If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Apparently not. And if anyone claims it does, they’re racists fueling a supremacist narrative.
This was the argument between college student Michael Moreno and his debate professor, except it involved outer space. Apparently, the professor declared space was not real because he had not been to space. Rather, space and all the science related to it is “a projection of white fantasies that has worked to control our interpretation of how the world works.”
Moreno responded that there is plenty of evidence space exists. When the professor rejected any kind of proof outside his immediate experience, Moreno asked him if a city he has never visited, such as Paris, exists. It turns out the professor thinks Paris doesn’t exist either.
These Absurd Claims Are Nothing New
Normally, one could chalk this up as an amusing story but something of an outlier. Moreno, a student with a history of having these kinds of exchanges, is not exactly innocent. And this professor clearly goes further than most in denying the basic facts of science. Even if this is not a hoax, and it isn’t, it seems hardly noteworthy. Most college graduates can recall some nutty professor who would make outrageous claims and dare students to contradict them — this is just part of the college experience.
However, even more alarming than the fact that this professor has a job is that his argument is utterly familiar and usually accepted. So many atheists will deny God because they cannot physically see him; so many environmentalists will believe in global climate catastrophe because their city had a bad storm; so many people will affirm or deny all forms of bigotry solely on the basis of personal experience. These same people, many holding college degrees, will then conveniently dismiss all the logical proofs, reports, studies, and other forms of concrete evidence and reasoning that contradict their claims.
The only difference is that the debate professor applies this argument to the existence of space — which in today’s secular world is probably the closest thing to a god. Although it’s unsettling to witness, this was always going to be the logical conclusion of today’s academic environment. On campuses steeped with postmodernism, relativism, and nominalism, it was only a matter of time before a professor and his students were convinced everything they ever learned was a lie.
What Is Postmodernism?
It’s easy to treat these ideological terms somewhat carelessly when criticizing higher education, so it’s important to see what they mean and how they actually work. To start, postmodernism is a movement that questions and ridicules all theories, arguments, and structures. It’s difficult to define postmodernism because postmodernism defies definition. After all, what’s a definition? Words, ideas, and paradigms that could mean different things to different people. It also lacks a central principle, again because principles are all subjective and ultimately meaningless.
Postmodernism tends to manifest itself in fractured, shallow, mishmashes of pretentious thought. Thomas Pynchon’s novel “The Crying of Lot 49” (a popular required text on college campuses along with “The Communist Manifesto”) is a good example of this. It has no plot, no developed characters, no clear themes: It is a sequence of random events, discussions, and encounters, all with no real conclusion. The nonsensical title encapsulates this. The most any summary could say about the novel is that it involves a Californian woman investigating a possible conspiracy.
Postmodernist theory has successfully taken away all seriousness and objectivity from the liberal arts. Everything is ironic, everything is cliché, and all truth is malleable. The hard sciences have staved off postmodernism, but even they are coming under fire since they rely on definitions, classifications, and logic, which clash with the indoctrination of the current majority of graduates.
Postmodernism Leads to Relativism
A natural consequence of postmodernism is universal relativism, which asserts that everyone has his own truth. What is this truth usually based on? One’s feelings and perceptions. For a relativist, right or wrong, good or bad, and yes or no are all relative and specific to a particular person.
Although relativism has always existed in one form or another in society, it has usually stayed in the realm of values and morals and was mostly contained by reason and logic. Once reason and logic disappeared from campuses (thanks to postmodernism), relativism became the rule rather than the exception.
Thus, in today’s relativistic world, a peyote-eating Wiccan casting hexes on President Trump is just as defensible as a Catholic apologist with a doctorate in theology making the case for Christ. The ideas and beliefs that served as the source of meaning for individuals and a source of unity for societies have now dissolved into insignificant whims that vary from person to person.
With postmodernism and relativism putting such a strain on truth, nominalism has arisen to strike at its roots. Nominalism states that universal ideas (say, those in science, math, morality, or logic) do not actually exist, but are only names that human beings give to things. Even the terms and formulas used in science and math are merely human projections on a fundamentally unintelligible universe. If another culture decides to use different terms and formulas, they are just as valid.
Educational Institutions Are on Their Heads
As one might expect, nominalism, combined with relativism and postmodernism, has turned scholarship on its head. Instead of basing one’s thinking on reality, reality is now dependent on one’s thinking, which is dependent on one’s feelings. And, if reality does not conform to whatever agenda is in place, it can be rejected.
Hence, scientists whose findings conform to the narratives of environmentalism or LGBT ideology will be published, while those whose work challenges those narratives will rarely find any publishers or support from other scientists. When this kind of gatekeeping takes place in certain areas of science, it makes sense for people to conclude that there are gatekeepers for other areas, including astronomy or geography.
Moreno’s video shows much more than a professor spewing nonsense; it shows the stupidity that results from an institution that has dispensed with honesty, common sense, and concrete reality. People can expect to see more such videos because this system that produced such professors continues to function on the same principles.
This leaves students responsible for resisting the propaganda. Those entering this system and hoping to keep their sanit should heed the advice of Mark Twain: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”