The Voodoo Sciences rise

View 830 Monday, June 23, 2014


“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983



I was on TWIT yesterday ( ) and it was a pretty good show if you’re interested.



The Wall Street Journal today has a very interesting opinion piece by Nicholas Wade, a long time science writer, who was once one of the editorial writers for the AAAS’s Science; in other words, he was once one of the spokespersons for Big Science. He was also once a science opinion writer for the New York Times. His establishment credentials are utterly solid, and he was on the side of Big Science in most controversies.

Race Has a Biological Basis. Racism Does Not

Many academics are in the awkward position of rejecting Darwin’s theory of evolution in human populations.

Nicholas Wade

From the day it was published in 1859, Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has never ceased to discomfort people. Clerics in the 19th century repudiated his account of human origins. Today Darwin is implicitly rejected by the many social scientists and other academics who deny that there is a biological basis to race.

Most people who hate racism oppose it as a matter of moral principle, before which all other considerations are irrelevant. Not so social scientists. For many decades they have founded their opposition to racism on a specific scientific condition, namely that race has no biological basis and is solely a social construct.

This formulation is proclaimed on the websites of major social-science organizations. "Race is about culture, not biology," states the American Anthropological Association. Too bad that it’s incorrect, but that’s not the worst of it. The social-science creed has permeated the thinking of most college campuses so deeply that race, in the genetic sense, has become a taboo word. This has serious consequences for the advance of knowledge.

Note the mild tone. But what Wade is saying, as politely and as nicely as he can, is that the social sciences are Voodoo Sciences as I have long been saying. Of course a large part of the population believes this now. Worse, the silly assertion that race does not exist is not strongly challenged by the real sciences, leaving much of the population to wonder just how reliable, how “real”, the “real sciences” are. It is now clear that tenure and promotion and the quest for government grants are stronger attractions than a quest for truth. Anyone watching a basketball game will understand that races exist and skill sets relevant to basketball are not distributed equally among the races; and that’s hardly cultural.

Wade has another book

Nicholas Wade Become a fan

Author, ‘A Troublesome Inheritance’


Five Critics Say You Shouldn’t Read This ‘Dangerous’ Book

The book’s starting point is the abundant evidence from the genome that human evolution didn’t grind to a halt thousands of years ago. Rather, evolution has proceeded vigorously throughout the recent past and almost certainly up until the present day.

If that’s the case, then might that be something that historians and economists should pay attention to? Could evolution have had a role in major but still unexplained events, such as the transition from hunter-gathering to settled life some 15,000 years ago, or even those of just 250 years ago, such as the Industrial Revolution?

That’s the question explored in my book. Surely it’s a logical one, and one worth asking.

Wade cautiously approaches the notion that there are differences among the races of man, but carefully avoids the real question raised in The Bell Curve

This is discussed in detail by Ron Unz.

Does Race Exist? Do Hills Exist?

By Ron Unz

All too many socially-conditioned Americans have absorbed the Lewontin-Gould mantra that “Race Does Not Exist” which from a scientific perspective is roughly similar to claiming that “Teeth Do Not Exist” or perhaps “Hills Do Not Exist,” with the latter being an especially good parallel. It is perfectly correct that the notion of “hill” is ill-defined and vague—what precise height distinguishes a pile of dirt from a hill and a hill from a mountain?—but nevertheless denying the reality or usefulness of such a concept would be an absurdity. Similarly, the notion of distinct human races—genetic clusters across a wide variety of scales and degrees of fuzziness—is an obviously useful and correct organizing principle, and one which was probably accepted without question by everyone in the history of the world except for deluded Americans of the last fifty years.

Whether anything will come of this is not known. Few graduates of any school at any level in the United States have been taught about Stalin and Lysenko. Many are till taught that the Marxist Stephen Jay Gould was a competent scientist, not a Marxist transmission belt of the Party line. Few have been taught how Marxism and Communist theory dominated American universities during some of the Cold War. Thus the notion of “official science” in the US isn’t well understood – although the Climate Change True Believers are beginning to make that manifest. The Social Sciences are not the only Voodoo Sciences in 2014.

But the result is cynicism about all science. The American people are not well educated and as time goes on that condition will only get worse. The Social Sciences are now largely taken over by Voodoo, as are many of the “humanities.” Now the Biological Sciences are pressured to adopt the official lines and act as if there is no evidence in opposition to them. The official position that heredity is unimportant compared to culture, that environment always trumps nature, is imposed on more and more students, many of whom have no idea that they are being deceived.

Out in the real world, the citizens wonder.


This got lost in the swim here, but it remains very relevant:

California Republicans Vote to Restore “Bilingual Education” <>

After almost seventeen years history may be about to repeat itself in California politics, though perhaps with a strong element of farce. Late last week, the Senate Education Committee voted 8-to-0 <> to place a measure on the November 2016 ballot repealing Prop. 227 and restoring “bilingual education” in California public schools. The long-dormant Language Wars may be returning to American politics, and based on the early indicators, the G.O.P. may have totally abandoned any support for English in the schools, with not a single Republican casting a No vote on the proposal.

Although many might be surprised by this political alignment, I am not. When I launched my “English for the Children” initiative effort in 1997 to replace California’s failed system of Spanish-almost-only “bilingual education” with intensive English immersion, I sought to avoid the political partisanship that could easily taint a project touching upon delicate ethnic issues. As matters turned out, I got my wish, and our campaign was among the most bipartisan in state history, being opposed by nearly every prominent Democrat and also nearly every prominent Republican.

Requiring that English be taught in public schools was opposed by the Chairman of the state Republican Party and the Chairman of the State Democratic Party, as well as all four party leaders in the State Senate and Assembly. President Bill Clinton came out to California to campaign against us. All four candidates for governor, Democrat and Republican alike, denounced the measure and together starred in a powerful television spot urging a No vote <> , ranked by many as the best advertisement of that election cycle. We were opposed by every California union, every political slate, and almost every newspaper editorial board, and were outspent on advertising by a ratio of 25-to-1. But despite this daunting array of influential opponents, our initiative still passed with one of the largest political landslides of any contested measure in state history, winning over 61 percent of the vote.

As is traditional with California initiatives, our critics hoped to win in the courtroom what they had lost at the ballot box and bilingual advocates immediately sued to block the law. However, in the weeks that followed, four separate federal judges ruled in favor of Prop. 227 and the law that had passed in the June vote began to be implemented statewide as the new school year began in September. All of California’s thousand-odd school districts were required to teach young immigrant children in English as soon as they started school, though some bitterly resisted and dragged their feet.

The consequences were quite remarkable. Although nearly every state newspaper had editorially opposed the change in educational policy, once their journalists began visiting the schools to report the results of such a sweeping educational transformation, the many dozens of major media stories produced were uniformly glowing, with teachers, parents, and children all very happy with the change, and everyone surprised how quickly and easily the students were learning English in the classroom.

The following year, academic test scores for a million-plus immigrant students in California rose substantially, confounding naysayers and putting the story back on the front pages of the major state newspapers <> . And in 2000, immigrant test scores continued their rise, leading to a front-page story in the Sunday New York Times <> and major coverage in the rest of the national media. The founding president of the California Association of Bilingual Educators publicly declared that he had been wrong for thirty years <> and bilingual education didn’t work while English immersion did work, becoming a born-again convert to “English” and appearing on CBS News and the PBS Newshour to make his case.

During the first four years following the passage of Prop. 227, the academic performance of over a million immigrant schoolchildren taught in English roughly doubled <> , while those school districts that stubbornly retained their bilingual education programs showed no improvement whatsoever. English-learners in English immersion classes academically outperformed their counterparts in holdover bilingual education programs in every subject, every grade level, and every year, racking up performance advantage of 80-to-0.

The political trends showed a similar trajectory, with Arizona voters passing an almost identical ballot measure by an even wider 26 point margin in November 2000 and the electorate of Massachusetts, arguably America’s most liberal state, favoring “English” by a colossal 32 point landslide in 2002, incidentally putting supporter Mitt Romney in the governorship as a political side-effect <> . Then in 2003, Nativo Lopez, one of California’s most diehard remaining backers of bilingual education, was recalled from office in Santa Ana by Latino parents <> outraged over his opposition to “English,” losing by a 40 point margin in America’s most heavily Latino immigrant major city.

With that last landslide vote over a decade ago in America’s most heavily Latino immigrant city, resistance to “English” completely crumbled and bilingual education largely disappeared from schools in California and much of the rest of the country while even the term itself almost completely vanished from public discourse or media coverage.

For decades since the 1960s, denunciations of bilingual education had been a staple of conservative campaign rhetoric—the so-called “language wars”—but with the provocative educational policy having disappeared, the rhetoric eventually followed and fewer and fewer elected officials or political activists even remembered that the program had once existed. A couple of years ago, Peter Brimelow, editor of the leading anti-immigration webzine, included a rare denunciation of bilingual education in one of his columns, but felt compelled to explain the meaning of the term, which may have become unfamiliar to his younger anti-immigrationist readers.

Meanwhile, virtually all immigrant children in California quickly and easily learned English as soon as they entered school, and no one thought the process difficult or remarkable. Whereas for decades bilingual education theorists had claimed that it took seven to ten years for a young child to learn English—a totally insane claim that was ubiquitous in our schools of education—everyone now recognized that just a few months was usually time enough, with the new goal being for Latino children to learn English in pre-school <> and therefore become fully English-proficient before they even entered kindergarten.

And inevitably, the Prop. 227 educational revolution has produced a generation of mostly bilingual young adults. After all, a large fraction of California Latinos are raised in Spanish-speaking households, and learn that language as children. Meanwhile, they now learn to read and write and speak mainstream English as soon as they enter school, while often continuing to speak Spanish at home with their parents and other family members. Thus, millions of younger Californians have ended up with complete fluency in both languages, effortlessly switching between the two, as I have personally often noticed in Palo Alto, a town in which perhaps half the ordinary daily workers are Hispanic in origin.

One reason this educational revolution has attracted so little ongoing attention is that it merely served to align instructional curriculum with overwhelming popular sentiment. Even a decade or more ago, while the policy was still under sharp political dispute, numerous state and national surveys had indicated that nearly 80% of all Americans <> supported having all public school instruction conducted in English, with these massive supermajorities cutting across all ideological, political, ethnic, and geographical lines, and support among immigrant Hispanics being especially strong <> . Indeed, I am not aware of any contentious policy issue whose backing was so totally uniform and overwhelming.

But politics abhors a vacuum and although almost everyone else has forgotten the topic of bilingual education over the last dozen years, the small number of bilingual zealots have remained just as committed as ever to their failed dogma. I doubt that there ever numbered more than just a few hundred hardcore bilingual activist supporters among California’s population of over thirty million, but their years of unopposed private lobbying and spurious academic research have now borne fruit. California politicians are hardly deep thinkers and term limits ensured that few of them had been prominent in public life during the late 1990s. Hence the 8-to-0 committee vote to reestablish bilingual education in California.

In reviewing the last twenty years of domestic policy battles in America, the replacement of bilingual education with English immersion in our public schools may rank as just about the only clear success for policies traditionally advocated by conservatives and Republicans—at least no other obvious example comes to mind. Meanwhile, the disastrous political choices made by California Republicans during the 1990s <> have placed what was once the most powerful Republican state party in America on the very edge of irrelevance and a descent into minor-party status.

For California Republicans to back the restoration of failed bilingual education programs would probably mark the final nail in their coffin, and rightfully so.

Ron Unz

The Education Establishment was conquered by the Voodoo Sciences a long time ago. Unfortunately if you can believe in all the tenets of the modern Voodoo Sciences, you can believe in anything. No one seems to be teaching that you should believe in evidence.

In the last century (1988) I concluded:

The Voodoo Sciences

Jerry Pournelle

When the social scientists are challenged as unscientific, their usual plea is that their subject matter is very complex and thus the methodology of physical science won’t work. This is an interesting argument, but it would carry more weight if students of social science knew something of physical science’s methodologies. Granted that the "social sciences" have an intrinsically more difficult job; is this any reason to abandon the tools of science?(4)

In summary we have: novelists, who are only required to make you believe their stories are or could be true. Advocates and Lawyers, who are required to present all the evidence that helps their clients, but have no obligation to go find evidence that falsifies their theories; and scientists who are required to make falsifiable hypotheses; seek evidence that shows their theories to be false, or at least say what evidence would falsify their theories; and to account for all the evidence known, whether favorable to their theories or not.

Many scientists today are at best advocates, and sometimes don’t even rise to the level of a good novelist. NASA and academia are full of voodoo scientists even in the hard sciences. This is very disappointing.

Alas I have no real reason to change that opinion now.


Portugal was able to make the goal that tied the game with the United States in “extra time.”  This is not the same as overtime in a basketball game.  Extra time is discretionary with the officials, to make up for time used in substitutions, getting injured players off the field, and other play stoppages: the big game clock is not stopped for that. Instead an official uses whatever means he chooses (including his own memory if that’s what he chooses) to determine a time from a couple of minutes to considerably more, in even number of minutes, to be added to game time.

Studies have shown that statistically there is a lot more extra time added when the home team is losing than when it is winning.  This is a considerable home team advantage.  The Football associations are aware of all this, but there seems to be no movement to change it.  Of course Portugal probably has no great favor among the officials in Portuguese speaking Brazil.


The talk is about the children heading for the United States.  The consensus seems to be that when Obama deferred enforcement of the part of the dream act requiring proof that you were brought here long ago has made it very attractive to send your kids here.

Now of course this is an opportunity to create Janissaries, slave soldiers; they can say if they enlist at age 18 and remain in service until age 48, at which point they can leave, or they can stay another ten years (if wanted) and get a pension.  History shows there are a lot of disadvantages to this practice, but no one in Washington has read any history.





Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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