Paraphrasing Tolstoy, smart people are all smart in the same way, yet stupid people are idiots each in their own special way.
I was thinking about it this week when reading a story, now rather infamous, in the New York Times about the firing of an organic chemistry professor at NYU. You may naturally assume that Dr. Jones, who is 84, had dared utter now-banned non-woke blasphemies. “Another case of crazed progressives!”
Well, not at all! This is actually a different story.
His sin was that his organic chemistry class, which he had been teaching for decades, was now suddenly deemed “too hard.” The students, that Maoist biomass of anger and excommunication, have petitioned the administration to protest their bad grades, resulting in the banishment of the elderly professor.
Protesting his own termination, Dr. Jones pointed to a trend known to many: “Students were misreading exam questions at an astonishing rate… they weren’t coming to class… they lack focus.”
And yet as per the students’ petition, they felt entitled to get into medical school, for which a good grade in organic chemistry is required.
So what is this? Are the students simply stupid? Is this the result of “wholistic” admissions where instead of SATs and GPAs students are selected by their levels of blackness and lesbianism?
A little bit of that, perhaps, but it’s not the whole story. Even with “wholistic” admissions, America’s prestigious colleges, NYU being one, are rather selective. Yes, perhaps the class of 2022 is not as merit-selected as the class of 1972, but this is still not a cohort of low-IQ baboons. No! These are students formerly helicoptered by tiger moms from dance class to soccer practice to school counselors to ADHD advisors, and to every possible extra-curricular activity. So what went wrong?
As stated above, many roads lead to stupidity, not only the one of natural baseline low aptitude. Anybody teaching young people or working with them knows that something is rather off. They have no idea what it means to study. Organic chemistry is nothing like women’s studies – it is not a class for expressing your own opinions, or where a grade is set by the scribbling of an incongruous essay. Like all the hard sciences, it requires A LOT of practice. It requires hours of concentration with practice problems, it allows no time for sipping lattes on the quad, it requires both an analytical understanding and a good degree of memorization.
And organic chemistry is not even the hardest topic out there. Almost any scientific subject requires a similar level of investment and dedication. Sorry, that’s what it means to be smart! Not the stringing together of trite imbecilities about BLM!
This is also true about the humanities when properly taught and mastered, though it’s easier to lower the standards there. A real master of English literature, for instance, would be expected to be familiar with the major treasures of our literary inheritance, and even (God forbid!) quote from them. And not to mention, be familiar with a couple of foreign languages for comparative studies. Naturally, this does not happen, and instead we churn out English majors unfamiliar with anything but “ethnic studies” and “notions of queerness in early American literature.”
The funniest, and most reality-affirming quote from the NYT’s piece is this: “After the second midterm for which the average hovered around 30 percent, they said that many feared for their futures. One student was hyperventilating.”
Hyperventilating! Yes, no doubt you are familiar with this habit of the younger cohorts, which has also caught up with women of any age cohort. Anybody spending time on Twitter spaces or on Clubhouse should be well familiar with this argumentum ad hysteriam, the tendency to scream, hyperventilate, and display an attack of hysterics instead of thinking and speaking calmly.
“Silence is violence!” so we must never shut up and think for a little.
What we have here really is not a case of witless asses crammed into the halls of Academia. No, this is a case of relatively competent, at least at a base level, young people, who have become stupid, perhaps incorrigibly (“A good mind once lost, is lost forever!”).
Obviously one can be stupid by simply having a low IQ. But stupidity is where the ideal of diversity is finally manifested triumphantly! There are so many hyperventilating shapes and forms to it!
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