What Do College Kids Know?

In a comment on an earlier post, Tim of the North asked

Do you find any college kids at all interested in this stuff [political theory]? Do any of them care about reading, are any of them capable of being challenged?

The short answer is: No.  Their attitude is, if they don’t already know it, it’s not worth knowing.  They exist in an endless, contextless now, with an obsessive focus on the present moment that would be the envy of a Zen master (if Zen masters could envy).  “Pebbles in a pond” used to be a pretty good metaphor for education — the pebble of fact sinks below the surface, and the ripples spread all around, moving everything in their path.  Nowadays, it’s pebbles in thick mud.  The fact drops — splat! — and just sits there, unaffected, affecting nothing.  And that’s assuming you can get them to acknowledge that it is a fact in the first place — they’ve been trained since kindergarten to avoid correlating the contents of their minds, lest the obvious contradictions between the “facts” they’re required to parrot lead to badthink.

This is the only way to function in the modern college environment.  At some point on this blog I suggested they think in tweets and upvotes — that is, each statement is to be evaluated entirely on its own, with no reference to anything, even the speaker’s own timeline.  If it’s upvoted or retweeted, it’s true, even if the exact opposite thing got upvoted and retweeted just five minutes ago.  That’s an awkward way of expressing it, but I think it’s essentially right.


That’s the only way one can chant the catechism without skull-smashing cognitive dissonance.  As far as I can tell — and I’ve been in and around academia a long, long time — a modern college “education” can be summed up in three propositions:

  1. Everything is society’s fault (“socially constructed”), and
  2. Change (they call it “progress”) is good in itself, BUT,
  3. Everyone must be one thing only, always and forever.

So, for example, every day on campus presents a dilemma like this:

  • Gender is a social construction, but
  • how dare you suggest I could ever be anything other than a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin?

The only way out is to Facebookify it.  Gender is a social construction? Upvote.  You’re a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin?  Upvote.  There’s no “logical connection” button on Facebook, though, so the (to normies, glaringly obvious) link between the two never gets made:  “You can socially construct yourself a different identity — a heterosexual human female, for instance.”  It can’t be upvoted, so it doesn’t exist.

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6 thoughts on “What Do College Kids Know?

  1. Nate Winchester

    I’ve been noticing that dissonance among some twitter today.

    1 week ago: “Trump is so evil! He’s literally a tyrant!”

    Today: “We have to get rid of guns! All guns!”


    1. Severian

      Yep. If there were a “logical connection” button on Facebook, you could push it and it would spit out “so how do you plan to #Resist the tyrant, who has the full armed force of the US military behind him, if you have no weapons?”

      But again, these are the people who think #Hashtags #ReallyWork. You can stop the big meanie with the automatic rifle and the body armor with a really sick Twitter burn, because #TheWorldReallyWorksLikeThat.

  2. Morgan K Freeberg

    One of my own Facebook homies comes unglued whenever I use the phrase “critical thinking,” because of that phrase’s history of past abuse. It seems to me that it retains some measure of common agreement, and the overlap in the resulting Venn diagram covers a concept that is important and requires discussion…

    “We don’t even see alternative sexual preference, but we celebrate it anyway” and “There is no innate difference between men & women but it’s important that the chicks are in charge” are great examples of cognitive dissonance, therefore of the need for this C.T. Your metaphor of the pebbles in the thick mud, is apt. In act, it is our lives, these days, as we cope with FTL.

    That’s not “Faster Than Lightspeed”…stands for Failure To Launch…

    1. Severian

      That’s the part of this stuff that’s so insidious. “Critical thinking,” yes, it can be abused. That’s how all this stuff got started in the first place — as I keep pointing out here, there’s a tiny nugget of truth in everything the academic left says.

      Gender, for instance, IS a “social construction,” in the sense that when we say “he’s a real man” we mean something different than the Vikings did when they said it. Cultural meanings change. Clown nose off, and that’s a trivially true statement, but if you’ve never thought about it in that context before — and what 18 year old has? — it sounds profound.

      And then they put the clown nose on: “Gender is ONLY a social construction.” No, nope, nyet, nein, not ever. That’s not “critical thinking,” that’s “black and white thinking,” and all good lefties are supposed to be against it. But saying “gender varies culturally over the bedrock of biology” entails that you need to know something about the biology, and that the variations are finite — better hit the library! Saying “gender is ONLY a social construction” lets you say anything you want, with no effort, and since the essay is due tomorrow and it’s nickel beer night down at the student union….

      1. Nate Winchester

        Or as I like to point out, it’s the Sorites paradox problem. To use a metaphor: since we can’t say when a man with hair really stops being in that category and starts being bald, there’s no such thing as bald men.

        The problems seems to be that they look at the spectrum only one way. Hairy -> Bald in this case. But if we apply their same logic but in the opposite direction, we can say the reverse is true: all men are bald.

        That’s the thing I find entertaining about the alt-right since that’s essentially what they’re doing. If gender is ONLY social construction, then take the same logic train and apply it in the opposite direction: gender is ONLY biology. It really is hoisting liberalism on their own petard. The only issue is when the alt-right begin to believe their own hype…

  3. Jay Carter

    Let’s not forget the parents. The one’s whose relentless pursuit among themselves is to see who can indulge their child the most.

    Example: “You brought your daughter a new Chevy? That’s so low-rent. My kid’s getting a new Beam-A.”


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