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23 January 2017


Russell Steele

The Washington Post has an article on Gelernter charging him with being an anti-intellectual.

David Gelernter, fiercely anti-intellectual computer scientist, is being eyed for Trump’s science adviser

Computer scientist David Gelernter, a Yale University professor who has decried the influence of liberal intellectuals on college campuses, is being considered for the role of the Donald Trump's science adviser. Gelernter met with the president-elect at Trump Tower in New York City on Tuesday, according to press secretary Sean Spicer.

But he would be an unusual choice for the role of science adviser. If appointed, he would be the first computer scientist to take the job, and the first adviser who is not a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has expressed doubt about the reality of man-made climate change — something that 97 percent of active researchers agree is a problem. And his anti-intellectualism makes him an outlier among scientists.

Steven Hayward writing at the Powerline Blog has a takedown of Susan Kaplan and the Washington Post's, anti-intellectual charge.

The invocation of “intellectualism” here is obviously an ideological caricature. “Vehement” critic? It’s pretty clear that if you dissent from the liberal orthodoxy of the universities, for Kaplan it makes you a “vehement” critic.

I’ve only met Gelernter once, but I’ve read many of his fine books and articles. This can be stated as categorical, objective truth: Intellectually, Sarah Kaplan isn’t fit to carry David Gelernter’s jockstrap. She should be fired, too, for such a shoddy piece of “journalism.”

And people in the media wonder why Trump, and much of the population, think the media is the enemy.


Gelernter is a Renaissance Man I've been aware of since his Linda work in the early 80's. A great choice, a true intellectual who doesn't mind swimming against the tide. Sarah Kaplan, who labels him an "anti-Intellectual", is a fresh BA from Georgetown in "International Culture and Politics", and I suspect with that degree, being a Reporter at the WaPo is the pinnacle of success; I'm not surprised she could not recognize a real intellect when faced with it.

Unfortunately, as of a couple weeks ago, the Helling Library is no longer carrying the Wall Street Journal, and the WSJ has shut down the freebie portal of serving non-subscribers referred to specific articles by Google searches. When I asked at the desk I was told the Friends Of The Library was deciding what to renew. The library is down to just The Chronicle, The Bee and The Union, but the rack is built to hold eight daily newpapers, hearkening to a older time where the library was focused on the reading of books and periodicals, not listening to CDs, watching videos or using their computers.

Remind me... the latest library tax referendum did pass, didn't it?

Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin libraria bookshop, feminine (used as a noun) of librarius relating to books, from liber, libr- book.


I'm surprised this threat petered out so fast!

BTW George, I realize you're quick to label folks you agree with "systems scientists", but Gelernter is a Computer Scientist, one of the best. Here's the article that made me aware of his work:

To an extent, everyone in the modern practices of computer and electrical engineering are "systems scientists" because, by and large, a systems view is standard practice, at least since the late 60's.

George Rebane

Gregory 1250pm - I'm disappointed but not so much surprised. Our commenting readership is more oriented toward the politics du jour vs subjects technical or numeracy intensive. My private correspondence on such posts more than makes up for it.

I label 'systems scientists' people who through their work have mastered toolsets that are encompass the toolsets required to earn a computer science or an electrical engineering degree, and not just "folks" I happen to agree with. Although I agree that degrees explicitly in the systems sciences were recognized most recently, anyone who has hired, assembled, and/or supervised people to develop complex systems requiring the integration of multiple sciences with various fields of engineering will know that either a perfectly qualified computer science or electrical/electronic engineer per se will not do. Having had a "systems view" is simply not enough, you have to have put in the extra time to take the extra courses.

We first learned of that educational deficit in the 1970s, and fed that back to the universities. Because of the large toolset required, the appellation'systems sciences' was available only from graduate courses of study, it was not reasonable to award BS degrees in it. Gelernter has expanded considerably beyond computer science, which unfortunately is neither appreciated nor understood by the journalistic crowd. The best they can do is dwell with the 'computer science' or 'electronics engineer' labels.

Today one can sport an advanced degree that actually calls your skill set in systems. For example, even though I developed such a toolset in the first tranche of my doctoral course work - after a BS in Applied Physics (electronics specialty) and a MSEE in Control & Estimation Theory - it was only in my dual doctorate that the major fields of Complex Dynamic SYSTEMS and Artificial Intelligence were recognized. The technical staffing markets have recognized this for several decades now by the salaries commanded by such systems people - I know that because I have both earned them and paid them, and am still a systems scientist being compensated richly for my talents.

BTW, I am now again looking to hire a systems professional in the sense described above. Email me with any recommendations you may have.


George, it remains that Gelernter has not, as far as I can tell, chosen to describe himself as a "systems scientist".

If you're seriously looking for a real "systems scientist", send me a link to the advertisement (current or contemplated) and I'll forward it to possible matches. I wouldn't waste their time with less.

George Rebane

Gregory 305pm - For the kind of work that I do and have done, there will be no advertisements of the kind that you are looking for. The involvement will be entrepreneurial, highly technical, and with no guarantee of success. Thanks anyway.


Good luck with that, George but I can't imagine the blurb you posted here would be enough to entice anyone to inquire, or for anyone to forward it to a possibly interested 'entrepreneur' with a *proper* systems background.

George Rebane

Gregory 431pm - you again misapprehend. I posted no "blurb" here to entice anyone to inquire, that is not the way these things are done; I was only having an unsuccessful conversation with you.


The $7 billion school improvement grant program: Greatest failure in the history of the US Department of Education?

Despite its gargantuan price tag, SIG generated no academic gains for the students it was meant to help. Failing schools that received multi-year grants from the program to “turn around” ended up with results no better than similar schools that received zero dollars from the program. To be clear: Billions spent had no effect.

When Washington spends billions of dollars on something, it’s reasonable to assume it will do some good, especially when the Secretary of Education promises “transformation not tinkering.” But not with SIG.

No matter how the researchers crunched the numbers, the abysmal results were the same. SIG didn’t improve math scores. Or reading scores. Or high school graduation rates. Or college enrollment. SIG didn’t improve elementary or secondary schools. It didn’t help schools in Race-to-the-Top states or non-Race-to-the-Top states.

The results are almost too much to believe.


George, sorry you thought our conversation was "unsuccessful", I thought it was as expected. I did a bit of digging in my spare time and it seems that you're the only one who considers Gelernter a "systems scientist". We all have our specialties and I've noted in the past how you have yours on a particularly tall pedestal.

I didn't think your request for an email from me with recommendations for a Rebane mini-Me following your cv was anything but a swinging dick ploy, but I was happy to call your bluff.

Russ, AEI has no clue, either. The basic problems with education remain a faulty Romantic pedagogy generally called constructivism and the concepts behind a child-centered education, instead of a curriculum centered approach. There was a major study in the '70's called Project Follow Through, the biggest education study of its time, and the results were roundly ignored because an entry called "Direct Instruction" was the clear winner, hands down. It called for the teacher to actually teach the subject rather than coach the little darlings as they worked it out for themselves, which, one might note, is also the Common Core approach.

Ms. DeVos, the Trump nominee for Education Secretary, is something of a disaster all by her lonesome according to my education contacts. Should be better than Duncan (and anyone who ticks off the Teacher's unions is probably an improvement because academically weak teachers are a huge part of the problem) but she has many of the the same Progressive notions of education... with the addition that just parental choice and charters is the salve that is needed.

Locally, the charters are the worst schools in our county, with just a very few exceptions... really bad choices are not the way out of the mess.

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