Standardized Tests and Propaganda

Now that I am finished writing my book and it is in the process of being published I have been looking for a more traditional vocation. While I look for another job, or possibly start up a business, I have been doing 1 on 1 tutoring sessions for high school students in my area. Sometimes this means their school subjects, but more commonly I work with them on SAT and ACT preparations. And, believe it or not, I usually work with them on mathematics. Mathematics has the virtue of being mostly immune to progressive signalling digressions which is very nice.

However, I also will work on reading and writing if they really want that as well.  The reading and writing sections are not always so lucky with respect to progressivism. In fact, I would venture to guess that there is progressive moral posturing in these sections more often than their isn’t (whether the passages in the reading section or the essay prompt for the writing section). Anecdotally this is the impression I have from reading a fair number of these passages and prompts. Although today I will also be discussing one surprising exception. In the case of the writing section the advice I give is to just follow the rightthink regardless of your personal opinion. It is easier to score higher that way though I am assured by the resources I use to help me tutor this that you can in fact take non-politically correct positions and score well. There is a rumor that some student defended the south in the civil war and got a perfect score. That is just a rumor though. The rubric for grading essays is not meant to take into account a person’s position and is only supposed to be based on writing quality. However, we all know that bucking the progressive trend on this test will only make it harder and really on the test isn’t the time or place to pick a reactionary battle.

Anyway, I use the official red book published by the ACT people when tutoring anything ACT related. In this book they have a series of sample tests which I believe were actual tests used some time in the past. The reading section of the ACT is comprised of four different types of passages. There is the prose fiction passage (a short fictional story basically), a social science passage, a humanities passage and a natural science passage. On the test, the passages always appear in that order so I advise students to start with the passage subject topic which they feel most comfortable with; then the second and so on.

The first practice test opens with a prose fiction passage I have affectionately dubbed “Fran the Sloot.” Below is a picture of this I took, which you should be able to read if you open it in a new tab. Control + mousewheel if you need to zoom in. Actually it is two pictures I edited together since the passage goes onto a second page. I covered up the questions since that isn’t really relevant to the post, but you can read the whole passage.

prose fiction

As you can see from the beginning, the passage is actually not an ACT original but some writing published in 1991 by a progressive academic who I guess wanted to end stigmas on sluts and abandoning children. She was/is quite the moral paragon… However, the author’s intention seems somewhat vague at first glance. All that can be said is that it takes a more neutral tone rather than a highly negative tone appropriate for a degenerate society which tolerates single mothers and/or child abandonment. The gist of the story is that there is a sloot named Fran who got knocked up as a teenager. She gave up the baby for adoption (though her own mother didn’t want her too) and finally 24 years later she gets a (first) letter from the abandoned daughter informing her that she is a grandmother. It mainly details the interactions between grandmother and great-grandmother as they react to the news.

One interesting quote is the following:

Before I even read the letter I knew. I knew how those Nazis feel when suddenly, after twenty or thirty uneventful years, they are arrested walking down some sunny street in Buenos Aires. It’s the shock of being found after waiting so long.

So the author, through the character, at least acknowledges that what she had done may be wrong, and even invokes godwin’s law  before getting 400 words in. That’s a plus, even though Nazis were typically very pro-family and pro-traditional gender roles which makes the analogy, um, quaint. In reality the Nazis would have probably opposed everything that Fran symbolizes. Anyway, this is towards the beginning of the passage and I think it is meant more for contrast with the conclusion than any real condemnation.

Another interesting quote is the following:

“I guess that makes you a great-grandmother,” I said. [Fran the sloot]

“What about you?” she snorted, pointing a jungle orchid fingernail at me. “You’re a grandmother.” [Fran’s mother]

We shook our heads in disbelief. I sat silently, listening to my brain catch up with my history. Forty years old and I felt as if I had just shaken hands with death. I suppose it’s difficult for any woman to accept that she’s a grandmother, but in the normal order of things, you have ample time to adjust to the idea. You don’t get a snapshot in the mail one day from a baby girl you gave up twenty-four years ago saying, “Congratulations, you’re a grandma!”

“It’s not fair,” I said. “I don’t even feel like a mother

Where to begin? The woman gets a letter telling her she is a grandmother and the first thing she thinks about is how that makes her old. Really deep introspection there. In other words, she gets a blatant reminder of her rapidly deflating sexual market value and that is really the main thing she is concerned with. Even now, with twenty years to acknowledge regrets, the character is only concerned with her own selfish desires and feelings. Not only that, but a woman who abandoned her baby has the audacity to cry “It’s not fair.” Really. It was hardly fair to the child, or the taxpayer who presumably paid to have the kid raised either. But no, the real concern is a woman feeling bad about getting old. Academics are a very strange breed with very warped priorities. At least the ones like the female who wrote this short story.

You can also guess from this passage that the child abandoner never had any more kids since being a grandmother comes as such a shock. There apparently were no other children who could have made that happen. Presumably she was just self-absorbed and selfish throughout her life up until her current age and was almost entirely only focused on herself and possibly her career. What a role model, what a moral story, what a great thing to essentially force millions of teenagers across the country to read. Who wants to bet this is representative of the lives of most academic feminists; or just feminists in general?

Anyway, the story finishes with the following in response to the great-grandmother musing about the marriage status of the abandoned daughter:

“She didn’t mention any husband at all,” I said, getting drawn into it despite myself. [said Fran the sloot]

“Maybe you’re worried she’ll be disappointed in you,” she said. “You know, that she’s had this big fantasy for all these years that maybe you were Grace Kelly or Margaret Mead and who could live up to that? No one. But you don’t have to, Fran, that’s the thing. you’re her flesh-and-blood mother and that’s enough. That’s all it’ll take.” [Said Fran’s mother]

This, being the concluding paragraph, most nearly captures the author’s desired interpretation of the situation for her readers. In short, she wants to absolve the selfish, slutty child abandoner of the consequences of her poor decisions. The message seems to be, “don’t worry girls you can be irresponsible sluts and there won’t be consequences. Your abandoned children won’t be bothered by your irresponsible behavior at all and won’t hold it against you. If you abandon your spawn you can go back to being career oriented and selfish, no problem.” Perfect, just perfect.

Most troubling is the mention of Margaret Mead. For those of you who don’t know, Margaret Mead went and lived in Samoa for some time and upon her return wrote a book detailing the culture. She was, most likely, a lesbian and definitely a feminist.

She portrayed Samoa as a gentle, easy-going society where teenagers grew up free of sexual hang-ups. Premarital sex, she claimed, was common. Rape was unheard of. Young people grew to adulthood without enduring the adolescent trauma typical in western countries. She used these findings to support her thesis that culture, not biology, determines human behavior and personality. The book became an anthropological classic, read by generations of college students. [emphasis mine]

How progressive and wonderful and relativist and delightfully feminist that all sounds! Unfortunately it was a bunch of bullshit; as all such accounts invariably turn out to be. Mead’s account was and is simultaneously both utterly implausible for any culture while also being an extremely attractive wish fulfillment for the average progressive academic. Such academics had no intention of letting facts interfere with a good progressive narrative so they didn’t bother double checking Mead’s description; and just made it required reading in anthropology courses for the better part of a century. I’m so inspired by confidence in our educational institutions… The short of it is that Mead either was tricked by locals having a laugh, or more likely she intentionally wrote a fraudulent account to support her desire for a progressive world in which the ideas of feminism have some overlap with reality.

In 1983 New Zealand anthropologist Derek Freeman published Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, in which he challenged her claims. He argued that the reality of Samoan culture was very different from what Mead had portrayed. Samoans, he insisted, actually had rather puritanical attitudes about sex. Rape was common. Men were aggressive. Premarital sex was disapproved of. In fact, a great emphasis was placed upon a woman being a virgin when marrying.

Clearly the author looks up to Mead given the context, and shoehorns the same appreciation typically only found in delusional “academics” into a random working class mook of a character. Most mooks probably have never even heard of Margaret Mead let alone admired her. When was the last time you met a receptionist or construction worker who cared two licks about Samoan culture past or present? The only people who care about Margaret Mead are parasitical (relative to taxpayers) “academics” in the humanities, anthropology, and dyke-feminist studies. Considering that this passage was written AFTER Mead was revealed to be fraudulent,  the author can’t even be given the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t know this prior to referencing Mead. I suppose it isn’t uncommon for progressives to continue to cite and look up to discredited people. Its all about the narrative and not the facts.

If we weren’t sure of the author’s purpose before we are now by her subtle insertion of Mead as some sort of admirable figure rather than a fraud. It was/is the author’s goal to make degeneracy such as that featured in this story appear normal and acceptable; and with minimal consequences. To promote completely fabricated and fallacious interpretations of reality and to all around give women the worst kind of role models imaginable. Just like Mead before her, this account of fraudulent morals and degenerate culture is also being read by generations of students thanks to its inclusion in the ACT and the ACT prep book. I guess the author really did aspire to the same status of Mead and unfortunately succeeded in her own way. We can only guess that the author is also a selfish and militant lesbian as well and her characters are just elaborate Mary Sues.

The next section to come up in the test is the one on social science. However, I would like to save that for last and discuss the section on the “humanities” first. I won’t discuss the section on natural science at all except to say that it was written by Stephen Jay Gould, notorious for his pseudo-scientific perspective on human biological diversity vomited onto paper in “The Mismeasure of Man.” However, the passage in the test is just about dinosaurs and has not much, if any, bearing on politics. In general, I have found that a lot of passages on natural science have something to do with climate change if that says anything but since this one was fairly neutral I won’t harp on it; except to say I am not surprised a darling of progressives like Gould (invariably another charlatan like Mead) was picked even if they used neutral content.

The humanities passage can be read below; again with the questions covered up.

act humanities

I can’t express in words how truly irritating this article is. Though I will try. The article is written by an ethnic Bangladeshi who grew up in India and immigrated to the United States. She is an author apparently and her goal is to transform the Culture of the United states. Here are some quotes:

I am an American writer, in the American mainstream, trying to extend it. This is  a vitally important statement for me–I am not an Indian writer, not an expatriate. I am an immigrant; my investment is in the American reality, not the Indian.

That is just delusional. Yes, you are an Indian expat. You aren’t American; you just happen to live here and no number of assertions to the contrary is going to change that. Though it isn’t necessarily clear from the above context, “trying to extend it” means that she is trying to transform American culture by forcefully inserting non-American culture in her writing. Basically make it less white male and more third world shit street. This is made clear in no uncertain terms by one of the following questions which references that line. Also, given the rest of the passage it is quite clear she isn’t invested in the current American reality despite her claims, but in radically transforming it into something that isn’t American at all. She continues to discuss what her current struggle is:

The remaining struggle for me is to make the American readership, meaning the editorial and publishing industries as well, acknowledge the same fact. The foreign-born, the Third World immigrant with non-western religions and non-european languages and appearance, can be as American as any steerage passenger from Ireland, Italy, or the Russian Pale.

My literary agenda begins by acknowledging that American has transformed me. It does not end until I show how I (and the hundreds of thousands like me) have transformed America.

The audacity here. People already live here and maybe they don’t want or need some recent arrival trying to radically change things. I mean this is an almost threatening tone. Hundreds of thousands? Are you planning to amass an army or something? It doesn’t seem like she would be opposed to that if the opportunity arose. Her stories and characters are often, apparently, based on recent immigrants. Therefore she is quite delighted by the massive demographic changes since the 1965 immigration “reforms”:

I have been blessed with an enormity of material: the rapid and dramatic transformation of the United States since the early 1970s.

The following I just found to be ridiculous:

For all the hope and energy I have placed in the process of immigration and accommodation–I’m a person who couldn’t ride a public bus when she first arrived, and now I’m someone who watches tractor pulls on obscure cable channels.

Well, our immigration policy is in tip top shape. We are letting people in who can’t even figure out how to ride a bus?  Also tractor pulls? Why don’t I hear anyone whining about cultural appropriation here? Oh, right, whites have no right to any sort of cultural exclusivity while everyone else does. I suspect the tractor pull thing is just a lie though. Made up to make it look like she identified in some half-assed way with rural white culture. Though clearly everything else she seems to believe in and advocate for, somewhat militantly and aggressively, suggests anything but identification with authentic American culture. This is merely a bit of lazily implemented lip-service believable to precisely no one.

The passage ends with the following:

Writers (especially American writers weaned on affluence and freedom) often disavow the notion of a “literary duty” or “political consciousness,” citing the all-too-frequent [all-too-infrequent in my opinion] examples of writers ruined by their shrill commitments. Glibness abounds on both sides of the argument, but finally I have to side with my “Third World” compatriots: I do have a duty, beyond telling a good story. My duty is to give voice to continents, but also to redefine the nature of American.

My question is, if the culture of India and/or Bangladesh was so awesome, why the hell did you leave? If the cultures of those countries suck so much, from your own perspective, that you felt the need to leave, why are you trying to transform the culture of the country you just moved to to get away from that? Do you think the people already here want their culture transformed to resemble a third world shit hole field? Do YOU even want that if you really think about it? I mean you obviously left because you didn’t like your home country and its culture. I mean I don’t even understand this perspective. Why leave a shit hole and then immediately try to make nice places suck just like the place you just left? Just stay where you are if you want things to be like where you were born. It is like that there now. Go home and then you won’t have to transform anything. [Full disclosure; though cleanliness isn’t one of the characteristics India is known for, I am sure it is an interesting place to visit. I am just making the point that it doesn’t make sense when people leave their home country, because they don’t like it or the economy sucks or whatever, and then immediately try to create the same problems they escaped from in their new residence. So many migrants fail to see the irony in their actions and efforts. Just like this woman.]

The entirety of the content here is arrogant and aggressive to the extreme. However, it does gives words to what we already know many immigrants think and that is that given the numbers they will have no problem taking over and making all the world into the third world. They aren’t content to come here and appreciate the opportunity they really shouldn’t have been given in the first place by adapting to the culture of their new residence. They want to radically and irredeemably alter what WE have built; making it inaccessible to everyone. I honestly find it difficult to tutor this passage because it makes me so mad. It also annoys most of my students, who usually happen to also be white. We sometimes discuss how obnoxious the passage is, and how even more obnoxious it is that it was selected for something that should be a politically neutral test. I think I even called the author an arrogant cunt in front of one student accidentally. Oops. Luckily she just agreed with me.

The last thing worth mentioning about this passage is the editor by the name of Janet Sternburg. I don’t buy the whole Jewish conspiracy theory stuff. I do not believe in an organized conspiracy ran by Jews to destroy Europeans. However, it is hard not to notice that a lot of the most militant and aggressive articles relating to demographics or feminism or social justice and other cultural marxist ideas often have Jews very actively involved. I am not sure why this is, and I know there are plenty of Jews who don’t do this. Some are personal friends of mine and are quite reactionary. Given how common this pattern is, however, I can understand why people get annoyed with Jews as a group when this sort of propaganda often seems to have them involved. It would be nice if they did more to stop their compatriots from developing, or at least from advocating, such radically destabilizing ideologies.

Moving on. The social science article, which is sandwiched between the two previous passages, is actually fairly reactionary. Ya, I was surprised too. It is adapted from the book “How Courts Govern America” by Richard Neely, which was written in the early 1980s. You can read it below:

social science act I think the passage gets away with being reactionary because it doesn’t directly criticize any particular political issues and rather criticizes democracy as a political philosophy.  Unlimited immigration and the “right” for women to be irresponsible are sacred to the extreme; whereas democracy is abstract enough that people don’t get as mad about it when criticized in the most general terms without reference to anything in the particular that might raise passions.

Or maybe the article got through because it criticizes non-brahmins who know very little about government anyway. Progressives like to make fun of “flyover” states so maybe that conceit was present in choosing this article; since it can be reasonably inferred that the unintelligent mooks referred to in the article are assumed to be rural whites by progressive test designers. Related to this is the fact that progressives have so often used the courts to overturn non-progressive laws and positions legitimately democratically selected by the same fly-over staters. The most recent example being the legalization of gay marriage. If you think about it, progressives first loyalty is to progressivism and not democracy at all. Generally they like democracy because it tends to progress progressivism but don’t hesitate to abandon the principle as soon as it interferes with moving further left. So maybe they secretly hate democracy as much as we do but for completely different reasons. It is a useful tool and no more; something to be abandoned at the first sign of a slow in “progress.”

Alternatively, perhaps they hope that articles like this will result in people wanting MORE democracy because it shows how little representation is really present in the system. Since the examples of democracy slowing “progress” are few and far between, and when they do happen “progress” can be restored via plenty of non-democratic channels, perhaps the tool is still far more useful than not even despite a hiccup every now an then.

Lastly, I suppose it could also be included to basically encourage greater and more widespread “education” since lack of general interest in the technical functioning of government is cited as the main problem and because education is almost entirely run by progressives.  Those are my theorized possibilities for how it got past the progressive commissars. Whatever the reason, there are some nice statements in it. This book may be worth a read.

On the average person’s interest in the economy:

When times are bad, or there is a nationwide strike or disaster, interest in the economy becomes all-consuming. However, the daily toiling of countless millions of civil servants in areas such as occupational health and safety, motor vehicle regulation, or control of navigable waterways escapes public notice almost completely

True enough. Government is in fact almost entirely ran by career bureaucrats and most of us don’t even think about that until we are inconvenienced in some way by them.

Futhermore, even with regard to high-visibility issues [such as?], significant communication between the electorate and public officials is extremely circumscribed. Most serious political communication is limited to forty-five seconds on the network evening news.

Also true, most political discourse consists of soundbites and sensationalism. A great demonstration of the futility of democracy.

Most of what one says to a local newspaper gets filtered through the mind of an inexperienced twenty-three-year-old journalism school graduate. Try sometime to explain the intricacies of a program budget, which basically involves solving a grand equation composed of numerous simultaneous differential functions, to a reporter whose journalism school curriculum did not include advanced algebra, to say nothing of calculus.

There was an article I stumbled across the other day which makes a similar point; though sadly I have forgotten which blog it was on. Journalism is generally a lower IQ major choice; though perhaps not the lowest. At best journalists are average IQ among the professional occupations, but more likely the are a bit on the dumb side. Yet these are the people who we inexplicably trust to report the news and to inform us on important political issues. I can’t say that makes any sort of sense; even if we excluded the general left-wing biases of most journalists. They just aren’t smart enough for us to trust their competence irrespective of the political beliefs.

The electorate is as interested in the whys and wherefores of most technical, nonemotional political issues as I am in putting ships in bottles: they do not particularly care. Process and personalities, the way decisions are made and by whom, the level of perquisites, extramarital sexual relations, and, in high offices, personal gossip dominate the public mind, while interest in the substance of technical decisions is minimal….

Since the populace at large is more than willing to delegate evaluation of the technical aspects of government to somebody else, it inevitably follows that voting is a negative exercise, not a positive one. Angry voters turn the rascals out and, in the triumph of hope over experience, let new rascals in. What voters are unable to do–because they themselves do not understand the technical questions–is tell the rascals how to do their jobs better.

It is hard to say it better than this. Truly this is one of the great flaws of democracy:  the assumption that the average mook has enough understanding to decide how government and policy should be run. This is a dimly naive assumption which has no bearing on reality. I would go even further and state that even smart people often have more productive endeavors to invest their thought in. Which is more valuable: the smart guy who devotes all of his mental resources to running a business which employs many people, or discovers some new mechanism in biology or chemistry, or one who sits around making sophist arguments about some transient political cause? Yes it is true we need people who can competently manage government, however engaging more people than the bare minimum in this type of work is extremely wasteful of human capital. Most people have more valuable things they could contribute to society. Lastly the passage ends with the following:

That anything gets done by a political body at all is to be applauded as a miracle rather than accepted as a matter of course. When we recognize that in the federal government, with its millions of employees, there are but five hundred and thirty-seven elected officials, put into office to carry out the “will” of a people who for the most part know little and care less about the technical functioning of their government, the absurdity of the notion of rapid democratic responsiveness becomes clear. The widely held tenet of democratic faith that elected officials, as opposed to bureaucrats or the judiciary, are popularly selected and democratically responsive is largely a myth which gives a useful legitimacy to a system. In fact, however, far from democratic control, the two most important forces in political life are indifference and its direct byproduct: inertia.

Yep, though moldbug is extremely influential in our circles, a lot of what he has said is just a colorful retelling of writings by other reactionary thinkers; which I believe moldbug states himself.  It is good that such a passage found its way into the test prep book, but it is so general that it doesn’t risk anything. It is hard for people to get truly angry over abstractions. What moldbug and the rest of the neoreactosphere tend to do better than the above passage is to actually engage in crime think and call a spade a spade. Specifically pointing out and discussing the horribly misguided sacred policies and beliefs associated with democracy to one degree or another. Its easy to say “government doesn’t work” because pretty much no one of any political persuasion is going to disagree with that ambiguous truism. When you start saying it doesn’t work because of social justice, or feminism, or nonsense about “oppression” then you are getting to the real meat and potatoes of the problem. Anyway, this passage is good for what it is and better than naught.

The social science passage stands as a notable exception (the only one I am aware of and I have seen a fair number of passages) in a long series of politically motivated choices of passages. There are many more I could have included that fit the prog narrative. However, the mere existence of such people and such warped perspectives can only be so annoying to someone desensitized and numb to the rampant bullshit in our society. It is far more annoying that millions of teenagers are being fed this kind of garbage either on tests like the ACT and SAT or through test prep books. More students undoubtedly read the passages I have highlighted because of the prep book than would have from a single test. Examples like this demonstrate that education really is used to a significant, if not primary, degree for purposes of propaganda. Whoever these academics are which choose what to include clearly have an agenda and slaver at the opportunity to put this stuff in the heads of as many innocent children as they can possibly infect with delusional ideologies. Parents or aspiring parents should be aware of what is out there and take the time to talk to their kids about it. A child will often uncritically receive the positions and ideas of elders and as can be seen from any school humanities curriculum most of that is bunk. They should be informed early on that a lot of it is bunk so they are less likely to just believe it unthinkingly. The first step is acknowledging there is a problem. Once recognized you start to spot it everywhere.

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