The Dark Enlightenment and Duck Dynasty

The Dark Enlightenment has been discovered. Eeeek.

I’ve written about my adoption by the Network and have nothing to change–it’s not something I consider myself part of, per se, but they apparently find my writing helpful. I’m fine with that. I would refer Jamie Bartlett to the above image to reinforce what seems to me to be obvious: the “dark enlightenment” is not characterized by political objectives and has very little unity of purpose.

hbd chick wrote a detailed response to the Jamie Bartlett column which, to the extent I understand it, I agree with. But I would refer someone trying to figure this thing out to read the comments, particularly this one by T. Greer:

The many voices in the ‘dark enlightenment’ do not harmonize. They don’t share the same ideals, aims, or even impulses. They defined by a shared enemy; were this enemy to disappear then so would all talk of a cohesive ‘dark enlightenment.’

The major strand that unites the entire community is a willingness to frankly state opinions polite society does not accept (but in many cases once did) and listen to others do the same.

That is, as I say in response, the defining element of the Dark Enlightenment is not political, philosophical, or cultural views, but a shared loathing of “The Cathedral”. Unfortunately, I can’t find one clear definition of the Cathedral that doesn’t involve reading all of Mencius Moldebug, who I don’t really understand and makes me feel Hemingway brusque. I use the term Voldemort View to characterize the most likely reason for the achievement gap; the Cathedral can be thought of as the Canon of Modern Anathema, the official dogma of views that must not be spoken. Some of the views are actual truths, others are opinions. But if they are uttered, the speaker must be cast out into the darkness and, more importantly, economically ruined.

I can think of no common objective the nodes in that diagram share, but we all hate and despise the Cathedral. Our touchstones are not racial purity, male dominance or a derailing of democracy (all objectives I unreservedly oppose) but the expulsion of James Watson, Jason Richwine, and John Derbyshire—whether we agree with them or not. I almost never hate people. But I hate the Cathedral. Probably in part because I trusted it a couple decades ago, and there’s nothing like a reformed ex-smoker. Screw you if you want me to righteously disassociate. Take my ideas on their own merit or don’t, never assume I agree with any idea unless I say so. But if you’re the sort who demands indignant condemnation, it will be my considerable pleasure to deprive you of that satisfaction. In short–but why be short when English has so many words?—I will not disavow on principle.

I suggest that if the “dark enlightenment” is spreading, it does so not because of any distaste for democracy, much less some weird white guy radicalization, but because the general public is slowly becoming deeply tired of the elites getting exercised about exorcising yet another heretic.

And so to Duck Dynasty, a show I vaguely knew of before the fuss. Phil Robertson opines, identity groups cluck, and all the pundits write cynically about the outrage, secure in the knowledge that the machine will roll over and crush Robertson. But then, glory be, the Robertson clan doesn’t just refuse to back down, it refuses to apologize, and for once, the cultural segmentation of American society turns out to be a net positive. Christians everywhere have time to make their displeasure known, and A&E realizes that the money move lies in keeping Phil, leaving GLAAD out in the cold. Truly a great day. And if you can’t understand why an agnostic with no interest in denying the reality of pre-civil rights America would celebrate that outcome, you don’t understand how much I hate the Cathedral.

Patton Oswalt quoted Steve Sailer’s pithy statement “Political correctness is a war on noticing”. A few of his followers disapproved. The resulting twitter fest is very funny, as a couple of Oswalt’s followers try to alert him to the evils of Sailer, and Oswalt remains blithely unconcerned. Money quote, from Oswalt: “I’ve never been scared of ideas. I can hear all kinds & still keep my feet. Think I’ll call this stance ‘diversity'”.

But then you’ve got the earnest, well-meaning Michael Pershan, one of the only actual math bloggers I read. Pershan is Jewish, I think, although he never mentions it on the site (I remember his wedding announcement vaguely), and I mention this only because when I read this twitter mess my first thought was “he’s Jewish, he went to Harvard, he lives in New York City, and he didn’t see this coming?” But I think he’s a particularly observant Jew (not like noticing things, like observing Jewish custom), and until recently taught at a Jewish boys’ high school, so perhaps he doesn’t get out much.

Anyway, he takes gentle issue with a PoC teacher blogger who makes what would normally be called racist statements were he talking about anyone but white folks, and gets “schooled”, literally, in a key plot point: in the identity culture, all whites are the same. Michael Pershan, like many reflexive progressives (the sort who haven’t really thought it through but hey, all their friends are doing it) wants race and gender warriors to accept that there are “good” whites and “bad” whites. He wants to be able to point fingers and shame bad whites, but is troubled that the PoC and women seem to paint all whites and all males as the same. The identity divas will have none of that, and kick him around for a while. Pershan has retired from both the fray and Twitter, which is too bad. Not that I sympathize with his point of view. If you want to walk the identity path, baby, then all whites are equally undeserving of their largesse. You either reject or embrace the identity and entitlement game in its entirely; there are no half measures. The correct response is to deny the identity folk all satisfaction. It’s okay, they mostly enjoy the process, gives them something to complain about.

And just to show the compartmentalization of my ideas: I think many of the people beating down Michael Pershan in that conversation are just fine, as teachers. I often agree with them. Not always. Jason, the PoC blogger who started the sound-off, has a good teaching blog, and I don’t find his writings on identity to be insanely insufferable, which is a compliment.

I want more Duck Dynasty victories. I want the Michael Pershans to laugh at the very idea of seeking approval from identity divas. I want the Cathedral thwarted routinely and eventually dismantled. Not as a blogger, but as a person.

As a blogger, I’ll still write about education policy and education itself from all different angles, including the lamentable determination to ignore cognitive ability.

On that point, I’ve noticed a recurring theme that Razib Khan made in the hbd diva post, also seen here in Rod Dreher’s call for silence on HBD: the notion that most people who “embrace” (their word) racial differences don’t have a clue about the science.

I find this flummoxing. I know that Razib, who has his own node on the Network, is not criticizing the ideas themselves, but rather the people promoting them as ignorant. But who are these people promoting science, good or bad? I’m not sure if he’s talking about me. I’m certain the commenters on Rod’s site, from the “reasonable conservatives” to the “moderate progressives” are criticizing the ideas as wrong and the people promoting them as ignorant.

I don’t read the other sites much, save for Steve Sailer and Razib Khan, so maybe they’re doing all sorts of bad science. For myself, I don’t do science. I barely do math.

I often see reporters refer to “beliefs” or “opinions” about IQ. My “beliefs” about IQ involve the degree to which IQ is inaccurate, missing some aspects of intelligence that might be largely irrelevant to measuring IQ among white populations, but highly relevant in others. Actually, they wouldn’t go so far as “belief” or “opinion” but maybe “wonderings”.

But they aren’t talking about those beliefs, but the “belief” that IQ is meaningful, that IQ is not the same in different populations. That’s not a belief.

Or, as Steven Pinker famously wrote of Malcolm Gladwell’s maunderings on IQ: “What Malcolm Gladwell calls a “lonely ice floe” is what psychologists call ‘the mainstream.'”

When taking down a heretic, Cathedral strategy demands that the heretic be easily expelled with a minimal degree of cognitive dissonance. And so no one takes on Steven Pinker. Many reporters regurgitate what they understand of the Flynn Effect, but no one asks James Flynn if black IQs are, on average, lower than white IQs and whether that might make a difference to academic outcomes or whether the gap can easily be fixed with a more nurturing environment. Only one person asked Harvard’s Christopher Jencks why he blessed Jason Richwine’s doctorate, or why Harvard signed on for it. These people are of the Cathedral and if they challenge the canon, maintaining orthodoxy becomes impossible. So they are left alone, ignored politely when they speak anathema.

I don’t do science. I keep my blog anonymous because of I explore the impact of the Voldemort View, the view that must not be spoken, the view that says the achievement gap between different racial and income groups is primarily caused by differences in cognitive ability, on educational outcomes. I believe that IQ is imperfect as a metric of cognitive ability, although I can’t prove it and my opinion is still inchoate (ooh, Thomas of Convenant!). I accept the mainstream findings that shows a clear and largely unchanging difference in IQs by race and income. If Steven Pinker, James Flynn, or Christopher Jencks have said anything that disagrees with my representation of mainstream research, most fully articulated here, I’m unaware of it. So don’t ask me about IQ and race. Ask them.

About educationrealist

45 responses to “The Dark Enlightenment and Duck Dynasty

  • panjoomby

    being open to accepting the overwhelming evidence for certain things despite the cathedral taboo on them is basically it. it’s annoying for researchers in the field of intelligence to hear it blithely referred to in passing as “oh those tests are biased against so & so” or “but was is intelligence anyway?” when there’s a century’s worth of consistent & committed research in the area, with many scholarly peer reviewed journals & accepted findings – yet the media cathedral wants people to believe that tests are biased or don’t reflect reality, etc. Even other sciences often disparage the idea of intelligence as being vague, when in reality, in the actual field, that is not the case whatsoever. we get bad press, man! (especially when the media talk about the pseudo-science of group mean differences, etc. – they show a complete lack of knowledge about the subject area & a complete unwillingness to even investigate – nothing to see here, move along:)

  • Jim

    The “Cathedral” tends to moralize everything and categorize anybody who disagrees with them as evil. Take the issue of climate warming for example. The “Cathedral” regards any dissent on this issue as an indication of malice or stupidity. When someone like Freeman Dyson disagrees they label him as “senile”. (At least they don’t label him as a “right-wing nut”, his politics in general are rather to the left.) I read some of Dyson’s writing on global warming and he’s definitely not “senile”. Dyson has a very brilliant record in physics and before that in mathematrics. He may or may not be correct in his assessment of global warming but he is neither senile nor malcious.

  • Jim

    I should have written “I have read” instead of “I read”.

  • Portlander

    One clear definition of the Cathedral? At the risk of sounding like a simpleton hick, the Cathedral is the apparatus by which rich get richer.

    The 1st decile skims the economic surplus of the 2nd through 6th. It’s not a stable arrangement so takes considerable enforcement to keep the graft running.

    At the top is the Davos crowd. They are the lions and get the lion’s share of them skim. They set the agenda to insure their position in the pyramid is secure. Just below them are the financial and political power brokers that work for the elite the way the knights worked for the monarchy. They are the very well-paid knights of the Davos elite, the 0.9% doing the bidding of the 0.1%. Underneath the power brokers are the useful idiots in the media, academia, and bureaucracies. They are the 9%. They too do quite well for themselves, especially on a relative basis compared to the other 90% with which they have the most experience and interaction. They are co-dependents either hoping to make it to knighthood themselves, or having missed their shot, still happy with their sinecure and so unwilling to rock the boat with too much truth.

    The problem is the 10% create very little value themselves, and nothing compared to what they take. So, to keep the other 90% in their place, particularly the middle 50% producing most of the wealth, they run various scams that can be summarized as the top and bottom against the middle. Keep the Middle distracted, divided, dumb, and demoralized.

    With regard to HBD, it’s not questioning immigration policy and its ramifications in schools, welfare, and employment. With regard to finance, it’s not questioning the Fed, fiat money, or inflation. With regard to religion and culture, it’s not questioning gender heterodoxy, no fault divorce, and family dissolution. Again, distracted, divided, dumb, and demoralized.

    • educationrealist

      No, that’s not a definition of the Cathedral. That’s your explanation as to its motives.

      • brendan

        Chataeu Heartiste called the Cathedral:

        “the collective motivations and enlivening spirit of the bulk of the human machinery that powers the entertainment, media, government and academia industrial complexes in the West, but particularly in America. This human machinery is mostly progressive in political disposition, equalist in ideology, tyrannical in method, snarky in execution, and hypocritical in principle.”

        But I wouldn’t want to send links to CH on your work email address!

      • Portlander

        Hmm, fair enough. Maybe it’s the engineer in me… a tendency to see things as machines and define them by what they do.

        Though, I’m a little plussed by the back-handed “your.” I’m not on some lonely ice-flow with my take. 🙂

      • educationrealist

        No, I wasn’t being backhanded. Sorry if it came off that way. I was being hyper-geeky back at you. That is, I get what you’re saying, and although I don’t agree with it entirely it’s not because I have warm fuzzies towards cathedral folk.

  • brendan

    And that, right there, is what I’d write if I was more articulate, which is a common feeling I have reading guys like you and Sailer, Derbyshire, and Khan, (not Moldbug) which got me thinking…

    (This is sort of on the topic of variation within the Dark Enlightenment vs between the DE and other political clusters.)

    What’s the DE personality type on the five-factor OCEAN test? And how does it compare to the typical left/right scores?

    High O? Because open-minded? Except we’re mostly conservative family men personally/behaviorally.

    High C? Because hypocrisy avoidance?

    What about A? We love to argue, hate to conform- but I confidently assume you, derb, sailer are unusually polite in person.

    N? Where do happy curmudgeons score on neuroticism?

    Is there a common personality type here? (I don’t see it.) If not, and given that, in my opinion, there’s less personality variation within the DE than within broader Lib/Conservative divide, then what’s the use of OCEAN?

    (Sorry off topic: I’m still thinking about your psych cause of your memory post I guess.)

    • Sisyphean

      HBD chick often talks about her high N score. Mine is basically 0, but I am a nut. I’d love to know E.R.’s OCEAN because I find it fascinating, but not everyone is interested in sharing these details. Some people don’t realize how much can be inferred from an OCEAN, and those that do maybe don’t want to give others the option of living inside their head.

      • educationrealist

        I just hunted down the OCEAN test:

        These are roughly correct. Overstates both my disagreeableness and my extraversion, though. I’m an introvert, but good at being sociable. And I am capable of rudeness, but most people aren’t. So it’s not as if I go around insulting people in person all the time. I am both disorganized and high-strung.

      • brendan

        We’re near identical; I’m surprised you’re disorganized.

        I don’t see personality clustering in the Cathedral Hating Crowd, except maybe disagreeableness.

        Sisyphean: Does high IQ screw up the OCEAN’s validity? In other words, the OCEAN might measure innate urges/tendencies well; but IQ increases ability to mediate via self-awareness/self-control, self-modification? So the OCEAN predicts best for those in the 95-115 IQ range?

        I want the OCEAN to work- seems cool- but every time I try to apply it I get nada; wondering if I’m trying to apply it to strange people/groups.

      • Sisyphean

        For me the OCEAN doesn’t have a whole lot of validity to begin with. It’s descriptive far more than prescriptive, has no theory to back it up and therefore fails to meaningfully classify people. Of course, in my mind that’s exactly why it’s in vogue at the moment. If we can say people fall into groups then some of those groups might be better at doing certain things than others, the horror! Primarily it’s being used to compare high openness to experience people (usually liberals who live near or in cities) to low openness to experience people (more conservative, rural) in the hope that they can find a way to make everyone more open and liberal. People like ER with a middling openness score don’t fit and would be filtered you out.

        As people get more intelligent you tend to see higher neuroticism, higher openness, less agreeableness and slightly less conscientiousness. This ‘intellectual’ pattern is hugely common in the big North East U.S. cities like Boston and NYC. It’s no accident Woody Allen’s mega neurotic movies have done so well over time and so many minimally trained therapists can rake in the bucks there that the NY state universities have to make students apply separately to get into their undergrad psych programs.

        Given E.R.’s score I’d expect her to be someone who has a tendency to talk at length with very few pauses to check whether the other person is still engaged in the conversation. Likely also launching into very abstruse topics, hoping to get a thrilling discussion out of it but typically finding that people’s eyes just glaze over.

      • educationrealist

        I thought you said it doesn’t have a whole lot of validity. Yet here you are, assigning it validity. I enjoy personality tests but don’t think of them as “valid” or “invalid”, but rather “interesting” or “not interesting”.

        And you’re wrong in all sorts of ways in that last paragraph. But that happens to you a lot, I’m sure.

        I’d say that it’s a mistake to judge people based on their internet writing, but in this case, there’s ample evidence in my written output here, to say nothing of my twitter feed, to show that you’re wrong.

      • Sisyphean

        I gave it a go based on what I had which as you said only proves the point about how useless it is. Five dimensions of very general things that are typically only considered in aggregate. Also, I have a poor memory for details so if you’ve contradicted the short assessment paragraph above in your blog before then I’ve probably forgotten, and I don’t really read twitter, I just tweet (Isn’t that how it’s done?).

        Now the MMPI-2… that one is fun. I learned things about myself that even I didn’t know.


      • educationrealist

        No, I actually read twitter.

        I think the reason it defines me as rude is because it asks questions about what I’m afraid to do, or what I’m willing to do. Then it assumes that lack of fear or willingness means I do it a lot.

  • Sisyphean

    You don’t want to be told what to think? How terrible of you. You should be ashamed!

  • ho

    What is wrong with white racial purity? It’s having the same attitude about their race that every non white popukation has.

    • educationrealist

      Really? I don’t see that at all. There’s nothing “wrong” with being entirely white–I myself am entirely western European–but I’m against any attempt to seek it out as an objective.

    • Hattie

      “What is wrong with white racial purity? It’s having the same attitude about their race that every non white popukation has.”

      Yes, most other races have that attitude. And I’d rather eat my own eyeballs than have it imposed upon me. I don’t want to have to side with whiny MRA morons, socons, religious nuts etc., simply because we share a vaguely similar skin colour. (I am, however, quiet ridiculously proud of how pale I am. Go figure.) And I’m sure that said groups I don’t want to side with feel sick at the idea of siding with me.

      I want to be an individual, and for race/ethnicity to be basically irrelevent to my daily life. That, funnily enough, is what drives me into the DE side of things. For that to happen, we need homogeneity. Race becomes vitally important in anything approaching a multi ethnic situation. I love my country and am terrified that we’ll end up like, well, every other multi ethnic situation in history – that is, if a bloodbath is to be avoided (which is difficult enough) you have to engage in chicanery, bribery and general anti democratic actions to keep the peace. My visceral instinct is that the Irish are Teh Reel Chozen Peepul, but even I don’t think that we’re so special we can avoid the inevitable results of multiculturalism and immigration.

      I doubt I’m alone in being attracted to the DE as a way of avoiding a racial purity movement. There are more important things to be concerned about.

    • anonymousskimmer

      Populations don’t have attitudes. They have survey results.

      And to answer your question: inbreeding; a lack of hybrid vigor and ingressed traits.

      And to ER: The so-called Christian fundamentalist (evangelical to broaden it a bit) culture has its own cathedral complex. And that cathedral complex even has a noticeable impact on federal and state laws.

      • educationrealist

        Well, in their case it’s an actual cathedral, or religious canon. But I wouldn’t say they have anywhere near the same impact.

      • Sideways

        Inbreeding isn’t a problem in a population of hundreds of millions. You can’t keep using interbreeding to avoid the other problems without new “pure” stocks to interbreed with. So I have to reject your answers.

        But you can probably guess how much I care about racial purity by looking at my half white kids.

  • peppermint

    the point is the utter rejection of the Enlightenment.

    The Enlightenment says that humans are spherical crystals of pure reason. There isn’t a female or male reason, or a white or black reason, there is just reason. Because all are equal in posessing reason, all must be consulted on every issue.

    The Dark Enlightenment says that humans are a clade of mutant chimps, that we have modified primate ethology, modified in different ways in different populations, and because social status is one of the most important motivators, democracy is a spectacularly bad way of governing primates.

    • educationrealist

      No, it doesn’t. And you know, I”m a whole node. So I can say so.

    • Latias

      Have you read David Hume’s treatise on morality? His main point was that there is no easy way to find a connection between “is” and “ought”. He notes that morality is primarily derived from one’s sentiments and preferences.

      He most certainly does not believe that ” humans are spherical crystals of pure reason”. It would seem that the “Dark Enlightenment” is based on a strawman conception of the “Enlightenment”. How pathetic!!!

  • JayMan

    Good post, I generally agree with your views with your place in this “Dark Enlightenment” movement (and I don’t care for the name).

    One note (via Colin Woodard), the Duck Dynasty thing appears to be completely fake:

  • Jim

    The Pershan thing on Twitter was amusing. Michael wants to be excused from the demonology of the left but apparently that’s not possible.

  • Jim

    Based on reading his blog “Rational Expressions”, he’s probably an excellent teacher.

  • Jim

    Latias – It’s true that Hume was a pretty realistic and sober thinker but Hume’s historical influence was much less than say that of Rousseau who was anything but realistic and sober.

    The Enlightenment thinkers span a very wide range and include very clear-headed and sane people like Kant and Hume, but it is the crazies like Rousseau whose influence is so powerful today.

  • Jim

    Anonymousskimmer – Hybrid vigor is a one-generaton effect. What does “ingressed” mean?

  • Gordo

    I always enjoy your writing, you aim hard at telling the truth. Nothing is worse than the lies they tell and feel justified in telling as they think their vile ends justify their vile means.

  • Aaron

    ER, I was wondering if I could get your opinion on this:

    6th Annual Northwest Conference on Teaching for Social Justice

    Even from a hypothetical progressive perspective it seems incredibly unfair to use the education system in this way.

    • educationrealist

      See, whenever I start wondering why, originally, I found progressive educators much more annoying than reformers, something like this comes up to remind me. This is the bad part of progressive education–the insanely irritating and mostly just wrong dogma. And at many charter schools, and some English and history classes, students can get really screwed up if they disagree with the teacher.

      • Aaron

        I wish we could have politically agnostic education system. It just seems like it would be one of those things that we should be take for granted.

      • educationrealist

        What I find irritating is that progressives jump all over the very hint of conservative dogma being taught in the south, but utterly ignore the fact that most ed schools actively encourage beginning teachers to indoctrinate kids. It’s relatively dangerous to openly be Republican and teach in a number of states.

      • Sev

        What state is it not dangerous to be openly conservative as a teacher in? It certainly is in Texas.

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