The NY Times, despite having an op-ed page that already hosts with Brooks, Dowd, Douthat, and Friedman and is a toxic waste dump of Oakeshittian wingnuttia and muddling centrism worthy of Superfund status, has decided to enrage those readers who still remain by hiring away the preternaturally smug Bret Stephens from the WSJ. Stephens has decided it is in his interest to do an “I’m not a science denier or moron, I’m just a fucking asshole” tour to deflect some of the criticism lobbed at him, and sat down for an interview with Vox. Lots of fabulous stuff (including downplaying campus rape by equating it the rape crisis in the Congo), but this is my fucking favorite:
My wife is German, so I know something about German energy policy.
With logic like that, I can see why the Times needed to hire him.
Here are some more excerpts:
“Look, at the risk of being incredibly politically incorrect, but I guess that’s my job — I think that all lives matter,” Stephens said. “Not least black lives.”
But if sexual assault rates in, let’s say, east Congo were about 20 percent, most people wouldn’t travel to those places. Because that is in fact — or, that would be, in fact, the risk of being violently sexually assaulted.
I am not for one second denying the reality of campus rape, or sexual assault, or behavior of the sort you saw from that swimmer at Stanford — that’s inexcusable and should be punished.
I’m taking issue with the claim that there is an epidemic based on statistics that, when looked at carefully, seem to have a very slim basis in reality. So what you’re transforming is horrendous, deplorable incidents into an epidemic — and that’s not altogether supported by reliable data.
Another example I took issue with is the idea that one in seven Americans are hungry. That’s not true. It’s not. It’s a problem because it’s not true.
Does this mean there aren’t hungry Americans? No. Does this mean we shouldn’t care about hunger in America? No. But when you have a campaign you see on subway billboards and elsewhere saying one in seven Americans is hungry, that’s false.
Here’s the problem with people like Bret Stephens (and I am not defending the stats he is attacking because, get this- I HAVEN’T FUCKING RESEARCHED THEM)- first, he knows full well what he is doing. He’s not plucking these statistics for disdain out of thin air. He attacks these specific statistics to allow breathing room for the deniers of problems that conservatives don’t like, don’t want to deal with, or would lose money if they had to address them.
Second, if you have a problem with statistics, the way you handle it is by demonstrating how the statistics are wrong. You show the flaws in the methodology, you run your own numbers and present them for peer review. What you don’t do is say “those numbers are bullshit because they give me a sad” or “there is not a crisis with sexual assault because the numbers seem too high” or “I see lots of fat people so how can all these people be hungry.”
What Stevens will now be doing, in the allegedly liberal NY Times, is going forward and farting through a megaphone into the public square, drowning out those people who have run the numbers and are trying to make evidence based cases that, unfortunately, are not as succinct as holding up a snowball in the well of the Senate or a bumpersticker that says “Stop Global Warming: Kill Yourself.”