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We hold these truths. 00:00:20
We hold these truths with dan crenshaw.
Welcome back, i'm very excited uh today to have brett weinstein on the uh podcast brett uh.
Let's say doctor brett weinstein um is famous for being on joe rogan's podcast.
So many times now we almost have the same number of listeners as joe rogan um.
You know i guess in the in the cosmic sense of being close to the same number of listeners um but uh so brett. 00:00:46
So much for being on the show and uh taking the time thanks for having me, so let me um introduce you to the audience a little bit.
This is gon na, be such a cool uh episode, because you, you are outspoken and a leading thought leader really on a variety of subjects: uh to include cancel culture um to um, to include which, which is so relevant to what we're dealing with now in america.
Um you're you're also a theoretical, evolutionary biologist and a former professor at evergreen state college. 00:01:19
So maybe now people are starting.
Maybe the audience is starting to remember. 00:01:24
Uh your story, um i'm going to briefly go over it, but i really just want to ask you about that and start off with with your experience at evergreen college. 00:01:35
Your first experience that notoriety, because you were the focus of a campus protest there uh.
This was back in march of 2017, i believe - and you you may okay so may was the protest, but it began when you wrote a letter in march of 2017 and that letter objected to change to a change in the college's decades-old tradition of observing a day Of absence now, this day of absence is a day where students and faculty of minority students and faculty would stay home from campus to highlight their contributions to the college you're in favor of this.
It's again it's a decades-long practice, but the change would flip the traditional event asking white students and faculty to stay home and said, and - and you opposed this in late may 2017 student protests um, focusing on you disrupted the campus and caused uh cause for quite a Few change call called for many changes there as well. 00:02:30
The college's president refused to allow law enforcement to come and quell the protesters and uh.
You were told that they could not protect.
You um, you resigned and ever since you've been uh part of something called the intellectual dark web.
I haven't heard a lot about the intentional dark web lately, so maybe we could uh get a get a refresher on that um, but again brett welcome and well.
I also want to say you describe yourself as a political, progressive and left libertarian um and you've appeared uh somewhat recently, at least in 2018 on the house oversight committee uh to discuss free speech on college campuses and um.
He did uh.
He had some great things to say there too, so in your own words um.
You know that experience at evergreen. 00:03:20
What was that like, and, and are we now realizing that that this this kind of cancel culture movement this this this anti-free speech movement, is, is no longer confined to campuses? Well, uh.
Yes, i think we are all now having the experience that my wife and i somewhat uniquely had at evergreen back in 2017. 00:03:43
So in some sense this is um a much easier case to make now.
But the fact was that the events surrounding our leaving evergreen are much more complex than was recorded in public.
So it's not even right to say that the events started around my email objecting to the change in the day of absence tradition, because actually the protests that demanded my firing erupted exactly one year to the day after i had raised an objection in a faculty meeting Where no students were present to a change in our contracts at the college, it was the first initiative among many that would create uh a de facto race-based hierarchy inside of this institution, where my wife and i had been teaching for 14 years.
In my case, 15 years in her case, so that initiative involved faculty voting to insert into our contracts an annual obligation to reflect on our own internal racism every year in a document that was public.
In other words, that it belonged to the college and would be fodder for um hiring and firing decisions, promotion etc.
So i objected to this because for one thing it simply assumed that each of us had racism within us that required our vigilance to attempt to eradicate which clearly, you need to clearly need to read the book.
Um white fragility, uh new york times bestseller, because that's exactly the message from that book: oh yes and it's uh, you know it's no um! It's no accident! In fact uh heather and i were not on campus when d'angelo visited in, i believe 2016.
We were in ecuador with students, but d'angelo was invited and gave a talk at evergreen about exactly this.
So yes, the the change in our contracts that the faculty voted for was um directly following from this belief system, which is, of course, nonsense.
But in any case, the college just simply began to transform itself into a a very different institution, one in which we were no longer aspiring to look past differences between people.
But we're focusing on these superficial differences between people obsessively and you know, as a human being.
As an american, as a liberal, i had no choice but to object to this, but that turned me into the enemy of the movement that was intent on making these changes. 00:06:38
I see so by by the time that uh, that the reversal of the day of absence policy came into being you you're already in the in the sights here. 00:06:48
Do you have a name for this um movement? I mean because you're a self-described, liberal and um, which means you stand up for basic liberal values, um liberalism, in my opinion - and i believe yours as well, is being trampled over.
I disagree with liberals on a variety of subjects but class.
You know real liberalism, i think, is a very healthy counterweight to real conservatism. 00:07:11
Um, it's it's a balance that i think we need.
I agree with that by the way yeah.
No, i i i know you do.
What do we call left? I call it leftism i'll.
Tell you what i call it leftism, i call it postmodernism um.
I i do attach the label progressivism to to the far leftism as well. 00:07:29
Do you am i getting it wrong? What should we call it so that we're all on the same page and liberals and conservatives can unite on this? Well, i can tell you you're very definitely getting it wrong, but that does not uh give us any hint of what we should be calling this. 00:07:45
So the reason i say you're getting it wrong is that i belong to a tradition of liberalism that simply does not recognize any of these truths that are being asserted, changes that are being demanded.
These things are um as foreign to me as anything i have seen politically.
So i don't.
I don't have the sense that the fact that i believe that we have substantial progress that we must make, puts me in the same camp as folks, essentially um, demanding that we return to a world in which the primary factor about whether you see someone as enemy Or ally is whether or not you have a genetic relatedness with them? I think this is the frankly it's the uninvention of all of the best things that have occurred in the last couple thousand years.
Yeah - and i don't know again, we do agree that that's not liberalism, you know, that's the opposite of liberalism.
Right i mean i i would.
I would think, but i guess to your point, you're saying that liberalism has been twisted.
I i'm just trying i'm trying to collectively and have a national conversation and say liberalism is still a good thing as long as it's.
This definition that we all used to agree on of open and free speech and open debate and respect for individuals as they are.
As individuals and not not group identity politics, these these appear to me to be liberal values, um and - and i don't want the definite because if we change the definition of liberalism, we've got nothing.
I don't, then it's just conservatives that believe those things right.
Well, i agree, and i must say uh i'm grateful to see that things that would traditionally be values held on the left are being defended by honorable people on the right.
That has been maybe the silver lining of some of what's taking place, but the problem with naming this force is that it is hell bent on a kind of deception that makes it impossible to discuss. 00:09:55
So, let's take, for example, the the label black lives matter. 00:10:01
I find the label uh a very comfortable one.
I believe black lives matter and, what's more, i i don't believe that all lives matter is the right answer, because black lives matter appears to mean. 00:10:17
Is that black lives are undervalued and that's a problem that uh should concern all americans which, with which i also agree. 00:10:25
But if i look at the policy proposals that are being advanced under that label, i find that they are actually not only un-american but anti-black, and so am i in favor of black lives matter.
It depends if we're talking about the sentiment, in which case i am or the movement, in which case i'm not, and this is true if, if we talk about social justice warriors, am i in favor of social justice, of course, but what social justice warriors want looks To me like injustice, they call themselves liberals, i see them as illiberal, and so, if everything is going to be labeled as its opposite, it becomes very difficult to discuss these things.
It's like anti-fascist, it's like exactly.
I mean right, it's labeled, so that it can't it's so that it's unassailable and that allows uh many abhorrent things to uh to travel right beneath the radar. 00:11:19
These agreeable terms are being used as a vehicle for for for very unagreeable things, and you know i, as a conservative, i'm used to this tactic uh this this.
This takes place in many um in many ways.
Let me give you an example: takes place in legislation naming uh sure you know it's like it's the i mean just the cares act right.
If you don't vote for this, you don't care, i mean that's, that's the implication.
Um there's or the patriot act right, yeah yeah, that's a good one too um.
You know you always want to label with this, but here's even more specific one is um protecting americans with pre-existing conditions act.
You know they're like why you can't vote against that. 00:12:03
Well, you can, because it turns out, the legislation has almost nothing to do with with that particular subject, and you know, and and they know, that people won't um read read between the lines there um, so that this is a common common tactic and you know obviously Antifa uses specifically fascist tactics, um that uh to make it you know to meet its ends.
Whatever those ends are i mean? That's a boy, that's a whole other conversation um, you know in in.
I want to read a quote from you that you uh, you said in your congressional testimony and was it 2018? It just kind of applies to what you were just saying. 00:12:41
What is occurring on college campuses is about power and control.
Speech is a last resort.
When groups fail to self-censor in response to a threat of crippling stigma and destruction of the capacity to earn, these tolls are being used to unhook the values that hold us together as a nation. 00:12:57
Equal protection under the law, presumption of innocence, free marketplace of ideas and that people are judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.
I mean that's, that's exactly right again, these are liberal values, um and i think it's important to define them as liberal values, because i mean well they're shared, let's, let's say they're american.
These are american values.
Um, oh, i agree, and i actually think that this is a really important point.
In some sense, i think liberalism has turned itself into a joke by embracing these illiberal ideas, but i also sometimes i hear conservatives especially young conservatives, who misunderstand that liberalism was always a joke and so to the extent that these values are ones that are american values.
In some sense it it owes that to liberals, including the founders so um.
These values are now universal or nearly so, and the fact that not only have they become universal in the u.
s, but that much of the world has recognized our example and followed.
It is something of which we can be quite proud, and you have no idea the horror.
I feel watching something that declares itself liberal attempt to uninvent these things. 00:14:18
It's it is horrible.
Um, now there's some standing up to it.
You know when i first reached out to you um i, for some reason i thought i saw your name on the harpers letter, which was a it's.
It's a group of of left-leaning people, a pretty wide array i mean nom chomsky was on the on the letter.
Um and uh, you know writing letter defending free speech, taking their of course necessary jabs at conservatives, because you know we're totalitarians and again i'll.
Let you react to that as well, but uh, but you weren't on the letter and when we spoke about it um you had some interesting reasoning behind the letter and what is to become of it.
So can we have that conversation again? Yes, i must say um.
I detest this letter for reasons that are very different from most of the pushback that it has received.
Uh i was not invited.
None of the people associated with idw were invited.
That was apparently a conscious choice. 00:15:14
Had i been invited, i wouldn't have signed it because the text of the letter was not only extremely tepid in its defense of free expression of ideas, but it was also petty, mean-spirited and unfair to conservatives who have been some of the few to defend us.
Traditional liberals in recent years, so there's no way i was going to break ranks with uh honorable conservatives like, for example, robbie george, who was on the house oversight panel with me.
You know the letter it starts out by effectively saying that the impulse to to censor is a conservative problem and we are beginning to see hints of it on the left, which is not true.
The fact is, there are many conservatives.
I think you and robbie george prominently among them, who hold this value very highly.
You see it as an american value and the left has been terrible about this of late and so um.
In any case, the letter i thought was it did a tremendous disservice to the natural coalition of people who believe in civil liberties and freedom of expression and and frankly in america um. 00:16:30
So it wasn't a letter i could have signed, but the fact that some of us were excluded from the letter excluded from even knowing that it existed until it was in the world which meant that we couldn't level challenges to the text at a point where they Could have done some good, i find equally troubling when the letter specifically had signatories like matt iglesias, who had been part of the problem now to map's credit.
He has acknowledged that he got it wrong and he now recognizes that this thing that we call cancel culture is a very dangerous phenomenon, but he arrived late after having demonized many of us who had been trying to explain this for several years. 00:17:12
So why was matt asked and, let's say, sam harris excluded.
Sam harris has been on the right side of this issue from the beginning and they should have sought his counsel and i'm pretty sure that sam would have told them the same thing.
I would have that the letter, just simply um, didn't didn't make sense as it was written yeah and you got to wonder like what's the point, then you know if it's i i honestly do you have any ideas on like what they were thinking as to what They hoped to accomplish by that, because some people just jumped right off of it. 00:17:47
After the backlash from the left came yeah, i think i know what the impulse was.
I think there were people who felt that they had a uh a deal.
You know that effectively they were um, they had a protection from uh being canceled and really canceled means having your ability to to to earn uh eliminated without a court or any sort of due process.
So i think, upon discovering that this illiberal force is capable of challenging anything that stands in its way and that effectively nobody has an exemption. 00:18:28
There was an attempt to renegotiate some kind of a settlement which would account for the tepidness of the letter.
In other words, the letter basically surrendered a huge amount of territory to this movement, and the idea was, if we back our claims off uh to a sufficient degree, will you let us remain and anyway that that impulse, of course, is incredibly divisive and um? I think we have to everybody who reinvents that idea has to be uh taken aside and had have the reality explained to them, which is all of us who understand.
The value of free speech have to um defend everybody who is being stigmatized into oblivion. 00:19:13
I see so it was it it's.
It was a bit of a olive branch to the to the left and away in the hopes that we would be untouched, or these this select group would be untouchable to an extent of course, that's impossible and again if they had asked your counsel.
For my counsel, i would have said yeah never give an inch.
You can never give an inch uh this.
This is this operates like a cult um as you've described it.
It operates like a cult and um.
They will always ask for more and, and the end result is not clear.
This is the other concerning thing about these movements, whether it's antifa or or the blm movement, again different from the phrase - and i i agree with you - i want to make that distinction as well um, so wait up before before we move on from the harbors letters.
There's one other thing i want to say which is um.
I am not saying that the signatories had this in mind.
In fact, i know many of them would never have participated in such a thing. 00:20:12
I have many friends who did sign the letter right as far as i know, they might have just said - hey free speech, yeah.
I like that free speech, i'm good right.
I think the idea is we'll sign anything that points in the right direction and there was a lot of that, but that then effectively compromised many of the most important voices in this battle right.
So the fact that those names show up there, i think, does a disservice to those of us um who are intent on on fighting this battle, uh for this fundamentally american ideal and winning that now many of the most important people in that realm, uh are affiliated With this, this letter is a problem, and so uh again i don't want to cast aspersions on all of the signatories or even all of the authors.
I have the sense that this was um, basically somebody's pet project and that it acquired all of these.
These voices and anyway, we should think carefully about uh how not to let this happen again. 00:21:11
It seems like a small combination of of some bad intent, but with a lot of misconception about how this radical leftism actually works.
You know what i point out to people look, what happens to the companies or the figureheads that simply stand up to the mob.
You know they get some press for one day and then it's over right.
Goya is fine.
Goya is fine, but it's not they're not coming back for you because they know they can't.
They can't get past that first, that first wall um sticking sticking to the free speech, uh subject for a minute.
You know i want to get your thoughts on on big tech, censorship and and what we can actually do about that, and so you know framing this discussion on the conservative side.
At least you know the the issue we run into is: okay.
Can government do anything to in to to inhibit free speech um on a private uh entity such as google or facebook and um? You know does that that confronts our adherence to the first amendment, but at the same time we have this issue where we never foresaw.
The founders, i think, could foresee a lot of things.
I don't think they could foresee tech giants that have such control over what we see in here and what we can say and so they're while they well, they technically don't infringe upon the law of the constitution.
They certainly infringe on the spirit of it.
You know, a culture of rights is just as important as the political protection of those rights i think and um.
So so you know what would be your advice from your end of this on on dealing with these issues? Well, let's put it this way: um, the founders certainly could not have imagined that the public square would exist uh in a private walled garden and that effectively, not only is it true that any idea in order to have currency in the modern moment has to be Free to be discussed in those venues, but they also couldn't have foreseen the implications of the algorithms that adjust what the conversation looks like to those of us who uh who are there and and reading these things so um.
Yes, we are in brand new territory with respect to the values that the founders were attempting to protect and the technical scenario in which those values have to be protected. 00:23:40
In effect, we're going to have to navigate this in a new way, and you know to a first approximation, i would say we have to, as the founders did bend over backwards, to make sure that we do not exclude important ideas controversial as they may be.
From that space, and that means that abhorrent ideas have to enjoy the same protection, the founders never figured out a way to protect, to protect avant-garde speech without protecting obnoxious speech and we're going to find ourselves in that same bind.
And so we should simply um accept the cost of liberty being that people will be able to say obnoxious things, and you know that's not an entirely bad thing either.
Frankly, it's it's important to be able to figure out who believes noxious on american things and allowing them to say them out loud. 00:24:34
You know, has the benefit of us being able to spot those things and discuss their meaning.
So, in some sense we are, we are allowing the tech giants which have perverse incentives, uh in many different forms to dictate what we are allowed to discuss and therefore what we are allowed to collectively think about which couldn't possibly be more dangerous, yeah.
It is and um you know we're always looking for legal ways to to deal with this um.
It would be much easier if the culture of rights that that we hold so dear would uh would come back to fruition um and then you know not force the government's hand on something like this, because it's uh it's it's a difficult problem to move through the Other question: i get asked a lot um and this is closer to to your.
Personal history is okay.
What do you do about the college campuses because i mean constituents are constantly asking me this? What are you going to do about it? I'm like? I don't have a great answer for them.
You know some states have banned campus-free speech zones, not because they want to ban free speech, but because you know the implication is that you can only have free speech in certain zones and that's a that's a mislabeling of a zone um.
You know there's there's things like that: there's there's threats of removing federal funding.
If you don't uh, properly enforce due process and and free speech, i mean you're a you're, a former university professor or no, you still are.
What's your sorry, i'm a visiting fellow at the uh james madison program in in princeton, but i'm not a professor any longer, okay um, but obviously you you understand universities, you know what.
How would you answer that question? Well, i would say, look part of the problem. 00:16:56
Is that we're getting to this very late and the uh? The issue arises because um long ago, as post-modernism began to get a foothold in the universities instead of recognizing that uh, it was a um, a set of beliefs that was not worthy of being put on a par with other disciplines.
Uh we humored the postmodernists and actually gave them many different departments which has given them disproportionate power within the structure of the university. 00:26:56
But more importantly, it's given them access to a huge number of students who have now learned their lessons and moved on into the world, and so in some sense it is quite accurate that, even even though the movement does not espouse post-modernist things directly, that the implications Of what it does espouse are clearly postmodern, so we shouldn't have let this happen is the first answer, and that means that, to the extent we are able to figure out how to fix it, we mustn't let it happen again.
Certain ideas uh have currency because they have um the ability, for example, to predict features of the real world. 00:27:36
The sciences deserve our respect because they are capable of telling us what we do not already know.
That is not the case with things like uh critical theory, uh women's studies, any of these things and so um the process of recovering the universities, if it's even possible, is going to require us to prune them back to the disciplines that are actually real. 00:28:04
That is not going to be a quick process, though, and it is also the case that, because the ideology that we now see on the march in our streets has taken over things like schools of education, it could be a generation or more before we're able to Clear the bad ideas out so that we can protect the good ideas and the freedom to express new ideas and discover whether they're, true yeah, perhaps incentivizing stem through our student loan program um.
It could be an option uh.
I actually i i am in favor, and i i told the uh, the house oversight committee, that i was in favor of the federal government using its monetary leverage to ensure that due process exists on college campuses, because that has to be there.
In order for for those campuses to function so you've also written about like why individuals participate in cancel culture um, you said game theory defines what is happening in individuals choices.
The energy in the system is about something real say: inequality and corruption, but the ideas that are spreading is to tear down ever tear everything down and and have utopia rise in its wake, so um how? How does that work? How does game theory play into this? Um very simply, actually uh.
You know there are complex implications, but the the bottom rung is pretty easy to understand.
People are confronted with a uh, a puzzle in which they are asked for their belief on something and if they espouse the wrong belief, they are punished to an extraordinary degree. 00:29:44
They can have their their livelihood ruined over an accusation of, for example, racism yeah, which you know that's what happened to me. 00:29:57
The accusation had no reality to it, but the fact that a protest could be cooked up that looked like students rising up against a racist.
Professor was destructive of my ability to continue in my job, so you will be asked to do the bidding of the movement.
If you show any skepticism hesitation, uh disagreement, you will be punished at an extraordinary level right and this incentivizes people to to take the first step into joining ranks, and usually the first step is very small. 00:30:38
Simply saying that you stand for anti-racism shouldn't be hard for anybody until you discover that anti-racism isn't what the words seem to imply, it's actually an ideology that puts race first. 00:30:51
So if you're, somebody who believes we should be eliminating uh the implications of race from society, so that we all have equal access to opportunity, for example, and you're asked if you are willing to be an anti-racist either. 00:31:08
You know what that means, in which case you'll probably say no and you will be declared a racist or you don't know what that means and you'll say yes and then later on, you'll be told what you signed up for so the ability of the individual to Protect themselves in the short term causes many people to join up without realizing what they're signing on to and once they've signed up, it's very hard to get out.
Just like a cult yeah now that's true.
One thing i wrote uh write about too is the the kind of the misconstruing of shame in our culture, and it's a little bit similar to what you're saying where people have an incentive to either show a a great degree amount of shame to the mob um.
Because the mob demands all, and so even for the for the slightest of slights or the slightest of misdeeds uh, you will bow down to the mob.
It's the only way right, um.
You know there's plenty of examples of that um.
On the other end of the spectrum, you you give give no give no um, give no apology whatsoever, and so you you, you have a result of two extremes of, i guess public figures who either never apologize and never say they did anything wrong or they say They did everything wrong and we we failed to have the the more nuanced conversation in the middle.
Where i don't know, maybe i kind of misspoke, but i didn't really mean it.
You know i didn't mean it so leave me alone, um, which is say more.
The uh, the ellen degeneres, take right and i'll.
I use that as a good example of what to do right.
She she gets.
She gets cancelled by the mob for daring to hang out with george w bush at a football game and um she doesn't apologize.
She explains says i don't have to apologize uh, but i will explain - and you know, and we we have so few of those moments and they're useful they're good. 00:33:02
They work when it happens, but i don't understand why more people don't do it um, because the shaming culture cancel culture, shaming, culture, shame is a part of obviously the canceled culture, it's um, it ruins both the way.
We shame and the way we respond to shame. 00:33:19
Yeah, i agree and shame is a very potent force, and so we ought to be treating it very carefully and what has happened here is that it is being weaponized, and so this causes two things and you've pointed them out here. 00:33:36
One is that people will bend over backwards to explain how awful they are be.
You know they will do this out of fear or they will deaden and they will won't accept any responsibility, and so i'm very troubled by you know this uh nominally left movements, insistence that people apologize apologize, apologize for things that, frankly um in general, don't don't warrant An apology right we're told that intent doesn't matter, which is obvious nonsense, for example, but on the other side i hear never apologize and never apologize isn't any good either.
The answer is apologize only when it is warranted, and only for that which it is warranted right, and you know your point about explaining those things that need explaining and limiting apology to those things that are actually wrong.
It actually does work, but i have the sense.
People have perhaps lost this skill and they see it as all or nothing as as an evolutionary biologist.
Can you point to some some of the science or psychology and the impulses that it might create and or the impulses that people have to participate in kind of mob activities in cancel culture, uh yeah? There are a couple things um to say.
First of all, apology is um, an adaptation, that is to say both the ability to offer one and the ability to accept it as meaningful is a bit surprising and when one thinks about it carefully, this is actually the first assignment i ever gave as a professor Was i had my students try to explain why an apology works? Why is it that if somebody has harmed you that them uh saying words does anything to uh to placate you and the answer is that it? It suggests an awareness of a debt, and so in knowing that you know if somebody has harmed me and they don't acknowledge it, then i simply have the cost if they have acknowledged that they harmed me and they've explained to me what they did wrong in their Own words, so that i know that they understand it, then not only is there an implication that um that they owe me for the harm that they have done, but there is also the ability if they do it again to say you knew this was wrong right.
So it changes things going forward, so it's a very um potent uh force, but because it's a potent force it is easy to co-opt it and it's co-opted in the context where our natural impul impulse to treat it seriously uh and as a thing of value is Causes us to turn against ourselves.
You know if you are told that you have deep racism, that it has resulted in you harming people making them feel unsafe.
The natural impulse is to think, oh, my god did.
I do that and if so wow am i sorry and even if you don't spot that it's correct, maybe the thought is well geez.
It's incumbent on me to figure out how it is that i you know i hurt people that i had.
No intent to hurt.
Am i that callous, so those natural impulses to to self-reflection and to treat other people well can be turned into a weapon very easily? If somebody is attempting to gain power by convincing you to to hobble yourself and unfortunately, it means that the movement is functioning essentially culturally contagiously right, it is spreading across the landscape and the more people who start espousing these belief systems the harder it is for people To realize wait, a minute that doesn't even add up right and part of that apology also involves encouraging others to make the same apology.
So it's like this chain reaction um, because it makes you feel better if you're also getting others to do it. 00:37:42
That's sort of like the anti-racist philosophy, um and but in reality, what happens and i'm just actually going to quote you because it's the perfect quote for this. 00:37:49
People are essentially solving personal problems by embracing ideology which causes the mob to temporarily leave you alone, but empowers the mob to go after the next person, which is exactly right and that's that's exactly the pattern that we see um and this kind of leads to.
You know this revolution and um you, you call it a horizontal revolution taking place in the u.
s, i suppose, as opposed to a vertical revolution.
I think i know what you mean by that, but i'll maybe ask you um and you say mainly because critical theory adopted by millennials who now believe they're demographically, empowered, so you've mentioned critical theory a couple times.
Maybe we should define that real, quick and also what do you mean by horizontal revolution? Is it really that bad? I agree with you by the way.
It is that bad and that's exactly what they're, after so critical theory uh, i believe, has an honorable origin.
It started as an investigation of systemic biases in our courts, um against some races and for others - and you know the the truth is that the patterns are actually quite shocking um, so that that discovery, however, gave rise to a set of disciplines that survey the entire Landscape of civilization, looking for biases and they've done a terrible job of identifying biases of figuring out what methodology to use to establish whether something that is imagined to be biased, really is and they've given rise to a number of different sub-disciplines.
So queer theory, critical race theory, women's studies, all of these oppression-based disciplines are searching the landscape for for grievances, and the problem is: if you want to identify whether or not there has been an injustice, you need a methodology capable of identifying when the appearance of injustice Doesn't indicate that there actually is one, in other words, it's perfectly possible to , give somebody a lascivious look.
It's also possible for somebody to imagine that you've, given them a lascivious.
Look when you haven't right, and so there has to be some mechanism for testing uh.
Whether or not the perception of a harm reflects an actual reality or whether a disparity even means a discrimination right, whether the disparity is real and whether it arises from any sort of biased process.
So, for example, i used to use the example that cycling is racially non-representative, that black cyclists are are disproportionately rare in casual cycling circles.
I can't speak to competitive cycling, though i suspect it's similar, but in casual circles you will see fewer black cyclists than you would expect, based on their percentage of the population, but we can be pretty darn certain that that's not because there's anything about bike lanes or Trails that discriminates against black cyclists, and i can tell you, having been in bike culture uh for my entire adult life, that there is nothing inside of bicycle shops or bicycle clubs. 00:41:24
That is anti-black.
In fact, the opposite would probably be true that, because it's a white sport and the people who inhabit it are very uh, frequently liberals.
There would be a desire to bring blacks in when it was possible and so to the extent that there's a disparity it owes to something else. 00:41:44
My guess would be.
It owes to something like access to safe fun, places to cycle which has resulted in cycling being less prominent in black communities, not because anybody doesn't want blacks involved, but because, maybe black, you know, it may in fact owe to some uh very some past racism.
In other words, the dis economic disadvantages that result in you living in some place where cycling is not as appealing um may ultimately be rooted in some historical bias, but it's not modern racism among modern people and therefore you would want to sort this Out very carefully, but instead of doing that, there is the assumption that if there is a gap in a racial gap in the prevalence of a population inside something like cycling, that it must owe to modern racism - and i i kid you not - i just ran across This uh this article that alleged that in oregon there was bias in our state parks that accounted for the the lower numbers of black users of trails, and it attempted to argue that blacks were not present because of the looks that they were getting from whites.
On the trail, which is a nonsense explanation, i mean it's not impossible, but it's preposterous, so we have gotten to a place as a result.
As a result of these critical theory disciplines and their lack of a methodology where every discrepancy is going to assume is going to be presumed to arise from um some sort of bias somewhere in modern people's minds. 00:43:37
That amounts to bigotry and discrimination, which just simply isn't the case and that's yeah, and that's that's kind of what this is all about.
This is why it's so difficult to contend with these movements, because i don't know what you want me to do and then that's a problem.
You know generally, whether it's a protest or movement there's usually an end goal in mind.
We want this change.
We want this person out of office, we want something and then ostensibly you, you stop rioting or protesting after that, because there's a goal in mind.
But but i see no such goal except total revolution and i see nothing on the other side of that revolution and you know they again.
I you know i have issues with with people kneeling for the flag and some will say it's a different sign of respect.
I don't buy that just based on the rhetoric.
That's been used um, but but you know my question is always at what point will you stand for it like what what needs to change? What can we fight together? What is the systemic issue that we can fight together so that we can solve it, and if you can't identify that for me, you feel lost here, um yeah.
I agree with you completely about this.
I have said that i am a liberal and a progressive because i believe we have to have change if we are to survive, but i want to live in a system so good that i can afford to be a conservative and we should all actually want this. 00:45:04
We should want a system in which we would be fools to change it, and so i think that's that's reflective of exactly what you're saying what would have to be true for you to stand for the flag, along with the rest of us yeah and that's a Valid question and critical theory basically doesn't allow for that, because everything is attributable to sort of this.
This vague sense of injustice and they keep it in.
They keep it intentionally vague right.
It's like these looks, you know, and it's like i yeah i.
I can't fight that.
You know what i mean we can.
We can all march and shame people constantly about their looks um, and you know the potential looks that they might give and i'm sure it's true, i'm sure everybody's.
I don't want to discount experiences um that people have had you know i, but but you're also asking me to to fight a ghost like.
I can't i can't do something concrete about that and that's a very frustrating place to be, especially as a as a policy maker.
It's this is all by design, and if you look into some of the claims you can see it just on a simple inspection.
So, for example, we are told that all white people have white supremacy in them that the racism is inherent uh.
It is therefore safe to assume it's incurable, because if it wasn't incurable, we'd have to ask well who has it and who doesn't? And the movement clearly tells us that all white people have it, but the movement also tells us that it must be addressed, which is preposterous if it can't be cured, then what is this obsession with you know with these trainings, so the movement wants it both ways, But that isn't a logical failure. 00:46:47
It is, as you point out, the key to making these uh changes, perpetual.
What is really being sought here is power over everything, it's power in every interaction. 00:47:03
Every day of every week forever and uh i mean the good news - is that's not stable, it won't last.
The bad news is that it does threaten everything along the way and we will end up uninventing america in order to establish that.
Actually, this is just one more utopian belief system that cannot be brought into the world.
It just simply will not last well it can.
It looks a lot like chas and it doesn't last as it turns out. 00:47:32
I wish more sociologists, uh and other scientists had been allowed into chats just to study it uh.
I bet a lot of really interesting.
Information could have been garnered from that um.
One thing you say revolutionaries quote fail to understand the instability that exists in evolutionary biology, which teaches us that socialism will not work, because we are all wired differently and anyone who opts out will outperform anyone who opts in uh.
That was a that's a really interesting analysis. 00:48:03
I'm wondering if you can expand on that as we sort of lead into your other source of expertise, which is evolutionary biology.
Sure, if you think about what communism demands, the the central claim is that we should structure the system so that resources are distributed. 00:48:22
Each according to their ability is how they will be generated, and each according to their need is how they will be spent.
And it's kind of a beautiful idea. 00:48:32
The problem with it is that if you set up that system, then anybody who creates need and fails to produce wins at the expense of those who produce and limit their needs right.
So um the part of us that is built by evolution, which is to say our central driver, is built to detect opportunities to profit.
That's what we do, and so people discover that they can profit in such a system by freeloading. 00:49:07
The system then reacts by restructuring their incentives, essentially by threatening them and reducing their freedom, in order that they have no choice but to produce at the maximum level and consume at the minimum level, and so, in effect, it descends automatically into an authoritarian nightmare.
If it doesn't evolve into something that doesn't fit the label of communism, that's those are the two choices, so in effect, we can just simply say that the fact that the idea of everybody uh throwing in their effort and taking only what they need. 00:49:42
That idea may be beautiful to us and in fact there are systems that work like this.
Like the human body, for example, you know your heart and your liver, don't fight over resources, because they both agree that the ideal distribution of resources serves the organism.
The reason they agree is because they have the same genes and people don't so for people.
You can't build a system that works like the body.
You have to build it on some other basis and we just simply ought to recognize that, rather than continuing to reinvent the misunderstanding and then putting people in jeopardy in order to test it one more time yeah and it's it's a it's a premise that they're relying Upon that, communists and socialists rely upon a premise that human nature can be changed, uh to to fit this to fit this world, and i'm going to say what you said in a bit more layman's terms.
It basically assumes that the there's a bunch of hyperproductive individuals that will just continuing to produce in this hyperproductive manner for everybody else, even though they're not rewarded and kind, and even though they can see that others freeload off of that, and i think there's this sort Of socialist belief that that you can get people to do that and that it'll be okay and it'll work and um, i don't.
I don't see that as possible.
I don't see human nature changing to.
To that extent and you're an evolutionary biologist.
I mean what do you say about human nature? Well, human nature subscribes to a a set of laws above it.
So we know human nature will not change to do that, because we understand that those who opt out of the change will outperform those who opt in you know.
I wish it were more complex than that, but it's not now.
That said, we have a different failure in our system, which is that opportunity ends up being hoarded by individuals who find themselves in a position to do it. 00:51:40
And what that means is that the instinct which our system uh should amplify, which is, if you produce things you are rewarded for it and therefore we should be driven to produce. 00:51:54
There are lots of people who don't have a great opportunity to produce, and partly the energy behind the movement we see in our streets is that there is a lack of opportunity despite a system that creates a tremendous surplus. 00:52:12
So there's frustration at the lack of opportunity and frankly, you've got a whole generation. 00:52:17
Who's been miseducated and is being parasitized, doesn't have prospects to buy a home to raise a family to have a career, and it should not surprise us that they're angry.
So you know yes, communism will be a failure each and every time, but we should recognize that, although our system does not have to fail that it is failing in a way that is now putting it in jeopardy that is causing communism to rise in our streets.
Even though we should know better yeah - and this is the more interesting and honest conversation between liberals and conservatives, you know what what do you do? I sometimes i put it like this.
The left and the right is fundamentally about chaos versus order and not to say that chaos is a bad thing, it's kind of a necessary thing to to make any sort of change um and you know order and uh and maintaining a specific and traditional order.
All the time can't be good either, and so there's maybe a healthy debate there between change and tradition.
I think the problem with our current uh debate is that the the chaos part of that wants to completely undermine all of the traditions and all of the foundations that created wealth and prosperity in the first place - and you know it's simply gotten too extreme, but there's A healthy conversation to be had here, maybe we can, you know, disagree on on the solutions or i don't know.
Maybe we agree on the solutions, but i think i think liberals and conservatives tend to disagree on the extent of the problem you know like so so do millennials have it harder than their parents interesting question um some would say. 00:53:48
Yes, someone say no.
I think millennials.
Clearly, i am a millennial uh, you know housing is it more expensive? Yes, is? Are university tuitions more expensive relative to our parents? Uh? Yes, i believe they are um healthcare, rel, even relatively speaking, yeah.
I believe it is so there's real complaints to be had here. 00:54:09
Is there less opportunity? I don't know if that's as clear to me, um kind of depends on the major you chose.
You know it.
You know it depends.
Also, did our parents strive to live in cool downtown areas? I don't think they did necessarily so there's there's other questions that i always have um in trying to ascertain the actual problem.
To the extent of the problem - and i think one thing the left likes to do is highly exaggerate.
The extent of the problem in order to justify their very radical solutions, which always and there's there's an incentive to do that and that this is and again i'm maybe searching for some disagreement here.
So we don't just agree this whole time. 00:54:50
This is this is one thing that um i point to even moderate liberals, i say even moderate liberals who i can have respectful disagreements with. 00:54:58
It eventually leads to the to the more radical socialism. 00:55:02
Because of this fact, you always have to out promise your last promise. 00:55:06
That's sort of the nature of well-intentioned progressivism and uh.
It eventually gets us to this point and you and you increasingly have to use more radical rhetoric to get voters there and to convince them that they're oppressed.
So, while it's well intentioned at first, it can lead uh to become a more of a victimhood ideology and more of a socialist ideology, and we have to be more careful about making sure it doesn't because there's a healthy there's.
A real and healthy conversation to be had there. 00:55:34
Well, i mean, i think you and i agree and disagree um as we started out here.
We both agree that there's something to the tension between the things that liberals see clearly and conservatives tend not to, and vice versa, that, basically, you need people who have each of these reciprocal blind spots pulling in their direction so that we can find the sweet spot As for whether or not liberalism actually has this bias towards grievance, i don't think it has to, and you know i think, really you've got two kinds of liberalism and for a millennial like you, i think you probably haven't seen this old-school intellectual tradition on the left, Because it's become rare, but that this is the honorable version and it has resulted in a tremendous amount of good for the nation and the world, and you know the irony that conservatives are now defending the uh.
The gains of liberals um.
That's how it should be right.
We should be producing a system that works better and once once we do, we should become very skeptical of attempts to change it rather than the situation we have now where, as we um as we do achieve some kind of equality for some previously unequal group, there Is an urge to reinvigorate the complaint about the oppression and therefore a search for ever smaller uh instances of it? That's a very unhealthy instinct, but i i really don't see it as fundamental to the left.
I see it as the naive left having overwhelmed the intelligent left, yeah.
Okay, so maybe we agree uh, i i i don't.
I really disagree with anything.
You just said.
Let's talk about the hoarding, though um, because so i think this is a.
This is a fundamental question. 00:57:32
You know, i don't know the conservatives disagree with this.
All that much i mean we look at corporate cronyism, not something we like.
I think we, i think we attribute different um causes for the hoarding of opportunity and um and perhaps different well, certainly different solutions as well um.
You know i i i always i just i just always wonder well, so what do you mean by that? When you say hoarding of opportunity and then maybe we can go from there well, let me give you an example um and maybe before i give you an example, let me just say: i'm not necessarily talking about a conscious attempt to hoard opportunity.
I'm talking about an evolutionary tendency for those with power to create policy that protects their position and beyond that amplifies the disparity so schools, for example. 00:34:08
Nobody ever says you know what i want public schools to be terrible because i'm going to send my kid to private school and i don't want other people's children competing successfully with my children. 00:58:40
So in an effort to prevent that from happening, i'm going to sabotage the schools that other people's children go to. 00:58:45
Nobody says that and what's more, i don't think almost anybody thinks it. 00:58:49
On the other hand, we have a persistent failure to fix schools in this country. 00:58:54
That has many mysterious features.
We simply don't pay teachers enough to attract good people in large numbers to the profession, and i can tell you as an educator having cruddy people at the head of the classroom is a terrible error right.
It hobbles us nationally.
We would be much better off to pay enough that people who really knew something deep and were passionate would be teachers, maybe not even permanently.
Maybe they would be teachers for five years or ten years and they'd move on to something else, but we should be paying enough that very high quality people are joining the profession and um enhancing the capacity of future generations.
What we have now is a system where we do have the occasional, very passionate teacher attracted to the system, but then we hobble them with an absurd set of rules that makes it impossible for them to do what it is that they're, passionate about and the whole Thing results in a situation in which school barely functions.
Not only does it not create very high quality minds, but uh.
It actually behaves in an arbitrary fashion and takes many people who would be capable and, in my opinion, makes them less creative and less able. 01:00:16
So that's that's a that's! A remarkable failure for us to have and the um the damage to the nation done by this failure is clear too.
It's not like this is in our national interest.
It's clearly against it.
Yet we can't seem to agree.
Let's start with a fresh sheet of paper: let's dedicate enough monetary resource in order to solve the problem, and let's make really good schools right.
How is it that we're failing to do that and my answer, my point would be it has to do with people rationalizing um attacks on those things that would work in order to preserve the opportunity that their children will have um with reduced competition? Are you a fan of charter, school model and school choice in general as a way to solve that? Well, let's put it this way: um uh! As a young person, i would have been dead set against it because i saw it as an attack on the public schools and i think, there's a lot of truth to the fact that it was in some sense a cryptic attack on the public schools. 01:01:20