Some News About the Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Posted on August 27, 2019 Posted by John Scalzi 74 Comments
It’s undergoing a name change, to the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. All the details are here.
I don’t know if the name change is retroactive, but I gotta say I wouldn’t mind being known as an Astounding Award winner.
It was Jeannette Ng who made this happen by speaking up, and also the folks at Dell Magazines, who sponsor the award, for listening. Good on each. This is a good outcome to what could have been a drawn-out and contentious issue, and I applaud it.
This is a good move. I’m impressed that they implemented it so quickly.
Nice to see, and done in a swift and respectful way.
And too, I’m happy to be reclassified as an Astounding nominee. :)
It’s the 21st c, it’s time.
As above, it’s impressive that it’s so quick. I think this is where it was going to end up anyway, so kudos for getting, if not in front of it exactly, onboard so soon.
I’m *really* surprised this happened so fast. At the Nebulas I spoke with someone who wanted to start a push to have it named for Vonda McIntyre, who did so much to foster new writers in the field; I’d still love to see that happen. And “Astounding” doesn’t *quite* shed the issues of Campbell’s legacy. But at least it’s a word with its own meaning, in addition to being the magazine he edited, and it doesn’t honor him specifically.
Regardless of my personal feelings on the situation (which are mixed) this was probably going to happen eventually, so it’s best to get it out of the way with minimum drama. A good PR move on Dell Magazines’ part, if nothing else.
Yeah. This works. In my opinion, it even nods respectfully to the history of the field and Campbell’s presence in it as the editor of Astounding, while at the same time not linking a writing award to his personal beliefs (and avoiding both confusion with the “other” Campbell award and the self-promotion of naming it after the current magazine). Nicely done, Dell.
Good job! A win for sanity!
A good political solution leaves everyone a bit dissatisfied.
Works for me.
In my various old-bookstore wanderings, I found an old paperback collection of Campbell’s essays or editorials I forget which. I soon noticed that the racial and sexist assumptions/myths therein were utterly revolting, not to mention preposterous, and I recycled that book instead of trading it in. I’m glad they are changing the name.
I thought the explanation for why they changed the name was very elegant.
The tail of the normal distribution is gonna squawk. . .
Well this is a surprise.
Well, you’re an award winner and you are occasionally astounding, so I’d say it’s certainly an apt name for an award you possess. Also apt for most of its other recipients, so that’s a win/win.
On the other hand, “he’s an astounding award winner” could be misinterpreted, if you were the kind of person who likes to deliberately mis-parse common phrases. Fortunately nobody in SF is like that.
Why, this is boggling! Amazing! Startling! Surprising! Confounding! Mind-blowing! (If only I could find the right adjective.)
@Marie Brennan: The award is given by Dell Magazines. I doubt they’d want to name it for someone or something not particularly associated with Dell Magazines. Which pretty much lets Vonda out. (And Terry Carr, who also discovered an amazing amount of new talent.) In any case, the current thinking with a lot of people is that naming awards for people is just asking for trouble. I can see their point, even if I’m not sure I agree with the conclusion.
@xtifr: Fair point, and I’ll note they previously changed the name of the Isaac Asimov Award (which is now the Dell Magazines Award) for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. Since calling it the Analog Award would sound very much like it’s tied to that single magazine, this is a sensible compromise.
I will also say that the statement was well-conceived. Framing the change as a way to avoid unnecessary controversy and distraction – rather than an unambiguous condemnation of Campbell – is appropriate, in my opinion.
This might be all down to Alec Nevala-Lee’s recent history of John W. Campbell as it certainly brought back home the problematic nature of the man’s career after he had become something of a “marble man.” I certainly hadn’t been thinking about the “complicated” nature of the man’s contribution for a long time before I read that book.
YES!!!!! Damn, I really needed some good news today.
I approve the change and endorsed it with following their blog, following their twitter, and subscribing. And to support Jeannette Ng, of course I also bought the Astounding Award-winning book.
Thank you for your posts on this, John.
Also, reading between the lines, I suspect that Analog’s editor has been thinking about this for awhile so that when the bomb went off he had already decided on a course of action.
Good grief, that was fast! I’m impressed.
I think it was the word “fucking” in front of “fascist” that did it.
I must admit that I am still quite schocked, both by Ng’s undignified and diffamatory accusation — ‘fascist’ is a technical term, and in my opinion re-writing history is closer to it in spirit than sharing the prejudices of one’s times — and by Dell’s immediate quasi-endorsment of it.
In one sense, the rise of the reactionaries has forced us all to rethink our assumptions, and even we futurists have to drag ourselves ever so reluctantly into the 21st century. In another sense, well done Dell for acting swiftly without a protracted period of public navel gazing that would weaken an already fragile community.
Just reading the comments on the original story is enough for me to know that this was a good move.
Despite what you might think from their pop culture, our ancestors didn’t all believe in racism. I remember coming across a science fiction book with a pulp looking cover, for 35 cents, called Puzzle Planet. It was a murder mystery. The aliens are a simple sidekick folk who speak like someone out of a Hollywood movie of the time, in pidgin English.
Turns out they have the power to mind read, and merely acted the way the first Earth man they met expected them to act. I wonder how many readers realized their culture, or the racists within it, was being satirized?
If you want to complain about the supposed misuse of technical terms, you probably shouldn’t call Ng’s comments defamatory when John W. Campbell has been dead since 1971 and under both English (Ng’s nationality and place of residency) and Irish (the place to comments were made) law, one cannot defame the dead.
Sounds like a sensible resolution.
I think this move is an emphasis on the stories and what was done, and less on the man (which includes what he believes). And I think as a pioneer, the effort was ground breaking and the effort both laudatory and titanic. But like all first steps, it wasn’t perfection; we can always do better…and we can always do better.
The only nit I can find to pick here is having John W. Campbell’s name on the award served as a reminder of how thin the veneer of civilization is. The Astounding award is a good idea, but it will reduce the number of times people “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!” over beliefs that should be exposed to ridicule often.
If Jeanette Ng thought Campbell was that bad she should have declined the award. Taking it and mouthing off marks her as a hypocrite and a careerist.
After doing a couple of previous culture wars in SF fandom, I was able to predict exactly how the usual suspects on both sides would react to this. For myself, I think it’s a good decision. I was doubtful about it until I read some actual Campbell essays.
I think the discussion various places online was thorough and fair. It was not hard to find both sides presenting their cases.
Joe: how is calling an author a careerist an insult? “You rotten fink, how DARE you want to make a living!”
Also, reading between the lines, I suspect that Analog’s editor has been thinking about this for awhile so that when the bomb went off he had already decided on a course of action.
Yes, I think this is very possibly the case. We might be looking at a “House of Cards” situation here – an inevitable development accelerated by controversy.
I’m no lawyer. Since defamation of the dead does exist in French law, I wouldn’t have thought to check about Irish law anyway. Thus you’re right : I probably should have abstained from using a technical legal term there, and kept to personal moral judgements.
So : make that “undignified, mendacious, and pathetic”.
As well as incoherent and/or ignorant (for the confusion between _Astounding_ and _Amazing stories_); irrespectuous both of John Campbell, of the voters of the award she was accepting and of her public; and quite unsensitive, since John Campbell family — his grandson and great-granddaughter, first and probably last time attendees of a WorldCon — was in the room.
And I fully agree with Joe S. Walker : the decent way would have been to decline nomination.
I feel like those awards belong to the entire community, not just to the people they may be named after and their descendants. I dislike the idea of a great new writer having to turn down what may be the best-known award for great new writers in the genre just because some dead guy was an asshole.
I feel like those awards belong to the entire community, not just to the people they may be named after and their descendants.
Yeah, what is this award actually for?
To honor the best new writer to the field?
Or to honor John Campbell?
Your highest priority in life is opposing: (Select the one that bests fits you):
B) people who curse in public
C) people who misuse words
D) people who criticize awards they accept.
This is a fucking easy one, people.
@Joe S. Walker
If Jeanette Ng thought Campbell was that bad she should have declined the award. Taking it and mouthing off marks her as a hypocrite and a careerist.
Actually no. The award is separate from the name attached to it, as Dell Magazines just demonstrated. This award was voted to Ng by her fans and peers, and there was no reason for her to refuse it. Quite the contrary, she used the platform winning the award gave her to push forth a needed change, and she should be commended.
I’ll note that I’m not interesting in continuing the line of conversation Mr. Walker initiated, because a) it’s bullshit, for reasons I noted a couple of days ago, b) at this point it’s also irrelevant, the name change has happened, and trying to get in a late whine about it doesn’t change anything. So let’s table it, please.
To give some flavor of what it probably felt like, imagine yourself as a white guy being given (with sincere intent to please) a Louis Farrakhan Award. (As far as I know, there is no such award. This is an example.)
Louann, may I borrow that analogy? Or use it.
“I’m no lawyer.” – and yet you felt free to use a technical legal term, incorrectly, and expect forgiveness based on your ignorance. Ms. Ng’s crime of using a different technical word in a way consistent with how it is used by philosophers and professors but not how you like to use is is clearly less forgivable. It’s a word that has been used to describe Campbell since the 1970s at least, but those uses were by men like Michael Moorcock, not mere women. Shocking…
Summing up – Campbell supported the killing of people who happened to be walking nearby a protest (and this is not just in his editorials – Asimov reported Campbell wishing he could have been the killer). Campbell was appalled that medicine was banned in America, merely because it caused birth defects. Campbell thought that fans would not accept a black hero in a science fiction story, and Campbell felt that democracy was unworkable. Sorry if those facts offend – but your offence should not be at the person who reports the facts.
P.S. John Wilkes Booth was a racist murderer – and I say that here without concern that I will hurt the feelings of our host here, Booth’s descendant.
This is a win-win. Renaming the award quickly keeps the central idea (honoring best new writers) while decoupling the honor from a man whom time has shown to possess odious beliefs. Yet at the same time, the new name pays homage to the hallmark of that man’s legacy. Nice move.
Weird fact: Nazi Germany had one of the worlds first national campaigns against tobacco products. They figured out it caused lung cancer. They outlawed smoking on public transportation. They taxed tobacco products. They did PR to discourage people from smoking.
Imagine if they had created an annual award for whoever made the biggest contribution to healthy lungs.
And then in the 80’s, some scientist won the award for figuring out some chemical that helps people break their addiction to nicotine. And he happens to be Jewish. And its called the Weimar Health Award.
And when he accepts the award, he gets up on stage and points out that the award is named after fucking fascists who would have murdered people like him.
Is the priority to acknowledge people today who further advances in health sciences?
Or is the priority to always acknowledge that fucking nazis started the worlds first anti smoking campaign?
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire. –Gustav
The preservation of fire here is encouraging and acknowledging great new writers today. Did campbell do that? Sure. But he wasnt the only one. And he had a lot of nasty baggage he carried around that detracted from that fire. It turns into a worship of ashes if we insist the only way to acknowledge good new writers todsy is to give them an award named after Campbell. The name isnt important. He wasnt the only one to preserve this fire.
[Deleted because someone doesn’t understand this is my site and what I say goes — JS]
Thomas Mallorn wrote: “Campbell was appalled that medicine was banned in America, merely because it caused birth defects.”
Actually, no. His point was that it had been banned without any scientific reason.
The editorial in question was published in January, 1963 and is a careful statement of the very detailed tests that Thalidomide had passed with flying colors while noting how it replaced very dangerous barbiturates, often used in suicides and are addictive, and how it had been approved for use everywhere except the US.
He makes the point that our Dr Kelsey’s foot dragging had no scientific fact for doing so. And yes, she was a hero, which he notes.
But he asks the larger question, which should make us think. At what point should we start substituting “belief” and “faith” for science? Campbell finished with this:
“So long as human beings hope to make progress in control of disease and misery, some people will be lost in the exploration of the unknown.
There is no way to prevent that. There is no possible system of tests that can avoid it – only minimize the risk.
We could, of course, simply stop trying new drugs at all.
The animals never did try the pain and the risk of fire.
They’re still animals, too.”
I rather suspect that many of the claims you make are also incorrect when read completely and in context. If you have actual dates, etc., etc. I would love to read them..
BTW – Harry Harrison collected various editorials and Doubleday published them.
I’ve been reading “Astounding”, and it’s taught me 2 things:
1) L. Ron Hubbard was batshit crazy.
2) Campbell spent a lot of time talking out his ass about things he only understood in the vaguest way.
Neither of the two was shy about tooting their own horn, even when they had “stretch” the truth to do so.
(I’d append if I could….)
Perhaps Campbell wasn’t the chemist he thought he was. Or maybe he just wasn’t in Dr. Kelsey’s league.
“In a 1960 memo, Kelsey described the material submitted by Merrell as “an interesting collection of meaningless pseudoscientific jargon apparently intended to impress chemically unsophisticated readers.”13 When Kelsey repeatedly rejected Merrell’s application, Merrell representatives complained to Kelsey’s bosses at the FDA and held protests through phone calls, letters, and repeated office visits. Kelsey requested information on clinical and animal studies on the drugs toxicity and its safety during pregnancy. By the end of 1961, however, reports emerged that associated the drug with severe birth defects such as phocomelia, a birth defect in which infants are born without limbs or with severely deformed limbs.14”
COULD IT BE!!!?? that JWC maybe, just maybe, discounted her reasoning because she didn’t have a penis? Gosh, that NEVER happened EVER now did it?
It’s a strawman argument to suggest that the only alternatives are approving all medicines immediately or disallowing all medicines. The application reached Dr. Kelsey in September 1960. She requested additional data, and in December 1960, the first reports of neurological effects were made in the UK leading Dr. Kelsey to have concerns about the effects in fetal development (https://web.archive.org/web/20061020043712/http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2001/201_kelsey.html) – especially since effects of maternal intoxication on fetuses had been discovered in 1957.
Campbell was wrong to write ” At this time — say January, 1961 — there was no scientific reason to doubt that thalidomide was one hundred per cent safe, and a very successful drug” and he was wrong to insultingly suggest that Kelsey’s decision was “due to those totally indefensible and
anathematized things, “a hunch” and/or “woman’s intuition.”
Campbell was right, of course, to suggest that risk minimization is possible while risk elimination is not – but what Kelsey did was risk minimization, in spite of Campbell’s erroneous reasoning.
You can almost hear the sneer in “woman’s intuition”.
Points for Jeanette Ng.
Andrew wrote: “It’s a strawman argument to suggest that the only alternatives are approving all medicines immediately or disallowing all medicines”
No where was/has that suggestion been made.
Eric, I also can Google. “The Cincinnati-based drug company, William S. Merrell, had licensed the drug and stood to profit substantially upon its approval from the FDA. Since the drug was already widely distributed across Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world, Merrell and FDA colleagues expected an easy and quick approval process. However, Kelsey found Merrell’s application incomplete and insufficient to warrant the drugs approval.12”
“COULD IT BE!!!?? that JWC maybe, just maybe, discounted her reasoning because she didn’t have a penis? Gosh, that NEVER happened EVER now did it?”
Gee, I have no idea that Campbell could have been a product of his time.
Who else do you want to throw out with the bathwater??
Kelsey was ignoring all of the other studies and approvals. Merrell’s application was deemed incomplete and insufficient. Was that true of all the others? In any event, Campbell’s point was that she was right, but for the wrong reason. Or should we reject those backward countries…France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada’s judgement?
Of course, the larger point was, and is, when does belief and faith overcome science??
Jim Lewis: “Kelsey was ignoring all of the other studies and approvals. Merrell’s application was deemed incomplete and insufficient. Was that true of all the others?”
Yes, mostly because there really weren’t any other studies. If there had been, Merrell could have provided them, but Grunenthal (which created and marketed the drug in Germany) never bothered to do full scale testing; they claimed the studies existed, but they never actually did them (and so had no records to pass on to Merrell, who also never bothered to insist on seeing the evidence they were basing their application on). If you are interested, the book to check out is Stephens and Brynner’s Dark Victory: The Impact of Thalidomide and Its Revival as a Vital Medicine. I imagine it’s a bit dated from a scientific and medical perspective (first published in the 1990s, I believe) but I still remember it as a fascinating book.
Campbell was evidently just taking Grunenthal’s word for it that these “other studies” had been done, assuming that Kelsey didn’t know what she was talking about when she said she needed more data–and he also apparently never bothered to check that the data he claimed she should have accepted just didn’t exist. And I’m pretty sure that by the time Campbell was writing, the medical community had at least begun to realize what shoddy work (or maybe better to say “non-work”) Merrell was relying on.
tl;dr: It’s legitimate to wonder why Campbell was so willing to assume that the female scientist was being “unscientific” and relying on “woman’s intuition,” while he apparently wouldn’t even consider the possibility that the female scientist actually did have solid scientific logic behind her delay of Merrell’s application for approval . . .
Mary Francis: Actually, Campbell lists 5 tests that thalidomide passed. Plus, he notes a secondary test of 15904 people of which 3272 were females of child bearing age and 207 were pregnant… no problems were found.
As I noted, he may have been a bit, or maybe a lot, of a sexist. But again, should we ignore the good done by men who we would judge sexist today?
I’ve long been willing to achnowledge the sins of our past while using the good.
Thanks for the book info.
This is where I ask if the discussion about thalidomide is going anywhere useful and additionally is on point to the topic of the post, because it sure looks like a) no, and b) no. Perhaps we should move on from it.
I find this a bit disappointing, in a more general way. Campbell was undoubtedly a racist and had a lot of bad ideas, and I’m not suggesting that this be pushed back under the proverbial rug, but he did have an enormous influence on the genre. I just wish we had a better way of acknowledging this rather than trying to erase him completely.
This isn’t like getting rid of statues of Confederate leaders, who were traitors and have no business being venerated – it’s more like trying to erase Thomas Jefferson, who could legitimately be considered to have committed monstrous crimes, but also had tremendous influence on the formation of the modern US.
You know, if Campbell can be erased from the genre simply by removing his name from a single award, maybe he wasn’t the enormous influence it’s been suggested he was.
oh for pete’s sake. Campbell defended slavery in America saying it gave blacks a higher standard of living as slaves in the US than they had in Africa. He said the Watts riots likely included blacks who wanted to be slaves, how worker bees who couldn’t work just died, He argued to keep schools segregated. He declined a story because he said people weren’t ready for a black protagonist. He defended George Wallace (“segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”).
He said there was little connection between smoking and lung cancer, By 1961 there were 40,000 people who used thalidomide and had numbness in their extremities. it was 1963 when he complained about the FDA not approving it. Campbell hated government regulation of any kind and he griped about the FDA because he thought people needed to die before we can understand a drug so migth as well not regulate it at all until we know everything there is to konw. He griped about seatbelt laws for cars.
He was into parapsychology, telepathy, and psionic powers. A big fan of dianetics and L Ron Hubbard.
In short, he was a complete pseudo scientific crank. Given the choice between a woman with a bachelors, masters, and doctorate in PHARMACOLOGY, who ALSO happens to be a MEDICAL DOCTOR, on one hand, and on the other hand a crackpot pseudoscientific nutjob who is into telepathy and hates any kind of governmetn regulation, Imma gonna go with the woman and her point that thalidomide was unproven at the time.
Meanwhile, he’s a flagrant racist, clearly a sexist, into fascism, a libertarian nutjob who hated government, he believed pseudoscience over actual science almost religiously….
And he helped new sci-fi writers.
Now, the question you posed was this: “should we ignore the good done by men who we would judge sexist today?”
And it’s a really weird question, coming from you. You want an award to remain named after campbell to acknowledge the good he’s done. But you want all the negatives about him to be acknowledged…. how? exactly? Cause you’re actually not acknowledging his faults. You’re clearly attempting to downplay them far below the actual level of crackpot-edness he operated at.
It reminds me of the folks who argue we should keep up the statues of slavers as an opportunity to teach people the ugly truth about teh civil war. Those same folks are the ones who usually tell everyone that the civil war was a war of aggression by the North, and it was about states rightes, not slavery.
So, “should we ignore the good done by men who we would judge sexist today?” makes me chuckle because you cant even acknowledge the man was sexist, and you blatantly downplay one of his worst examples of sexism.
So, maybe in theory would could use slaver statues to talk about the ugly truth of the civil war, but the reality is white racists just want the statues up to idolize their heros. And maybe in theory we could have an award for new writers named after Campbell as a way to talk about the ugly truth of his sexism, racism, fascism, and crack-pottery, but the reality is white racists just want to keep him around because any attack on racism is an attack on them.
“it’s more like trying to erase Thomas Jefferson”
God damn it. No one is getting fucking ERASED.
No one is “erasing” jefferson. No one is “erasing” Campbell.
This is nothing but emotional pleading, demonizing what’s actually happening,
Unless your definition of “erase” is “anything short of being put on a pedastal and held up as a infallible hero”. in which case, yeah, it meets that definition, and also, get a new fucking dictionary.
When someone is actually “erased” by a government, their files are deleted, articles about them are deleted, you can’t find anythign about them on the internet, The only information about them available is usually propaganda forwarded by the govenrment that makes the disappeared person look like a bad guy, and usually that’s completely fabricated.
What’s happening with Campbell and what’s happened with Jefferson is entirely the opposite.
We’re getting MORE information about them. And that information is TRUE. Meanwhile all the existing information about them is still available.
you can still read everything Campbell wrote, just like you can still read everything Jefferson wrote. It’s just that NOW, when you google Jefferson, you’ll find links to the declaration of independence and you might find an article about how he raped his slave repeatedly, had multiple children with her, and sold all those children into slavery.. And if you google Campbell NOW, you might see all teh stuff he wrote and published, and links to his magazine, and ALSO how he was a crackpot pseudoscientist who was a flaming racist, sexist, and mostly talked out his ass about anything involving actual science.
Calling that “erasing” someone is only true in Orwellian double-speak. It is, in fact, the exact opposite.
I’d be really interested to know where Campbell got his thalidomide testing information, since the tests were not done by Grunenthal in developing the drug–or by any of the countries that just took Grunenthal’s word for it in the marketing, I don’t believe. (That is, Grunenthal pretty much fudged their data, claiming to have done tests that they hadn’t done, providing “results” with no research, and by the early 1960s, many people knew that Grunenthal had fudged their data. That Campbell didn’t realize what had happened marks him as at the very least a less-than-careful researcher.)
That said, since you acknowledge that Campbell was sexist, or at least may have been sexist, I honestly don’t think I continuing to discuss thalidomide would be helpful–could you maybe email me the links to the studies? If so, thanks; I’d appreciate it. But what matters to this discussion, I think, isn’t the evidence that Campbell was sexist so much as the contemporary response to his sexism. Do I believe that we should ignore the good done by an individual because he was sexist? (Or racist, or fascist, or name the poison?) No, I’m perfectly willing to acknowledge the good work that Campbell did; it is and will be and should be rightfully enshrined in every history of the field, remembered by every reader who ever picked up a copy of one his magazines. I just don’t think that renaming the award intended to encourage new writers is ignoring him–especially since many of the new writers currently being encouraged are likely people that Campbell himself would have ignored, many of them writing stories he likely would not have published.
Greg: I don’t think you’re wrong, and I’m certainly not saying Campbell was a good guy. Maybe “erased” was the wrong word.
I don’t really have a problem with the award being renamed. But we are still going to have to grapple with the problem of previously-respected historical figures being reevaluated, and while I have no problem with people like Confederate leaders being consigned to the dustbin of history, there are many whose legacy is more mixed, and I feel like there should be a more balanced way to deal with them. But maybe I’m wrong…
Scalzi. I agree. My point was that Campbell’s point was that humans are different from animals because humans are risk takers, or at least, have been.
Yes, Campbell was a nut. He was also a libertarian before being libertarian was cool.
Dell does own the award but it belongs to the fans. Ng, like Campbell, started a debate. Also, like Campbell the debate really isn’t about the issue she writes but of a much broader issue.
How do we reconcile the sins of our fathers with the good? I don’t know. But Shakespeare said it best.
“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”
Thomas: “grapple with the problem of previously-respected historical figures being reevaluated… there should be a more balanced way to deal with them”
The problem has been that the way we deal with racism, sexism, fascism, bigotry in general, has put things in a state that can only be described as –already unbalanced–.
What has been happening is the past has been rewritten to create perfect heroes and idols who cannot be questioned or criticized. When Jefferson was alive people knew he was raping his slave, but people swept that under the rug, for all sorts of selfish reasons. An idealized version of Jefferson was created because it served some people’s selfish interests.
A lot of people who knew Campbell, people who worked with him, considered him a crank scientist, a bigot, and a fascist. But some people benefitted from an idealized version of Campbell because they too were bigots, cranks, and fascists.
What has been happening lately has been an attempt to take the “can do no wrong” idealized version of historical figures and attempt to make them more balanced, more honest.
Imagine a ship thats been listing for centuries. Tipping to one side. Its out of balance. But people living on that ship start adjusting to that tilt. They build new floors and walls that establish what feels to them to be “balance”. And then a ships engineer comes along and realizes there a couple centuries of sewage in one side of the bilge thats throwing the entire center of gravity off. So she points this out. Folks pump out the sewage, and the ship returns to its natural upright, balanced position.
All the folks who built floors to the old tilted ways are going to -feel- like the correction to upright is tipping the ship to one side. Its going to force them to do some work, rip out all the floors they put in, get used to a new horizon, etc.
Venerating someone, idolizing them, holding them up as the ideal to strive for, when they have serious and significant flaws that would be unacceptable today, is already unbalanced. No one has said Campbell should be expunged from history. Only that an award to acknowledge best new writers can acknowledge them without dragging along an idealized and unbalanced version of history and some person in it.
Jim: “Campbell’s point was that humans are different from animals because humans are risk takers,”
Meh. I mean, first of all, campbell is wrong about animals. Youtube videos of buffalo coming to the rescue of another buffalo pinned by lions is a simple counter example to his assertion. Animals take risks. Animals even demonstrate an understanding of fairness.
But that wasnt even campbells point. He didnt care about animals. He was trying to sneak in an appeal to nature fallacy to justify his libertarian crackpottedness. His argument was “dont regulate new drugs in any way. Let everyone buy it and use it. And as people die off, we will learn what is safe and what isnt. Controlled studies are for sissies”.
“He was also a libertarian before being libertarian was cool.”
So, he was libertarian before 1681 when the term “laissez faire” was invented and sparked centuries of unregulated nonsense?
Such a discussion. May I go up a notch in abstraction? Without spoon-feeding fast readers for how to apply it to the present day?
On the one hand, as a time-traveler it behooves me to believe in respect and fairness.
On the other hand, if my time-space location is 2019 Independence Day while by standing beside a Virginia grave yard, I won’t say anything fair about King George. Yes, as a Heinlein character’s old man said, to discourage private killing in “Friday,” (from memory) “The side of the angels is seldom self-evident” And yes, I have a British heritage.
But still, on the gripping hand:
“The dead must serve the living.”
This I strongly believe. King George is dead, my equality-believing friends are alive.
If my kids are strident against my parents,(for their blank-ism, blank-phobia and blindspots) and if their righteousness appropriately serves them to advance our common good, then I will (usually) hold my tongue. Queerly enough, I am sure I in turn will be disrespected by my grandchildren for flaws I can’t even see yet. We serve who only stand and wait.
Greg, animals, as a group, are not risk takers. And anecdotal You Tube videos aren’t proof of anything. Perhaps the water buffalo was responding to what it saw as an individual attack.
And I doubt that 1 in 10 people in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s and 60’s, roughly Campbell’s “time,” had ever heard of Libertarian political philosophy.
Laissez faire? Capitalism? Democracy? Liberalism? I prefer a bit of each.
Let’s just agree to disagree. Have a nice day.
Jim: “And anecdotal You Tube videos aren’t proof of anything”
You misuse “anecdotal”. In this situation it is not a logical fallacy.
If Alice asserts “black swans do not exist”, and Bob shows one video of a single, “anecdotal” black swan, then that sufficiently disproves Alices assertion.
Campbell said animals are not risk takers. Thats a blanket statement about all animals. A single example to the contrary disproves it.
Not to mention he was attacking someone with a bs, ms, and phd in pharmacology, and also an M.D., about phamocology and drug testing.
His arguments were garbage trying to justify his libertarian nonsense.
“And I doubt that 1 in 10 people in …Campbell’s “time,” had ever heard of Libertarian”
I reckon thats proof enough for you.
[Deleted because off topic — JS]
Well, since you brought it up…
“A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can be repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method, using accepted protocols of observation, measurement, and evaluation of results.”
And since you use Popper, can I assume you don’t believe in man causing global warming?
Attacking the codified elite has a long history. “”And yet it moves.”
But enough before our host shows up and raps our knuckles for straying so far off topic. And since neither of us will agree, I say again, let’s just disagree.
Jim and Greg:
I would agree that agreeing to disagree is what the two of you should do.
Greg: Feel free not to post that long reply which I know you are about to.