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March 16, 2018 | 3 Comments

The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All The Administrators

We last met Ron Srigley in the pages of the LA Review of Books lamenting the sad state of students and professors. He’s back to tell us the infuriating tale of how bureaucrats have taken over the universities, to detriment of all, but with the complicity of all.

As before, I’ll let Srigley (obviously a Canadian) do his own talking, in “Whose University Is It Anyway?”. Read the whole thing. If anybody after reading both of his essays, and having familiarity with similar literature, you feel the overwhelming urge to reach for the bottle, might I recommend Old Overholt? Cheap, yes, but tasty, and it does the trick. Before you reach the state where the vertical becomes ambiguous, know that hope is in sight in the new old university.

These excerpts are not in the same order as Srigley’s piece.

1. It’s worse than you thought.

As one Canadian university president I know said to a colleague who had expressed an interest in Montesquieu’s political thought, “Why study him? He’s dead.”…We now have intellectual philistines settling the matter of what our children need to know.

2. No, really, it’s far worse than you thought. “Administrators control the modern university. The faculty have ‘fallen,’ to use Benjamin Ginsberg’s term. It’s an ‘all-administrative’ institution now.” Diversity bloats administrations. I believe my alma mater boasts of eight different diversity offices (these things are hard to count).

In 1970 in the United States, 268,952 administrators and staffers supported the work of 446,830 full-time professors. Today, the proportions have almost flipped. Now we have 675,000 professors being “supported” by 756,595 administrators and staffers. This isn’t support any longer; it’s a coup d’état, one that students have been bamboozled into paying for…

In Canadian universities, part-time faculty now do 60 percent to 70 percent of the teaching because full-time faculty have been cut so dramatically.

3. Not just worse than you thought, but depressingly worse. God save us from “metrics”.

Faculty members are the ones who are now accountable, but no longer to their peers and students and no longer regarding mastery of their subjects. Instead, they are accountable to administrators, who employ an increasingly wide array of instruments and staff to assess their productivity and measure their performance, all of which are now deemed eminently quantifiable. In place of judgment regarding the quality of their work we now have a variety of “outcomes” used as measures of worth. Student evaluations and enrollments (i.e., popularity), learning as determined by “rubrics,” quantity of publications, amount of research dollars, extent of social “impact” are the things that count now. In other words, only things you can quantify and none of which require judgment.

4. He who has the power is in charge.

Argue with an administrator that she may be mistaken about a given policy or practice, say that you and your colleagues have come up with good reasons to reconsider or revise it, and you can prepare yourself for the empty stare, the subsequent conversation-killing nod, and the condescending assurance that your suggestion will be taken under advisement. Robert Buckingham at the University of Saskatchewan knows how it works. He was fired, stripped of tenure, and frog marched off the campus for what, in the real world, should have been an entirely benign and even welcome act — criticizing an administrative restructuring plan.

5. And that power is all in the hands of administrators.

But as for fundamentals, everyone understands and agrees about the path to be taken: administrators are free to govern the university in whatever way they see fit so long as the mandate is furthered. If this requires some rough play to get the job done, so be it. If it requires, say, serially violating collective agreements to assert dominance and set precedent; or creating new review bodies to undermine existing faculty review bodies and then populating them with administrative plants to get the desired results; or tampering, directly and indirectly, with administrative and faculty hiring committees;…

6. The greater the proportion of kids going to college, the lower the average performance. And boy do they pay a lot for not doing so well.

By all available metrics, student intellectual performance has declined precipitously as the university administration has ballooned…

From 1991 to 2016 Canadian post-secondary tuition fees increased a whopping 263 percent. Student debt grew apace. In 1990, the average Canadian university student owed roughly $8,000 upon graduation; by 2016, that number had risen to over $28,000, and there is evidence that the real number is even higher once private and provincial loans are added to the calculation…

What the all-administrative university offers them is not an education but a credential with a market value and ample statistical evidence to demonstrate the necessity of having one if they wish to prosper economically…We don’t mind if you become illiterate. We don’t mind if you can’t read or write. And we don’t even mind if important parts of your humanity wither completely. Let’s just call it the price of progress and our overwhelming economic and military dominance.

7. On the curriculum and culture.

Evidence has been mounting that the administrative concern with productivity and commercial application has done as much to ruin science as it has the humanities. Today scientists are forced by administrators and government funding bodies to produce new, exciting research with immediate economic benefits…

The destruction of the humanities is both similar to and different from that of the sciences…Rigor is difficult and unpopular; pandering is easy and pleasant. And since the whole world panders to students in order to extract from them a portion of their considerable resources, why resist the flow?…

The irrelevance of knowledge and insight for participation in the culture is already plainly visible…

Thought and criticism belong to a previous dispensation, which is now over. Books, curricula, professors, students, dialogue, classes — all antiquated features of the content-driven structure of the old university. They are all disappearing for the simple reason that students are no longer in universities to study or to know anything…

8. They get paid how much?

In 2011, David Johnston, president of the University of Waterloo, made $1,041,881. Indira Samarasekera of the University of Alberta had a total compensation package of over $1.1 million in the final year of her contract. Elizabeth Cannon of the University of Calgary and David Turpin of the University of Alberta banked $897,000 and $824,000 respectively during the 2016–’17 academic year. Even presidents at small- and medium-sized universities now routinely receive between $300,000 and $500,000 in compensation, this not including additional forms of remuneration that combined can reach as high as $200,000 per year….

What’s even more troubling is how expensive these people are once they leave their institutions. Former president of Dalhousie University, Tom Traves, received $1.3 million in compensation in the three years following his retirement in 2013…[etc. etc. etc.]…

The facts are so compromising that universities go to great lengths to conceal such agreements. But when word does get out and criticism comes, the excessive compensation is usually justified in two ways. First through appeals to fairness: presidential salaries must be in line with market values. But “market values” in this case are other presidents’ salaries, so the argument is a shell game. A second justification is that if you want talent, you have to pay for it. This was Chakma’s defense of his own extraordinary compensation. It too is an illusion, however, a bit of corporate sophistry on the part of the money-hungry that’s now made it’s way into the academy.

March 15, 2018 | 12 Comments

Richard Dawkins’ Cannibalism Suggestion is Hard to Digest

Part of a high protein, low reason diet

Don’t accept any dinner invitations to Richard Dawkin’s house. You might be asked to swallow more than his bizarre idea that God doesn’t exist.

If you do do, don’t be surprised to find the soup course followed by Roast Spleen of Graduate Student, or Ten Toe Casserole.

Why the warning? Dawkins noted that playful scientists managed to created meat-like goo in a test tube. And so he wondered in a tweet “What if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism? An interesting test case for consequentialist morality versus ‘yuck reaction’ absolutism.”

There are some kinds of indigestion even the strongest antacids can’t cure.

Before getting to the meat of this subject, it’s well to point out this isn’t the first time Dawkins was caught licking his lips while reminiscing about the Donner Party.

Fellow atheist David McAfee reminds us that Dawkins in a 2010 video “raised the idea of cannibalism as the logical end to those who won’t eat animals because they can’t ‘consent’ to it. If a human being consents, he says, it would follow that you could eat that person under that logic.”

McAfee thinks Dawkins is not “a secret cannibal or that he ‘craves’ human meat.” Rather “he enjoys asking questions that many people shy away from.”

Childish impertinence may be the right explanation for Dawkins’s cannibalistic quips, but it’s just as well to ban Dawkins from manning the grill at the next atheist convention.

Let’s return to the big people’s table and contrast Dawkins’s “consequentialist morality” versus “absolutism.” Consequentialism says that the consequences of a person’s actions should be the sole basis to judge whether those actions are right or wrong. There is nothing inherently right or wrong in any act, but only what flows from an act. Absolutism does not deny consequences, but insists acts can be good or bad in themselves.

Many who heard Dawkins’s dinner bell and jumped to his defense embraced consequentialism. They pointed out that human meat carries more diseases than animal meat. Therefore, unless these diseases can be screened from human meat, the consequence of bad health shows cannibalism is wrong.

One person compared cannibalism to incest, saying “The ‘yuck reaction’ associated with cannibalism & incest have a far deeper purpose than a mere taboo avoidance. We know incest is bad since there’s lots of evidence for offspring turning out w[ith] terrible conditions.”

This conclusion is as consequentialist as it gets. Incest is bad only because of its health consequences.

Another man looked to economics. He said “I doubt [artificial meat production] will succeed without massive resistance. Millions of farmers will click here to read the rest.

March 14, 2018 | 16 Comments

Uncertainty: The Soul of Models, Probability & Statistics. Chapter Abstracts


This post originally appeared right before the Uncertainty did. Now that we’re 1.5 years out, it’s time for a re-post. Buy it now, but it today, and buy it again tomorrow!

Chapter 1 :: Truth, Argument, Realism

Truth exists and we can know it. The universe (all there is) also exists and we can know it. Further, universals exist and we can know these, too. Any skepticism about truth, reality, or universals is self-refuting. There are two kinds of truth: ontological and epistemological, comprising existence and our understanding of existence. Tremendous disservice has been done by ignoring this distinction. There are two modes of truth: necessary and local or conditional. A necessary truth is proposition that is so based on a chain of reasoning from indubitable axioms or sense impressions. A local truth, and most truths are local, is so based on a set of premises assumed or believed true. From this seemingly trivial observation, everything flows, and is why so-called Gettier problems and the like aren’t problems after all. Science is incapable of answering questions about itself; the belief that it can is called scientism. Faith, belief, and knowledge are differentiated.

Chapter 2 :: Logic

Logical truth is conditional, as are all necessary and local truths, on the premises given or assumed. Logic is the study of the relation between propositions, between premises and conclusion, that is. So too is probability, which is the continuation, fullness, or completion of logic. All arguments use language, and therefore the terms, definitions, and grammar of language are part of the tacit premises in every argument. It is well to bring these tacit premises out when possible. Logic, like mathematics, is not empirical, though observations may inform logic and math, and logic and math may be used on empirical propositions. Probability, because it is part of logic, is also not empirical; and it, too, can be used on empirical propositions. Syllogistic is preferred over symbolic logic for its ease of understanding; syllogisms are an ideal way of grouping evidence. The fundamental principles of logic ultimately are not formal in a sense to be defined. Finally, not all fallacies are what they seem.

Chapter 3 :: Induction & Intellection

There is no knowledge more certain than that provided by induction. Without induction, no argument could, as they say, get off the ground floor. All arguments must trace eventually back to some foundation. This foundational knowledge is first present in the senses; through intellection, i.e. induction, first principles, universals, and essences are discovered. Induction is what accounts for our being certain, after observing only a finite number of instances or even one and sometimes even none, that all flames are hot, that all men are mortal, that for all natural numbers $x$ and $y$, if $x = y$, then $y = x$, and for providing content and characteristics of all other universals and axioms. Induction is analogical; it is of five different kinds, some more and some less reliable. That this multiplicity is generally unknown accounts for a great deal of the controversy over induction. Arguments are not valid because of their form but because of their content.

Chapter 4 :: What Probability Is

Probability is, like logic, an argument. Logic is the study of the relation between propositions, and so is probability. Like logic, probability is not a real or physical thing: it does not exist, it is not ontological. It cannot be measured with any apparatus, like mass or energy can. Like logic, probability is a measure of certainty of some proposition in relation to given or assumed premises—and only on these, and no other, premises, and this includes the tacit premises of language. All probability, without exception, is therefore conditional. Probability is widely misunderstood for two main reasons: the confusion between ontological and epistemological truth, and the conflation of acts or decisions with probability. We know the proposition “Mike is green” is true given “All dragons are green and Mike is a dragon”. This is an epistemological conditional, or local, truth. But we also know the major part of the premise is ontologically false because there are no dragons, green or otherwise. Counterfactuals are always ontologically false; i.e. they begin with premises known observationally to be false. Yet counterfactuals can have meaningful (epistemological) probabilities. Counterfactuals are surely meaningful epistemologically but never ontologically. Not all probabilities are quantifiable; most are not.

Chapter 5 :: What Probability Is Not

Logic is not an ontological property of things. You cannot, for instance, extract a syllogism from the existence of an object; the imagined syllogism is not somehow buried deep in the folds of the object waiting to be measured by some sophisticated apparatus. Logic is the relation between propositions, and these relations are not physical. A building can be twice as high as another building; the “twice” is the relation, but what exists physically are only the two buildings. Probability is also the relation between sets of propositions, so it too cannot be physical. Once propositions are set, the relation between them is also set and is a deducible consequence, i.e. the relation is not subjective, a matter of opinion. Mathematical equations are lifeless creatures; they do not “come alive” until they are interpreted, so that probability cannot be an equation. Probability is a matter of our understanding. Subjective probability is therefore a fallacy. The most common interpretation of probability, limited relative frequency, also confuses ontology with epistemology and therefore gives rise to many fallacies.

Chapter 6 :: Chance & Randomness

Randomness is not a thing, neither is chance. Both are measures of uncertainty and express ignorance of causes. Because randomness and chance are not ontologically real, they cannot cause anything to happen. Immaterial measures of information are never and can never be physically operative. It is always a mistake, and the cause of vast confusion, to say things like “due to chance”, “games of chance”, “caused by random (chance, spontaneous) mutations”, “these results are significant”, “these results are not explainable by chance”, “random effects”, “random variable”, and the like. All this holds in quantum mechanics, where the evidence for physical chance appears strongest. What also follows, although it is not at first apparent, is that simulations are not needed. This statement will appear striking and even obviously false, until it is understood that the so-called “randomness” driving simulations is anything but random. Coincidences are defined and their relation to cause explained. The ties between information theory and probability are given.

Chapter 7 :: Causality

Cause is analogical. There is not one type, flavor, or aspect of cause, but four. A formal, material, efficient, and final or teleological. Most causation concerns events which occur not separately, as in this before that, but simultaneously, where simultaneous events can be spread through time. Many causal data are embedded in time, and there two types of time series which are often confused: per se and accidental. These should not be mistaken for non-causal data series (the most common) which are all accidental. All causes are activiations of potentials by something actual. A vase is potential a pile of shards. It is made actually a pile of shards by an actual baseball. All four aspects of the cause are there: form of shards, clay fragments, efficient bat, and the pile itself as an end. Deterministic (and probability) models are epistemological; essential causal models are ontological and express true understanding of the nature of a thing. Causes, if they exist and are present, must always be operative, a proposition that has deep consequences for probability modeling. Falsifiability is rarely of interest, and almost never happens in practice. And under-determination, i.e. the possibility of causes other than those under consideration, will always be with us.

Chapter 8 :: Probability Models

A model is an argument. Models are collections of various premises which we assign to an observable proposition, i.e. an observable. Modelling reverses the probability equation: the proposition of interest or conclusion, i.e. the observable Y, is specified first after which premises X thought probative of the observable are sought or discovered. The ultimate goal is to discover just those premises X which cause or which determine Y. Absent these—and there may be many causes of Y—it is hoped to find X which give Y probabilities close to 0 or 1, given X in its various states. Measures of X’s importance are given. A model’s usefulness depends on what decisions are made with it, and how costly and rewarding those decisions are. Proper scores which help define usefulness are given. Probability models can and do have causative elements. Some probability models are even fully causal or deterministic in the sense given last chapter, but which are treated as probabilistic in practice. Tacit premises are added to the predictions from these models which adds uncertainty. Bayes is not all its cracked up to be. The origin and limitations of parameters and parametric models are given.

Chapter 9 :: Statistical & Physical Models

Statistical models are probability models and physical models are causal or deterministic or mixed causal-deterministic-probability models applied to observable propositions. It is observations which turn probability into statistics. Statistical and physical models are thus verifiable, and all use statistics in their verification. All models should be verified, but most aren’t. Classical modeling emphasizes hypothesis or “significance” testing and estimation. No hypothesis test, Bayesian or frequentist, should ever be used. Death to all p-values or Bayes factors! Hypothesis testing does not prove or show cause; therefore, embedded in every test used to claim cause is a fallacy. If cause is known, probability isn’t needed. Neither should parameter-centric (estimation, etc.) methods be used. Instead, use only probability, make probabilistic predictions of observables given observations and other premises, then verify these predictions. Measures of model goodness and observational relevance are given in a language which requires no sophisticated mathematical training to understand. Speak only in terms of observables and match models to measurement. Hypothesis-testing and parameter estimation are responsible for a pandemic of over-certainty in the sciences. Decisions are not probability, a fact with many consequences.

Chapter 10 :: Modelling Goals, Strategies, & Mistakes

Here are highlighted only a few of the most egregious and common mistakes made in modeling. Particular models are not emphasized so much as how model results should be communicated. The goal of probability models is to quantify uncertainty in an observable Y given assumptions or observations X. That and nothing more. This, and only this, form of model result should be presented. Regression is of paramount importance. The horrors to thought and clear reasoning committed in its name are legion. Scarcely any user of regression knows its limitations, mainly because of the fallacies of hypothesis testing and the over-certainty of parameter-based reporting. The Deadly Sin of Reification is detailed. The map is not the territory, though this fictional land is unfortunately where many choose to live. When the data do not match a theory, it is often the data that are suspected, not the theory. Models should never take the place of actual data, though they often do, particularly in time series. Risk is nearly always exaggerated. The fallacious belief that we can quantify the unquantifiable is responsible for scientism. “Smoothed” data is often given pride of place over actual observations. Over-certainty rampages across the land and leads to irreproducible results.

March 13, 2018 | 72 Comments

Take Burnham’s Test To See If You’re A Progressive: Suicide of the West at 50

This classic column appeared in July 2015. Besides some editing, I would now change ‘liberal’ to ‘progressive’, which I have done in the title. I made no othre change. See especially the prediction about Donald Trump!

It’s (past) time we examined James Burnham’s under-appreciated classic Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism, a book written fifty years ago (in 1964). Everybody (yes, including you) should buy this book and follow along.

Since the test of a good theory is how accurately it makes predictions, we’ll review the many predictions Burnham made half a century ago and see how well his theory stands up.

What is that theory? That liberalism was and is going to cause the death, via suicide, of classic Western civilization. So what’s a liberal? Burnham spent a lot of time on that important question. Chances are you, dear reader, are a liberal, either in its progressive manifestation or its conservative variant. Reactionaries are few in number.

To find out who’s who, Burnham created a test of “thirty-nine sentences“, which do not quite mirror the 39 articles, to which you may assent or disclaim. Let’s try (pp 31-35 in the edition linked above) and then we’ll have a go at modernizing the list. This only serves as a quick filter. Burnham had much more to say on this subject.

1. All forms of racial segregation and discrimination are wrong.
2. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion.
3. Everyone has a right to free, public education.
4. Political, economic or social discrimination based on religious belief is wrong.
5. In political or military conflict it is wrong to use methods of torture and physical terror.
6. A popular movement or revolt against a tyranny or dictatorship is right, and deserves approval.
7. The government has a duty to provide for the ill, aged, unemployed and poor if they cannot take care of themselves.
8. Progressive income and inheritance taxes are the fairest form of taxation.
9. If reasonable compensation is made, the government of a nation has the legal and moral right to expropriate private property within its borders, whether owned by citizens or foreigners.
10. We have a duty to mankind; that is, to men in general. 11. The United Nations, even if limited in accomplishment, is a step in the right direction.
12. Any interference with free speech and free assembly, except for cases of immediate public danger or juvenile corruption, is wrong.
13. Wealthy nations, like the United States, have a duty to aid the less privileged portions of mankind.
14. Colonialism and imperialism are wrong.
15. Hotels, motels, stores and restaurants in southern United States ought to be obliged by law to allow Negroes to use all of their facilities on the same basis as whites.
16. The chief sources of delinquency and crime are ignorance, discrimination, poverty and exploitation.
17. Communists have a right to express their opinions.
18. We should always be ready to negotiate with the Soviet Union and other communist nations.
19. Corporal punishment, except possibly for small children, is wrong.
20. All nations and peoples, including the nations and peoples of Asia and Africa, have a right to political independence when a majority of the population wants it.
21. We always ought to respect the religious beliefs of others.
22. The primary goal of international policy in the nuclear age ought to be peace.
23. Except in cases of a clear threat to national security or, possibly, to juvenile morals, censorship is wrong.
24. Congressional investigating committees are dangerous institutions, and need to be watched and curbed if they are not to become a serious threat to freedom.
25. The money amount of school and university scholarships ought to be decided primarily by need.
26. Qualified teachers, at least at the university level, are entitled to academic freedom: that is, the right to express their own beliefs and opinions, in or out of the classroom, without interference from administrators, trustees, parents or public bodies.
27. In determining who is to be admitted to schools and universities, quota systems based on color, religion, family or similar factors are wrong.
28. The national government should guarantee that all adult citizens, except for criminals and the insane, should have the right to vote.
29. Joseph McCarthy was probably the most dangerous man in American public life during the fifteen years following the Second World War.
30. There are no significant differences in intellectual, moral or civilizing capacity among human races and ethnic types.
31. Steps toward world disarmament would be a good thing.
32. Everyone is entitled to political and social rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
33. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and expression.
34. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
35. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.
36. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security.
37. Everyone has the right to equal pay for equal work.
38. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions.
39. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Before commenting on the slightly dated nature of some of these questions, here are Burnham’s rules on scoring.

A full-blown liberal will mark every one, or very nearly every one, of these thirty-nine sentences, Agree. A convinced conservative will mark many or most of them, a reactionary all or nearly all of them, Disagree…I have confirmed experimentally…that the result is seldom an even balance between Agree and Disagree…self-defined liberals almost never drop below 85 percent of Agree answers, or self-defined reactionaries below 85 percent of Disagree; a perfect 100 percent is common. Certain types of self-styled conservatives yield almost as high a Disagree percentage as the admitted reactionaries…

These sentences were not devised arbitrarily. Many of them are taken directly or adapted from the writings of well-known liberals, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, or liberal questionnaires that have been put out in recent years by the American Civil Liberties Union. The last eight are quoted verbatim from the United Nations’ ‘Universal Declarations of Human Rights,’ adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Yours Truly scored well into the reactionary camp, but I read the test with a historical eye. It’s clear that liberals, most on the progressive side of the scale, no longer care about some of these articles or no long interpret them in the same way. It’s the changes that are fascinating. Every mutation has been for the worse, as we’ll see.

Consider “2. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion.” Liberals today assent to this readily enough, unless they suspect the opinion they’re about to hear is “hurtful”, “bigoted”, “hateful”, “x-phobic” (x is a variable) or something similar. People who will speak politically incorrect views are not entitled freedom, many liberals say, especially campus liberals.

While the reactionary might join the progressive in forbidding certain (but obviously not the same) speech—for instance, the reactionary might happily ban pornography while the liberal insists it be shown to grade schoolers—it is only the liberal who would punish thoughtcrime. Where the liberal will demand assent the reactionary will happily let people keep their mouths shut. Right St Thomas More?

Perhaps like the fortune cookie joke, we should add “as long as it is not hurtful, hateful, bigoted, sexist, or x-phobic” to the end of all items dealing with thought.

Likewise, the liberal will probably still assent to “12. Any interference with free speech and free assembly, except for cases of immediate public danger or juvenile corruption, is wrong”. But who is it in practice who storms podiums or throws tantrums in order not to hear “disturbing” opinions? Fortune cookie it.

Item 15 is dated, but it can be modernized easily enough: “Stores ought to be obliged by law to participate in ceremonies of those professing same-sex attraction.” Quibble with the wording, but I can’t think of any liberal dissenting, while every reactionary would.

Number 18 has passed us by. Perhaps: “We should always be ready to negotiate with the socialist and other communist nations.”

The liberal will agree with 20, except in his own backyard. Ask one if it is okay for, say, Texas to secede. Theoretically, or to be consistent, he should agree. But he won’t. The liberal desires control above all.

Item 21 is dead. No liberal now thinks of allowing the freedom of religious practice. Modern version: “We should respect the right to religious worship but perhaps restrain or proscribe certain traditional religious practices if they interfere with the public.” Liberals Yes, reactionaries No, because both sides know what’s behind these words.

Like the other items mentioning speech, item 23 is now suspect. Liberals are firmly against censorship—of their ideas. But they like it fine for the opposition. Fortune cookie.

Most liberals will like 26 still, but that’s because the academy has been purged of all reactionaries and nearly all conservatives. Item 27 is out: quotas are in. This question is now the exact opposite. Perhaps: “…quota systems based on color, religion, family or similar factors which will enhance diversity are to be encouraged.”

The boogyman of the hour has changed in 29, but the idea is the same. Even George Bush is fading from memory, replaced maybe by Donald Trump or Scott Walker or Emmanuel Goldstein.

Item 32 is another polar opposite. Modern version: “Everyone is entitled to political and social rights and race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status shall be used to determine the extent of these rights.”

Numbers 33 and 34: fortune cookie.

Have we left anything out? Or can we live without Once we discuss these, I’ll put up the modernized list.

Read Part II: The Perfectibility of Man.