Dutch Financial Times title: ‘We are erasing hundreds of years of enlightenment and critical thinking’
By: Marco Vlot
Date: 30 July 2021
Dutch Financial Times subtitle / summary:
Canadian professor Gad Saad fights against so-called ‘idea pathogens’: dangerous ideas that spread like a virus into your brain and cause exclusion, division, and the end of rational thinking. Examples are radical feminism, postmodernism and the ‘critical race theory’.
Curriculum Vitae Gad Saad
Gad Saad was born in a Jewish family in Beirut in 1964. His family fled to Montreal in 1975. Since 1994, Saad is professor in Marketing at Concordia University. He hosts a YouTube-show called ‘The Saad Truth’ and writes a blog for Psychology Today.
The idea that there are no biological differences between men and women. The decolonizing of western science because it would be racist. Or the belief that there are no objective truths. These are just a few of the ideas against which Canadian professor Gad Saad is battling. He calls these idea pathogens, dangerous ideas that spread like a virus into your brain and cause exclusion, division, and the end of rational thinking.
How does the Canadian professor in the evolutionary psychology conduct his battle? By speaking out and encouraging others to do the same. He is active on social media, has a podcast, and wrote a book: The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense.
Saad’s battle against identity politics, cancel culture and political correctness is joined by Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and British author Douglas Murray, who wrote The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam. Critics claim that they are extreme right wing, which Saad resists: “I’m very much a social-liberal”.
‘The history of humankind is not filled with individual freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of conscience’, Saad says from his Montreal office. ‘Western people think this is the default but that is not the case. I’m someone who experienced various kinds of societies and it breaks my heart to see that we are busy erasing hundreds of years of enlightenment, the beauty of the scientific method, and critical evidence-based thinking’.
Saad (1964) grew up as a Jew in Lebanon, in which a civil war erupted between Christian and Islamic groups in the mid 1970s. His book tells how the country became increasingly dangerous for Jews. The family narrowly escaped the country after an evil event and ultimately settled in Canada. He uses this experience to explain how idea pathogens, imbecilic ideas that kill common sense, originate. And what’s dangerous about, let’s say, fighting against sexism?
‘J.K. Rowling is a progressive icon, but she dared to claim that only women are menstruating. Now they think of her as worse than a nazi’
‘It often starts with an idea that holds a core of truth, linked to a noble cause’, he teaches. ‘Someone who is pathologically empathic, or is “woke”, is very vulnerable to that.’ This is where Saad clarifies that “woke” people – a.k.a. progressives who amplify on skin colour, sexuality, gender and victim role – have a pathological urge in his view to empathize with others.
Saad mentions equality feminism as an example. ‘A great idea. Actually, it argues that there should be no institutionalized sexism. For the law, we must be equal. If you maintain that definition, you and I would be feminists beyond any doubt. A problem arises when radical feminists, in order to “really erase sexism”, want to push this, for example by claiming that there are no natural biological differences between men and women. This is an example of social constructivism.’
At this point, ideology wins from the truth, according to Saad. This can have consequences for those who resist.
He mentions J.K. Rowling as an example. ‘Some time ago, she said that there is a name for people who menstruate which is women.’ This remark of the writer of the Harry Potter-books caused a lot of criticism of the woke-community: she would be ‘transphobic’. Saad: ‘Rowling is a progressive icon, but she dared to claim that only women menstruate in the 21st century. For some, she is worse than a nazi.’
‘Each of these idea pathogens, whether postmodernism (which claims there is no objective truth), radical feminism, social constructivism or the critical race theory (an academic movement that focuses on the impact of race on social status, editorial) refutes evidence. They reject science and they reject human nature.’
The truth is always leading for Saad, even when this runs counter the standard. Take for example the battle for equal rights for women at universities. ‘Although women in USA are better represented than men on all educational levels, the idea still persists that universities need programs to help women. This was true a hundred years ago when women were not admitted, but that has been dealt with. Yet a victim role pays off and it’s hard for some to leave it.’
‘We must interfere in case of systemic inequality’, Saad says. ‘But if we’re intellectually fair then we should stop promoting victimhood when we have won the battle against such injustice.’
‘My opponents reject evidence. They reject science and they reject human nature’
Avalanche of evidence
In his book, Saad offers a solution against idea-pathogens . He mentions ‘[Building a global database of] nomological networks of cumulative evidence’, which is roughly equal to an avalanche of evidence. For the sake of illustration, he mentions the idea the preference of children’s toys is a social construct. ‘The typical argument in social sciences is that sexist parents give the blue truck to little Johnny, and the pink doll to little Linda, which eventually will cause that boys and girls will behave according to the contemporary gender standards.’
In order to show how he proves the opposite, komt Saad gives an avalanche of data from many scientific fields, from evolutionary psychology and history to anthropology. He argues that in this way, no one can deny that such an idea does not hold. ‘Without emotional outbursts, I’ll let the data overwhelm you.’ Saad realizes that this is unattainable for each matter. Hence, he saves this for important issues only.
Saad hopes that his message will encourage others to speak out against what he argues are dangerous ideas, but the battle is hard. ‘Reality is that it doesn’t make a difference how big my platform is, or how many copies I sell of the The Parasitic Mind. My voice is not as strong as the one of the silent majority who thinks like me. I’m receiving thousands of messages of people who claim to support me but also ask me not to mention their name because they’re afraid to lose their friends or their job. Believe me, those who maintain these parasitic ideas, are a small minority. But as long as the majority does not resist, the minority is keeping us hostage.’ “
Closing notes LO:
1. This translation is on a best-efforts basis. Any errors in this Dutch-to-English translation are mine.
2. All URLs in this article were added by LO.
3. All markings (bold, italic and/or underlining) were added by LO.