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Less Jussim’s Epic Twitter Thread on the Insanity (or Inanity?) of Social Justice

Rutgers Professor Lee Jussim, aka @Psychrabble, created an epic string of tweets on Twitter (starting here) about the rising tide of social justice insanity, or inanity. It is posted here in full for your reading pleasure.

Pamela continues her string of powerful essays pushing back against the rising tide of social justice … idk, is it insanity** or *inanity* or a mutant marriage of both on college campuses?
Thread. Roll Call. 1/n (unnumbered but ending with END).

Thanks to Keiko, I now see others have been discussing the gumbo. I’ve been dying to write about the gumbo. I finally got it into this piece:

Rebels Without a Clue

** “Insanity” used colloquially, not diagnostically, and with apologizes to people with actual mental illnesses, who, in my personal experience, are (except in some cases when actively pathological) some of the clearest-headed thinking people I know (<- really truly).

(Last point on this^: Donald Campbell, the great mid-20th century social psychologist, and one of the few people to keep accuracy alive in the study of intergroup relations, was bipolar. As is the amazing Kay Jamison).

And as you read all the “anecdotes” that appear in this thread, keep this in mind: This is all the tip of an iceberg. These are not isolated events, like a deadly mudslide or case of botulism. They are the tip of an iceberg.

How do we know they are the tip of an iceberg? Because there is a f*ckton of evidence that they are built on a rising tide of leftist radicalization in academia. Repeat radical “anecdotes” do not emerge from thin air. They’re built on larger sociocultural & intellectual edifices.

I wrote about this tip-of-iceberg a year ago. Like a flood tide, sometimes it flows more vs. less strongly, some waves are huge, others minor. But the flood keeps coming.

The Reality of the Rise of an Intolerant and Radical Left on Campus

That tip of the iceberg is also partially built on a rising tide of anxiety and fear among younger people, which is then used, sometimes, by the tip-of-some-activists, to justify intolerance and actual abridgement of others’ peace, space, and freedoms.

They are the living embodiment, the culmination, of 1960s-era neo-Marxist intellectual Herbert Marcuse’s “Intolerance of intolerance.” Except that their *judgment* of what constitutes intolerance is completely motherf*cking nuts.

How Marcuse made today’s students less tolerant than their parents

How do we know its nuts? Let’s go. Back to roll call.
1. Screaming at the pregnant Chelsea Clinton for the NZ massacre
2. Sarah Lawrence student protestors demand … ready … fabric softener (among other things). (remind me of those critiques of Coddling again please?).

3. One of the SJ students’ less completely absurd examples is, politically and intellectually, even worse. They have demanded that SJ review Sam Abrams’ tenure. Let’s see what they wrote, in their own words (from Pamela’s essay):

What was Abram’s sin? Did he use the n-word in class? Did he declare women biologically incapable of working in STEM?** No. He published some data showing … wait for it … ready … college admins are liberal.
**I’d argue he has acad freedom even here, but let’s forget that.

Again, here is @PamelaParesky‘s 100% accurate summary of Abram’s essay:


Think Professors are Liberal? Try School Administrators

“Once “we” are defined as uniquely virtuous and “they” are defined as endangering us, then the destruction of the other can be promoted and justified as the preservation of virtue.”

How the Stanford prison experiment gave us the wrong idea about evil

But my argument is “tip of gigantic intellectual academic iceberg,” not “look at the wild students at SJ” as if that is somehow an isolated case of intellectual/political botulism rather than an outbreak of an intellectually/politically-deadly flu epidemic.

Let’s look BELOW the narrow tip to the gigantic iceberg below. I strongly suspect that 1 effect of relentless SJ rhetoric, including wildly oversold “scientific” stories, is to lead young people to *think* they see oppression EVERYWHERE!

Oppression may be SOMEWHEREs, and this thread does not deny the *existence* of oppression (f*ck it, I publish on this stuff, the oppression side, A LOT). But something can be serious and STILL BE WILDLY EXAGGERATED to the point of delusional.

Grievance Studies affair. The ease of getting academics to laud arguments like:
men should be leashed like dogs
white students should be silenced
Mein Kampf repackaged as feminist solidarity
revealed, imho, the depth of the extreme leftist corruption.

Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship

But what about the “science”? For a broadside critique of the ways in which leftist politics infects, distorts, and undermines the quality of social psychology and sociology, start here.

It^ has ridiculous academic pricing, but there are ways around that (starting with the library, and becoming shadier from there…). 15, yup, countem, 15 separate chapters on everything from the rush to oversell “implicit bias” to leftist distortions in *measurement* & more.

Let’s do a brief deconstruction of “scientific” justice concepts. Implicit bias? It has been incoherent for most of 20+ years. Here is a definition offered by implicit association test founder Tony Greenwald in 2017; note its logical incoherence and/or inconsistency w/evidence:

Despite this, see this summary of the history in a chapter in the book shown above. This overselling happened essentially immediately upon publication of the very 1st studies using the iat, BEFORE it had a chance to be vetted by a potentially skeptical scientific community.

Same for stereotype threat. Its as if the field had a collective reaction of I WANT TO BELIEVE! The first stereotype threat paper was widely presented as showing that “but for stereotype threat, black=white standardized test scores.”

Its been cited over 8k! making it 1 of most cited papers in all of social psychology — its influence goes WAY BEYOND social psych. But even if you take it entirely at face value, it NEVER showed “but for stereotype threat, black=white test scores.”

Is Stereotype Threat Oversold?

Using essentially their “scientific methods,” in the essay linked above, we showed that Nome and Tampa have the “same” average temperature. Really. Read the essay to see how.

The situation is the same, or worse, for stereotype threat and women in STEM. The original study “showing” this effect has also been cited thousands of times.

The truth of the effect is dubious at best. If an effect is real, there should be very few statistical .01< p-values < .05. This is what they found:

But, hey, you do not need to rely on me or my fancy statistics. How about failed pre-registered replications?

How about microaggressions? Another massively influential and cited claim.

And yet, almost exactly like the patterns from “implicit bias” and “stereotype threat” the evidentiary basis for taking microaggressions seriously as a major real world problem is plagued by a poorly defined, poorly measured, poorly assessed construct:

But remember, however interesting&important all of that^ is on its merits, in this thread, its importance is only as evidence of toxic iceberg below the easily visible tip of events like Sarah Lawrence, Evergreen, Grievance Studies.

So, if you are not exhausted, let’s keep the intellectual scuba gear on and keep exploring the iceberg UNDER the visible tip.

American Psych Association Guidelines for working with men was a surrealistic clusterf*ck of science/social justice delusionary rhetoric. This horse has been repeatedly beaten, but its not dead. Here are some links: From the inimitable @PamelaParesky:

What’s the Problem with “Traditional Masculinity”?

What makes this critique great is:
1.Can be listened to in car (there is video & its cool, but not necessary).
2.Deep dive exposing the pseudo-science underlying the guidelines by exposing the articles they cited as often providing NO SCIENCE WHATSOEVER

Brutal critique of the APA Guidelines for practice w/men. If you want to understand the insidious nature of politics masquerading as psych science, this 20min video is exquisite (can listen at 1.25 speed; then 16 mins). ow.ly/br5X30nPLmw

But this is also not new. Here is one of the stories of “behind the scenes” activity at APA in my book, The Politics of Social Psych, linked above. The prioritizing of activism over science is explicit. From a society that proclaims itself to be “professional” and “scientific.”

And yet another story revealing what goes on behind the scenes at APA:

Amazingly, the amazing Thomas Sowell practically predicted all this — in 1997:https://www.tsowell.com/spquestc.html

So, if this has been going on since the 1990s, or earlier, what’s different now? It is not that the ideology or its intentions or consequences are any different. It is that *it has become so much more dominant in the academy*.

But in the social sciences and humanities, which dominate discussions of oppression, bias, etc. (really, this is not exactly chemistry or engineering’s domain) it is FAR FAR more extreme:

So the intellectual brakes, the skeptical checks, on runaway leftist ideology masquerading as or implicitly infecting scholarship and even “science,” on blank slatism, equalitarianism, Sowell’s “unconstrained vision,” have been massively, perhaps fatally, damaged and weakened.

Although I usually focus mostly on universities, it is also clear this starts WAY BEFORE college, with educational programs dominated by SJ ideology, which leads to training teachers in SJ ideology, which they then bring to classrooms.

The Yale Problem Begins in High School

Then, there are the protests, versus the administrators’ response to the protests. I mean, ok, 20yr olds sometimes say stupid things and act irresponsibly. My 20yr old self pleads “guilty as charged.”

This does NOT mean they can’t be held responsible for their actions or that people are somehow doing something wrong by pushing back hard. Protest? Fine. Protest ANYTHING YOU WANT, EVER. There are few things more American or democratic than protest.

In fact, there are actually good reasons to think protest, ESPECIALLY NONVIOLENT PROTEST, can be incredibly effective — everything from Gandhi to the US Civil Rights & most of the anti-Vietnam War protests to the Tea Party protests (producing massive Repub gains in Congress) and

And the “Resistance” protests to Trump that produced major Dem grains in the House in 2018. Hell, this paper showed that 1960s era protests produced major changes in racial attitudes in the counties where those protests took place:

Protest is fine. What’s not fine? Abridging others’ rights is not fine. This includes their right to not be harassed, held captive (not permitted to leave), threatened, or speak with others.

It includes, in universities, the right to academic freedom. To not have one’s tenure or job threatened by virtue of posting essays reporting results from studies showing admins are liberal.

The depravity and cowardice of the administrators is, if anything, worse than the aggressive authoritarian intolerance of the student mobs of protestors. Remember, the topic here is “tip of iceberg” not “oh look at an anecdote.”

In the the pyramid of radicalization, events like Sarah Lawrence are not anecdotes. They are the small, still relatively rare, visible tips of a much much much larger iceberg, or, if you prefer, pyramid

That pyramid is built on rhetoric masquerading as scholarship, politically infected social science pushed as a basis for understanding, and intervening in the real world WAY before even a damaged academy can subject it to critical scrutiny.

Mandatory Implicit Bias Training is a Bad Idea

Source: Newseek

The delusional claims of “harm” that you hear at Sarah Lawrence, but really, across college campuses now, are plausibly viewed as “justified” here by a President of the Association for Psych Science. Hey, its SCIENCE!

When is Speech Violence?

The socio-cultural clusterf*ck that has as its current tip of iceberg Sarah Lawrence/Sam Abrams/Chelsea Clinton (minor but still) is built on a vast intellectually corrupt pyramid of intolerant social justice rhetoric/activism that pervades academia.

The socio-cultural clusterf*ck that has as its current tip of iceberg Sarah Lawrence/Sam Abrams/Chelsea Clinton (minor but still) is built on a vast intellectually corrupt pyramid of intolerant social justice rhetoric/activism that pervades academia.

One caveat. I am definitely NOT saying “all social justice efforts/activism” is intolerant. No. But events described in most of this thread are the intolerant/authoritarian virulent strain, and, this strain is exceedingly dangerous.

The Psychology of the New McCarthyism

Source: Joseph McCarthy, Wikimedia

This is why we have the emergence of a movement that began on the right & which is gaining support among dissident academics (eg, @primalpoly) , including former academics (eg, @BretWeinstein) that the academy is not capable of repairing itself & needs fixes imposed on it.

For now, I OPPOSE most govt-imposed attempts to “fix” academia, tho I would be open to considering fixes based on law&consensus (ala Civil Rights legislation).

By “academia” I mean all constituent parts — certainly the faculty, but also the administrators, both groups of whom need to grow spines. Rather than “training men like dogs” maybe we should be training students how democracy works.

Students should not be sanctioned AT ALL for protesting; but they should for violating others’ rights. Rule of law is one of the key pillars of democracy.

But a high functioning democracy, and academy, however much both require good laws and rules, are at least as much built on unofficial norms and some degree of reciprocal self-restraint (I won’t harass you for promoting your ideas if you don’t harass me for mine).

JSMill argued, correctly imho, that the way most suppression/censorship works is not through laws, but through the SOCIAL STIGMA of certain ideas. In general, I do not like slippery slope claims, because they can easily be catastrophized. BUT


This is not a “slippery slope” where some idea that could go either way (good or bad; eg, “hey some ideas should be stigmatized”) is proposed to end in some terrible place.


In my fantasies, I imagine teams of ANTIFA-dressed middle aged faculty imposing themselves between the types of aggressive protestors you have at Sarah Lawrence and had at Evergreen and admins/faculty. Maybe a movie someday… Clint Eastwood, where are you when we need you?

Short of govt-imposed rules/laws, what are the solutions? I wish I knew. http://Thefire.org‘s gig is legal remedies, but imho so much of this is sociopolitical norms that legal remedies, however important at redressing worst abuses, do little to get at mammoth iceberg below.

Then there’s @HdxAcademy, which is mainly an intellectual organization, and it does yeoperson’s labor that way. But it has purposely eschewed organizing activism or even taking official positions on issues.

There are isolated groups here and there that, though their goals might be laudable, have, so far, proven themselves largely impotent to do much about most of this, or at least, much that I can see as particularly effective.

Islands of integrity HAS worked in very different contexts — but those islands had even partial successes only by their willingness to STAND UP against corrupt and authoritarian regimes.

How ‘Islands of Honesty’ Can Crush a System of Corruption.

Former President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, right, and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina at a meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, on Friday.
Credit: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

There has been, so far, so little willingness in academia to stand up against mobs, that it is despair-worthy. So here is my glimmer of hope, that I throw out, not as an “answer” but as an idea. We need an action group.

Imagine if ANTIFA, The Tea Party, The Resistance, HeterodoxAcademy, had a huge orgy and produced a mutant offspring, one that took *principled* stands defending academics/academia from these outbursts of witch-hunting and authoritarian intolerance.

This Mutant would be an academic.  But one WILLING to actively take aggressive intellectual stands and assertive activist stands against witch-hunts, mobbing, denunciations, and intolerance.  And by “activist” stands, I mean more than just writing twitter threads or essays.

I suppose that^ point makes me a hypocrite.  What am I doing besides writing essays and twitter threads?  But if a spark lights a fire, I hope to be part of the combustion.  END.


One thought on “Less Jussim’s Epic Twitter Thread on the Insanity (or Inanity?) of Social Justice

  1. Does anybody know what happened to Heterodox Academy? (Lee Jussim was one of the founding members https://heterodoxacademy.org/author/lee-jussim/.)

    Initially, it was focused on supporting the telos of Truth at universities, as opposed to the telos of Social Justice.

    But now it appears to have embraced its opponents.



    And comments were removed from its website in December or January, so dissenting voices can no longer be heard.

    It’s almost as if Heterodox Academy has been subordinated to the social justice movement. I imagine that when somebody accuses social justice activists of being intolerant of free speech, the activists can now point to Heterodox Academy and say: “No, we’re tolerant of Heterodox Academy, and that proves we’re willing to support free speech!” Perhaps they can say this, knowing that Heterodox Academy will only put a token effort into the support of free speech now.


    Posted by Boneville | March 22, 2019, 1:34 pm

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