Unless We Like Your Politics, We Don’t Want to Hear Your Science

by David French

The radical left is all about science — unless it doesn’t like the scientist. From Slate:

What does a bizarre project to reinvent software from the ground up have in common with 19th-century reactionary political philosophy? That question has become the unlikely heart of a computing controversy involving this September’s Strange Loop programming conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 2009, Strange Loop is a yearly three-day conference with talks and workshops on new computer science technologies. The conference had accepted an apolitical presentation on a fairly obscure project by a software engineer named Curtis Yarvin, only to reject it last week after it received complaints about political views Yarvin espoused on his blog.

Yarvin was going to present on an “entirely new, universal computation framework,” a framework that included a “software platform” and “virtual machine” that I can’t even begin to understand. But then conference attendees discovered that Yarvin is something called a “neoreactionary” who writes under the pseudonym “Mencius Moldbug.” Full disclosure: Not only do I not understand Yarvin’s software innovation, I also don’t understand what a “neoreactionary” is. Until I read the Slate article, I’d never even heard of it. Assuming the Slate piece fairly describes the philosophy, it apparently involves hostility to democracy, respect for “human biodiversity” (whatever that means), and a desire for the strong to rule the weak. In other words, it sounds like something he either dreamed up in a late-night dorm room bull session or read in a cheap sci-fi novel. It also appears to have no meaningful national constituency. But no matter. Yarvin must be banished. The statement from the conference creator, Alex Miller, has to be seen to be believed:

A large number of current and former speakers and attendees contacted me to say that they found Curtis’s writings objectionable. I have not personally read them. … If Curtis was part of the program, his mere inclusion and/or presence would overshadow the content of his talk and become the focus.

Got that? Let me translate: Unless people I like approve of your unrelated writings (that I haven’t bothered to read), we don’t want to hear your science. This is cowardly, anti-intellectual, and of course completely typical of the modern wave of political correctness. The only silver lining in this dark cloud? A liberal publication is calling out leftist intolerance — as the Slate writer, David Auerbach, dissects a classic heckler’s veto. After all, this latest tide of political correctness won’t recede on the strength of conservative arguments alone.

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