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Heather Mac Donald — The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture

The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture (book cover)

In this riveting review of the campus craziness investigative journals, writer, and lawyer Heather Mac Donald and Michael Shermer dive deep into the root causes of what has gone wrong on college campuses, in corporations, and in government agencies, over the decades that has led to a crisis in higher education … and beyond. Race and gender form the core of Identity Politics, which Mac Donald and Shermer discuss in dunking the myth that American society in general — and academia in particular — are rampant environments of bigotry and prejudice. Just the opposite is the case, as there has never been a safer and more inviting space to be than a college campus in 2018 America.

The discussion revolves around Mac Donald’s new book, The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture, in which she shows how toxic ideas first spread by higher education have undermined humanistic values, fueled intolerance, and widened divisions in our larger culture. Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton? Oppressive. American history? Tyranny. Professors correcting grammar and spelling, or employers hiring by merit? Racist and sexist. Students emerge into the working world believing that human beings are defined by their skin color, gender, and sexual preference, and that oppression based on these characteristics is the American experience. Speech that challenges these campus orthodoxies is silenced with brute force.

Heather Mac Donald is a self-described secular conservative (she’s an atheist) who writes extensively on American politics and culture. She is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to New York’s City Journal. Her previous books include The War on Cops, Are Cops Racist?, The Immigration Solution, and The Burden of Bad Ideas.

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This remote Science Salon was recorded on September 10, 2018.

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Michael Shermer attempts to explain the startling phenomenon of Jordan Peterson; not the man’s ideas so much as his message and following, which has grown astronomically in the past two years, from obscure Canadian professor of psychology to international man of mystery: mysterious to nearly everyone, that is, on exactly what it is he believes. Read on to find out more… This article was originally published in Skeptic magazine 23.3 (2018).

Image above: This calling card was the identifying graphic of the Have Gun – Will Travel series.

Have Archetype — Will Travel
The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon

When I was a lad one of the most popular television series of the early 1960s was the western Have Gun—Will Travel, staring Richard Boone in the title role as Paladin, a mercenary gunslinger whose name echoes the knights in Charlemagne’s court (he was the “knight without armor”). The chivalrous Paladin wore custom-made suits, was schooled in philosophy, classical literature, opera, piano, poker, and chess, and was preternaturally gifted in fighting skills from Chinese martial arts and western fisticuffs to swordsmanship and firearms. Paladin usually tried to resolve his clients’ problems nonviolently, but as signaled on his title business card embossed with the knight chess piece (also emblazoned on his holster), more often than not he relied on his custom-made Colt .45 single-action revolver with a unique rifled barrel for increased accuracy.1 “With this gun, I could have stopped murder tonight,” Paladin reflects in an early episode. “In all my life I’ve only seen a dozen real killers, but I’ve seen ten thousand people that would stand by and let it happen. Which is the greater evil?”

The Paladin Archetype

Paladin is an archetype—a recurring symbol, a prototype, a Platonic ideal—in this case representing the hero myth (in black-and-white TV simplicity no less) that may well capture the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon (JPP), which has arisen around the Canadian clinical psychologist cum public intellectual who has embraced the Paladin archetype of the hero in Paladin-style dress, manners, and erudition. Given his professed lifelong goal of understanding human evil—particularly that of 20th century Fascism and Communism—Paladin’s greater evil question above may well have been asked by Peterson, who has for the past several years been cajoling his fans to stand up instead of stand by. M0re on this below.

I was first introduced to Peterson on Joe Rogan’s podcast in 2016,2 shortly after I first appeared on the show,3 when podcast numbers were surpassing those of even the most popular cable news and talk shows, launching what would later become known as the Intellectual Dark Web, of which I am a member.4 Peterson has his own podcast as well,5 on which I appeared as a guest in early 2018 in conjunction with the publication of my book Heavens on Earth,6 just a few months before his 12 Rules for Life was published, launching its author into the cultural stratosphere.

This was a propitious time to enter the public arena, when alternative and social media gave many people a platform hitherto unavailable to all but a handful of noted academic scholars and scientists. Where once only Kenneth Clark (Civilization), Jacob Bronowski (The Ascent of Man), and Carl Sagan (Cosmos) were able to land a documentary series on one of only four networks (PBS), today anyone with a computer, an Internet connection, and a few apps can become a media sensation. As Peterson’s YouTube subscriber list exceeded a million people, and many millions more tuned in to hear each appearance on various popular podcasts, Peterson refined his talking points and wove them into a narrative that seem to resonate with a great many people. I wanted to find out why, so in late spring of 2018 we determined that Skeptic magazine should look into Peterson— not just his claims, such as doling out self-help advice in podcasts and public talks or explaining the meaning of myths and biblical stories in YouTube videos—but the seemingly insatiable media coverage and public consumption of everything he says and does. I arranged for my contributing editor Stephen Beckner (see his accompanying article in this issue) and I to attend Peterson’s public performance at the 1800- seat Fred Kavli Theater in Thousand Oaks, California (sold out, as most of his events are), and he was generous enough to spend an hour in the green room talking informally with us about his ideas and all that has unfolded over the past two years (while signing 12 Rules for Life posters). Our goal in this inquiry is not to “debunk” Peterson, which many readers have asked us to do as if it were a given that he’s a quack selling snake-oil, but rather to analyze his claims and the JPP in the spirit of Skeptic’s motto from the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza: “I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.” […]

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Dead Awake (movie poster)


To Sleep, Perchance to Scream

Blake and Karen interview Jeffrey Reddick, a Hollywood screenwriter, producer, and director (perhaps best known for penning Final Destination) about his recent horror film Dead Awake which combines fictional elements with the real-world phenomena of sleep paralysis.

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Skeptic cover art by Pat Linse

Art of the Skeptic

In celebration of Skeptic magazine’s 100th issue, we present sage graphic art advice for skeptical groups and a gallery of art reflecting more than 47 years of skeptical activism from Skeptic’s long time Art Director, Pat Linse

Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

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Wisdom of Harriet Hall

Top 10 Things to Know About Alternative Medicine

Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

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Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?

This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.

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The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

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Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

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The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Mind altering experiences are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

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Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

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Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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The Yeti or Abominable Snowman

5 Cryptid Cards

Download and print 5 Cryptid Cards created by Junior Skeptic Editor Daniel Loxton. Creatures include: The Yeti, Griffin, Sasquatch/Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and the Cadborosaurus.

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