Monday, February 07, 2005

Academic Arrogance, or Moronics 101

////\\The journal "Policy Review", at prestigious Stanford University, is known for its insightful articles and dilgent scholarship. Apparently, however, the editors took a month off and let an unprincipled boor put up an ill-prepared rant under their banner.

"Stanley Kurtz is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University." gushes the byline under Kurtz's title, "Demographics and the Culture War". Certainly the title is intriguing, so I gave it a read. Not long after, I had to suppress the gag reflex, as a stream of unsupported and outright false claims poured forth from the mind of Mister Kurtz (I sincerely hope that no accredited institution has lowered itself to the level of giving this man a Doctorate).

Rather than subject you, my fine readers, to the limited mental acuity of Mr. Kurtz, I simply link to the article here. However, in the interest of covering the broad points of Mr. Kurtz's rhetorical perambulations, I also present here the text of my Letter to the Editor at "Policy Review", as follows:

"While I understand the attraction some scholars place on "disaster" theories, especially on the grand scale, the article published by Stanley Kurtz on February 6 is still disappointing; one expects better on this level, and from a publication like yours.

Kurtz begins with a claim he never bothers to support with evidence, that the family as we know it is on a path to "dissolution". Sure, he cites one (!) statistic, the reduction of average children born per mother in industrialized countries. The rest is conjecture, bordering on rash hysteria. After all, the sudden rise in population growth led to adaptions in the countries affected; why wouldn't a change in the other direction also lead to correlating adjustments?

To Kutz's other contentions:

1. Getting older is NOT getting weaker. Surely a man with academic credentials understands that we have shifted from the agrarian and industrial bases of national strength to an information-based society. After all, while Kurtz is quick to note that the average lifespan has increased by 29 years since 1900, he somehow managed to consider none of the salient factors, including the fact that fewer people than ever are forced to live by brute muscle power. Education is broader and more easily acquired than ever before, and with it comes means of easier life and greater return. Most of us learned this in our freshman year of college, so it seems peculiar that a Research Fellow has missed that point.

2. Kurtz continues his parade of assumptions by regarding immigration as necesarily bad and a danger to national identity. He somehow forgets the shift in prominence of nations is at least indirectly tied to the advantage of nations with liberal immigration policies, especially the United States. We are, to be blunt, a nation OF immigrants, and have many times adjusted our policies to take advantages of a deep talent pool. It is ludicrous to believe that an examination of the effects of demographic shifts would fail to consider this element.

3. Kurtz actually contends: "By the time many professional women have completed their educations, their prime childbearing years have passed." He cites no evidence whatsover to support this, much less note the exponential growth of on-line and remote campus universities, which provide degrees from fully accredited schools in time-convenient plans. He ignores the sharp rise in home-schooling, especially combined with home-based businesses, which allows parents to raise their children while still pursuing successful careers. These alone would invalidate Kurtz's short-sighted claims.

4. Kurtz claims "no one knows what future productivity will be". That is true in any one point of reference, but overall such a claim is laughable. The New York Stock Exchange, for example, has historically grown by double-digit margins on average. The fact that one year or short run may show losses, does not at all invalidate the very real gains made in the longer term, especially when one considers that this growth is measured across all industries. Kurtz's claim simply shows he knows nothing about economics, or innovation in business practices. Further, Kurtz's assumption that functional Social Security reform would best depend on anything other than overall American business growth and productivity, as demonstrated by the Dow Jones average, merely reflects that he has completely missed the fact that Social Security depends on paycheck contributions, on those very same businesses he won't trust for dividends or share growth. Historically, Social Security has not been able to keep up with Inflation, much less provide a reasonable pension over the course of a lifetime, but stocks traditionally do very well, especially Index Funds.

In the end then, Kurtz notes a few books he likes,and pins his claims to them, however loosely. Sadly, it's apparent Kurtz lacks a similar devotion to the facts.

Respectfully,

DJ Drummond"


I do not expect that the good folks at "Policy Review" will actually print my letter, nor frankly that they will consider my rebuttal to the insufferable Mr. Kurtz. Anyone willing to grant that man a stage is beyond reasonable measures, which brings me to the real point of this article.

One clear sign of a weak argument, is that ist proponents become increasingly angry and unwilling to discuss the facts germane to the matter. This why Socialists are able to post their claims on websites and in their rallies, but flee honest debate on their contentions. This is also why West Coast universities are able to throw out articles which are unsupported by facts or common sense. Liberals have lost the confidence of most voters, and so have fallen back to the Mainstream Media and Academia for their arguments. As MSM figureheads age and find themeselves challenged by the New Media blogs, Talk Radio, and balanced stations like Fox News, Liberals will lose that bastion over time and retreat further and more bitterly into those Colleges and Universities they stil control, where resentment of change, assisted by Tenure, will feed a continuing if smaller generation of minds to indoctrine.

But just as Racism lost the false claims to rational or empirical validation, so also Liberalism will fail to impress objective minds. Where there was some small measure of Liberal success in the FDR policies, and Conservative policiies were dismissed by vituperative comprisons to 19th-Century practices, now we see the failures of Liberal ventures, overmatched by the clear superiority of Conservative practices in Economics, Foreign Policy, and Civil Rights. In the end, people will decide for themselves, and the myth of Liberal Politics will take its place in the ash bin of foolish ventures, alongside Eugenics, Luddism, and the Pet Rock.

For now, however, we can only expect Liberalism's advocates to become more shrill and bitter. This will be evident in their reaction to American Resurgence and the rise of Democratic Republics in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and their articles will be less and less centered on facts and objective reason. In such papers, the authors will declare their direction and resolution, plain to the reader but blind to themselves, as often happens in these cases.



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