This week in curiosities: YouTuber Timbah.On.Toast deconstructs Dave Rubin, ContraPoints explores beauty, and Nathan Robinson explains why leftists get annoyed by Steven Pinker.
Dave Rubin’s Battle of Ideas
Youtuber Timbah.On.Toast has released a brilliant series dismantling Dave Rubin, exposing his intellectual laziness and duplicity. Not only is this trilogy incredibly well made (including some awesome beats written by Timbah.On.Toast himself), but it is also a helpful study in how to better analyze popular voices on the internet.
Nathan Robinson on The Most Annoying Man in the World
I’m not sure I would say I hate Steven Pinker. Perhaps peeved by Pinker is the better term. I admire some of his work, and I think his exploration of how the world is objectively getting better uncovers some interesting insights.
However, as Robinson points out in this brilliant article, it is not so much the central thesis of Pinker’s work that is so annoying, but some of the conclusions and attitudes smuggled in. He makes a number of dubious claims in his latest book Enlightenment Now: that leftists hate progress, that critics of his work hate progress, and that anyone who disagrees with his work is statistically illiterate. Robinson dismantles why Pinker is profoundly wrong on these points.
A few of my favorite quotes from the article:
If you would like proof that hate for Pinker does not emanate from hatred of “progress” itself, I will happily write a book arguing precisely what Pinker says he is arguing: that reason is good, and many features of society are better than they were 100 years or 1000 years ago, and that things would be better if the world were more reasonable. And I can write that book in a way that won’t be very controversial. Perhaps, then, the debate is not about the “human flourishing is a positive” and “vaccines exist now and are good” parts of the book.
I do not mean to dwell too much on the tone of Pinker’s writing, but it’s important to see how dishonest centrist critics of social justice rhetoric can be. Pinker treats the left as hysterically overstating its case, of calling everybody racists and despoilers, even as he brands them Nazis and Stalinists. One of the common themes I see in critics of social justice politics is engaging in the very thing they’re accusing the left of doing.
Hypocrisy doesn’t make the underlying arguments untrue, but I think it’s critical to explaining why the left can end up with an unwarranted reputation for being unreasonable and emotional: Our critics operate just as much from “feeling” and instinct, but insist that they’re just being Objective. My colleague Aisling McCrea has written about how mere invocation of the word “logic” is used as proof that one is being logical. “Reason” becomes a brand rather than a description of an actual process by which the other side’s arguments are carefully analyzed and responded to fairly.
There is so much more delicious goodness in the article. Go read it here.
ContraPoints on Beauty
ContraPoints released a stunning video about beauty from her individual trans perspective. As with all her work, she packs an extraordinary amount of thought, criticism, artistry, and empathy into this video. Check it out:
Obligatory Cat Picture
Morning cuddles with Luna the Maine Coon
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