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Professor ‘bragged about burying bad science’ on 3M chemicals

I am a bit reluctant to enter this old controversy again but I was amused that the Left-leaning Fairfax press is critical of "burying bad science".  I guess it is because you can be reasonably sure that any science the Left likes -- from Lysenko to global warming -- is in fact bad science. So they don't like it being buried.  As the replicability crisis has revealed, bad science is rife and in great need of exposure.

But I suppose that is just a quibble.  At issue is the basic toxicological dictum that the toxicity is in the dose.  There is no doubt that PFOS chemicals can be bad for you but at what dosage? Even water can kill you if you drink enough of it.

But there is a lot of "science" papers and publicity seeking authors that ignore that.  They excitedly announce some finding of bad effects in rats and then go on to utter large warnings about the threat to human health -- without considering the dose involved or even using very large doses.  Those are the bad papers that Prof. Giesy would have tried to stop.

That the chemical concerned gets into people and animals one way or another has been known for decades.  But the concentrations found are extremely minute -- measured in a few parts per billion. So how toxic is it?  It certainly seems to be seriously toxic to a range of animals but evidence of toxicity to people is slight.  And don't forget that this has been under investigation for a long time.

Additionally, it has been estimated that there is by now some PFOS in every American, so bad effects should be pretty evident by now.  But they are not.

Note that the controversy is about PFOS in general use -- as part of domestic items. People who are for one reason or another exposed to exceptionally high levels of it could well have problems. And there do appear to have been some instances of that.

But the scare has been sufficient for the American manufacturers to stop production of the stuff and the levels in people have gone into steady decline.  So if it is a problem, it has been dealt  with.

The ethics of Prof. Giesy taking money from a chemical company is another matter.  It is the sort of thing that is widely challenged by the Left as showing bad faith or corruption but it is very widely done and evidence of the practice being corrupt is rarely offered.  The participants argue that the academics provide useful advice so should be paid for it

A reputation for integrity is essential to a scientist and scientists are very careful about doing anything that could risk that reputation.  So they make sure that what they do follows ethical guidelines.  So you will note at the very end of the article below that Prof. Giesy has been cleared of unethical behaviour by his university.  Compared to that clearance the insinuations below should be treated as dubious assertions designed to sell papers


As a leading international authority on toxic chemicals, Professor John P. Giesy is in the top percentile of active authors in the world.

His resume is littered with accolades, from being named in the Who’s Who of the World to receiving the Einstein Professor Award from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Professor Giesy was credited with being the first scientist to discover toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemicals in the environment, and with helping to persuade chemical giant 3M Company to abandon their manufacture.

But Fairfax Media can now reveal that Professor Giesy was accused of covertly doing 3M’s bidding in a widespread international campaign to suppress academic research on the dangers of PFAS.

A trove of internal company documents has been made public for the first time following a $US850 million ($1.15 billion) legal settlement between the company and Minnesota Attorney-General Lori Swanson. They suggest that Professor Giesy was one weapon in an arsenal of tactics used by the company to - in a phrase coined by 3M - “command the science” on the chemicals.

The documents have allowed the state to chronicle how 3M, over decades, allegedly misled the scientific community about the presence of its chemicals in the public’s blood, undermined studies linking the chemicals with cancer and scrambled to selectively fund research to be used as a “defensive barrier to litigation”.

Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, John Linc Stine, says there is a sense of violation in the community after 3M disposed of chemicals that have now seeped into the groundwater.

Experts have branded the strategies nearly identical to those used historically by the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries.

At least 90 communities across Australia are being investigated for elevated levels of the contaminants, including 10 in Sydney.

The Australian government is aggressively defending a growing number of class actions from towns where the chemicals were used for decades in fire retardants on military bases, the runoff tainting the soil and water of surrounding homes.

The Department of Health maintains there is “no consistent evidence” that the chemicals can cause “important” health effects such as cancer. In arguing this, its experts have made reference to the work of 3M scientists, who insist the chemicals are not harmful at the levels found in the blood of humans.

On Saturday, Fairfax Media exposed cancer cluster fears centring on a high school in Oakdale, Minnesota, in America’s upper mid-west, a few blocks from 3M’s global headquarters and where the water was contaminated with PFAS.

3M has vigorously denied the allegations. It did not accept liability in February, when it reached a settlement on the courthouse steps over alleged damage to Minnesota’s natural resources and drinking water.

A spokesperson said: “The vast body of scientific evidence, which consists of decades of research conducted by independent third parties and 3M, does not show that these chemistries negatively impact human health at current exposure levels”.

But several leading public health agencies in the United States have sounded warnings to the contrary.

In 2016, the United States Environmental Protection Agency found the “weight of evidence” supported the conclusion that the chemicals were a human health hazard, warning that exposure over certain levels could result in immune and developmental effects and cancer.

The US National Toxicology Program found they were “presumed to be an immune hazard” based on high levels of evidence from animal studies and a moderate level from humans.

Immune suppression - usually as a result of conditions such as organ transplant or HIV - is known to increase the risk of several types of cancer by making the immune system less able to detect and destroy cancer cells or fight cancer-causing infections.

DuPont, which used PFAS chemicals in the manufacture of Teflon, reached a $US670 million settlement with residents living near its manufacturing plant in Ohio, West Virginia, last year, after an expert health panel conducted a large-scale epidemiological investigation. It concluded that residents’ drinking water, tainted with one of the chemicals called PFOA, had a “probable link” to six health conditions, including kidney and testicular cancer.

One of 3M’s own material data safety sheets for a PFAS chemical included a warning that it could cause cancer in 1997 - that was subsequently removed - according to the Minnesota case.

The chemical of greatest concern in Australia is perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, arguably the most toxic of the chemicals studied. This was widely used in Scotchgard and fire-fighting foams.

Last month, there was a storm of controversy amid claims that the US EPA and the White House blocked the publication of a health study on PFAS carried out by the country’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

In emails leaked to Politico, a Trump administration aide warned that the report would be a “public relations nightmare” because it would show that the chemicals endangered human health at far lower levels than what the EPA had previously deemed safe.

Health warnings were echoed by Harvard Professor Philippe Grandjean and Professor Jamie DeWitt of North Carolina State University in their expert testimonies for the State of Minnesota.

Professor Grandjean argued that PFAS chemicals pose a “substantial present and potential hazard” to human health, including to immune, thyroid, liver, endocrine, cardiovascular and reproductive functions, and by “causing or increasing the risk of cancer”.

“Both PFOA and PFOS show convincing associations with these outcomes,” he said, adding that risks to human health had been identified at very low exposure levels.

Watching 'bad papers'

To the outside world, Professor Giesy was a renowned and independent university academic.

“But privately, he characterised himself as part of the 3M team,” alleged the State of Minnesota.

“Despite spending most of his career as a professor at public universities, Professor Giesy has a net worth of approximately $20 million. This massive wealth results at least in part from his long-term involvement with 3M for the purpose of suppressing independent scientific research on PFAS.”

Professor Giesy’s consulting company appears to have received payments from 3M between at least 1998 and 2009. One document indicated his going rate was about $US275 an hour.

In an email to a 3M laboratory manager, Professor Giesy described his role as trying to keep “bad papers out of the literature”, because in “litigation situations they can be a large obstacle to refute”.

Professor Giesy was an editor of several academic journals and, in any given year, about half of the papers submitted on PFAS came to him for review.

“Some journals … for conflict-of-interest issues will not allow an industry to review a paper about one of their products. That is where I came in,” he wrote in another email.

“In time sheets, I always listed these reviews as literature searches so that there was no paper trail to 3M.”

Professor Giesy is alleged to have passed confidential manuscripts on to 3M, as well as an email from an EPA scientist detailing its latest PFAS investigations in Athens, Georgia. He allegedly bragged about rejecting the publication of at least one paper containing negative information about PFAS.

In another email chain, a 3M manager was concerned that a study Professor Giesy had drafted was “suggestive” of possible PFAS health hazards and should be cushioned with an accompanying document on the health effects.

“This paper … could set off a chain reaction of speculation that could reopen the issue with the media and move it back to a health story; something up to now we have avoided,” he wrote.

Professor Giesy is based at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, but he also holds positions with the University of Michigan and several Chinese universities.

An internal 3M document referred to him needing to “buy favours” when developing joint projects with Chinese colleagues “over whom he can exert some influence”.

A spokesperson for the University of Saskatchewan said it had conducted two reviews of Dr Giesy’s conduct.

“We found nothing out of the ordinary or evidence of conflict of interest,” she said.

SOURCE

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JORDAN PETERSON’S TRAGIC FOLLY

By Nirmal Dass | Researcher with a PhD in translation theory

Nirmal Dass has written a rather long srticle that is critical of Peterson.  He says Peterson’s recent book — 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos — is filled with errors and misinformation.  I found that a most amusing claim as I would say that Nirmal's article is "filled with errors and misinformation".  It is certainly a very opinionated article.  He writes with great confidence and zero sign of self-doubt.  His dogmatism is extreme.  He provides no links or references for any of his assertions.  We are apparently supposed to sit at his feet and revere him as an infallible scholar. He appears to be of Indian origin so maybe he has adopted the role of guru.

Another thing that amused me was his prominent claim at the very beginning of his article that he has a PhD in translation theory.  I have written a little on problems in translation myself but I rather wondered why he would make that claim so prominently.  It appears that he may have that doctorate but it was not his first doctorate.  He also has a doctorate in critical theory, which is a Marxist sect, or a series of Marxist sects. So Nirmal seems keen to deflect a search of his qualifications.

So at least when he talks about Marxism, you would think he knows what he is talking about.  He probably does but it doesn't appear in his article.  He makes in fact a quite hilarious claim about Marxism.  He says there is such a thing as "real" Marxism.  Some Marxists are not true Marxists, apparently.

I taught for some years in a university sociology department where most of the rest of the teaching staff were Marxists of one  stripe or another. And a phrase that still rings in my ears from that time was "What Marx was REALLY saying ...". I heard it so many times. There was in other words no agreement about what constituted Marxism.  In fact, as far as I can tell, there are as many versions of Marxism as there are Marxists.  For a time in Australia there were two Communist parties:  "The Communist Party of Australia" and "The Communist Party of Australia, Marxist Leninist".  The first was pro-Soviet and the second was Maoist. They hated one-another but both of course would have claimed to be the true Marxists

The Communist sect which probably has the best claim to be close to the writings of Marx would be the Trotskyists. They do make strong claims to being the true followers of Marx.  So I suspect that Nirmal is a Trot these days.  Trotsky was a bloodthirsty beast but I like his judgement that the Soviet regime was "Bonapartist".  That's a grievous insult in Marxist circles and equates roughly to being Fascist.

So that little example gives you the flavor of Nirmal's writing.  Whatever he thinks and believes is an absolute.  It alone is the true interpretation of anything.  Nirmal is the true Marxist and others who claim inspiration from Marx are fools or impostors.

We encounter that dogmatism in Nirmal's first paragraph, where he speaks of "true concern of Chinese thought".  There is a single  body of thought in China and it has a "true concern"?  One would have thought that there are many bodies of thought in China and that they all had their own concerns but Nirmal says it is not so.  He has detected a "true concern" and that is the end of the matter.

We next find Peterson accused of incorrect interpretation of Jungian thought.  But again there is no such thing as a correct interpretation of Jung.  Carl Gustav Jung's ideas were highly speculative. He thought he could find deeper meaning in history and much else as well.  And his followers have done likewise.  Jungian thought is a speculative and critical exploration, not an infallible truth. And Jordan follows in those footsteps. Once again, however Nirmal appears to think he has found the "True" Jungianism and everybody else is wrong.

Then we go on to the Bible and we are blandly informed that Peterson "misconstrues the Logos".  How, we are not told.  I wonder however if it might be Nirmal who misconstrued the first verse of the Gospel of John.  How for instance does he interpret  the anarthrous predicate in ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. He is an expert on ancient languages but I might still be able to give him a run on that one.

And so it goes. It is all just dubious assertions. I could pick apart his whole article as thoroughly as he tries to pick Peterson apart but I have already spent too much time on his puffed-up nonsense



Jordan Peterson’s recent book — 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos — is filled with errors and misinformation. Consider, for example:

1. The yinyang, claims Peterson, is a male-female duality. However, most Chinese philosophy denies such a claim, where only Dong Zhongshu (ca. 179–104 BC), a cranky oddball, says anything vaguely similar. Rather, the swirling pattern describes aesthetic order (the true concern of Chinese thought).

2. Peterson’s Jungian explanations of myths are fabrications, complete with mistranslations from languages he doesn’t know (Akkadian, Sanskrit, Biblical Hebrew, Greek). He calls such misinformation, “ancient wisdom.”


3. Lacking theology and history, Peterson proceeds to “explain” the Bible, by relativizing God and absolutizing opinion. Thus, he misconstrues the Logos, and blasphemes his way through the Old Testament and the Gospels. As for history, just one example suffices: No, Jesus is not a version of the Egyptian god, Osiris. This nonsense comes from Gerald Massey, a 19th-century crackpot who faked evidence to make such claims). Unbeknownst to Peterson, he has one ancient ally, the Pneumatomachi, who said the Bible was all tropes and happily fashioned harebrained interpretations.

4. “Marxism” (Peterson’s catchphrase for postmodernism, Marx, the Frankfurt School and feminism) is the great enemy, supposedly “destroying” the West. Some of Peterson’s talking points come from the fallacious book by Stephen Hicks (Explaining Postmodernism). But the West isn’t being destroyed by Marxism, The West is trying to become rootless via apostasy and acedia, which Peterson promotes. Should the West return to its root (Christianity), it will thrive. That real Marxists hate postmodernists is unknown to Peterson. He also knows nothing about Maximilien Robespierre’s Jacobin progeny (the democides Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and the Kims).

5. Peterson cannot differentiate philosophy from critical theory and thus can only name-drop (Rousseau, Heidegger, Dostoevsky, Derrida, etc.).

6. Peterson naively believes that the labels, “ancient,” “medieval,” “Renaissance” and “Enlightenment” embody civilizational shifts. Scholars have long abandoned such designations, since the history of ideas shows no such drastic changes. Thus, Peterson’s evolutionary construct of “progress” and “change” via these labels is fiction.

7. Peterson’s “science” is smoke-and-mirrors. His example of lobsters is not true, since serotonin behaves differently in crustaceans and mammals. As an evolutionary psychologist, he’s a mythographer, interested not in truth but in the management of emotions.

8. Peterson has no formal logic and makes category mistakes (too many to list). He confuses one category with another, then draws a false, universalizing conclusion. For example, the lobsters, “ancient wisdom,” “Marxism” and so forth.

He “spreads a spirit of foolishness and of error,” in the words of Jean Racine, because he embodies that which he rails against — for he’s a postmodernist, steeped in conceptual relativism (per Hilary Putnam), where an object has a multitude of interpretations because it cannot have one universal meaning.

Thus he advises that “…each of us…bring forward the truth, as we see it” — because there’s nothing greater than the self: “…you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering…This is where meaning is to be found.”

As for facts, they “cannot speak for themselves…[as there are]…an endless number of interpretations.” Reality, then, is feelings, not ideas, and facts are fluid.

It gets worse. Camille Paglia calls him “the most important and influential Canadian thinker since Marshall McLuhan.” But Peterson disagrees, for he says thinking is overrated: “When existence reveals itself as existentially intolerable, thinking collapses in on itself…it’s noticing, not thinking, that does the trick.”

(It’s best to ignore the problem in logic – how can “existence” be “existentially intolerable?” This is another Petersonian trick – using “philosophicalese” to sound profound, a postmodernist sleight of hand).

So, Peterson wants you to “notice,” and not “think.” Why? Read Rule 6: “Set your house in order before you criticize the world.” This is acedia: Worry about yourself; you have nothing to offer the world. Trust only feelings (noticing) – that is your “truth” which will “justify your miserable existence.”

As a postmodernist, Peterson universalizes his feelings, imagining that his personal Hell includes the entire world. He wants to “enforce the myth of man’s material perfectibility,” in the words of Whittaker Chambers.

Henri de Lubac once observed, “…without God man can only organize the world against man.” This is the reason for all democides, from Robespierre onwards. Peterson too wants to organize the world without God by trying to replace one form of material perfectibility with another (his Jungian self-realization).

Peterson decries “Marxism,” while depending on Marxian logic, methodology and assumptions (materialism) to establish his own “broken truths” (another problem in logic – if truth is broken, then it’s not truth).

The constant theme of his book is the “enemy within…arrogant, static, unchanging existence.” He hopes to overcome this inner Hell by using delusion (errors and misinformation) as an opiate just to get through “miserable existence.” This is why he misteaches and misinforms, for he wants to fabricate a calming narrative to counter meaninglessness (suffering) that materialism always produces. Such is his strategy of worldly success (the 12 Rules).

Materialism has no faith, hope or love. Thus, Peterson has no antidote to chaos, because he himself is chaos. In his strategy of success, there is no God, no meaning, no truth, no history, which is “far preferable to waiting, endlessly, for the magical arrival of Godot.” By “Godot,” he means Christ. There’s only the self, eternally alone, trying to forestall suffering by way of distraction (noticing). As an evolutionary psychologist, he can only try to manage emotions.

The more important question is this: How can Peterson presume to offer “rules,” when he can offer no categories for their obedience? This is Consequentialism (per Elizabeth Anscombe), which dismantles Peterson’s entire book. Man obeying man is tyranny.

“Truth is the radiant manifestation of reality,” observed Simone Weil. Since Peterson does not want thinking, he cannot know truth, and can never know reality – hence his errors and misinformation. On what authority, then, does he presume to teach? Those that choose to follow him should answer this question.

SOURCE

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Dartmouth psychology professor in misconduct probe will retire and be barred from college events

As a retired academic psychologist, I read of this with some disquiet.  These were men who were doing pretty good work. It seems to be a case of past behaviour being judged not by the standards of its day but rather by modern standards -- which is intrinsically unjust. It is normal judicial procedure to judge behaviours by the laws that were applicable at the time the behaviour took place.

The behavior concerned seems to have been at the bottom of the range for offensiveness.  The complaints seem to be about touching rather than about undoubtedly serious allegations such as rape and violence.

Standards about how men interact with women have undoubtedly become more puritanical but I make no criticism of that.  Given my Christian background, I am rather puritanical myself on some issues. But I do think that the punishment should fit the crime.  If men were behaving in ways that were at the time dismissed as trivial offences or not offences at all, it seems to me that that should be taken into account -- by the offences being punished much more leniently than they would be if the offences had happened recently.

Forcing  distinguished men into retirement for what would once have been regarded as trivia seems a loss both to the individual concerned and to society at large.  It does appear that the men concerned would still have much to contribute in their respective academic fields.

I further note that none of the three professors have had the advantage of a trial in a court of law.  As Heatherton has confessed to alcohol-induced misbehavior that is moot in his case.

What about the other two professors who have not acknowledged misbehavior?  Is a kangaroo court going to be the only proceedings against them?  That would be regrettable and a highroad to a miscarriage of justice.  One possibility that needs ruling out: Feminism is very common in universities and often seems to get to the point of man-hating.  So were the professors in this matter targeted out of spite?  Is there any basis in reality for the complaints?  Only proper proceedings with all the usual judicial protections of openness etc. could generate any confidence that justice had been done

I note finally that all three professors have been prominent in exploring biological and evolutionary approaches to an understanding of human behavior and social phenomena -- and that the political Left tend to reject such approaches.  So was the attention to them politically motivated?  Were adverse reports about them deliberately sought out? Since political correctness is hugely influential in academe, that would seem a lively possibility


One of the three Dartmouth College psychology professors at the center of a criminal probe into alleged sexual misconduct will retire immediately and be barred from attending any events sponsored by the Ivy League college.

Dartmouth College president Phil Hanlon announced in an e-mail Thursday that based on the findings of an internal investigation, the school had been prepared to revoke Todd Heatherton’s tenure and terminate his employment.

The fate of the other two professors, Paul J. Whalen and William M. Kelley, is still under review by college officials.

The three professors are well-known in the industry. Their work on brain science drew national attention and brought in millions of dollars in research funding to Dartmouth.

Whalen and Kelley have been on paid administrative leave since the beginning of the last school year. Heatherton had been on a sabbatical beginning in July 2017.

Last October, after reading about the Dartmouth investigation into allegations of misconduct by the professors, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald launched a criminal probe. That investigation remains ongoing.

It is unclear what exactly the professors are alleged to have done.

But on Thursday, Heatherton apologized for his behavior, blaming alcohol, and said his retirement was in the best interest of his family, Dartmouth, and graduate students.

“I acknowledge that I acted unprofessionally in public at conferences while intoxicated,” Heatherton said in a statement. “I offer a humble and sincere apology to anyone affected by my actions.”

After Dartmouth launched its investigation, reports surfaced that Heatherton had groped women in 2002. In one case, a former Dartmouth professor reported that a student had come to her to complain that Heatherton had touched her breasts during a recruiting event. Dartmouth investigated the complaint at the time and found it was an accidental touch.

Separately, a psychology professor at the University of California Davis said that when she was a graduate student at a conference in 2002, Heatherton squeezed her buttocks while they were standing in a group together.

Last year, Heatherton said he could not recall touching the UC Davis professor.

Giavanna Munafo, secretary of the Dartmouth chapter of the American Association of University Professors and former director of the campus women’s center, said she is pleased the university took action against Heatherton once it found wrongdoing. The case is particularly important since Heatherton held leadership positions in his department throughout his long career at Dartmouth, she said.

“The good news is that this first decision of the internal investigation ultimately resulted in accountability,” she said.

However, Munafo said Dartmouth needs to respond more quickly in the future to sexual harassment complaints and be more forthcoming about the results when possible.

Munafo said she spoke to one of the people who complained about sexual misconduct in March 2017, but it was months before the university seemed to have taken any action and put the professors on administrative leave.

Dartmouth declined to comment about its findings.

Hanlon would say in his message only that the investigation was “multi-layered, rigorous, and designed to safeguard the rights of the participants — all parties were given ample opportunity to present information to the investigator, who conducted numerous in-person interviews with the parties as well as with witnesses.”

A Dartmouth faculty-elected committee is now reviewing the findings of the Kelley and Whalen investigation.

Last November, 15 Dartmouth College students, whose names were not disclosed, submitted a statement to the college newspaper alleging that the professors created a hostile academic environment.

The unnamed students reported that they felt pressure to socialize and drink with the professors to further their careers.

In retirement, Heatherton will be able to earn his pension and qualify for retiree health care coverage. However, he was not given emeritus status and will not be able to attend Dartmouth events no matter where they are held.

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Can unemployment go lower?

The facts:

"The US unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in May 2018 from 3.9 percent in the previous month, and below market expectations of 3.9 percent. It was the lowest rate since April 2000, as the number of unemployed decreased by 281 thousand to 6.07 million and employment rose by 293 thousand to 155.47 million. Unemployment Rate in the United States averaged 5.78 percent from 1948 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 10.80 percent in November of 1982 and a record low of 2.50 percent in May of 1953"

So, in a sense you see the answer to my question before you. Just 4 months after escaping decades of "Progressive" administrations, with the election of Ike, the American economy went wild in 1953. Though progress had also been made under the preceding moderate Truman administration.  Clearly there was a big catchup with business projects that would have been risky under the Democrats being suddenly seen as safe for investment.  Much the same has happened under Trump.  Conservative administrations are good for business confidence and confident businessmen expand their activities -- creating jobs.

The good figure for 2000 was under Bill Clinton, a passing era in which budgets were not only proposed and adopted but were actually  in surplus for three years, partly by way of cutting back the military. Clinton was a moderate in many ways and in relation to the economy ran very conservative policies.

So back to normality.  As the summary of facts above shows, the average rate of employment over the years is over 5% and economists have long proclaimed that 5% is a "frictional" or natural level of unemployment -- a level which you can't go below for long

So is that right?  There is no sign of it. People thought the 3.9% figure recorded in April was as low as you could go but now we see a further fall to 3.8% in May.  And, despite Democrat denials, it is an effect of the present administration.  In May 2010, the second year of the Obama administation, the figure was 9.6% -- a large gap indeed.  So Trump has got an amazingly successful recipe for American prosperity.  Whatever he has been doing must be given great credit for creating jobs

Yet what Trump has been doing runs completely against conventional economic wisdom.  Economists preach free trade as the highroad to prosperity -- but Trump has been a champion of tariffs and import restrictions.  But Trump has recently said that he learned the free trade story while he was at Wharton and still regards it as the ideal.

So it is clear that free trade alone is not enough for prosperity in the real world we have at the present.  You actually have to sponsor jobs -- by protections if necessary -- in order to get good job growth.  There was striking evidence of that in the 19th century -- when American industry prospered mightily behind high tariff walls.  But there is no such thing as a free lunch and the penalty in that case was a civil war, when Northern manufacturers faced the threat of losing half of their markets in the South. They could not and did not allow that

But although the opposition to Trump is as furious as anything seen in the old South, the powers of a modern president are too great for Trump opponents to challenge.  The fact that the military is strongly pro-Trump is also a barrier to armed rebellion.

But economists are not very good at factoring war into their equations so how do they explain the 19th century boom?  It is to them a classic case of the "infant industry" exception.  American technology and industry were still very new and well behind the mature industries of the old world. So it had to be given time to catch up. And that does seem to be what happened.  So the 19th century experience is no guide to the 21st century.  It gives us no assurance that Trump's policies will continue to succeed. As initial optimism wears off and the costs become evident, one could argue that America will rebound to the old 5% level of "frictional" employment.  You cannot square the circle for long.

So is there any other precedent which would lead us to believe that the Trump good news will continue?  There is: Australia of the 1950's and '60s.  The Prime Minister of Australia from 1949 to 1966 was the avuncular Robert Menzies, a very conservative man. Many people who remember those years recall that era as a golden age.  And what were his economic policies?  They were very protectionist and focused on creating and preserving Australian jobs. So that sounds a lot like Trump, does it not?  So what was unemployment like in his era?  It was almost always UNDER 2%.  It was regarded as a political crisis if it looked like it would go over 2%.  Frictional unemployment barely existed.

So the lesson is clear:  Maximum jobs requires some protection of industry.  Both Trump and Menzies have demonstrated that.  It could be called the "Trump Rule".  And the Australian precedent says that we can even hope for 2% under Trump.  How good is that?

So WHY is an actively protectionist administration needed for businessmen to be maximally enterprising?  It's dead simple.  It gives businessmen throughout the country the feeling that government has got their back.  It gives them the feeling that government will at least be on their side if there is a push for change of any sort.  Democrat administrations are, by contrast, enemies of business -- and blind Frederick can see that. Hence 9.6% unemployment under Obama compared with 3.8% under Trump. Businessmen are people too.  They respond to incentives and recoil from attack -- JR.


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You can read the white rage in their MAGA hats

Black writer Renée Graham thinks so. She can read hats in depth. She may be wrong, however.  You may not be wearing a MAGA hat as an expression of rage.  Might you not wear a MAGA hat because you think President Trump is doing a lot of good for the country?

The wearers may be doing what more blacks should do: Treating African-Americans and their history as simply American.  Why should they keep away from an African museum?  Is it some sort of racist shrine or is it for all Americans?

And why does Ms Graham think Trump is an enemy of blacks?  He has just got millions of blacks into work who were previously jobless. He has done much more of that than any President in recent history.  Maybe Africans should be wearing MAGA hats in recognition of that.  If Ms Graham were more logical maybe she would be wearing one too.  But I think it is hate rather than logic which moves her


Recently I saw more than a dozen people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats in what I would have thought would be the most unlikely place:

The National Museum of African American History & Culture, in Washington D.C.

As I approached a 1850s slave cabin that once stood on an Edisto Island, S.C., plantation, I saw the gathering over my shoulder — first one, then three, then more. Some wore the familiar red hats, while others opted for white, President Trump’s preferred color. Some also sported T-shirts bearing Trump’s slogan. All of them were white teenage boys.

Clearly, this was meant as a provocation.

They did nothing disruptive. In fact, the Trump Youth barely seemed to do much of anything at all. They moved together as a group, occasionally casting a bored eye to the right or left. Although I didn’t notice an accompanying adult, they could have been part of a class trip.
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On second thought, this had nothing to do with class. As the boys walked by, African-American visitors had a variety of reactions. One woman looked them up and down, then shook her head. A man rolled his eyes. Another woman gave them side-eye so sharp it could have pierced metal. Still, people refused to give them the greater acknowledgment they might have sought. We had more important things to do.

Since its opening in September 2016, the museum has become hallowed ground for many African-Americans. It is a sanctified space to learn, reflect, and see the path, with all its pitfalls and triumphs, upon which we still move forward.

Perhaps this incongruous show of Trump allegiance was intended to rile us. Apparently it’s not the first time these sartorial politics have been on display. After I posted a photo of one young man holding his MAGA hat, others tweeted that they’d also noticed white teens wearing the caps at the museum.

“When my family visited the museum last year, we saw a white teen with the same hat,” wrote Wendi C. Thomas, a journalist. “Felt like trolling.”

That’s an appropriate assessment for those supporting this racist troll of a presidency.

Since Trump’s 2016 election, his name has been used to threaten Jews and people of color. According to a hate crime database compiled by ProPublica, more than 150 school bullying incidents through May 2017 included evocations of Trump’s name or his divisive comments. This included white students, after a Florida high school football game, chanting “Donald Trump!” at black students from an opposing school.

In her award-winning book, “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,” Carol Anderson writes, “White rage doesn’t have to wear sheets or burn crosses, or take to the streets.”

These days, all it has to do is scream the current president’s name.

Whatever the intent of the MAGA cap wearers, I hope the disaffected white teens also recognize this: If they only marvelled at the cruelties one race has inflicted on another for no good reason, then they should have stayed home. If they looked at the Klan videos, the hoods and robes, especially the one in a very familiar shade of red, and wished again for a time when its members marched unmasked in the nation’s capital, near where the museum now stands, they should have stayed home.

To denigrate African-American history is to denigrate American history — their own history.

African-Americans survived the Middle Passage, centuries of enslavement, families torn apart, systemic sexual abuse, lynchings, racist Supreme Court decisions, police violence, and Jim Crow. Every effort to dim our light has only made it burn hotter and brighter.

We’re still here, unbowed. From the magnificent museum that celebrates our uniquely American story to the communities where we live, we will won’t be intimidated by people in MAGA hats — or the noxious president they represent.

SOURCE




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Julian Burnside QC shows the usual Leftist myopia to Australia's refugee problem



I am almost certainly wasting my time in putting up any reply to anything a Leftist says and Burnside's track record makes that particularly so in his case. But I have 15 minutes to spare so I will proceed:

Burnside criticizes the way Australia treats "boat people", people who thought that they could crash their way into Australian residence by exploiting the reluctance of Australians to treat anyone in poor circumstances harshly. And Labour party governments under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard did treat boat people considerately.

But that treatment simply meant more and more rickety boats ending up on Australian shores. And Australians didn't like that. Polls showed that a big majority wanted the flow to stop and even for existing arrivals to be sent back. Australia accepts vetted refugees and others in huge numbers every year at great stress to our infrastructure so it is hardly unreasonable to reject another big inflow of unvetted arrivals.

And Tony Abbott got a big electoral endorsement to stop the boats coming and proceeded to do so. But he achieved that in the only way that would work: By being tough on boat peole. He was assisted in that by a declaration from Leftist leader Kevin Rudd in the dying days of his regime that no boat people ever would be given Australian residence.

But what to do with the boat people already coming under Australian jurisdiction? To give them Australian residence or any comfortable life would simply restart the flow. So a residue of boat people is deliberately treated restrictively as a warning to others. It is that harshness which Burnside criticizes. And Burnside omits that Australia has an open offer to all of them to fly them back to their home country. Very few have taken that option. So they are in a limbo of their own making. They have food and accommodation at the Australian taxpayer's expense so it is not surprising that they do not want to go back

At this point Burnside will righteously explode that they risk their lives if they go back. They do not. They all had refuge the minute they crossed their country's borders -- mostly into Pakistan. And many are still in Pakistan. But a minority of rich ones decided that life in Pakistan was too harsh for them so boarded airliners to take them thousands of miles to places in Indonesia where they could hop onto the pity boats. They are simply economic migrants, not refugees. They could go back to Pakistan if they really wanted to but they prefer the "harsh" treatment that Australia offers.

So Burnside is just virtue signalling. He does not address the situation that the Australian government has been forced into.

The irony is that, being affluent citizens of their home countries, many of the boat people could probably have qualified in time to come to Australia as legitimate immigrants. They were just arrogant and impatient. We are better off without them


The top politicians in this country are guilty of major criminal offences, but they are unlikely ever to be tried for them, says lawyer Julian Burnside.

“I think it’s pretty clear that Australian prime ministers and immigration ministers are guilty of criminal offences against our own law,” says the Melbourne-based QC. “The problem is that no one can bring a prosecution for those offences without the approval of the Attorney General. Take a lucky guess what the Attorney General would say.”

In a new documentary, Australian human rights barrister Julian Burnside examines the harsh treatment of refugees around the world by western democracies.

The offences he has in mind involve the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers – deliberate and unnecessary cruelty that amounts, he argues in the documentary Border Politics, to torture.

Since 2002, Australia has been a signature member of the International Criminal Court, and as a result, he explains, “there is a series of offences [in Australian law] that mirror the offences over which the ICC has jurisdiction.”

It was compulsory for Australia to introduce those laws, and some were well overdue. “Until then, believe it or not, genocide was not an offence under Australian criminal law,” he says. “But it is now.”

In Border Politics, which is getting a limited release nationally, Burnside – who says he does not enjoy travel – roams the world to see how our treatment of asylum seekers stacks up. The short answer: terribly.

“The way we are seen overseas is really worrying,” he says. “It’s vaguely embarrassing to be in another country and disclose that you’re Australian. It’s like, I guess, being in another country and disclosing you’re American, because of Trump.”

He traces the root of this systematic abuse of people we are obliged take in (under a raft of international conventions but most crucially the UN Convention on Human Rights) to 9/11.

Genuine tragedy though it was, it has been ruthlessly exploited ever since by politicians on both sides of the divide to whip up anti-refugee hysteria, and to depict those seeking asylum as somehow inherently criminal.

Under the laws to which Australia is a signatory, they are not. But, arguably, our political leaders are.

But surely the politicians would say they are only reflecting the will of the people they serve?

“That’s right,” he says. “That’s the Jim Hacker approach to leading the country, when he said in Yes, Prime Minister, ‘I’m their leader, I must follow them’. And that is exactly what we’ve seen in recent years in Australia.

“Since the Tampa episode the Coalition has repeatedly called boat people ‘illegal’ even though they don’t commit an offence [in coming here as refugees by boat], and they call the exercise of pushing them away ‘border protection’. So I think the majority of the public think that we are being protected from criminals, which, if it was true, would make sense. But it’s false. The public has been persuaded to go along with dreadful mistreatment of people who are innocent and who are, almost all of them, genuine refugees.

“I think that’s terrible. Deceiving the country into doing very bad things to innocent people is something this country shouldn’t do. And it’s absolutely meaningless to try and find out what the public think about it because the ‘it’ is something about which they have been misled for so long.”

Border Politics debuted at last month's Human Rights and Arts Film Festival, where it preached to the converted. But, Burnside readily admits, the ideal audience as it plays more broadly is something else entirely.

“People who disagree with me,” he says. “I’ll be doing some Q&A sessions after screenings and I reckon people who disagree with me should come along and challenge my views. If they’re so confident that it’s right to mistreat innocent people, let them come along and explain why and challenge me.

“Unless you’re someone who thinks mistreatment of innocent people is OK, I think the case for proper treatment of boat people is overwhelmingly strong,” he adds. “And I’m perfectly happy to be challenged on that.”

SOURCE


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BIG GREEN

Half a trillion dollars!  Does that seem enough? That's what "Green" donors have spent since 2010 on pushing their invariably destructive causes.  You wouldn't think there would be so much money sloshing around among American charitable sources but there is.  It has been used to fund advertising and to "buy" activists, journalists and politicians. Substantial contributions to a politician's election campaign tend to be very warmly received by the politician.

So there is a vast mechanism trying to influence American public policy towards self-destruction. Freud's warning about "Thanatos", the death instinct that is in us all to varying degrees, does spring to mind. Global Warming is a lot of hokum so they need to be spending all that money to drown out those of us who simply mention the climate facts.

So how do we know about all that spending?  It's in a vast new academic journal article by Nisbet that goes through all the "philanthropic" spending line by line.  It's a very thorough and authoritative article.

It is way too long for most people to read so I have just reproduced below the beginning and the end of it.  Those excerpts tell you plenty, however. I have just done a rough download into text from a PDF so the formatting and word-separation is pretty scrappy but that's all I had time for. If you are a masochist you can go back to the original and read the whole thing.

A small personal note:  Being Green is to be in the gravy so have we skeptics missed out?  Not really.  Most of us are scientists or professionals and most of us are retired.  So I don't think we have missed many good dinners.  Actually, in my experience, the dinners you get at conferences are of the rubber chicken variety and even dinners at expensive restaurants are often less than hearty.  Ethnic cuisine beats both by a mile.  Try a genuine Parsee Dhansak, some Korean egg-rolled pork or Vietnamese lemon chicken (Totally different from Chinese lemon chicken), for both novelty and taste.  If you can't get such things in your neighborhood, I have recipes ...


Strategic philanthropy in the post-Cap -and-Trade years:Reviewing U.S. climate and energy foundation funding

Matthew C.Nisbet

Abstract

 For several decades, philanthropists in the United States have played a behind-the-scenes role in framing climate change as a social problem. These foundations havedefined climate change primarily as a pollution problem solvable by enacting aprice on carbon and by shifting markets in the direction of renewable energy tech-nologies and energy efficiency practices. Funding has favored "insider" groups thatpush for policy action by way of negotiation, coalition building, and compromise,rather than "outsider" groups that specialize in grassroots organizing. Philanthro-pists have also placed less priority on funding for other low-carbon energy sourcessuch as nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, or natural gas, nor have theyinvested in actions intended to boost societal resilience, protect public health, or toaddress questions of equity and justice.

 But in the years following the failure of the2010 Federal cap and trade bill, a review of available grants from 19 major founda-tions indicates that philanthropists responded to calls for new directions. Funding shifted to focus on state- or municipal-level mitigation and adaptation actions and to the needs of low-income/minority communities. Significant funding was alsodevoted to mobilizing public opinion and to opposing the fossil fuel industry.Nearly a quarter of all funding, however, remained dedicated to promoting renew-able energy and efficiency-related actions with comparatively little funding devotedto other low-carbon energy technolog ies.

INTRODUCTION

The defeat in 2010 of U.S. cap and trade legislation prompted widespread discussion among climate advoc ates and philanthro-pists about what had gone wrong, and the need for new directions in funding and stra tegy. The demise of the bill, whichwould have put an economy wide cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions came just months after the wo rld's political leadersat a United Nations summit in Copenhagen, Denmark had failed to reach a binding agreement to curb emissions. Followingthese political setbacks, several analysts called for investing more significantly in building a grassroots political movement that would directly pressure U.S. political leaders and the fossil fuel industry to take aggressive steps to reduce emissions.Some urged a stronger focus on state and municipal policies, including prioritizing climate adaptation and resilience effortsand the needs of low-income populations. Others raised questions about a philanthropic strategy th at pooled vast resources onbehalf of a few strategies, energy technologies, and organizations, rather than spreading grants across a diversity ofapproaches, technologies, and groups.

Far from being passive supporters of actions to address climate change, major U.S. foundations for several decades haveplayed an active role in defining a common roadmap for their grantees and partners. By framing the challenges, defining thepriorities, and promoting specific ideas, philanthropists have actively shaped common ways of thinking that have boundtogether otherwise disconnected organizations and leaders into shared approaches and strategies (Bartley, 2007; Horvath &Powell, 2016; Morena, 2016; Nisbet, 2014). During an era of political dysfunction and polarization across levels ofU.S. government, philanthropists are able to mobilize vast financial resources to alter the public conversation relative to com-plex problems like climate change. In doing so, they serve as an "outsize megaphone, both actively shaping how people viewsocial problems and championing specific methods through which these problems can be addressed" (Horvath & Powell,2016, p. 90). For some critics, however, such influence has also led to forms of group think that overlook important alternativestrategies needed to substantially reduce GHG emissions and/or to overcome political opposition (Bartosiewicz & Miley,2013; Dowie, 2002; Nordhaus & Shellenberger, 2007).................


Finally, the findings provide valuable insights on the role of climate philanthropy in shaping public opinion, mobilizingactivists, and influencing national elections in an effort to shape climate and energy policy decisions. In th e post cap-and-tradeyears, the $151 million devoted by funders to climate change-, fossil fuel industry- and renewable energy-related communica-tion activities were complemented by a combined $150 million spent by the billionaire Tom Steyer in successive elections tomobilize climate voters on behalf of Democratic candidates (Hamburger, 2014; McCormick & Allison, 2017). Yet in 2016,despite the stark differences on climate change between Trump and his rival Hillary Clinton, Trump won a majority of theMidwest battleground states. Nationally, Republicans retained control of Congress and strengthened their hold on state gov-ernments, controlling 69 of 99 state legislative chambers and 33 out of 50 governorships (Philips, 2016).

Promote actions to limit/oppose fossil fuel industry

$69,448,046  Fossil fuel industry-relatedcommunication, media and mobilization

$3,508,000   Natural gas "fracking"-relatedcommunication, media and mobilization

$8,981,000 Renewable energy-relatedcommunication, media & mobilization

$46,582,289 Climate change-relatedcommunication,media & mobilization

$92,405,423  Promote sustainabletransportation/clean vehicles

$20,965,823  Promote sustainableagriculture, land use, protect ecosystems

$72,611,452   Promote climate mitigation &adaptation actions

$91,360,804  Promote/evaluate otherlow carbon energy technologies

*$10,513,713  Promote renewableenergy & efficiency-related policy actions &practices

$140,301,919  Other

Total funding $556,678,469

It remains unclear how much impact philanthropists and environmenta lists can have on the outcome ofupcoming national elections, given that climate change still ranks as a relatively low public priority in comparison to otherissues (Pew Research Center, 2018). Where climate advocates and their funders have had a clear influence is in shaping thedirection of the Democratic Party on climate change, intensifying commitment to a variety of policy actions among partyleaders, donors, and activists. In states like California, Washington, and New York where Democratic-leaning donors, activ-ists, and voters dominate, environmentalists have been able to pass major climate policies, restrict fossil fuel development,and win other commitments from governors and mayors (Tabuchi & Fountaion, 2017).

 In rallying activists against the Trump administration, to broaden their traditional environmental appeals, the Sierra Club, 350.org, and other organizations have also actively embraced an "intersectional" strategy, connecting climate change to identity-based causes rel ated to racial justice,gender equality, and GLBTQ rights (Hestres & Nisbet, 2018).

Yet related to these strategies, campaigns opposing the Keystone XL oil pipeline and natural gas fracking along with newcauses related to racial, gender, and identity-based justice have also likely contributed to deepening political polarization, serving as potent symbols for Republican donors and activists to rally voters around. These issues also divide liberal and centristDemocrats, and were a major point of contention during the Democratic primaries (Hestres & Nisbet, 2018; Nisbet, 2015). A carbon tax and dividend proposal coauthored in 2017 by two former Republican U.S. Secretaries of State and supported bythe Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Michael Bloomberg, leading economists, and major oil companies is notable for its assignment of blame for past divisions.

"Some advocates of renewable energy oppose nuclear power, even though both may be needed to combat climate change. Many environmentalists tend to be anti-corporate, even though any via-ble mitigation plan must rest in part on business leadership" declares the proposal. "The message of fear and austerity espoused by some on the green-left tends to alienate those at the opposite end of the political spectrum, who see climate poli-cies as a Trojan horse for a bigger and more intrusive government. Many GOP leaders, meanwhile, deny basic science and failto offer concrete solutions. We need fresh approaches able to bridge these divides"

More HERE

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Einstein's diaries contain shocking details of his racism (?)

All they show is that he was a normal human being as well as a brilliant theorist. To Leftists, the most casual mention of race or some ethnic group puts the mentioner into the same category as Adolf Hitler -- which is utter nonsense -- but nonsense that can be used to intimidate.

In fact up until WWII, it was normal to talk as Einstein did in his diaries.  Let me give a striking prewar example of that:  In interwar Britain it was a well-known usage to express gratitude to someone by saying: "That's white of you" -- implying that whites are more noble and kind than others.  From my readings I get the impression that the usage was most common among British members of the armed forces and former members of the armed forces. They in effect praised whiteness

One must remember that at that time Britain had the largest empire the world had ever seen, that most members of that empire were brown and that those brown people were generally poor.  And Britons were very conscious of their empire and their dominance of that empire.

In one way or another (e.g. as administrators; as troops) many Britons would have had some personal contact with the people of their empire -- contact with India particularly. And dirt-poor people worldwide tend to have a lack of moral restraint when attempting to ensure  their own survival.  In plain words, many  would lie and steal from their colonial overlords at any opportunity. And that did not go un-noted among the British.  To them, brown people really were morally inferior. White people in their experience really were more admirable.

I note that Wikipedia has a similar view of the origins of the expression: "The racial sense of the expression may refer more explicitly to the administrators and soldiers of the 18th, 19th and 20th-century British Empire".

Another version of the expression was: "That's mighty white of you", which was mainly used sarcastically.

So it was perfectly normal human discourse to refer to people by racial categories.  I remember in my own upbringing during the '40s and '50s it was perfectly routine for Southern European migrants (mainly Italians) to be referred to as "Wogs" or "Dagoes".  As with Einstein's diaries, however, such usages were kept private. You used such expressions among yourselves, not in the presence of the people being referred to.  And despite any private reservations they may have had, my fellow Anglo-Australians were perfectly civil with the migrants and co-operated with them perfectly well in the workplace and in business.  It helped that the Italians tended to be hardworking and genial people.

So that is an example of a phenomenon well-known to social psychologists:  Attitudes are a poor guide to behaviour.  It is sometimes referred to formally as "The attitude-behavior discrepancy".  Another striking example of that discrepancy is the composer Richard Wagner. He voiced some very derogatory  opinions of Jews -- so much so that Hitler held him in great esteem. Yet in his personal life he was particularly helpful to Jewish musicians and Jews were among his closest friends. Some of his best friends really were Jews.

What was going on in the speech discussed so far is that making generalizations is a great human skill.  The work of a scientist is to discover true generalizations.  But the degree of precision needed from a generalization varies with the circumstances. Scientists need great precision but in everyday speech much precision is not needed.  People need only to get the general drift of what is being said.  It is understood that you are not making scientifically precise statements.  It is understood that you are talking about generalities rather than "all or nothing" rules.

So people talk about -- say -- "blacks" among friends when in more critical company they would add "in general". Once again, the degree of precision varies with the audience.  Being steeped in scientific caution I sometimes refer to blacks by the anthropological term "sub-Saharan Africans" where others would refer simply to "blacks" or "Africans". If I do use "blacks" by itself I am simply using it as a form of shorthand, something readily expandable as "many Sub-Saharan Africans" if required.  So, as you can see, there is a tradeoff between precision and brevity.  And in casual conversation, the briefer form will usually be the one used.

And that was what Einstein was doing.  He was writing for his own private purposes not for publication so he wrote with maximum brevity, not with maximum precision.

He would have been perfectly capable of expanding "children" to "The children I saw on this trip" if he thought he might be misunderstood as making over-broad generalizations.

And note that he did insert some qualifications to his observations.  In speaking of the Japanese he used "seem to" rather than "are". And instead of calling the Chinese "dreary", he said "for the likes of us" they would be dreary.  So he was clearly thinking in a cautious way rather than uttering literally-meant generalizations.  And in speaking of the Ceylonese he would undoubtedly have said "most of the locals" rather than "the locals" if he had expected his words to be given critical scrutiny.

So was he using stereotypes in his writings?  He may well have been doing so.  As Gordon Allport noted back in the 1930's, stereotypes have a "kernel of truth". And as more recent research has shown, the popular understanding of stereotypes as mentally imprisoning is the reverse of the truth.  Stereotypes change rapidly in response to new information.  They are a first approximation to a valid generalization but only a first approximation. If subsequent observations confirm the stereotype it will remain.  If subsequent information conflicts with the stereotype, it will be modified or abandoned. See here and here for coverage of the academic research on that.

But if anything he said about the various groups were also current stereotypes of those groups, he clearly saw nothing to contradict the stereotypes. Though he may have done so with the Japanese. His generally positive view of them at the time was  not generally held, I would think.  I think that they would have generally been seen as part of "the yellow peril" rather than anything else.

So is Einstein at fault for categorizing other people? That is a common complaint made about talk of races.  But it is an empty-headed  complaint.  Human beings are categorizing animals.  Every word in our language is a category (except of course syncategorematic words).  We have words such as "dog" when there is a great variety of dogs of all shapes and sizes.  But we often use just that one word to refer to all of them. "Dog" is a category and a useful one. Similarly "Japanese" is an ethnic  category that is often found useful.

So was Einstein a racist?  If we understand that charge to mean that he had overgeneralized and incorrect beliefs about some human groups, there is no evidence of it. All we see in his diaries is shorthand notes, and even there he sometimes inserts qualifications that deny any intention of firm generalizations.

So the takeaway from this episode is that we should not judge casual speech by scholarly standards.  It is not intended as such and does not work as such.  And to pretend that it is meant as a series of precise utterances generates false accusations and is in general a disreputable strategy designed to hurt rather than enlighten


Einstein's diaries contain shocking details of his racism

Albert Einstein's personal diary reveals that he was racist in his early life.

Newly translated into English, Albert Einstein's private travel diaries from the 1920s reveal that he was racist in his early life, especially toward Chinese people.

The journals, published as "The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein" by Princeton University Press, reveal that Einstein, perhaps the most famous scientist of all time and known for his theory of general relativity and the equation e=mc2, was extraordinarily biased toward certain populations. This is a stark contrast to his stance later in life, when he said that racism was a "disease of white people."

The diaries were written between October 1922 and March 1923. In one entry Einstein wrote that the “Chinese don’t sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods. All this occurs quietly and demurely. Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse.”

Speaking about the “abundance of offspring” and the “fecundity” of the Chinese, he continued: “It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”

Einstein also derided the people of Ceylon, which is now known as Sri Lanka. In Ceylon, he wrote, the locals “live in great filth and considerable stench at ground level,” before adding they “do little, and need little. The simple economic cycle of life.”

Einstein also gave his thoughts on Japanese people, whom he viewed in a more positive light, calling them "unostentatious, decent, altogether very appealing.” However, he also wrote the “intellectual needs of this nation seem to be weaker than their artistic ones — natural disposition?”

"Entries ... contain passages that reveal Einstein's stereotyping of members of various nations and raise questions about his attitudes on race," a description of the book reads.

The journals were translated from the German and are described as "the first publication of Albert Einstein’s travel diary to the Far East and Middle East."

Speaking with The Guardian, the book's editor Ze'ev Rosenkranz said that Einstein's views were not intended for public consumption and provide a shock to those who read them.

“I think a lot of comments strike us as pretty unpleasant — what he says about the Chinese in particular," Rosenkranz told The Guardian. “They’re kind of in contrast to the public image of the great humanitarian icon. I think it’s quite a shock to read those and contrast them with his more public statements. They’re more off guard, he didn’t intend them for publication.”

Rosenkranz is also the assistant director of the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology and has written several books about the life of Einstein.

The remarks in his journal are markedly different to the public image Einstein projected in his later years.

In 1946, speaking at Lincoln University, the first degree-granting historically black university in the U.S., Einstein said that racism was a "disease of white people" and added “I do not intend to be quiet about it," according to a 2007 article in the Harvard Gazette.

Einstein was a founder of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and left it his literary estate and personal papers. He declined an invitation to serve as Israel's first president.

He died in 1955 at the age of 76.

SOURCE



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Our military: The greatest social engineering machine ever built

DAVID SCHARFENBERG seems well-informed and interesting in what he writes below but there are some important things he misses. The first is that the military overwhelmingly like Mr Trump. They have little disagreement with his policies and they greatly appreciate his support for what they do. And his patriotism mirrors theirs. So if the army has any social role it will be to amplify support for Mr Trump -- which is about opposite to reconciling blue-staters with red-staters.

And the enthusiasm for Mr Trump is part of a world-wide phenomenon: Armies worldwide tend to be conservative. Army men are practical men. They have little time for the airy-fairly and often perverse theories that drive Leftists. The great Leftist conviction that all men are equal is idiotic in an army context. So when the votes come in from military bases the balance is in favor of conservative candidates by about 2 to 1.

But most pertinent of all, it has all been said and tested before. Mr Scharfenberg is not as sharp as his Ashkenazi surname suggests. He has not delved into the history of his ideas.

In the aftermath of WWII, in 1949, a book appeared called "The American soldier", by Samuel Stouffer. It appears now to be out of print but you can get secondhand copies on Amazon. Something in it attracted widespread attention among psychologists and sociologists. It reported that blacks and whites got on a lot better in the army than they did in society at large.

With stars in their eyes, social scientists drew the wonderful conclusion from this that "contact" was the solution to good race relations. The fact that the army was a very different environment from other environments and the fact that blacks and whites were forced to get on by military requirements were generally dismissed. So a whole series of studies were done in an effort to confirm the "contact hypothesis" -- that blacks and whites just had to get to know one-another better in order to like one-another.

It all seems rather silly in retrospect and the results of the research showed that. Despite the best that statistical trickery could do, the hypothesis got only the weakest support and, indeed, the results sometimes showed that contact made the two groups like one-another LESS! I summarized a lot of that research here

But the most spectacular finding on the question eventually came from Australia, using not a survey but the entire national population. In 1967 Australia had a constitutional referendum designed to give blacks a better deal. And the results differed a lot according to what geographical area the answers came from. In parts of the country where there were a lot of blacks, there were far more "No" votes than in parts of the country where blacks were rarely seen. So, overall, the correlation between vote and contact was .90 -- which is about as high as you get in the social sciences. The more Australians saw of blacks, the LESS they liked them! I have covered that finding in more detail here

So Scharfenberg's hopes are not borne out by the evidence. What he proposes in his last sentence below will not work. And it is clear on general principles why. As we have seen from Robert Putnam's well-known findings (particularly as seen in his book "Bowling alone"), homogeneity in human groups promotes solidarity while diversity promotes mistrust and fear. So mixing people from different backgrounds together will in general simply create mistrust -- the opposite of what Mr Scharfenberg hopes for.


The military may, actually, be the best hope we’ve got for mending the cultural and regional divisions the president has exploited politically.

For generations now, the armed forces have provided an opportunity — unmatched in American life — to put very different people in close proximity, and force an explicit reckoning with our most urgent social questions.

Racial integration, women’s equality, the role of gay and lesbian Americans in public life — time and again, the military has played an important, if often reluctant, role in tackling the country’s biggest challenges.

Now, with Trump and the GOP Congress looking to dramatically expand the military, could the armed forces be on the leading edge of the next great reckoning in American life? Could the military help us close the worrisome gap between red and blue?

THE UNITED STATES of the early 20th century was a nation stewing in bigotry.

In the South, lynch mobs enforced a dehumanizing racial caste system. Black people who escaped to the North as a part of the “Great Migration” confronted another kind of racial animus. And waves of immigration from new parts of Europe and Asia only added to Anglo America’s anxiety — layering an ugly nativism on top of the country’s white-black tensions.

But then, World War I arrived. And the country was forced to sideline the hate — at least for a time. An army of millions had to be raised. Quickly. And it couldn’t be assembled without substantial numbers of African Americans and immigrants.

“It was in this crisis,” writes Richard Slotkin, author of “Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality,” “that American leaders rediscovered the ideals of civil equality.”

But if the military offers a rare opportunity to lower the temperature — to ease the red state-blue state divide — it succeeds only as long as it can attract recruits from both parts of the country.

The Committee on Public Information declared the country a “vast, polyglot community” that aspired to something “higher than race loyalty, transcend[ing] mere ethnic prejudices, more binding than the call of a common ancestry.” And some 350,000 black soldiers went on to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces in France.

Those soldiers faced discrimination on the battlefield. And their service hardly meant the end of racial strife at home. Competition for jobs and housing among returning veterans led to a series of race riots in the “Red Summer” of 1919 that left hundreds of blacks dead.

But the war, as Slotkin writes, aroused an activist spirit among minority groups, who pressed for an end to Jim Crow and challenged the real estate “covenants” that locked Jews and other ethnic groups out of the most desirable neighborhoods.

After World War II, President Truman moved to racially integrate the armed forces in 1948. And while the military responded slowly — there were still segregated units at the start of the Korean War — it did integrate, in time.

Generations of black people and white people worked in close proximity. And over time, a quiet revolution in race relations took hold. Enmity between black and white didn’t disappear entirely. Far from it. But it dissipated. And the military moved closer to racial equality than, perhaps, any major institution in American life.

The late Northwestern University military sociologist Charles Moskos may have distilled it best: The military, he used to say, is the one place in American society where black people routinely boss white people around.

And it’s hard to pin down what we mean, even, when we talk about the divide between the “South” and the “Northeast,” says Meredith Kleykamp, a University of Maryland sociologist who studies the military.

But, she suggests, we seem to be talking about politics and class. The South is more conservative and blue-collar, the Northeast more progressive and better-off.

Nothing that happens in the military is going to change that basic dynamic; no one expects anything like the flattening of racial hierarchies that’s occurred in the barracks and on the front lines.

What’s required — what’s already happening on a small scale — is something far more modest. The day-to-day, humanizing chatter of co-workers. The red state-blue state banter that happens almost nowhere else in the country.

After all, cohesion is something like the guiding principle of the military.

When Marine recruits first step off the bus at boot camp in the wee hours of the night on Parris Island, S.C., they are immediately put in formation — a drill instructor screaming them into a unified whole. And not once, during their 13 weeks of training, are they allowed to say the word “I.”

There is a sublimation of self — and an allegiance to the group — that’s difficult to describe to anyone who hasn’t seen it up close.

Over in the Army, says retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond of Reading, Mass., the mantra is “cooperate and graduate.” And the bonds that form in training allow for the sort of civil conversations about hot-button issues like gun control and immigration that are so absent from our politics.

It’s not that minds are changed, says Hammond, it’s that “the temperature comes down”; soldiers recognize that people from different places, with different points of view, aren’t out to get them.

But if the military offers a rare opportunity to lower the temperature — to ease the red state-blue state divide — it succeeds only as long as it can attract recruits from both parts of the country.

And over the last few decades, it has struggled to maintain that balance. In 2016, just 12.7 percent of new military accessions came from the New England and Middle Atlantic states. That’s just over half the Northeast’s tally from the late1970s.

The South, meanwhile, accounts for some 44 percent of accessions. And conservative states in the western part of the country, like Nevada and Arizona, are sending among the largest proportions of their 18 to 24-year-old populations to the military.

The shift is, in part, about larger patterns of migration to the American Sun Belt. But there are other factors at play, too.

There is also the matter of cultural and political opposition to the military. Recruiters all over New England have stories — of parents who hang up on them, or tell their children they’re too good for the armed forces. One group recently tailed Army recruiters at a South Shore track meet, monitoring their interactions with students.

As journalist and veteran Jacob Siegel put it in a piece in the Daily Beast a few years ago, “the military is a socialist paradise!” There’s far less income inequality between a private and a general than there is between a worker and a CEO, he notes, and there’s greater social mobility, too.

Kleyman, the military sociologist, says there are significant psychic benefits, too. “When people leave the military — sure, they miss having a housing allowance — but what they really miss is that sense of purpose, that sense of meaningfulness of your work,” she says.

Service that tilts to the red states, Kleyman says, isn’t just a burden unevenly shared, but a benefit unequally shared.

Still, recruiters have flogged those benefits for years, with little to show for it. And it’s not just about blue-state culture.

Consider the role of population density. Members of the military disproportionately hail from sparsely populated areas, where there aren’t a lot of other employment options. And the blue states tend to be more densely populated. Indeed, the most rural blue state in the Northeast — Maine — has substantially higher accession rates than its neighbors.

The geography of military installations is also a significant force. The outposts that survived the budget-driven base closure process of the last several decades are heavily clustered in the South and West. “Think of it like a smile,” says Major General Jeffrey Snow, commanding general of the US Army Recruiting Command. “You could put your hand on North Carolina and draw a smiley face that goes down through Texas and up halfway through California.”

Many have grown to a massive size — three mega-bases in North Carolina, Texas, and Kentucky have populations of more than 200,000 each.

If a child lives near a base — especially one of that scale — he is far more likely to know adults who serve in the armed forces: a friend’s mother or a baseball coach. And children’s career choices are powerfully influenced by the choices of adults around them: Nearly half of all Army recruits, for instance, come from military families.

Of course, building new installations in the Northeast would be a challenge. Land costs are significant,. Political opposition would probably be substantial, too. But if the nation wants to build a more diverse military, it could invest. It could bring the armed forces directly to blue-state America.

Ramping up recruitment from that part of the country could, ultimately, be a matter of military readiness. As war-fighting becomes a more technologically sophisticated exercise, the armed forces will need more — not fewer — soldiers, sailors, and Marines from the best-educated parts of the country.

If the military can’t stitch the country together by itself, though, it can play a leading role. It can be an important model for a larger effort.

If we truly want to heal our fractured republic, we’ll have to build a system that consciously emulates the military — pulling together people from all its disparate parts and putting them side by side.

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Is Australia’s current drought caused by climate change? It’s complicated

Rubbish!  They are just obfuscating below. It's not complicated at all.  Rainfall in Australia regularly oscillates between the North and South of the continent. If there is drought in Victoria, there will be extra rain in Queensland, and vice versa.

And the present pattern is a confirmation of that.  While there is reduced rainfall down South we in Brisbane are getting a lot of rain.  Autumn and winter here are normally dry but this month  there seems to be rain a couple of times a week.  And in March it rained nearly every day, with some big falls among that.  Hence the headline in March: "Queensland's wet weather breaks dozens of records as rain still falls" and "Far North Queensland residents urged to be vigilant in floodwaters across the region"


Cairns in March

And the trees and plants are showing the effects of all the rain.  This year, my cumquat tree has really leapt for the sky. It's put on at least a foot of growth recently.  It seems to know more than the meteorologists do.

We do have some of those splendid fine clear days at the moment that Brisbane winters are known for but we have just as many cloudy days.

How come a humble social scientist like me knows all that while there is no hint of that knowledge from the climate mavens below? They know bupkis but as long as they can drag in some mention of climate change they are in clover


Much of southern Australia is experiencing severe drought after a very dry and warm autumn across the southern half of the continent. Australia is no stranger to drought, but this recent dry spell, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to drought-stricken parts of the country, has prompted discussion of the role of climate change in this event.

Turnbull said that farmers need to “build resilience” as rainfall “appears to be getting more variable”. This prompted former Nationals leader John Anderson to warn against “politicising” the drought by invoking climate change. This in turn was followed by speculation from numerous commentators about the links between climate change and drought.

So are droughts getting worse, and can they be attributed to climate change? Drought is a complex beast and can be measured in a variety of ways. Some aspects of drought are linked with climate change; others are not.

In Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology uses rainfall deficiencies to identify regions that are under drought conditions.

Droughts are also exacerbated by low humidity, higher wind speeds, warmer temperatures, and greater amounts of sunshine. All of these factors increase water loss from soils and plants. This means that other metrics are often used to describe drought which go beyond rainfall deficiencies alone. These include the Palmer Drought Severity Index and the Standardised Precipitation Evaporation Index, for example.

This means that there are hundreds of metrics which together can provide a more detailed representation of a drought. But this also means that droughts are less well understood and described than simpler phenomena such as temperature and rainfall.

So is climate change affecting Australian droughts?

As we have so many ways of looking at droughts, this is a more complex question than it might first sound. Climate change may affect these drought metrics and types of drought differently, so it is hard to make general statements about the links between human-induced climate change and drought.

We know that over southern Australia, and in particular the southwest, there has been a rapid decline in winter rainfall, and that this has been linked to climate change. In the southeast there has also been a decline but the trend is harder to distinguish from the year-to-year variability.

For recent short-term droughts in southern Australia, analyses have found an increased likelihood of rainfall deficits related to human-caused climate change. Also, it has been suggested that the character of droughts is changing as a result of the human-induced warming trend.

There is some evidence to suggest that widespread and prolonged droughts, like the Millennium Drought, are worse than other droughts in recent centuries, and may have been exacerbated by climate change. But the role of climate change in extended drought periods is difficult to discern from background climate variability. This is particularly true in Australia, which has a much more variable climate than many other parts of the world.

SOURCE

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Could an overweight woman with a facial deformityr and wearing a boiler suit win the Miss America competition?

Under the new politically correct rules it seems she could.  It won't happen, of course, but the recently proclaimed irrelevance of appearances should make it possible.  The real rules however will be covert and nobody will admit what they are.  The rejection of appearances as important is pure hypocrisy designed to placate feminist madwomen. 

The fact of the matter is that both men and women like looking at attractive female bodies and if that is taken away the competition will die from lack of interest and some other competition will arise to replace it.  To the extent that the new rules are enforced the current management have simply destroyed their brand and their livelihood

Report of a TV discussion of the matter below

Karl Stefanovic has defended bikini-clad beauty pageants, after Miss America announced it was scrapping the swimsuit competition.

During a Today show segment on Wednesday, the 43-year-old said it was up to the female contestants whether they want to wear bikinis onstage. 'If a woman chooses to be in a bikini pageant, isn't that her choice?' he said.

Karl's female panellists, including his sister-in-law Sylvia Jeffreys, seemed to take a slightly different approach.

While she agreed it was 'absolutely' a woman's choice, Sylvia claimed that dropping the bikini competition was 'a step in the right direction'. She added: 'But, if they are not being judged on appearance, the entire concept of a beauty pageant should be thrown out altogether.'

Co-host Georgia Gardner also said: 'I find them outdated. However, there are plenty of people who love them and see them as a mark of success.'

Earlier this week, Gretchen Carlson, the new head of Miss America's board of directors, revealed that the competition will no longer judge women based on their physical appearance. 'We are no longer a pageant,' Gretchen told Good Morning America on Tuesday. 'We are a competition.'

The decision came months after internal emails revealed former CEO Sam Haskell and board members frequently demeaned the physical appearance, intellect, and personal lives of former pageant winners, including Gretchen.

Gretchen, 51, was named chairwoman of the Miss America Organization just days after Sam Haskell resigned in January. Now, she hopes to usher in a new era for Miss America, revealing that the bikini and evening gown rounds will be cut from the competition.

Instead, contestants will be asked to wear any attire that makes them feel confident, expresses their personal style, and shows how they will advance the role of Miss America.

'We've heard from a lot of young woman who say, "We'd love to be a part of your program but we don't want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit"', Gretchen said. 'So guess what, you don't have to do that anymore.

'Who doesn't want to be empowered, learn leadership skills, and pay for college and be able to show the world who you are as a person from inside of your soul? 'That's what we're judging them on now... We want more women to know they are welcome in this organisation.'

The swimsuit competition will be replaced with an interactive session with the judges, in which the women will be asked to demonstrate their 'passion, intelligence, and overall understanding of the job of Miss America'.

'It's going to be what comes out of their mouths we're interested in when they talk about their social impact initiatives,' Gretchen said.

SOURCE


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ACLU defends anti-Israel speech

With typical slippery Leftist logic, they say below that anti-Israel speech is not antisemitism. Have they not noticed that in condemning Israel they are condemning around 6 million Jews? Criticism of Israel's government is of course a different thing. No one does that more vigorously than Israelis themselves and it is perfectly legitimate for anyone to do. But criticizing Israel is not criticism of a government. It is criticism of a whole people. I am at a loss to see how either of the statements they give below are anything but antisemitism

Despite the disclaimer, ACLU seems to be supportive of the Palestinians and their activities. Yet listen to what we hear of the current activities of those self-same Palestinians in Gaza -- the Palestinians whom ACLU seems to think are unjustly treated:

"The Palestinians, who have been sending flaming kites from the Gaza Strip into Israel the past few weeks, say that their real goal is to "burn the Jews" and destroy Israel. They see the kites as a new weapon to achieve their goal. They are disappointed, they say, that no Jew has been hurt yet as a result of the fires triggered by the flaming kites" (SOURCE).

That is surely extreme and explicit antisemitism. No possible ambiguity about "Israel" there. I wonder when ACLU will condemn that? Is behavior like that what ACLU supports? I suspect it is. I think they are antisemitic too


Members of Congress last month introduced the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.” The bill purports to address a real problem: According to the FBI, incidents of hate crimes motivated by anti-Jewish bias have significantly increased in recent years.

But anti-Semitic harassment is already illegal under federal law. The new bill does not change that fact, but its overbreadth makes it likely that it will instead silence criticism of Israel that is protected by the First Amendment.

The proposed legislation, for example, defines speech that applies a “double standard for Israel,” or denies “the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” as evidence of anti-Semitism. It also directs the Department of Education to consider such speech in its investigations, which could result in a loss of federal funding for schools. On Monday, the ACLU sent a letter to Congress opposing the bill.

The ACLU does not take a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it does take firm positions on efforts to stifle free speech. The threat of a federal investigation and subsequent loss of government funding will likely scare schools into suppressing speech critical of Israel. Students and teachers who criticize the Israeli government or advocate for Palestinian rights are the obvious targets. But freedom of speech will be the loser.

SOURCE