By Mel Harkrader Pine
The New York Times op-ed article below uses the controversy over Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinker’s recent eight-minute talk as evidence that social media is making us dumber. The Daily Wire, on the other hand, blames the “idiot left” for getting Pinker’s message messed up.
While I agree that idiocy is a fair term for the controversy, the right also had a hand in generating the flap. But I don’t blame social media, either. As someone famous once said: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars…” I blame tribalism, or maybe the sub-tribalism writer Jesse Singal mentions in the Times article.
Here’s the story: Pinker made the not-very-startling assertion that facts need context. If there are facts that can’t be spoken on campus (gender differences, for example, or racial disparities in crime rates) because of left-leaning political correctness, then students may be surprised when they learn them and recruited into the alt-right.
He also said some smart and media-savvy people gravitate to the alt-right.
That led to Pinker’s being hailed as a hero by the right and as a traitor by the left. True, selective editing of the video contributed to the distortion of his message, but it would have taken only eight minutes to hear what he really had to say. Not listening to it, and not making an effort to understand his point, is where the idiocy comes in.
His argument applies in our liberal religions, too. If we can’t cite facts, we also can’t provide a loving context for them. Consider whether his talk might be relevant to your church.
Copyright 2018 © Mel Harkrader Pine