Monday, December 17, 2007

Today's college women more accepting of pornography: it's all men's fault

The purpose of this entry is to continue a discussion from another blog which it was not possible to continue there, and to illustrate to my fellow traditionalists who are not as familiar with the evangelical world the kind of liberal thinking that often occurs among evangelicals.

At Boundless Line, the blog of Focus on the Family's webzine for young single Christians, Steve Watters commented on a study finding that today's college women are more accepting of pornography. He wrote the following:

My hunch is that the mainstreaming of pornography is making it easier for both men and women to cover over their hunch that something's inherently wrong with porn with the fig leaf that it's just entertainment. For every problem we'll come across in life, there will be two camps -- one camp that says we just don't know how bad the problem really is and another camp that says the problem is really not a big deal and in fact the real problem is those prudish people who think it's a problem.

It's my perspective that the "porn is not a big deal camp" is clearly beginning to win the day -- and we just don't know how bad that problem really is. No woman is going to experience meaningful sexual intimacy by expanding her tolerance of material that "educates" men to treat her like an object of their self-centered fantasies. It might seem sophisticated for some to tolerate porn as mere entertainment, but it's a lot like saying, "oh, it's just a cute little kitty" while letting a fox into your house.

I submitted this comment:

Ah, the view of women as innately good rears its ugly head again. Unlike Loris, I'm going to make the case that those women really were okay with it.

Steve Watters wrote the following:

"No woman is going to experience meaningful sexual intimacy by expanding her tolerance of material that 'educates' men to treat her like an object of their self-centered fantasies. It might seem sophisticated for some to tolerate porn as mere entertainment, but it's a lot like saying, 'oh, it's just a cute little kitty' while letting a fox into your house."

What makes Mr. Watters think that these women's primary goal is to experience meaningful sexual intimacy, as opposed to physical pleasure? What makes him think that they are merely trying to seem sophisticated, instead of genuinely seeing pornography as benign or even empowering to women? The fact is that women's sexual attractiveness to men gives them enormous bargaining power with us. The sexual revolution didn't just "liberate" men, it also unleashed this power of women in a radically new way. When men are slaves to their lust for women--and relations between men and women are not tempered by pre-sexual revolution traditional morality, in which sex was considered inextricably linked to marriage and childbearing--men will go to great lengths go obtain women's sexual favor. Thus, modern feminists are right to view pornography as empowering to women. Women are out becoming doctors, lawyers, corporate executives, and elected office-holders, while men are sitting at home in front of their computers masturbating. Those same men are willing to go to any lengths, including disavowal of traditional morality and manhood, to get modern liberal women to allow them access to sex. How is that not "empowering" to women?
Another commenter named Carrie Lea then responded to me:

Jacob M.,

"Ah, the view of women as innately good rears its ugly head again."

On the contrary, Jacob. I wish that my opposition to porn were motivated purely by the fact that it is wrong and harmful. However, I realize that my strong reaction against it occurs largely because of my very human need to feel secure in my desirability as a woman (to my husband, in particular).

"What makes Mr. Watters think that these women's primary goal is to experience meaningful sexual intimacy, as opposed to physical pleasure?"

Obviously, Mr. Watters understands the female psyche better than you do. Here's a hint: Don't assume that women are driven by the same things that drive men.

"Women are out becoming doctors, lawyers, corporate executives, and elected office-holders, while men are sitting at home in front of their computers masturbating."

I'm sure that you love the idea of porn being "liberating" to women, since that seems to justify your own acceptance of porn (and, I would venture to guess, your own use of porn). Nevertheless, your above statement is ridiculous. You imply that the widespread acceptance of porn has led to women's ability to obtain certain careers, but this is nonsense. In fact, it is insulting. I did not obtain two degrees and a career in engineering because my male counterparts were too busy watching porn.

Also, you further betray your misunderstanding of the female psyche. Different women feel differently about their careers, but from my perspective as a woman (even in a male-dominated career field), your above statement is like saying, "Women are out being overworked, overstressed, and struggling to keep their families intact, while their husbands are sitting at home having affairs with the next-door neighbor."

"Those same men are willing to go to any lengths ... to get modern liberal women to allow them access to sex."

To what lengths did my husband go to get access to sex with his beloved? He married me and continues to reject pornography. Your argument in the above statement is incoherent at best.

For your sake, I hope that you will one day look past the phony justifications that you give yourself for using porn, and start spending your time focusing on what makes a woman truly happy. You wouldn't believe what you're missing out on.

After several more replies, including some in which other commenters came to my defense, I attempted to submit the following response. I was informed that the comment was not accepted because it had been determined by Typepad's anti-spam filter to be potential spam. (Of course, the software does not tell you why your post is considered spam or give you the opportunity to fix it. I suppose that would defeat the purpose of the filter.) That is why I am posting it here.

Oh, boy. A lot has been said for me to respond to, and I really don't have time to respond to everything. I think Adam T. did a good initial job of answering Carrie's criticisms of me; I wouldn't change much of what he wrote. There are, however, a few of Carrie's misunderstandings I need to correct.

First, when I used the word "women" here, I was referring not to evangelical Christian women who believe that pornography is morally wrong, but to the women in the study who say that they find pornography acceptable. Presumably those two groups don't overlap.

Second, I want to clarify that I do not look at pornography, nor think that it is good or morally neutral, nor want it to be legal or even exist at all.

This would appear to confuse Carrie, since I said that pornography (and the sexual revolution in general) is "empowering to women." That this should cause confusion highlights the essentially liberal nature of our entire society, and the fact that even most people today who are considered "conservative" (e.g., evangelical Christians) are really liberal. Conservatives today are always trying to appeal to liberals by saying that they agree with liberals' goals, they just don't agree that the methods proposed by liberals to reach those goals are the most effective. For example, you'd be hard pressed to find a conservative or evangelical Christian today who would argue that women's "empowerment" is a good thing. The only difference between the liberal and "conservative" points of view on the subject is that liberals believe that women are best empowered by being made totally independent from men and being free from the bonds of traditional sexual morality, while "conservatives" think women are best empowered by having lasting marriages, maybe staying home with the children while they're young if their financial situation allows it, but otherwise pursuing careers and advanced degrees just as liberal feminists advocate that women should.

The problem stems from the fact that modern liberal society separates men and women into discrete groups with competing interests. I, as a traditionalist, believe that we should not view these issues in the light of "men's interests," vs. "women's interests," but rather that the family, not the individual, should be considered the basic unit of society, with men's and women's interests unified under the banner of the interests of the family. And in those families, women would occupy a generally subordinate role to men. So I do not regard the "empowerment" of women as a good thing.

I could have been more clear on the issue of women being innately good. It's not that women's acceptance of porn means that they're innately good; it's that women's acceptance of porn is explained away by the supposition that they're innately good, a supposition that often crops up on Boundless and among modern Christians in general. My point wasn't obvious perhaps because the belief is stated only implicitly in this entry, but I was referring to Mr. Watter's statements that "No woman is going to experience meaningful sexual intimacy by expanding her tolerance" of porn and that "it might seem sophisticated for some to tolerate porn as mere entertainment." I take this to mean that even among women who accept porn, their goal is still to experience meaningful sexual intimacy and they are accepting porn only because it makes them seem sophisticated to do so. Mr. Watters seems to be saying that when men say they like porn, it's because they do, because they're lustful and tainted by sin (a true statement, don't get me wrong.) But when women say they like porn, well, they don't really like it, they're just saying they like it to gain the acceptance of porn-loving men so that men will marry them, because deep down the true desire of their pure innocent hearts is to be stay-at-home-moms and enjoy the life of domestic tranquility God intended them for.

When you look at the world realistically, and you see a survey finding that 49% of college women find porn acceptable, this interpretation is laughable. Why not take women at their word? We know that all people, men and women, are stained by original sin. Why not simply assume that if women say they find porn acceptable, they are saying it because they really mean it? Then we can work to understand the reasons and implications of that, and try to deal with it realistically, instead of trying to explain it away with our premises of snips and snails and puppy-dog tails vs. sugar and spice and everything nice.

If you would like to continue this discussion at a different venue, feel free to visit my blog, which should be linked to my name in this comment's header. There you will find a link to email me, and I'll create a new blog entry for the discussion.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Philadelphia commission: limiting the language a shop conducts its business in is "hate"

Philadelphia is my home town. The cheesesteak is one of its hallmark foods. In 2005, Joe Vento, the owner of Geno's, one of the two biggest tourist-trap cheesesteak shops, posted signs in the shop's window which read "This is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH." Vento is now being charged with "discrimination" by an ominous-sounding entity called the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. According to the Associated Press article,
After extensive publicity in 2006, the commission began investigating whether Vento violated a city ordinance that prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodation and housing on the basis of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

In February, the commission found probable cause against Geno's Steaks for discrimination, alleging that the policy at the shop discourages customers of certain backgrounds from eating there.
First of all, there should not even be a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination in employment, public accommodation and housing, for such prohibitions interfere with our right to freedom of association. Even so, on what basis does this ordinance forbid a business owner from insisting that business in his store be conducted in English? Is ordering a cheesesteak from a private business now a form of "public accommodation?" Here we are seeing the leftist tendency to eliminate the private and make all things public.

Camille Charles, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, testified that Vento's signs harken [sic] back to the "Whites only" postings of the Jim Crow era.

"The signs give a feeling of being unwelcome and being excluded," Charles said.

So we see that liberals want to use the power of government to forbid people from doing anything that might make other people feel unwelcome and excluded. I suppose if I had a party and didn't invite the guy upstairs, he might feel unwelcome and excluded. Should I then be prosecuted for "discrimination?"

Or if I went to France, and encountered a sign in a sandwich shop which read (in French) "This is France: When ordering please speak French," would I have a legitimate grievance against the owner?

Well, at least Professor Charles didn't mention Hitler. Maybe that would have been too trite.

I hear that Philadelphia, like most northeastern cities, has been deluged by Hispanic illegal aliens over the past ten or fifteen years. Indeed, to borrow Professor Charles's terminology, they are not welcome here, and should be excluded. I applaud Joe Vento's effort to maintain America's identity as an English-speaking society, and I hope this case is thrown out.

(Note: I see upon spell-check that either Professor Charles or Bob Lentz the AP writer do not know how to spell the word "hearken." A sign of the deterioration of English in our society, perhaps?)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Conservatives entertained by nihilistic propaganda

View from the Right had a good discussion today on people not noticing the liberal messages that surround us in modern society. A commenter mentioned meeting "conservatives" who enjoy movies like Pleasantville without even realizing that these films are leftist propaganda.

By far the most egregious example of this phenomenon, in my experience, is how so many conservatives are fans of the television show The Simpsons. I used to watch it sometimes in college, before I became mature and discerning enough to realize how destructive it was, and I honestly don't think it's possible to pack more nihilism, cynicism, and scorn for all things traditional into one half-hour than the producers of this show do. Appallingly, I have even met evangelical Christians who are fans of the show, despite the fact that mockery of evangelical Christians from a clearly atheist or secular-left perspective has been one of the show's longest-running and most prominent themes. When I pointed this out to one of them, he replied, "well, they pretty much make fun of everyone." I can't imagine how one can consider oneself a devout Christian and think that mockery of, say communism, or alcoholics, or Indian culture, somehow excuses mockery of Christianity.

Another example is the movie The Golden Compass which recently opened in theaters. Now, I have not heard conservatives or Christians express admiration for this film, but it is certain that many people are completely unaware of its anti-traditional religion message. To be fair, the message may not be clear from the first movie alone. I read the first two books, before the author's intentions in writing them became known, and if I recall correctly, at the end of the first the message is still unclear, but by the end of the second it is obvious that the trilogy is intended as an anti-Christianity diatribe, which is now well-known to anyone who cares to read reviews. As I understand it, in the fictional world of the books God is really just the most powerful of angels, and he wrongly usurped power long ago and convinced everyone he was God, and now he must be killed so that mankind can be free from his tyranny. The author, Philip Pullman, has stated in interviews that he hates C.S. Lewis and the Narnia books (not to mention Christianity), and essentially set out to write an anti-Narnia. Despite this, I recently overheard someone describing the movie as "basically another Narnia, except instead of a lion there's a bear, and instead of a witch there's a [something]," and he listed several other superficial differences without which, he was implying, the movie is very similar to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I wonder if what is going on here is that people have lost the ability to think beyond any but the most superficial level. The Golden Compass is a fantasy movie featuring talking animals based on a series of children's novels, so therefore it must be like the Narnia stories, even though it suggests that the Christian God is evil and can and should be killed. The Simpsons makes fun of people doing foolish things, so it's funny; it doesn't matter who it makes fun of or why it considers what those people do foolish. At the moment, though, I can't figure out how this happened; how supposedly educated people, and especially professing conservatives, lost sight of the fact that ideas have consequences.

A final note: I was about to claim that I had never seen commentary from a traditionalist or conscientious cultural conservative on the topic of this "conservative" adoration of The Simpsons, something that should outrage us. But after searching, I came across another VFR discussion in which Sage McLaughlin, the same commenter who made the Pleasantville point, wrote a good comment about it. It's about halfway down the page.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Another reason women should not be in the military

Our weekly liberalism seminar provides plenty of fodder for a blog, perhaps too much. The more I discuss specific goings-on at my school, the more I fear revealing which school I attend, a dangerous possibility in the era of thoughtcrime. Still, for the time being I can't help it; these things are just too interesting to write about. Last week, the topic was intimate partner violence. (Did you know that "domestic violence" has been rechristened "intimate partner violence?" I suppose those concerned with this phenomenon decided that the word "domestic" wrongly excludes violence that occurs outside of the home or between, uh, partners who do not live together.)

The session began with a group interview, in front of the whole class, of three women, all of whom had suffered child abuse, not "intimate partner violence." Go figure. Two of them had served in the military, where both had experienced sexual harassment and one had been the victim of rape. One, the sole white woman, had been in the Marines, where, she complained, the sense of camaraderie they claim to want to instill in recruits isn't really honored because of the sexual harassment that takes place. The other military woman, who had served in the now-defunct Women's Army Corps, said that women who joined the military were assumed to be "loose," there was a sense that as the few females present they had an obligation to provide the men with sexual favors, and that men who attempted to protect them were subject to blanket parties.

Later, when we had convened in our small groups, one of our facilitators, a social worker, remarked that what we had heard was a sad commentary on how the military treats women. Since I still have not had the courage to reveal myself as someone who would surely be considered a racist, sexist, homophobic bigot, an enemy of all that is good and right, an oppressor who wants to throw humanity back into the dark ages, I did not say what I was thinking, which was that this is one of the many reasons women don't belong in the military. Think about that for a minute: that the military, and indeed not just the military but every institution within our society, must spend hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, erect vast social structures, agencies, and bureaucracies, and devote untold numbers of man-hours to the Sisyphean task of fighting human nature, is taken for granted by everyone and assumed to be the solution to problems such as these. The simple, obvious solution, which should occur to anyone thinking rationally and objectively--don't have women in the military--is not only considered offensive and beyond the pale, but doesn't occur to people.

I could be wrong about that last assertion. I can't read people's minds, and its possible that many more people have common sense than are willing to speak up. But from what I have observed of liberal thinking--and most people in our society, certainly most in the upper echelons, one of which is medical school, are liberals--commonsensical non-liberal ideas really don't occur to them at all. That, more so than their being considered offensive, is what I find so interesting. One of the most striking things that happens when one leaves mainstream conservatism and becomes a traditionalist is that one begins frequently noticing this vast gulf between sane, rational thought and the prevailing thought of our society. Ideas that present themselves to the mind immediately and effortlessly--like the idea that in military training we are trying to teach young, rowdy, mostly aggressive men how to fight, and we keep such men in extremely close quarters, and these experiences create a strong sense of male camaraderie among the trainees, and therefore it would be best for the men, for the women, and for our country not to throw women into the mix--are utterly foreign to large numbers of people.

Curiously, although moving from mainstream conservatism to traditionalism makes it easier to debate liberals honestly, it also makes doing so much less convenient, since one could face sanctions from one's employer, school, or what have you. When I was a mainstream-con I might have objected to the statement about how the military treats women, saying that yes, while there is room for improvement and the military should do all it can to reduce and eliminate rape and sexual harassment of female recruits, we shouldn't let our judgment on this issue overshadow the progress we've made, how much good the military has done for our country, how much better off women in the military are today than they used to be, how such behavior is considered unconscionable by ever-larger numbers of people, how the vast majority of women in the military do not experience such problems, and so on. But now, I would be lying if I talked that way. As a traditionalist, one often must hold one's tongue and be extremely careful about opening one's mouth, because truth and common sense are so foreign and horrifying to the regnant liberal thinking of our time. This makes it difficult to get the word out when one is under the authority of liberals.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Human nature punches liberalism in the face

I have updated the Catalog of Clinical Liberalisms with perhaps the greatest offender yet: the question "are you sexually active" and its follow-up, "with men, women, or both?" This is particularly relevant because of a story I heard secondhand from a classmate last week.

During our first year, we have a number of clinical experiences wherein we spend one afternoon in a particular practice setting. In most of these we merely observe, but some students, when sent to the ER, have been asked to take patients' histories. Allegedly, so the gossip goes, one of my young female classmates was sent into a room to interview a patient, a young urban minority type, and asked him the famous "men, women, or both" question, whereupon he promptly took a swing at her, voicing offense at the suggestion that he was a "faggot." She was unhurt, but the patient had to be restrained for the remainder of the visit, and I assume the med student was somewhat shaken.

At one level, this reflects merely on the naivete of the medical student. One must assume that a seasoned physician, even a liberal one who believes devoutly in these clinical liberalisms, would not be so foolish as to ask this question so nonchalantly of a man who, were one permitted to employ stereotypes, one would know would not take kindly to it. At another level, though, it reflects on how out of step liberalism is with basic reality. After all, not only social workers but liberal physicians themselves advocate this system, and while their approach to the issue in daily practice may be more nuanced, they fully support the system of medical education that is teaching students that we must ask these ridiculous and socially destructive questions without qualification. Do they not know that incidents like this are bound to happen?

While I do not celebrate a physical assault on my fellow student, I find stories like this one heartening in a way, because they provide evidence that liberalism so contradicts reality and human nature that it cannot ultimately triumph.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A catalog of clinical liberalisms

A couple of weeks ago, there were posts at What's Wrong with the World and Mere Comments about the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommending that physicians attempt to subvert parents' authority over their children, and consider them guilty until proven innocent of all kinds of horrible crimes, ranging from molestation to gun ownership. The Boston Herald story and accompanying comments are also worth reading. I chimed in at WWTW, since I've already begun to see how these ideas are taught to physicians in training.

In general, what we are seeing, predictably, is that the elites of the medical profession (medical school deans and administrators, the leaders of the various boards and professional societies, etc.) are cultural liberals who believe that normality, decency, convention, tradition, and authority are evil and must be subverted, that beneath the facade of every apparently normal, loving relationship between husband and wife or parents and children lurks all kinds of social pathology. Being doctors, they are especially concered with health, and so they think that health is hindered by traditional morality and would be greatly improved if traditional morality were overthrown. That is why they think, for example, that all men should be suspected of wife-beating, all fathers of molestation, and all parents of being clueless fuddy-duddies hopelessly opposed to their teens' inevitable and healthy sexual activity.

Being in medical school, I can't help but remember every time I hear or see a specific recommendation along these lines, so I thought I would start a catalog of them. These are based both on things I have been told in medical school, and things I have read in articles like the one from the Boston Herald.
  • When seeing an adolescent patient, it is essential that at some point you kick the parent(s) out of the room so that you can ask the teen about his drug use, sexual activity, and anything else he may simply not want to talk to his parents about.
  • When a husband, or, um, "partner," accompanies a female patient to her medical visit, it is essential that at some point you get her alone and ask her "do you feel safe at home?"
  • When a husband, or, um, "partner," accompanies a female patient who is seeking a pregnancy test, even if the couple came to the visit together specifically for the purpose of confirming that they are pregnant, you must kick him out of the room before giving her the results so that you can ask her in confidence whether she wants the man to know.
  • When a female patient presents with amenorrhea (absence of a menstrual period), you should first rule out pregnancy, and must always do a pregnancy test no matter what the woman tells you, even if she says that she's never had sex.
I may add to this catalog as I am exposed to more of these atrocities. Also, if you have visited a liberal doctor or hospital and been the victim of such tripe, feel free to contribute your own.

  • This should have been part of the original list, because I had heard it already when I first created this post: As part of a history and physical, it is important to take a patient's sexual history. This should begin with the question "are you sexually active?" and if the patient answers yes, you must follow-up by asking "with men, women, or both?" You must ask this second question no matter how offended you think the patient may be by it, no matter how unlikely you think it may be that the patient will give an unconventional answer (e.g., with a 70-year-old widow.)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Should I change to a serif font?

This blog currently uses a template with a sans-serif font. Some people find serif fonts more readable. I have put up a poll to determine whether my readers would prefer a serif font. Please click on the thumbnail below to see what this blog would look like with a serif font if you would like to make an informed decision.

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Is the MCAT an IQ test?

Terry Morris of Webster's Blogspot noticed my reference to an IQ test being required for medical school admissions, and asked whether the standards for this exam are different for "minorities." I have been thinking about intelligence and medical school admissions lately, so I thought the question deserved a dedicated post here as an answer.

First, anyone who is familiar with the world of medical school admissions will recognize that, when I linked the phrase "IQ test" to the MCAT homepage, there was an implicit wink there. This is because the MCAT is supposedly a knowledge test, not an apititude test. Perhaps some background on the MCAT would be useful.

The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is administered by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). It is divided into four sections: physical sciences, biological sciences, verbal reasoning, and the writing sample. The writing sample is generally considered unimportant. The other three sections are multiple-choice. The verbal reasoning section consists solely of a series of passages, typically excerpts from articles or essays on non-scientific topics, each followed by a few questions designed to examine the subject's understanding of the passage. The physical sciences and biological sciences are arranged mostly the same way; while there are a few stand-alone questions interspersed throughout, most of the questions are based on passages containing a few paragraphs of text on some scientific topic and sometimes a diagram, graph, or table. Officially, the physical sciences section tests one's knowledge of college-level introductory physics and general chemistry, while the biological sciences section tests one's knowledge of introductory biology and organic chemistry. Those are the core courses required for admission into all medical schools in the USA.

Each of the three multiple-choice sections is scored out of 15. The score is scaled relative to other examinees' scores, so simply dividing one's section score by 15 doesn't yield one's percentage of correct answers on that section. The score report, which goes to the examinee and all of the medical schools to which he applies, shows the examinee's score on each section, and the percentile for each section and for the total score relative to all others who took the test on the same day. To give an idea of what the distribution of scores is like, a total score above 30 is generally considered sufficient for admission to medical school, and the average score among students accepted to Harvard is 35. A score above 39 would place one in the 99th percentile, and scores above 42 almost never occur.

Virtually everyone thinks that the MCAT is a knowledge-based test rather than an aptitude test; that is, that it tests how well the examinee actually knows biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. Pre-medical students taking these classes are always concerned about ensuring that the topics appearing on the MCAT are being covered. MCAT preparation courses run by companies like Kaplan or Princeton Review, while they regularly involve taking practice tests, focus on drilling the material. The AAMC publishes a complete list of scientific topics that are fair game for the test, which many students refer to when preparing. And after the exam, before scores have been released, everyone seems to attempt to gauge how well they did by how well they feel they knew the answers to the questions that were asked.

Yet I suspect the MCAT is really a test of critical reasoning; that is, it is closer to an IQ test than it is to a content test. First, there is the verbal reasoning section, which one can prepare for only by practice. To answer the questions requires critical reasoning, because they do not ask for content directly from the passage, but rather are oblique to it, asking for things like inferences which could be drawn from it or approximations of the author's implied but never directly stated position. The physical and biological sciences sections, to be fair, do require a good bit of background knowledge, but again, most of the questions do not simply ask directly about that knowledge but instead require interpretation of a passage, which often, but not always, requires that background knowledge to be fully understood. I can speak only from my own experience here, but my impression after taking the test and receiving my scores is that logical reasoning and critical thinking are more important than mastery of material, or perhaps that if we stipulate a basic level of understanding of the background material, one's logical reasoning and critical thinking skills are what determine one's score. I say this because I emerged from the test demoralized, having felt that I may have bombed the biological sciences section, because most of the passages seemed to be based on topics from advanced biology that had not been covered in the introductory biology courses I had taken. Yet when I received my scores, it turned out I had done quite well. This indicated to me that the ability to reason through the passages was more important than having memorized a large volume of facts.

The other reason I think the MCAT is an IQ test is that the results along race and sex lines are consistent with what we see in IQ tests. Believe it or not, the AAMC actually makes some of this data available on its website. In 2005, according to the most recent summary document available, men on average scored higher than women on every section, though the difference was least on the verbal reasoning section and greatest on the physical sciences section (which relies heavily on math skills), and women scored one grade better on the writing sample. Meanwhile, Asians and whites were equal in biological sciences, Asians edged out whites in physical sciences, and whites surpassed Asians in verbal reasoning. Blacks' averages were significantly lower than both groups in every section.

No one really knows whether the MCAT is an IQ test. Searches of both the general web and scholarly indices turned up nothing. It would be fascinating to see the results of a study designed to look into MCAT-IQ correlations, but in our political climate, I can't see such a study being done. Imagine submitting that grant application. Who would agree to fund it, knowing that the results will probably not only add fuel to the fire of undeniable group differences in intelligence, but also show that the medical school admissions process is a discriminatory one?

Now, before discussing the standards applied to "minorities," I must make two things clear, because of assumptions people tend to make about tests in general. I encountered these misconceptions many times during the admissions process, so I know it can be confusing for people not familiar with the MCAT. First, one does not pass or fail the MCAT; one simply gets a numerical score. Second, schools may do with that score what they will; there is no hard and fast cutoff for admissions. Think of the SAT--whether it's Harvard or your local State U, no college simply accepts everyone with a score above, say, 1200 and rejects everyone below. Just about every medical school will tell you that they consider many factors when making admissions decisions: GPA, academic background, extracurricular activities, work experience, volunteer experience, exposure to the medical field, research experience, letters of recommendation, the interview, and the MCAT. My anecdotal view is that because most schools are dominated by liberalism and wish to appear open-minded and humanistic and not narrowly focused on numbers, they tend to downplay the significance of the applicant's MCAT score and exaggerate the value they place on "soft" qualities like volunteer experience, but there is no doubt that other factors besides the MCAT are important.

That said, are the standards for the MCAT different for "minorities?" Undoubtedly. One can see this by looking at the AAMC's own published data. Among 2006 matriculants, blacks had the second lowest score in each of the three numerically scored sections, second only to Puerto Ricans. There is nothing more to say. Blacks, as well as Hispanics, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders are accepted to medical school with lower MCAT scores than whites.

Why have I been putting the word "minorities" in quotation marks? Because not all minorities are created equal. Every racial or ethnic group in America right now other than whites are a "minority." But as you see from the AAMC's data, there is one minority group which sticks out like a sore thumb, being admitted to medical school with higher scores than whites: Asians, of course. Because of their high average IQs, Asians are over-represented in the upper echelons of society out of proportion to their numbers in the population. This has led to the creation of a new term, "under-represented minority" or URM. In medical school admissions, one does not speak of minorities, only of under-represented minorities. Though as you can see from the table, this is really just a euphemism for "non-Asian minorities," since every racial or ethnic group other than whites are "under-represented" in the medical profession, if you are a liberal and believe that every subset of the American population must reflect the racial proportions of the entire population.

So, the medical schools are sitting pretty. They can use an IQ test to screen their applicants, yet because no one thinks it's an IQ test, they don't have to admit they are doing so. At the same time, they can apply different standards to different racial groups, without taking heat for it because they are looking at the "whole person" rather than focusing on one narrow numerical score. It's a liberal's dream come true.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


My dear, few but loyal readers:

I have been working on draft versions of a few posts over the past few weeks, but without having actually completed any of them, I now find myself in the final two-week period before a week of huge exams. I therefore think it wise to not even attempt to blog for the next three weeks. Putting patients first requires passing one's exams, I believe.

Please return after that time, when I hope to have a few new interesting posts up, including a discussion of the MCAT promised to Terry Morris, a question of whether sexual liberation dissuades men from becoming traditionalists, and a comparison between a Philip K. Dick short story and the nihilism of today's liberals.

Hermes, your future trad-con doc

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The tragedy continues

First, there was the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, when Islamic terrorists tragically hijacked four jetliners and, tragically, flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, tragically murdering thousands of people.

Then came the tragedy of the Virginia Tech shootings, where Seung-Hui Cho tragically murdered 32 people and wounded 17 more, before tragically killing himself.

The latest tragedy is a school shooting in Cleveland, Ohio. Student Asa Coon tragically shot four people before, in the height of tragedy, turning the gun on himself. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's headline on October 13th, Coon's death was "tragic." I have captured the online image of the front page, because the article with the headline wasn't available online.

It's a sad, but by this time predictable, fact of our society that we can't recognize violent crime as the deliberate act of an evil person. Since man is basically good, evil does not exist, and all people are equal, murder is just another random occurrence that befalls us unexpectedly like a hurricane or earthquake.

The only tragedy here is how deeply liberalism has permeated our society. Hopefully, in 100 years, we will be using the word tragedy to describe not murder, but our current inability to understand and combat evil.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Few Reasons not to Give to NRO

At National Review Online's The Corner, fatuous one-line content-free poster extraordinaire Kathryn Jean Lopez posted the following:

A Few Reasons to Give to NRO [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Victor Davis Hanson.

Ramesh Ponnuru.

Jay Nordlinger.

John Derbyshire.

And they're just from today, and just a few of today's NRO offerings.

Consider making an investment in more of the above and more. Donate to NRO now.
Let's see.

Victor Davis Hanson: Thinks that "Americans believe that freedom and consensual government — far from being the exclusive domain of the West — are ideals central to the human condition and the shared aspirations of all born into this world" and that these values are "the same principles for which Americans died at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, and Pusan." Also routinely bloviates against "fundamentalism," a word most commonly used by secularists to refer to any sincere, orthodox religious belief.

Ramesh Ponnuru: Criticized social conservatives' rhetoric against homosexuality as "spiteful, harsh, and obsessive" in an article arguing that homosexual "marriage" is inevitable.

Jay Nordlinger: Wrote that George W. Bush is a "Rushmore-level President" and that if history doesn't bear that out, "history will be wrong." Also that "I have a deep fondness — love, really — for the man, though I don't know him."

John Derbyshire: A nihilistic atheist who thinks that an individual human life has no purpose. When discussing religion, he routinely writes such sneering sentences as "All religious faith, after all, depends on magical thinking. To people who eschew such thinking—people who prefer to ground their beliefs in the strict rules of evidence used in modern law and science—Mohammed’s flying through the air to Jerusalem on a white steed is no more preposterous than the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception." Thinks that Playboy is conservative.

Does a principled conservative need any more reasons not to donate to NRO?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Saying something worth saying

As I've gotten into the thick of medical school, I've discovered that the development of my time management skills has lagged behind the demands being placed on me. It's not easy to blog when one is already behind in the many pages of reading of dense medical textbooks one is expected to keep up with every day. Hence, many entries I started weeks ago remain unfinished.

I've decided that Mark of Western Survival, who also blogs only sporadically, is right: it's better for one's posts to be infrequent but worthwhile, than to post the kind of incessant, trivial, vapid one-liners as we see from, for example, Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO. Of course, it would be great to come up with something astute and thought-provoking nearly every day, as do Vanishing American and Lawrence Auster, but not everyone's schedule (nor intellect) permits this.

I must say that the time constraints I've been under have got me thinking about the liberal nature of our society and the disadvantages conservatives face: I believe it takes more time to be a conservative than it does to be a liberal. This is because liberalism is so thoroughly entrenched in our society as to be the "default" view in most situations. Liberals can therefore take their beliefs for granted; they don't really need to be able to justify them, because they know that most people around them will simply assume that their claims are correct. Conservatives, on the other hand, must spend extra time studying to buttress our arguments, both in order to advance conservative views, because we know that the instant we make a conservative claim we will be called on the carpet for it and will need cold, hard facts to back it up, and to refute liberal ones, because we know that any off-the-cuff rebuttals we offer that are not backed up by "official" citations will simply be assumed to be wrong.

For example, this morning in our small group session, the same liberal black young woman I have referred to previously objected to the term "Caucasian" which was used in a written scenario we were given, on the basis that it was "outdated" (so? Why is it outdated? Must we assume that everything old is bad?) and because it was coined as a contrast to "Mongoloid" and it means "the beautiful people." Now, this claim that the word Caucasian means "beautiful people" sounded totally bogus to me, but I had no basis on which to object to it. I knew that it comes from the Caucasus mountains, but I wasn't sure where that name in turn came from. When I got home, I did some Googling and found the apparent origin of the tale--Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, the German naturalist who came up with the idea of dividing humanity into Caucasians, Mongolians, Malayans, Negros, and Americans, had written that the Caucasus region had produced "the most beautiful race of men." That's it. The word itself is just the name of a mountain range, nothing more. But I, not knowing this at the time, had nothing to say. And whenever this happens--a liberal claim is made and no conservative counterarguments are offered--liberalism wins a small victory.

And what could I have done? There is no way I could have anticipated that this subject would come up, and even if I could have, I don't have the time to spend an hour every evening prepping myself with conservative rebuttals of liberal arguments. I and a liberal classmate can sit in lecture all morning, spend all afternoon reading textbooks, spend all evening organizing our notes, and then at 10:00 PM he can turn to me and say "it's a travesty that the wealthiest nation in the world doesn't recognize health care as a fundamental human right and provide it free of charge to all its citizens." And that that point, it's 10:00 PM and I'm ready for bed; I don't have time to spend hours reading John Stuart Mill and John Locke and Tocqueville and Thomas Jefferson, studying the classical and traditional American concepts of liberty and self-government which contradict this claim, when I've already had to spend hours reading medical textbooks. The liberal, however, faces no such hurdle. The hours spent reading medical textbooks do not interfere with his ability to advance liberalism, because all he has to do is make his claim; the surrounding society gives him the benefit of the doubt.

This is why I'm less optimistic than some of my fellow traditionalists about a revival of traditional America. I fear liberalism already has too strong a foothold in our society. As I put it in an unpublished comment sent to VFR a few weeks ago,

You are correct to point out that both you and Mark, in speculating on how white-majority America might restore itself, are speaking of the coming into existence of something that does not now exist, and that is what we must hope for. The biggest question that comes to my mind is, how can this happen given the extreme and pervasive liberalism of the younger generations? The last generation to have a real memory of traditional America, of what it was like to live in a society where liberalism was not the dominant way of thinking, are now dying out. My parents' generation were the ones who rebelled in the Sixties, but at least they grew up in a world where their parents listened to classical music in the home, they had to read Shakespeare and Wordsworth in school, they learned about the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Pact, and George Washington crossing the Delaware, it was unacceptable for an unmarried couple to live together, homosexuality was unspeakable, there was no affirmative action and it was understood that this was basically a white Western Christian society, etc. They have some memory of that world, and might conceivably return to believing in it if conditions became bad enough.

But they're now turning the reins over to my generation, who are totally cut off from that tradition, having no memory of it, no knowledge of what it's like to live in anything other than modern liberal society, whose only "knowledge" of traditional America comes in the form of the extreme liberal caricatures of it we're so used to hearing: it was a horrible oppressive dark past where women couldn't vote or be educated and were kept barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, blacks had to sit in the back of the bus, everyone was sexually repressed because the extent of the typical birds-and-the-bees talk was "lie back and think of England" and condoms weren't available to 13-year-olds, and so on. Even I, a product of public schools in the 1980s, feel woefully ignorant of such things as literature for someone who considers himself a traditionalist--for example, I read your comment on Scott of Powerline's appllication of Yeats's Easter 1916 to the Dartmouth controversy, and couldn't understand what you found so wrong with it (unless you meant that because Yeats was expressing some admiration for the revolutionaries, the poem just wasn't particularly applicable to this situation.) Frankly, it's hard to imagine any significant number of my peers adopting anything like a self-consciously white-majority traditionalist philosophy, no matter how bad things get. My personal perception is that there are just too many of them who would never return to the "dark ages" when we silly white-bread people were so ignorant that we didn't understand that everyone is different and you have to tolerate and accept all viewpoints and lifestyles, who would literally rather die than become "racist" or advocate "authoritarianism."

I don't mean to be pessimistic and say it can't happen. I agree with you, that as long as we're hoping for something we should hope and work toward the restoration of traditional America which would have historical continuity with the nation that was founded in 1776, rather than the effective dissolution of that nation and its replacement with something which, though traditional and Western, would not be the same nation. I just have not been able to think of a way of surmounting this enormous obstacle presented by the loss of connection to the old America, and our pervasive liberalism, so deeply ingrained in the younger generations that it's as natural to them as breathing. As long as that stands in the way, very few people will want to fight for either the restoration of America or secession from it.
I have to admit, as I re-read that, I was thinking of my medical school peers, and they might not be the most representative sample of the American population. Unfortunate as it is, at this point in time, the cognitive elite in our society tend overwhelmingly to be liberal, and medical students--well, no one wants to admit this, but we had to take an IQ test to get in. Furthermore, only 53% of my class is white, and these Orientals and Indians are not likely to be at the vanguard of a white-majority traditionalist resurgence. So maybe things look worse from where I stand than they do in many other segments of society. On the other hand, the cognitive elites are the standard-bearers and rule-makers, and the time constraints of being a conservative, the necessity of extra studying just to be able to hold our own against liberalism, when many of us have daily lives to attend to, while liberals can get on with their lives while making liberal arguments unopposed if conservatives have not done our homework, make me wonder if control of our society can ever be wrested back from liberals who seem determined to drive it into the ground.
I would be interested in knowing what other conservatives and traditionalists think about this.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Freedom is slavery; increasing secularism is increasing theocracy

John Savage at Brave New World Watch has begun an interesting discussion on how traditionalists should reclaim the virtues of Victorianism and Puritanism, which are constantly denigrated by the left as virtually the apotheosis of everything they see as wrong with the world. In the comments, Vanishing American wrote:

And who was it who said (I wish I could remember) that each age condemns the very thing they have least of: for example our age condemns restraint and self-discipline, and ironically we are in absolutely no danger of overdoing those things.

The quotation she is probably thinking of is one often cited by conservatives, from C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters:

The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under. Thus we make it fashionable to expose the dangers of enthusiasm at the very moment when they are all really becoming worldly and lukewarm; a century later, when we are really making them all Byronic and drunk with emotion, the fashionable outcry is directed against the dangers of the mere “understanding.” Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritanism; and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey.
Notice how Lewis mentions the attack on Puritanism by name, something we continue to see in 21st century America. This quotation also brought to mind a comment I once made on VFR about how the less conservatively religious our society becomes, the more the secular left bizarrely and nonsensically attacks it for becoming increasingly conservatively religious:

...they talk as though traditional religious belief is something that’s on the increase in our society, saying things like “given the frightening direction our country is headed...” or “if this goes on...” , when it’s obvious that by any conceivable measure religiosity is decreasing in America. They make it sound as though until recently, America was the land of the free and the home of the brave atheists, with no religion in public schools, legal abortion and pornography, and other such “freedoms” until we crazy right-wing religious nutjobs just recently came out of nowhere and started trying to take over the country. Can they really possibly believe this? Do they not know that prior to the 1960’s, public schools all across America opened with a prayer and Bible reading, that prior to 1972 abortion was largely illegal, that women really used to be all but formally excluded from the professions, that it was only in the 21st century that sodomy laws were struck down, that many of the states used to have established churches, or even in colonial times made it a crime not to go to church on Sunday?...

Indeed, I would like to ask one of these liberals (and would do so if I ever got into a face-to-face discussion about it) the following question: given that all of America’s past prior to the 1960s, from the time of our very Founding, looks exactly like what you are calling a “theocracy,” do you believe that for most of America’s history we were a theocracy?

As yet more evidence of this, when I was searching for the Lewis quote, I came across a review of The Screwtape Letters by an atheist, who italicized the sentence "and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey" [1] and then had this to say:

I could not resist highlighting that last sentence, which demonstrates a nearly prophetic insight into the political character which has taken Christianity over in the United States today. In recent years, American Christianity has been subsumed into the political aims of an aggressively militant and zealous right-wing faction which, to judge by their actions, believes Jesus supported endless war and militarism, slashing social programs, and cutting taxes on the rich. The leaders of this movement constantly rail against the evils of liberalism and secularism, and support an intrusive, paternalistic state that controls all its citizens' most private decisions - when they will give birth, who they are permitted to marry, under what circumstances they are allowed to die. Most notably, the Christian right supports an omnipotent, unaccountable executive who operates in total secrecy and without checks and balances of any kind. This support verges on worship in the case of George W. Bush, who claims the power to break any law he pleases if, in his sole judgment, doing so is necessary to protect the country from terrorists. If anyone at all could be described as "hastening to be slaves or tyrants", it is the followers of this movement. Whatever Lewis' faults, it stands as a mark in his favor that he recognized, as today's religious right does not, the dangers of blind submission to authority that comes in a religious guise.

Now, this is really quite remarkable. Notwithstanding the devotion to President Bush by some conservative Christians (though this is always overestimated and overstated by secularists) and how it could represent a small step in the direction of tyranny, look at the other things listed as associated with freedom: social programs, taxes on the rich, euthanasia, homosexual "marriage." We've been seeing this kind of thought from the left for a long time, and one must admit, there is a weird kind of internal sense to it: soaking the rich makes everyone else free from economic inequality; banning trans fats makes people free from heart disease; banning tobacco frees people from lung cancer; mandating seat belt use frees people from injuries caused by automobile accidents; mandating comprehensive sex education and the HPV vaccine for schoolchildren and not even allowing parents to opt out frees people from sexually transmitted disease; instituting homosexual "marriage" frees homosexuals to have their relationships publicly recognized, to be guaranteed sharing of spousal benefits. Never mind that much of what has traditionally been considered freedom must be revoked in order to guarantee these freedoms: individual freedoms (e.g., the freedom to decide for myself whether to smoke tobacco), family freedoms (the freedom of parents to decide what's best for their children), and social freedoms (the freedom of a people collectively to decide whether they want their society to recognize sexual deviancy or not.) The only freedom that matters is the freedom to live a liberal life. I admit, many of us conservatives are in favor of various restrictions on individual liberty: abortion, pornography, obscenity, adultery, divorce, though these fall under the classic right of a society to self-regulate, have existed in America since before its Founding, and I wouldn't want them enforced at the federal level. But the left wants to enact (and in some cases already has enacted) some of the most intrusive, oppressive, and burdensome restrictions on liberty imaginable--restricting what we can eat, or requiring us to undergo certain medical treatments--and they honestly don't see this as "hastening to be slaves or tyrants." Freedom is slavery, indeed.

This trend in which the left attacks our society for the opposite of what it is actually doing is certainly perplexing. What could be the reason for it? In the VFR entry mentioned above, Lawrence Auster suggests that because our civilization is under threat from Islam, but we cannot criticize Islam because it is an exotic non-Western Other, the left is displacing what would be proper criticism of Islam onto the West's own religion, Christianity. I don't doubt that that that is a driving factor, but there is another I've been considering. Because liberals believe that man is basically good, they believe that the "default" state of life is a liberal utopia existing everywhere on earth, and the only reason this is not the present reality is that conservatives are interfering and preventing it from happening. Therefore, when they battle with conservatives, they see conservatives as the ones picking the fight, not themselves. In their minds, their role is always passive and the conservatives' is always active. So, for example, when a city has had a nativity scene on display at Christmastime in front of its city hall since time immemorial, and then the village atheist gets the ACLU involved and launches a lawsuit, and conservatives rally to the cause of keeping the nativity scene there, the left seems them as aggressively inserting displays of religion into public life. It doesn't matter if the nativity scene has been there since the town's incorporation; because in the liberal mindset it's not supposed to be, the conservatives are the aggressors and the liberals are the defenders. Indeed, in the liberal mindset, even though their hero Thomas Jefferson, the very author of the phrase "wall of separation between church and state" clearly did not see established state churches as unconstitutional, since they actually existed during his tenure as president and he did not see fit to try to abolish them, religion has no place in public life and anyone seeking to keep it there is picking a fight.

Thus, when conservatives so much as merely try to preserve the present order (e.g., keeping sacred music in the school Christmas concert, keeping strip clubs out of town), the left sees them as working to create or establish a theocracy. They don't realize that most people were happy with the way things were, that conservative activism on these issues really arose only in reaction to the left's in-our-faces attempt to secularize our society, because they view secularism as the way things were always supposed to be from the beginning. Therefore, though they have won many battles, causing a trend away from public religiosity (I won't use their word "theocracy" because America has never been a theocracy), they see the conservatives who are merely trying to preserve the existing order as aggressors, leading to the belief that there is a societal trend toward theocracy.

[1]: When I first read this quotation, I thought that by "liberalism" Lewis couldn't have meant leftism as we know it today, but I didn't know what he might have meant. Then I found a blog called called Deviant Scholar whose author suggests "it is probably closer in meaning to what we would think of as Libertarianism with a conservative streak, or maybe conservatism with a libertarian streak."

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Germany fails to consider deporting Muslims

In a sane and civilized society, that's what the headline would have read. Instead, it reads "Germany considers increased spying on Muslims." Because, as we all know, if you happen to have let into your house a stranger who believes he has a God-given mission to kill or subjugate you, the best way to deal with the threat he presents is to spy on him.

One of the points Lawrence Auster makes frequently is that liberals are continually being "shocked" by reality, and no matter how many times they are "shocked," they always find it "shocking" when the same thing that "shocked" them before happens again. Naturally, this was on my mind as I read this article, and I couldn't help but notice the number of times the word "shock" appears:

  • "Germans were shocked to learn that two of the bombers were native-born and had common German names, Fritz and Daniel."
  • "As shocked as they were by the arrests, the idea of spying on other Germans unnerves many in civil-rights minded Germany , where government surveillance recalls memories of Adolf Hitler."
  • "She noted that while it was a shock to hear of an Islamic terrorist named Fritz, it also was a shock this summer to hear of terrorist doctors in England and Scotland."
  • "That their names are Fritz and Daniel is shocking, but only means that the known spectrum of terrorists has now increased."

Now, one might be tempted to ask, since the Koran is filled with exhortations toward violence against non-Muslims, since Islam has a long history of warlike agression against non-Muslims dating back to its very founding, since the newspapers have been filled with an unending stream of reports of Islamic terrorist attacks on the Western world for decades now, why exactly is it so shocking to discover Muslims planning to kill Westerners? One might as well be "shocked" to see the sun rise in the morning.

But of course, if one subscribes to the liberal view of man as basically good, and evil arising only from external corrupting influences, and the view that everyone in the world wants to live in peace, love, and harmony, and the view that modern liberal secular democracy is the best way of life ever to exist anywhere, and that this fact is self-evident to everyone in the world, so that no one, having been exposed to this way of life, could possibly have any desire to live any other way, I suppose events like this are shocking. Besides, you can't kick that murderous invader out of your house; that would be discrimination.

By the way, the article states that one of the terrorist plotters was a white German convert to Islam, and implies that a second was also, though no information about him has been released. What can Europeans conclude from this information?

"This is what we can expect for the future: The attack plots are going to come fast and furious," he said. "And, as is clear in both these attacks, they're operating in new vistas. Terrorism in Europe is a part of life now."

Ah, terrorist attacks are just going to happen and there's nothing we can do about it. We might as well shrug our shoulders, mutter "it was nice while it lasted," hunker down, and prepare to die. Say, have these Europeans been reading John Derbyshire?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Reduction in residents' hours doesn't reduce death rates

One of the most ominous trends in medicine today is the ongoing trend away from being a respected sovereign profession with a high degree of authority and independence toward a more "team-based, cooperative" (i.e., subjugated to insurance companies, government, nurses, hospital administrators,etc.) one. There are many reasons for this, but in general, it fits perfectly with modern liberal society's view of anything smacking of authority, convention, or a traditional hierarchical social structure as bad, and non-judgemental, tolerant egalitarianism as good.

The call for more humble, less authoritarian doctors has manifested itself in many ways, not the least of which is an increasingly hostile attitude toward the tradition of intense residency training with its associated long work hours and frequent lack of sleep. As some may not know, the term "resident" comes from the fact that under the original system, these trainees actually lived in the hospital and basically never left. Though that requirement was abandoned long ago, for a long time interns (residents in their first year of training) were "on call" every other night, and residents every few nights, and call, especially for interns, typically involved being up virtually all night performing patient care duties, with seldom more than a chance to catch a few cat naps throughout the night.

Obviously, this system is unacceptable to liberals, because it is associated with producing authoritarian, "hardcore" doctors who think they know it all and can do it all, who have an air of confidence about their ability to handle any medical situation. Because this is non-egalitarian, it must be abolished. (The presence of liberals with this attitude within the medical profession has been greatly exacerbated by the presence of large numbers of women within the profession, who are concerned with "balancing" work and family life, a topic on which I have yet to write substantially about.) Liberals will bleat about how it's all about patient safety, but in reality I think they just can't stand the idea of doctors being so "hardcore," as they say, and, as I've learned as a new medical student, there are many liberal doctors and future doctors who feel this way too.

Starting with the famous Libby Zion case in 1984, there has been a movement to limit the number of hours residents can work, culminating in the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's enacting the 80-hour-limit workweek for residency programs in 2003. This is a private accreditation rule rather than a law, but the threat of congressional action was imminent, and the ACGME felt that the medical profession would be better off self-regulated than federally regulated. The rules made it difficult for some programs to meet what they felt were long-established standards of postgraduate medical education: for example, a surgery resident might have the opportunity to participate in a rare procedure thanks to an emergency, but would now have to be sent home because he had reached the 30-consecutive-hour limit on in-hospital time. Still, the thread of congressional action was due to alleged patient safety issues, so everyone has been waiting with bated breath to see if the work hour limitations resulted in fewer medical errors.

Well, surprise surprise, a new study has come out showing that they haven't:
"We can say conclusively that the duty-hour regulations did not worsen patient mortality. There was a lot of concern about that, and we can conclusively say that's not the case," said Dr. Kevin G. Volpp, staff physician and core faculty member at the Center for Health Equity, Research and Promotion at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. "We can also say that there's some evidence of benefit in terms of mortality outcomes."
The only statistically significant difference the studies found was an improvement in mortality for medical (as opposed to surgical) patients at the VA. Meanwhile,

"The big question is how regulating work hours will affect the quality of training of the next generation of physicians who will be taking care of all of us for the next several decades," said Volpp, an assistant professor of medicine and health care systems at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Wharton School of Business. "That's the question no one really knows the answer to."
I don't know the answer either, but I have a prediction: it will make the quality of training worse.

Some may think that I, as not only a medical student who has yet to run this gauntlet, but an older one who will be running it in his mid-to-late thirties, am crazy for standing up for the old system. Certainly all of my fellow medical students whom I have heard voice an opinion on the matter have expressed disdain for the old system and support for the work hour restrictions, believing if anything that they're still not limited enough. But here's the rub: the disdain the express for the old system is of a piece with the disdain liberals express toward our society's traditional historical culture. Everything old, traditional, and Western European must go, because those old white males just didn't "get it." They were products of an ignorant and benighted time who didn't realize that people who strike a healthy balance between work and personal life make better doctors, instead believing that doctors have to be type-A macho jerks. They think that the younger generation has discovered the wonderful idea of shift work for the first time, which for some reason no one ever thought to apply to medicine before, but now that they have, the entire world is going to be filled with goodness and light. It doesn't occur to them that if doctors are shift-based, salaried employees, instead of independent professionals, they will continue to lose prestige, income, and the respect they traditionally as the final authority in the world of health care, until they are just yet another class of pencil-pushers overseen by middle managers.

This is a good example of what might be called the "positive feedback loop of liberalism," where once a liberal idea has infected a person or group, it begins to escalate, creating ever increasing and more fervent demands for even more liberalism. The work week rules were ostensibly established for safety reasons, but they soon created a shift-work mentality in new doctors; these new doctors forgot about the safety issues, and the idea of just plain not having to work as hard became the raison d'être for the restrictions. But since in an important job one will always have to work hard, someone looking for limits on hard work will never be satisfied; so the demands for ever more lenient standards--even more work-hour restrictions, part-time residencies and part-time attending/private practice positions (driven largely by women seeking to have families), and the transition of certain specialties, and in the ideals of some the entire profession, toward a shift-based salaried employment model rather than a sovereign independent professional model--never cease and grow ever more stringent.

There are certainly other reasons for this besides the ACGME work hour rules: for example, increasing numbers of women in the profession, a topic I really must address in its own entry, and the general immaturity of our society. The work hour restrictions, however, are a prime example of the law of unintended consequences, the deleterious effect of our society's obsession with "safety," and the way the medical profession, like our society in general, has become effectively suicidal due to liberalism.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Quote of the day

I just saw John Edwards on the news speaking at a Labor Day rally, and he made the following statement:

"America was built by men and women who were steel workers, who were mine workers..."

Really, Mr. Edwards? It's news to me that America was built by female steel workers and mine workers. I can't imagine how miniscule the number of female steel and mine workers is even today, let alone what it was when the industrial revolution was first getting off the ground.

Making such absurd statements must necessarily result from liberalism, with its axiomatic belief that all people must be totally equal and differences of either the individual or group kind must not exist. We've been hearing the same kind of thing from politicians with their constant reference to "servicemen and women" or our "sons and daughters" who fight to defend our country, phrases which are by now de rigeur for even "conservative" Republicans.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

When "kids" are no longer kids

When I wrote my post on the corrupted usage of the word "single" among the younger generations (though now that I think about it, it's not what single means that is telling, it's what it doesn't mean ), I had already noticed another similar trend: use of the word "kid" by those well into their twenties to refer to their peers.

It's easy to see where this comes from. It's natural for children and adolescents to refer to their peers as kids, and I can well remember doing this myself in high school: talking about the cool kids, the nerdy kids, the shop kids, etc. And if one remains a full-time student, it's easy to see how this habit could persist, especially since our society promotes prolonging adolescence until one's thirties. I've heard my fellow medical students employing this usage--talking about how many "kids" from this year's class are from such-and-such undergraduate institution, for example, or how many "kids" from the med school they saw at such-and-such bar over the weekend. Some of these people just graduated from college this May, but others have been working for a year or two. At my last job, I even had a co-worker, also a medical school applicant, who I think was 27 and did this. I think it's not merely a leftover habit from childhood but a sign of something deeper: that adults don't think of themselves as adults. In the past, a person of the age of majority would have been extremely self-conscious had he let the word "kid" slip in reference to those his age. Now people are using the word without irony, without thinking it's anything unusual.

And just as I've been thinking about this over the past few weeks, Diana West has been in the news with her new book The Death of the Grown Up. In an interview with Newsweek she says:

I remember being at a high-school party, and at 12 o’clock the mother comes into the middle of the room and blows a police whistle and says, “Thank you for coming, goodnight.” What parent would do that today? It’s the same thing with the spring-break syndrome, where kids are planning expensive trips, going out unchaperoned, they are drinking, debauching, absolutely running amok, yet the parents say, “I can’t do anything about it.” Parents have abdicated responsibilities to give in to adolescent desire.

This is reminiscent of the story of the Catholic high school in a wealthy Long Island suburb that cancelled its prom a few years ago because of not merely the debauchery, but the parent-sanctioned-and-funded debauchery that had accumulated around it. Parents were renting liquor-serving limos, chartering "booze cruises," and renting houses in the Hamptons for unchaperoned post-prom parties. Those were presumably parents in their late forties. How much worse will the next generation, those now in their early twenties, be with their children? Will they counter-rebel and return to traditional values, having realized the havoc they're wreaking on society? It's possible if things get bad enough, but it's going to be difficult as long as they think of themselves as "kids."

Friday, August 31, 2007

A genetics/population bleg

I don't know whether I have enough readers yet to start "blegging," but I thought I'd give it a shot in the off chance that one of the few visitors I do have knows something about this.

In our small group session today, one member of the group, a very liberal, biracial (black/white) young woman became reservedly yet visibly exercised when we broached the subject of genetic risk for disease being associated with race. She was quick to tell us that when working at the NIH (an experience she is obviously quite proud of--I'm sure a liberal half-black woman has no trouble getting a job at the NIH) she learned that racial risk factors, while they do exist, are really attributable to social factors correlated with race such as low income, education, living in a high-crime area, etc., rather than to genetics. Naturally, I don't buy that. She also said that the only diseases that are correctly attributable to genetics and correlate with race are single-gene disorders such as sickle cell anemia, and that even in those cases, since it's only one gene, it's not really racial since any person of any race can have that one mutation. She said that multifactorial disorders aren't really attributable to race at all, that there's more genetic variation within races than between races, and of course, repeated the ubiquitous leftist talking point that there's really no such thing as race anyway and it's merely a social construct. She made it sound like at the NIH this stuff is considered firmly established scientific fact.

Now, it doesn't surprise me at all that the NIH has "discovered" the scientific "fact" that racial differences don't actually exist, though obviously, I'm highly skeptical. But I was unable to rebut any of these claims, because I'm really not well-read on this topic, and I figured that this being a subject that is obviously near and dear to her, she would probably have several studies or articles she could cite off the top of her head which she at least believes establish her view, which would make her look like she had science on her side while I was merely a quack engaging in speculation.

So I'd like to ask if anyone can recommend good books, articles, or other sources that may show that what this woman was saying is wrong. Specifically, I'm interested in knowing more about where this idea that there is more genetic variation within races than between races comes from, what its significance really is, and whether it really means what liberals seem to want it to mean. More generally, I'd also love to know if there's been anything solid refuting this incessant claim that there's no such thing as race and it's merely a social construct.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ron Paul

John Savage said that in order to increase traffic, I should mention Ron Paul. I will now therefore mention Ron Paul. Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul. I'll say it again: Ron Paul.

In all seriousness, I think Ron Paul would make a fine President of the United States of America. He is one of the few politicians these days who actually understands and believes in our Constitution. Although my Crunchy Con sympathies disagree somewhat with some of his libertarian economic views, I know America can't be saved without being restored to true democracy and self-government, as opposed to an EU-style "democracy" of universal rights and equality imposed on the people against their will by an unaccountable bureaucracy, and Ron Paul makes this a priority. His reputation in the House as "Dr. No" because of his consistent opposition to spending increases is eminently commendable in an age when most politicians stay in office by voting for goodies for their constituents. (Though I suppose this really says something about the difference between the people of Paul's district in Texas and, say, Ted Kennedy's in Massachusetts.)

Tom Tancredo is still my first choice for the Republican nomination, because he, more so than Paul, correctly identifies immigration as the most important issue facing our nation right now. But if Tancredo doesn't make it, I will have no qualms about supporting Ron Paul for President.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Woman knows best?

I used to regularly attend the mens' ministry at my home church. I don't remember what exactly sparked the discussion, but I remember one point at which the leader remarked upon the necessity of getting over the notion that women don't sin. It is actually a common notion in the modern evangelical world. It's seldom stated explicitly, but often, any discussion of relations between the sexes carries a subtext of assumptions that women are these good-hearted, pure, noble creatures who always want what's best but whose desires are often thwarted by the immorality of uncouth men. You know, snips and snails and puppy-dog tails vs. sugar and spice and everything nice.

These assumptions are often present in the articles and blog posts at Boundless, the Focus on the Family-run site I mentioned in my post on how evangelicals love diversity. A few days ago, editor Ted Slater posted what amounted to a statement of contrition for the personal qualities he possessed while a bachelor and gratefulness toward marriage for absolving him of those sins and reforming him. Part of it read as follows:

"Habits" were a big part of who I was, pre-marriage. Habits like staying up late working on my audio or Web site projects, taking naps whenever I felt like it, eating whenever (and whatever) I wanted, spending money impulsively on new musical or computer equipment, enjoying flirt-tinged conversations with single women, hanging out late with my buddies after worship band practice, getting to work late and staying at the office late, and so on.

The way I prepared for married life was by telling myself, and my bride-to-be, that our wedding day marked the death of the single Ted. On Dec. 21, 2002, the single Ted would be no longer. He would be dead.

The truth is that it took years to shed some of my more self-centered habits, but I do think it was helpful to begin the process by having a specific time in mind where those habits were no longer what characterized me.

The single Ted is long dead. And the happily married Ted doesn't miss him.

Now, it may very well be that Slater was a rotten guy as bachelor and that marriage forced him to clean himself up. I have to question, though, why if this kind of thinking is not part of a trend that sees men as inherently bad and women as inherently good, we never see similar thoughts expressed about women needing to clean themselves up. Indeed, try to imagine a post from Ted's wife Ashleigh alongs these lines:

"Habits" were a big part of who I was, pre-marriage. Habits like staying up late working on my school projects, taking naps whenever I felt like it, eating whenever (and whatever) I wanted, spending money impulsively on new clothes or shoes, enjoying flirt-tinged conversations with single men, hanging out late with my friends after worship band practice, getting to work late and staying at the office late, and so on.

The way I prepared for married life was by telling myself, and my husband-to-be, that our wedding day marked the death of the single Ashleigh. On Dec. 21, 2002, the single Ashleigh would be no longer. She would be dead.

The truth is that it took years to shed some of my more self-centered habits, but I do think it was helpful to begin the process by having a specific time in mind where those habits were no longer what characterized me.

The single Ashleigh is long dead. And the happily married Ashleigh doesn't miss her.

One simply doesn't hear this kind of thing in the evangelical world. And the funny thing is that most evangelicals will still claim to believe in traditional gender roles, even though this totally contradicts the notion that men are inherently bad and essentially need to "submit" themselves to women in order to be reformed. The aforementioned mens' minstry met at 6:30 AM on Saturdays, and some of the men didn't have much time to stay and chat afterward because they said their wives wanted them home to relieve them of the kids. Excuse me, but I thought that when a woman stayed home, taking care of the kids was part of her job. Where in all this are the "submission" of wives to their husbands and the "rule" of husbands over their households of which the Bible speaks? Now we have "conservative" Christian men cowering in fear of their wives, or perhaps, not wishing to provoke sexual rejection.

There's a lot of fretting in the evangelical subculture today about how the divorce rate among professing born-again Christians isn't any lower than that of society at large. That is certainly worrisome and wrong, but it is never going to change as long as evangelicals hold this view of women being morally superior to men.

A profession that doesn't look like America

Some people may wonder why I have described myself, a white male conservative Christian, as a vanishing breed in the world of American medicine. "Oh, cry me a river," I can hear the left saying. "Everybody knows that doctors are a bunch of conservative hoary old coots!" Even those of the conservative persuasion may be puzzled. The image of the kindly, gentlemanly white male doctor still pervades the consciousness of our society. Yet in this as in so many other things, popular perception lags behind reality.

Unfortunately, historical data on the demographics of medical students is hard to find. It may be that no one was keeping track of the race and sex distribution of medical students prior to about 1980. But let's make do with what we can. Consider a hypothetical doctor on the verge of retirement. If he turned 65 years old today, he was born in 1942, and thus most likely started medical school around 1964. At that time, more than 93% of American medical school graduates were men. While racial data was hard to find, I figured from this table published in 1990 that in our hypothetical physician's age group (45-54 at the time), more than 75% of physicians were non-Hispanic white, so we can reasonably extrapolate that this same demographic datum applied to his fellow medical students when he was in school. Furthermore, we know that in the years prior to 1965, when the infamous immigration bill was passed that was responsible for the ongoing transformation of America into a multicultural society, our nation was 89% white. So our 65 year old doctor was a white medical student in a white world.

Some people might not know, however, how drastically the profession is changing. Fortunately, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) has collected all sorts of demographic data about medical students for the past 15-20 years, so it's much easier to look at what's happening now. First of all, there has been a massive influx of women into the field: 2003 made headlines as the first year in which more women applied to medical school than men (though still ever so slightly more men were accepted) and for several years now the ratio of male to female matriculants has appeared to asymptotically approach 50-50. While the implications of this are important, I'd like to confine a discussion of them to its own post and focus on the racial changes here.

In 2006, 61% of medical school matriculants were non-Hispanic white. 7% were black, 7% were Hispanic of any race, and 19% were Asian.* This is something that varies greatly by school. In many Southern and Midwestern state schools, the number of whites still dwarfs the number of Asians, but at East and West coast private schools, Asian students are admitted in numbers greatly out of proportion to their numbers in the general population, and at some California schools Asians outnumber whites. (At my own school, a fairly high-ranking private school, only 53% of this year's class is white while 30% are Asian. Interestingly, this means that the much-maligned and dreaded white males comprise less than 30% of our class.)

Now, everyone knows that for a long time, affirmative action was said to be necessary because "minorities" were at a historic disadvantage in America and needed a special boost in university admissions and job hiring to bring their average levels of education and representation in various professions up to their proportion of the general population. Originally, when we spoke of "minorities" in this sense we almost always meant blacks, though I suppose American Indians and non-white Hispanics may have been included under the banner as well. A funny thing happened on the way to equality, however. After the aforementioned 1965 immigration bill, we began admitting large numbers of Asian immigrants, who as a group have average IQs higher than not only blacks but whites as well. These high-IQ Asians naturally began rising to the top of our society, being admitted to prestigious universities and entering the "cognitive elite" professions in proportions vastly greater than their share of the general population. Suddenly, the word "minority" by itself was no longer useful to describe the groups supposedly needing affirmative action, since these Asians were and still are a minority. Hence, the name of the game these days in medical school admissions is "underrepresented minority," or URM.

The usual justification for affirmative action for URMs is that patients are better treated by physicians who are like them. White physicians, it is said, cannot understand blacks as well as blacks can, and black patients are less likely to feel comfortable with or confide in a white physician compared to a black one. The same is said to hold true for Hispanic patients. Therefore, just as Bill Clinton wanted to create a cabinet that "looks like America," we need to increase the number of URMs to serve the needs of society. But wait--whites are still 67% of the US population, but only 61% of last year's medical school matriculants. Who will meet the needs of that remaining 6% of the population? If black people need black physicians rather than white ones, don't white people need white physicians rather than Indian ones? By the liberals' logic, shouldn't we place some limits on the number of Asians and start practicing affirmative action for whites?

Maybe not. For one thing, large numbers of Asians increase "diversity," by which the left really means non-whiteness, and thus are just as useful as any other race in achieving the leftist goal of turning whites into a minority in our own country. But more significantly, America itself increasingly no longer looks like America. It's troubling enough that we've gone from 89% white in 1965 to only about 2/3 white in the early 2000's. Even worse, however, was the report earlier this year that only 55% of children under age 5 in America are white. So maybe we don't need more white doctors to serve the needs of the "white community." If whites become a minority in America, as we are on track to do unless we wake up, get off our duffs, and enact a moratorium on non-Western immigration soon, even 61% will be too high a proportion of white doctors. The only question that will remain is where we will get all of the Hispanic doctors needed to serve the needs of the swelling "Hispanic community", since most of the Mestizo peasants currently "immigrating" here, with their average IQ of 90, generally don't have a level of intelligence that is considered acceptable to make a good physician.

It doesn't end there, however. So far I have been speaking only of people admitted to and graduating from American medical schools. However, after medical school, in order to be licensed to practice medicine, one must complete a 1-year internship, and while this was not true 50 years ago, nowadays one must become board-certified by completing a full residency in order to realistically make a living as a doctor, since no hospital will bring a non-board-certified physician on staff nor will insurance companies reimburse for services provided by non-board-certified physicians. These residency programs, which exist at teaching hospitals across the country, are funded by Medicare and, unlike the number of slots available in medical schools, their numbers are not controlled by the AAMC. In 2007, 15206 US medical school seniors applied for residency positions, of which there were 21845 available. How did the remaining 6639 residency positions get themselves filled, you ask? Foreign medical graduates, who represent an ever-increasing share of the US physician workforce.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that most of these foreign medical graduates don't come from Western Europe, Canada, and Australia. While some do, a great many are from South Asia and Eastern Europe. They tend to occupy the residency positions that American medical students find undesirable, like primary care fields and programs at community (as opposed to university) hospitals. My uncle, a private practice physician, told me recently of a patient satisfaction survey conducted by the community hospital where he is on staff. He said he suspected that a significant amount of the dissatisfaction patients expressed with the resident physicians could be attributed to their foreignness. "I mean, we've got guys wearing turbans, " he said. "Imagine you're a 75-year-old woman who's lived all her life in Jamison. The only place you've ever seen someone like that is on the evening news!" Yes, some of them really do wear turbans. Suffice it to say that they don't represent the "white community," or the black or Hispanic communities for that matter, very well. I don't think they have much "cultural competence," either. 30 years from now, when you need a primary care doctor, it may not only not be possible to find a white one--it may not even be possible to find an American-born one.

America is currently sick, with a disease called liberalism. Even though most Americans are still at a point where they are afraid to say it, America doesn't look like itself. Still, like many sick patients, it can get better. However, this cure is not going to come from doctors, who have been infected with liberalism themselves. What is needed is a behavioral approach rather than a biomedical one. The patient will need to find his own motivation, and to make some serious lifestyle changes, just as an overweight person who knows he is at risk for heart disease might go on a diet and start exercising. We as Americans can take this patient-centered approach and be cured if we really want to. Medicine and other institutions which represent only small segments of America can't cause top-down change; it has to come from the bottom up. Once we have set ourselves down the right path, medicine, as well as all of our other societal institutions, won't be able to help but follow.

*It's important to note that many demographic surveys don't make a distinction between Orientals and South Asians; thus, the term Asian encompasses Orientals, Indians, Pakistanis, etc. From purely anecdotal observation I'd say that the number of Indian students at my school is equal to if not greater than the number of Orientals.