September 11, 2016

NEW EVIDENCE REBUTS NOAM CHOMSKY’S UNIVERSAL, HARD-WIRED GRAMMAR THEORY: The article’s from Scientific American and it’s long and detailed.

But here’s a basic summary. A child learning a

…first language does not rely on an innate grammar module. Instead the new research shows that young children use various types of thinking that may not be specific to language at all—such as the ability to classify the world into categories (people or objects, for instance) and to understand the relations among things. These capabilities, coupled with a unique hu­­­man ability to grasp what others intend to communicate, allow language to happen. The new findings indicate that if researchers truly want to understand how children, and others, learn languages, they need to look outside of Chomsky’s theory for guidance.

Another telling graf:

…evidence has overtaken Chomsky’s theory, which has been inching toward a slow death for years. It is dying so slowly because, as physicist Max Planck once noted, older scholars tend to hang on to the old ways: “Science progresses one funeral at a time.”

Finally:

A key flaw in Chomsky’s theories is that when applied to language learning, they stipulate that young children come equipped with the capacity to form sentences using abstract grammatical rules. (The precise ones depend on which version of the theory is in­­voked.) Yet much research now shows that language acquisition does not take place this way. Rather young children begin by learning simple grammatical patterns; then, gradually, they intuit the rules behind them bit by bit.

Learn by doing. So kids need the freedom to learn by doing? Do I get this right– language acquisition is a kind of experimental enterprise? A free enterprise that incorporates a mix all kinds of skills and capabilities human beings possess, even very young ones?

Empirical evidence is undermining Chomsky’s explain-it-all theory. Even Chomsky’s “revised” theory doesn’t explain the data. Which leads to a discussion of Chomsky’s equally well-known hard left political activism. Empirical evidence — measured in dead bodies and poverty– showed Communism doesn’t work. Chomsky created to his own language theory and of course still subscribes to it. As one of the American Left’s leading thinkers, Chomsky calls himself a “libertarian socialist.” He says he’s not a Communist but various brands of Marxism impress him, deeply. In 2003 article on Chomsky’s economics, mises.org noted “One of Noam Chomsky’s favorite journals when he was young was called Living Marxism.” Like Marx he opposes “…the private ownership of the means of production, which he believes permits “elite groups” to “command resources.” Elite groups — like the faculty at MIT, Noam? Here’s a Chomsky comment on Marx’s value — abstract theories clearly appeal to the man. Chomsky seeks a Marxist post-capitalist society but a Marxism without the authoritarianism.

How quaint. How utterly imaginary and disconnected from reality. Note Chomsky also believes violence usually works. Gee, as the mises.org article said, ole Noam believes a lot of things, doesn’t he? Let’s note there is a huge difference between the death of Chomsky’s academic theory and Communism’s death toll, which is somewhere around a hundred million people. The Black Book of Communism estimated 94 million.

Unfair of me to go after Chomsky? No. In the core of his pompous hard left academic being, Chomsky is an America hater of the worst sort. His status as a premier linguist — the genius who came up with The Theory of Language Acquisition– gave him global prestige and standing. He used it to hate and berate the free society that gave him the privileged intellectual existence he’s enjoyed…Wait…Intellectual existence? A more accurate description is poseur existence, where ole Noam endlessly criticizes and shoots his mouth, hither, thither and yon. Chomsky rejects the charge he’s anti-American, but so what? The blinkered guy who criticizes everybody definitely lacks the faculty of self-criticism. Right after the 9/11 attacks David Horowitz hit him hard, and deservedly so. Note that Horowitz quoted a Chicago Tribune attribute that “Among intellectual luminaries of all eras, Chomsky placed eighth, just behind Plato and Sigmund Freud.” Horowitz also employed a great description of Chomsky’s America-hate “anti-American dementia.” Chomsky’s rank anti-Americanism has encouraged other America haters and in so doing has damaged our efforts to defend freedom and keep America secure. (See Thomas Nichols in The Anti-Chomsky Reader.) It is just deserts –so justly deserved– that this disgraceful man lives to witness the demise of his theory. All time Luminary Number 8? Heh.

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