Is being “woke” a way to gain status?

This new piece at the increasingly important site Quillette by two academics with the same name (brother? father and son?), is well worth reading. It’s amusing even if not 100% accurate, but it’s accurate enough to strike home, and to make you rethink what Authoritarian Leftism is all about:

The Winegards’ thesis is not entirely new. The Regressive Left, they say, is in effect a religion with a sacred narrative (victimized groups), a moral doctrine (i.e., the power hierarchy in America needs to be reversed) and a priestly caste, which, they say, comprises white intellectuals who promulgate Purity Doctrine as a way of separating themselves from the “hoi polloi” and gaining status. Since status is a zero-sum game—the more others get, the less you have—the “woke” priests spend their time signaling their purity, denigrating others who make missteps, and never engaging in actually effecting change.

We all know people who do this, but it’s interesting to see “Wokeness” characterized this way. And I think it’s largely, though not entirely, true. Here are a few quotes:

It is trivially easy (not costly) to assert that one is educated or sophisticated or committed to a doctrine; therefore, very few people pay attention to such pronouncements (except as they might indicate narcissism). On the other hand, it is not easy (is costly) to speak a jargon that is taught only in universities and that requires many hours of dedication to master. Therefore, people pay attention and often defer to those who command a rich, complicated jargon.

. . . Using arcane language and adhering to constantly changing norms about acceptable epithets are not particularly effective for attracting people from the broader population to one’s cause. In fact, they almost certainly alienate many average, and otherwise sympathetic, Americans, who understandably disdain indecipherable prose and elite superciliousness. Therefore, this signaling function of the Woke faith is actually antithetical to the stated goals of Wokeness (i.e., creating a more just social world—which requires a broad coalition of different classes of people).

Well, yes, this is Wokeness as evinced by the slaves of postmodernism. But not all of the Woke adhere to postmodernism, and we all know of cases of postmodern haters who still flaunt their virtue without using complicated jargon—though there is always some jargon, like “intersectionality” and “hate speech”.

Here are some words on the demonization of others. This rings really true, especially the second paragraph, which highlights the Serena Williams affair that I could never see as a sign of sexism on the part of the umpire:

The Woke faithful almost certainly do believe that the world is unjust, even wicked, and they almost certainly do sincerely want to ameliorate the suffering of its victims. However, they also want to signal their membership to an elite and morally righteous club, and therefore they need an out-group, a foil, a morally wicked other for contrast. And, they can’t let just any kind-hearted person into their club, because then it would lose its exclusivity. So they must develop a strenuous vetting system, one that is vigilant and suspicious and quick to detect sin.

Furthermore, accusing others of violating the faith of the Woke can serve as a signal of one’s commitment to righteousness; and, perhaps perversely, the more ridiculous the accusation, the better the signal. How, after all, can somebody who accuses the entire tennis world of racism and sexism, be racist or sexist? This can lead to a kind of concept creep, in which those vying for status among the Woke compete to call out vanishingly trivial offenses and imagined slights as intolerable manifestations of racism, sexism, and patriarchal oppression. Meanwhile, many otherwise sane people, with no interest in the excesses of The Great Awokening, nevertheless feel compelled to agree with such fantastical claims for fear that otherwise they too will be accused of bigotry.

On the laziness of the Woke:

Of course, the signaling perspective also explains why so many disciples of Wokeness expend effort writing inscrutable articles about the patriarchy or denouncing sinners on Twitter rather than going out into the world to help the victims’ groups they claim to admire: their primary motivation, whatever their conscious beliefs, is to procure status. There are, of course, many courageous and devoted people who do work quietly to make the world better for minority groups; and those people deserve our admiration. But, many of the most conspicuous activists spend more time promising punishment to heretics on Twitter than they do helping their local communities. These Twitter displays are often called virtue signals, but they are probably better understood as commitment signals, because they don’t really signal a person’s underlying moral character, but they do signal his or her allegiance to the faith of Wokeness.

The other disagreement I have with this piece is the claim that the religion of “Wokeness” functions “predominantly to distinguish white elites from the white masses.”  Well, no. In fact many of the Woke are members of minorities higher in the oppression hierarchy. You don’t have to be white to be Woke, or to shame other people for not being sufficiently Woke. Remember the Asians, for instance, who chided the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for having Kimono Wednesdays, or the black people who argue that white writers shouldn’t write about the black experience (see a particularly bizarre accusation of inappropriate blackness here).  But beyond that, the Winegards have it pretty much right.


  1. bbenzon
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    FWIW John McWhorter has been saying the same thing about the Ta-Nihise Coates brand of anti-racism for a couple of years. It seems to me that the woke have pretty much decided that the world can’t be changed. You get your heart right, your mind pure, and observe the rituals. And that’s it.

  2. Posted September 23, 2018 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I agree with your objection to their white elites vs white masses thesis.

    The Woke’s “you’re with us or against us” attitude has another possible motivation beside the virtue system. It’s the idea that the Woke are engaged in a battle that justifies the tactics of asymmetric warfare. That racism and bigotry are so embedded in society that most of its people are at least passive participants. They feel we’ve tried to fix the problem for 150 years and have made little progress. Of course, this feeling partly comes from the same negative bias that Pinker is fighting.

  3. Martin X
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    You’ve got a couple of duplicated paragraphs:

    “The Woke faithful almost certainly do believe that the world is unjust, even wicked, a”


    “The Woke faithful almost certainly do believe that the world is unjust, even wicked, a”

  4. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Re: “(see a particularly bizarre accusation of inappropriate blackness here). ”

    Cynthia Erivo’s parents are both Nigerian, and she played the lead in the 2015 Broadway revival of “The Color Purple” without generating comment. Some of the issue seems to me that she is not descended from slaves.

    (In addition to the Erivo playing Tubman affair, there was disapproval of the biracial and Denmark-born Jacqueline Fleming playing Harriet Tubman in the rather trivial film “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”. Tubman is a fairly minor character in that film with relatively little screen time.)

    Recently there was the shunning of Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone in the film “Nina” (2016). Although Saldana has Dominican/Haitian/Puerto Rican ancestry, she had to (further) darken her skin to play Nina Simone, as well as wear a prosthetic nose and an Afro wig. (Saldana has wavy-straight typically European hair.) It is of course, because white folk are always more accepting of lighter-skinned folk with black ancestry, as Simone herself notes in her song “Four Women”, a phenomenon which Alice Walker labeled “colorism”. The film having a white (female) director didn’t seem to help.

    By contrast the forthcoming Tubman film is directed by African director Kasi Lemmons who also helmed Eve’s Bayou.

    I kinda sorta distantly get the objection to Saldana in Nina, but I really have a hard time with the Erivo/Tubman fracas. And unlike Saldana, Erivo has forthrightly defended the rightness of her being cast.

    Here is Erivo’s Instagram post about the whole bizness.

    View this post on Instagram

    I struggled a little with whether or not to post anything about this role, because even though there is so much celebration and encouragement coming through, there’s also anger and offense spurred on by my being from the UK…..I guess there is a bigger conversation to be had about heritage and experience, also about who Harriet really was. That can not be had in an Instagram post, what I will say is that my journey to this woman has been long and detailed and one I have not taken lightly. Nothing has been given to me without me first putting the work in, people speak of foreign privilege and truthfully life would be unbelievably easy if that were applied to me but that is not my portion. I fought for the role of Celie, and spilled blood sweat and tears playing her, the same applies for every role I’ve earned, this will be no different. I hope that I do everyone, even those who are in doubt or are upset, proud. I hope I quell your fears, because I understand that is what it is. I cannot tell how protective I am of this woman and her story. I posted this because I cannot allow people to make me neglect to celebrate this honor. This story has gone unnoted for long enough and @debramchase Daniela Taplin and @focusfeatures are the perfect home the beautiful way Kasi Lemmons has told this story is more than a blessing. I am glad to be given the opportunity to bring the life of Harriet Tubman to you. I would be lying if I didn’t make it clear that this is scary, and I thank you in advance for the support. Love you much. ALL OF YOU! Yours truly ❤️❤️

    A post shared by cynthiaerivo (@cynthiaerivo) on

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted September 24, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      I understand her hesitancy, but she really has nothing to answer for. What a ridiculous, mean-spirited campaign she has been subjected to.

    • darrelle
      Posted September 24, 2018 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a trivial film? Come on! It’s a masterpiece!

  5. DrBrydon
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    More blue lights. Can we call adherents of Woke “wokies”, please?

    • Mark R.
      Posted September 23, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      When I saw “wokies”, I read “wookies”. Don’t denigrate Chewbacca! 🙂

  6. Martin X
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    There is only one useful activity that “woke” people should be engaged in right now: working to get progressive candidates elected to local, state, and federal governments. Generating outraged mobs might feel productive, but that’s its danger; like cleaning the cabin while the ship is sinking.

    • Mark R.
      Posted September 23, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Completely agree.

  7. Kelcey BURMAN
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I always automatically read wokeness as wickedness. Perhaps a reliable natural neurological interpretation?

  8. FB
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    The number of seminarians has been declining for decades. Where did all those admonishing fingers go?

  9. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I see very little difference between the ‘woke’ brigade on the one hand, and Quillette on the other. Both are echo chambers dedicated to scratching a particular ideological itch and patting themselves on the back for it. Quillette started out as, and possibly still considers itself, a liberal website. Yet it does absolutely nothing besides commission anti-SJW articles. Scan the comments’ sections and it is a more upmarket, intellectually astute version of The Daily Mail. People go there to feel outraged about the latest far-left fatuity and to prattle about how awful ‘millennials’ are.

    And crucially they go there to bury their heads in the sand re/ the right, and Trump. As far as I’ve been able to tell on my increasingly infrequent visits, there are almost no critical articles dealing with the recrudescent right or the power they currently hold, power which outweighs by orders of magnitude that held by the ever-ghastly far left.

    Its approach is intellectually equivalent to Templeton: feign open-mindedness but commission only one viewpoint. It’s one of my biggest internet disappointments of the last few years, how smugly reflexive and self-congratulatory Quillette has become.

    • Posted September 23, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      There are endless blogs, articles, radio programs, books and public events blasting the right, the neo cons, the free marketeers and the bigots. But there are none of these, save Quillette, to address the failures and egregious ideology and actions of the left, which is incapable of self criticism and sees no hypocrisy in supporting tyrants and regimes noted for major human rights crimes against women, children, gays, apostates and blasphemers. If the left persists in pleading that it is the savior of humankind and then violates its own principles, it deserves to be exposed and excoriated for its duplicity and hypocrisy. Quillette deserves commendation for taking on a long-overdue responsibility of holding the left accountable. As for publishing only “one viewpoint”, yes, it publishes the verifiable and substantiated facts and truth. And it stands alone. I distributed this particular article to my lists as well as several others. I don’t know of any other impartial sources for information and critiques that are free of dogma and ideological propaganda…and you wont find this on the left anywhere. Hugs to Quillette!

      • Westi
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 3:45 am | Permalink

        I loved Quillette from the beginning but my love has vained bit over the time. I think the editorial should use firm hand on their articles. There is lot of generalizations and often articles relay heavily on one sided data. They should be better then modern left wing media, but unfortunately they fall into same traps.

      • Posted September 24, 2018 at 6:57 am | Permalink

        Very well put

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        “There are endless blogs, articles, radio programs, books and public events blasting the right, the neo cons, the free marketeers and the bigots. But there are none of these, save Quillette, to address the failures and egregious ideology and actions of the left,”

        “none of these, save Quillette”?
        Tell me you’re joking here, because you cannot possibly mean that. Have you not been on the internet lately?

        “As for publishing only “one viewpoint”, yes, it publishes the verifiable and substantiated facts and truth. And it stands alone. I distributed this particular article to my lists as well as several others. I don’t know of any other impartial sources for information and critiques that are free of dogma and ideological propaganda”

        As a handy little exercise, go through its article list, and note down any critiques of right-wing ideology, of Trump, of the far-right, of right wing populism. The come back to me and tell me it’s an impartial source.

    • Mikeyc
      Posted September 23, 2018 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      I noticed that too. There does seem to be a rather narrower perspective than I imagined there would be*. Unfortunate. But does that mean the articles are not worth reading? Surely you don’t mean their unexpected (at least to us) viewpoint bias mean this article on the modern religion of Woke is therefore wrong in its claims.

      * I’ve done no analysis and this is only my perception. I could well be wrong

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        I didn’t say they were ‘wrong’. Not do I claim that the articles are badly written, or that they only publish ideologues. I like some of the people who write pieces there, and agree with them on plenty of issues.

        My claim is simply that the site as a whole is an echo chamber, a very pronounced echo chamber, and that it is pathologically incapable of publishing articles critical of the right or Trump or populism. To the extent that any(mild) criticism of this deeply significant political movement comes up, it’s only in the context of an article critical of the left.

        It is absurd that Quillette positions itself as the intellectual centre-ground, when it has a no-go zone of such size and importance. As I said, there is no real difference between Quillette and Templeton.

    • Historian
      Posted September 23, 2018 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      We just need to take Quillette for what it is: a site concerned primarily with warning about the dangers of the regressive left, particularly on college campuses. I say this because on September 19th it posted a book excerpt by conservative writer Heather Mac Donald entitled “The Hysterical Campus.” In other words, this was not an original article for the site, but a reprint that echoes Quillette’s views. Quillette seems to have little concern for the much greater danger to society of the far right and Trump. Of course, it can post anything it likes. Since my time is finite, I only read their articles very selectively. Quillette is one of many niche sites of varying political persuasions that pervade the Internet: that is, it has little chance of appealing to a wide audience. It is quite content with a readership that is already predisposed to share its views. Like so many other sites, its audience is an echo chamber and the likelihood that its views will ever extend beyond the like-minded is very limited. In this respect, Quillette is far from unique. The vast majority of politically oriented sites is like this.

      • Davide Spinello
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        So if I get what you are saying, Quillette is concerned with a minor problem about few college campus kids and it ignores the existential threats posed by the far right AND Trump (I assume they are homogeneous?)

        Thanks for the hint, I just realized that the academia, government agencies, media, and major tech (and more) corporations are pushing a far right agenda. I am grateful that those few kids in college campuses are making some noise, otherwise the society at large would be completely dominated by the far right.

        And now, if you don’t mind, I am going to read the far right book from Heather Mac Donald.

        • Historian
          Posted September 24, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          If you need any more hints, I’ll be glad to give them to you. I’m that kind of generous guy.

          • Davide Spinello
            Posted September 24, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

            Please. In the mean time, taking inspiration from your empirically driven approach, I have searched and found openly racist editors at the New York Times, a corporate culture that rewards openly racist people at Google and other major high tech company that decide how the information flow into our lives, and tons of tenured people publishing openly racist papers and teaching the same to bunch of students.

            You are right, the far right has taken over.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted September 24, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

              Links & names please Davide

              • Davide Spinello
                Posted September 24, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

                Regarding the NYT, I will cite a previous post from this web site:
                The Sarah Jeong affair: more defense of her racism

                Regarding Google, please give a look at the emails attached to James Damore’s (famous nazi biological essentialist,[ndr]) lawsuit.

                Regarding selective racism in academia, please give a look at New Real Peer Review (@NewRealPeerReview.)

                Addressing Trump while undermining this mess is like modeling the orbit of the Moon without accounting for the Earth.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 24, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

                Thank you for taking the problem. Am looking at them.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        I agree, which is why it irritates me to see it positioning itself as though it’s the reasonable, free-thinking, liberal centre-ground. I’m fine with websites that are openly tendentious – it’s when they sell themselves as non-partisan when they’re quite clearly not that I bridle.

    • dd
      Posted September 23, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      Almost the entire international Western media and academia do what you say Quillette does not.

      Let’s put it this way: Where else would you find writing of the quality in Quillette engaging in analyzing the issues it analyzes?

      • Davide Spinello
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        You don’t understand the existential thereat posed by those neo-nazis that toke over the academia, the media, google, facebook, twitter, Silicon Valley, […]

        And shame on Quillette for not being Vox.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted September 24, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

          Yes, isn’t it silly to devote a shred of attention to a far-right that is gaining power all across the western world, or to a populist right that is threatening to upturn the fundamentals of American democracy despite only being in power for under two years.

          Silly, to think that that merited a mention at Quillette. Instead every article must be about the same thing; left-wingers being obnoxious. Because that is clearly the most pressing political issue in America and the rest of the world today.

          See, we can both do sarcasm.

          • Davide Spinello
            Posted September 24, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

            Since it doesn’t talk about the far right it must endorse it.

            Instead every article must be about the same thing; left-wingers being obnoxious.

            A very accurate description:

            The Emergence and Rise of Postmodern Conservatism

            Journalism in the Age of the Populist Right

            Yes, the two examples before would not satisfy the ones that only accept “Trump baaaad, Trump baaaad” (and to be clear, although I hate having to be tedious about it, I think that there is a lot to be opposed and criticized on the merit about Trump’S administration.)

            I am sure that you can find a lot of articles about the far right (as I do,) but we must fight until the last journalist will conform to Ezra Klein’s ethos, or else EXISTENTIAL THREAT!!!

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted September 24, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

              You really are being hysterical, and not even bothering to argue in good faith. Bye.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted September 24, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        The quality of the writing isn’t necessarily what bothers me, although there are plenty of asinine articles there – rather, it’s the utterly skewed editorial policy and overall confirmation bias. It’s a site that calls itself liberal and positions itself as the political centre-ground when it is quite obviously not.

  10. kelskye
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    For me, the main issue isn’t whether they are sincere in their beliefs (I have do doubt they are) or that their actions are done form of status signalling (may be true but irrelevant), but whether there’s anything distinct in the movement.

    We talk about the hypocrisy of the Christian right, for example, because it’s a lot of talk about the sacrifices we lift to morally make in our lives, but there’s very little living to that standard among themselves. We see the hypocrisy in this, but it’s no reason to think it’s a matter of status gaining, even if that sometimes goes on.

    Ideals are easy to preach because they are ideals. Ideals don’t need to correspond to reality. Ideals sit well with us because of our capacity for abstract thought, so we’re going to see violations of those ideals all the time.

    One other thing worth mentioning is that we’re now living in a pluralistic society, and that tension of morality being a social enterprise while there are multiple claims on what is morally demanded of us creates a competitive environment. Getting out there and converting others is one way to feel like you are doing something. Advocacy for ideas can change the world, and it’s perfectly rational to spend effort talking about the change you want to see in the world over practical effects because talking can influence others to change the way they live. It would be unfair to call that status seeking, but a simple way to get the idea out that will influence society’s behaviour over time.

    The logic of advocacy makes superficial sense
    1. X is bad
    2. X is happening in the world
    3. X can be changed with a change in beliefs
    4. Therefore X is happening because people doing have the right beliefs
    5. Therefore to help the world, belief advocacy is important

    The dark corollary of this is the implication that anyone who opposes belief advocacy is really someone who disagrees that X is bad, or worse only pretending to agree X is bad to undermine the advocacy efforts.

    • kelskye
      Posted September 23, 2018 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      After reading the article, a few things stood out.

      1. The authors put a lot of effort into psychologising the beliefs instead of seeing the behaviours associated with the beliefs as motivating. The easiest way to account for the online mobs and the mobbing behaviour is to see the expression of the beliefs (and it’s moralistic condemnation) as cases of trying to impose those beliefs onto the wider world.

      2. I don’t think status is even the best way of thinking about those beliefs. It’s simpler to see the actions as sincere convictions in a world that doesn’t conform to those convictions. The language used may be part of an “elite” education, but I’d wager most social justice believers aren’t educated in that way. Rather the language is the consequence of people talking to like-minded people, and looking for ways to intellectualise what they feel to be true. (Look at the language of YECs for a parallel)

      3. The idea that were constantly signalling is trivially true, but not really so important in why most of us do what we do – especially when it comes to our moral convictions. It seems again simpler to say that the reason people speak out is they are constantly bombarded with examples of how the world sucks and that others don’t share those basic beliefs on how the world could be better. It’s not signalling to jump in a mob any more than it was signalling for all those people who sent flowers in the wake of Sandy Hook. There’s a limited way most of us can express ourselves and see the change we want in this world, and expressions of language are the most basic and immediate.

  11. Michael Fisher
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Bo & Ben are brothers & they’ve been writing on & off as a team for a few years. Here is a statement from Bo:

    “[My] ultimate desideratum is to use a synthesis of evolutionary psychology, social psychology, and sociology to plumb the mysteries of human nature”

    I doubt that triad of ‘disciplines’ will lead to enlightenment on the nature of us primates beyond the obvious gross behaviours. The quote comes from HIS AUTHOR PAGE – most of his writings draw on popular tropes/icons [Bond, Kardashians] to hang his EvoPsychology on. His natural home would probably be Salon or HuffPo where he can spout oversimplifications all day for free.

  12. Posted September 23, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    The Winegards seem right; thanks for the link. The only observation I took issue with is the following: “Unlike scientific theories or other empirical claims, the basic tenets of Wokeness are held with sacred fervor. Those who challenge them are not debated; rather, their motives are denounced, and they are cast out of polite society like heretics.”

    The last part of this statement is true; the first not so much. That is, there are definitely “scientific theories or other empirical claims” to which this “sacred fervor” also applies. The most obvious one is global warming. I think it’s fair to say that those who challenge the basic tenets of climate change (i.e., “deniers”) “are not debated; rather their motives are denounced, and they are cast out of polite society like heretics.”

    I suspect that if I put my mind to it I could come up with other scientific theories or empirical claims that elicit a similar response when challenged. 😊

    • Posted September 23, 2018 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      As far as I know, global warning deniers don’t write scientific papers. Those that do publish contrary evidence would certainly get treated with respect and be debated. Denial solely for political reasons does not deserve debate.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted September 23, 2018 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        A very good point

      • Posted September 23, 2018 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

        False. Lomborg. Others too.

        • Posted September 23, 2018 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

          Do you think Lomborg has been treated unfairly by the scientific community? As far as I know, his ideas have been debated ad nauseum. I also vaguely remember that Lomborg’s own opinion has shifted on the matter.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 23, 2018 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

          Ken B. Can you link to a paper by the non-scientist Bjørn Lomborg on global warming?

          He has never been a “denier”
          He’s always said global warming is real
          He’s always said it’s mostly human caused

          His thesis has been that the effect is exaggerated, but I note his latest book is about ways to mitigate the effects & some of his arguments are about the benefits of some aspects in some places of global warming…

      • Posted September 24, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        “As far as I know, global warning deniers don’t write scientific papers.”

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted September 24, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

          Paul Topping writes this:

          “As far as I know, global warning deniers don’t write scientific papers”

          And your riposte Mirandaga is a lazy, lazy Wiki link to which you add no commentary! Where are the papers? I see a few loons. I see some scientists opinionating on a subject outside their expertise rather than analysing data & producing a paper [Freeman Dyson say]. I thought I spotted a link to a paper in the notes at the bottom, but it’s dead. Help me out please.

          • Posted September 24, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

            “And your riposte Mirandaga is a lazy, lazy Wiki link to which you add no commentary!”

            I didn’t comment because I wanted to limit my reply to the question of scientists who deny global warming and avoid getting into an imbroglio with Paul about climate change per se.

            My initial point was that belief in climate change has become a kind of badge of the tribe in liberal circles, and that to deny it is not just wrong but heretical. In that sense it is similar to the basic tenets of Wokeness. I’ll stand by that.

            Please note that this is aside from the question of whether global warming (and its concomitant predictions of doom) is real; given the political football it has become, this is pretty much beyond determination by now.

            • Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

              So global warming is definitely a “political football” as you say but I don’t see how that makes the science any less real. People have a choice. They can blindly assume the position determined by their political allegiance or they can learn about the science.

              I will admit there’s still trust involved here unless you are an actual climate scientist. I would even grant that most climate scientists are probably Lefties but it is hard to believe these scientists are part of some vast Left conspiracy faking the science.

              • Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

                A good reply, Paul—your best to me so far.

                I’m not anti-science by any means, but having worked for many years in a health research institution, I’m mistrustful of “concerned” scientists—or, rather, I trust them to advocate somewhat cavalierly on behalf of issues they’re concerned about. All with the best of intentions, of course: they’re persuaded they’re right and see their job now as one of proselytizing the ignorant masses. As I think I’ve stated elsewhere, It concerns me that there’s more research being done on how to persuade the public that climate change is real than on establishing that it is real.

                Bottom line: on any issue that breaks along partisan lines, I’m at a loss as to where to find unbiased information and hence am inclined to remain skeptical.

              • Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

                Aren’t the thousands of scientific papers on global warming, and the many books that summarize the work for general audiences, sufficient to establish that global warming is real? Perhaps what might work is to read the best general audience book from each side and see which sounds more like truth.

              • Posted September 24, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

                “Perhaps what might work is to read the best general audience book from each side and see which sounds more like truth.”

                Would that it were so simple! To switch to a similar political football, I can tell you for a fact when a CDC-sponsored study finds an association between vaccination and autism, the CDC will not allow the results to be published. Their well-intentioned logic is that the epidemiological benefits of vaccinations far outweigh individual collateral incidents and that publishing the results could seriously hinder the desirable push to get children vaccinated.

                The only ones to challenge this logic are referred to as “vocal vaccine deniers,” most often the parents of children who fall into the CDC’s cohort of collateral damage. As with climate change, these “deniers” must be discredited. As one “general audience book” puts it: “The strategies presented in the following chapters convey rules that serve as guiding principles to rethink the way you debate and achieve the primary goal of a public discussion with a vocal vaccine denier, which is to make the public resilient against anti-vaccine rhetoric” (italics mine).

                Truth, you’ll notice, has fallen by the wayside.

              • Posted September 24, 2018 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

                Sorry but I think you have gone off the deep end here. The way science works is if one publisher won’t publish your work, another will or you can self publish. If some scientist produced a solid paper that was anti global warming, I see no reason they couldn’t get others to read it. Getting respect for the work is a lot harder, as it should be.

                There are those, when denied by their favorite publisher, who will complain their work is being suppressed unfairly. Even if that were true of one publisher, it wouldn’t stop the work from being disseminated by other means. The unfairness issue and the validity of the work are really two separate issues.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

              You only quoted Paul about global warming deniers not writing papers – that’s your choice of quote. I guess you chose the wrong bit to quote then.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted September 24, 2018 at 2:55 pm | Permalink


            [1] What “general audience book” are you referring to? I recognise that quote as being from a WHO document from 2017 that isn’t for a general audience, but it has been lifted verbatim by others. I’m not objecting to the message, but what is YOUR source [a book you say] for that quote.

            [2] Mirandaga:

            “I can tell you for a fact when a CDC-sponsored study finds an association between vaccination and autism, the CDC will not allow the results to be published.

            Their well-intentioned logic is that the epidemiological benefits of vaccinations far outweigh individual collateral incidents and that publishing the results could seriously hinder the desirable push to get children vaccinated”

            I’ve divided your words into two parts for clarity

            The first part:
            [3] Please name a CDC-sponsored study that linked vaccination & ASD
            [4] If you can’t [because those studies have been suppressed], how do you know “for a fact” that what you’re claiming is true? What is you source?

            The second part:
            [5] How do you know this is true?

            • Posted September 24, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

              “How do you know ‘for a fact’ that what you’re claiming is true? What is your source?”

              I’m my own source on this one. I worked for 18 years as head editor at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. Every paper that went out from the Center had to come through my department. Unlike our contracts with pharmaceutical companies and others, which included a clause that we could publish the results regardless of the findings, studies sponsored by the CDC left control over publishing the results in the hands of the CDC.

              My “I can tell you for a fact” is based on a study we did that found an association between a certain vaccine and increased incidence of whooping cough, as well as an association between whooping cough and autism, but no association (the evidence was “inconclusive”) between the vaccine and autism. Reading the paper on the study, I was confused and pointed out to the primary investigator that he hadn’t made clear why the same data set was conclusive in one case and inconclusive in the other. He replied that he couldn’t make it clear because he didn’t understand it either, but that the CDC had made publication conditional on the inconclusive finding re the vaccine and autism.

              I was party to similar shenanigans (never outright lies or cooking the numbers!) in our reporting of findings on CDC studies—most notably in studies on the the effects of second-hand smoke—but perhaps the above is enough to answer your question.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 24, 2018 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

                What is the name of that “certain vaccine” for pertussis that indirectly or directly links to ADS outcomes & when was this? Your own ex-employer has researchers that have published papers contradicting what you claim [using large five-figure samples] & I want to see which vaccine has the problem you describe. Note that institutes outside the USA also don’t agree with you. debunked many, many times.

              • Posted September 24, 2018 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

                “Note that institutes outside the USA also don’t agree with you.”

                You asked for my source and I replied by recounting a story from my personal experience. How could institutes outside the USA disagree with me? Do they think I made it up? Over and out.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted September 25, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

                Got too hot asking for details of your unnamed “certain vaccine”? Decided to get out by getting offended at a triviality? You are true to form.

        • Posted September 24, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

          They aren’t “deniers” but scientists. At least some are anyway. Global warming deniers refuses to grant credence to the research while not offering any reasonable counter-evidence.

  13. A. Lautin
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I do not believe hoi polloi requires the article.

    From a member of hoi polloi

  14. Jon Gallant
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    One aspect of the great Awokening that is overlooked is its peculiar biogeography: Wokies are concentrated to a remarkable degree wherever a college campus is found, present at above average frequency at the locations of certain media (from Salon to NPR), and almost as rare as bighorn sheep everywhere else. I think this explains two matters mentioned in the article and in this discussion. First, it explains the Wokies’ general indifference to the practical politics of actually effecting changes in government, for this depends on votes of the whole population, not just the membership the Modern Language Association. Second, it explains why sites like Quillette pay a lot of attention to them: those of us in academic locations see much more of the Wokies and their doings than the inhabitants of, say, Saratoga or Peoria Counties.

    • Posted September 24, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      I like this point a lot. The issue is rife on college campuses, but not so much in the work force, so those in academics often feel as if this kind of thinking is overtaking the world and those in the work force might feel like this isn’t a problem at all. I think it’s good this is being written about so that both of these worlds can communicate. The academic world can say “hey, we’ve got a major problem here,” and the work world can say “huh, that is a problem. Maybe it’s not as pervasive as you think it be, but it’s worth paying attention to.”

  15. Posted September 23, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see more people attacking the unintended superficialness of woke. A systematic treatment of Woke can be found here (self referenced):

  16. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted September 23, 2018 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    I was awake before these morons were even born.

    Even if I was whatever-it’s-supposed-to-mean I would refuse to admit to such a cringe-inducing epiphet as ‘woke’.


  17. Posted September 24, 2018 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Another way of looking at the woke-ness is something born of frustration, intellectual laziness is powerlessness driven by a lack of progress in dealing with a ‘broken’ society.
    It feels like action, over riding reason, blinding them to the illogical claims they make.
    The bitterness is akin to a child like protest at not receiving on demand.
    We are doing something! what the hell are you doing! criticism? reason, what kind of action is that against hate! How does that bring change? we need control… and there the woke join the conservative. The need for control.

    Pinker has shown it’s taken centuries to get thus far and i’m not holding my breath. If i was woke i’d be hyper ventilating.

  18. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted September 24, 2018 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    Hah, I’ve already been accused of being ‘woke’! It was in response to a comment about being un-American, where I asked “What is un-American about lynching?”
    I guess that if that makes one ‘woke’, most of us are wokies. 🙂

  19. Posted September 24, 2018 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

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