May 22, 2010

More on Jonathan Katz

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Prof enjoys debate, rocking the boat
Bill McClellan

Had Washington University professor Jonathan Katz been nominated to the Civil Rights Commission, I would understand why some people might point to his writings and object to the nomination. In particular, I would understand why his 1999 essay defending homophobia might be a cause of concern.

But he wasn't asked to join the Civil Rights Commission. He was asked to join a group of scientists working on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

What do his thoughts about sexuality have to do with that?

Nothing is the correct answer.

I should be upfront about this. I have known Katz for a long time — our kids went to grade school together — and I have always admired him. He is a man of strong opinions, and he does not care a whit if those opinions are popular.
I've written about him once. That was in 2002. Washington University had decreed that reporters needed official permission to conduct an interview on campus. According to the new guidelines, a reporter who wanted to conduct an interview on campus was required to notify the Public Affairs office, and a person from that office would have the right to monitor the interview.
 
So Katz called and asked if I wanted to break the rules. Of course, I said. I went to his office and interviewed him. He wanted to talk about his bosses.

"They're control freaks," he said. "This kind of policy is something you'd expect from a corporation. I have nothing against corporations, but a university is a fundamentally different thing."

He dismissed the notion of a closed campus.

"A university is a small town with public spaces open to all. There is supposed to be a free flow of ideas and people. If you don't have those things, you don't have a real university. I've done a fair amount of consulting for the defense industry, and I've seen more freedom of thought, freedom to disagree, in the defense establishment than I see here."

By the way, the door to his office was decorated with an American flag. That's unusual in the physics department. Heck, it's unusual anywhere in the university. Which is, I suspect, part of the reason he did it.

On the other hand, Katz represents something quintessentially American — a zest for engaging in the battle of ideas.

Over the years, he has often disagreed with stuff I've written. He lets me know.

His wife, Lily, is much the same. When my daughter was in fifth grade with one of the Katz kids, the class was studying Ireland. I asked a friend who had been in the Irish Republican Army to speak to the class. Lily did not share my sympathy for the IRA. But she was not against my friend speaking. She just disagreed with his views and wanted to air those differences.

There is a big difference between disagreeing with somebody and wanting to silence that person. Vigorous debate used to be considered the hallmark of a healthy democracy. We're losing our ability to engage in a debate.  

36 comments:

OneSTDV said...

By the way, the door to his office was decorated with an American flag. That's unusual in the physics department. Heck, it's unusual anywhere in the university.

This is a clear indication of the continually rotting elite university system.

Anti-American sentiment is now almost official within these institutions.

Anonymous said...

Anti-American sentiment is now almost official within these institutions.

Almost?!?

Where have you been for the last quarter century?

dearieme said...

"something quintessentially American — a zest for engaging in the battle of ideas". That sarcasm is a bit heavy-handed, surely?

Anonymous said...

Katz is a loud, outspoken patriotic traditionalist.

He is also a Jew, and thus made to feel unwelcome in the HBD movement by the small number of anti semites that spend all their time choking up the HBD blogs with their jew hating comments

Hmm, why do you think it is that high IQ people and / or Jews who believe in HBD take one look at the blogs and run the other way?

Anonymous said...

"Anti-American sentiment is now almost official within these institutions."

I consider most of our politicians and business leaders anti-American for their support of immigration,in sourcing and outsourcing to name a few.

Anonymous said...

Katz is obviously a very intelligent man (though I'm sure open to his own, facile, biases). He has the ability to express concepts in startlingly straightforward, clear ways that are yet not easy to express in that fashion.

These concepts are counterintuitive (btw look up the concept of "minimal counterintuitiveness", it's an eyeopener - without this, you''ll have a real hard time understanding why Liberal folks think what they do - the sympathies with religion!).

Clarity of thought is the true, raw bone of intelligence. Intelligent thoughts are clear.

Anonymous said...

Read the book The Shadow University to get an idea of how bad it is. The book was written by Alan Kors (essentially a Neocon, but better educated than most) and Harvey Silvergate, a left liberal civil libertarian. If even those two guys find the atmosphere on campus disturbing, you know its bad.

Jim Bowery said...

Like I always say: The anti-racists would see the world fry before they would admit there is "a place" for dissent from their fuzzy, selectively enforced morality.

Full deck, etc...

Dennis Mangan said...

So, the writer of the piece is a terrorist sympathizer at a major newspaper who gets his terrorist friends to speak to classes of fifth graders.

Only in America.

David Davenport said...

D.C. to begin using more-expensive Trojan condoms in HIV prevention program

...

By Tim Craig

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 21, 2010

High school students and college-age adults have been complaining to District officials that the free condoms the city has been offering are not of good enough quality and are too small and that getting them from school nurses is "just like asking grandma or auntie."

So D.C. officials have decided to stock up on Trojan condoms, including the company's super-size Magnum variety, and they have begun to authorize teachers or counselors, preferably male, to distribute condoms to students if the teachers complete a 30-minute online training course called "WrapMC" -- for Master of Condoms.

...


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/20/AR2010052003980.html

You all understand that most students in the District of Columbia are white. :0)

KissTheGoat said...

If we were making the constitution today I doubt freedom of speech would be a right.

@OneSTDV above - patriotism nowadays is gay. George Bush used it to put his hand down our pants and get us into bad wars. Sure, patriotism wrt our ideals is fine but this isn't the country it used to be. Personally I don't have the appetite for it anymore.

Black Sea said...

I'm still trying to figure out how a class of 10-year olds was supposed to make sense of the goals, ambitions, tactics, and moral ambiguities (to say the least) of the IRA. I would've gone further than Lily; I don't think it was appropriate for an IRA sympathiser (if that's what the guy was) to speak to a class of 5th graders, anymore than if a UDF member, or former member, had done so.

Dennis Dale said...

Why Katz' dismissal isn't a minor scandal is a, er, scandal.

Curious reporters might ask just who signs off on such orders (or maybe I missed it). How high an official must you be? Or, how low (aside from the moral sense) a functionary is endowed with this extraordinary power?
It'll be interesting to see if Katz draws fire at home now.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

I need somebody to explain something to me:

Why would an astrophysicist be put on a team to figure out how to cap an oil blowout, anyway?

Steve Sailer said...

"The Shadow University to get an idea of how bad it is. The book was written by Alan Kors"

By the way, if you like Teaching Company lectures on tapes, Kors might be the best at getting exactly the right tempo and word choice so you can drive your car and still follow a sophisticated argument at the same time.

Black Sea said...

Yep to Curvacious, Carbon-based etc.'s question.

I forward the Katz story to a friend of mine who is a retired professor of mechanical engineering. His initial response was the same: even a highly-trained physicist would be of no pratical use on such a team. The whole thing was political theater anyway. The administration needed to be seen to be doing something, even if that something was ultimately ineffectual.

Sadly, this governmental imperative is not limited to emergency oil spills.

Anonymous said...

"By the way, if you like Teaching Company lectures on tapes, Kors might be the best at getting exactly the right tempo and word choice so you can drive your car and still follow a sophisticated argument at the same time."

Just avoid the ones by Prof. Starbird unless you want to fall asleep at the wheel and drive into a tree.

Fred said...

"I forward the Katz story to a friend of mine who is a retired professor of mechanical engineering. His initial response was the same: even a highly-trained physicist would be of no pratical use on such a team. The whole thing was political theater anyway."

Actually, Katz would have been a perfect addition here. Think of Feynman on the Challenger inquiry. Katz has a few things in common with Feynman: brilliant, outspoken, unafraid of stepping on toes, unrestrained by any industry or bureaucratic ties to the accident, and able to explain complicated technical issues in simple language.

Of course a petroleum industry engineer would have a better idea of how to solve this. But maybe his solution would be ludicrously expensive to implement? By announcing it as part of this panel, he'd be burning bridges in his industry. Instead, he could feed the info to a guy like Katz.

Steve Sailer said...

"Think of Feynman on the Challenger inquiry"

Right. Feynman didn't discover for himself that the Space Shuttle O-rings didn't snap back to shape in freezing weather by dunking them in a glass of ice water. That insight was fed to him by some low level engineers whose bosses didn't want to hear it. And the former Secretary of State heading the commission didn't really want to hear it either.

But Feynman was the perfect guy to give the straight story to and so he put on the most effective little classroom demonstration on national TV in our history.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else getting tired of the attempts by a few people (often successful) to hijack threads by accusing Sailer/many readers of this blog of anti-semitism?

Those of you so concerned about anti-semitism: You can't have it both ways. The sort of non-PC thinking that leads one to accept HBD can and will be turned to many subjects. "Please spare the Jews" pleadings are asinine when the person making the request is so eager to sign up for merciless bashing of NAMs.

By the way, the tactic is to wear down Sailer/Mangan/everyone who notices non-PC thing about Jews with accusations of anti-semitism, never mind how insipid the accusations are. This can actually work.

jody said...

i did not find an anti-american sentiment to be common in the science departments at my college. in fact i found little political expression one way or the other. i'm sure various professors had various opinions, but i never heard them in classes or saw them in their offices or emails.

just one person's experience.

jody said...

i personally harbor no blind, group wide ethnic hatred for jewish americans, and view the high rate of anti-american jewish activists in the democrat party as not much different than the high rate of bad cops in any police department. the nature of the work attracts the wrong people.

if you want to help people, you join the fire department. if you want to push people around and have authority over them, you join the police department. the job has an appeal to a certain kind of person.

likewise, there is clearly some kind of intense need and desire among a segment of ashkenazi jews, to boss people around, to tell them what to do, and to push the issue to the point that it contradicts common sense. the high rate of jewish activists is not a mistake, nor is it a product of "superior intelligence". there's just way too many anti-american jewish activists, and way too few from all other groups combined, for simple "superior intelligence" to explain the phenomenon. anti-national activism is a personality trait highly peculiar to diaspora jews.

bad cops have to be kicked out of the force, and anti-national jewish activists should be kicked out of politics. but as that has become increasingly difficult in the US, at the minimum their anti-american behavior should be identified.

how this is any different than enforcing the law despite group differences in rates of breaking the law, is not clear to me. it has nothing at all to do with a desire to exterminate all jewish people in the world. athough, anti-american jewish activists have done such a good job at promoting their interests that they have convinced a huge amount of people that this is exactly what it means. any criticism of their behavior is the same exact thing as wanting to exterminate every jewish person.

Anonymous said...

I concur with the comments made against those who come here to continually accuse Steve of anti-semitism. I'm African and I don't run away despite all the the racist comments many people make. People subscribe to various facets of HBD for different reasons - I don't want you to be my friends and I'm sure many of you would annoy the heck out of me if we met each other in person. What I do find valuable is how HBD illuminated issues that had often perplexed me when I tried to create an integrated world view. The desire for a single unified HBD political movement is as silly as the desire for a single unified Christian movement. It assumes that facts exclusively create motives, which any realistic HBD advocate would see the obvious problem with. So if Jews were not criticized in HBD contexts, would it mean that they would then become members of mainstream HBD forums?

David said...

>The desire for a single unified HBD political movement is as silly as the desire for a single unified Christian movement.<

The single thing some Jews want us to be united on is "no criticism of Jews." Interesting.

Note that it's emotionally argued ("You are hurting our feelings..."), involves boycott threats ("We will all abandon you..."), and appeals to moral guilt ("How shameful...")

This is the typical pattern.

But remember: the people you are not permitted to criticize are the people who are your masters. Uniting us with a no-criticism policy means turning us into one neck, ready for one leash. Easy for a tiny unrepresentative minority to pull. For details, begin with the history of National Review.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

I concur with the comments made against those who come here to continually accuse Steve of anti-semitism. I'm African and I don't run away despite all the the racist comments many people make. People subscribe to various facets of HBD for different reasons - I don't want you to be my friends and I'm sure many of you would annoy the heck out of me if we met each other in person. What I do find valuable is how HBD illuminated issues that had often perplexed me when I tried to create an integrated world view. The desire for a single unified HBD political movement is as silly as the desire for a single unified Christian movement. It assumes that facts exclusively create motives, which any realistic HBD advocate would see the obvious problem with. So if Jews were not criticized in HBD contexts, would it mean that they would then become members of mainstream HBD forums?"

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Those of you so concerned about anti-semitism: You can't have it both ways. The sort of non-PC thinking that leads one to accept HBD can and will be turned to many subjects. "Please spare the Jews" pleadings are asinine when the person making the request is so eager to sign up for merciless bashing of NAMs.

By the way, the tactic is to wear down Sailer/Mangan/everyone who notices non-PC thing about Jews with accusations of anti-semitism, never mind how insipid the accusations are. This can actually work.


I've found that the [purported*] anti-anti-semites are remarkably devoid of any sense of irony.

Which, of course, is what you would expect a priori [a sense of irony probably requires a sense of humor, which, in turn, probably requires a little introspection every now and then], but, still, you wonder if they every pause and consider the internal contradictions of their position - or if it's always just, "Full speed ahead & damn the torpedoes!" with that crowd.



*I say "purported" because I think it's always a mistake to take those folks at their word - I think they know exactly what they're doing.

Svigor said...

Katz is a loud, outspoken patriotic traditionalist.

He is also a Jew, and thus made to feel unwelcome in the HBD movement by the small number of anti semites that spend all their time choking up the HBD blogs with their jew hating comments.


Interesting, how you leave the conclusions to "made to feel unwelcome" up to us (i.e., you don't actually state that this keeps them away, you just leave that conclusion to us).

I call this the "Shrinking Violet/Hothouse Flower" gambit. Jews are far more aggressive than American whites; when they want in, they push their way in. Or, if they can't push their way in, they create parallel institutions to displace the institutions keeping them out. In short, Jews don't let other peoples deter them from accomplishing their political goals. Ever.

But when they don't want anything to do with a political goal, but want an explanation as to why, they play the "Shrinking Violet/Hothouse Flower" gambit.

Hmm, why do you think it is that high IQ people and / or Jews who believe in HBD take one look at the blogs and run the other way?

Pretty much ALL of the people into HBD are "high IQ." I suspect Jews find HBD repellent because it's contrary to the fundamentals of their ethnic political goals and mores.

Eric Rasmusen said...

Improving an earlier comment:

So, the writer of the piece is a terrorist sympathizer at a major newspaper who gets his terrorist friends to speak to classes of fifth graders. *And he's writing, probably at great personal risk, to defend a physics professor who is so daring as to post an American flag at his office.*

Only in America.

Svigor said...

These concepts are counterintuitive (btw look up the concept of "minimal counterintuitiveness", it's an eyeopener - without this, you''ll have a real hard time understanding why Liberal folks think what they do - the sympathies with religion!).

Assuming MC is what I think it is, that's only the second most important reason behind the success of the kulturkampf. It's "plausibility," basically. The kulturkampf isn't particularly plausible, it's just as plausible as it can be and still achieve its goals; might as well coat the poison in candy.

The most important factor behind the kulturkampf is that the elite supports and wages it. Find something more intuitive and see how it catches on.

Svigor said...

These concepts are counterintuitive (btw look up the concept of "minimal counterintuitiveness", it's an eyeopener - without this, you''ll have a real hard time understanding why Liberal folks think what they do - the sympathies with religion!).

Assuming MC is what I think it is, that's only the second most important reason behind the success of the kulturkampf. It's "plausibility," basically. The kulturkampf isn't particularly plausible, it's just as plausible as it can be and still achieve its goals; might as well coat the poison in candy.

The most important factor behind the kulturkampf is that the elite supports and wages it. Find something more intuitive and see how it catches on.

Like I always say: The anti-racists would see the world fry before they would admit there is "a place" for dissent from their fuzzy, selectively enforced morality.

I don't think the anti-racists have a selectively-enforced morality. I don't think they have a morality at all. I think they have a Narrative where they should have a morality. Thus they aren't being morally inconsistent, they're just following the Narrative. So when you try to weave a morality out of their Narrative so you can pick it apart in front of them, they're genuinely entering new territory.

That's the useful idiots, anyway, who are the vast majority of the "anti-racists." The authors are a different story.

By the way, the tactic is to wear down Sailer/Mangan/everyone who notices non-PC thing about Jews with accusations of anti-semitism, never mind how insipid the accusations are. This can actually work.

Only if you let it. Call "bullshit" whenever you hear it. Besides, the vast majority of my discussions of this subject at iSteve are broached by anti-anti-Semites.

Anonymous said...

"if they every pause" = if they ever pause

stari_momak said...

"Of course a petroleum industry engineer would have a better idea of how to solve this."

Actually, what we need is some highly skilled, moderately intelligent technicians who are trained and specialize in this sort of thing and have dealt with similar situations in the past. I am not going to glorify the working-class, but you can only model and diagram so much. Hands on know how comes into play. We need an underwater Red Adair, if you will.

We certainly don't need an astrophysicist in the middle of the emergency, though a Feynman-type figure might prove useful at any inquest afterwords.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Hands on know how comes into play. We need an underwater Red Adair, if you will.

Not to take away from your point, or from Red Adair (RIP), but didn't his favored method of "blowing out" wellhead fires with dynamite get superseded? I recall from the first Iraq war that the American teams dropped their blow-out method and adopted the technique of some other country's teams: cap the well remotely while pumping in gobs of mud/water through a pipe on the side. Forget who developed it.

Re: engineers, I've encountered a lot (I'm not saying a majority) who are terrible problem-solvers. They trip up over any and every detail, refuse to believe their eyes when the prototype fails to perform like the computer said it would, etc. Would love to hear from engineers on this.

Anonymous said...

Re: engineers, I've encountered a lot (I'm not saying a majority) who are terrible problem-solvers. They trip up over any and every detail, refuse to believe their eyes when the prototype fails to perform like the computer said it would, etc. Would love to hear from engineers on this.

That might be nothing more than a description of the effects of dysgenic fertility in the modern world.

I have been spending a lot of time around college kids at my alma mater recently, and they are so much stupider [and less talented] than when I was an undergraduate that the difference is really quite shocking.

There are dark clouds on the horizon, folks.

Dark clouds...

concerned netizen said...

"So, the writer of the piece is a terrorist sympathizer at a major newspaper who gets his terrorist friends to speak to classes of fifth graders.

Only in America."

Mangan,

I love the way you always stick to the point.

My favorite part from the article was this Katz zinger about Chris Matthews:

"Some of my colleagues are upset that an honorary degree recipient disagrees with their opinions. I am more concerned (though not surprised) that the accomplishments of another recipient, the commencement speaker, seem to consist of reading headlines to a television camera," he wrote.

The speaker was Chris Matthews."

Anonymous said...

"Please spare the Jews" pleadings are asinine when the person making the request is so eager to sign up for merciless bashing of NAMs.

Well said, sir!