Can the anti-woke mob define “woke”?

Does the word still mean anything, or is the whole point to throw around a meaningless buzzword?

The controversy started Tuesday, when conservative author Bethany Mandel’s appearance on The Hill’s “Rising” podcast went viral. Host Briahna Joy Gray asked a question that, in some other circumstance, might have been a softball:

Would you mind defining “woke”? Because it’s come up a couple of times and I just want to make sure we’re on the same page.

As Gray emphasized later, this was not intended as a gotcha.

I wanted to be able to figure out whether I agreed with her on certain points, as I had done earlier in the interview. Alternatively, I want to be able to articulate why we differed on other aspects of her argument without devolving into the typical shouting matches.

Mandel, who claims she spent an entire chapter of her new book Stolen Youth: How radicals are erasing innocence and indoctrinating a generation defining “woke”, floundered. Her humiliation quickly spread across liberal social media, because it appears to illustrate something many of us have been claiming for some while: Woke is the latest in a long series of right-wing pejorative terms like cancel culture and political correctness. Their purpose is not to point to any real ideas, but to identify someone as an enemy. The MAGA base has been trained like Pavlov’s dogs to react to these terms without thinking, so calling something “woke” is just a way to say “sic ’em”.

Amanda Marcotte puts it like this:

The inability to define “woke” is a feature, not a bug. “Woke” is very much meant to be a word that cannot be pinned to a definition. Its emptiness is what gives it so much power as a propaganda term. “Woke” is both everything and nothing. It can mean whatever you need it to mean, and you can deny that it means what it obviously means. The ephemerality of “woke” is what makes it so valuable. “Woke” morphs into being when a right-winger needs to feel outrage and evaporates into thin air should anyone try to ask a rational question about it.

It’s the vagueness of woke that allows it to be used more or less whenever Mr. Burns wants to release the hounds. Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, for example, because it was “woke”. So there’s no need to talk about deregulation or interest rates or risk management or any other headache-producing idea. Instead, we can cut off discussion by invoking unthinking hostility. Woke: bad.

And I’m still trying to figure out why Tucker Carlson thinks M&Ms are woke.

But not all liberals gloried in Mandel’s failure. Center-left commentator Jonathan Chait was more generous.

She may be wrong, but she’s not an idiot. She just froze up on TV. It happens.

Freezing up does happen, particularly to people who are used to writing rather than responding in real time. But the incident also points to something significant: Mandel clearly did not prepare for this question. She anticipated being able to throw the word around without being asked what it means. For comparison, before I started referring to Trump as a fascist, I wrote an article explaining what I mean by that term. I don’t carry all my writings in my head, though, so if you stopped me on the sidewalk and asked for a concise definition of fascist, I might flounder too. But if I were planning to use such an emotive word in an interview, I would anticipate being challenged to define it and would prepare an answer.

Mandel clearly didn’t think that was necessary. That strikes me as telling.

She’s not the first anti-woke warrior to be put on the spot like this. When he was asked in court what woke means, Ron DeSantis’ General Counsel Ryan Newman defined it as: “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them”. That’s a perfectly fine definition a lot of liberals would agree with. The problem for Newman (and DeSantis) is that it doesn’t justify a Pavlovian negative response: Does the DeSantis administration really want to claim that there are no systemic injustices in America, or that (if there are) nothing should be done about them? Is that what all the shouting is about?

The next line of conservative defense is to put aside the gotcha moment — which the viral clip became, whether Gray intended that to happen or not — and get the discussion back on track by producing the answer Mandel should have given. Mandel herself later offered this definition:

A radical belief system suggesting that our institutions are built around discrimination, and claiming that all disparity is a result of that discrimination. It seeks a radical redefinition of society in which equality of group result is the endpoint, enforced by an angry mob.

She avoids Newman’s what’s-so-bad-about-that problem by inserting a bunch of pejorative judgments into her definition. I mean, why not just tell us what wokeness is, and let us judge for ourselves whether it’s radical, angry, or mob-oriented? If you take out the judgments and just include the definitional parts, you wind up with “The belief that group inequality is caused by discrimination that is built into our institutions, and that a fundamental reorganization of society is necessary to correct this problem.” When you think about it, that’s not far from “systemic injustices and the need to address them”. And like Newman’s definition, it also doesn’t capture what the shouting is about.

So we start to see the Scylla and Charybdis a good conservative definition of woke has to navigate between:

  • The definition should mean something.
  • What it means should justify how conservatives have been using the term.

I’ve been looking around, but I haven’t seen one that does both jobs.

Ross Douthat more-or-less gives up on the idea of a concise definition, but instead describes a worldview and a narrative (which he says he doesn’t believe). It starts like this:

What is America all about, at its best? Equality and liberty. What is the left all about, at its best? Transforming those ideals into lived realities.

But this project keeps running into limits, disappointments and defeats. Everywhere you look, terrible disparities persist. And that persistence should force us to look deeper, beyond attempts to win legal rights or redistribute wealth, to the cultural and psychological structures that perpetuate oppression before law and policy begins to play a part. This is what the terminology of the academy has long been trying to describe — the way that generations of racist, homophobic, sexist, and heteronormative power have inscribed themselves, not just on our laws but our very psyches.

And once you see these forces in operation, you can’t unsee them — you are, well, “awake” — and you can’t accept any analysis that doesn’t acknowledge how they permeate our lives.

Up to there, I give him points for accuracy: Yes, those are all things I believe. From there his narrative gets a little more suspect, but what’s really disappointing is his column’s ending: It’s all about feelings.

If you find a lot of this narrative persuasive, even filtered through my conservative mind, then whatever “woke” describes, it probably describes you.

If you recoil from it, welcome to the ranks of the unwoke.

He doesn’t cite any reason to reject the narrative he describes, he just observes that people like him “recoil from it”. Again, this emotional “recoil” doesn’t explain why books have to be banned and drag shows have to be outlawed, or why the state has to intervene to prevent parents, children, and their doctors from assessing their own problems and choosing courses of action. Why can’t Douthat “recoil” over in the corner and leave the rest of us alone?

Douthat at least seems to be writing in good faith. So does Thomas Chatterton Williams, who expresses sympathy for some of what conservatives are trying to capture with wokeness, but eventually reaches a conclusion I can agree with:

But perhaps we can all agree, at bare minimum, to set ourselves the task of limiting our reliance on in-group shorthand, and embracing clear, honest, precise, and original thought and communication. If we want to persuade anyone not already convinced of what we believe, we are going to have to figure out how to say what we really mean.

I am pessimistic that this view will catch on, though, because I don’t think people like Ron DeSantis are interested in “clear, honest, precise, and original thought and communication”. I think they find it far more useful to wield a meaningless term that evokes a Pavlovian response.

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  • reverendsax  On March 20, 2023 at 11:31 am


  • Creigh Gordon  On March 20, 2023 at 11:50 am

    The essence of “woke” is “you are your brother’s keeper.” That make a lot of us uncomfortable. And it should.

  • Creigh Gordon  On March 20, 2023 at 11:53 am

    The essence of “woke” is “you are your brother’s keeper.” That makes a lot of us uncomfortable. And it should.

    • Moses  On March 20, 2023 at 3:18 pm

      What? Like.. This is pretty early in the Bible so it seems kind of hard to miss. Cain asks God if he is his brothers keeper and God responds, functionally, “yes”.

      That you are your brothers keeper is one of the foundational pillars of the community aspect of christian theology. The people who are anti-woke tend to be christian. Surely they’re not recoiling from their theology.

      (and also no, that isn’t what woke means for the people who consider themselves woke)

  • Ulu Aiono  On March 20, 2023 at 12:09 pm

    21Mar23 0506 Hmm .. perhaps I now understand the many uses of “woke” I’ve experienced in recent years?!

  • Cathy Strasser  On March 20, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    And so “woke” joins into the company of “antifa”, “socialist” and “groomer” – fuzzy buzzwords used as dog whistles to provoke an angry response.

  • pauljbradford  On March 20, 2023 at 1:14 pm

    Another problem with Mendel’s definition of ‘woke’ is the assertion “claiming that all disparity is a result of that discrimination”. I deny that any substantial group of people are claiming that *all* disparity is from discrimination – this is a straw man argument that makes ‘woke’ easy to disparage.

  • Will Fields  On March 20, 2023 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve recently seen woke defined as having an awareness and being alert to social injustice. I personally believe that those who would disagree with this definition and are either blind to or care little about social injustice are the radical ones.

  • Kristina Pereyra  On March 20, 2023 at 1:44 pm

    Podcast on exactly this subject, with actual audio from focus groups talking about the term (from the right and left).

  • philipfinn  On March 20, 2023 at 5:52 pm

    what happened to my comment?

  • Bill Dysons  On March 20, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    Doug, couldn’t you argue that “woke” is just the application of “nurturant parent morality” that George Layoff developed? You wrote an excellent essay capturing the basic principles of liberal vs. conservative morality that I’ve frequently recommended and quoted to friends over the years:

    To me, when a person or institution “goes woke,” this phrase basically tells conservatives: “Red alert! This person/institution has switched over from applying strict father morality to nurturant parent morality in some specific situation or policy in a way they weren’t doing before – and is now, by definition, less trustworthy as a result!”

    So in this sense, it’s nothing new. It’s just anger directed towards areas of public life that have switched to openly reflecting liberal values when they previously were either neutral or were reflecting conservative values.

    As an example, how can math “go woke?” Simple. Give word problems to students that use real-world examples that tacitly support liberal morality. (i.e., if Johnny has two mommies and Sarah has one mommy and one daddy, how many mommies do Johnny and Sarah have together? This word problem presents the idea of gay parents as normal, so it’s a woke math problem.)

    • Dale Moses  On March 21, 2023 at 8:22 pm

      Probably not. The origin of “woke” is from the 70s iirc. Where it was a term in black vernacular to mean “has been awoken”. Someone who was “woke” was awake to the pattern of systematic racism and the effect it had and was having in their community.

      So it’s not like a “liberal morality thing” it’s always been a pretty strict “actually racism exists” thing.

  • mikelabonte  On March 20, 2023 at 6:14 pm

    Just trivia here, but I was curious who coined “woke”. The Wikipedia page for the term ( gives a history that begins with a loose connection in 1860, but modern usage really picked up with Black Lives Matter. While most of these labels are coined by the right, in this case it seems to come from African-American sources including musicians, and the right only had to weaponize it. Maybe the origin story explains what the right really thinks it means.

  • George Washington, Jr.  On March 20, 2023 at 7:07 pm

    “Woke” started in the Black community in the 1960s, and referred to awareness of what today we would call systemic racism. Like “fake news” (which originally meant Russian propaganda presented as news), the right wing has appropriated the term and given it their own meaning. When a conservative uses it, they mean “the belief that the ills of society are caused by conservative, heterosexual white Christian men,” and no further explanation is required because the in-group understands it to mean that. But Mandel knew she couldn’t say that on national television, and she couldn’t come up with a less offensive definition on the spot.

  • Allen  On March 21, 2023 at 11:17 am

    The Right are great for coming up with PR labels and buzzwords. The Left might simply smile and retort: ‘Well, I’d rather be ‘woke’ (in these regards) than ‘still asleep’ (or ‘unconscious,’ or whatever…). Rather than play along, one can simply turn it back–then return to the issues at hand.

  • A. Frank Ackerman  On March 21, 2023 at 2:27 pm

    Doug, your title contains the pejorative word “mob” that you addressed in your comments. Semantically, ‘group’ would serve without the negative connotation.

    • George Washington, Jr.  On March 21, 2023 at 3:46 pm

      How is “mob” pejorative by itself? If anything, it’s inaccurate, as “mob rule” refers to rule by a disorganized majority. But the “anti-woke mob” isn’t a majority. “The anti-woke gang” would be better.

    • EricPrinceofFlorin  On March 22, 2023 at 3:25 pm

      It’s a play on the pervasive use of the phrase Woke Mob by the right.

  • donquixote99  On March 22, 2023 at 9:50 am

    Russ Douhat’s essay reveals with stunning clarity that the right has no reasons to be anti-woke, it just has feelings. But of course it’s always been about feelings, on both sides, rationalize them as we will. One either feels that the diverse and disadvantaged among us are ‘us,’ worthy of justice and remedies, or one feels they are ‘them,’ with their claims basically being attempts at predation.

  • Anonymous  On March 22, 2023 at 9:54 am

    Ross Douthat

  • Josh  On March 22, 2023 at 12:26 pm

    I believe that one should not devalue a person because of their race, gender, religious belief, sexual preference, or disability. Woke advocates wholesale violation of this principle with new exceptions carved out if the target is white people, men, Christians, heterosexuals, and the able-bodied. The woke advocate for explicit discrimination, for the marginalized, and against the oppressors. This translates to redistribution of value based on identity.

    The woke have some good things to say about how much damage multi-generational bigotry can do to a population. But they cross the line blaming whole ethnic groups of people for the fact that their ancestors oppressed whole other ethnic groups. This flies in the face of any coherent notion of justice, and is precisely the same reasoning that motivated blood libel against the Jews. “Your ancestors sinned, so now you are guilty.” Nice. Just what we all expected in the 21st century. From liberals of all people.

    • donquixote99  On March 22, 2023 at 1:50 pm

      Joss, do ‘they’ all do these bad things? Do, for example, I do them? Opinion varies across a wide range, but I don’t think you can fairly say that mainstream liberal opinion is engaged ‘blaming whole ethnic groups,’ even for the failures of some members now, let alone for the deeds of their ancestors. Beware of creating a hateful caricature of the thought of people you disagree with.

      • Josh  On March 22, 2023 at 2:05 pm

        Just as the right seem to not see what Trump and his cronies do, so too the left does not see what the woke are advocating for, and, in some cases, achieving. The open expression of anti-white, anti-male, etc is not just allowed but encouraged. This is an overt violation of principle, and for some reason liberals, especially white liberals, don’t want to call it out. And the number of post hoc rationalizations are impressive.

        Are these just the grumblings of the powerless? Is it just a few, not us, types? Charlie Cheon posted this remarkable video 2 months ago and makes the point eloquently.

        You admonish me to not paint with too broad a stroke. Let me admonish you: stop silencing me. I have a concern, presented in good faith. Disagree, if you wish, with the premise, or the conclusion. But don’t tell me I’m crazy, or wrong, or that I’m badly motivated. Approx 50% of the liberals I meet are staunchly of the view there’s nothing to see here, it’s all ado about nothing, and it’s just right wing white fragility. The other 50% quietly agree, and express concern that there’s nothing to be done – shunning and ostracism are not punishments to be trifled with. Just as conservativism faces an existential challenge from Trump, so too does liberalism face a grave challenge from wokism – and so far it’s been failing.

    • EricPrinceofFlorin  On March 22, 2023 at 3:37 pm

      Hey everybody, did you see how big Josh’s brain is? Look at his long paragraphs and use of post-hoc and bow down to his legendary intellect.

      “. . . stop silencing me. I have a concern, presented in good faith. Disagree, if you wish, with the premise, or the conclusion. But don’t tell me I’m crazy, or wrong, or that I’m badly motivated.” Can you just real quick guide those of us who don’t share your stupendous wisdom where in donquixote99’s comment they did any of those things? I must have missed the part where they said you’re crazy, wrong, or badly motivated. And there must be some hidden hacker code in there where their comment made it impossible for you to respond like you did 15 minutes after they replied . . .

  • donquixote99  On March 22, 2023 at 4:16 pm

    Josh is invested in a seductive victim narrative about, in the opening words of the video he posted “a rising tide of hatred against white people.” This is emotive, polarizing propaganda language. The same of course is true of the selected videos inside the video, which certainly trigger the emotions of the viewer who feels themselves disrespected and mocked. But who can doubt for a second my ability to compile clips of white people likewise disrespecting and mocking minorities? I won’t do that, because it would just provoke more reaction and ploarization. Which, I suspect, is the actual goal of the producer of the video now platformed here. We should platform informed and reasonable voices, not the tides of unsophisticated and even deplorable opinions, on either the right or the left.

    • Josh  On March 26, 2023 at 10:45 am

      Well, I’m glad you watched the video. I’m sorry you don’t seem to understand. I’m less sorry, and a little angry, at your characterization of manipulation. The video was only an easy to reference example of things I’ve heard from white liberals who find it very easy not just to excuse anti-white sentiment, but who share it openly themselves (and the same for women and anti-male sentiment). I’ve heard, with my own ears, a college DEI person gush about how a student can object to the professor if their race is inconsistent with the subject. (Meaning, you can’t teach certain subjects if you’re white).

      You do not mention the examples of actual laws passed discriminating against white people. You also don’t mention his claim that minorities actually have more power than white people right now in the DNC. (Arguably they also have some pull in the RNC – they LOVE it when minorities put on the red hat! But the RNC just wants the appearance of diversity, they don’t actually want to give power to minorities, just the appearance)

      What I find appalling about this is that the left, the ones that pride themselves on being compassionate, caring, and open-minded, cannot seem to hear the good-faith concerns of a white person. Or a man. This is illiberal. It is discriminatory. It is cruel. It is not compassionate. It is bigoted. So, it is a compounding pain, and no wonder those with concerns don’t bring it up. Because of people like you, who are hateful, hurtful, and cruel, who have no argument but an ad hominem attack and lying by omission.

      What you are trying to do is *hurt* me. You’re trying to make it so painful to speak my truth that I shut up about it. And you know what? That reflects so badly on you, and on your side of this debate (which is, somehow, also Doug’s side), that I’m glad you did it. And I hope you keep heaping abuse on me – show the world what you are. You defend racists – if the target is right. You attack victims, if his race and gender are wrong. You took the pointy white hood and printed a rainbow on it and proceed to attack any white without a hood.

      I will never wear your God damned rainbow hood. I hate racism, all of it. I won’t wear a pointy hood of any sort, and the only way you can do it is with force, and at that point we have nothing to say.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On March 26, 2023 at 12:18 pm

        People on both sides are capable of making generalizations and spouting ignorant pronouncements. I could just as easily make a collection of white racists expressing similar negativity against BIPOC, Men’s Rights Activists attacking women, atheists attacking Christians, or vice versa.

        At least you admit that the Republicans are exploiting BIPOC as tokens to demonstrate “see? We aren’t racists!” while at the same time denying not just past examples of systemic racism, but current ones. Does it concern you at all that Ron DeSantis, a credible candidate for president, is running on a platform of suppressing discussion of any aspects of American history that conservative white people might find embarrassing or upsetting? For decades, BIPOC were virtually erased from American history, and now that their concerns are finally being addressed, white conservatives are pushing back. If this isn’t a demonstration of how loss of special privilege is viewed as oppression, I’m not sure what is. Despite the decades since the Civil Rights Act was passed, BIPOC still have less wealth per capita, suffer worse health outcomes, and despite your claim that they hold all the power in the Democratic Party, still have less proportional representation than white people.

        In a few decades, if current demographic trends continue, white people will be a minority in the U.S. Do you view this as good, bad, or indifferent?

  • Eric L  On March 24, 2023 at 7:36 pm

    Asking conservatives to define “woke” is like asking atheists to define Pentacostal. Their disagreement is with the left generally; of course they don’t typically have a strong sense of the differing flavors of leftism; they don’t need to. The one place this analogy breaks down is political opportunism: conservative politicians seek to appeal to moderates who are sympathetic to some left wing goals but also feel that something has gone off the rails on the left, so they seek out language being used to express that but then broaden the usage of such terms, making intra-left distinctions harder to draw and discuss. It’s best to ignore them, and also to accept that language is often messy and imprecise and you need to muddle through. Get your definitions of terms like “woke” from non-conservatives, e.g.:

    A galling thing about this “define woke” discussion is that the term wasn’t invented by conservatives or moderates or any sort of anti-wokes, “mob” or not. This began as a word some members of a social movement called themselves. Why is the movement that invented the word “woke” so bad at defining it? Surely that is at least as good of a question as why those outside the movement find it hard to define? But it didn’t start with much meaning: it literally means we’re the ones who see the real truth that the sheeple don’t — all great fun when believers call themselves this to each other but what does the term signal to the rest of the world but smugness? Perhaps this made the term especially ripe for mockery, and perhaps this is unfair to many in the same movement who don’t use the term themselves. I’d be happy to use another word if you have suggestions.

    I cannot fathom making any sense of the politics of the past decade without some word for this concept, though. It would be like trying to understand the politics and cultural conflicts of the US in my lifetime prior to 2008 without any term for “evangelical Christian”. Worse still, it would be like that if evangelical Christians insisted they didn’t know what that term or any other similar term meant, but if the term does mean anything it just means “good decent person, not an asshole”, so shouldn’t you want to identify as an evangelical yourself and isn’t it telling that you’re against them? (Though you know they don’t consider Christian because you’re not against abortion, as they consider all sorts of specific beliefs like this to self-evidently follow from the vague statement you should agree with.) Does this analogy make any sense to you, Doug? Because that’s honestly what you sound like to me.

    So, I’m looking for a word for a subculture. It is primarily a subculture among the well educated and it sees education about its beliefs and values as a central part of being a moral person. If this culture had a Nicene Creed it would look a lot like Ross Douthat’s definition, but there’s a whole litany of specific beliefs, norms, manners, linguistic shibboleths, etc. and new ones originating from this culture all the time which spread quickly within the culture and then are evangelized broadly because this culture sees each novel idea as self-evidently following from the things it always believed (even though it’s often not clear that they do) and it sees the beliefs as central to being a good person and necessary to work toward becoming a moral society. The culture is influential but it sees it as a moral failing of society that it is not unchallenged. You probably see this culture differently than I do, but do you know what culture I am talking about? Does it have a name? Or if you don’t know what I’m talking about, what is it about this culture that makes those in it unable to see that it exists?

  • Josh  On March 27, 2023 at 9:35 am

    Just now I was driving my 5 and 3 year old kids to school today I (we) were listening to NPR. There was a story about AI, and a woman’s voice was talking about how the Turing test was defined by a bunch of *men*, and isn’t it odd that the notion of intelligence is defined by *men*, and it revolves around *lying* and so on. NPR chose to invite this guest.

    I briefly turned off the radio, not wanting my children to hear this blatant, over bigotry against men. Especially my son. She was presenting the gender (and race) of early computer and AI pioneers as an obvious problem, an evil to be corrected. This assumption was left unchallenged by the interviewer, and indeed it seemed to be the entire point of the segment.

    This is bigotry, against men, in the mainstream. It’s just one example, the one that just happened. It’s rhetoric that will only discourage my son – and indeed, except for the fact that it angers and invigorates me to act, would discourage me too. Imagine, growing up your whole life a liberal, valuing diversity and equality, and then have liberalism turn on you for your gender and race! It is an utter, disgraceful, appalling betrayal of principle, but also antagonizes liberalism’s traditional proponents.

    This is untenable. The fact that it is allowed in liberal media will open the flood gates for classic anti-minority racism of the sort Trump trucks in ( the “mexicans are rapists and drug dealers” stuff). Because what is a liberal going to say? That bigoted statements against a race or a gender are wrong? When they do it all the time? Now all of a sudden an anti-racist message sounds hollow, hypocritical.

    All of these exceptions to principle are sold are sold by the woke left as justice. Part of it is vengeance: they were/are racist against minorities, lets see how they like it. Part of it is power and opportunism: the tide is against white men, let’s use that to get ahead! (works best in deep blue cities and colleges). Part of it is just the insanity of self-hatred and depression: I’ve never seen or heard of a group of people that has come to hate themselves as much as liberal white people, esp liberal white women. It’s extremely bizarre and off-putting. This hatred of the self extends to the children, and the desire of parents for their children to be better, which is tough for kids who are, through no fault of their own, white or male. In reality it means just encouraging them to be gay, or even better, transgender. With those kinds of identities, maybe they can avoid the moral failing of being white and/or male.

    MAGhats are an immediate clear and present danger to the union. Hopefully they will be out of power soon – at worst, when Trump dies (he’s 76). But the woke are more dangerous in the longer term, because the moral rot is hidden and more effectively modulated to appeal to moderates. Their ideas can and will undo decades of civil rights progress if left unchecked. Already they make racist and sexist statements more common and acceptable in general. And such cultural rot eventually becomes political rot, and it needs to be nipped in the bud. My solemn hope is that Doug reconsiders his opinion, and stops characterizing those who have these concerns as an “anti-woke mob”. It happens to be literally the only topic on which the right has a good point, and this is why DeSantis has latched on to it. He will ride this issue to victory, but the left can deny him if they themselves start policing bigoted actions, no matter who the target is.

    • pauljbradford  On March 27, 2023 at 11:54 am

      I listened to the program Josh describes:
      It’s about 7 minutes. I made some notes on relevant areas:
      2:30 mentions AI relationship to industrialization, capitalism, “colonial legacies of reserving reason for only certain kinds of people”
      4:15 mentions that the original AI creators were white men
      5:20 she says passing the Turing Test is telling a convincing lie, which is an interesting point of view, but not anti-male. I’d be very interested in discussing that topic, over a beer.

      Josh wrote “She was presenting the gender (and race) of early computer and AI pioneers as an obvious problem, an evil to be corrected.”
      She’s saying that the point of view of women is not represented in early AI. I don’t understand how you got “an evil to be corrected” from that.
      As a white man, it would not have occurred to me to feel attacked by the program.

      • Josh  On March 27, 2023 at 12:59 pm

        Thanks for the link. I missed the beginning: “10 men get together to invent the field of AI” Meredith Busard, data journalism professor at NY University. “Their proposal pulls no punches at all.”

        I looked her up. She’s a full-blown woke activist, as might be inferred by her tone, and her violent verbiage. These *men* pulled no punches!

        The first link I found mentioning Busard was To wit ‘Her previous book, Artificial Unintelligence (2018), coined the term “technochauvinism” to describe the blind belief in the superiority of tech solutions to solve our problems.’

        This person is busily carving out her niche of clout at the intersection of woke and AI, even coining terms that get her point across. And SHE, not better informed experts, was interviewed.

        Given that this story was about the history of AI, why did they pick her as a guest? Especially when it’s not her field, and there are plenty of AI experts (including the history of AI) to talk to?

        I don’t think it’s much of a mystery at all, do you?

        There’s an old saying from Upton Sinclair (a very proud member of the liberal tradition, I’d say, despite his physical defects of gender and race). “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” There must be a corallary to describe a person who, utterly convinced of their moral superiority, will simply refuse to accept any evidence that they, in fact, might be the problem.

        BTW the appeal of the woke narrative is strong. It’s been used before. What could be more obvious than blood libel? “Your ancestors did something bad, you are bad.” Easy, simple, a child could understand it. And that was standard logic in Europe for a good long while. There’s a reason it was so popular, because its so intuitive, so appealing. Is it not?

  • reverendsax  On March 27, 2023 at 5:59 pm

    The last couple of years when preaching on or after Easter, in Presbyterian Churches, I said “Jesus is on the loose!” and “Jesus is Woke!” and I explained how I made the connection between “resurrection” and “woke.” Now the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) gives this simple definition: woke, “adjective: Originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice; frequently in stay woke.” Let’s be “alert,” folks, and be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Not being woke is not a good thing.

  • Tom Wilen  On April 18, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    When a group of people have been oppressed very long and then get finally winds in their sails their victory is sweet and often motivates to leave any form of moderation instead imposes their new freedom on others who first supported but then scared them.

    An example would be taking abortion all the way to infanticide or women sports taken over by trans people with make better performing bodies in sports

    It’s sad we can’t all get along

    • George Washington, Jr.  On April 18, 2023 at 7:00 pm

      More like people who have enjoyed special privileges view equality as oppression. Conservatives have turned into drama queens. “Infanticide?” “Women’s sports taken over by trans people?” None of this is actually happening except in your fever dreams.

      • Professor Tom  On April 19, 2023 at 10:27 pm

        No fever dreams and no need for personal attacks either there was a law proposed that would have allowed abortion after the baby was delivered but I think that did not pass but hardly a consensus around such an issue and as a born European the rules there also vary by country with Malta and Poland most restrictive. As to women who have fought long for equality and rights who see their opportunities go away by more stronger masculine bodies is like the discussion at Olympics about coping to win. I saw that before 2011 when media still had to provide two competing views we were more United than after FCC under Obama would not renew this 1947 regulation. I’m an independent who like people being adults finding compromises instead of only screaming at each other.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On April 20, 2023 at 9:39 am

        You’re either misunderstanding the law or quoting a fake news source. There was never a proposed law allowing “abortion” after birth; that wouldn’t be “abortion” anyway as that only applies to ending a pregnancy before birth. What you may be referring to is allowing parents to let a severely ill neonate pass naturally instead of subjecting it to agonizing interventions in a futile attempt to prolong its life. Opposing this is depraved cruelty in the guise of fake compassion.

        If you’re talking about the Fairness Doctrine, that had nothing to do with Obama. It wouldn’t have much of an effect today anyway as it only applied to over-the-air broadcast media, not subscription services or internet.

        Our representatives do work together in many areas, but you’re not going to get them to compromise on hot button issues like abortion or gun control. However, I think Democrats are more open to compromise than Republicans.

      • Professor Tom  On April 20, 2023 at 9:55 am

        When congress have low approval rating and yet are re elected – it’s clear that money by corporate media unions and wealthy control them – in my view term limits like president – 2 terms max all federally elected.

        Age limit for judiciary 75 or at least 80 and ideally 75 for all of them.

        Open primaries to avoid selecting extreme candidates on both sides.

        Mandated resignation of all leaders of bureaucracy six months after president elected.

        Free voter ID like in Europe but free legal help to obtain it and free transport to vote in person.

        Social media forced to choose if journalist or billboards.

        Break up both social and other media based on anti trust laws.

        Restore for all media to report news from two perspective.

        What say you ?

      • George Washington, Jr.  On April 20, 2023 at 10:01 am

        Sounds great, except age limits for judiciary would require a constitutional amendment. Term limits for Congress would mean the institutional knowledge would be in the hands of corporate lobbyists. I would only support term limits if they were coupled with severe limits on lobbying and a massive increase in congressional research staff.

        Forcing every agency head to resign every term would allow presidents to appoint their lackeys to run all government departments. Breaking up social media based on antitrust laws needs more detail. I’m not even sure what this means. Break Facebook up into several different but identical platforms? What happens if my friends are on a different one – will I be allowed to join that one?

        Free voter ID and easier voting sounds great. Good luck getting Republicans on board with that.

      • Professor Tom  On April 20, 2023 at 10:36 am

        Constitutional amendments when broad acceptance like repeal of prohibition was smooth.

        Term limits for Congress would mean the institutional knowledge would be in the hands of corporate lobbyists.

        Maybe institutional knowledge need to be challenged by new ideas?

        I would only support term limits if they were coupled with severe limits on lobbying and a massive increase in congressional research staff.

        I would support constitutional limits on lobbying and severe penalties for indirect corruption with an ombudsperson appointed by president approved by Supreme Court ?

        Forcing every agency head to resign every term would allow presidents to appoint their lackeys to run all government departments.

        Lackeys or not – if people elected a president she or he deserves a team of own but qualifications vetted by senate?

        If only I had power to get either party to go along – I’m independent and have supported both side candidates based on qualification character and pragmatism

        Mayor Steven Fulop of jersey city is running for Governor after many successful years as mayor with high approval by all segments of political spectrum

      • Professor Tom  On April 19, 2023 at 10:28 pm

        No fever dreams and no need for personal attacks either there was a law proposed that would have allowed abortion after the baby was delivered but I think that did not pass but hardly a consensus around such an issue and as a born European the rules there also vary by country with Malta and Poland most restrictive. As to women who have fought long for equality and rights who see their opportunities go away by more stronger masculine bodies is like the discussion at Olympics about coping to win. I saw that before 2011 when media still had to provide two competing views we were more United than after FCC under Obama would not renew this 1947 regulation. I’m an independent who like people being adults finding compromises instead of only screaming at each other. Why can’t our representatives work together and compromise both sides?


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