Wednesday 28 May 2014

The Leftist inability to learn from experience - Bernard Shaw and women and mathematics


One of the strangest traits on the Left is the one when people behave as if pacifism, secularism, egalitarianism, feminism, racism, the sexual revolution etc. are new ideas - fresh, exciting, untried, untested - give them a shot why not? Don't write-off idealism! They might work!

The most extreme example is communism, which ignores all actual experience of the idea; but feminism and anti-racism is by now equally stale.

And I am genuinely astonished to hear 'new atheists'  painting a picture of how much better life might be 'if only' people could be persuaded to recognize that God is a delusion - as if this hadn't happened again and again, for several generations - after all, it's a century since the first full-on atheist state in the USSR and there are numerous other examples, past and present.


The point is that we actually know, in so far as anything can be known, how these ideas turn out - and they they turn out very differently from how idealism paints them.


For example, George Bernard Shaw's play Mrs Warren's Profession was written in 1894 and first performed in 1902 - get that: written 1894 - and features a 'modern woman' called Vivie, who supposedly graduated third ('Third Wrangler') in the Cambridge Mathematics exam.

I presume the Vivie character was triggered by Philippa Fawcett having been placed top in this extraordinarily prestigious exam in 1890 - This performance seemed - to Shaw at least - to 'prove' that women were equally adept as men on average at the highest levels of mathematics, but were being kept-out by men.

In Shaw's day, 120 years ago! - it was assumed that the only thing standing between women and equality with men in mathematics was lack of opportunity for women. That lack of opportunity for women was remedied several generations ago, yet of course at the highest level of mathematics (and the Cambridge Tripos exam was far-away from the highest level) there are probably proportionately as few women as ever there were.

Therefore, it is now known - insofar as these social things ever are known, and has been known for a few generations, that lack of opportunity was not the reason why women were less good than men at the highest levels.


(Because even though it is impossible to attain complete equality of opportunity, any partial correction - and step in that direction, would have a big effect if indeed inequality of opportunity was an important explanation. For example, the history of the Ashkenazi Jews shows that even a very partial removal of the exclusion of Jews from mathematics professorships - led to a very big change in the proportion of Jewish mathematics professors. Anti-semitism remained, of course (complete eradication would be impossible) but this proves that the only significant factor preventing Jews from becoming mathematics professors in, say, Germanic universities circa 1700 - was their exclusion.)


But it is currently a very big thing in the Mass Media and on the organized Left that women are being kept-out of the highest levels of mathematics (and physics and engineering). Such a view was probably reasonable and certainly excusable 120 years ago - it is not reasonable nor excusable now.

This view that women are kept-out-of the highest levels of mathematics, physics, engineering is nowadays necessarily either ignorant or dishonest - and often both. It is not any more fresh, untried; it is not idealistic - it is simply a manipulative, destructive, stupid lie.


This trajectory - from untried idealism to cynical lying - is seen all across the Left and its principles and policies; from pacifism (the earliest distinctive Left ideology) right through to the ever-expanding and more-coercive demands of the sexual revolution and the talking points, hot button issues and litmus tests of today: all tired and worn-out, all stale, all tried and failed - all known to be false and harmful by those competent to have an opinion.


1 comment:

George Goerlich said...

Modernism was labelled by Pope Pius X as "the synthesis of all heresies"