Censored by the American Humanist Association (AHA)

September 10, 2021

On August 11th, a list of ten questions was posted by Roy Speckardt (Executive Director AHA) on the American Humanist Association blog.

« Signs You’re Being Co-Opted by the Far Right »

On the 13th of August I posted the following comment:

Roy, this list is, unfortunately, proof enough that you have been swept into the Woke ditch. No, CRT is not a «proven» theory, although it certainly has some interesting insights in the US context. However in other contexts, it is doubtful one can draw anything conclusive from it. The abandonment of the Enlightenment values such as the search for objective truth (both words now anathema for Wokes) , universal values and true compassion rather than a culture of resentment will be the demise of the Humanism movement if left unchecked. The de-awarding of Richard Dawkins was a symptom of something amiss at the AHA. Now we know.

Michel Virard, President, Quebec Humanist Association

The same day, Doug B. (sic) wrote this reply:

«What are universal values?
What basis are you using to deny historically oppressed and marginalized people resentment at the system that seems to be oppressing and marginalizing them?»

To which I felt obliged to answer this on August 17th:

But Doug, you don’t seem to realize that the search for universal values cannot increase oppression, only diminish it, as it has for the last three centuries. Are you not in favour of ending or at least reducing oppression or are you in favor of merely inverting it?

First, no one can infer from my search of objectivity and universal values that I am not aware of oppression and marginalization or that I do not condemn them or that I do not work actively to help the oppressed and/or the marginalized. I certainly do not “deny historically oppressed and marginalized people resentment”. Besides being extremely offensive, this pseudo-inference would be a non sequitur, a basic fallacy, but I know this has little bearing in the Woke world where rhetoric efficiency is the preferred modus operandi because activism takes precedence over any other consideration. The “if you do not agree with us, you must be a despicable human (alt-right, fascist, supremacist, etc)” is a despicable rhetoric device, not worthy of any member of a Humanist organization.

Second, the implicit pretense that the search for objective truth is a wild goose chase has currency only in circles where language games are prevalent. Strangely enough, it has close to zero currency in hard science circles. You may wonder why the best brains on our planet do not buy it (Ah, yes,… it’s about «power»!). This said, it does not mean the search for objective truth is always easy or always successful. There is no doubt that some fields have a much harder time to establish reliable knowledge than others. Yet, this should never be an excuse to abandon this fundamental principle of scientific investigation. To the contrary this should be a motivation to double-down on the search for a deeper, more solid, methodology. The status of “science” is at this cost.

Of course, you know the second principle of the Amsterdam Declaration: “…Humanism advocates the application of the methods of science and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare. …” and you certainly realize the Woke position is an actual repudiation of this principle. Perhaps it is fitting to remind some of us here that Isaac Asimov, former Humanist of the Year (1984) of the AHA assured us that: “Humanists recognize that it is only when people feel free to think for themselves, using reason as their guide, that they are best capable of developing values that succeed in satisfying human needs and serving human interests.” I guess you noticed Asimov did not mention «indignation» as the proper guide.

Belittling people for searching objective truth and universal values, a search that has produced progressively more and more reliable knowledge, a search that has pulled, literally, billions of peoples out of starvation and deadly diseases, is certainly the most “problematic” aspect of the Woke ideology. You may have noticed that I never claimed that we had “found” ultimate objective truth on any subject, only that the actual search for objective truth has led to progressively more and more reliable, operational, knowledge. Not distinguishing between a process (the search for truth) and a static object (an absolute truth) is of course part and parcel of the Woke rhetoric but real scientists are not impressed.

It seems Thomas Kuhn never expected to be so misinterpreted when he wrote “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. In an interesting interview by John Horgan (from Scientific American), Kuhn admits:

Kuhn declared that, although his book was not intended to be pro-science, he is pro-science. It is the rigidity and discipline of science, Kuhn said, that makes it so effective at problem-solving. Moreover, science produces “the greatest and most original bursts of creativity” of any human enterprise. Kuhn conceded that he was partly to blame for some of the anti-science interpretations of his model.

And Horgan to conclude:

Kuhn tried, throughout his career, to remain true to that original epiphany he experienced in his dormitory at Harvard. During that moment Kuhn saw—he knew!—that reality is ultimately unknowable; any attempt to describe it obscures as much as it illuminates. But Kuhn’s insight forced him to take the untenable position that because all scientific theories fall short of absolute, mystical truth, they are all equally untrue. Because we cannot discover The Answer, we cannot find any answers. His mysticism led him toward a position as absurd as that of the literary sophists who argue that all texts—from The Tempest to an ad for a new brand of vodka—are equally meaningless, or meaningful


Michel Virard, August 15th, 2021

By September 10th, this answer was never published on the AHA blog. This is why I chose to publish it here.

Michel Virard,

President, Association humaniste du Québec

Secretary, The New Enlightenment Project, a non profit corporation

September 10th 2021.

Michel Virard