NSA: all the trappings of academia, none of the logic

The New York Times Magazine’s “College Issue” is running a
none too critical story about New Saint Andrews College, the pseudo-accredited hyperconservative school that has been trying to take over my present hometown for years. Highlights include NSA founder/eminence grise Doug Wilson saying that (1) he’d rather vote for Jefferson Davis than George W. Bush; and (2) rather than “woodenly” following the Old Testament commandment to execute homosexuals, “you might exile some … depending on the circumstances and the age of the victim.”

More revealing than those soundbites, though, is a comment from an NSA alumnus: “We want to be medieval Protestants.” Anyone who knows her Church history, of course, will immediately recognize this oxymoron: the Medieval Age of Europe is notably defined by the lack of Protestants. The Reformation didn’t start until well into the Renaissance (Martin Luther tacked up his 95 Theses in 1517). The use of the term “medieval Protestants” therefore implies a rejection of the cultural, philosophical, and intellectual movements that allowed Protestantism, and the Calvinist tradition with which New Saint Andrews allies itself, to arise in the first place.

Needless to say, the Times reporter let this whopper pass without comment.

Monkey see, monkey do?

Turns out, the primate best described by that old chestnut is none other than Homo sapiens. A new study in Science reports that, in a comparative study of human toddlers, chimpanzees, and orangutans, the human kids only exceeded their cousins in one area: what the authors call “social intelligence.” Human toddlers were better able to guess the intentions of a researcher, and to repeat complex actions they’d seen demonstrated.

Humans Have Evolved Specialized Skills of Social Cognition: The Cultural Intelligence Hypothesis. Science, 317(5843): 1360-6.