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E-Pluribus | September 2, 2022
Secondhand censorship, sex differences are not just social constructs, and a lawsuit over misinformation from Harvard's journal of misinformation.
A round-up of the latest and best writing and musings on the rise of illiberalism in the public discourse:
Jacob Sullum: These Emails Show How the Biden Administration's Crusade Against 'Misinformation' Imposes Censorship by Proxy
While the Department of Homeland Security’s short lived Disinformation Governance Board had aimed to take on misinformation and disinformation directly, the government has other ways of trying to quash what it considers falling into those categories. Jacob Sullum of Reason writes about recently disclosed emails that show some government officials leaning on social media providers to do the work for them.
The [Surgeon General Vivek Murthy] email, which was recently disclosed during discovery in a federal lawsuit that Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed in May, vividly illustrates how the Biden administration engages in censorship by proxy, pressuring social media platforms to implement speech restrictions that would be flagrantly unconstitutional if the government tried to impose them directly. Landry and Schmitt, both Republicans, argue that such pressure violates the First Amendment.
"Having threatened and cajoled social-media platforms for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the Left," the lawsuit says, "senior government officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion with social-media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social media platforms under the Orwellian guise of halting so-called 'disinformation,' 'misinformation,' and 'malinformation.'…As a direct result of these actions, there has been an unprecedented rise in censorship and suppression of free speech—including core political speech—on social-media platforms."
Landry and Schmitt reiterate that point in a "joint statement of discovery disputes" they filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. "Under the First Amendment, the federal Government should have no role in policing private speech or picking winners and losers in the marketplace of ideas," they say. "But that is what federal officials are doing, on a massive scale—a scale whose full scope and impact [are] yet to be determined."
Read the whole thing.
David C. Geary: The Ideological Refusal to Acknowledge Evolved Sex Differences
It is not uncommon for advocates of gender ideology to implicate religious beliefs as driving the opposition to their cause (similar to abortion advocates.) At Quillette, however, David Geary says that gender ideology advocates who treat sex and gender differences as mere “social constructs” ignore voluminous scientific research documenting the role sex differences play in many species, including humans.
[S]ex differences in physical traits are well-documented and cannot simply be argued away. Hyde acknowledges some large differences, such as throwing distance, but argues that these are exceptions and that most differences are small. Archer later pointed out that there are quite a few individual traits with large sex differences, including very large differences in homicide rates, which can be 30 to 40 times more common among males (typically killing male rivals) than females, as well as large differences in fearfulness in real-world contexts (85–90 percent of girls and women are more fearful than the average boy or man) or pain tolerance (almost 90 percent of boys and men have a higher pain threshold than the average girl or woman). As Del Giudice and colleagues have argued, the real differences are found in the pattern of related traits.
[ . . . ]
The same is true for girls and women, who typically don’t physically fight but do engage in relational aggression that includes manipulating social information in ways that undermine the reputation of competitors and disrupt their social-support networks and access to would-be mates. Among other things, competence at relational aggression and skill at detecting and avoiding it is supported by a host of social-cognitive competencies (sometimes called emotional intelligence). These skills are also used to build cooperative friendships and include (among others) aspects of language, reading facial expressions, body posture, and gestures, and drawing inferences about the thoughts and feelings of others (called theory of mind).
Girls’ and women’s advantages in these individual areas are generally small to moderate, but in the real world, they work in combination. Here the differences are large; almost nine out of 10 women outperform the average man on tasks that involve their integration. In traditional contexts, female-female relational aggression is common, especially among women in polygynous marriages, and women who are skilled at navigating these relationships generally have more and healthier children.
Read it all here.
Gigi de la Torre: Harvard ‘misinformation’ journal sued for defamation, false statements
The two founders of American Descendants of Slavery are turning the tables on Harvard University’s Misinformation Review, accusing the publication of spreading exactly what it claims to be exposing. Gigi de la Torre of The College Fix reports on legal action taken against the Ivy League giant by two activists who believe they were defamed by the school’s publication in early 2021.
Founders of an African-American advocacy group filed a lawsuit against Harvard University and its Misinformation Review for allegedly publishing defamatory statements.
[ . . . ]
The state lawsuit accused Harvard University and its affiliates of defaming Carnell and Moore, the founders of American Descendants of Slavery, a group that advocates for African-Americans. ADOS wanted black Americans in 2020 to promise to vote for down ballot candidates only, unless the Democratic presidential nominee embraced a specific agenda.
This is not how Misinformation Review, a publication of the Harvard Kennedy School and its Shorenstein Center, framed the aims of the organization and its founders.
Misinformation Review released “Disinformation creep: ADOS and the strategic weaponization of breaking news” on January 18, 2021 and accused ADOS of discouraging Black Americans from voting, spreading misinformation on COVID-19 and pushing Russian propaganda.
According to the lawsuit, the article “[c]ontains allegations of [Carnell and Moore] engaging in widespread voter disinformation and suggestions of voter suppression; ignoring Covid-19 and any potential impact on African-Americans; Using their platform to disenfranchise black Americans from voting Democratic candidates at upcoming local and national elections; and implications of ties to Russian Disinformation.”
Read it all.
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President Biden’s (totally non-political) speech last night has generated a fair amount of buzz online (and not just that photo.) Here, Bill Kristol gets some pushback from Ross Douthat and Shadi Hamid:
Jesse Singal and a commenter on a report that medical schools are taking steps to block applicants who don’t subscribe to diversity, equity and inclusion orthodoxy: