Don't Listen To The Haters - Marriage Is An Accomplishment

Yesterday a friend of mine came across an article in The Huffington Post entitled “Getting Married Is Not An Accomplishment.” The article is not too terribly long and does not break new ground the pop-feminism world, so if you haven’t eaten recently, you might want to go ahead and read the whole thing. But if you don’t want to – and who could blame you? – I’ll provide the most relevant excerpt:
My frustration is this: It is 2016 and being popped the question is still more celebrated than academic and professional pursuits of women. Yes, college graduations and landing a great career and receiving wonderful promotions are all received with happiness from friends and family, but not even close to the same level of elation received when you announce that you are getting hitched. This is my experience, at least.
I am so grateful for the excitement surrounding my upcoming marriage, however, I often wonder why the event of getting married is put on a higher pedestal than the true successes that come along with an education and career. 
Truthfully, this kind of article is easy to obliterate because it is both predictable and poorly reasoned.  I don’t believe in punching down, but there are a few points that I think I’d like to make about this article, points that may slip through the cracks for most readers.

The Obvious

The first couple of points I’d like to make are obvious, but important enough that they deserve being articulated.

The number one thing is this: The author is simply wrong.  Marriage is a much greater accomplishment than having some success at work. Marriage is a lifelong project that requires a level of patience, growth, and commitment to personal growth that many people simply do not possess. I won’t say it’s hard to be married, but I will say that when you’re having a bad day at work, you can still go home at the end of the day, and if things really start to suck, you can get an even better job if you leverage your past successes. In marriage, there is nowhere to go other than back to the marriage to try to make it better; and if you, sadly, find yourself having to leave a marriage, you always end up worse-off than you were before, definitely in the short run and quite possibly in the long run. Compared to work or school, the stakes are much higher in marriage, the time horizon is much, much longer, the effort is greater, and the rewards are much more deeply satisfying – not just according to me, but according to happiness research. To suggest that getting a promotion at work – even a really big promotion and a nice raise – is a greater accomplishment than marriage is, well… insane.

The other obvious point that goes along with this one is that many, many people in the world aren’t lucky enough to get married, ever. A great many more people are lucky to have been married, but sadly haven’t ended up in a successful marriage. Still more people had wonderful marriages that were destroyed through acts of god or circumstance. In short, the author is quite fortunate – or, to use the language du jour, privileged – to be getting married. Her article and her perspective is warped by her good fortune; she is oblivious to the plight of the many people who aren’t so lucky as to be getting married. This makes her article seem cavalier.

The Less Obvious

By the time I had finished the article, I had recalled an old blog post that dispenses with most of the arguments made in this one. You can find it here, and do read the whole thing, because it’s excellent.

The knee-jerk reaction to an article like this, the one that The Huffington Post is counting on, is that we all sit around and pat each other on the back for knowing that a woman’s worth is more than her ability to attach herself to a man. And while we were all patting ourselves on the back for thinking this, the author sprung this little doozy on us:
I can’t blame anyone for being more curious about my relationship status than my career, as I too have been guilty of doing the same with other woman. After all, we are all taught through expertly crafted commercials and advertisements that it is of utmost importance for a woman to get a ring put on her finger.
Perhaps it’s time for society as a whole to re-evaluate what aspect of women’s lives we put the most value on.
There are two very important things to point out about this passage. The first is that the author has the audacity to suggest that advertisers are partially responsible for our having been brainwashed into thinking that marriage is an accomplishment when her own article is a piece of advertising for the Chevrolet automobile company:

That’s bad enough, but there’s something else going on here that strikes me as being incredibly odd. Let’s suppose that the author is correct, that having a successful career is a greater accomplishment than marriage. If the author has a successful career – and she sure seems to, because they aren’t printing my articles in The Huffington Post, then why does it matter to her what society thinks about that?

Stay with me here. This woman has a marriage, and a successful career, so she’s got it both ways. She’s not satisfied by those things, however, because people don’t ask her about the biggest accomplishments she’s had. In other words, her successes aren’t satisfying to her because nobody is asking her the right questions. She’s seeking external validation for her accomplishments. Without it, she doesn’t feel that they are accomplishments.

Let’s say that, instead of having a great career, the author’s biggest accomplishment was learning how to play “Leyenda” for classical guitar. Would she then be arguing that society needs to change so that “we” value classical guitar performances more than marriage? No, of course not – but the point isn’t that not all accomplishments are created equal, the point is that what society chooses to ask you about in casual conversation has nothing to do with how satisfied you feel by having achieved something. It doesn’t really matter that nobody ever talks to me about my accomplishments because, to the extent that I have achieved anything at all, those achievements stand on their own merits. I know I did them, whatever they are. I’m not waiting for people to pat me on the back for having achieved something, and if I did need that, how insecure must I be about those accomplishments?



Some Links

1) At what price, a new Appalchian Trail record? Take a look at Karl Meltzer's winning diet (don't try this at home):
This time, he capped each night with one or two beers and left from rest stops with rainbow-colored Spree candy, Three Musketeers chocolate bars and bacon in his pockets. To save time and keep his energy up, he typically slept less than seven hours a night and instead had an energy drink every 10 miles, downing about five a day. When on another day his support crew found him napping, they gave him a pint of ice cream for a boost.
2) Thpin! Thpin!

3) Tyler Cowen accidentally writes a post so bad that he has to passive-aggressively rebuke his own readers for not letting him get away with it. (I lol'd.)

4) Conservatives are more willing to allow business owners the right to refuse service than libertarians are. Bryan Caplan has the story. There could be many explanations for this, but I'd lean toward anti-conservative bias as a possible explanation.


Run Bike Explore


In honor of my new Garmin device, I'd like to cordially invite all my readers to join my Garmin Connect group, "Run Bike Explore," dedicated to all things adventurous, fun, and fitness-related.

As you may already know, you can connect with me on Strava via the Strava widget on the right-hand sidebar.

And let's not forget my new favorite, SmashRun! Join up with me here.


Back To Garmin

Image courtesy Garmin.com

Today will almost certainly be my last day wearing a Microsoft Band 2. After the clasp broke two months into wearing it and the product had to be replaced under warranty; after the subsequent replacement wore through at the bracelet and had to be patched; after the bracelet continued to crack from underneath the patch; after the other side of the bracelet also cracked and wore through; it was finally – finally – time to throw in the towel and get rid of this terrible piece of barely wearable technology.

As my regular readers know, I was initially quite impressed by the Band 2. I said when I first got it that it offered many important improvements over its predecessors in the history of wearable running gadgets. Those observations remain true today. Unfortunately, none of that matters if the darn thing breaks and falls apart after a couple of months of normal use. Ultimately, the Band 2 suffers from the same design flaw that proved to be the Nike+ GPS watch’s undoing: by placing core hardware inside the bracelet, the manufacturers ensured that the device would fail as soon as anything bad happened to the bracelet. Note that Nike discontinued its running watch and never produced a replacement, opting instead to concentrate on a smartphone app. I don’t know what Microsoft’s plans are as far as future Band products go, but considering what an utter failure the Band 2 ended up being – based solely on hardware design shortcomings, it must be emphasized – it seems unlikely that Microsoft would be keep to jump back into the smart watch game. But then again, no one else is making a Windows-platform smart watch, and Microsoft apparently aims to compete with the likes of Google and Apple.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, however, the failure of their Band 2 – the complete and utter avoidable failure of it all – has soured me not only on future Band products, but also on Microsoft products as a whole. The Band 2 was relatively pricey at $250. While the software that it runs is undeniably good, I feel the sting of loss here. Perhaps if I were made of money, then I wouldn’t think twice about burning through $250 on an experimental smart watch. But this hurts.

Before my second Band 2 fell apart, I was seriously considering replacing my laptop with a Surface Pro. They look so cool. They seem so good. It’s tempting. But when I think about my experience with the Band 2, I suddenly become reticent. Why would I spend $900-$1500 on Microsoft’s flagship hardware when their $250 wearable couldn’t last me two measly months? I simply can’t justify it. Microsoft made the mistake of losing me as a customer for life. I’ve gone from being a promoter to a detractor.

Well, enough sour grapes. I still love tracking my activity, but now what do I do?

My back-up plan was always to revert back to my trusty Garmin Forerunner 620. This highly reliable device sucked me into the wearable tech game in the first place, by providing me with an endless sea of graphs and charts to gaze at every time I ran. I even got into heart rate zone training for a while because of it. Something that worked so well for so long, without any signs of device failure whatsoever, could surely last me a little longer.

As I considered dusting off the old 620, I realized that without my daily step count, continuous heart rate monitoring, sleep monitoring, etc., I’d really be missing out on a lot of good fun. Meanwhile, I had good evidence to suggest that there is at least one company out there that knows how to make a fitness watch that doesn’t immediately fall apart: Garmin. So, I thought, why not replace my miserable broken Microsoft thing with Garmin’s equivalent offering?

Here I had essentially two choices: I could opt for the modern-day equivalent of my Forerunner 620, which was Garmin’s flagship model at the time I got it, or I could opt for the model more closely resembling my Band 2. Each product has its own advantages, and of particular interest to me and my readers was the Forerunner 735XT’s advanced running features, such as VO2 max estimator, recovery advisor, and race predictor. But at a price of $450, I realized that I’d be spending about $200 more to receive statistics that were simply not worth $200 to me. Instead, I opted for the vivoactive HR device. I may lose out on some of these deeper running stats, but the device will still deliver all of the benefits of my Microsoft Band 2, plus a few Garmin exclusives like the GLONASS location tracking system. And, to my delight, it seems that Garmin has greatly improved on its mobile app since the days of my Forerunner 620, so I should have something that is superior to the Band 2 in every way that matters.

And I’m speculating here, but I think I can actually gain access to at least some of the Forerunner line’s running stats if I connect the vivoactive HR to the chest strap HR monitor that came with my 620, i.e. that I already own. More on that if it pans out.

For now, it’s time to charge up my new device and prepare to move back over to a superior fitness tracker. The journey continues.


Some Links

  1. Jakob Thusgaard is getting progressively closer to a proverbial GPS fitness app "Rosetta stone." Check out his handy guide for app-syncing right here. For background on this problem, you can see my previous posts here and here.
  2. Much to my chagrin, my local area is in for unseasonably cool temperatures within the next week or so. We're talking highs in the mid-50s, and keep in mind that the weather is in the mid-90s today. So this is a 40-degree (Fahrenheit) plummet in temperatures over the course of about 2-3 days, at least according to forecasts. Time to get my cool-weather running gear in order.
  3. Alex Tabarrok links to an excellent blog post from Mike Rowe, on why he elected to work jointly with the allegedly nefarious Koch Industries.
  4. Adam Gurri continues his struggle with understanding the nature of morality, this time as a response to Paul Crider. My response to Adam is the same as my response was to Paul: I believe I have already solved these problems (here, here, here, and here). In order to accept my solution, however, one has to bid farewell to many of one's treasured philosophical hobby horses.
  5. Labor Day was yesterday, but it's never too late to link to a great article by my favorite economist and libertarian, David R. Henderson.
  6. I haven't seen others blogging it yet, but the fact that ITT Technical Institutes has shuttered its doors - all of them - strikes me as pretty huge news. The company blames overregulation, and while I am sympathetic to their argument, the specific amount asked for by the DOE seems low for a company that size. Perhaps ITT Tech was already over-leveraged.
  7. I have before never heard of doctors' prescribing oral antidiabetes medicine for the treatment of type 1 diabetics. According to this article, patients receiving a combination of insulin and two different oral medicines can expect a 0.66% reduction in their a1c levels, along with a 6-8% increase in blood cholesterol levels and a significant increase in DKA. Sounds like a lousy deal to me, but make your own decisions here. The article is interesting nonetheless.


The National Anthem: America's Hijab

I haven’t been following the Colin Kaepernick controversy because it involves things about which I don’t particularly care: football and nationalism.

However, recently a friend of mine posted on social media that people should be free to protest, but that they ought not protest at work. I happen to agree with that statement (ethically speaking, of course, not legally), but it made me realize something profoundly odd about the Kaepernick controversy, which is that people have taken the singing of the national anthem as the default. That is, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, if you hear the national anthem, you’re supposed to stop everything, put your hand on your heart, and sing.

This is weird. Catholics don’t even feel this way about the Nicene Creed. This default-to-respect-the-national-anthem mentality is more a profoundly religious behavior than some of the most significant religious convictions out there. The only thing that I can compare it to in my mind is the almost obsessive way some Muslims insist on saying “peace be upon him” any time anyone makes mention of their prophet. Like, you can’t just mention him if you’re a Muslim, you have to immediately also say, “Peace be upon him” or “Alhamdulillah” or something.

I’m not criticizing it, it’s just a fact. The convention is that the prophet is so holy that the mere mention of him requires that we pay a small verbal piece of respect to him. I cite this as a comparison because there is no real equivalent in the West for such behavior. We can mention Jesus, Abraham, Buddha, or anyone else without immediately verbally genuflecting, because that’s our convention, that’s our social norm. We can even say “god” without having to immediately praise him. We in the West have never had anything quite like “PBUH” and similar statements that exist in Islam.

…At least, we haven’t had any such equivalent until now. Now, the US national anthem serves a similar purpose. As soon as you hear it, stop everything and pay your respects! Anything less is either blatant disrespect, or a protest of some kind.

It should go without saying that mindlessly reacting to a patriotic song is not the same thing as being patriotic. That is, a person’s hand over their heart is intended to be an action that merely represents or demonstrates patriotism. It is not patriotism itself. To use a silly example, George Washington was an American patriot long before the national anthem even existed. A person could do many patriot things and dedicate herself to civic duty and patriotic service, and still opt out of standing for the national anthem. Such a person would still be patriotic. It’s not standing for the national anthem that makes one patriotic, it’s expressing patriotism some way or another.

Likewise, many people do absolutely nothing for the country they live in, and yet stand for the national anthem nonetheless. Are they patriots? Not unless the one thing that determines a person’s patriotism is standing for the national anthem.

Ironically, this will probably be very easy for my Muslim readers to understand. They know full well that, for example, putting on a hijab doesn’t make a person modest or dedicated to god. The hijab is just a way to outwardly express what is presumably true within their hearts and minds, as far as dedication to god is concerned. So many people have written criticisms of women who live quite wildly in their youth, and then suddenly decide to put on a hijab when they’re ready to settle down and find a good husband. Are such people “truly modest,” or “truly dedicated” to god? Of course not. They might even be hypocrites. But the point is clear: it’s not the act of wearing a hat that makes you a dedicated Muslim. The hijab is just a hat, really. It’s not the hat that makes the Muslim, it’s the religious conviction. The hat just represents all that.

This implies that the national anthem is just a song. That’s all it is, it’s a song. To be sure, it’s a patriotic song. It’s a song sung on occasions on which we wish to express a devotion to our country. But that’s all it is. Standing and singing a song doesn’t make you a patriot. Nor does sitting during the national anthem make you disrespectful to your country. There is way more to it than that.

As time goes on, though, people are becoming less and less capable of differentiating between symbols and the objects they symbolize. In many Muslim communities, all anyone cares about is the outward demonstration of piety – but real piety doesn’t really matter. As long as a woman is wearing a hijab, the community deems her pious; the rest is ignored. And similarly, as long as Kaepernick was standing for the national anthem, nobody cared. The minute he chose to actually think about the state of his country and make a conscious decision to affect change for the better was the moment everyone deemed him insufficiently patriotic.

It’s just a song!


Theory And Practice, Episode Four

Originally published at SweetTalkConversation.com.

If you spend any time at all thinking about moral philosophy, eventually you face a set of difficult questions. Some of these are:
  • If making ethical decisions comes down to learning and applying the correct moral framework, why do people disagree about morality at all?
  • Couldn’t we just sit down together, discuss The Virtues, or whatever, determine what the most virtuous action is, and proceed accordingly?
  • Why, even after acting in accordance with our moral philosophy, do we still face doubts and even regrets about what we’ve done?
  • And so on.
There are a few possible explanations for all of this. One might be that, while the Virtues (or our preferred moral philosophy) are perfect, human reasoning is not. Another might be that truth is untruth in the moral realm as much as elsewhere. Still another might be that morality is subjective. Or, more radically, perhaps morality is a psychological illusion or a sense of self-justification we instigate ex post facto.

But I gravitate to another explanation: Moral reasoning is a skill that must be practiced and perfected.

Stages Of Moral Reasoning

In mathematics, we must learn arithmetic long before attempting to solve a differential equation. We learn things in stages, starting with elementary concepts, which can gradually built into far more elegant thinking. Some people cannot visualize four-dimensional space, some can. The difference is only the level of refinement in their thinking. Have you internalized your basic mathematical concepts, learned trigonometry, and understood the geometric implications of calculus? Then you can probably envision 4-space easily. Is your background in mathematics a little weaker? Then you probably cannot – but you could, if you developed the capacity for mathematical reasoning.

But does an analogous concept apply to moral reasoning? Lawrence Kohlberg says yes. In his research, he proposed six – and hypothetically seven – stages of moral development ranging from the elementary (punishment avoidance) to the refined (principled conscience).

Kohlberg’s research built on the cognitive development theories of Jean Piaget. In a recent article entitled “Fostering Goodness & Caring: Promoting Moral Development of Young Children,” Ruth A. Wilson writes,
According to Piaget (1965), children construct and reconstruct their knowledge of the world through interactions with the environment. Such knowledge includes children’s understandings about what is right and what is wrong (Piaget, 1965). Moral development and cognitive development are thus closely intertwined. Moral reasoning is, in fact, considered to be one of the central aspects (or “building blocks”) of moral functioning (Berkowitz & Grych, 1998). Being a “good” person, however, involves more than having the cognitive understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Other central aspects of moral functioning include empathy, conscience, and altruism (Berkowitz & Grych, 1998).
That’s where Kohlberg’s theory of the stages of moral reasoning kicks in:
Developmentalists, such as Kohlberg, propose that the process of attaining moral maturity occurs over time if conditions are favorable for such growth. They also believe that a child’s moral maturity is directly related to the way she thinks about concepts such as justice, rights, equality, and human welfare. Over time and through a variety of social interactions, children come to develop their own understandings of these concepts. Thus, their sense of “goodness” is constructed through their own thinking about their experiences and through dialogue with others about what these experiences mean (Nucci, 2001). Children’s sense of goodness is also fostered through encouragement offered by significant adults in their lives. One principal of an elementary school in Florida offers such encouragement at the end of his daily announcements by saying something like, “Remember, children, be kind to one another” (Comora, 2004).
Dr. Wilson argues that simply handing children a “bag of virtues” is insufficient for the development of effective – and hopefully highly superior – moral reasoning. Citing Robert Coles, she writes, “We may be able to get children to do certain things or ‘to behave themselves’ as we want them to, but that doesn’t mean they’ve developed a sense of goodness or morality.”

In short, it’s not enough to teach moral philosophy – not to children, not to anyone. Knowing what is the right and wrong thing isn’t sufficient. We rather need to develop our capacity for moral reasoning. It’s not philosophy in a vacuum, it’s applied cognitive development as it pertains to the ethical realm.

Theory isn’t just useless in absence of practice, it cannot even be fully understood without our having reinforced Theory’s concepts in real-world interactions!

Wilson’s Recommendations For Moral Development

As a brief aside – partly because I am a parent, and partly because I think it is a good showcase of what developing moral reasoning looks like in practice – I’d like to briefly outline Ruth Wilson’s recommendations for how to help children develop good moral reasoning. She elaborates in the article linked above.
  1. Help children understand the reasons behind the rules – including the ethical rules. Children shouldn’t ever be told “because I said so.” (Never! By the way, this is a good way to develop narcissistic tendencies in a child.) Instead, ethical rules should be discussed with children in the form of a true dialogue – with the child offering his or her own thoughts on the subject, and the parent highlighting some important ethical considerations.
  2. Match ethical instruction to the level of the child’s cognitive development. A toddler certainly can’t understand Pareto optimality, for example, so explanations and lessons must come in a form the child can understand at that moment in time. If a child is only capable of Stage Two moral reasoning (the “what’s in it for me?” stage), then the moral instruction should arrive in that form, and hopefully hint at Stage Three.
  3. Attend to the victim first. That is, when one child hurts another, first ensure that the injured party has been given the right attention. This helps both the injured and the injurer understand that the important thing is to consider other people. If, by contrast, we started by punishing the guilty child, the only lesson that child would learn is the Stage Two level of reasoning: “I did XYZ, and it didn’t work out for me.” Me, me, me.
  4. Reinforce ethical lessons with children’s literature. Aesop, Plato, Jesus, and Rand taught with the use of parables because doing so is a highly effective way to teach moral reasoning.
  5. Expose the child to animals and pets. Doing so helps them develop empathy, kindness, and gentleness.
  6. Model, encourage, and reward good moral behavior. This is, in fact, vitally important. Not only does “do as I say, not as I do” encourage narcissism by presenting rules as arbitrary, but children simply imitate adults. It’s what they do.

Results And Moral Development

You need not buy into Kohlberg’s theory of stages wholesale to internalize the more important piece of information: Morality is a skill and, like any skill, it can be learned and refined. But refining a skill requires practice, not just theory. As per my usual hobby horse, the result of the skill of moral reasoning should be moral outcomes, not moral reasoning. In other words, moral philosophy should never be an end in itself. Our focus should always be on producing better outcomes.

What do I mean by “better outcomes,” and who gets to decide? As I have written previously, what this means to me in practice is that better outcomes are those that produce more happiness and more mental health, and the person who gets to decide what that means is you.

Many of the previous objections I have received to this idea pertain to the notion that morality cannot be objective, and that psychologists are no better at arriving at good moral reasoning than moral philosophers. If Kohlberg is correct – even in theory – then one explanation for this is that there is no guarantee that a person who is very knowledgeable of moral theory has a well-developed sense of moral reasoning. This also explains why we often hear that ethicists are no more moral than anyone else.

These thinkers are akin to music teachers who know extensive music theory and pedagogical techniques, but who cannot play their instruments with any level of expertise. (I know a music teacher who gives lessons for instruments he himself does not even play.)

We can learn moral theories from philosophers, but that does not imply that moral philosophers act morally. We can acquire extensive knowledge of philosophical and moral theory without ever having developed a real-world sense of moral reasoning.

For all of these reasons, I have come to believe that what matters for morality is not theory and philosophy, but practice and results.

Is The Problem With PC Its Political Agenda?

At EconLog, Scott Sumner writes a blog post on what he feels is wrong with political correctness. It's not that he opposes student safety and comfort, but that the PC movement aims to prevent discomfort "for the wrong reason." What is that reason, according to Sumner?
The primary agenda is to advance a partisan political cause, not to make people feel comfy.
He continues (emphases added):
People on the left don't see the political aspect of PCism, for roughly the same reason that liberals don't see that NPR is liberal, and fish don't notice that they are wet all the time. (Disclaimer, NPR is my favorite radio station--but I do see its liberalism.)
In other words, Sumner believes the point of the PC movement is to advance left-liberalist politics. Against this narrative, I have an anecdote to offer.

When I was a young boy in elementary school, we all hit puberty at about the same age and were invited to a "maturation program" provided (officially) by the school faculty. Some students from very conservative families were excused from the program if their parents provided a formal written request that they be excluded. Instead, they stayed in their primary classroom and worked quietly on their homework.

We didn't have the language of "safe spaces" back then, but the comparison is a perfect one. Very conservative students were given a safe space to avoid being triggered by frank talk about human biology.

Long story short, I don't think it's reasonable to say that all PC demands align with the same political agenda, thus I don't think Sumner's criticism here is fair. There are some instances in which political correctness has served non-leftist political agendas, too.

So if political correctness isn't about one political agenda in particular, what is it really about?

I will speculate that people - and therefore also students - are growing increasingly hyper-sensitive to narratives that don't support their own beliefs, whatever they are. The postmodern insistence that perception is reality has unwittingly encouraged us to manage our perceptions in an effort to control our reality. If the only difference between my reality and yours is my perception that, say, minimum wage can increase the poor's quality of life without reducing their employment rate, then I can claim that this is true for me. After all, I perceive it to be so.

In such a world, facts start to become irrelevant to perceived reality. If I only allow myself to see blue light, then the whole world is blue. Your efforts to shine red light on my reality could be perceived as a threat - how dare you attempt to forcibly alter my perception?

This is only a story, of course, but it's one intended to cast light on the thinking of the politically correct. I don't believe these folks are actively trying to promote a political agenda so much as they are afraid to consider any reality beyond the one that they have carefully curated for themselves. Accusations that these folks are too sensitive are more accurate, in my opinion, than accusations that they are too politically motivated.

Long before the university years, we should have taught our children that perceptions and beliefs can be highly inaccurate, and that the proper way to live one's life is by dismantling one's own illusions and relentlessly pursuing truth, wherever that leads. But our modern-day philosophers relish opportunities to cast doubt on the existence of both truth and reality, and therefore a lot of us are simply ill-equipped to teach our children how to exist in a world in which some ideas are hotly contested, and no one group has a monopoly on reality (perceived or otherwise).

I'm relentlessly criticized for referencing Ayn Rand, but she accurately predicted and described all of this in her essay "The Comprachicos," from The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. There is much to criticize in that book and that essay, but the thrust of her ideas still rings true despite whatever discussions we might have about her tone or the details of her philosophy.