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The latest environmental scare

Do you notice the dog that didn't bark in the report below?  Did you notice that there is no EVIDENCE about how harmful microparticles are?  It's all theory and falls into the category of things that are OBVIOUSLY bad and so must be discouraged.  

All to often, however, things that are OBVIOUSLY bad turn out not to be bad at all -- with dietary fat being the most recent major example of that.  So you need to be able to put numbers on just HOW bad a thing is.  Doing so can generate surprising revelations  -- such as the fact that dietary fat can be GOOD for you.

So what DO the numbers say?  What is the research evidence on how bad these things are?  And how come there was no mention of any such evidence below?  I think I know.  In just ten minutes of searching I found the following sentence in a review article on the subject:  "Bioavailability and the efficiency of transfer of the ingested POPs across trophic levels are not known and the potential damage posed by these to the marine ecosystem has yet to be quantified and modelled".

In other words, nobody knows how harmful they really are.  The article is from 2011 so much knowledge my have accumulated since then but I an not hopeful.  I suspect that microbeads are a very minor problem in the great scheme of things

I note that I searched the "Marine Pollution Bullein" which did have lots of up to date articles on the subject -- but they were all about how prevalent the beads were in various locations. That they were just obviously bad seemed to be taken for granted.  Nowhere could I see any quantification of harms

And if there is a seminal article quantifying harms I would be delighted to scrutinize its metholoogy.  As a former university teacher of research methods and statistics, and as as frequent practitioner of same, much that seems plausible to others seems hilarious to me.  I can often tell where the bodies are buried, even with no knowledge of the particular field.  As is now widely recognized, junk science is in epidemic proportions these days


Facial scrubs are used daily by millions of people to exfoliate their skin - but scientists have exposed the tiny toxic plastic beads hidden in the products.

Each wash contains up to 94,500 microbeads, while one tube comprises up to 2.8million of the beads, which experts at Plymouth University extracted.

Microbeads, among the fastest-growing forms of marine pollution, can cause physical damage or poison sea life with the chemicals and microbes on their surface.

Richard Thompson, professor of marine biology at Plymouth University, published a photograph of the amount of microbeads extracted from popular facial scrubs.

He told The Sunday Times: 'It can be hard to convey in words how small these beads are and how many are released by one wash, but the picture shows the scale of the impact much better.'

He said the beads ranged in size from from a 0.01mm up to 1mm. 'Their size means they can pass through sewage treatment screens and be discharged into rivers and oceans,' he explained.

When the facial scrubs are washed away, they are washed into sewage sludge and can spread onto farmland. Smaller beads can escape filters and are subsequently washed out to sea.

Experts say the size of the beads looks like food to plankton and baby fish - and can poison them when eaten. This is then passed up the food chain to larger fish and birds.

Mary Creagh, the Labour MP and chairwoman of the environmental audit committee, which is holding an inquiry into microplastics, told the Sunday Times: 'Most of us would be horrified to learn how many bathroom products contain this plastic rubbish.'

The Plymouth researchers only examined facial scrubs but microbeads are widely found in many cosmetics.

The US government has banned microbeads in consumer products under a law that will go into full effect in 2017.

This month Waitrose announced it will ban microbeads from all products sold in its shops. The supermarket chain has already removed them from its own beauty products and has promised that from September it will stock only branded products which do not contain them.

Banning microbeads makes sense, campaigners say, because they are not necessary for washing products. Their abrasive effect can be replicated by natural exfoliants such as tiny fragments of rice, apricot seeds, walnut shells and bamboo.

Banning microbeads, however, will not end microplastic pollution. All plastic items that end up in lakes, rivers and the sea tend to disintegrate, creating tiny scraps of plastic with a similar effect.

Synthetic fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, also disintegrate, and tiny plastic ‘microfibres’ are also eaten by marine life, with a similar effect to microbeads.

SOURCE

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Psychological implications of Australia's 1967 "Aboriginal" referendum

Psychologists have long taken an interest in intergroup conflict, with racism being the major instance of that.  And they have laboured mightily to understand it and hence hopefully contribute to its amelioration or eradication.  One look at the world around us today tells us that they have not been successful.

One of the earliest proposals put forward by psychologists was  what was called the "contact hypothesis".  Put crudely, the proposal was that the more whites got to know blacks the more hostility between them would disappear.  The origin of the hypothesis was an influential book by Stouffer et al. called "The American soldier".  The book was based on studies of what had happened in the American armed forces during WWII, when around a million blacks were enlisted plus many more whites.  The authors interviewed many of the men concerned after the war and concluded on rather dubious grounds that being together during the war had improved white attitudes towards blacks.

This sunny conclusion was much seized on by psychologists and many supportive studies were produced.  After a while however, dissent emerged, particularly but not exclusively from Britain.  Many studies showed that contact did NOT improve interracial attitudes and some even found that interracial contact WORSENED racial attitudes.  And so the matter remains to this day:  With no fully agreed resolution.  In some circumstances, contact seems to be beneficial and in others it seems to be detrimental. And often it has no effect at all.

Almost all of the studies on both sides of the question have however had two large defects:  1).  They studied expressed attitudes only, not behaviour;  2).  The "samples" of people that they used were almost always  non-samples, making generalizations from them precarious.  Psychologists base most of their conclusions about humanity on studies of white rats and available groups of Tertiary students, which would be hilarious if it were not so sad.

And that is where Australia's 1967 referendum comes in.  It offered a remedy to both those effects.  The hope or idea that one could obtain useful data not from a sample but from an entire national population is usually an impossible dream. Yet our  referendum offered just that.

To recap.: In 1967 Australia held a constitutional referendum in conjunction with a Federal election (voting in Australian elections is compulsory so turnout was around 98%) which was designed to extend all rights to, and otherwise assist, Australia's native black population (the Aborigines). Rather like native Americans ("Indians"), the Aborigines at the time lived to a considerable extent on reservations and were mostly poor, ill-housed, unemployed and prone to serious health problems. I lived just down the road from an Aboriginal settlement during my teens in the '60s so I saw with my own eyes how they lived.

That is not to say that all Aborigines lived poorly.  Some had assimilated and become much like other Australians but at that time they were few.

The main aim of the referendum was to give the Federal government the power to improve their lot.  And there was much enthusiasm to "do something" about the state of Aborigines

Aborigines are, however, unevenly distributed throughout Australia. They are largely unseen in the big cities and those Aborigines who are city-dwellers almost invariably live in just one semi-slum suburb. They mostly come into contact with whites as fringe-dwellers around country towns. Additionally, some Australian States have few blacks at all (e.g. Tasmania, where they were mostly wiped out in the last century) while others (such as Queensland and Western Australia) have a disproportionately high number of blacks.  The outcome of the referendum was ovrerwhelming support for the referendum proposal. Australians overall wanted blacks to be helped in any way  by the government.

One social scientist, however delved more deeply.  Ian Mitchell noticed that most of the "Yes" vote seemed to have come from the big cities where blacks were largely unknown. He therefore correlated the size of the "No" vote in Australia's various electoral districts with the proportion of the population in those districts that was of Aboriginal origin. No matter how he analyzed the data, he found a correlation of .9 between the number of anti-Aborigine votes and the density of the black population. The more white Australians had been in a position to see, get to know and evaluate blacks, the less they wanted them as equals.

The behavior involved (the voting) was undoubtedly of an extremely significant and important kind as far as discriminatory practices are concerned and the correlation with opportunity for contact was of a magnitude seldom seen anywhere in the behavioral sciences. Compare more than 80% of the variance explained with the 8% explained by Studlar's (1979) multiple regressions in England. When we turn to the strongest body of data we have on discriminatory practices, we find extraordinarily strong evidence that contact with black culture is highly aversive for members of the majority white culture.

There are four reasons why Mitchell's data is particularly strong:

1). He used a full population, not a sample; 2). Behaviour (vote) was studied rather than a (possibly insincere) expression of attitude. 3). The relevant behavior could be emitted privately (in the ballot booth) with little obvious room for peer or social pressure to be exerted. 4). The effect (r = .9) revealed was very strong.

Thus, although the study is the only one of its kind, it is one of a kind largely because of its unusual strengths.

The reasons behind the findings are far from mysterious if one knows a little of the ethnography concerned: Aborigines as encountered by whites seemed to be almost invariably unemployed and living on welfare. They are generally encountered by whites as vagrant street-dwellers being drunk and quarrelsome. They show quite often signs of fearsome disease (e.g. leprosy) and venereal diseases such as syphilis are endemic among them. They show little or no adherence to white ideals of hygiene. Again those things were not true of all but they were the things that whites usually saw at that time.  Many Aborigines today are  clean, sober, hardworking and reasonably healthy but the exceptions are many.

Drunkenness, unemployment, poor hygiene and bad behavior are not part of the original Aboriginal culture. They are the result of loss of culture.  But there are real cultural differences that are just as difficult to bridge: the imperative to share vs the individual ownership, the importance of extended family, the importance of religion, the interconnectedness of all things.
So even if you disregarded modern-day trends and searched the world for the two most dissimilar sets of cultural beliefs you wouldn't go past Australian Aboriginal and Northern European.  Aborigines do have their own ways but in our society the results are markedly dysfunctional and put them at odds with the society in which they live.

They are also in fact a generally kind and friendly people who feel that they have been robbed of their country but it would only be with a considerable act of will that most whites could bear to interact with many of them at all. Most whites would avoid a drunk, dirty and white hobo so it is precisely because they do not discriminate racially that they also avoid and tend to be disgusted by drunk, dirty and quarrelsome black hobos. The most usual state of the Aborigines to this day does have to be seen to be believed. See Cowlishaw (1986) for a fuller description.

The point of all this is that neither whites nor blacks are to blame for the obviously strong dislike that many whites feel towards blacks in general. When large numbers of Aborigines behave "badly" by white standards and large numbers of whites dislike them for it, members of both groups are simply acting as normal carriers of their own culture. The problem lies in the fact that the two cultures are juxtaposed and yet are so different. What is normal in the one is reprehensible in the other. If white culture did not embody a respect for hard work, hygiene and control of alcohol intake, it would not be white culture as it is today. It would be something else. But it is not something else. It is a highly successful culture (in at least material and technological ways) that dominates the world. It will not go away overnight. To tell most Australian whites who know Australian blacks not to dislike Australian blacks is to tell them to forget in an instant their own core values.

The statistics -- An ecological fallacy?

Discussion of the assumptions underlying methods of statistical analysis probably makes rather dry reading for most readers but it nonetheless needs to be covered in order to protect one's work from apparently devastating demolition by subsequent, statistically sophisticated writers.

On the present occasion, it must be pointed out that Mitchell's (1968) correlations were "ecological" ones in Robinson's (1950) sense -- i.e. the units for analysis were not indivisible. As Robinson shows, such correlations can easily be beguilingly high, particularly where the units for analysis are few, and such correlations are not estimates of individual correlations. As Menzel (1950) has pointed out, however, ecological correlations do not have to be estimates of individual correlations to be of interest.

Furthermore, it should be noted that Mitchell analyzed his data two ways: once using large (and hence few) units for analysis (the State by State comparison) and secondly using smaller (and hence much more numerous) units for analysis (comparison of electoral districts). Unlike the cases discussed by Robinson, the correlation did not fall markedly on the second occasion. It in fact fell not at all. This suggests that taking the analysis down to the smallest possible unit of analysis (the individual) might not have made a big difference either.

Whether or not that would have been so, however, it does need to be pointed out that ecological correlations tend to tell us more about broad processes than details within such processes. On the present occasion what the correlation tells us precisely is that areas where there are a high proportion of Aborigines are also areas where Aborigines are actively discriminated against. It may tell us nothing about the attitudes that are voiced by whites in such areas and it may tell us nothing about who does the discriminating. It does, however, demonstrate a broad social process. It tells us about societies rather than individuals.

So have Mitchell's findings revolutionized thinking in the area?  They are so strong that they should have done but instead they have been sedulously ignored.  They are not what people want to hear.  Anti-racism is something of a religion in the post-Hitler era and Mitchell's findings do not suit that at all.  Far from adverse racial attitudes being deviant, ignorant, evil, maladjusted or stupid, they tell us that such attitudes can in fact be both normal and understandable.  Which is why Ian had never heard of them until I pointed it all out. Myth is  preferred to reality in much of life.

A common psychological claim is that the "other" is disliked out of fear.  Differences in others are feared so defensive mental walls go up.  Is that what Mitchell's findings show?  It's possible but I have yet to hear a white express dislike of Aborigines out of fear.  The reaction instead is invariably disgust.  And Aborigines are simply not fearsome.  They are placid, very polite people and are most certainly not likely to compete your job away from you.  I cannot think of anything about Aborigines that might be feared.  There are good reasons why American whites fear American blacks but none of that applies to Aborigines.

So the outlook for equality between whites and blacks in Australia is very dark indeed.  Aborigines are not going to change, whites are not going to change so nothing will change.

Do the findings suggest anything about the USA?  I think they do.  Australian Aborigines and Africans are different in many ways but what American whites encounter from American blacks also has large aversive elements -- the high rate of violent crime among blacks, for instance.   So despite all the Procrustean efforts of the American Left, equality between blacks and whites in America is almost certainly chimerical.

REFERENCES

Cowlishaw, G. (1986) Race for exclusion. Australian & New Zealand J. Sociology 22(1), 3-24.

Menzel, H. (1950) Comment on Robinson's "Ecological correlations and the behavior of individuals" American Sociological Review 15, 674.

Robinson, W.S. (1950) Ecological correlations and the behavior of individuals. American Sociological Review 15, 351-357.

Stouffer, S.A. et al. (1949) "The American Soldier: Combat and Its Aftermath".  Princeton U.P., Princeton, NJ

Studlar, D.T. (1979) Racial attitudes in Britain: A causal analysis. Ethnicity 6, 107-122.

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More naming nonsense

John Batman was the founder of what we now know as the city of Melbourne -- and a Melbourne park is named after him.  It's a very modest tribute to an important pioneer but some whites  claiming to be Aborigines want to change it to something just about nobody would recognize. They want to dishonour John Batman preciselty because he was the founder of Melbourne.

It's all part of the Leftist need to wipe out all knowledge of history.  Like Pol Pot they want the present to be a year zero so that people have no past to learn from.  A knowledge of the past is of course very destructive to Leftist claims

To attain their aims on this occasion, they are exploiting the kindness of the average Australian to claim that the name Batman is offensive to Aborigines.  Because of that kindness the name change will probably go through. The current matter is all very trivial in the great scheme of things but at some point attempts  to erase history must be resisted.  The past matters.  It is an important tutor.


"Wurundjeri Tribe Land Council spokesman" Ron Jones is as white as I am


THE renaming of Batman Park is moving ahead, with the establishment of a naming committee and the proposal of three possible Wurundjeri replacement names.

Darebin Council last week unanimously voted to establish a Batman Park Renaming Committee to explore the dumping the use of John Batman’s name for its association with indigenous dispossession.

The explorer convinced indigenous elders to sign a treaty trading more than 200,000ha of ancestral land for blankets, flour and other goods in 1835.

Councillor Trent McCarthy said the push to rename the park in the spirit of reconciliation was “a terrific way forward”.

“It is a really powerful conversation, and quite an emotional conversation to be a part of,” Cr McCarthy said.

Councillor Julie Williams said it was important for the council to work with the Wurundjeri Tribe Land Council to find a more suitable name for the park.

“I think it’s really important that our Wurundjeri people have a voice,” Cr Williams said.

At the first of four public meetings held to discuss the name change, three Wurunjderi replacement names were suggested.

The names include two former Wurundjeri leaders present at the signing of Batman’s treaty, Be Be Jern and Billibellary, along with the last girl born on the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve in Healesville, Gumbri.

Darebin Council and the Wurundjeri Tribe Land Council last month renewed the campaign for the electorate of Batman and Batman Park to be renamed.

Land council spokesman Ron Jones last month said using Batman’s name in the area where the treaty was signed was a slap in the face to the indigenous community.

In an online Leader poll of almost 2000 readers, just 20 per cent agreed that the name Batman should be dropped.

There will be three more community discussions regarding the name changes.

SOURCE


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The Antarctic peninsula is COOLING

Laughs all round with this one. They want to say that this finding has no implications for the globe as a whole.  Since Antarctica has 96% of the world's glacial ice, it surely has BIG implications for the scare about rising sea levels. Zwally has shown that Antractica as a whole is gaining mass so put the two findings together and it undermines the very thing that Warmists have made central to their cries of doom!  Unless there is significant warming and melting in Antarctica, there is no doom! The way it's going, we are headed for a sea-level FALL!

And their explanation for the cooling is pathetic.  They say it's caused by the ozone hole shrinking.  But it isn't. The hole was at its largest in October.  Not October 10 years ago or even October 5 years ago.  It was October LAST YEAR.  The ban on our best refrigerant gases has clearly had no effect whatever.

Their other explanation is: "Temperatures have decreased as a consequence of a greater frequency of cold, east-to-southeasterly winds". But why?  Why did these winds spring up promptly at the beginning of the 21st century. If they have been going for around 20 years now, why did they not spring up earlier?  What has  changed?  It's essentially a non-explanation, which is why they have defaulted to "natural variability" as an explanation.  But in that case why is the slight warming of the 20th century not natural variability too?  They're getting into some very deep water there.

When big icebergs break off Arctica or Antarctica that is regularly said to be evidence of global warming.  I wonder why "natural variability" is not invoked on those occasions?  It seems to be a case of Warmists trying to have their cake and eat it too.

But whatever the cause, we have in the work below yet another example of global warming prophecy failing.  I append the extract from the underlying journal article




The Antarctic is one part of the world you might have thought would be affected by global warming.  But for the last two decades, the Antarctic peninsula – the tip of the continent nearest to South America - has not got any warmer, scientists have found.

Research stations on the peninsula show that a while temperatures rose rapidly since the 1950s, the temperature has stayed steady and even declined since the late 1990s.

A new study has recorded an ozone increase in the icy region, suggesting the agreement signed nearly three decades ago to limit the use of substances responsible for ozone depletion, is having a positive effect.

As well as creating an identifying ozone increase, it’s slowing the rate of ozone depletion in the stratosphere - Earth's second major atmospheric layer.

Part of the answer why the Antarctic peninsula has not got any warmer in the past two to three decades is because more cold south-easterly and easterly winds are blowing towards the area from the Weddell Sea.

A further reason is because the hole in the ozone layer – caused by gases in aerosols called CFCs – is beginning to heal up – helping to shield Antarctica from solar radiation.

The hole has started to close since the polluting CFCs have been banned.

The scientists behind the finding are keen to stress that the ‘pause’ in Antarctic warming does not mean that global warming worldwide has come to a stop.

They say the six research stations on the peninsula cover only 1 per cent of the total continent of Antarctica.

Glaciers are still retreating – and ice shelves are still collapsing in the region.

They also note that temperatures are still warmer than at the beginning of the century.

Reporting this week in the journal Nature researchers from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said changing wind patterns may also be ‘temporarily masking’ the warming influence of greenhouse gases.

The authors also note that the ‘pause’ in warming coincides with the controversial ‘global warming hiatus’ or slowdown, which claims that global temperatures started to slowdown from 1996 from rising 0.14°C per decade up to 1996 and rising to 0.07°C per decade afterwards.

But the authors argue that the pause in the Antarctic is ‘independent of the global warming hiatus’.

Lead author, Professor John Turner of British Antarctic Survey says: ‘The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most challenging places on Earth on which to identify the causes of decade-to-decade temperature changes.’

They said that the peninsula ‘shows large natural variations which can overwhelm the signals of human-induced global warming’.

He added: ‘The ozone hole, sea-ice and westerly winds have been significant in influencing regional climate change in recent years.

‘Even in a generally warming world, over the next couple of decades, temperatures in this region may go up or down, but our models predict that in the longer term greenhouse gases will lead to an increase in temperatures by the end of the 21st Century.’

Antarctic Peninsula temperatures increased by up to 0.5°C per decade until the 1950s when they stopped rising, the researchers said.

The research team analysed ice cores taken from drilling into the soil – which allow scientists to calculate the temperature at the time the ice was laid down.

They found that the warming of the peninsula ‘was not unprecedented’ over the past 2,000 years.

Recently, they found that warming started in the 1920s, and revealed ‘periods of warming and cooling over the last several centuries that were comparable to those observed in the post-1950s instrumental record.’

The authors said the findings ‘highlights the large natural variability of temperatures in this region of Antarctica that has influenced more recent climate changes.’

Dr Robert Mulvaney, is a leading ice core researcher at British Antarctic Survey, said: ‘Meteorological observations from the Antarctic Peninsula research stations only cover the last 60 years or so. If we are to get a better idea of the long-term trend we need to look back in time.

‘The ice core record helps us see how the climate evolves over the longer term. We can also look at the levels of carbon dioxide and other chemicals that were in the atmosphere and compare them with observations from today.’

‘Climate model simulations predict that if greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase at currently projected rates their warming effect will dominate over natural variability (and the cooling effect associated with recovering ozone levels) and there will be a warming of several degrees across the region by the end of this century.’

SOURCE  

Absence of 21st century warming on Antarctic Peninsula consistent with natural variability

John Turner et al.

Since the 1950s, research stations on the Antarctic Peninsula have recorded some of the largest increases in near-surface air temperature in the Southern Hemisphere1. This warming has contributed to the regional retreat of glaciers2, disintegration of floating ice shelves3 and a ‘greening’ through the expansion in range of various flora4. Several interlinked processes have been suggested as contributing to the warming, including stratospheric ozone depletion5, local sea-ice loss6, an increase in westerly winds5, 7, and changes in the strength and location of low–high-latitude atmospheric teleconnections8, 9. Here we use a stacked temperature record to show an absence of regional warming since the late 1990s. The annual mean temperature has decreased at a statistically significant rate, with the most rapid cooling during the Austral summer. Temperatures have decreased as a consequence of a greater frequency of cold, east-to-southeasterly winds, resulting from more cyclonic conditions in the northern Weddell Sea associated with a strengthening mid-latitude jet. These circulation changes have also increased the advection of sea ice towards the east coast of the peninsula, amplifying their effects. Our findings cover only 1% of the Antarctic continent and emphasize that decadal temperature changes in this region are not primarily associated with the drivers of global temperature change but, rather, reflect the extreme natural internal variability of the regional atmospheric circulation.

Nature 535, 411–415 (21 July 2016) doi:10.1038/nature18645




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The Arctic is leaking methane 200 times faster than usual: Massive release of gas is creating giant holes and 'trembling tundras'

It has long been known that different parts of Siberia burp CH4 from time to time and it may perhaps be in response to warming -- either a local warming event or an El Nino warming.  It is not however due to anthropogenic global warming because there has been none of that for many years.

The present eruptions seem to be confined to the Yamal peninsula area, which is only a very small part of Siberia.  See Here regarding the inability of CH4 to affect global temperatures

And let me be really pesky by noting the finding:  "No significant increase in long-term CH4emissions on NorthSlope of Alaska despite significant increase in air temperature".  Alaska is geologically and climatically continuous with Siberia so if warming does not elevate  methane levels in Alaska it seems likely that it is not doing so in Siberia either.  So warming is NOT the cause of the CH4 burps presently being observed


Strange bubbles have been discovered in the Arctic permafrost - adding to mysterious behaviour seen in the region, including the sudden appearance of giant holes in northern Siberia.

Now Russian scientists have revealed the bubbles in the wobbly Earth are are leaking methane gas some 200 times above the norm in the atmosphere.

The 'trembling tundra' also contains concentrations of carbon dioxide 20 times higher than usual levels.

The extent of the harmful greenhouse gases buried in this new phenomenon of jelly-like bubbles poses 'very serious alarm' concerning the impact of global warming, expert Alexander Sokolov warned.

Some 15 examples of this swaying Siberian ground were revealed this week on Belyy Island, a polar bear outpost 475 miles (764km) north of the Arctic Circle in the Kara Sea.

One account from a Russian research team at the scene said: 'As we took off a layer of grass and soil, a fountain of gas erupted.'

'An early theory is that warm summer heat has melted the permafrost causing the release of long-frozen gases,'The Siberian Times reported.

The newspaper was the first to report the weird sight and has now shared the gas readings.

Startling video footage shows the ground wobbling under the feet of scientists.

'It was like a jelly,' said one researcher, who continued: 'We have not come across anything like this before.'

He warned there is 'serious reason to be concerned if gas bubbles appear in the permafrost zone' with 'unpredictable' consequences.

Dr Sokolov said he first saw the spectacle during an expedition on this Siberian island last year.

'I've been working in Yamal for twenty years now - some of my peers have been working here even longer - and it's the first time I have ever seen this,' said the ecological expert with the Urals Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He explained: 'The day after seeing this bubble, we came across another one. 'As shown on our video, we punctured it and, let's say, "air" starting coming out quickly - it had no smell - and there was no liquid (eruption).'

The researchers went back and measured the gas that was released when the thin layer of grass and soil sealing in the methane and carbon dioxide was punctured.

'Gases are typically measured in parts per million or ppm,' he said.

'The gas analyser showed that one of these gases was dozens of times higher and another was hundreds of times higher than normal.'

The peak carbon dioxide measurement was 7750 ppm, while the methane reading was 375 ppm.

The island - which lies in the Kara Sea off the Yamal Peninsula - has had unusually warm weather this summer, including temperatures in the 20ºC (68ºF).

'It is likely that 10 days of extraordinary heat could have started some mechanisms, (and the) higher level of permafrost could have thawed and released a huge amount of gases,' Dr Sokolov said.

Three feet (one metre) down there is 'solid permafrost' so he believes the greenhouse gases are caused by the thawing of the surface layer only.

'It is evident even to amateurs that this is a very serious alarm,' he said, continuing: 'As for the future, we are interested in further study of the bubbles. 'We have discovered over a dozen of them. We need interdisciplinary study.'

South of Belvy Island, another phenomenon is being closely observed by scientists - the sudden formation of craters, caused by eruptions or explosions of methane gas, which has melted below the surface.

These Siberian craters are believed to have been caused by the release of gas previously frozen in the permafrost.

When the craters first appeared on the Yamal Peninsula - known to locals as 'the end of the world' - they sparked bizarre theories as to their formation.

They ranged from meteorites to stray missiles fired by Vladimir Putin's military machine, and from man-made pranks to the work of visiting aliens.

Most experts now believe they were created by explosions of methane gas unlocked by warming temperatures in the far north of Russia.

On Yamal, the main theory is that the craters were formed by pingos - dome-shaped mounds over a core of ice - erupting under pressure of methane gas released by the thawing of permafrost caused by climate change.

The Yamal craters, some tiny but others large, were created by natural gas filling vacant space in ice humps, eventually triggering eruptions, according to leading authority Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky, of Moscow's Oil and Gas Research Institute.

Recently there were accounts of a 'big bang' leading to the formation of a crater on the Taimyr Peninsula. However, there was no pingo on this spot before the eruption in 2013.

The noise could be heard up to 60 miles away and one resident saw a 'glow in the sky' after the explosion, it was recently revealed.

SOURCE


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What gives with 247-host.com?

I recently signed up for some web services with Canadian hosting company 247-host.  As usual, I gave them my credit card details and expected that to be the end of it.  Instead I got an email as below.  The email sounded like a classic scam to me so I declined to give the info requested and asked for a refund of what I had paid.  I expected that to be the end of it with my money lost

But here's the funny thing.  They DID refund my money!  They had my money all along but still wanted extra documentation.  Very strange indeed!  If they were crooks, why did they refund my money?  And if they were honest, why did they demand all my personal details?  It makes no sense.

I have been buying stuff off the net for years and I have NEVER had an enquiry such as the one below.  Once a supplier has my  money, that has always been the end of it.  Very strange people indeed!  The only theory I can come up with to explain it is that they are very clever crooks.  Or maybe they just don't want customers.  Their PR skills are certainly at rock bottom in any case.


247-host URGENT Credit Card Validation Needed

Dear Customer,

Due to the recent fraud activity we have been receiving for credit card payments we will require a copy of your government issued ID (for example drivers license, passport etc.) and credit card ending in 9916

Please fax these 2 documents to us at 1-514-439-3249 or you can email it to us.

We need these documents within the next 24 hours for our records.
Inability to provide valid documentation within 24 hours will result in cancellation of the order.

If you are unable to provide this information you can pay using paypal or western union. Please email us back if you have any questions or concerns.

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Web: http://www.247-host.com/  http://www.247-host.ca/
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Is there an Australian race?

Maybe that is not as absurd as it seems.  Leftists seem to regard Muslims as a race so why not? Any criticism of Muslims is routinely denounced as "racist".  So I clearly have the angels on my side in arguing for a flexible definition of race.

And the fact of the matter is that Australians do talk as if they are a race.  It's probably politically incorrect by now but for many decades Australians have spoken among themselves as in the following example.  "She is herself Chinese but she is married to an Australian" -- where both persons concerned were born in Australia -- so it was obviously race that was being referred to.

So a person of Northern European or British ancestry who was born in Australia is an Australian.  Australians are a definable ethnic group.  So "Australian" can be either a nationality or a race. In the example above both persons would have been readily acknowledged as Australian citizens but only one was an Australian.

And note that NOBODY in Australia refers to themselves  or anybody else as "a person of Northern European or British ancestry born in Australia".  It would be far too cumbersome.  People so identified  are simply Australians.

So is the usage just a piece of shorthand for a longer descriptor or is there more to it than that?  There clearly is more.  Australians have quite a strong national consciousness.  They see themselves as quite distinct from even closely related groups such as the British or Americans.  When they are thinking of "a person of Northern European or British ancestry born in Australia", they are also thinking of personal characteristics.  "A person of Northern European or British ancestry born in Australia" is expected to be "fair dinkum", no Dobbo and someone who does not "bung on an act", for instance.

Those three examples are much-loved pieces of Australian slang and, like most slang are not entirely translatable into standard English.  But an approximate translation would be: "A genuine person, a person who does not incriminate others to the authorities and a person who is not pretentious.  I say a bit more about that slang and its origins elsewhere.

So, yes.  There IS an Australian race.  And there are other races that are similarly defined.  Mexicans, for instance have had it instilled into them that they are one race:  The famous "La raza".  The reality of Mexico is a whitish elite who run everything and a large, poor mass of people with brown skin. But  we mustn't knock "La raza", must we?

The English rarely refer to themselves as a race but they do to an extent tend to see themselves that way.  The regional divisions in England are severe.  People who live South of Watford see people from North of Watford as an odd and rather uncouth lot.  Watford is the last outpost of civilization when travelling North. But no matter where you live in relation to Watford Junction, you are still English.  And being English has certain expectations attached to it -- enormous expectations, in fact.  The expectations are well laid out in what is probably the funniest book I have ever read: "Watching the English: the hidden rules of English behaviour" by Kate Fox.  Australians have some of the same rules, as one would expect.

In fact, Australian-ness is better defined than English-ness.  Australia may be the only country without significant regional divisions.  A person who lives in Brisbane lives thousands of miles away from a person who lives in Perth but any difference between inhabitants of those two cities is very hard to detect.  That great giveaway, accent, has only the tiniest differences in  the two populations.

One has only to think of Northern Italian attitudes to "meriodinali", of Bavarian suspicion of "Prussians" and, of course, enmity between Eastern and Western Ukrainians to see that divisions between national populations are the norm.  The USA even had a civil war over  it.

There is none of that it Australia.  So by international standards, the case for Australians being a race is unusually strong.  And they are a race that has an entire continent to themselves!  Nice!

So being an Australian is NOT "inclusive" except in the sense of nationality.  For that reason some younger people do avoid the usage.

I think they are mistaken, however. Everybody does not have to be included in everything. Because there are some lepers does that mean that we all have to get leprosy? Australians are just another ethnic group -- and we all allow that those exist. Nobody minds referring to Jews as Jews yet, with their many internal schisms (Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Mizrachim etc) Jews have a rather lesser claim on an ethic identity than the very homogeneous "Australian" population has. And we even have our own commandments!


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Total abandonment of science by the Congressional Left

The professional Warmists at DeSmog Blog have put up here a number of pages from the Congressional Record that report testimony on climate change by Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren and other well-known scientists.  The testimony by Harry Reid is a particular hoot.  He has repeated for the umpteenth time his sweeping condemnation of the Koch Bros.  They are a worm in Harry's brain. He can't get past  them.  According to him they are responsible for all climate skepticism.

And Pocohontas is not much better.  She aims her spray rather more widely, with Lord Monckton coming in for a big blast.  She claims that he is not a scientist and seems to think that what he says is therefore worthless  -- quite overlooking the fact that she is not a scientist either.  Is her opinion worthless?  I think so but I'm betting that she does not.

But  in the end the whole session is just "ad hominem" argument, argument which is of zero logical force.  The pages concerned are awash with sweeping and unreferenced  personal vilification. When Pocohontas says that a Monckton claim has been disproved, we might have expected the name or names of the person/s who did the disproving.  But no such luck. And nowhere is there any mention of a single climate datum, fact or figure.

It's all rather Satanic, actually: An unending flow of hate and nothing but hate.

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Hoddox

What are "hoddox"?  I have encountered hoddox only once. It was on my first trip to South Africa in 1979. I was in the Hillbrow area of Johannesburg, then a rather "vibrant" (in a good way.  I don't like some vibrations) area.  It was a safe area to walk around in then, unlike in the "rainbow" South Africa of today.

Anyway, I wanted some food so walked into a small cafe and asked the proprietor what he was selling.  He listed a number of things, one of which was "hoddox".  It sounded interesting so I  ordered it.  It was a hot dog.  The proprietor was Greek -- and a Greek version of a South African accent had foxed me.

I very rarely eat hot dogs because I don't like frankfurts, which are their usual filling.  Although there is something about franks that I don't like, I have never been quite able to pin down what it is.  I think I may have found out, however.  I think the following information from a food chemist might put a lot of people off:

"One thing about hot dogs, they're in a category called emulsified sausages and they're a bit more complex than, say, your typical sausage. In summer sausage, meat and fat are ground up into small chunks, and them mixed with spices. You can still see those chunks and tell the meat apart from the fat though. In an emulsified sausage like hot dogs, the meat and fat are ground into much tinier chunks, until it forms a uniform paste. The paste then mixed in powerful, high speed mixers together with spices, additives, water, and air. If regular sausage is like pesto, emulsified sausage is like vinaigrette. There's a lot of things going on in there that you just can't see without a microscope"

I am very keen on sausages generally so it must just be the texture of franks that I dislike. A jocular name for sausages is "mystery bags".  I think the mystery is most pronounced with franks.

I acquired the information above in pursuit of something I encountered on one of my trips to L.A.  I was living in a cheap motel and had the radio on a fair bit.  I mostly had a station called KFWB on, as it was an all-news station then and I wanted to keep abreast of what was going on in America at that time.

And they did of course have advertisements, very frequent advertisements.  And a much repeated advertisement was for "Ball Park" franks.  Below is what Wikipedia says about them:

"A Livonia, Michigan meat-packing company called Hygrade Food Products won a competition in 1959 to be the exclusive supplier of hot dogs to the Detroit Tigers and Tiger Stadium. Hygrade Food Products launched a contest to its employees in order to come up with the best brand name for their Detroit Tigers stadium hot dogs. Mary Ann Kurk, one of Hygrade Food Products sales people at the time, won the contest with the name "Ball Park Franks". She won a leather living room chair and a cash prize of $25 (equivalent to $203 in 2015). It was from this venue that Ball Park Franks gained popularity and became known in American pop-culture. Sara Lee acquired Hygrades from Hanson Industries in 1989"

And the great slogan advertising Ballpark franks was:

"They plump when you cook em".

That seemed very strange to me.  It sounded like an apology for their franks being small.  It seemed a strange thing to focus your advertising on.  And, perhaps because that seemed odd to me, it has remained in my memory to a most unfortunate degree.  Often, when I see sausages of any kind, that stupid slogan runs through my head.  My mind has been infected by a virus that I most deplore and cannot get rid of.  I guess I must regard that  as just one of the many injuries we suffer as we slide down the razorblade of life.  (Hats off to Tom Lehrer).



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On MIT blog, black students complain about racism

The discussion below is very shallow.  Nobody seems to ask WHY whites are wary about blacks.  Perhaps the answer is too obvious:  The high rate of criminality among blacks.  On some estimates, one third of black males will have spent time in jail during their lives, and they are only the worst offenders.  So whites have very good reasons to minimize their contact with blacks.  And that is mainly what is complained about below: not persecution but social reserve.  It was once much worse.  

White society has made great efforts -- with affirmative action and otherwise -- to improve the lot of blacks but many blacks have not picked up the ball.  And while blacks by their own behaviour alienate whites, there will be very little real acceptance of them.  It is racism of a sort but it is racism born of realistic caution.

For decent blacks, the situation is of course galling but getting angry about it will achieve nothing at the best and will deepen racial division at the worst.  The recent shootings of police show how disastrous black anger can be.  If there is much more of police shootings, it is not hard to see that many police will refuse to go into black-majority areas -- thus leaving innocent blacks to the black thugs.  Police refusing to go into black areas is relatively rare today but we may not be far off from it becoming an epidemic.

We all at times have to "swallow" slights and blacks need to swallow the fact that whites will always be wary of them.  There is no other healthy way forward.  Blacks have to accept the reality that their very faces are faces of fear

And police feel that too.  When they pull up a black, they are on hair-trigger alert for black aggression towards them. And sometimes the trigger gets pulled on the basis of a mistake.  An innocent action by a black can look like pulling a gun.  And in that case an innocent man may die from a police bullet -- as a result of what it essentially a mistake or an accident.  That is how Philando Castile died.  If blacks became generally co-operative rather than hostile to police, far fewer would die of police bullets.

But who can see that happening?  I can't.  So the time when many black areas will become no-go areas for police cannot be far off.  And the big losers from that will be blacks


Just before he took a dinner break at work earlier this month, MIT senior Vincent Anioke scanned the Web for news and stopped on the graphic video of the July 6 shooting of Philando Castile by a Minnesota police officer.

As he read comments below the video, Anioke grew angry. He forgot about his dinner. Instead, he sat at his desk at Google in Kendall Square and in 45 minutes, pounded out a strongly worded essay about his own struggle as a black man in the United States.

“There is no nuance, there is no complication,” he wrote. “There is no subtlety. There is a problem. We feel like dogs. We feel like we don’t matter.”

His words went viral, among the MIT community and beyond — part of an uncommonly open discussion being fostered at MIT about the racial tension gripping the country.

Anioke’s post — like others that poured out after the spate of violence — appears not on Facebook or Medium, but on MIT’s official admissions website, a resource for prospective students. His became the most viewed in the past six months.

“We want to let our students speak, because we know that’s the best way to tell the story about MIT,” said Kirk Kolenbrander, an MIT vice president. “There is no decision by the institution, by MIT, about what gets printed.”

In the wake of the shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana, and Texas, the university has also encouraged other types of discussion about racial tension.

MIT’s president, L. Rafael Reif, wrote a letter in the days after the shootings, urging people at MIT to talk with each other about the violence, and then use their smarts to “help right the ship of our society.”

MIT held a lunch at which more than 600 students, professors, staff, and alumni sat around tables, ate chicken sandwiches, and talked. They talked about feeling anxious, sad, helpless, angry, guilty, and frustrated that they can’t change systems that seem broken, said DiOnetta Jones Crayton, associate dean for undergraduate education and director of the MIT office of minority education, who spoke at the event.

And of course, being scientists, people talked about experiments, and hypotheses, and solutions Jones Crayton said. Could technology help end racism, they wondered?

“We have expertise that we can lend to this dialogue,” she said in a phone interview after the event. Another student blogger wrote about the lunch.

Many colleges have student bloggers, but those at MIT are unusually candid. The school encourages the bloggers it selects each year to write what they want, so among entries about cooking, dormitory drama, and math problems are posts about depression and suicide, about sexual assault, and recently, about racism.

When Anioke’s post went live July 8, he was nervous about the response. He had written about his struggle to find community at MIT because, as someone from Nigeria, he didn’t totally identify with African-American culture.

“Because we’re mostly black [in Nigeria,] ‘being black’ was never a term that was part of my daily vocabulary. You were tall or short or fat or skinny or intelligent or a complete and utter idiot, but you weren’t black. It was as weird as saying ‘you’re human.’ ”

Then one day, he wrote, he was walking home from the Central Square post office in Cambridge and a white man grabbed him, accused him of stealing someone’s wallet, and hurled a racial slur.

“I can’t hide under some fancy little idea that there’s a barrier between black and African, because what matters to these people — you know who these people are — is that they can take one look at the color of your skin, and populate their minds with the entire back story of you,” he wrote.

“They can take one look at you, and before they’re even looking away, they’ve put you — they’ve put us — in this mental catalogue.”

As his post went live, he watched as the social media tickers at the bottom of the page spun. Five thousand, then 10,000, then 26,000 likes, and 1,320 tweets. His post is the blog’s seventh-most-viewed in the past six years, MIT said.

Other posts also have students talking. Sophomore Ben Oberlton’s July 11 post, “Life of a Black Person,” generated lots of conversation. In January, in response to other race-related events on other campuses, rising junior Selam Jie Gano wrote about training the eye to see color, and training people to respect each other. She followed up last week with a post called “Alien in America.”

“The difference between seeing and not seeing incidents of discrimination that happen to others is also about practice,” wrote Jie Gano in the earlier post, which even generated a comment from Reif.

For Anioke, the best part of writing was reading the comments. Unlike the shallow reactions on Facebook that had prompted him to write — comments that implied Castile was somehow partly to blame for being shot — these were thoughtful, filled with people sharing personal stories and messages of understanding.

“I sort of just kept writing and writing until I was done writing,” Anioke said in a phone interview last week. “I felt like I had spoken honesty.”

“Sometimes I wonder, can things change? Can things ever change?” Anioke said. “I do think things can change, we just need enough people to come together.”

SOURCE

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A new Leftist horror coming to Australian education

The press release below is fairly bland and cautious but the Australian organization concerned is an acknowledged branch of the "Ashoka" organization. And if you read here you will see what that is all about. Ashoka is a movement to turn universities away from being mere educational institutions and making them into centres of agitation for "change". No particular change is called for, just change for the sake of change apparently. That rather makes it change as entertainment.

But neophilia is indeed a major Leftist motive, as I showed long ago.  Conservatives by contrast want there to be good reasons for change.  They don't need to abuse the whole society for childish entertainment

One therefore rather wonders whether the taxpayer should be paying for Leftist entertainment.  The taxpasyer already pays for a lot of Leftist propaganda in the universities. Is that not enough?

Given the vast expense of the Australian university system, one would hope for it to be used for serious purposes -- such as transmitting and developing knowledge.  Taking energies away from that can hardly be a right use of university facilities


 A visitor from Glasgow Caledonian University, Julie Adair is keen to expand her ‘Common Good First’ project into Australia, capturing stories of community social impact across a wide range of areas.

 Ms Adair is Director, Digital Collaboration for GCU and also has an extensive background in broadcasting with the BBC and the Walt Disney Company, with experience across several continents.

 Common Good First is a digital exchange of grassroots solutions to pressing social problems, both in the UK and around the world. The Common Good First team has worked with a range of community projects to, first, promote their objectives online and then to investigate how cross-disciplinary academic networks could input innovative approaches to social change in response to the challenges the projects are facing.

 “Stories take us beyond our own limited experiences and allow us to walk in the shoes of others, building knowledge of unknown places and understanding of diverse peoples,” Ms Adair says.

 As her home institution is registered as an ‘Ashoka U Changemaker Campus’, Ms Adair is this week visiting the Melbourne Campus of CQUniversity, which has recently become Australia’s first approved Ashoka U institution.

 She will talk about the project she started in 2015 with two small teams in Scotland and South Africa, each focusing on identifying and capturing stories of community social impact.

 The project focused on individuals within communities who had found innovative ways to solve problems in their community.

 “These activities ranged from re-educating prisoners to raising aspirations for young people in areas of high deprivation; from tackling dementia to supporting orphans and vulnerable children,” Ms Adair says.  “Now in Australia I’m keen to express the importance of storytelling and its role in driving social innovation and also why I’m keen to gather and curate stories from around the world.

 “I’m keen to let people know how they can become part of our exciting project.

More via this

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An amusing example of superficial analysis from the Left

The author below makes a mistake very common among even academic Leftist writers:  Assuming that correlation is causation and that they "know" in which direction the causal arrow points.  One of the first things you learn in Statistics 101 is that correlation is NOT causation and cannot determine causation.

The finding concerned below is a correlation between anti-Muslim sentiment among the host population and pro-ISIS sentiment among the local Muslim population. Inferred from that is that anti-Muslim sentiment drives Muslims into the arms of ISIS. And indeed it may do.  But let's look a bit further back along the causal chain.  Could it be that anti-Muslim sentiment is high in some areas because Muslims seem particularly obnoxious in certain areas?  So the causal chain runs:  Obnoxious Muslim behaviour ==> Anti-Muslim sentiment ==> ISIS-liking Muslims.  Or maybe ISIS-liking Muslims ==> Obnoxious Muslim behaviour ==> anti-Muslim sentiment.

It could be any or all of those things.  The case is indeterminant without proper before-and-after research.  I append to the article below the academic journal abstract and I note that the author there quietly admits towards the end of the abstract that the results are largely driven by "reverse causation", which I take to mean the sort of causal chains I have outlined.  But it's all just opinion, of course.

Finally, let me flesh out out briefly what I suspect really underlay the findings.  Anti-Muslim sentiment is huge in the old East Germany.  Why would that be?  Because the East retains at some level the values drummed into them by their old Communist regime: which are values of brotherhood and solidarity between people.  And Muslims breach that.  By holding themselves apart in so many ways, they destroy social solidarity.  They offend against basic East German values.  So even if they are not in fact unusually obnoxious in the East Muslims will be seen as unusually obnoxious there

So the East German case is pretty clear.  In other countries other or similar influences may be at work.  In Britain, for instance, anti-immigrant sentiment is by far the strongest in the North, as we saw in the Brexit vote.  And where is the North ideologically?  Solidly socialist.  They are the great redoubt of the British Labour party.  And as such they too have strong values of brotherhood and social solidarity.  So we see again that anti-Muslim sentiment is in fact associated with LEFTISM.  Not the Leftism of the elites, of course, but the Leftism of the people. The gulf between the Leftism of the elites and the Leftism of the people has of course been much discussed in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

And who in history was by far the greatest hater of minorities?  The socialist Hitler.  Hitler united socialist and nationalist thinking in the propaganda placard below -- a Wochenspruch for the Gau Weser/Ems. The saying is, "Es gibt keinen Sozialismus, der nicht aufgeht im eigenen Volk" -- which I translate as "There is no socialism except what arises within its own people". You need social solidarity to have real socialism, in other words. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.




MANY PEOPLE WANT their political leaders to take a harder line with immigrants and Muslims, but new research suggests that this approach may, as President Obama has repeatedly asserted, make us less safe.

A political scientist (who “worked four years as a counterterrorism research officer in the Israeli Directorate of Military Intelligence”) scoured about 15,000 accounts of ISIS activists and their social networks on Twitter. She “matched users’ location data to local-level administrative data” and found that “local-level vote share for far-right, anti-Muslim parties in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Belgium is a significant predictor of online radicalization.

In substantive terms, an increase of one percentage point in the local-level vote share for far-right parties is associated with a 6 percent, and 3 percent increase, respectively, in the probability of a user being flagged as ISIS-affiliated and being among the top 1 percent posters of radical content.”

Local unemployment or immigration were not associated with pro-ISIS Twitter activity; in fact, “the proportion of asylum seekers and/or asylum seeker centers in a location is negatively linked to these radicalization outcomes.”

The fact that pro-ISIS Twitter activity increased right after anti-Muslim protests across Europe on Feb. 6, 2016 — but only in those areas with high levels of far-right, anti-Muslim voting — suggests that local voter attitudes are driving local radicalization, not the other way around.

SOURCE

From Isolation to Radicalization: The Socioeconomic Predictors of Support for ISIS in the West

Tamar Mitts

Abstract:    

The steady stream of foreign fighters from Western countries to join the Islamic State has gripped the attention of scholars and policymakers around the world. In this paper, I provide the first systematic micro-level study of the socioeconomic predictors of online radicalization and support for ISIS in Europe. I argue that lack of integration in Western countries, coupled with anti-Muslim discrimination and hostility, drives individuals to support ISIS on social media. From December 2015 to May 2016, I collected real-time data on the activity of thousands of ISIS activists and the full social network of their followers on Twitter, a central platform for the organization’s recruitment efforts. I captured and analyzed the online activity and textual content produced by ISIS supporters before their accounts were deleted from the Internet. Using data on the geographic location of ISIS supporters, I matched online radicalization indicators with offline data on voteshare for far-right, anti-Muslim parties in Europe to examine whether the intensity of anti-Muslim hostility at the local level predicts support for ISIS on Twitter. Results show that local-level support for far-right parties is a significant and substantively meaningful determinant of pro-ISIS radicalization online, including posting tweets sympathizing with ISIS, describing life in ISIS-controlled territories, discussing foreign fighters, and expressing anti-West sentiment. An event study of the marches organized by the anti-Muslim movement PEGIDA in 2016 suggests that the results are not entirely driven by reverse causality. Of particular relevance to the current debate over refugee policy, I also find that the number of foreigners or asylum seekers in a locality are not significant predictors of radicalization.

SOURCE

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Australia's First Modern Decline In Life Expectancy Due To Obesity

The headline above is as it appeared in the Puffington Host.  It is a crock.  You would think from it that Australian lifespans HAVE decreased.  They have not.  It is just another stupid Leftist theory that they might decrease -- even though they never have in recent decades.  There are many influences on lifespan, with obesity being only a minor one.

And a supreme piece of idiocy in the article below is that it takes no account of the TREND in obesity.  It takes no account of the fact that in many populations, obesity has stopped rising, and has even been declining in some populations over the last 10 years.  So even if we treat every word below as gospel, we don't know WHEN it refers to.  It may simply be a description of how things WERE.

Saying that lifespans will be reduced on the basis of a questionable assumption that obesity levels will increase is therefore an unsupported extrapolation and is very likely a wrong one for at least some groups -- a false prophecy.

I append the underlying journal article.  There is much of interest in it.  It is for a start a meta-analysis and it is amazing what people can get and do get out of a meta-analysis -- by selecting what you decide to include or exclude. Authors are very good at excluding from their analysis articles whose conclusions they dislike.

The original article appeared in the "Lancet", which was once a rightly respected journal.  Sad to say, the "Lancet" these days is Left-led. It even involved itself in propaganda about the Iraq war.  So biased meta-analyses in service of a "good cause" can be expected from it.  The obesity "war" is definitely a "good cause".

Secondly, there is much dispute now over whether BMI is a good index of obesity.  Very fit people can sometimes have a high BMI even though they have virtually no fat on them.

Thirdly, all the effects were very small, with Hazard Ratios below 2.0 except for the grossly obese.  The Federal Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Second Edition says (p. 384): "the threshold for concluding that an agent was more likely than not the cause of an individual's disease is a relative risk greater than 2.0."

So the only real concern is for the GROSSLY obese. That is in line with much previous research so the whole article below is just puffery. There are no substantial grounds to be concerned for the health of anybody over nearly all of the weight range


Australia has experienced an unprecedented collective weight gain over the last three decades and it could lead to the first modern decline in life expectancy.

A new mega-study on four million adults proved for the first time that an unhealthy Body Mass Index had a direct correlation with premature death.

The study published in British medical journal The Lancet found that for every increase in BMI unit after the overweight range, there was an increase in the risk of premature death by around one third.
This increased risk related to coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, diabetes complications and cancer.

Deakin University's World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention professor Anna Peeters said the study pointed to a population-wide catastrophe in Australia.

"With two thirds of Australian adults overweight or obese this underscores the seriousness of current obesity rates for future life expectancy in Australia," Peeters said.

"If we needed yet another reason to step up our efforts to prevent obesity, this is it."

Cancer Council Australia chief executive Sanchia Aranda said cancer was one of the ways morbidity increased the risk of mortality.

"Given the unprecedented population weight gain in Australia over the last 30 years, we can expect to see the number of cancers and cancer deaths related to obesity and overweight increase in the future unless we take action," Aranda said.

SOURCE

Body-mass index and all-cause mortality: individual-participant-data meta-analysis of 239 prospective studies in four continents

Summary

Background

Overweight and obesity are increasing worldwide. To help assess their relevance to mortality in different populations we conducted individual-participant data meta-analyses of prospective studies of body-mass index (BMI), limiting confounding and reverse causality by restricting analyses to never-smokers and excluding pre-existing disease and the first 5 years of follow-up.

Methods

Of 10 625 411 participants in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, and North America from 239 prospective studies (median follow-up 13·7 years, IQR 11·4–14·7), 3 951 455 people in 189 studies were never-smokers without chronic diseases at recruitment who survived 5 years, of whom 385 879 died. The primary analyses are of these deaths, and study, age, and sex adjusted hazard ratios (HRs), relative to BMI 22·5–<25·0 kg/m2.

All-cause mortality was minimal at 20·0–25·0 kg/m2 (HR 1·00, 95% CI 0·98–1·02 for BMI 20·0–<22·5 kg/m2; 1·00, 0·99–1·01 for BMI 22·5–<25·0 kg/m2), and increased significantly both just below this range (1·13, 1·09–1·17 for BMI 18·5–<20·0 kg/m2; 1·51, 1·43–1·59 for BMI 15·0–<18·5) and throughout the overweight range (1·07, 1·07–1·08 for BMI 25·0–<27·5 kg/m2; 1·20, 1·18–1·22 for BMI 27·5–<30·0 kg/m2). The HR for obesity grade 1 (BMI 30·0–<35·0 kg/m2) was 1·45, 95% CI 1·41–1·48; the HR for obesity grade 2 (35·0–<40·0 kg/m2) was 1·94, 1·87–2·01; and the HR for obesity grade 3 (40·0–<60·0 kg/m2) was 2·76, 2·60–2·92. For BMI over 25·0 kg/m2, mortality increased approximately log-linearly with BMI; the HR per 5 kg/m2 units higher BMI was 1·39 (1·34–1·43) in Europe, 1·29 (1·26–1·32) in North America, 1·39 (1·34–1·44) in east Asia, and 1·31 (1·27–1·35) in Australia and New Zealand. This HR per 5 kg/m2 units higher BMI (for BMI over 25 kg/m2) was greater in younger than older people (1·52, 95% CI 1·47–1·56, for BMI measured at 35–49 years vs 1·21, 1·17–1·25, for BMI measured at 70–89 years; pheterogeneity<0·0001), greater in men than women (1·51, 1·46–1·56, vs 1·30, 1·26–1·33; pheterogeneity<0·0001), but similar in studies with self-reported and measured BMI.
Interpretation

The associations of both overweight and obesity with higher all-cause mortality were broadly consistent in four continents. This finding supports strategies to combat the entire spectrum of excess adiposity in many populations.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(16)30175-1


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South Australian "green" energy faltering

When they shut down their last coal-fired electricity generator, S.A. crowed about how their electricity was now wholly "green". That was a typical Greenie lie from the beginning. They rely on importing electricity from Victoria when the wind isn't blowing. And that electricity is generated by burning "dirty" LaTrobe brown coal, the most polluting form of coal.

They thought they could get away with that but now they are hitting problems.  The interconnector from Victoria can only supply so much power and that is often not enough.  So they jack up the prices of their electricity when the wind is not blowing.  They equalize supply and demand by penalizing and hence restricting demand from big users -- businesses.

That's such an attack on business that they have begun to backtrack.  They are now asking for more output from a big private generator, powered by  -- guess -- a "fossil" fuel -- natural gas.  The Green is now pretty brown at the edges and it will get browner as the folly of "sustainable" power makes itself felt. Blackouts are waiting in the wings


A private power station in Adelaide has been asked to boost its output because some of South Australia's biggest businesses have been struggling to cope with a huge jump in their electricity prices at times of peak demand.

The owner of Pelican Point Power Station in Adelaide's north-west, Engie, has been asked by the SA Government to provide an extra 239 megawatts of supply.

The Government said a planned outage of the Heywood power interconnector with Victoria, higher gas prices and severe cold weather were to blame for price volatility in the local energy market.

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said there was little the Government could do reduce price fluctuations because of past privatisation of the state's electricity assets.

But Opposition frontbencher Rob Lucas blamed the SA Government's reliance on renewable energy for the surge in electricity prices at times of peak demand.

    "The massive rush into wind energy and alternative energy in South Australia, without ensuring the continuation of base load power, is the major problem that we've got here in South Australia," he said.

SOURCE



0 comments


Earth's clouds are shifting towards its poles

LOL!  By applying heavy "corrections" to their data they got a story that would correspond to global warming theory.  I don't know where to start here, it's such a hoot.  Could there have been some bias in the "corrections"?  One would have to be naive to dismiss it.

And why did they not segregate their data into the 20th and 21st centuries?  If their theories are right that would have been a splendid way to test them. If the clouds kept moving polewards in C21, that would disprove their theory -- as there was no statistically significant warming in C21 until last year.  They obviously did NOT want to test their theory.

And what they say is wrong anyway. They found "growing dry regions" as rain-bearing clouds move polewards.  But what about the Sahel?  The Sahel is actually in the tropics so should be very strongly affected by what they claim.  And it is a very large dry region so would seem an excellent test of their theory.  So has the Sahel got any drier?  To the contrary, it has shrunk in recent years.  Much that was once desert is now green.   That's one test of their junk theory that they could not fudge -- and the theory fails its test abjectly

Journal article appended


Bands of cloud cover that swirl around the globe are slowly creeping towards the poles, causing dry regions to expand around the equator, climate scientists have warned.

Using satellite data captured between the 1980s and 2000s, researchers found that channels of cloud cover which carry storms around the globe have shifted closer to the poles over time.

As well as poleward shift in cover and expanding dry regions, they findings show the height of cloud tops have increased at all latitudes, all of which impacts on the global climate and agree with predictions for the impact of climate change.

Cloud cover is a key factor in regulating the planet's temperature, with cover reflecting solar radiation back into space or acting as a blanket to keep surface heat from escaping, depending on the type and thickness of clouds.

But while the effects of such a variable system are almost impossible to decipher in the short term, over a period of decades long-term trends begin to emerge.

Led by climate scientists at the University of California, the team was able to correct the satellite data from several sources to show such long term trends, removing errors and inaccuracies from satellite sensors and erroneous trends.

They found that dry bands over the subtropical regions are expanded – a belt which covers regions including the Southern United States, North Africa and Central Australia – and the height of cloud tops at all latitudes has increased.

Climate scientists in the US looked at several datasets going back to the early 1980s.

By removing errors caused by satellite sensors, incorrectly calibrated systems and countering for erroneous trends, they were able to show long-term trends in cloud coverage.

They found the band of clouds which carries tropical storms around the planet have moved from the subtropical regions towards the poles.

But in their wake, they have further opened up dry areas in subtropical regions – in a belt which covers regions including the Southern United States, North Africa and Central Australia.

What's more, they found the height of cloud tops at all latitudes has increased.

The researchers have said that their observations align with predictions previously made in complex climate models.

They say the findings agree with climate models, which predict a warming climate will be accompanied with less cloud coverage in the tropics and growing dry regions.

'What this paper brings to the table is the first credible demonstration that the cloud changes we expect from climate models and theory are currently happening,' said Professor Joel Norris, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institute for Oceanography in California, who led the research.

According to the researchers, the effect on cloud cover has been caused by a combination of greenhouse gases from human activity over several decades.

But compounding this warming effect is the bounce back from two large volcanic eruptions – the El Chichón eruption in Mexico in 1982 and the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines – which had a far reaching cooling effect on the climate.

When combined, these two factors result in a positive feedback loop, warming the climate.

SOURCE

Evidence for climate change in the satellite  cloud record

Joel R. Norris et al

Summary

Clouds substantially affect Earth’s energy budget by reflecting solar radiation back to space and by restricting emission of thermal radiation to space. They are perhaps the largest uncertainty in our understanding of climate change, owing to disagreement among climate models and observational datasets over what cloud changes have occurred during recent decades and will occur in response to global warming. This is because observational systems originally designed for monitoring weather have lacked sufficient stability to detect cloud changes reliably over decades unless they have been corrected to remove artefacts.

Here we show that several independent, empirically corrected satellite records exhibit large-scale patterns of cloud change between the 1980s and the 2000s that are similar to those produced by model simulations of climate with recent historical external radiative forcing. Observed and simulated cloud change patterns are consistent with poleward retreat of mid-latitude storm tracks, expansion of subtropical dry zones, and increasing height of the highest cloud tops at all latitudes. The primary drivers of these cloud changes appear to be increasing greenhouse gas concentrations and a recovery from volcanic radiative cooling. These results indicate that the cloud changes most consistently predicted by global climate models are currently occurring in nature.

SOURCE.  [doi:10.1038/nature18273]

2 comments
When and Why Nationalism Beats Globalism: And how moral psychology can help explain and reduce tensions between the two

JONATHAN HAIDT is, as usual, the soul of moderation below and I agree with much of his analysis. He makes a point few Leftists make:  That "racists" are not usually objecting to the race or skin color of another group but rather to things that go with that race or skin color.  So he sees most ascriptions of "racism" to non-Leftists as missing the point.  It is an avoidance of the real issues.

Where I think Haidt goes wrong is in his trust of the work of Karen Stenner and her odd concept of "authoritarianism".  The scale she uses to measure that concept may not measure anything at all.  For a start, its internal reliability is disastrously low.  Where a coefficient alpha of .70 is normally required in a research instrument, the Stenner scale has shown alphas of less than .30.  In normal psychometric practice, that indicates that a scale does not measure ANYTHING.

But that is not the only fault of the Stenner intrument. The questions they used to assess authoritarianism were "forced-choice" questions.  A typical question was:

"Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: to be considerate or to be well-behaved?".

The option you chose was supposed to indicate whether you are authoritarian or not.  But what if you thought that BOTH attributes are important?  What if you wanted a kid who was BOTH considerate AND well-behaved?  The form of the question prevents you from saying that.  So the answers given might not well represent what the person actually thinks.

So is that naive form of question construction actually misleading?  It is. If the people don't like the choices they are offered, what is likely to happen is that a "Donkey vote" effect will result: If the choices in a forced-choice scale are labelled "a" and "b", the Donkey voter will, at the extreme, simply tick all the "a"s.  And I showed in my own survey research years ago that forced choice questions can push the results in a direction more or less opposite to what occurs with more straightforward questions

So Stenner's "findings" do not show what she thinks they do.  If her findings show anything at all, it may arise from the fact that she in fact asks about child-rearing attitudes in her scale of "authoritarianism". But scales measuring child-rearing attitudes correlate very highly with fundamentalist Christian beliefs. By Stenner's measures, most Republicans look like “authoritarians” because so many are conservative Christians who advocate strict child-rearing practices. This is also why Bernie Sanders’s supporters are so much less "authoritarian" than Hillary Clinton’s — “Berners” are much less religious than other Democrats.

So I respectfully suggest to Prof. Haidt that the "authoritarians" he talks about may in fact just be Christians. That surely requires a re-think.  Although Leftists customarily assume the opposite, I list here 16 studies -- with references -- that show that child rearing attitudes and experiences do NOT predict authoritarianism.

So I think  Haidt is right in saying that conservatives have good and rational reasons for objecting to mass immigration of incompatible people.

Curiously, however, he looks at the psychology of conservatives only.  When it comes to the internationalists he eschews any psychological enquiry at all. He gives sociological reasons only to explain why internationalists think what they do.  Although he is a psychologist, he makes no attempt to look into their minds.

But their behaviour reveals clearly what is in their minds.  They are very hostile and angry people, as Yancey documents in his book. And the thing they hate most is their own society.  They want to "fundamentally transform" it, in Mr Obama's words.  And what better way to attack the existing society than to bring into it large numbers of people who will disrupt it in various ways?  The very lax attitude to immigration during the Blair regime in Britain was eventually admitted to be a conscious attack on British "complacency".  The big immigration problems both the UK and the USA have at the moment are entirely traceable to the haters of the Left.

Finally, let me suggest that it is fitting that the first decisive break with the internationalists, Brexit, should have come from Britain.  Britain has much to be proud of and no other country  retains and displays her national traditions so opulently and to such popular acclaim.  See below for one sketch of it:




What on earth is going on in the Western democracies? From the rise of Donald Trump in the United States and an assortment of right-wing parties across Europe through the June 23 Brexit vote, many on the Left have the sense that something dangerous and ugly is spreading: right-wing populism, seen as the Zika virus of politics. Something has gotten into “those people” that makes them vote in ways that seem—to their critics—likely to harm their own material interests, at least if their leaders follow through in implementing isolationist policies that slow economic growth.

Most analyses published since the Brexit vote focus on economic factors and some version of the “left behind” thesis—globalization has raised prosperity all over the world, with the striking exception of the working classes in Western societies. These less educated members of the richest countries lost access to well-paid but relatively low-skilled jobs, which were shipped overseas or given to immigrants willing to work for less. In communities where wages have stagnated or declined, the ever-rising opulence, rents, and confidence of London and other super-cities has bred resentment.

A smaller set of analyses, particularly in the United States, has focused on the psychological trait of authoritarianism to explain why these populist movements are often so hostile to immigration, and why they usually have an outright racist fringe.

Globalization and authoritarianism are both essential parts of the story, but in this essay I will put them together in a new way. I’ll tell a story with four chapters that begins by endorsing the distinction made by the intellectual historian Michael Lind, and other commentators, between globalists and nationalists—these are good descriptions of the two teams of combatants emerging in so many Western nations. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front, pointed to the same dividing line last December when she portrayed the battle in France as one between “globalists” and “patriots.”

But rather than focusing on the nationalists as the people who need to be explained by experts, I’ll begin the story with the globalists. I’ll show how globalization and rising prosperity have changed the values and behavior of the urban elite, leading them to talk and act in ways that unwittingly activate authoritarian tendencies in a subset of the nationalists. I’ll show why immigration has been so central in nearly all right-wing populist movements. It’s not just the spark, it’s the explosive material, and those who dismiss anti-immigrant sentiment as mere racism have missed several important aspects of moral psychology related to the general human need to live in a stable and coherent moral order. Once moral psychology is brought into the story and added on to the economic and authoritarianism explanations, it becomes possible to offer some advice for reducing the intensity of the recent wave of conflicts.

Chapter One: The Rise of the Globalists

As nations grow prosperous, their values change in predictable ways. The most detailed longitudinal research on these changes comes from the World Values Survey, which asks representative samples of people in dozens of countries about their values and beliefs. The WVS has now collected and published data in six “waves” since the early 1980s; the most recent survey included sixty countries. Nearly all of the countries are now far wealthier than they were in the 1980s, and many made a transition from communism to capitalism and from dictatorship to democracy in the interim. How did these momentous changes affect their values?

Each country has followed a unique trajectory, but if we zoom out far enough some general trends emerge from the WVS data. Countries seem to move in two directions, along two axes: first, as they industrialize, they move away from “traditional values” in which religion, ritual, and deference to authorities are important, and toward “secular rational” values that are more open to change, progress, and social engineering based on rational considerations. Second, as they grow wealthier and more citizens move into the service sector, nations move away from “survival values” emphasizing the economic and physical security found in one’s family, tribe, and other parochial groups, toward “self-expression” or “emancipative values” that emphasize individual rights and protections—not just for oneself, but as a matter of principle, for everyone. Here is a summary of those changes from the introduction to Christian Welzel’s enlightening book Freedom Rising:

…fading existential pressures [i.e., threats and challenges to survival] open people’s minds, making them prioritize freedom over security, autonomy over authority, diversity over uniformity, and creativity over discipline. By the same token, persistent existential pressures keep people’s minds closed, in which case they emphasize the opposite priorities…the existentially relieved state of mind is the source of tolerance and solidarity beyond one’s in-group; the existentially stressed state of mind is the source of discrimination and hostility against out-groups.

Democratic capitalism—in societies with good rule of law and non-corrupt institutions—has generated steady increases in living standards and existential security for many decades now. As societies become more prosperous and safe, they generally become more open and tolerant. Combined with vastly greater access to the food, movies, and consumer products of other cultures brought to us by globalization and the internet, this openness leads almost inevitably to the rise of a cosmopolitan attitude, usually most visible in the young urban elite. Local ties weaken, parochialism becomes a dirty word, and people begin to think of their fellow human beings as fellow “citizens of the world” (to quote candidate Barack Obama in Berlin in 2008). The word “cosmopolitan” comes from Greek roots meaning, literally, “citizen of the world.” Cosmopolitans embrace diversity and welcome immigration, often turning those topics into litmus tests for moral respectability.

For example, in 2012, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave a speech that included the phrase, “British jobs for British workers.” The phrase provoked anger and scorn from many of Brown’s colleagues in the Labour party. In an essay in Prospect, David Goodhart described the scene at a British center-left social event a few days after Brown’s remark:

The people around me entered a bidding war to express their outrage at Brown’s slogan which was finally triumphantly closed by one who declared, to general approval, that it was “racism, pure and simple.” I remember thinking afterwards how odd the conversation would have sounded to most other people in this country. Gordon Brown’s phrase may have been clumsy and cynical but he didn’t actually say British jobs for white British workers. In most other places in the world today, and indeed probably in Britain itself until about 25 years ago, such a statement about a job preference for national citizens would have seemed so banal as to be hardly worth uttering. Now the language of liberal universalism has ruled it beyond the pale.

The shift that Goodhart notes among the Left-leaning British elite is related to the shift toward “emancipative” values described by Welzel. Parochialism is bad and universalism is good. Goodhart quotes George Monbiot, a leading figure of the British Left:

Internationalism…tells us that someone living in Kinshasa is of no less worth than someone living in Kensington…. Patriotism, if it means anything, tells us we should favour the interests of British people [before the Congolese]. How do you reconcile this choice with liberalism? How…do you distinguish it from racism?

Monbiot’s claim that patriotism is indistinguishable from racism illustrates the universalism that has characterized elements of the globalist Left in many Western nations for several decades. John Lennon wrote the globalist anthem in 1971. After asking us to imagine that there’s no heaven, and before asking us to imagine no possessions, Lennon asks us to:

"Imagine there’s no countries; it isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be one"

This is a vision of heaven for multicultural globalists. But it’s naiveté, sacrilege, and treason for nationalists.

Chapter Two: Globalists and Nationalists Grow Further Apart on Immigration

Nationalists see patriotism as a virtue; they think their country and its culture are unique and worth preserving. This is a real moral commitment, not a pose to cover up racist bigotry. Some nationalists do believe that their country is better than all others, and some nationalisms are plainly illiberal and overtly racist. But as many defenders of patriotism have pointed out, you love your spouse because she or he is yours, not because you think your spouse is superior to all others. Nationalists feel a bond with their country, and they believe that this bond imposes moral obligations both ways: Citizens have a duty to love and serve their country, and governments are duty bound to protect their own people. Governments should place their citizens interests above the interests of people in other countries.

There is nothing necessarily racist or base about this arrangement or social contract. Having a shared sense of identity, norms, and history generally promotes trust. Having no such shared sense leads to the condition that the sociologist Émile Durkheim described as “anomie” or normlessness. Societies with high trust, or high social capital, produce many beneficial outcomes for their citizens: lower crime rates, lower transaction costs for businesses, higher levels of prosperity, and a propensity toward generosity, among others. A liberal nationalist can reasonably argue that the debate over immigration policy in Europe is not a case of what is moral versus what is base, but a case of two clashing moral visions, incommensurate (à la Isaiah Berlin). The trick, from this point of view, is figuring out how to balance reasonable concerns about the integrity of one’s own community with the obligation to welcome strangers, particularly strangers in dire need.

So how have nationalists and globalists responded to the European immigration crisis? For the past year or two we’ve all seen shocking images of refugees washing up alive and dead on European beaches, marching in long lines across south eastern Europe, scaling fences, filling train stations, and hiding and dying in trucks and train tunnels. If you’re a European globalist, you were probably thrilled in August 2015 when Angela Merkel announced Germany’s open-door policy to refugees and asylum seekers. There are millions of people in need, and (according to some globalists) national borders are arbitrary and immoral.

But the globalists are concentrated in the capital cities, commercial hubs, and university towns—the places that are furthest along on the values shift found in the World Values Survey data. Figure 1 shows this geographic disjunction in the UK, using data collected in 2014. Positive sentiment toward immigrants is plotted on the Y axis, and desire for Britain to leave the EU on the X axis. Residents of Inner London are extreme outliers on both dimensions when compared to other cities and regions of the UK, and even when compared to residents of outer London.

But if you are a European nationalist, watching the nightly news may have felt like watching the spread of the Zika virus, moving steadily northward from the chaos zones of southwest Asia and north Africa. Only a few right-wing nationalist leaders tried to stop it, such as Victor Orban in Hungary. The globalist elite seemed to be cheering the human tidal wave onward, welcoming it into the heart of Europe, and then demanding that every country accept and resettle a large number of refugees.

And these demands, epicentered in Brussels, came after decades of debate in which nationalists had been arguing that Europe has already been too open and had already taken in so many Muslim immigrants that the cultures and traditions of European societies were threatened. Long before the flow of Syrian asylum seekers arrived in Europe there were initiatives to ban minarets in Switzerland and burkas in France. There were riots in Arab neighborhoods of Paris and Marseilles, and attacks on Jews and synagogues throughout Europe. There were hidden terrorist cells that planned and executed the attacks of September 11 in the United States, attacks on trains and buses in Madrid and London, and the slaughter of the Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris.

By the summer of 2015 the nationalist side was already at the boiling point, shouting “enough is enough, close the tap,” when the globalists proclaimed, “let us open the floodgates, it’s the compassionate thing to do, and if you oppose us you are a racist.” Might that not provoke even fairly reasonable people to rage? Might that not make many of them more receptive to arguments, ideas, and political parties that lean toward the illiberal side of nationalism and that were considered taboo just a few years earlier?

Chapter Three: Muslim Immigration Triggers the Authoritarian Alarm

Nationalists in Europe have been objecting to mass immigration for decades, so the gigantic surge of asylum seekers in 2015 was bound to increase their anger and their support for right-wing nationalist parties. Globalists tend to explain these reactions as “racism, pure and simple,” or as the small-minded small-town selfishness of people who don’t want to lose either jobs or benefits to foreigners.

Racism is clearly evident in some of the things that some nationalists say in interviews, chant at soccer matches, or write on the Internet with the protection of anonymity. But “racism” is a shallow term when used as an explanation. It asserts that there are some people who just don’t like anyone different from themselves—particularly if they have darker skin. They have no valid reason for this dislike; they just dislike difference, and that’s all we need to know to understand their rage.

But that is not all we need to know. On closer inspection, racism usually turns out to be deeply bound up with moral concerns. (I use the term “moral” here in a purely descriptive sense to mean concerns that seem—for the people we are discussing—to be matters of good and evil; I am not saying that racism is in fact morally good or morally correct.) People don’t hate others just because they have darker skin or differently shaped noses; they hate people whom they perceive as having values that are incompatible with their own, or who (they believe) engage in behaviors they find abhorrent, or whom they perceive to be a threat to something they hold dear. These moral concerns may be out of touch with reality, and they are routinely amplified by demagogues. But if we want to understand the recent rise of right-wing populist movements, then “racism” can’t be the stopping point; it must be the beginning of the inquiry.

Among the most important guides in this inquiry is the political scientist Karen Stenner. In 2005 Stenner published a book called The Authoritarian Dynamic, an academic work full of graphs, descriptions of regression analyses, and discussions of scholarly disputes over the nature of authoritarianism. (It therefore has not had a wide readership.) Her core finding is that authoritarianism is not a stable personality trait. It is rather a psychological predisposition to become intolerant when the person perceives a certain kind of threat. It’s as though some people have a button on their foreheads, and when the button is pushed, they suddenly become intensely focused on defending their in-group, kicking out foreigners and non-conformists, and stamping out dissent within the group. At those times they are more attracted to strongmen and the use of force. At other times, when they perceive no such threat, they are not unusually intolerant. So the key is to understand what pushes that button.
The answer, Stenner suggests, is what she calls “normative threat,” which basically means a threat to the integrity of the moral order (as they perceive it). It is the perception that “we” are coming apart:

"The experience or perception of disobedience to group authorities or authorities unworthy of respect, nonconformity to group norms or norms proving questionable, lack of consensus in group values and beliefs and, in general, diversity and freedom ‘run amok’ should activate the predisposition and increase the manifestation of these characteristic attitudes and behaviors"

So authoritarians are not being selfish. They are not trying to protect their wallets or even their families. They are trying to protect their group or society. Some authoritarians see their race or bloodline as the thing to be protected, and these people make up the deeply racist subset of right-wing populist movements, including the fringe that is sometimes attracted to neo-Nazism. They would not even accept immigrants who fully assimilated to the culture. But more typically, in modern Europe and America, it is the nation and its culture that nationalists want to preserve.

Stenner identifies authoritarians in her many studies by the degree to which they endorse a few items about the most important values children should learn at home, for example, “obedience” (vs. “independence” and “tolerance and respect for other people”). She then describes a series of studies she did using a variety of methods and cross-national datasets. In one set of experiments she asked Americans to read fabricated news stories about how their nation is changing. When they read that Americans are changing in ways that make them more similar to each other, authoritarians were no more racist and intolerant than others.

But when Stenner gave them a news story suggesting that Americans are becoming more morally diverse, the button got pushed, the “authoritarian dynamic” kicked in, and they became more racist and intolerant. For example, “maintaining order in the nation” became a higher national priority while “protecting freedom of speech” became a lower priority. They became more critical of homosexuality, abortion, and divorce.

One of Stenner’s most helpful contributions is her finding that authoritarians are psychologically distinct from “status quo conservatives” who are the more prototypical conservatives—cautious about radical change. Status quo conservatives compose the long and distinguished lineage from Edmund Burke’s prescient reflections and fears about the early years of the French revolution through William F. Buckley’s statement that his conservative magazine National Review would “stand athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’”

Status quo conservatives are not natural allies of authoritarians, who often favor radical change and are willing to take big risks to implement untested policies. This is why so many Republicans—and nearly all conservative intellectuals—oppose Donald Trump; he is simply not a conservative by the test of temperament or values. But status quo conservatives can be drawn into alliance with authoritarians when they perceive that progressives have subverted the country’s traditions and identity so badly that dramatic political actions (such as Brexit, or banning Muslim immigration to the United States) are seen as the only remaining way of yelling “Stop!” Brexit can seem less radical than the prospect of absorption into the “ever closer union” of the EU.

So now we can see why immigration—particularly the recent surge in Muslim immigration from Syria—has caused such powerfully polarized reactions in so many European countries, and even in the United States where the number of Muslim immigrants is low. Muslim Middle Eastern immigrants are seen by nationalists as posing a far greater threat of terrorism than are immigrants from any other region or religion. But Stenner invites us to look past the security threat and examine the normative threat. Islam asks adherents to live in ways that can make assimilation into secular egalitarian Western societies more difficult compared to other groups. (The same can be said for Orthodox Jews, and Stenner’s authoritarian dynamic can help explain why we are seeing a resurgence of right-wing anti-Semitism in the United States.)

Muslims don’t just observe different customs in their private lives; they often request and receive accommodations in law and policy from their host countries, particularly in matters related to gender. Some of the most pitched battles of recent decades in France and other European countries have been fought over the veiling and covering of women, and the related need for privacy and gender segregation. For example, some public swimming pools in Sweden now offer times of day when only women are allowed to swim. This runs contrary to strong Swedish values regarding gender equality and non-differentiation.

So whether you are a status quo conservative concerned about rapid change or an authoritarian who is hypersensitive to normative threat, high levels of Muslim immigration into your Western nation are likely to threaten your core moral concerns.

But as soon as you speak up to voice those concerns, globalists will scorn you as a racist and a rube. When the globalists—even those who run the center-right parties in your country—come down on you like that, where can you turn? The answer, increasingly, is to the far right-wing nationalist parties in Europe, and to Donald Trump, who just engineered a hostile takeover of the Republican Party in America.

The Authoritarian Dynamic was published in 2005 and the word “Muslim” occurs just six times (in contrast to 100 appearances of the word “black”). But Stenner’s book offers a kind of Rosetta stone for interpreting the rise of right-wing populism and its focus on Muslims in 2016. Stenner notes that her theory “explains the kind of intolerance that seems to ‘come out of nowhere,’ that can spring up in tolerant and intolerant cultures alike, producing sudden changes in behavior that cannot be accounted for by slowly changing cultural traditions.”

She contrasts her theory with those who see an unstoppable tide of history moving away from traditions and “toward greater respect for individual freedom and difference,” and who expect people to continue evolving “into more perfect liberal democratic citizens.“ She does not say which theorists she has in mind, but Welzel and his World Values Survey collaborators, as well as Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis, seem to be likely candidates. Stenner does not share the optimism of those theorists about the future of Western liberal democracies. She acknowledges the general trends toward tolerance, but she predicts that these very trends create conditions that hyper-activate authoritarians and produce a powerful backlash. She offered this prophecy:

"[T]he increasing license allowed by those evolving cultures generates the very conditions guaranteed to goad latent authoritarians to sudden and intense, perhaps violent, and almost certainly unexpected, expressions of intolerance. Likewise, then, if intolerance is more a product of individual psychology than of cultural norms…we get a different vision of the future, and a different understanding of whose problem this is and will be, than if intolerance is an almost accidental by-product of simple attachment to tradition. The kind of intolerance that springs from aberrant individual psychology, rather than the disinterested absorption of pervasive cultural norms, is bound to be more passionate and irrational, less predictable, less amenable to persuasion, and more aggravated than educated by the cultural promotion of tolerance"

Writing in 2004, Stenner predicted that “intolerance is not a thing of the past, it is very much a thing of the future.”

Chapter Four: What Now?

The upshot of all this is that the answer to the question we began with—What on Earth is going on?—cannot be found just by looking at the nationalists and pointing to their economic conditions and the racism that some of them do indeed display.

One must first look at the globalists, and at how their changing values may drive many of their fellow citizens to support right-wing political leaders. In particular, globalists often support high levels of immigration and reductions in national sovereignty; they tend to see transnational entities such as the European Union as being morally superior to nation-states; and they vilify the nationalists and their patriotism as “racism pure and simple.” These actions press the “normative threat” button in the minds of those who are predisposed to authoritarianism, and these actions can drive status quo conservatives to join authoritarians in fighting back against the globalists and their universalistic projects.

If this argument is correct, then it leads to a clear set of policy prescriptions for globalists. First and foremost: Think carefully about the way your country handles immigration and try to manage it in a way that is less likely to provoke an authoritarian reaction. Pay attention to three key variables: the percentage of foreign-born residents at any given time, the degree of moral difference of each incoming group, and the degree of assimilation being achieved by each group’s children.

Legal immigration from morally different cultures is not problematic even with low levels of assimilation if the numbers are kept low; small ethnic enclaves are not a normative threat to any sizable body politic. Moderate levels of immigration by morally different ethnic groups are fine, too, as long as the immigrants are seen as successfully assimilating to the host culture. When immigrants seem eager to embrace the language, values, and customs of their new land, it affirms nationalists’ sense of pride that their nation is good, valuable, and attractive to foreigners. But whenever a country has historically high levels of immigration, from countries with very different moralities, and without a strong and successful assimilationist program, it is virtually certain that there will be an authoritarian counter-reaction, and you can expect many status quo conservatives to support it.

Stenner ends The Authoritarian Dynamic with some specific and constructive advice:

"[A]ll the available evidence indicates that exposure to difference, talking about difference, and applauding difference—the hallmarks of liberal democracy—are the surest ways to aggravate those who are innately intolerant, and to guarantee the increased expression of their predispositions in manifestly intolerant attitudes and behaviors. Paradoxically, then, it would seem that we can best limit intolerance of difference by parading, talking about, and applauding our sameness….

Ultimately, nothing inspires greater tolerance from the intolerant than an abundance of common and unifying beliefs, practices, rituals, institutions, and processes. And regrettably, nothing is more certain to provoke increased expression of their latent predispositions than the likes of “multicultural education,” bilingual policies, and nonassimilation"

If Stenner is correct, then her work has profound implications, not just for America, which was the focus of her book, but perhaps even more so for Europe. Donald Tusk, the current president of the European Council, recently gave a speech to a conclave of center-right Christian Democratic leaders (who, as members of the educated elite, are still generally globalists). Painfully aware of the new authoritarian supremacy in his native Poland, he chastised himself and his colleagues for pushing a “utopia of Europe without nation-states.” This, he said, has caused the recent Euroskeptic backlash: “Obsessed with the idea of instant and total integration, we failed to notice that ordinary people, the citizens of Europe, do not share our Euro-enthusiasm.”

Democracy requires letting ordinary citizens speak. The majority spoke in Britain on June 23, and majorities of similar mien may soon make themselves heard in other European countries, and possibly in the United States in November. The year 2016 will likely be remembered as a major turning point in the trajectory of Western democracies. Those who truly want to understand what is happening should carefully consider the complex interplay of globalization, immigration, and changing values.

If the story I have told here is correct, then the globalists could easily speak, act, and legislate in ways that drain passions and votes away from nationalist parties, but this would require some deep rethinking about the value of national identities and cohesive moral communities. It would require abandoning the multicultural approach to immigration and embracing assimilation.

The great question for Western nations after 2016 may be this: How do we reap the gains of global cooperation in trade, culture, education, human rights, and environmental protection while respecting—rather than diluting or crushing—the world’s many local, national, and other “parochial” identities, each with its own traditions and moral order? In what kind of world can globalists and nationalists live together in peace?

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