Is James Lindsay's description of Wokeness accurate?

In the linked video, James Lindsay presents an overview of Wokeness, or Critical Social Justice, or what we might call Critical Theory of the post-post-modernism era. Lindsay is opposed to this movement but does he present its ideas accurately here? The video is long. In short, he claims they reject objective reality, or at least they reject any truth claims about reality, and that only power relations matter to them. They openly reject liberalism. If anyone here knows more about this topic, and has the patience to the view the video, I would much appreciate what you have to say, especially if you yourself are a proponent of the ideas discussed.

I myself come down on the side, “This is all horrible,” – basing my opinion on the video. But what if he is not presenting Wokeness fairly?

Only a few minutes in, but he’s already defending the use of Cultural Marxism in some circumstances :roll_eyes: not promising but I shall soldier onwards and listen to the whole thing

I’m about 10 minutes in and he appears to be attacking Marxism, not defending it. I expect to hear “post modernism” any minute. I’m hearing a guy in khaki dockers and navy jacket regurgitating Jordan Peterson. Nothing new under the sun so far.

BINGO! Post-Modernism @ 11:30 min

ETA: I have not decided where I stand on the concept of the “woke” movement. But I think I’ve decided that many of its critics haven’t had an original idea between them.

I just can’t anymore with this idiot. It’s just recitation from the book of pseudo-intellectual JP acolytes.

I’m not much for watching videos, so I read a few of his articles instead (New Discourses). The word pseudo-intellectual was exactly what came to mind. He doesn’t make particularly good logical arguments, but instead makes statements without much justification.

So… is the idea that the way we do science, the questions we think to ask, the ways we go about answering them – that’s all dependant on the surrounding culture and is irrevocably affected by it – is that true? Well. Certainly! Just this morning I was talking to my wife about how the Victorians brought so many mummies back from Egypt that they had “mummy unwrapping parties” where the wealthy elites bought some mummies from plundered Egyptian tombs and unwrapped them, just for shits and giggles.

Think about how much archeological knowledge was lost this way!

Or think about the guy who dynamited Troy while trying to prove Troy existed.

Do you see how the way people thought about archeology changed the results of that archeology? And that’s before you get into things like assuming Greeks and Romans are more “civilized” and “advanced” because we descended from them culturally; resulting in Victorians underestimating the capabilities of other ancient peoples.

Further, fast forward to say, just past WW2. the way paleontologists are looking for fossils is very different from what they do now. Now they care about every grain of sand on the rock encasing the fossil, because advanced techniques have let them gleam all sorts of info. We have found pigment cells that tell us what color a dinosaur’s feathery plumage was where 100 years ago we would have sanded away the evidence.

This applies when we do social sciences too. The way we measure poverty or GDP. For example, if all women started working full time as soon as their baby was weaned, GDP might go up because of a larger workforce. Is that necessarily better for society long term? Maybe that arrangement is right for some families, but not others? How can we capture the value to society created by stay at home moms?

That is what Wokeness reminds you to do. It doesn’t say that the studies you run on the population to determine where to aid people are worthless. It just reminds you to consider your perspective when you’re creating those studies, to include people with other perspectives when designing those studies, and to build safeguards to ensure your study doesn’t share your biases.

For example - facial recognition software has a much higher false positive rate with black faces than white ones. This is because facial recognition software often relies on deep learning which requires exposure to learn, and by the nature of our big tech companies they are mostly white and Asian.

If we don’t account for this, and implement facial recognition in our police force, that would be bad. Right?

So Wokeness reminds you, “you got a 99.99998 accuracy rate when testing it against your employees and photos from the Facebook profiles of them and their friends. Great job. Did you remember to test it against a statistically significant sample of Black and Latino people?”.

I hope that helps, @TGWATY. I would love to continue this conversation as well.

So after reading all I can stand, I think his biggest problem is " With astonishing speed, a shocking number of our nation’s school systems have taken up explicitly critical—as in Critical Theoryeducational approaches that focus on teaching identity politics, “anti-racism,” and about the systems of power that the Critical Social Justice worldview assumes exists in everything."

The problem is… these systemic issues do exist, and they are pervasive in virtually every aspect of society. He routinely uses catastrophic slippery slope reasoning. For example, the existence of “ethnomathematics” at the university level means eventually children will be taught about the racism of mathematics, instead of the mechanics of mathematics.

So as above, there are a lot of logical problems with his rhetoric, and in particular, his underlying premise is flawed. At least in my opinion, but maybe I’ve just been brainwashed by the “religion of the Woke.”

The Leader is good, The Leader is great. We surrender our will as of this date.

I watched the whole thing, God help me. Coming back I see most of you have summed it up. I assure you he gets more and more unhinged as the video goes on. The OP owes me for an hour of my life.

I liked it when he claimed that the riots in the sixties (Detroit, LA) were caused by Herbert Marcuse. Gee James, I think there may have been something else involved?

Also near the end he starts ranting about how “they” control the media and cultural institutions and how we must fight back. Gee, where have I heard that language before? Some guy describing his struggle, I think? (James, next time don’t forget to mention international finance)

I roll my eyes at a lot of nonsense in the woke movement myself. But come on, is it such an outlandish idea that a black person in America might experience social life differently from a white person?

I did enjoy his ranting about totalitarianism. Apparently real estate companies dropping the phrase “master bedroom” makes us North Korea. Wake me up when Robin DiAngelo starts sending her army of stormtroopers to heard us into re-education camps.

Spot on with the Jordan Peterson parallel, Quicksilver. I did not make the connection.

A trivially simple google search reveals what “ethnomathematics” means and it’s got nothing to do with teaching racism of mathematics. If this guy is making this claim then he is not only a pseudo-intellectual but also a liar.

I had to look it up. Wtf? It’s not remotely “woke”. It seems more like the anthropological study of mathematical systems (for example hebrew numerology).

This is ironic because CRT is genuinely anti-Semitic.

Did you read my response? What’s your response to it?

Explain how, please

I find it endlessly fascinating to hear people ascribe notions and beliefs to me (as a lib/progressive) that are not only new to me, but actually appear to exist and thrive only in their own fevered imaginations and pseudo-intellectual theories. I guess if the best you’ve got is fabrication and oblique connections to defunct social theories and discredited thinkers, you roll with that. You’ll usually get away with it because most people won’t know wtf you’re even talking about.


Yeah, I caught that too. Although the causality was just sort of implied. But it was a wild statement that, really, if it were true would require an entire book to defend.

Well, he’s not disagreeing with that. Or even questioning it. His point is that the wokesters are making much wilder claims than your rather mild “outlandish idea”. And that if you don’t understand that, you don’t understand them.

In fact, it’s kind of strange that would put your question that way. Just who on earth would consider that an outlandish idea? I know you are using outlandish in a hyperbolic way, but the value of being able to appreciate diverse points of view is nothing new. The metaphor of “standing in someone else’s shoes” is probably as old as shoes are.

I started this thread in the Debates forum because I knew people would want to discuss and argue. But my own purpose is simply to know if Lindsay is at all misrepresenting Critical Social Justice or whatever we want to call wokeness. His criticisms or conclusions are secondary to me. I don’t see anyone above pointing out instances of Lindsay being wrong in his description of Wokeness. Did I miss any?

Yes. You did.

Here it is again:

I’m responding to an hour long video, so yeah, my response is thorough. It all comes down to one point, though: people doing science are just that - people. It is important to consider who they are, what their culture is like, what they value and believe, etc, because this informs the type of questions they ask in scientific pursuit. The video claims that wokeness is about this fact, and that therefore wokeness believes there is no such thing as objective truth. This isn’t the case. It just points out that when you’re searching for that truth, the questions you ask are informed by your culture, and if you don’t think about this as you decide what questions to ask, your answers will be biased.

Maybe you missed this?