Starting tomorrow, Basic Skill Levels Still Down: For readers of the Washington Post, it was a very tough weekend.
Yesterday afternoon, we wasted hours clicking the links in the Sunday Outlook essay authored by Jay Newton-Small.
After that, we tried to convince ourselves that Outlook had actually published this essay by 31-year-old on-line classicist Donna Zuckerberg. The essay, though perhaps not the person, was a truly strange piece of work.
In the case of Newton-Small, we were maddened by the number of links which led to sources which made no reference to the points, or to the statistical claims, supposedly being established.
Do editors at the high-profile Outlook section make any attempt to check such things? By the end of the day, we assembled the analysts and made a hard statement:
Despite our reports from two weeks ago, basic skill levels still seem to be way, way down!
Full disclosure! Beyond the narrower question of basic skills, several mournful future anthropologists called our attention to several basic aspects of Newton-Small's report for the Post.
"[In her essay, y]ou see the need to make all observations conform to pre-existing tribal narrative," these disconsolate future scholars almost despairingly said. "Beyond that, you see the ancient, hard-wired need to create a group of Others, then to aim a sweeping moral denunciation at this disfavored group."
After hearing from the anthropologists, we were able to see the way these basic "human" impulses surfaced in Newton-Small's essay. Indeed, we almost thought we saw the same pattern in this latest sneak attack on our own award-winning work by our favorite blogger, Irvine's Kevin Drum!
Newton-Small attacked the Others for their sexism. Writing from Irvine, Drum had spotted the "red-blooded racism" the Others had displayed by moving to the very same city he did!
While Drum checked in from Orange County, Zuckerberg wrote from the far side of Neptune. All in all, we'd have to say that basic skill levels remain way down, even within our own tribe!
(Then too, there was Candidate Harris' statement yesterday about the gender pay gap. Under current tribal rules, when Others make statements this misleading—so misleading that they're essentially wrong—we liberals feel obliged to describe such statements as "lies." This seems to fit the pattern described by the future anthropologists, who claim that decades of such behavior greased the skids towards Mister Trump's Eventual Lunatic War.)
Starting tomorrow, we'll postpone our study of Professoriate Down to focus on these new developments. Last week, we explored the dispiriting history of this decades-old leadership fail—The Rise of Leadership Down.
We studied The Rise of Leadership Down! Our reports went exactly like this:
Tuesday, May 14: Alex Jones didn't start Leadership Down. Neither did Donald J. Trump!In the view of many future scholars, Trump is merely the craziest yet. Starting tomorrow, a troubling anthropological series:
Wednesday, May 15: In a clear case of Trump-before-Trump, disordered behavior by stars of the press was already taking us down!
Thursday, May 16: Diane Sawyer popped the question to Maples. This too was Leadership Down!
Friday, May 17: Drinking beer with Candidate Bush—plus Candidate Muskie's lost tears!
Basic Skill Levels Still Down!