0 comments


Climate science requires acceptance, not belief or full understanding: Climate change is like gravity, only accessible to lay-people at the top levels (?)

An amusing article below by Michael Barnard off the pseudo-intellectual "Medium" site.  He is badly in need of a bit of philosophical sophistication. A reading of Erich Fromm on authority might generate some thought in him.

He says that you need to accept authority to accept global warming.  I sort of agree with that.  It is only blind trust in authority that is behind most global warming belief as far as I can see.

What he is doing is overlooking Erich Fromm's distinction between rational and irrational authority.  In Fromm's terms, Leftism is a case of irrational authority.  Leftists want to impose their will on us "by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon", as Friedrich Engels put it. It is authority exercised by fear and pressure on the basis of emotional submission. It is the authority of blind obedience.

But there is another kind of authority, rational authority, by which we mean any authority which is based on competence and knowledge, which permits criticism, which by its very nature tends to diminish, but which is not based on the emotional factors of submission and masochism, but on the realistic recognition of the competence of the person for a certain job.

So Barnard claims that global warmists are rational authorities and should therefore be believed.  But they are not.  They behave just like irrational authorities, trying to shut up dissent and getting anyone fired who disagrees with them and refusing debate with knowledgeable opponents.  They do NOT permit criticism. They expect submission only.

And their claim to competence and knowledge is totally deficient.  They have made numerous prophecies over the years and none have come true.  The Arctic is supposed to be ice free by now, English children are not supposed to know what snow is by now etc.

Far from being rational authorities, Warmists are false prophets


There’s a problematic question in journalism and science communication. Various people are asking journalists to stop asking politicians whether they “believe in climate change” and to start asking whether they understand it.

The problem is that outside of the odd politician who was actually a climate scientist, the vast majority of people can’t claim to understand climate change or global warming with any degree of sincerity or completeness. At best, the average layperson or even well-educated layperson will have a superficial understanding of anything beyond the basics.

Let’s take an analogy that might be useful. Do you understand gravity, or just believe in it? Let’s test this out.

Lowest level of understanding

Can you perform an experiment that demonstrates gravity’s existence? Yes, anyone can drop something.

Moderate level of understanding

Can you perform an experiment that quantifies gravitational pull? Yes, drop a ball from two meters and time it until it hits the ground. Some simple math gives you ~9.8 meters per second squared. That math is beyond some people. It was beyond everyone until Newton.

Can you perform an experiment which assesses the impact of other forces to isolate gravitational pull? Yes, drop a ball and a feather from two meters and time them. The ball hits first telling you that air resistance slows down the feather more than the ball. Then you can isolate the impact of air resistance on the ball and refine the estimation of the acceleration due to gravity.

High level of understanding

Can you generalize the effect to any two large objects? That requires an understanding of how far gravity reaches and how it changes with distance. It’s very doable, but this was beyond everyone for a long time. It’s beyond most people today.

Can you perform an experiment to determine whether gravity stays the same regardless of distance? Sure, you could perform the ball dropping experiment at sea level and at the top of a mountain. But you would have to account for the squished ball shape of the earth and the various places where there’s a bit more mass leading to a bit more gravity. And then you’d have to account for the variance in air resistance between sea level and 3 or 4 kilometres up. It’s very doable, but the variance is still tiny. Most people couldn’t perform the experiment with sufficient rigour, deal with the confounding factors, or do the math.

Could you calculate the trajectory of asteroids based on gravity? Well, we can observe the orbital periods of the moon, the sun, and the earth. We can start figuring out from there and a whack of observations their masses. We can figure out from our experiments how rapidly gravitational forces fall off. But most people couldn’t calculate the orbital mechanics of anything even with all of the data and formulas provided.

But the GPS in people’s cell phones works regardless of them being able to do the math, which explains why the GPS satellite doesn’t fall out of the sky. And planes fly regardless of whether the passenger in them can explain how the force of gravity is being counteracted.

This is a lengthy way of saying that something which everyone can interact with directly by dropping something becomes so increasingly arcane that even very smart and educated people end up in situations where they just accept the science. In other words, where they assert belief, not understanding.

This does turn into an appeal to authority, but not the logical fallacy of appeal to false authority. That’s a rhetorical trick played by ‘skeptics’. They claim that any appeal to authority is a logical fallacy, when it’s actually only referencing the statements of the unqualified that is the logical fallacy.

What does this have to do with climate change?

The vast majority of people have never seen any evidence of climate change; they just see weather. They haven’t looked at historical temperature records for the globe and crunched the numbers. They haven’t compared surface to satellite temperature data. They haven’t personally gone to multiple glaciers every year for 30 years to compare their rates of disappearance. They haven’t looked at 20,000 year old ice cores to assess CO2 isotopes. They haven’t leveraged existing and proven climate models to assess specific impacts. They haven’t amassed data on weather events and done statistical analysis that would show the impacts of climate change or not.

At best, some people see that spring is earlier than in their childhood, but most people would probably question their memories rather than the seasons.

Climate change is diffuse. Climate change is happening incredibly quickly by geological standards, but incredibly slowly by human standards. We can’t easily see it.

Most of climate science is beyond most people. For the majority of people, they just accept that, like GPS, the scientists are right. They accept the authority of peer-reviewed science, the scientific consensus, and the reports of the IPCC. They believe it to be true.

Most people don’t understand climate change at more than the simplest of levels, and even then they aren’t able to define and perform experiments which could assess it.

Climate change skeptics and deniers look at this and their brains melt and run out of their ears. They accept that GPS works, that planes fly, and that people have walked on the moon, stuff that they have a pretty equal lack of understanding of. But then they turn around and reject the science of climate change, something that they understand just as poorly.

They will happily point to inexpert experts such as Nobel Laureates in solid-state electronics who are skeptical about global warming, but will claim that citing the IPCC and actual climate scientists is the logical fallacy of appeal to false authority. In other words, they are guilty of the thing that they claim you are guilty of (a familiar pattern).

So what do we do?

Well, don’t demand that people understand it all and don’t ask that they believe in it, just ask that they accept the science as they accept GPS or gravity.

Or reframe the problem entirely and talk about pollution or sensible risk policies or health. As the major political groups which are skeptical about climate change are conservative, and conservatives dominate the ranks of skeptics, it’s worth looking at this guidance on how to talk to conservatives about the subject.

Personally, I don’t argue with skeptics or deniers about the basics of global warming and climate change. It’s not that I haven’t read through a ton of the evidence and can counter most of their arguments, or that I don’t have online resources such as Skeptical Science to find the refutations quickly. It’s just a futile exercise. In a complex space, there is a tremendous amount of scope for Gish Galloping and whataboutism, two annoying debating tactics commonly used by skeptics. I’d rather spend my time on advancing solutions and I’m not the right person to convince most skeptics to shift their views. I’m more focused on solutions.

SOURCE


0 comments


New push for children to start school at the age of three

This push is basically bullshit. Finland does not start kids at school until age 7 and they have famously good results.  Let me quote just a small excerpt from someone who has surveyed the evidence on the question:


"University studies are often quoted to support the perceived academic benefits of preschool. What is not often mentioned is that whilst these studies demonstrate preschool in a favourable light when compared with an impoverished home environment; preschool environments and results do not compare favourably with the average home environment. 

Even Professor Edward Zigler, credited as “the father of Head Start” a well-respected American preschool program admits “there is a large body of evidence that there is little to be gained by exposing middle class children to early education…(and) evidence that indicates early schooling is inappropriate for many four-year-olds, and that it may be harmful to their development.”

So what about the long-term academic effects of preschool? The longitudinal studies, often quoted to argue an academic advantage provided by preschool for lower socio-economic groups, actually also show that this “advantage” disappears by grade three.

If preschool were truly beneficial in terms of giving children a head start, those places with some form of compulsory preschool should do demonstrably better academically. The evidence does not bear this out. The two states of America which have compulsory preschool, Georgia and Oklahoma, have the lowest results for fourth grade reading tests in the country."


So why the deception?  The push is in fact just a push for free child-minding


Children should start school at the age of three to give them the best start in life and to stop Australia falling behind Europe and China, leading experts claim.

Lobby groups are urging the Federal Government to boost funding for more children to have access to school earlier.

More and more private schools and early learning centres are offering 'pre-kindy' which exposes children to play-based learning so they are better prepared for when they start school.

Many programs have lengthy waiting lists and now an initiative led by the Early Learning Benefits campaign wants extra funding so more children have access to pre-school education.

'We have some children already having access to high quality learning, but many are missing out … equity is a big issue,' Early Childhood Australia CEO Samantha Page told The Courier Mail.

Latest statistics show only 58.5 per cent of three-year-olds in Australia are enrolled in pre-school programs, compared to 95-100 per cent of children in France, Denmark, Norway, Israel and Spain.

University of the Sunshine Coast senior lecturer Dr Ali Black, said international research showed children introduced to high quality education earlier were more likely to go to university, gain better jobs and even own their own homes.

They were more resilient, had better social skills and had fewer behavioural issues.

Australian Catholic University early childhood specialist, Laurien Beane, said the push would follow the lead of cutting-edge Scandanavian countries, who have invested huge resources to educating kids from birth to the age of five.

'We invest in the 5-18 age group and it starts too late … that's why as a nation we are languishing so far behind a number of other countries,' Ms Beane said.

Ms Beane said the main objectivity of early education was not about literacy and numeracy but to foster curiosity, creativity, imagination and social development. Children would typically attend two days a week for five-and-a-half hours.

They would have lessons in music, literature, languages, as well as more social-based lessons about respecting others and regulating emotions.

Ms Page said Labor made a commitment in October to extend funding to early education for three-year-olds by 2021.

Some parents say they feel pressured to be in favour of the push as primary schools are likely to give preference to children attending pre-kindergarten programs. Other fears include schools will favour children in those programs to boost rankings and funding.

Childcare and early learning provider C&K is among those leading the way with pre-kindergarten rooms, like Banyo in Brisbane's north.

SOURCE 

2 comments


New Zealand Assailant: 'Eco-Fascist' Not 'Right Wing'

Some useful comments in the article below but let me expand them.

Brenton Tarrant displays a mix of ideas in his manifesto,  though, as we shall see, it is a rather familiar mix.  His overriding idea is a dislike of Islam in general and Jihadis in particular.  His massacre was a clear answer to the Jihadis.  He says: If the Jihadis can slaughter Western men women and children indiscriminately,  I am justified in slaughtering Muslim men women and children indiscriminately.  It is Old Testament justice.

And it is that hostility to Islam that the Left identify as "right wing".  And conservatives do indeed voice strong reservations about Islam.  But conservatives are not alone in that.  There can surely be few people in the Western world who are happy about the constant assaults on Western people by Jihadis.

The only people who seem to like the Jihadis are the Left.  They do their best to protect Muslims from any retribution or any check at all.  But their reason for that is clear.  The Leftist's whole aim in life is to disrupt the existing society (to "fundamentally transform" it, in the words of Barack Obama and Bernard Sanders). So the disruptions caused by Muslims makes Muslims "fellow travellers" to the Left who must not be denounced.

So his dislike of Islam does identity Tarrant as non-Left in that regard but that does not make him conservative.  His dislike is simply an extreme version of a normal reaction.

So what of his other views? What of his admiration of Communist China and Bernard Sanders?  What of his describing himself as both a Fascist and an eco-fascist?  What about his belief in global warming and other Greenie themes? Except for his ideas about Muslims he would make a pretty good Greenie and a pretty good socialist.

And liking both China and Fascism are not at all inconsistent.  Although China is still ruled by the Communist Party, the Dengist reforms have given it a classical Fascist economy. Business is allowed to get on with business but the State keeps a watchful eye overall.

What makes his hostility to Islam particularly strong is his racial awareness.  He sees himself as part of the white race and deplores attacks on it.  So how common is that?  Mention of race has been so thoroughly suppressed in our society that there could well be a large reservoir of racial sentiment just below the surface.  We don't know -- though Leftists regularly assert it.

There is no doubt, however, that seeing himself as part of an identity group -- whites -- was the key to Tarrant's behaviour.  And the chief promoters of whites as an identity group are of course the Left.  The Left are entranced by group identities and the big gorilla looming above all other groups is white males.  Only a few extreme-Left whites take any notice of that but there was one white male who did -- Brenton Tarrant.  There had to be one. He had been exposed to a lot of Leftist thought and suddenly it occurred to him when hearing talk about whites:  "Hey! That's me!"

And according to the Left, whites are all powerful masters of the universe who control everyone else.  And Tarrant liked that identity.  So identify he did.  And when he saw that there was an evil force -- Islam -- trying to tear down white civilization, he took up arms in its defence, as group members tend to do.  And it is not pychopathic to take up arms in defence of your group.  "Greater love hath no man ..."  Tarrant was sucked in by Leftist identity talk and it all developed from there.  Had he been a conservative, he would have rejected identity talk in favour of the centrality of the individual.

But where have we heard all that before?  Where have we previously encountered a combination of socialism, environmentalism and racial loyalty?  Yes.  It was our evil twins, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.  Both were good socialists, good Greenies and strong racial loyalists.  In short, Tarrant has reinvented historical Nazism in his own mind.  He is a perfectly consistent Nazi in the historical sense of that term. And, like the Nazis of history, Tarrant attacked those he saw as his racial enenmies.

But he is NOT "Right wing" any more than Nazism ("National Socialism") was. Far from it. And his ideas are not "mixed up". They once dominated two of the biggest and most sophisticated nations in Europe, so they have their own consistency.

And it follows fairly strongly from that that Tarrant is not a psychopath/sociopath.  I can see no evidence that Tarrant was a sociopath.  I have done research into psychopathy/sociopathy and have a couple of articles on it in the academic journal so I know a bit about it but nothing stands out to me in Tarrant's manifesto that points clearly in that direction.  Narcissism, yes. Psychopathy, No.  He in fact displays a sense of humor fairly often, which is rare among psychopaths.

So Tarrant is not mad and belongs firmly on the Green/Left

Footnote:  For Hitler's Greenie credentials see here  For Mussolini's Greenie credentials see here


The brutal terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, today, were, according to police, perpetrated by a sociopathic Australian. Three others were arrested in connection with the attacks. The assailant killed 50 people and wounded nearly that many more. He live-streamed part of the attack to Facebook, and posted it to other social media outlets — significantly enhancing the profile of this attack. He abandoned his assault and fled only when another man picked up a shotgun the shooter had dropped and fought back.

The primary suspect declared in a lengthy manifesto that he was inspired, in part, by racist fascists who perpetrated attacks in the United States, Canada, and Europe. For that reason, and because he mentioned President Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose” (though condemning some of his policies), the Leftmedia and others, including the Australian prime minister, are parroting the charge that he is a “far-right extremist.” But that’s just not the case.

Of course, after other Islamist terrorist attacks — including Paris, Orlando, San Bernardino, and most notably, the 9/11 attack — these same Leftmedia outlets lectured, ad nauseam, that Islam is the Religion of Peace™, and that we shouldn’t stereotype Muslims by associating all of them with a few extremists.

Fact is, there are brutal Islamic attacks against Christians in the Middle East and Africa daily, with virtually no media notice. But indeed, we should not embrace the stereotype that all Muslims support such violence.

That notwithstanding, we fully expect the Leftmedia’s reporting on this incident, and hate-profiteering by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to focus on the rise of “right wing” hatred in the age of Trump, casting that stereotypical shadow over all those who support Trump. But as we’ve said before, there’s nothing uniquely “right wing” about racism or nationalism.

For the record, the ideological spectrum is better understood as circular, not as linear. And in that sphere, fascism occupies the space between Left and Right. Anyone who asserts that fascism is uniquely “right wing” is either grossly misinformed or intellectually disingenuous. The New Zealand assailant was not what the Leftmedia commonly calls “right wing” — those advocating Liberty, individual rights, and limited government. Far from it.

The New York Times declared, “Writing that he had purposely used guns to stir discord in the United States over the Second Amendment’s provision on the right to bear arms, he also declared himself a fascist. ‘For once, the person that will be called a fascist, is an actual fascist,’ he wrote.”

But the assailant, who spent time in North Korea and Pakistan, specifically declared himself an “Eco-Fascist,” who advocated “Green Nationalism” and supported the socialist views of Bernie Sanders. He railed against humans for destroying the environment and causing global warming, and he advocated government control to stop it. He wrote, “The nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People’s Republic of China.” That would be Communist China.

Right winger? Hardly.

For his part, President Trump said, “I spoke with Prime Minister Ardern of New Zealand to express the sorrow of our entire nation following the monstrous terror attacks at two mosques. These sacred places of worship were turned into scenes of evil killing. … It’s a horrible, horrible thing.”

A final note: Attacks on houses of worship are, tragically, nothing new. The Associated Press compiled a list of 18 such attacks just over the last decade. Churches, mosques, synagogues — nothing is safe. Such violent hatred is pure evil. Indeed, the assailant bore symbols of Satanism among his belongings. Responsible people should rise above that evil with our run-of-the-mill political disagreements.

SOURCE

1 comments

A philosopher makes the case against free speech -- And I push back

As you can see from my blog about him Brian Leiter is not as clever as he thinks he is. So his critique of free speech below goes nowhere.  He gets stuck on the rock of how to decide who is competent to censor speech.

His reasoning behind that is however amusing.  He says that we get saturated by so much conservative propaganda that we cannot decide what the truth is.  I would have thought that it was the overwhelmingly Leftist slant of the mainstream media that made the truth hard to discern.  Just count up the number of adverse mentions of Trump to see which way the media lean.

Leiter's words are a typical example of an unrelenting Leftist strategy -- what Freud called projection -- seeing your own faults in others.

But the discussion below does cover the main points at issue in free speech so it has some interest -- JR

By Sean Illing

I don’t consider myself an absolutist about anything — except for free speech.

The value of free expression seems so fundamental to me that it hardly needs a defense. It is, after all, enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. But like any dogma, there is utility in occasionally challenging the assumptions that undergird it.

Which brings me to a paper I recently read in the Sydney Law Review, titled “The Case Against Free Speech.” The author is Brian Leiter, a political philosopher at the University of Chicago. Leiter argues that we shouldn’t think of free speech as an inherently good thing and that there are negative consequences for pretending that it is.

The sort of speech he’s talking about is public, the kind of stuff we hear on television or read in newspapers. He’s not suggesting we should even think about regulating private or interpersonal speech. And in fact, he doesn’t think we can even regulate public speech, mostly because we just don’t have a reliable way to do it.

But he does raise some interesting objections against what’s often called the “autonomy” defense of free speech, which holds that people are only free to the extent that they’re allowed to say what they want, read what they want, and determine for themselves what is true and what is false.

According to Leiter, this is a bogus argument because people are not actually free in the way we suppose. We’re all conditioned by our environment, and what we want and think are really just products of social, economic, and psychological forces beyond our control. If he’s right, then the “autonomy” defenses of free speech are just wrong, and probably dangerous.

I spoke to Leiter about what he thinks we get wrong about free speech, and why most of the arguments people make in defense of it fall apart when you examine them closely. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Sean Illing
Let me start by summing up your argument as simply as I can, and then we can go from there. I take you to be saying that most of our public speech, the kind of speech we consider morally and politically serious, is not only useless but actually hinders our collective effort to get at the truth, and therefore we shouldn’t permit its expression without considering the social costs.

Brian Leiter
That’s really close, but I think it’s not quite right in one important respect. Because at the end, I actually argue for a pretty strong libertarian approach to free speech, but not on the grounds that the speech necessarily has value. A lot of it has no value, as you correctly said in your summary.

But basically I don’t think we can be confident that the regulation of speech, or the regulators of speech, would make the right choices in discerning what is good and bad speech, or what is helpful or unhelpful speech. But this says more about the pathologies of the American system than it does about the value of freedom of speech.

Sean Illing
We’ll come back to the regulator problem, because I think it ultimately undercuts any effort we could ever make to control speech. Maybe it’ll help if you first explain why you want to take a sledgehammer to this assumption that free speech is an inherently good thing for society.

Brian Leiter
My paper is about running through all the arguments people make in defense of this assumption and showing why they don’t hold up. I’ll start with the simplest one, which is this idea that a free marketplace of ideas is likely to help promote discovery of the truth. This is probably the most famous defense of free speech associated with the British philosopher John Stuart Mill.

But what people often don’t stop and notice is that even Mill thought certain background conditions had to be established for it to really be true that a marketplace of ideas would lead to the discovery of the truth. Mill said, “People have to be educated, and they have to be mature.” Those are pretty thin conditions, and you might worry that a lot more is required for a real marketplace of ideas to be conducive to the truth.

As I point out, we have an important institution in American society that aims to discover the truth, namely the court system. And the striking thing about the court system is that it completely rejects the marketplace of ideas view. It says, “It’s crazy to think we’ll discover the truth by just permitting people to express any view they want, make any claim they want.” In the court system, we impose massive restrictions on speech to facilitate the discovery of truth.

Sean Illing
Okay, I’m glad you brought up your court analogy. Here’s my problem: A courtroom and a political community are wildly different contexts, which even you acknowledge in the article. To take just one difference: A court’s job is to establish the facts so that jurists can decide accordingly. But politics is about values as much as facts. Is there any way for a community to decide how to live and what’s worth pursuing without allowing the free exchange of ideas?

Brian Leiter
Fair question. I would disagree a bit with the assumption that politics is mainly about values rather than facts. An awful lot of politics is about facts and their relationship to the values that can be realized in concrete policies.

So take one of the examples I use: the Bush administration’s efforts to justify the illegal war of aggression against Iraq in 2003. That turned heavily on the misrepresentation of the facts. It turned heavily on Fox News, in particular, indoctrinating a large part of the population into thinking there was some connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda when there was none.

And then take something like climate change, where there’s a constant disagreement about the facts with so-called skeptics who insist, in the public sphere, that the science doesn’t really establish this. These are fact disputes, not value disputes.

I certainly agree with you that there are value disputes, but the establishment of facts is hugely important.

Sean Illing
Just to be clear, I’m not saying facts don’t matter. I’m saying politics is about deciding what we ought to do in light of what is. And in order to have that kind of conservation, we need the free exchange of ideas.

Brian Leiter
Again, I’d resist that a little bit. I think most of our disputes are about factual questions. I mean, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren aren’t saying, “In order to promote the values of equality and well-being, we need higher taxes on the rich.” And the other side isn’t saying, “We’re not interested in equality or freedom.” They say, “We don’t think that’s the way to realize those values.”

Sean Illing
I disagree about that, but I don’t want tumble down a rabbit hole here, so let’s stay on topic. Is there any way to maintain a free society without simply accepting that most opinions on serious topics are bad and ill informed, and yet that’s the price we pay for allowing citizens to express their political identity?

Brian Leiter
There is clearly a lot of value to people in letting them express their political identity, their moral views, and so on. It’s important to people’s well-being to be able to speak their mind. I don’t want to discount the value of that. I just think that’s one value that should go into a broader calculation that takes into account all the harms that are related to the expression of certain kinds of views.

Sean Illing
Do you think people are free in any meaningful sense if what they’re allowed to hear, or see, or read, is controlled or constrained in any way?

Brian Leiter
It depends on what kind of control and regulation is involved. So I’ll give you another analogy. I control what the students in my class read and discuss. I actually think this enhances their freedom and their autonomy by bringing to their attention substantive materials, helping them frame thinking about these particular issues, and so on. So regulation isn’t necessarily incompatible with free thinking.

But that brings us back to the question I touched on at the very beginning. The best argument for broad freedom of expression is skepticism about whether those who would regulate expression would do so in a way that was productive and constructive, rather than simply making things worse.

Sean Illing
Although you keep expressing skepticism, you still seem to think we’d be better off with gatekeepers — some institution or body of institutions that decides what should or shouldn’t be expressed in the public sphere.

Brian Leiter
That would seem to be the conclusion following from the arguments in the first part of the paper. But my conclusion is that even if there isn’t enough positive value to speech to justify its unfettered expression, there are certainly reasons to be worried about whether capitalist democracies will regulate speech in ways that aren’t simply pernicious.

But this has more to do with the pathologies of our political system than it does to do with the intrinsic value of speech. That’s one of the main points I’m pressing on in this article.

Sean Illing
As I read your paper, I kept thinking about the media critic Walter Lippmann (whom I wrote about for Vox), who struggled with these same questions. He didn’t think most people could be trusted to decide intelligently what ought to be done, so he wanted technocrats and experts to act as mediators of sorts. But the problem is always, who are the arbiters of worthy speech in this imagined order? And how will we stop them from abusing their power?

Brian Leiter
Under the current circumstances, I think that’s exactly right. But I’ll also quote the German philosopher Herbert Marcuse, who, when asked, “Who will make these decisions,” said, “Who makes them now?” And that’s worth bearing in mind.

These decisions are, in fact, being made now. They just aren’t being made by bureaucrats. They’re being made by Rupert Murdoch, by editors behind the scenes, by producers on TV programs, who themselves are responsive to all kinds of interested parties.

Sean Illing
What’s the alternative? We either live in a free society, or we don’t. There does not seem to be much room for compromise here. I mean, there’s no marketplace of ideas that isn’t saturated with bad ideas, right?

Brian Leiter
I guess it’s a matter of degree. Again, I think the big problem now has to do with the pathologies of our political and economic system. Maybe what we need is for the political and economic system to change if we’re ever going to adopt a more sensible approach to the regulation of expression.

I also think most people fail to understand what’s meant by “free society.” No one thinks we don’t live in a free society because there are restrictions on public masturbation or public sex, right? There are always limits. We countenance all kinds of restrictions on freedom. It’s always about trade-offs, and what we’re ultimately willing to live with.

Sean Illing
Well, I’d say free speech is crucial to individual liberty in a way that, say, public masturbation isn’t, but that’s another argument. It’s still not clear to me what you’d have us do? What is the solution here?

Brian Leiter
It’s important to recognize that most of what any of us believe about the world depends on intermediaries, people who guide us as to what we ought to believe because it’s true. I believe in evolution by natural selection, but not because I did all the experiments in the lab.

The big crisis of the internet era is that it has eliminated a lot of the traditional intermediaries, such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or PBS or the BBC and so on. Those old intermediaries weren’t perfect, but they were better than what we have now. So I think we need better intermediaries that help people to sort out the world.

But again, I don’t anticipate a law being passed that shuts down Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh — we’re stuck with them. Which means we’re stuck with a public sphere filled with nonsense. So the short answer is that we’re screwed.

Sean Illing
Look, the ideal political system is one in which everyone is wise and discerning and cares very deeply about the truth. But such a system is not possible, has never been possible, and so we must live in the least imperfect and most just society possible. Has liberal democracy not proven to be just that?

Brian Leiter
I’m not sure it’s that simple. Liberal democratic societies have certain values, and they’re mostly good. But the problem is having a capitalist economic system that pollutes the public domain and presents all sorts of obstacles to the intelligent expression and regulation of speech.

Under capitalism, at least the sort of capitalism we have now, the ruling class completely distorts our political process and the laws that get enacted. Until we do something about that, we’re not going to be in any position to hope that regulation of speech, let alone other aspects of law, will actually be conducive to human well-being.

Sean Illing
This is ultimately why I don’t know what to do with your paper. I agree with your general diagnosis here, and yet we end up in a dead end.

Brian Leiter
Well, if I may reference one of my favorite philosophers, whom I know you like as well, Nietzsche said, “Sometimes the truth is terrible.” And I think there’s value in recognizing the truth of our situation, even if it’s terrible.

We have massive amounts of worthless, dangerous speech in the public sphere right now, and at the same time I can’t see any legal remedy that isn’t likely to be used for even more pernicious ends. But the situation we’re currently in is quite dire, and the fact that we have a monster child as our president is proof of that fact.

Sean Illing
Given everything you’ve said, given the paucity of realistic solutions, what’s the point of an article like this? Why make the case against free speech if there aren’t any viable means of improving speech?

Brian Leiter
The fact that there aren’t solutions now isn’t a reason not to identify a problem. And of course, one point of the article is to challenge what I think is a slightly unthinking popular consensus. Free speech isn’t an inherently good thing; it can be good or it can be bad, and normally we think of the law as something that can step in when things can be both good or bad, like operating a motor vehicle, for example, which is why we have rules about it.

But in the case of speech, we have good reason to be worried about whether we’ll make the right rules. And therefore, the real question that we need to talk about isn’t about assuming the intrinsic value of speech. It’s about why we have a political and economic order that makes it impossible for us to regulate all the bad things about speech in a reliable way.

SOURCE



1 comments

The censored manifesto

I found it curious how thoroughly the NZ gunman's manifesto was censored.  He sent out many copies but most recipients announced proudly that they were not going to release their copy.  It was only with a fair bit of scouring that I was able to get hold of a copy.

So what motivated the censorship?  What ideas in it were so dangerous that they must be kept from us by our soi disant  betters? Let me offer a rough summary:

There WERE dangerous ideas in it:  But very ordinary ideas, the sort of ideas that are widespread in Western countries.  There are majorities in all Western countries which want the flood of Third world immigrants stopped.  And where those majorities are large enough, the governments of the countries concerned have taken measures that have largely stopped at least the illegal sources of such immigration:  Australia, Norway and most of Eastern Europe.  Even in those countries, however, there are substantial inflows of Third worlders who are accepted legally as "refugees", though many are clearly not true refugees.

Because disrupting the "complacent" societies they live in is the whole aim of most Leftists, however,  Leftists do their best to oppose immigration restrictions and brand immigration opponents with every derogatory name under the sun, of which "racist" is the mildest. Despite his record of support `for minorities, even Mr. Trump is routinely branded by the Left as a "racist" because of his efforts to protect America's borders from a Third world influx.

Given the Leftist role in supporting the undermining of Western societies, it is left to the conservative side of politics to  articulate the common desire to retain their existing social and national arrangements.  It is conservative writers who point to the adverse aspects of largely uncontrolled immigration.  They point to the frequency of immigrant crime and the serious stretching of public services (schools, hospitals, roads) that heavy inflows of low quality immigration causes.  They also point out where demographic projections lead: The much higher immigrant birthrates point to formerly Western countries becoming in time  predominantly Third World countries, with the crime, poverty and general disruption that entails

And the NZ gunman in his manifesto echoes those concerns.  There is nothing new in his manifesto.  It is largely just a compilation of the things that non-Leftists have been saying about Third world immigration.  He is particularly concerned about Muslim immigration because of Islam's aggressive contempt for Western civilization.  He sees Muslims becoming in time an intolerant majority in many Western countries, which will bring hard times for non-Muslims. And the fate of Christians in existing Muslim lands certainly bears out such concerns

So what is different about the NZ gunman?  Is he mentally ill?   Does he have a personality disorder?  There is no sign of it.  Reports from people who know him generally describe him as a normal pleasant person. 

So is he a white supremacist?  It is rather to the contrary. Far from seeing whites as supreme he sees them as vulnerable and threatened, which is roughly the opposite of supreme.  He is not even much of a racist. He speaks warmly of the Pakistanis he met on his visit there and names his chief inspiration as a prominent BLACK American conservative, Candice Owens. And he is certainly no nationalist, white or otherwise.  He is an internationalist concerned for the whole of Western society.

What appears to have set him off is his travels. He has travelled to a bewildering variety of countries and has taken particular note of the immigrant influence there.  And what he has seen and heard of the foul deeds of Jihadis has particularly disgusted and enraged him.  So under heavy pressure of Jihadi reality, he has decided that he should do something about it. For most of us, Jihadi deeds are something that happen somewhere else and have little personal impact on us -- so we put it all out of our minds.  His travels, by contrast, brought it all to the front of his mind. 

So it should be clear why the Left are having orgasms over the manifesto.  It shares with normal conservative writing a dislike  of  Muslim influences and a wish for immigration restrictions.  To the Left that brands all conservatives as potential terrorists and all-round bad eggs.  But that is guilt by association and a violation of natural justice.  And even the association is absurdly weak.  Who is typical of conservatives, the hundreds of millions of conservatives who do NOT become terrorists or the one man who does? 

With the Left, on the other hand the association is much clearer and more troubling.  When Leftists gain unrestricted power -- as with Leftists from Robespierre to Stalin to Mao -- we see where the real murderous potential lies.  Unless restrained by powerful other influences, Leftism always leads to tyranny and mass murder. The deeds of their philosophical allies in other countries ARE a realistic guide to the potential of Western Leftists.

In the unlikely event that they had any humility and balance, Leftists would be asking whether their repeated defence and coverup of Muslim hostility had any role in pushing the NZ gunman into his pushback against Muslim terrorism. On November 5, 2009, for instance, a mass shooting took place at Fort Hood, near Killeen, Texas when Muslim Nidal Hasan fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others.  Rather than Muslim terrorism, the Obama administration insisted that the event had to be referred to as "workplace violence" -- an epic coverup.

To return to the shooter:  Vengeance is a normal human motivation.  It is probably always unwise and is definitely unChristian but it can be a powerful force.  It is perhaps forgiveable where the vengeance targets the original offender but it all too often spreads more widely than that.  And on this occasion it did. For the gunman the problem was a group of people so a group had to be the target.  It is deplorable that the people he targeted were as far as we know innocent men, women and children. But jihadis target innocent men, women and children too so he no doubt thought that they had set the relevant precedent.

I am not going to put up the manifesto on any of my sites.  The all-wise Leftist controllers of our social media would undoubtedly take it down if I did and they might even take down the whole site.  That is why I have offered this summary in lieu of the whole thing.  Even this summary and this site could be attacked however so I have taken the defensive measure of not naming the gunman.  It seems to me that the hostiles will use his surname as a search term for locating posts such as mine but,  because of my defensive measures will not pick this post up immediately.  Regular readers will thus get to see it first.

I am however prepared to email a copy of the manifesto to anyone who is otherwise unable to obtain it.

0 comments


Fact-checking Trump's notion that white nationalism is not a rising threat

Having enemies seems to be a good political tactic.  It can mobilize your base.  It is a tactic much used by the Left.  They exaggerate even the slightest opposition to their schemes -- and anything untowards happening in the world is due to bad men whom they know all about.  And a favourite mythical beast that they are fighting is "white nationalists" or a "white supremacists".  Anybody who mentions any human group can be declared a "white supremacist" at the drop of a hat.  And often you don't even need to drop the hat.

So anybody who is critical of the doings of any Muslim becomes an "Islamophobe" for starters and he doesn't have to say much more to become a "white supremacist".

No doubt there are some real white supremacists about the place.  Some people believe that the earth is flat.  But do they exist in any numbers?  There is no evidence of it.  There are some people who attack minorities from time to time but none of them seems to be part of any organization or even have many friends.  And why would anybody be bothered to proclaim white supremacy when it is perfectly obvious that whites do have overwhelming influence in the world?  You might as well go around making proclamations that that the sky is blue.

So Mr Trump was right when he said recently of white nationalists that "I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems"

But that could not be allowed to pass, of course.  And CNN did a "fact check" of what Trump said.  It is below.  And they do list a number of individuals whom they allege to be white supremacists -- but at no point do they make the slightest effort to show that any of the individuals concerned were in fact white supremacists.  If they were truly white supremacists a sentence or two from each of them confirming that they were white supremacists would have given the needed confirmation.

But no such evidence is given,  We are expected to accept the assertions of CNN as all the evidence we need.

Just to illustrate how quickly they would become unglued if they tried to back up their assertions, just consider the man of the hour, the NZ gunman.  Every leftist alive would fervently assure us that he is a white supremacist despite that fact that many of his targets were a passable shade of white.  Does that upset the applecart at all?  If it doesn't, try this:  The person whom the gunman stated was the greatest influence on him was Candace Owens.  Candace is an American black.  So is the gunman a black supremacist?  In the insane world of the Left, he might as well be.

On my reading of his manifesto he is principally concerned about the large influx of foreigners into European-origin countries.  He identifies with white Europeans and sees himself as conducting a defensive operation.  He is not asserting the dominance or superiority of white Europeans but simply wants them not to fade away under immigration pressures.  He says that wherever he goes he sees invaders and that disturbs him.  So he is certainly a racist of sorts but not a white supremacist.

Is he a white nationalist?  Maybe but that depends on your definition of nationalism.  On Orwell's definition he is not, as he shows no interest in conquering other countries

So Mr Trump again gets it right.  Even the NZ gunman is arguably not a white nationalist.  He is in fact something of an internationalist.  His concern is for the survival of European civilization as a whole


During a press conference Friday, President Donald Trump was asked if he "see(s) today that white nationalism is a rising threat around the world?" in the wake of the terrorist attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, which left at least 50 dead.

"I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess," the President said. "If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's the case, I don't know enough about it yet. They're just learning about the person and the people involved. But it's certainly a terrible thing."

The man charged with murder in the New Zealand attack cited a list of white nationalists who inspired him in his putative manifesto posted online.

Facts First: White nationalism is certainly a rising threat in the US, with plenty of evidence to back it up.

In the past two years there have been a number of high profile incidents involving white nationalists, perhaps most notably the Unite the Right march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. One woman was killed and 19 were injured when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counter-protesters.

Last year's shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh claimed the lives of 11 people. Federal prosecutors charged the gunman, an avowed white nationalist, with hate crimes. In February, authorities arrested a Coast Guard lieutenant, an alleged white supremacist, who was planning an attack on several television anchors and elected officials.

The data suggests these are all part of a broader rise in white nationalism across the US.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization focused on tracking extremist activity, found last year that white supremacist murders in the US "more than doubled in 2017," with far-right extremist groups and white supremacists "responsible for 59 percent of all extremist-related fatalities in the U.S. in 2017." They were responsible for 20% of these fatalities the year before.

"This attack (in New Zealand) underscores a trend that ADL has been tracking: that modern white supremacy is an international threat that knows no borders, being exported and globalized like never before," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a press release.

ADL also reported that propaganda efforts from white supremacist groups increased by 182% in the US in 2018; causing the number of incidents to jump from 421 the previous year to 1,187.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank based in Washington, DC, reports that "the number of terrorist attacks (in the US) by far-right perpetrators rose over the past decade, more than quadrupling between 2016 and 2017."

White nationalism, supremacism, and far-right extremist attacks and propaganda are on the rise. The President is incorrect in suggesting that these groups do not present a growing threat.

Domestic terrorism -- as a whole -- has seen a recent uptick in the US, with nearly 25 related arrests in the last three months of 2018, an FBI official told CNN. These cases are separate from plots relating to international terrorism investigations, like those involving al Qaeda and ISIS.

As CNN recently reported, the FBI has approximately 900 open domestic terror investigations.

SOURCE 

1 comments

The New Zealand Massacre

Almost as bad as the massacre itself are the false media claims about it.  It is invariably said that the gunman was "right wing" or "far right". What in conservative thought justifies the killing of the innocents?  There is nothing. 

What we do know is that the gunman isued a manifesto that is decribed as full of Nazi ideas.  But Nazism was a socialist sect.  Conservatives -- such as Churchill -- opposed Nazism. It is nothing more than a survival of Soviet disinformation that says Nazism is rightist.  Hitler was to the right of Communism but to the left of just about everyone else.  Ever since the French revolution it is the Left who have been the mass murderers --Robespierre, Trotsky, Stalin, Hitler, Mao -- not conservatives  -- and that was again true in Christchurch.

One thing that was Leftist about the gunman even by modern standards was his identifying himself as a representative of a group -- Western whites.  He saw the Jihadi attacks on Western whites as attacks on a group that he identified with and that he wished to save. The Jihadi attacks were attacks on his people. And identity politics are a major obsession of Leftists at the moment.  They try to divide everyone into groups -- blacks, whites, homosexuals, transsexuals women etc.  And they then treat people according to their group identity.  Conservatives, by contrast, treat people primarily as individuals.

And the gunman did make it abundantly clear that his actions were  provoked by Muslim hostility towards Western whites as evidenced in the innumerable attacks on Westerners by Jihadis.  He did not act at random. He was provoked.  So those who provoked him bear at least some of the blame for what he did.  Muslims should be deeply thankful that the Jihadis who arise from among their ranks so seldom provoke a violent reaction. 

It may be however that the Christchurch massacre is the harbinger of things to come.  It may not be the last time that someone horrified by Jihadi violence decides to strike back.  If Muslims want to avoid that they should urge their Mullahs to stop preaching Jihad.  Jihadis mostly seem to strike at random so Muslims too could be struck at random.  It would be a great pity if bloody attacks on Muslims were the only thing capable of persuading Muslims to desist from attacking others.



Australian government urged to shut down Milo Yiannopoulos after Christchurch massacre

This is a typical despicable Leftist attempt to blame uninvolved others for the deeds of one man.  It all hinges on the Leftist inability to see people as individuals.  Leftists see people only as group members and reserve to themselves the right to say who belongs in which group.  It would not be stretching their logic too far to say that Tarrant was born in Australia so  therefore all Australians (including members of the Labor party!) bear a responsibility for his Christchurch attack.

I wouldn't be surprised if some Leftists do assert that.  They might say (they do say) that Australia is racist and Tarrant was therefore simply expressing Australian racism

The claim below that what Leftists call "hate speech" leads to terrorist acts such as Tarrant's is an empty assertion untethered to any evidence.  David Hume pointed out a couple of hundred years ago that to identify a cause you have to have constant conjunction between the cause and the effect.  And there is no conjunction at all between what Leftists call "hate speech" and  acts of terrorism by whites.  Tens of millions of whites have heard words such as those by Yiannopoulos so where are are the acts of terrorism connected to them?  The usual reaction to Yiannopoloulos is no reaction other than, perhaps, a nod of the head.

If there are ten million instances of a "cause" NOT leading to an alleged effect, that destroys the causal claim.  The effect needs something else to cause it.  In Tarrant's case, he seems to have seen a lot of the effects of Jihadi attacks during his extensive travels and that has enraged him.



The Australian government has been told it must cancel the visa for far-right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos following the Christchurch terrorist attack, with opposition frontbencher Tony Burke saying far-right extremism should be treated in the same way as other forms of terrorism.

The immigration minister, David Coleman, personally approved Yiannopoulos’s visa last week, against advice from the Department of Home Affairs, which earlier told Yiannopoulos he may fail the character test to enter Australia.

Burke, who is Labor’s spokesman for citizenship and multiculturalism, said rules around banning people who could be seen as supporting terrorism should be applied to all extremist ideologies.

“If someone wants to come to Australia and we know that they’ve been speaking in support of values that have given rise to other forms of terrorism, we don’t give them a visa,” Burke told ABC24.

“Only a few days ago, the government intervened against the department to provide a visa for someone to have a tour here in Australia to whip up hatred against Muslims. I would be stunned if the government goes ahead with that visa.”

The department has the ability to block a visa from a person on character grounds if it perceives there’s a risk they will commit a crime, harass people, vilify a segment of the Australian community or incite discord.

Recent speaking tours of US whistleblower Chelsea Manning and British conspiracy theorist and anti-semite David Icke were blocked after their visas were rejected on character grounds.

“We knock back people all the time with respect to other forms of hatred that have been consistent with what has resulted in terrorism actions,” Burke said. “We need to make sure the full force of the law treats this as the same as any other form of terrorism.”

Guardian Australia contacted Coleman’s office to ask if Yiannopoulos’s visa would be revoked after the Christchurch attack and did not receive an immediate response.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has called Friday’s massacre a “violent, extremist, right-wing terrorist attack” and also condemned comments from Queensland senator Fraser Anning, saying that “blaming the murderous attacks by a violent, right-wing, extremist terrorist in New Zealand on immigration are disgusting”.

“Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian parliament,” Morrison said.

The Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, said Anning did not represent Australia.

Burke also criticised Anning’s comments but said: “the normalisation of bigotry is something that is not only confined to him.”

He said the use of hate speech was connected to violence and extremism and should be taken more seriously.

“There’s been an attempt in Australia by many people to normalise hate speech,” Burke said. “We get told, ‘Oh, it’s just freedom of speech’.”

He said that view had been pushed by “some [television] networks” and said the normalisation of hate speech was “not the whole story of what’s happened, but there is no doubt it is part of it”.

The Australian man charged with murder over the Christchurch attack was not on a terrorist watchlist, and Burke said it was possible that “up until now, many people would not have viewed this form of extremism as being as dangerous to people as every other form of extremism”.

“Anyone who had that doubt, that doubt finished yesterday,” he said.

SOURCE 

1 comments


Cardinal Pell And Australian Conservatism

John Tomlinson is a welfare academic.  In the far-Left "New Matilda" he writes:

"I have always had a grudging tolerance for the classical conservative position with its defence of the established order, a belief in the imperfection of human beings, the necessity of privilege and leadership. Associated with the conservative position is adherence to traditional values (such as the primacy of the extended family), the importance of work and of sexual restraint, the sanctity of private property and an abhorrence of utopian social change." 

That's not a bad definition of conservatism.  The thing he leaves out of the definition, however, is the key to his whole attack on Australian conservatism.  He leaves out the importance of individual responsibility.  He clearly believes instead in social responsibility.  He sees no problem in taking money off people who have earned it and giving it to people who have not earned it. Conservatives do see a moral problem there but in a classical conservative way resort to compromise:  Do it but limit it as far as possible.  Tomlinson is clearly uninterested in limits to redistribution.

He seems in fact to be uninterested in balance of any sort. Take his comments on Cardinal Pell.  That anybody might take a nuanced view of His Eminence fills him with rage.  He writes:

"Amongst those who gave court character references there was a ‘Craven’ vice chancellor of the Catholic University, an ex-‘socially conservative’ prime minister who had a track record of being reluctant to sack ex-Governor General, Peter Hollingsworth (who had previously been an Anglican Archbishop, who was, at the time, enmeshed in his own scandal).

It takes a particular style of myogenous, misanthropic troglodyte, with a total commitment to turning away from the obvious towards the promotion of arch-conservatism to stand where these men found themselves. They can’t claim to have been blinded by God, and fear and light – it is just that they have lost sight of any sense of right.

Then, of course, there were the trainee galahs in the media such as Andrew Bolt and Janet Albrechtsen who despite, the twelve and true finding Pell guilty of five counts of child molestation, declared the Cardinal innocent.

Howard, Craven, Albrechtsen and Bolt are all part of a right-wing putsch determined to drive out decency and humanity from our nation. But are they conservatives in the classical meaning of the term? In Howard’s court reference for Pell he writes:

“I am aware he has been convicted of those charges; that an appeal against the conviction has been lodged and that he maintains his innocence in respect of these charges. None of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal.

“Cardinal Pell is a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character. Strength and sincerity have always been features of his personality. I have always found him to be lacking hypocrisy and cant. In his chosen vocation he has frequently displayed much courage and held to his values and beliefs, irrespective of the prevailing wisdom of the time.”

I suppose that when Pell was rabidly denouncing gay sex, same sex marriage, abortion, divorce, adultery and environmentalism Howard considered him to be “displaying much courage and holding to his values and beliefs, irrespective of the prevailing wisdom of the time”. Clearly as the same sex plebiscite established, Pell was neither reflecting the general will nor the wisdom of the time.

The schmozzle of ideas professed by Pell, Howard, Craven, Albrechtsen and Bolt seem to have little to do with sexual constraint or conservatism generally but rather more to do with a particular reading of a neoliberal, protofascist conception of conservatism.



That anyone should doubt the guilt of His Eminence can only be due to foul motives in Tomlinson's view.  The thought that His Eminence might be the victim of a wrongful conviction cannot apparently be allowed into Tomlinson's mind. If Tomlinson had any kind of balance in his mind he might have considered the prosecution ongoing in Britain at the moment of the fantasist "Nick" -- a man who did immense damage with his lies.  His Eminence was convicted on one count by one accuser.  Could that accuser also be a fantasist?  His story was certainly replete with improbabilities

And wrongful convictions generally are a dime a dozen.  Black men are exonerated of serious crimes in the USA on an almost weekly basis.  Are Catholics seen as negatively to some people in Australia as blacks are in America?

We have certainly seen other instances of wrongful convictions that seem to have arisen from a jaundiced view of a group to which an innocent  person belongs.  Take the notorious case of Welsh footballer Ched Evans.  Evans spent a couple of years in jail and had a couple of unsuccessful appeals before he was finally exonerated.  So how come?  Evan was convicted of rape under the leadership of a gaggle of feminist officials even though the alleged rapee had consented and had never lodged any complaint about Evans.  The big mistake Evans made appears to have been being a typical footballer -- a type anathema to feminists.  The one male involved in the prosecution thought Evans had no case to answer.

The two examples I have just given are from Britain but Australians will remember the quite notorious case of Lindy Chamberlain -- where a devout Christian woman -- wife of a Pastor -- was convicted of murdering her baby -- on precisely zero evidence.  She was however a Seventh Day Adventist and a redneck jury apparently saw that as "weird" and making the woman capable of anything.  She spent some years in prison before she was finally exonerated.

So conservatives -- such as myself -- are simply being cautious until we know the outcome of his Eminence's appeal. Could he have been convicted not because of anything he did personally but because of the evil deeds of others in his church?  Being cautious is very conservative, after all.  It may even be definitional of conservatism.  The foul motives that Tomlinson attributes to conservatives in relation to Cardinal Pell in reality reveal the foul and bigoted mind of John Tomlinson.

1 comments


Let me try my hand at prophecy: About Mr. Trump's Emergency declaration

Prophecy is a mug's game.  Something like 95% of prophecies don't turn out.  But there is a class of prophecy that does turn out: Prophecies based on a correct understanding of natural phenomena.  The big challenge there is "correct".  Warmists think that CO2 warms the earth. But that is demonstrably not correct.  There is no synchrony between the two. But prophesying the position of the earth  relative to the other planets at any one time can be done with great accuracy because we do have a very good and correct knowledge of orbital dynamics.

And in principle, the same applies with regard to all other natural phenomena, including what people do.  The social sciences exist because people think they can see regularities in human behaviour and once you have a regularity, accurate prophecy should be possible.  And in economics that definitely happens.  If you restrict the supply of something, its price will go up, for instance.  It always does.

But when you get into the other social sciences prophecy is rarely possible.  My academic background is principally in psychology and the only sound generalization from human psychology that I know of that has much in the way of real-life application is the generalization that your educational success will be almost entirely a product of your IQ.

But as well as my background in psychology, I also have a substantial background in sociology and economics.  I taught in a sociology school for a number of years and I am also a former high School economics teacher. So it would seem possible that a combination  of three social science disciplines might occasionally enable accurate prophecies.  And I have repeatedly found that it does. What I think will happen or should happen in the world of politics often does end up actually happening.  I am a pretty good knowledge-based prophet.

So far I have never put one of  my prophecies into writing so perhaps it is now time that I did.  I may be hilariously wrong but I can handle that.  And what I want to prophecy is quite daring.  I want to forecast both the verdicts and the reasoning of both the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of the United States.  And I dare to do that without having any formal knowledge of law or any legal qualifications.  So I am setting myself a very difficult task indeed. I am setting myself up for a fall but it will be fun if nothing else

I refer to the Emergency Declaration that President Trump is using to fund his wall. It generally takes a while for matters to come up before a court but it should fairly quickly come before the 9th Circus.  I anticipate that there will be 4 arguments put to the court in favour of the declaration:

1). The courts have no jurisdiction over how the Commander in chief discharges his duties.  It is for the commander to command and he, not the courts, has the final word about that. So he can therefore use military resources to build a wall. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers carries out many tasks without explicit congressional authority and a wall is just another example of that.

There are some legal restrictions on what the commander can do with the military but none mention wall building.  And even the restrictions that do exist are customarily applied only lightly.  Many wars have been initiated without the authority of Congress, for instance

2). Since passage of the National Emergencies Act in 1976, every U.S. President has declared multiple national emergencies, so Trump is not doing anything out of line. And  123 enumerated powers are invoked by an executive declaration with no Congressional input. This should actually be the core issue in the case and will no doubt be  examined in great detail so I will say no further about that approach.  The sudden arrival of whole caravans of illegals could well be held to be an emergency requiring extra powers.

3). Reallocating funds away from their original purpose is routine so again Trump is well within precedent.  He could do his intended reallocation of funds even WITHOUT an Emergency declaration.  To deny him that customary right would greatly hobble all future administrations and cast into legal limbo many past funding arrangements.  That is surely not to be done lightly.

4). Government by regulation is already well established.  Mr Obama used his "pen and phone" to circumvent Congress on some quite major matters -- notably the creation of DACA immigrants. Trump is simply trying to ENFORCE the law by using regulatory powers.  Obama explicity CREATED a whole class of new law with no Congressional authority.  The courts have so far upheld the authority of the DACA declaration so it should be merely consistent to uphold Trump's much less innovative declaration.

This argument, by the way, is a complete answer to the idiocy of Rand Paul, who says he will vote against the emergency declaration in the Senate because he fears what a future Democrat president will do with the precedent.  He forgets that the precedent has already been set -- by Obama -- and that Trump's declaration sets no new precedent. Rand Paul is doing a classical act of trying to close the door after the horse has escaped.

So I am pretty sure that at least one of those arguments will ultimately prevail.  There is even a possibility that one will prevail at the 9th Circuit level.  Let me go out on a limb and prophecy that the 9th Circuit with find the emergency declaration improper but will allow that Trump is nonetheless entitled to build his wall using recycled funds because recycling funds has strong precedent.  If that is the verdict, the matter will probably not go to SCOTUS.  If it does go to SCOTUS, they will probably use that reasoning too.


1 comments


Another Greenie shriek about the Great Barrier Reef

This piece of research must have been frustrating to its authors.  They found that the presumed evil -- farm runoff -- actually HELPED the barrier reef.  So they had to do a lot of scratching to turn that around

The big drama about the reef is that it undergoes periodic bleaching  --  when the coral expels its symbiotic algae.  Nobody likes the look of that but the corals mostly recover after a while.  So that is what all good men and true rally to prevent.  STOP the bleaching!  And now we have found something that prevents it to a degree:  Farm runoff!  How big a disappointment can you get? Farm runoff was supposed to KILL the reef!

But by scratching around in their data, the authors found something to warm their pessimistic hearts.  They found that once the coral had been harmed by some "disturbance", farm runoff hindered recovery to some degree.  But if coral amid farm runoff is less damaged in the first place, does that not make the recovery rate of less concern?

Not so fast!  The authors say.  You have got to balance one effect against another to get an overall conclusion and we have got this nifty little model that will do just that!  So we run the model and we find that that a "6–17% improvement in water quality will be necessary to bring recovery rates in line with projected increases in coral bleaching".

So there's the African-American in the woodpile!  It is all based on a "projection", or in layman's terms, a guess. And the projection is heroic.  They ASSUME that global warming will steadily increase and they ASSUME that warming is the main cause of coral bleaching.  There are large scientific arguments against both those assumptions so if we take them away what is left?  Two people can play the projection game so I project that farm runoff is on balance neither helpful nor harmful so that Nothing needs to be done. Nothing!  Horrors!

My comments so far spring just from a reading of the abstract.  I shudder to think what I would find if I studied the whole article.  I taught applied statistics at a major Australian university for a number of years so I know the tricks researchers get up to if their results don't suit them.  There were so many collaborators on this article that something HAD to come out of it.  Re-running their model with more cautious assumptions would be a ball of fun.

I follow the press release below with the journal abstract


Scientific research published today on the impacts of poor water quality on some Great Barrier Reef corals shows why it’s vital the Queensland Government passes new rules on farm pollution, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says.

The study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, found corals in the central and southern sections of the reef would need improvements in water quality of between six and 17 per cent to keep their recovery rates in line with projected increases in coral bleaching.

Corals exposed to poor water quality were also more susceptible to disease and outbreaks of Crown of Thorns starfish, the study found.

Proposed Queensland government laws would phase out harmful farming practices that cause pollution and sediment to run into rivers and out into the reef.

Dr Lissa Schindler, AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign manager, said: “We need to give the Great Barrier Reef the clean water it needs to recover, and this study shows that clearly. The Queensland Government’s proposals to cut farm pollution need to be passed.”

“What this study also says is that these levels of cuts to farm pollution won’t be enough to save corals on outer reefs from the impacts of rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming.

“We have to make sure we are giving the reef the cleanest water we can, while at the same time stopping the digging up and burning of fossil fuels that drive the warming in the reef’s waters.”

Schindler said while the study found that corals in areas with poor water quality were more resistant to coral bleaching, due to the low level of light penetrating the turbid water, these corals had slower recovery rates and were more susceptible to disease and Crown of thorns starfish outbreaks.

The study, acknowledged that any marginal bleaching protection corals might get from poor water quality “are probably overwhelmed by the most extreme warming conditions” already seen during 2016 and 2017.

Schindler said it was also important to note the study did not consider any impacts of coral bleaching in the vast and once pristine northern sections of the reef that were hit hardest by extreme ocean temperatures in 2016 and 2017.

Media release AMCS communications manager Ingrid Neilson 0421 972 731

Water quality mediates resilience on the Great Barrier Reef

M. Aaron MacNeil et al.

Abstract

Threats from climate change and other human pressures have led to widespread concern for the future of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Resilience of GBR reefs will be determined by their ability to resist disturbances and to recover from coral loss, generating intense interest in management actions that can moderate these processes. Here we quantify the effect of environmental and human drivers on the resilience of southern and central GBR reefs over the past two decades. Using a composite water quality index, we find that while reefs exposed to poor water quality are more resistant to coral bleaching, they recover from disturbance more slowly and are more susceptible to outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish and coral disease—with a net negative impact on recovery and long-term hard coral cover. Given these conditions, we find that 6–17% improvement in water quality will be necessary to bring recovery rates in line with projected increases in coral bleaching among contemporary inshore and mid-shelf reefs. However, such reductions are unlikely to buffer projected bleaching effects among outer-shelf GBR reefs dominated by fast-growing, thermally sensitive corals, demonstrating practical limits to local management of the GBR against the effects of global warming.

Nature Ecology & Evolution (2019)


0 comments

Facebook has serious concerns about the competition watchdog's proposed news and advertising regulator, fearing it could disrupt Australians' newsfeeds

Facebook are afraid that instead of being the censor, they may become censored.  But they are going off half-cocked.  All that is proposed so far is information gathering.  They must be afraid of what people will find.  As we learn from John 3: 19-20, the children of the light love the light and the children of the darkness love the darkness.

Libertarians regularly propose information as an alternative to regulation so this step may well be on the right track towards bringing some accountability to what is undoubtedly a bigoted  organization.  With the Australian government watching, Australian conservatives may be less likely to be obliterated by this rogue organization


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in December released a preliminary report into the impact digital platforms are having on competition in local media and advertising.

The ACCC recommended a regulatory authority be given the power to "monitor, investigate and report" on how news and advertising is ranked on digital platforms.

Facebook executives insist they want to work with the federal government on policy but took issue with a number of the watchdog's recommendations during a Sydney briefing with reporters.

Facebook argues a number of the recommendations - such as the government-regulated ranking system - could cause "significant harm".

"The proposed level of regulatory intervention for the news regulator and ad regulator is unprecedented as far as I've seen," Facebook competition spokeswoman Samantha Knox said on Wednesday.

"Our view is that people, and not regulators, should decide what you see on (your) newsfeed. "The point of Facebook is to connect you with friends and family and content that you care about. It is not to be primarily a channel of news distribution."

The social media giant's Australia and New Zealand public policy director, Mia Garlick, said the regulations would favour certain publishers.

She argued users should control what they see on Facebook. "We genuinely have concerns about the impact on consumer benefit here," Ms Garlick told reporters.

"If suddenly it's decided by this regulator 'Oh actually people should see more of this type of content' that's a very new space to get into where the regulator is suddenly deciding what Australians should be seeing on their newsfeed."

Facebook could be more transparent and better educate consumers regarding tools to tailor their newsfeeds, such as advertising preferences, Ms Garlick admitted.

Facebook competition spokesman Matt Perault says any additional regulation should aim to solve a specific problem.

Rules that restrict hate speech could also impact free expression, he said, noting: "Those are considerations that need to be balanced."

Facebook insisted it wasn't solely responsible for the decline in mainstream media. "The proposed 'news ranking regulator' will not solve the problem of how to support sustainable journalism in Australia," Facebook's formal response to the ACCC report states.  "The monetisation challenges facing some publishers began long before Facebook."

The ACCC's preliminary report said while digital platforms had revolutionised communication and offered many benefits, they were also "gateways" to information.

"Organisations like Google and Facebook are more than mere distributors or pure intermediaries in the supply of news in Australia; they increasingly perform similar functions as media businesses like selecting, curating and ranking content," watchdog chairman Rod Sims said in late 2018. "Yet, digital platforms face less regulation than many media businesses."

The ACCC is due to provide its final report to the government in early June.

SOURCE 


4 comments


Another "heatwave" in Australia

The BoM are always trying to pretend that global warming is here.  They are not brazen enough these days to say exactly that but constant talk of heatwaves creates that impression. The weather they refer to is in fact fairly normal -- as they admit further down in the story.

A Brisbane summer extends into March and a normal mid-afternoon summer temperature in Brisbane is 34C.  At mid-afternoon on Monday 11th  the temperature was 32C.  The BoM forecast was 36C.  So the "heatwave" impression is entirely false


Look at the graphic they supply as part of their report.  With all the red ink it looks rather terrifying but all it shows is a normal weather pattern.  Western Australia and Western Queensland (the purple bits) are always extraordinarily hot. The graph is a good example of how you can be truthful but deceptive


Parts of the east coast are set to swelter through extreme temperatures this week due to a post-summer heatwave.

The mercury will hit 36C in Brisbane's CBD on Monday and 39C in the western suburb of Ipswich - around 10C above average for this time of year.

The March record stands at 37.9C degrees for Brisbane and 38C for Ipswich. 

The forecast has prompted the Bureau of Meteorology to issue a severe heatwave warning for south Queensland.

Meanwhile, Sydney will reach 28C on Monday and top 34 degrees on Tuesday - before three days of showers bringing 10mm of rain.

Perth will also be hot, reaching 30C on Monday, the same temperature as Canberra.

The south coast will be cooler, with Melbourne and Adelaide peaking at 23C while Hobart will reach 22C.    

Brisbane will on Tuesday cool down slightly but still reach 33C and temperatures will remain in the 30s until at least next Saturday. 

Further west, the Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley regions will swelter through the high 30s.

'A trough off the south-eastern Queensland coast has been quite persistent in its location, so the northerly winds will bring warm air to the region over the next few days,' Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Michael Gray told Daily Mail Australia. 

Mr Gray said the warm weather isn't unusual for this time of the year in south-east Queensland. 'It's only been a few weeks since summer has ended,' he told Daily Mail Australia. 

'Stay inside  in the air conditioning, keep water bottles full and don't go outside in the hottest part of the day between 10am and 3pm,' he said. 

SOURCE   

0 comments


Boston exploring new entrance test for exam schools

"Exam schools" = Selective schools.

Not everything here meets the eye. Why is the admission exam held on a Saturday at regional sites?  Because regional sites are more convenient for richer families and such families are more likely to make the effort of a special trip on a Saturday.  In other words, poor blacks are subtly discouraged from even applying.  

Is that bad? For most blacks applying would be a waste of time anyway.  They are rightly discouraged from getting into a situation that is too difficult for them.

The existing system sounds about right for everybody. The schools get students who can handle the work and not others. Any change would probably lead to a lot more frustrated blacks.  The whole point of a good selection system is to keep everybody reasonably satisfied -- not encourage students to enrol in courses they cannot handle

No system will do perfect justice for everyone but being just for most can reasonably be aimed at.  

One change that might be an improvement would be to make a special effort to identify unusually capable black children at the end of grade school and encourage just them to apply to an exam school.


Interim Boston schools Superintendent Laura Perille said Tuesday that her administration is exploring the idea of replacing the controversial exam that has determined the fate of tens of thousands of students vying for coveted spots at Boston Latin School and the city’s two other exam schools.

Perille disclosed the review during a City Council hearing that scrutinized exam-school admission policies. Her comments came six months after a Harvard University report found the school system’s reliance on a test designed for private school admission was blocking thousands of students of color from an education at some of the city’s best public schools.

“We are certainly keeping on the table the possibility of a different exam,” she said, adding that her administration is “basically looking at the different providers on the market.”

Changing the admission criteria for the city’s exam schools has long been a polarizing issue in Boston. Families that know the admission process well — mostly well-to-do ones — often pay for private tutoring in an all-out quest to get what many consider to be a private school education for their children at no cost.

But many civil rights advocates say the frenzy to snare an exam school seat in a city rife with many failing high schools has come at the expense of some of the city’s most disadvantaged students, whose families lack the financial resources or know-how to give them an edge in the admission race. Civil rights advocates have also repeatedly raised questions about potential racial bias in the admission exam.

“It’s high time we start reforming the admission policies of our exam schools,” City Councilor Kim Janey said at the start of the hearing.

In October, Harvard University’s Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston found that the Independent School Entrance Exam presented one of the biggest barriers for black and Latino students to gain admission to Latin School, Latin Academy, and the O’Bryant School of Math and Science. For instance, black and Latino students with MCAS scores similar to their white and Asian peers did not score as well on the ISEE, dashing their chances for admission. They also were significantly less likely to take the ISEE.

One reason for the performance gap was that the ISEE covers material in literature and algebra that is not part of the BPS curriculum and the test is administered on a Saturday. By contrast, if the school system relied instead on the MCAS, which is given during the school day, its exam schools would wind up with greater student diversity, according to the report.

Pressure to change admission criteria has only intensified. Just last week the NAACP, Lawyers for Civil Rights, and other groups concluded nearly two years of public forums on overhauling exam-school admission requirements and proposed their own solutions. They recommended having BPS develop its own admission test, offering seats to top students from each school or ZIP code, or creating a “holistic” approach that could include such factors as a student’s socioeconomic status and accomplishments in sports, the arts, and community service.

Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director for the Lawyers for Civil Rights, said the school system’s willingness now to explore the possibility of changing the ISEE is a step in the right direction, saying “it is in response to significant community-driven efforts to democratize access to Boston’s elite exam schools.”

“Right now the city’s reliance on the ISEE is completely misplaced,” he said in an interview. “The city should absolutely reconsider the entire admissions process.”

Initially, school officials were cool to the idea of replacing the ISEE after Harvard released its report, preferring instead to focus on efforts to expand opportunities for black and Latino students to take the exam. For instance, starting next year, sixth-graders will be able to take the ISEE during the school day instead of having to travel to a testing site on a Saturday. City students can take the exam for free.

School officials also have been trying to increase the caliber of instruction in the lower grades, although efforts have not been systemwide. A key program, Excellence for All, is in just 16 schools.

Discussions about possibly replacing the ISEE appear to be in the early stages.

In a statement after the hearing, the School Department said no changes to the exam would be proposed for this fall.

“Boston Public Schools will continue to review the exam school entrance assessment for planning purposes, but there is no timeline for any potential changes at this moment,” the statement said. “Any changes to the exam provider would likely include an opportunity for public input and a request-for-proposal process.”

During the hearing, Perille said that if the BPS switched to the MCAS, legal issues may need to be worked out. For instance, state rules may need to be changed to allow the MCAS, which was designed to measure public school performance, to be given to private-school students hoping to win a place at the city exam schools.

City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, chair of the council’s Education Committee, said she was unsure about the MCAS.

“As a former teacher, I’m not a super fan of using the MCAS,” said Essaibi-George, whose children attend Latin School and Latin Academy.

One data point released by school officials during the hearing struck a nerve with City Councilor Michael Flaherty. Officials said that about 40 percent of black and Latino students who registered for the ISEE exam the last two falls did not show up, which officials blamed in part on the exam being held on a weekend at regional sites. That, they said, can create transportation barriers.

But Flaherty argued that parents bear some responsibility. He said he understands that many families lead complicated lives, but he doubted assertions that many families lack awareness about the exam school and the admission process.

“Where are the parents in this discussion, and why does the BPS let them off the hook?” Flaherty said.

The Rev. Willie Bodrick of the Boston Network for Black Student Achievement later leaped to the defense of the system’s parents, especially those in marginalized communities.

“The parents in our communities are strong, they are resilient, they care, they love, and they work hard, sometimes two jobs, sometimes through language barriers,” he said. “They want what’s best for their kids.”

SOURCE