Rod McLaughlin

A Tale of Two Cultures (14 dec 14)

Students protest against a falsely accused 
fraternity at the University of Virginia


The reader is no doubt familiar with C.P. Snow's famous 1959 lecture about the "two cultures" - roughly, arts and sciences:

I remember it well, being a precocious five-year-old at the time.

At arty cocktail parties, Snow would ask guests if they knew the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Many of them didn't.

I studied humanities at college, but switched to computer science when I realized there isn't much money in literature and philosophy. "Computer science" isn't really science, but I know the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The best course I ever took was a biology summer school at Berkeley. I'm not a scientist, but I have some idea of what it is. The bit of philosophy I remember most accurately is Karl Popper's philosophy of science (PDF).

Anyway, it seems to me that the two cultures have drifted even further apart. At least when I was at school, English Literature teachers didn't use words like "narrative" and "canon".

Since then, humanities has degenerated into a cesspit of postmodern pseuds, man-hating feminists, and various other types of politically-correct, humorless prigs. It's turned into North Korea.

I subscribe to "whiteness studies" on, just to keep an eye on some of these lunatics. Sometimes, it's funny, for example when you get to read a paper on "Chromoeugenics".

Sometimes, it's not so funny. For example, false allegations of rape against college students who don't accept the dictatorship of the prigs continue, regardless of how often they are refuted. Campuses in America are breeding grounds for fake hate crimes. In Britain, Oxford University students stopped a debate on abortion because both speakers were men.

And what's even less funny is that, ridiculous though they are, humanities graduates have some effect on how society is run. The US department of education is mandating a definition of "consent" where the woman has to explicitly say "yes". If two students get drunk and have sex, and the woman subsequently denies saying "yes", the man can be expelled from college. If the current rules were in place when I was a student, it could have happened to me.

Under political correctness, feelings are more important than facts. For the p.c. left, just because "campus rape culture" has been exposed as a lie, doesn't mean it's not true.

Humanities people go on to become things like leaders of political parties or the department of education - people with power. The sort of people who persuaded the police and social workers not to investigate child trafficking gangs in England because the gangs' members aren't white.

C.P. Snow warned that Britain was breeding a class of scientific illiterates, and advocated more mandatory science for arty types. However, he thought the American education system was more balanced. If it was then, it isn't now.

The p.c. left sometimes claim they invented the term "political correctness" as a self-deprecating joke. Maybe they did, but it isn't a joke today. They reject freedom of speech on the grounds that "the idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalised groups" - Niamh McIntyre, writing in the Independent.

Freedom of expression, presumption of innocence, and the other achievements of Western, particularly Anglo-Saxon, civilization, are openly held in contempt by many of the graduates of the humanities wing of the education system. Perhaps it will take more than a more balanced education to save us from the new Khmer Rouge.

An attempt to quantify false claims of rape:

Portland London