Monday, January 23, 2017

Knowledge Gap

Walter Russell Mead, once again saying what should be obvious, but apparently is not:
Liberals tend to blame Republican anti-intellectualism on the right’s own fever swamps and paranoia and prejudices. But the [David] Gelernter affair highlights another reason why conservatives tends to view intellectuals with suspicion: Because in the halls of elite newspapers and the Ivory Tower, the term is often understood to exclude right-wing thinkers by definition. If the category “intellectual” only encompasses those on the Left, then it is only natural that right-wing populists would turn it into a slur.
For an understanding of the "Gelernter affair," here you go:
Gelernter, a pioneering computer scientist at Yale, author of an extraordinary range of books, and about the most learned person you could hope to find in the wild, is apparently being considered for the role of White House science advisor. But it seems he has written critically about both Barack Obama and liberal academics. Worse yet, the Post’s Sarah Kaplan informs us, “Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he hadn’t heard of Gelernter until Tuesday.”
Perhaps Mr. Rosenberg doesn't know his history, either. Here's a piece from ten years ago, from the student newspaper of the institution where Gelernter serves:

Early in the morning on June 24, 1993, Gelernter settled in his 5th floor office in Arthur K. Watson Hall at the base of Science Hill. Having just returned from a vacation in Washington, D.C., Gelernter found a stack of mail, including a package — a Ph.D. dissertation, he assumed — sitting on his chair.

Ripping open the package, smoke billowed out, and then a flash. Gelernter headed to a nearby bathroom to wash his eye out before discovering a more pressing concern — he was bleeding profusely. Rather than wait for help to arrive, he hobbled down five flights of stairs — “in pain and royally annoyed,” he recalled in a 1997 book on the attack — and headed across Hillhouse Avenue to University Health Services. Had he waited, he likely would have bled to death, doctors told him.

“My first thought was along the lines of: Bombs must be going off all over campus this morning,” Gelernter wrote. “It didn’t occur to me that I could possibly have been singled out as a target. I was not in a murder-prone line of work; I had no personal enemies, on account not of being lovable but of being obscure.”

When he arrived at the clinic, Gelernter had a blood pressure reading of zero. FBI agents later found one of his shoes in his office — where shrapnel sliced through metal filing cabinets — and his bloodied shirt strewn on the staircase. The bomb had severely wounded his abdomen, chest, face and hand, and even today Gelernter does not have the use of his right hand.
Gelertner had survived an attack from the Unabomber. You don't have to necessarily know that history if you read this blog, but if you're supposedly representing an organization of "concerned scientists," you'd think the incident might ring a bell. Their concerns lie elsewhere, of course. But that's a different post.

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