Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Corrosion of Truth

K.C. Johnson neatly expresses my concerns about the "social science" of campus rape, albeit when talking, not about science, but about policy and process.

The only reason that colleges and universities have for their existence is the pursuit of truth. If we’re no longer in the business of pursuing truth, we no longer have a reason to be around. And these are systems in which the colleges and universities are willingly making life altering decisions about their students on the basis of wildly incomplete evidence. And you can’t have a college or university system where we say, “Okay, we have this one area where we’ve got this set of procedures where we basically don’t care, but in all other aspects of college and university actions we do care about the truth. Trust us.” That just doesn’t work. So the Title IX prosecutions are fundamentally corrosive to the basic nature of higher education. (31:20)

Like I say, he's talking about the adjudication of individual cases. Surely, it gets much worse when the construction of general claims about the prevalence of rape is equally unconstrained by a care for the truth. As I write this, I note that there is as yet not a single piece of journalism that is critical of the idea that 15% of female undergraduates at UT Austin have been raped (see my notes). The claim has been widely reported, but remains completely unquestioned. This despite the fact that it is nonsensical on its face.

It is a perfect example of a "post-truth" fact. Everyone understands that the university's Title IX apparatus has commissioned the construction of this fact (at a cost of almost two million dollars) and everyone respectfully asserts it as such. How we can know anything at all about society if facts like this cannot be questioned is beyond me.

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