military or NASA), which, unlike the government (generally speaking), is dynamic and able to respond to all kinds of unexpected issues because it is decentralized and because those issues are potential new sources of profit.  That is the great thing about profit; it is an incentive to produce something that is valuable to society.  No, not everything that occurs in the private sector is ethical (ethics is outside the realm of economics, just like it is outside the realm of science), but, holistically, the private sector is a force of “good” and is responsible for the prosperity we enjoy in the first world (of course, “good” governance is a requirement for the existence of a reasonably free private sector, which is why places like Somalia have no free market).

Of course, this is all a generalization.  Government can accomplish things sometimes, usually in the military (it can create an atomic bomb and land on the moon, for example.  But I’ll just point out that both of those things occurred when the US government was in a state of competition with Nazi Germany or the USSR (that threatened US security), so there was a very large incentive to minimize bureaucratic impediments to those results).  My overall point here is to question the conventional wisdom that giving the government more power is the only way to address problems caused by climate change, as well as the conventional wisdom that not immediately embracing wholeheartedly the truth of anthropogenic climate change makes one “anti-science” (because, if anything, embracing wholeheartedly the truth of anthropogenic climate change without questioning it at all just because “the experts” tell you should is what makes you anti-science).