Science, Like The Internet, Was Too Good To Last: How Cancel Culture Happens

Science, Like The Internet, Was Too Good To Last: How Cancel Culture Happens

Anybody over thirty will remember the Wild West internet of the late 90s and oughts. You could say anything, see anything, do anything. It was great.

It was a manly enterprise. The seeming chaos, competition, and desire to push boundaries led to explosive innovation and growth.

Which, as you know, attracted the shushing women, the petty bureaucrats, the idiot tyrants, the perpetually “outraged”, and greedy politicians. It is now a not-manly enterprise.

We know what happened after the invasion of the “outraged”. Except for obscure corners, it’s all over. Follow their “Safety” “anti-hate” “anti-misinformation” rules or get canceled. Everything is now under tight control. Try logging on in China and post something about Winnie the Pooh. Or here and say some vaccines are harmful. It’s not that you can’t do it. But when you do, they’ll find you.

Science followed a similar, but longer path. It began as a vigorous masculine pursuit, and has descended into a Be Nice! effeminate quota-driven social activity. It took longer to follow the same course as the internet partly because much of science was obscure and difficult, but mostly because the objects studied had no political interest. When is the last time you heard CNN raving about quantum chromodynamics?

Alas, it was inevitable things of interest to our rulers would be studied and that politics would take over. And once politics wrapped its slimy fingers around a field it became subject to all the standard terrors. Now no area is safe. It hasn’t reached the end of the road yet, but it’s all downhill from here.

We saw this week the Noble Prize in physics went to…global warming. You can read Lubos Motl on this:

The climate modeling hasn’t led to any new yet reliable insights. In those 50 years, while the short-term weather models have made some progress, the long-term models have made virtually none and it is especially the case of the question about the magnitude of the influence of CO2 on the climate.

Et cetera.

This award to a failed field was not, of course, enough to appease the outraged. Mere minutes after the prize was announced, this tweet popped up:

Now, any sane ordinary person would take this picture as proving, yet again, the age-old wisdom that men are better than women at the kind of quantitative complex thinking required in these areas.

They’d think that and move on, because they themselves, like most of us, men and women, don’t have these skills. Just like not all people can be offensive line centers in football, you can still appreciate those who can, without desiring to perform the same activity.

Not anymore. The Diversity & Perversity quota police have identified prize distribution as a “disparity”. That is all the “proof” needed to show it needs “correcting”.

It will be, too. I would bet next year’s or the year after’s Physics prize goes to a black, a woman, or both. It will be Diversity and not Perversity, because that will seem less obvious the fix is in. Yet the fix will be in.

It’s a long shot that even I’d bet against, but there’s a chance Great Thunberg gets the Physics prize for “raising awareness”. Scoff if you like, but “awareness” and “education” have long been seen as equivalents to real fields because of the infiltration of politics. In math, for instance, this equivalence has been formalized (“math education”). So don’t count ignorant Greta out yet.

Anyway, whatever Diversity wins, the award will, in turn, be used as “proof” that, in spite of all historical evidence to the contrary, Equality is true. And that will be used to hunt down more heretics and “disparities.”

You can try to fight against this, but, just like the internet, you’ll be canceled.

Take Dorian Abbot, an associate professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago. He wrote a piece in which he argued (says the NY Post) “that academic evaluations should be based on merit.”

Oops. Merit means without regard to disparities-that-outrage.

And “outrage” was what happened when it was learned Abbot was to give a lecture—on geophysics—to MIT. The howling mob descended—on the internet, of course—and MIT canceled him.

The gutless coward and head of the department which canceled Abbot, Robert van der Hilst, whined that Abbot’s talk would have “included a public outreach component.” Which was the thin reed van der Hilst grasped as his excuse to ax the talk. It’s worth quoting this in full:

“We felt that with the current distractions we would not be in a position to hold an effective outreach event,” van der Hilst said in a statement.

“I made this decision at my discretion, after consulting with faculty and students in the department, and knowing that some might mistake it as an affront on academic freedom — a characterization I do not agree with.”

He can’t agree out loud because he knows that agreeing is admitting he is a coward.

Yet he cannot be ignorant, so he must agree in quiet. His gutless act—repeated now endlessly everywhere in science—will cause him to hate.

He will hate himself, and those who remind him of his retreat. He can turn inward and fester, or he will lash out and embrace woke politics as a way to calm his internal turmoil. Look for him to purposely invite Diversity or Perversity for his next lecture, and for words saying how “important” this is.

That kind of negative feedback happens most often, which is how this spreads.

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  1. bruce g charlton

    All true – and/ but this death of science happened at least a generation ago; and there have been very few science genuises, major or minor (of the kind Nobel Prizes were supposed to be awarded-to) for considerably longer.

    Even if Nobels were honestly awarded (which obviously they are not) then it is a matter of choosing between scores or even hundreds of scientists none of whom stand out above the ruck of productive/ influential/ competent but genuinely third-rank (if e.g. Einstein/ Darwin/ Pasteur are first rank, and Feynman/ WD Hamilton/ Alexander Fleming are second rate) ‘research professionals’ (with expertise in project management, bureaucracy and PR) who comprise the world ‘science’ leadership.

    Interestingly, my least-appreciated and lowest-impact (but favourite) book – Not even trying: the corruption of real science (2012) – has begun increasingly to be read, bought and praised:

    What struck most people as my crazy extremism a decade ago, now seems moderate or under-stated.

  2. Briggs


    Didn’t even know about that book. Look forward to reading it.

  3. Sheri

    Money. That’s the root problem and we all know it. We just don’t care.

  4. PaulH

    Oh, an “outreach event”. I think I’d require plenty of caffeinated beverages to survive one of those.

  5. Our internet problems can be fixed by intentionally returning to the 1990s model:

    “In the early 1990s, there were two versions of the internet. One was for people in general. Everyone could use it. The other version was for researchers and tech nerds. Only they could use it, because only they had the knowledge required to do it … There was no such thing as ‘point and click.’ You had to learn commands to establish connections, get access to remote computers, and navigate different operating systems …

    The real internet wasn’t available to everyone. Even if you had an account, the skills barrier made it almost like an IQ test. You couldn’t use the real internet unless you were smart, technically sophisticated, and highly motivated. That limited the size of the user population. Even with total freedom of speech, there weren’t enough susceptible people for anyone to whip up a Twitter-style mob or harassment campaign.”

  6. Forbes

    Yes, I remember that early internet. I had a Compuserve email address–even had it printed on my business cards! Never received an email as no one I knew had email.

    Whenever I found a business website address, I would look it up, a lo and behold, it would list their telephone number as the means of contact. No one quite knew what to do with the internet. Now they do.

    It’s for censoring speech and canceling reputations by the mob.

  7. V

    Glad to see you found Lubos.

  8. Robin

    They were giving them out to almost anyone on the UN IPCC in the mid-1990s. I met a few of them.

    At least Barack (Barrie) Obama got one. Precog basis. Says it all.

  9. Cancellation Nation illustrates the power of militancy: the attribute which allows a small group with a narrow, coherent agenda to outfight a much larger group that has many concerns and is disinclined to “go to the mattresses.” However, in fact the Cancellation militants are cowards to a man. Stand up to them, give what they’re trying to do — silence you because they can’t out-argue you — full, vivid, public coloration. And be not afraid.

  10. Dr. Weezil

    N.S. Palmer in his nostalgic drivel linked above wants the state to use its iron fist to combat the problems it caused. Boomers gonna boomer. He was never anywhere near the old internet, otherwise he’d never say such nonsense.

  11. Milton Hathaway

    “… men are better than women at … quantitative complex thinking …”

    The latest thinking, I believe, is that for most anything you care to quantify about humans, the standard deviation for men is higher than for women, even if the mean for women is higher. For example, for intelligence (however you choose to measure it), a higher percentage of both geniuses and idiots are men, even if women are smarter on average by your chosen measure. Which would explain why so many more men than women are awarded Nobel prizes and occupy prison cells. Once you are that far out on the tails of the distribution curve, you are looking at pretty rarefied air, and differences between the sexes are greatly amplified.

    In my mind, the very fact that they have to “cancel” people they disagree with is one of the best indications that they are destined to lose this battle in the long run.

    Rush used to say that he would tell us when it is time to panic. I’m not panicking just yet, but here are a couple events that could make me believe it is indeed time to panic:

    1) The “Statistician to the Stars” blog is cancelled, or there is clear evidence that punches are being pulled by our host.

    2) Demoncrats retain both the House and Senate in 2022. Not so much out of fear for what the Demoncrats would do, but because of what is says about the electorate.

    On the topic of the electorate, I trace the root cause of a vast majority of our problems in the US to the fact that just too many people are voting. We can’t keep motivated idiots from voting, but we need to stop making it so d*mn easy for the unmotivated to vote. The unmotivated aren’t necessarily idiots, but they are too easily influenced by the motivated idiots, so all they do is amplify the idiocy. Mail-in voting is a recipe for failure – even if everything is working perfectly with no ‘cheating’, the unmotivated sign their blank ballots and hand them over to motivated idiots to fill out and mail in. If mass mail-in voting continues, conservatives are going to have to join the battle and start collecting signed blank ballots like the libs do. Once the libs realize this is happening and they no longer have a monopoly on the practice, perhaps they will finally help put an end to it.

  12. Shecky R

    Yo, paging Dr. Vinnie BoomBatz.… Mattie appears to be off his meds yet again!

  13. The True Nolan

    I saw that complaint about the male/female ratio of Nobel winners. My first thought? That’s outrageous!! When are women going to get off their fat behinds and start pulling their own weight? How come the men have to do all the hard work, all the tedious experimentation, and all the grinding studies to push the scientific envelope?

  14. Rudolph Harrier

    Today on a drive I saw a car loaded with Leftist bumper stickers. BLM, Biden, Coexist, all that stuff.

    The largest bumper sticker was one that said “Science: It’s like magic but real!”

    That says it all, doesn’t it?

  15. Dennis

    Not only the internet, but so also with many other things, the ‘90s were the last good decade. Discuss. 🙂

  16. Hagfish Bagpipe

    Francis W. Poretto: ”…a small group with a narrow, coherent agenda…”

    “…a small group with a narrow, coherent agenda…”

    “…a small group with a narrow, coherent agenda…”

    WHO the hell is that?


  17. Dennis

    Rudolph: Imagine the kind of person who wears that mask unironically. Absolutely frightening to contemplate.

  18. Johnno

    At least the internet gave us naked ladies… but soon even that will be taken away and replaced by men dressed up as ladies if Playboy’s desperation is anything to go by… The rest will be fat. Algorithms will go around enlarging the models and adding new parts that weren’t there. No need to change any skin tones, diversity was alive and well all over the smut industry.

    Heck, when many young lads tried to band together to simply try and overcome their habitual sin of pornography, Rolling Stone and the mob came out to deride them as white supreme fries who were engaging in anti-Semitism for refusing to partake of such government-approved legally sanctioned activity, because as it turns out all of it was pushed forward by Jews or something.

    So basically what the state-approved establishment, news broadcasters and feelings-checkers are saying out loud but also quietly, is that Jews ruin everything, even when nobody asked who or why… It’s nice to know that when push comes to shove and all these liberal posers really need to pin an imaginary offence on utterly benign and morally sane activities, that they are not above scapegoating or even correctly identifying the marginal protected classes by association with evil.

  19. Deborah Sagar

    Any sane person would notice that for much of that time starting in 1901 women were pretty much denied higher education…. It wasn’t until mid-20th century that women started going even just to college much less to advanced study…. Considering that, they are quite well represented.

  20. Uncle Mike

    Bruce G. Charlton’s book, Not Even Trying: The Corruption of Real Science (2012), is excellent: not long but very well-written, packed with ideas, and balls on accurate. I agree with Charlton that Science died circa 1969.

    My own science field is very different from Charlton’s, but the situation is identical. What was once a thriving exploration of the real world has become zombie science, tired repetition of total falsehoods buttressed by corrupt political agendas. It doesn’t even resemble real science; it’s more like a clown show with bozos packed into a little car careening on two wheels.

    There are some advancements since the 1960’s. Biochemistry has developed genetic modification such that worldwide pandemics can be brewed by madmen with virology labs in totalitarian countries. Microchip technology has bloomed into mind control. Other than those, it’s hard to find a scientific endeavor that hasn’t atrophied into a giant joke.

  21. Dodgy Geezer

    @Uncle Mike

    “There are some advancements since the 1960’s. Biochemistry has developed genetic modification such that worldwide pandemics can be brewed by madmen with virology labs in totalitarian countries…”

    Gene modification has developed to the stage where a new virus can be brewed in a suburban kitchen, at a low cost. CRISPR technology gene editing kits are accessible, uncontrolled, from medical services for less than $100. You do not need a lab, and information on the technology is readily available. The raw material; for a respiratory virus is available from anyone with a cold……

  22. Russell Haley

    The slaughter of the unborn was the blood sacrifice on the altar of Mammon. We all recited the Satanic lie: sodomy and procreation are the same. It is such a Satanic lie – as in fundamentally hating life – that the door to Hell was opened. Now, we have contorted ourselves into such perverse lies that the demons can run free, each with their own cudgel (truth).

    Solve et coagula.

  23. Dennis

    Speaking of sacrifices to Mammon…and Moloch, Baal, etc.:

    They long been America’s (and much of the modern West’s) real gods anyway (a sort-of un-holy trinity). The great 20th century Catholic mystic, Valentin Tomberg once wrote about the ancient cults of Baal and Moloch:

    “The details of that dark cult cannot be discussed with decency; suffice it to say that in every detail it was designed to banish everything spiritual or holy from the relationship of father, mother, and child. Sex life was intended to be torn away from its divine source, leaving it prey to demonic forces, and birth was to be mechanized. This was to be attained by killing all the firstborn – a purposeful measure designed to destroy the conscious, loving expectation of the soul descending among humanity, to be replaced by unconscious, mechanical human reproduction…As birth was materialized in Chaldea, so death was materialized in Egypt. The sublime thought of overcoming death through resurrection…was replaced by a desire to preserve the outer bodily form.”

    Does this not sound like a perfect description of what became of late 20th and early 21st century America (and much of the rest of the developed world now as well)?

    It should perhaps be no surprise that those who have replaced real religious belief – particularly in an afterlife – with materialist and scientistic cults are so easily driven to a state of brainwashed fear and paranoia over a virus 99.9% survive contact with. Those who think this life is all there is will cling to it in ever more extreme and frantic ways – and by doing so, end up helping to create a world devoid of anything Good, True, or Beautiful that makes life worth living in the first place.

  24. David M. Bower

    I hate to say this, but … there is NO Nobel prize for economics. Alfred Nobel did not designate any such prize for developments in economics.

    There is only the … Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.

    Please, we must be precise here.

  25. John the First

    ‘Cancel culture’ is just the latest fashionable term for the ongoing destruction which democracy is.
    All democracy from the beginning has been about woke and cancel culture, democracy equals woke and cancel culture. Those who invented these labels are destroyers now finding out shockingly that there will be no end to the destruction. It is a classical situation, upon seeing that there is no end to the destruction, and no limit to the lunacy, conservative forces are trying to turn the tide.
    It is all very predictable, even the destructive lunacy of the destructive forces follows along the lines of predictable patterns.

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