The Price We Paid for the DIEing Academy
For a generation we've watched academia go slowly mad. These past two years we found out why that matters.
In the previous post in this series, I laid out a bird’s eye view of why the academy is DIEing.
There are real consequences to the death of the academy.
Societal institutions are meant to serve specific functions. The police are meant to keep order. The military, to defend the frontiers. The media, to inform about important current events. Of course, sometimes there can be multiple subsidiary functions - traditionally, for instance, the military has served as a coming-of-age mechanism that turns boys into men. But the subsidiary purpose is always something that flows naturally out of the primary purpose. To use the military example, turning boys into men is a natural outgrowth of the hardships of training and, during war time, the emotional impact of being blooded in combat; as such there is no conflict between the secondary purpose of providing a male coming-of-age ritual and the primary function of national defense (or, for more aggressive nations, conquest).
The primary function of academia is to serve as an arena in which the truth of the world is ascertained, to whatever degree of accuracy and precision it is practical to do so. Academia is the place where facts about the world are gathered, and the veracity of those facts and interpretations of those phenomena developed and debated, in order to arrive at an understanding of the underlying mechanisms that explain that which is actually observed. That might be a scientist's way of seeing things, and you might object that there's a certain arrogance there - do scholars of literature use the scientific method? But even in the soft disciplines it is not so different: the existence of works of culture in the human world is a fact, and it is the function of humanities scholars to understand their subject matter - the psychological, historical, and cultural contexts in which creative works were born, and the subsequent cultural and historical impact of those works - just as it is the function of an organic chemist to understand the properties of chemical structures of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen.
There are of course subsidiary functions that emerge naturally from this primary function. First, the academy is not meant merely to collect, but also to preserve knowledge. Second, because the preservation of knowledge by a species of mortal beings necessarily means that subsequent generations must also have access to it, the academy must also be a place of education and training, where that which is known is passed on. Third, because the knowledge and syntheses explaining knowledge are societally irrelevant if not available to the rest of the species, the academy must communicate knowledge to those outside its halls.
The madness that has gripped the Western universities has rendered all of these functions inoperable. In essence, the academy has been infected by an ideological parasite that has hijacked its organs, bending them away from their proper function and towards the aims of the parasite - in this case, the propagation of the parasitic ideology. There's an exact analogy here with the way that, for example, certain parasitic fungi invade the central nervous systems of ants, forcing the zombified victims to climb to the top of a stalk of grass and remain still until being eaten by passing cows; the ants are rendered immediately useless to their colonies, and ultimately and inevitably die, but the fungus is able to move on to the next step in its life cycle, caring not a bit about the damage done to either the ant or the colony.
The academy no longer educates. Students, more properly thought of as subjects or even as inmates, are rather ideologically indoctrinated - certainly not taught how to think, but not even so much taught what to think as simply what to feel. The lecture hall has become a venue for extended emotional derangement, meant to instil a sense of powerless misery that can then be weaponized in order to further propagate the parasite.
The academy no longer preserves knowledge. Cultural products of the past, whether literary or musical or scientific, that are inconvenient for the parasite are declared heretical, dropped from the curriculum, excised from the collective human mind. Examples abound: Shakespeare dropped because he's a dead white male, Jane Austen because she was a white woman living in a colonial age, Dostoevsky because he had the audacity to be Russian; scientists and mathematicians instructed to de-centre whiteness by removing reference to the work of white scientists and replacing it with the contributions of scientists of colour, or to cease referring to Newton's Laws and rather to say the Laws of Motion so as to obscure the politically awkward identity of the discover of those laws.
Most crucially of all, the academy no longer serves as an arena for the determination of truth. Many, perhaps most, academics no longer believe in the ontological existence of 'truth', per se; to them there are only models, language games, power dynamics, an abstract hyper-reality in which the signifier points only to the signifier, the signified having been long since forgotten.
This sort of post-modern pseudo-philosophy is infamously popular in the degraded humanities, but if one presses an academic scientist one will often hear something similar, couched in the phraseology of Popperian 'falsifiability'. The point they will make is that it is not the business of science to determine the truth, but only to reject that which is false. This position arises from recognition that, after all, the truth is very hard to determine, and any fallible mortal must always retain the humility that they don't, after all, know exactly what the truth is. Both science and scholarship demand this humility. However, it makes a rather basic and obvious error, insofar that for falsification to work it must be possible for statements of the form 'this proposition is false' to be true. One might back away from such definitive statements as 'this proposition is false' in favour of statistical formulations such as 'this model is inconsistent with these observations at a 6-sigma confidence level', as is more commonly done in contemporary scientific practice. But even in this case, for such a statement to be sensible it must be true that the model is indeed at some level of tension with the measurements. You see the problem: while Truth with a capital T may always and forever be out of reach of the human mind (save perhaps in the realm of mathematics), if the true/false distinction does not exist the entire philosophical basis for science, and indeed reason itself, collapses.
None of that changes the fact that the existence of truth is indeed widely rejected by academics. Instead of truth, there is rigid dogma enforced on a myriad of topics, deviation from which will not be tolerated. Academics compete not in their ability to determine a more profound, more subtle, or more unifying attempt at the truth, but rather in the enthusiasm with which they enforce and elaborate whatever dogma their particular discipline has been tasked with advancing. It is not better in those few disciplines which do not yet have primary responsibility for upholding a politically important component of the Great Narrative; far from being free to do as they will in an atmosphere of benign neglect, they are expected to be jacks of all trades, advancing not one dogma but all of them. Thus a geophysicist whose nominal field of study is the seismological tomography of Earth's mantle plumes, a subject having nothing to do with gender, feminism, climate change, or the coronavirus, is also expected to be a vigorous advocate of feminism, anti-racism, climate justice, and sustainability, an ally to the PLGBT community, a crusader against the dread coronavirus and an enthusiastic promoter of mRNA transfection, and most recently a steely-eyed opponent of Vladimir Putin.
It is only in the context of this completely broken academy that the totalitarian nightmare of the last two years of medical tyranny could have taken place.
With a functional academy, it would have been determined in short order, likely before March of 2020, that the coronavirus was not such a great threat. Already by that time there was epidemiological data from the involuntary laboratory provided by the Diamond Princess cruise ship that demonstrated that the infection fatality rate was some fraction of a percent for the majority of the population. A functioning academy would have taken hold of these results, and confronted the hysterical models from the Imperial College of London claiming that literally everyone was going to die horribly, no, maybe they'd die twice, that was how bad the Dread Rona would be. Those model predictions would have been held up to scrutiny against the existing mortality data, and the model's veracity questioned immediately. As more data came in, it would have been compared to those models, and the models found wanting. The inner working of the models would have been examined, their numerous and obvious and embarrassing flaws held up for public ridicule, and the models and those who made them laughed out of the public conversation in scornful disgrace.
A functioning academy would have pointed to the objections against PCR testing raised by the Nobel laureate Kary Mullis, who was awarded the prize for his invention of polymerase chain reaction genetic sequencing technology. Mullis had long insisted that PCR was too sensitive to be a useful diagnostic test, since it can tell whether a given genetic sequence is present but says nothing whatsoever about viral load ... the key factor in whether a given individual is infectious. A functioning academy would have asked why these tests, with their known flaws, were being used, and whether the 'case' numbers reported on the basis of such tests were meaningful. A functioning academia would have asked why 'case' had suddenly been redefined to mean 'a positive PCR test', rather than its long-standing meaning of 'a symptomatic patient'. For that matter, a functioning academia would have earlier asked why 'pandemic' had been redefined, conveniently, just before the pandemic was announced ... but then, a functioning academia would not have allowed itself to becoming accustomed to the regular redefinition of words in the first place.
A functioning academy would have asked why, in stark departure from the previous practice of quarantining the sick, entire populations of healthy individuals were to be quarantined. It would have asked what possible epidemiological good this might serve, given everything known about the spread of respiratory viruses, and it would have pointed out the myriad and very obvious immunological, economic, emotional, and psychological evils such a policy would (and did) inevitably result in.
A functioning academy would have asked why healthy individuals should be required to wear masks, when every study that had ever been done examining the effects of masks on respiratory virus transmission had found them to be as effective as silk underwear against a machinegun ... and when studies on long-term mask usage were suggestive, to say the least, of damaging neurological and physiological effects due to the entirely plausible mechanisms of prolonged elevated carbon dioxide levels and re-inhalation of bacteria and fungi.
A functioning academy would have asked why children, at something very close to the mathematical definition of zero risk from COVID-19, were to be required to wear masks throughout the day, given the likely developmental detriments arising from the inability to see human facial expressions or to properly hear human speech, to say nothing of the aforementioned biological risks which are far more severe in the case of developing brains. It would have demanded that children be allowed to socialize in order to avoid stunting their emotional growth, rather than endure forced social distancing when the schools were open ... and the cold ennui of Zoom school when they were not.
A functioning academy would have demanded to see the data proving the safety and efficacy of the novel mRNA and adenovirus vector therapeutics developed to provide protection against COVID-19. It would have immediately asked whether the spike protein, the key mechanism of action of the 'vaccines', might not be implicated in the damage done by SARS-COV-2 itself. It would not have accepted the redefinition of 'vaccine' away from that of a prophylactic that provides immunity against a disease, to mean instead a treatment that merely provides some vague level of 'protection'. A functioning academy would never have taken the word of government regulators and pharmaceutical corporations that their product was either safe or effective, but would have insisted on far more rigorous, far more transparent tests, and would have ruthlessly interrogated the evidence those tests purported to provide. A functioning academy would have watched the inoculated population like a hungry hawk, alert for deleterious side effects, and would have pounced upon and publicized those side effects the moment they showed themselves.
At a moral level, a functioning academy would have refused to give its backing to efforts to make injection with an experimental treatment meant to protect against a mild respiratory virus mandatory across broad swaths of the populace. A functioning academy would have refused to enforce such edicts on its students, and to the contrary, would have encouraged them to push back against them just as previous generations rebelled against the overreach of state and academic administrators. They would have done this not only because the authorities in question had entirely failed to make their case regarding either safety or efficacy, but because an extensively elaborated philosophy of medical ethics developed precisely because of horrifying over-reach in the past made it abundantly clear that forcing any medical treatment, no matter how safe or well-intentioned, on unwilling patients, is the gravest violation of bodily autonomy possible short of outright execution.
As we all know, the academy did none of that.
Some few, some brave few, tried. Many of them top names in their various fields, award-winning scientists and medical professionals with impressive lists of publications and large numbers of citations, academic metrics that theoretically give one's word weight, but against the weight of the Great Narrative proved utterly powerless. We have long known that the establishment defines itself as the body of experts; the past two years taught us that. with nauseating circularity, experts are defined as those who agree with the establishment.
The overwhelming majority of academics did none of these things. At every step along the way, they did the opposite, and they did so with preening, obsequious enthusiasm. They accepted without question the statements of the power structure, and then preached power to truth at the tops of their lungs. They treated obvious propaganda as obvious truth, studiously ignored violations of basic logic, turned their backs on all of moral philosophy and medical ethics, and when the narrative changed as it so regularly did pretended that they'd never believed that which they'd been convinced of only the day before. In their panic and cruel hysteria, they turned into savage prison guards of their students, treating their bodies as so much property.
Academia failed, comprehensively and absolutely, at every level.
That is the price the academy paid when it ceased to believe in the existence of truth, and allowed itself to become a skin suit for a demented cult, nothing but another instrument of power.
We all payed the price for that.
Academia is dead. It isn't coming back.
But the function academia was meant to serve is vital. At some point, I'll discuss what that might look like.
The ‘P’ is silent.
The worst Hitler who ever Hitlered, except possibly for Trump, who was also the worst Hitler since Hitler, and in fact may have been a worse Hitler than Hitler
Over the past two years I noticed that if any members of the academy spoke out, then they tended to be the retired older folk - the ones with nothing to lose any more. All the mid-career academics kept their mouths resolutely shut. Perhaps years of job insecurity, short term contracts, lack of tenured positions and so on, in the humanities at least, had already turned academics into frightened sheep long before to ‘rona came along.
One silver lining to the Covid cloud is that the whole experience has turned over the rock, exposing the slimy underbelly of dogma enforcement to more of the public. Those of us interested in nutritional research, as one example, have noted this for years.
Thank you for these two articles in particular. I look forward to more.