-- R.G. Menzies
LIBERTARIAN/CONSERVATIVE DIGEST AND COMMENTARY FROM AN ACADEMIC PSYCHOLOGIST in Brisbane, Australia. My academic publications are widely read
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Many people do not believe that Australia's Cardinal George Pell is guilty of child sex offences
Nor do I. We must note that he has not had his opportunity to appeal the verdict yet. It is common for verdicts to be overturned on appeal. So regarding the case as closed could be most unwise and expose those who do leap to conclusions to some contempt. John Crowley of St Patrick’s College in Ballarat certainly runs that risk.
One needs to note that the case boils down to one person's word against another and that fantasies about sexual matters can be readily taken as true when they are not -- as we saw in the hugely disgraceful matter of "Nick" in Britain, who is now being prosecuted for his lies. He wrecked the lives of several people before he was disbelieved
It is reminiscent of the Nick affair that in this matter many of the details the complainant gave were improbable, if not impossible.
That the conviction is very fragile can also be seen in the fact that the first trial of the matter left a hung jury. It was only on retrial that His Eminence was convicted. It seems likely to me that in such a finely balanced matter knowledge of misdeeds by other Catholic clerics swung the verdict towards guilt. That is of course guilt by association, long recognized as a grave injustice
News of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for child sex offences is being greeted with disbelief by shocked Catholics around the world.
Pell is the most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be found guilty of these offences and apparently, some just can’t believe it’s true.
Ed Pentin, the Rome correspondent for the oldest national Catholic newspaper in the United States, the National Catholic Register, has pointed to conspiracy theories circulating in the Vatican that Pell was set up.
“Most people here don’t believe the verdict,” Pentin told the Nine newspapers. “Most here believe Pell is innocent, certainly those who worked with him.”
Pentin said there was scepticism about the guilty verdict because Pell was investigating Vatican corruption and there was suspicion about the timing of the charges.
Suppression orders were lifted in Australia today that has allowed the conviction to be reported, although the judgement was handed down in December and reported by some international news outlets.
In an article for the Register, Pentin notes that after news broke in December about the verdict, a source told him, “People in court saw how flimsy the evidence was.
“This is an act of outrageous malice by a prejudiced jury. The media convicted him long ago in the court of public opinion and he did not receive a fair trial.”
Pell has faced years of negative coverage over what he knew, or should have known, about the activities of paedophile priests including the notorious Gerald Ridsdale, a former friend of Pell’s who was convicted of the abuse and indecent assault of 65 children, some aged as young as four years old.
Pell’s own hometown of Ballarat had such a high incidence of sexual abuse that the city was used as a case study in the final report of the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, which Pell gave evidence at in 2016 via video link from Rome.
Some believe Pell became a poster child for all that went wrong with the way the Catholic Church handled the abuse scandal.
Victorian County Court’s Chief Judge Peter Kidd acknowledged this, telling the jury at his trial that “you must not scapegoat Cardinal Pell”.
Peter Westmore, Pell’s friend of two decades and who attended the trial, told reporters outside the court: “I think the public mind has been so contaminated by the misdeeds of the Catholic Church and by the complaints, which people have raised, which have not been dealt with, that they said, ‘Well, he must have been guilty.’”
Others believe Pell didn’t help himself by refusing to give evidence in his own defence.
“Pell didn’t take the stand, and that definitely made a negative impression; it doesn’t look good if you won’t deny it with your own lips,” one source told the Catholic News Agency in December.
However, Father Frank Brennan, a Jesuit priest who attended some of the Pell proceedings noted that the complainant’s evidence must have been compelling for the Cardinal to be convicted.
The media and public were not allowed to be present when the complainant gave his evidence, which is normal in sexual assault cases.
But the case hinged on this testimony and in the end, the verdict came down to the jury believing the complainant was telling the truth.
“I was very surprised by the verdict. In fact, I was devastated,” Father Brennan wrote in an opinion piece in The Australian.
He noted that Pell’s defence barrister, Robert Richter QC had poked holes in the complainant’s evidence but ultimately the jury had still found the Cardinal guilty.
“Although the complainant got all sorts of facts wrong, the jury must have believed that Pell did something dreadful to him,” Father Brennan wrote.
“The jurors must have judged the complainant to be honest and reliable even though many of the details he gave were improbable if not impossible.”
Pell’s old school St Patrick’s College in Ballarat has also announced it will remove the Cardinal’s name from a building that had been named in his honour. It will also revoke his status as a Legend of the school and a line will be struck through his name on a College honour board listing ordained former students.
“The jury’s verdict demonstrates that Cardinal Pell’s behaviours have not met the standards we expect of those we honour as role models for the young men we educate,” the school’s headmaster John Crowley said.
Mr Crowley said the college must respond to the jury’s findings, although it reserves the right to revisit the decision if the conviction is overturned on appeal.
Today Pell’s lawyers confirmed they have lodged an appeal against the conviction and Pentin does not believe it’s likely Pope Francis will take any action until this has been heard.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not commented on Pell’s conviction and either has Liberal MP Tony Abbott, a Catholic and vocal supporter of Pell in the past.
But senators Derryn Hinch and Sarah Hanson-Young are calling for the Cardinal to be stripped of his Companion of the Order of Australia.
Meanwhile, senior Catholic figures in Australia have also expressed shock and disbelief at the verdict.
“While acknowledging the judgment of the jury, I join many people who have been surprised and shaken by the outcome,” Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli said in a statement.
“I fully respect the ongoing judicial process, noting that Cardinal Pell continues to protest his innocence. An appeal against the verdict has been lodged. It is important that we now await the outcome of this appeal, respectful of the ongoing legal proceedings.”
He said his thoughts and prayers were with all victims who had been abused by clergy, religious and lay people in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
“I renew my personal commitment to do all I can to ensure victims of such abuse in Melbourne receive justice and healing,” Archbishop Comensoli said.
“I also acknowledge all in the Catholic Church who are walking with survivors and communities harmed by the scourge of abuse, and who are committed to building a culture of safety for our children and vulnerable people.
“At this time, may I assure you that I keep all involved in my prayer.”
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge released a statement on behalf of national body, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.
“The news of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on historical child sexual abuse charges has shocked many across Australia and around the world, including the Catholic Bishops of Australia,” the statement said.
“The Bishops agree that everyone should be equal under the law, and we respect the Australian legal system.”
Lesbians are FAT
A popular stereotype confirmed. My late sister was a Lesbian and her "friend" was certainly large. But why is it so? The explanations advanced by the authors below are typically Leftist grievance explanations. The real explanation is probably simple. Many Lesbians think like men and men are much less careful of their appearance than women are. So lesbians "let themselves go" as men often do but as women rarely do
It is however a puzzle that the Lesbian sample was much younger than the normal sample. What do we conclude from the expected fact -- which was also the observed fact -- that the older women in general got, the fatter they got (Table 2)? That finding seems wildly contradictory to the headline finding. Going by age, the lesbians should have been slimmer. The two findings could be resolved by saying that young Lesbians tend to be HUGELY overweight but that is seemingly not so. The percentage overweight for lesbians was given as 59.3 versus 57.0 for normals, which is a fairly small difference.
So some puzzles there
Sexual orientation identity in relation to unhealthy body mass index: individual participant data meta-analysis of 93 429 individuals from 12 UK health surveys
J Semlyen et al.
Lesbian, gay and bisexual adults are more likely than heterosexual adults to experience worse health outcomes. Despite increasing public health interest in the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight, no study has considered sexual orientation identity (SOI) and unhealthy BMI categories among adults in the UK population.
Individual participant data meta-analysis using pooled data from population health surveys reporting on 93 429 adults with data on SOI, BMI and study covariates.
Adjusting for covariates and allowing for between-study variation, women identifying as lesbian (OR = 1.41, 95% CI: 1.16, 1.72) or bisexual (OR = 1.24, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.48) were at increased risk of overweight/obesity compared to heterosexual women, but men identifying as gay were at decreased risk (OR = 0.72, 95% CI: 0.61, 0.85) compared to heterosexual men. Increased risk of being underweight was seen for women identifying as ‘other’ (OR = 1.95, 95% CI: 1.07, 3.56), and men identifying as gay (OR = 3.12, 95% CI: 1.83, 5.38), bisexual (OR = 2.30, 95% CI: 1.17, 4.52), ‘other’ (OR = 3.95, 95% CI: 1.85, 8.42).
The emerging picture of health disparities in this population, along with well documented discrimination, indicate that sexual orientation should be considered as a social determinant of health.
Journal of Public Health, 2019 Also here
First mammal declared extinct as a result of human-induced climate change (?)
This is an old fraud. What is not mentioned below is that Melomys exists in their tens of thousands in neighboring areas -- both on islands and on the coast. And I have not seen even the slightest attempt to show that the Melomys on Bramble Cay is in any way unique. As far as we know it is essentially identical with the Melomys in neigboring locations. So when the say that the Bramble Cay melomys is extinct, it is just a slimy way of saying that Melomys is extinct on Bramble Cay, which of zero importance.
The most probable reason for the extinction is clear enough. the cay is a sand island and some big storms in recent years have washed a lot of sand away, taking the vegetation with it. So there is not now enough vegetation to support even a rat. Any connection to global warming is mere speculation
And the cay is only 34 miles South of New Guinea and New Guineans would undoubtedly eat them. Melanesians are poor but are excellent sailors. They normally have very little animal protein in their diet. There are no grazing animals in New Guinea. They were probably all hunted to extinction thousands of years ago. So now all they have is their pigs and an occasional bird. And they can't feed enough pigs to slaughter one very often. So a Melomys would be a treat.
Also, In the past visitors to the island used to shoot them for sport. So how do we know that someone did not do that recently? It's an isolated area with no record of comings and goings
And if inundations were the cause, how do we know that global warming caused them? Sea levels have been rising steadily ever since the Little Ice Age.
And if the factor was more extreme weather events in the area concerned there is no way global warming can be responsible because extreme weather events have in fact be declining on average world wide. And even the IPCC declined to make a link between warming and extreme weather
And there have been many instances of species being declared extinct only for specimens suddenly to pop up again. This is just opportunistic propaganda
This tiny rodent is the first known mammal to become formally extinct as a consequence of human-induced climate change.
The Morrison government, in Australia, changed the status of the Bramble Cay melomys from endangered to extinct on Monday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Geoff Richardson, an environment department official, told Senate estimates on Monday night that research efforts since 2014 – “including a pretty rushed trip in 2015” – had failed to identify any melomys individuals in their only known location on Bramble Cay, a tiny Torres Strait island near Papua New Guinea.
Declaring its extinction “was not a decision to take lightly,” Mr Richardson said. “There’s always a delay while the evidence is gathered to be absolutely certain.”
The rat-like Bramble Cay melomys has not been spotted in its habitat, which is a sandy island in far northern Australia since a decade
The federal extinction listing comes almost three years after the Queensland government reached a similar conclusion, with a finding that the demise of the melomys “probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change”.
The limited range of the animal, living on a five-hectare island less than three metres high, left it vulnerable to climate change.
However, its 2008 “recovery plan”, drawn up when numbers were likely down to just dozens of individuals, downplayed the risks.
“[T]he likely consequences of climate change, including sea-level rise and increase in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms, are unlikely to have any major impact on the survival of the Bramble Cay melomys in the life of this plan,” the five-year scheme stated.
Leeanne Enoch, Queensland’s Environment Minister, said the animal’s extinction showed “we are living the real effects of climate change right now”.
“We have consistently called on [Prime Minister] Scott Morrison and Melissa Price to show leadership on climate change, instead of burying their heads in the sand.”
Minister Melissa Price said: [It is] incredibly disappointing when any species is formally declared extinct, and everybody has feared the worst for some time, given the Bramble Cay melomys hasn’t been sighted since 2009.
“Our agencies will continue to focus their efforts on protecting species identified as priorities, supported by the Government’s $425 million investment in threatened species programs.”
UK.: Man ("Nick") who sparked Westminster child abuse probe in 2014 pleads not guilty to perverting course of justice
Police took his fantasies seriously, despite no corroboration -- resulting in huge disruption to the lives of many innocent men. One of the accused, Harvey Proctor, later said that the investigations had "irreparably ruined my life" and that as a result of the allegations he had lost his house and his job.
The police should be beside "Nick" in the dock. They called their investigation "Operation Midland". Since when did they mount huge investigations of uncorroborated allegations? In an extraordinary case of prejudging the issue, the officer leading the investigation, Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, said in December 2014 that experienced officers had concluded that the allegations were "credible and true", which they certainly were not. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police at the time was the controversial Bernard Hogan-Howe, known for going easy on Muslims.
That nearly all of the accused were prominent conservatives hints at a political motive for these bizarre happenings. Below is the blob they took seriously:
Carl Beech, 51, who was widely known by the name, Nick, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court for a trial preparation hearing, where he pleaded not guilty to 13 separate charges.
The former NHS manager and father of one, is accused of lying to the police when he accused a string of high profile politicians and public figures of abusing him as part of a paedophile ring operating in the 1970s and 80s.
He is also accused of profiting from his lies by making a fraudulent compensation claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
Mr Beech appeared at Newcastle Crown Court via videolink, in front of his honour Judge Paul Sloan QC, Recorder of Newcastle.
Speaking in a loud, clear voice Mr Beech answered not guilty as each as the 13 charges were put to him.
Mr Beech is accused of falsely telling police he been raped and abused for nine years by a VIP gang which included the Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, the former Home Secretary Leon Brittan, the former head of the army, Lord Bramall, the former Tory MP, Harvey Proctor and former Labour MP Greville Janner.
As well as alleging child rape, Mr Beech also told police officers he had witnessed members of the gang murder young boys.
On the back of his claims the Metropolitan Police launched Operation Midland, a £2.5 million investigation, which was closed after 18 months without any arrests having been made.
In July last year the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that Mr Beech was to be charged with 12 counts of perverting the course of justice.
He was also charged with fraud in relation to an allegation that he profited from his allegations by making a £22,000 claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
The trial, which is due to last for eight weeks, is due to begin at Newcastle Crown Court on May 7, in front of Mr Justice Goss.
Mark Latham had a lot to say about domestic violence this morning — and not one word about the Patriarchy (sob!)
In a rather limp-wristed article excerpted below, Gary Nunn has a lot to say about domestic violence but has only a feminist understanding of it. His explanations apply to all men but only a small minority of men engage in domestic violence. So his explanation fails. He says domestic violence is caused by gender inequality. So how come most of those "unequal" males don't bash women?
Domestic violence has real psychological and sociological causes but that does not mean we can do much to prevent it. Most of the time it is an expression of an inadequate personality in the man concerned but inadequate personalities rarely lead to domestic violence so any attempt to predict and prevent it will have little success.
And using domestic violence to slam men in general is absurd. It penalizes many innocent men. But Gary Nunn does not care about that. He goes by the old Leftist thinking: "You've got to break eggs to make an omelette". Stalin's purge of the Kulaks would be OK by him, it seems.
Fortunately his squawks about the "patriarchy" are so old hat that nobody will take any notice of him. He has nothing useful or original to say. Leftists will like the hate in his writings, that is all. He is a freelance writer so hate apparently sells well
Latham is right to say that domestic violence is most rife in Aboriginal communities. I have seen with my own eyes how Aboriginal men treat their women. Has Gary Nunn? So there is the one place where preventive measures might succeed. A greater police presence in Aboriginal communities could give endangered women an escape hatch. But there's no evidence that Gary cares about them
I feel the same way about Mark Latham that Labor probably does: I can’t believe he’s been one of us and wish he’d just go away. By one of us, I mean men. Decent men. He doesn’t deserve that title.
Today, he has said that domestic violence isn’t about patriarchy or toxic masculinity, it’s about socio-economics.
This myth he’s peddling is not just wilfully ignorant but downright dangerous.
Violence against women is driven by one thing, and one thing primarily: gender inequality.
It is absolutely about toxic masculinity and patriarchy. Of course Latham will claim it isn’t. He’s a patriarch and a toxic male.
The necessary social context for violence against women to occur happens within a toxic patriarchy — where men’s control of decision-making limits women’s independence.
Where disrespect towards women and male peer relations emphasise aggression.
Where a condoning or normalising of violence against women and stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity set all the awful conditions for violence to happen.
In his interview, he said, “The demonisation of men is out of control. Fair minded men think it has gone way too far.”
Can every fair-minded man in Australia start by calling this out, please? Do you really want this man to speak for you? It shouldn’t just be left solely to women to — time and again — respond to this vitriolic stirring.
What is out of control is the domestic violence problem in this country. On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner and one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. That’s what you call gone way too far, Mark.
In terms of the socio-economic factors that, he claims, trump the patriarchal and toxic ones, Latham claims that, “Statistics actually show for every middle class man involved in a family or domestic dispute, there are 10 in a public housing estate and 25 in a remote indigenous community — so if you want to look at where the problem is heavily concentrated, it’s not about patriarchy or toxic masculinity, it’s about a socio economic factor and it’s in indigenous communities.”
This is more complex than Latham would have us believe. Socio-economic factors do play a role: those “middle class men” are inflicting violence on women who are less visible in the system. Women with greater access to resources like money, a job, support from friends and family, are more able to escape escalating family violence earlier.
The ones who can’t are the women with no income (often due to male financial control), the women who pack out the full-to-the-brim refuges.
Jacqui Watt, CEO of No to Violence, told news.com.au: “Anyone can be affected by the impacts of family violence, as gender inequality affects all women and children, not only a pocket of people living in low-socio economic areas.
YES ALL MEN
I’m the only male on the Walkley Our Watch 2019 Fellowship, devised to improve the media coverage of violence against women in Australia.
I don’t feel demonised. I feel galvanised. I’ll call out the Lathams wherever and whenever they pop up, and I encourage other men to join me. Yes. All men.
Leftist millionaires show a total inability to think beyond nursery level
Below is a media release from a group calling itself the Patriotic Millionaires. It's typical leftist abuse of language. They are just rich leftists who want to sound good
They write under the heading "Patriotic Millionaires on the $15 Minimum Wage in IL: “Our State Will Thrive” but make the simplest assumptions about what will happen. They just seem to expect that all low income earners will suddenly get more money.
That many of the poor will lose their jobs and get zero dollars as employers transfer their activities to other jurisdictions does not seem to have entered their baby minds. That others will lose their jobs as employers automate more also does not cross their stunted minds.
And many businesses are economically marginal -- particularly in the hospitality sector -- so a sudden increase in their labor costs will simply send them over the edge into liquidation -- throwing employees who were glad to have a job into unemployment.
And most new entry-level jobs will simply not be created. Many entry level jobs exist BECAUSE the low federal minimum wage makes the business activity concerned worthwhile. The potential employer who might have created a job will do his sums using the $15 wage and do something else instead.
Far from helping the poor, this is an attack on jobs for the poor. The poor often need their jobs badly and find it hard to find new ones so this is a really heartless attack by ignorant rich people on poor and needy people who are powerless to answer back
The Trump boom is creating jobs for everyone at every level but the State of Illinois is doing its best to disqualify many of its citizens from participating in that boom. It has made jobs at the lower end of the boom illegal
Note that the job destruction starts right now, even though the $15 hours don't cut in fully until 2025. Businessmen have to plan ahead and it is the $15 level that Illinois businessmen will plug into their planning spreadsheets
Springfield, IL – Today, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that would raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, making Illinois the first midwestern state, and fifth state overall, to bring its minimum wage to $15 an hour. In response, Michael and Joan Pine, Patriotic Millionaires and Illinois residents, issued the following statement:
"Just two years after former Gov. Rauner vetoed similar legislation, Illinois' working families will finally get the boost they deserve.
So long as the federal minimum wage does not keep up with increases in the costs of goods and rising inflation, it will be necessary for states to step in. By Gov. Pritzker making a living wage one of his first priorities, he has shown a commitment to the working class and the businesses that service them. An increase in wages means more money for Illinois families to spend at their local businesses. As a result, our state economy, which relies on consumer spending, will thrive."
Email Sam Quigley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why are the Left returning to Communism?
For most of the 20th century, the Left were angry about disparities in income and power and they thought that government control of just about everything would fix that. Stories about poverty and oppression in the Soviet Union were dismissed as "Lies of the capitalist press". I remember being told that personally by an Australian Communist in the '60s.
Self deception is powerful but it was not powerful enough to withstand the "perestroika" and "glasnost" of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev. When the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union said that Sovetskaya Rossiya had big problems, even the most diehard Leftist had to sit up and take notice. And the complete implosion and breakup of the Soviet Union under Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin threw the whole of Leftist ideology into a cocked hat. Their great examplar of an alternative system to capitalism was gone as if in a puff of wind.
So we all know what happened after that. Talk about money and power took a back seat among the Left. Instead political correctness reigned supreme -- and still does mostly. It was no longer the poor to whom the Left offered their dubious sympathies but rather every downtrodden or disadvantaged group under the sun. They no longer had a grand narrative but they could nag. There have already emerged from the Left some intimations of support for pedophilia so that will undoubtedly blossom in due course. Anything to upset the status quo
Memories are short, however, and the Soviet disappointment no longer is in the mind of many Leftists -- not only young Leftists but also in the aged minds of people like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, who should know better. They probably do know better but count of the ignorance of the masses who never knew much about communism and who have now forgotten what little they knew.
Communism is an extreme expression of envy and envy has always been a strong force politically so it is a very promising road to power among unscrupulous and ambitious frauds. It gave the Left half the world for a time.
So in America we now have a resurgence of the old fraudulent ideas of the 20th century Left. What Bernie Sanders and Occasio Cortez preach is as if communism never happened. The old reality-defying ideas about using vast government legislation to correct imbalances of power and wealth have roared back. America managed to withstand such ideas in the 20th century so we can have good hopes that this new outburst of authoritarianism will not succeed -- but we cannot be complacent.
There is a big article in The Economist that gives a comprehensive but rather skeptical outline of current Leftist thinking.
Gross hypocrisy and Leftist bias in Wikipedia: Altemeyer
Revised and updated
I put up some information on the Wikipedia page for Bob Altemeyer. Altemeyer is a particularly witless Leftist psychologist who made large and derogatory claims about conservatives that he later had to retract. But there was nothing on his Wikipedia page about that retraction. So I put up a brief account of that. What I put up was wholly scholarly and fully referenced -- just what Wikipedia says it wants. But criticism of Leftists is not allowed of course, so my contribution was deleted after only a few days.
I imagine that they will find some quibble to justify their deletion of my entry but I am pretty sure that the outcome would have been different had I praised brainless Bob. Anyway, after a couple of run-ins with them, I have no confidence in being able to navigate my way onto Wikipedia again -- so I am putting up below what I originally submitted to Wikipedia. Altemeyer is an unusual name so a Google search on that name should still find my comments, whether the Wikipedians like it or not:
The centerpiece of Altemeyer's research is a questionnaire he designed called the Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) scale. If you get a high score on it you are allegedly revealed as a Right-Wing Authoritarian. A major problem with the RWA scale is revealed, however, when we find that it identifies the Communists of the old Soviet Union as right-wing. But if they are right-wing who is left wing?
His confusion arises from his apparent definition of conservatism as "opposed to change". That definition is however politically naive. Conservatives from Burke onward have never been opposed to change as such but rather opposed to changes desired and enacted by Leftists. Is Donald Trump opposed to change? The current Left/Right polarity is between conservatives who want less government control and Leftists who want more of that. Altemeyer seems to be unaware of that so his work has no current political relevance.
In detail: The decline and fall of Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe enabled use of his RWA ("Right Wing Authoritarianism") scale there. Studies in the East such as those by Altemeyer & Kamenshikov (1991), McFarland, Ageyev and Abalakina-Paap (1992) and Hamilton, Sanders & McKearney (1995) showed that high RWA scores were associated with support for Communism!! So an alleged "Rightist" scale went from being Rightist to being a predictor of Leftism! If you took it at face-value, it showed Communists were Rightists!
After that, Altemeyer more or less gave up his original claim and engaged in a bit of historical revisionism. He said (Altemeyer, 1996, p. 218) that when he "began talking about right-wing authoritarianism, I was (brazenly) inventing a new sense, a social psychological sense that denotes submission to the perceived established authorities in one's life". It is true that he did originally define what he was measuring in something like that way (in detail, he defined it as a combination of three elements: submissiveness to established authority, adherence to social conventions and general aggressiveness) but what was new, unusual or "brazen" about such a conceptualization defies imagination. The concept of submission to established authority was, for instance, part of the old Adorno et al (1950) work. What WAS brazen was Altemeyer's claim that what he was measuring was characteristic of the political Right. But it is precisely the "Right-wing" claim that he now seems to have dropped and the RWA scale is now said to measure simply submission to authority. See:
Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper.
Altemeyer, R. (1996). The Authoritarian Specter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Altemeyer, R. & Kamenshikov, A. (1991) Impressions of American and Soviet behaviour: RWA changes in a mirror. South African J. Psychology 21, 255-260.
Hamilton, V. L., Sanders, J., & McKearney, S. J. (1995). Orientations toward authority in an authoritarian state: Moscow in 1990. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 356-365
McFarland, S. G., Ageyev, V. S., & Abalakina-Paap, M. A. (1992). Authoritarianism in the former Soviet Union. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 1004-1010
What I said above was designed to be acceptable encyclopedic writing but I can go further than that. I can offer a more extended critique of Altemeyer's work. And continued critique would seem to be needed. The RWA scale is still widely used in psychological research and generally seems to be used without any awareness of the invalidity of the instrument. It is still commonly paraded as a measure of something right-wing, which it clearly is not. So I think a more extended consideration of what it measures is called-for.
In the beginning
In one sense, what it measures is perfectly clear; It measures the old 1950 Adorno conception of authoritarianism -- in which Marxist theoretician Theodor Adorno and his friends claimed to have discovered a "new anthropological type": The authoritarian. Authoritarians were conservative, racist, both dominant and submissive, rigid in their thinking, "intolerant of ambiguity", and a product of bad relationships with their father. The authoritarian was just a maladjusted psychological mess generally. Adorno did not claim that all conservatives were authoritarian but it became generally assumed that they were. Leftists just loved the idea.
It was clear early on -- even to Altemeyer -- that the F scale which the Adorno team devised to measure their conception of authoritarianism was fatally flawed. But that did not dent the great appeal that the Adorno theory had for Leftists. And Altemeyer was one who drank the Kool-Aid. He swallowed the Adorno theory hook, line and sinker. His project was to devise a better measure of the concept rather than to question the concept. The RWA scale was his replacement for the old F scale
But it was very much like the F scale. Its items consisted of aggressively worded versions of popular sayings from the past. Pflaum (1964) had shown that you could create a parallel form of the F scale by gathering together sayings that had been popular during the pre-war "Progressive" era. Progressive ideas dominated American life throughout the first half of the 20th century so ideas that were popular at that time were also progressive or at least compatible with progressivism.
The Progressive era
But what were progressive ideas? The ideas do not sound progressive now. The great hero of the progressive era was Teddy Roosevelt. He even founded his own "progressive" party (often referred to as the "Bull Moose" party).
So what did TR believe in? He believed in battleships (he built lots of them) and that war is a purifying force for a nation. He had many ideas that sound "Right wing" these days, largely because modern-day progressives tend to reject them. See here and here for a fuller account of the American "Progressive" era.
And Adorno, Pflaum and Altemeyer all created collections of the old Progressive ideas and proudly presented them as being both authoritarian and "Right-wing". That conservatives had been in opposition throughout almost the whole of the Progressive era was ignored. The wars of conquest (Cuba, the Philippines etc) waged under the aegis of TR were met with conservative isolationism. And the big government ideas of FDR were solidly opposed by conservatives of the day.
So in the immediate post-war era we had the strange spectacle of pre-war Leftist ideas being presented as conservative. And most Leftists bit the bullet. Pre-war Progressive ideas had been shared by another prominent socialist of the pre-war period, Adolf Hitler, so it was urgent to distance post-war Leftists from his ideas. And what better way to do that than to try to pin such ideas onto conservatives? In 1950 all Leftists would have been be aware that Hitlers ideas had also largely been their own until recently but Leftists can pivot on a dime when it suits them so Leftist psychologists did just that.
So it is true that the RWA scale statements do reflect authoritarianism -- but it is the authoritarianism of the pre-war Left. Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian. In Mr Obama's famous words, Leftists aim to "fundamentally transform" their society. And it was not the geography or topography of America that Obama was talking about. It was the American people. He wanted to make them do things that they would not normally do (like pay more in taxes) and to stop them from doing things that they would normally do (like mock homosexuals). Whether or not you agree with the desirability of his program, the point is that it was inescapably authoritarian. It aimed to dictate behavior. Conservatives do have some authoritarian impulses at times (restricting abortion etc) but Leftism is authoritarian root and branch. Telling other people what to do and making them do it is the whole of their program.
Looking inside the black box
So what do conservatives do when confronted with RWA statements? Because of the old fashioned content of the items they may agree with some of them. Conservatives tend to have some respect for things of the past. But that agreement will not be politically relevant. That they can see something in the old ideas will not tell you anything about their likely choices on the current political scene. The old ideas are not at issue so will not influence current choices.
Leftists, on the other hand, will tend to reject most of the statements as something they now disagree with -- but will rightly see them as not of current political relevance now so will not relate them to current political choices. Their attitude to the old items will not influence their currtent choices. So neither their agreement nor disagreement with the statements will predict their current political choices. And it doesn't. The scale is an exercise in political irrelevance.
So from both sides of politics you will have agreement with the statements that is not of current relevance -- and that shows in the fact that conservatives and Leftists are not demarcated by agreement with the scale items. It explains why big scorers on the RWA scale are just as likely to be on the Left as on the Right. It is just not a scale of current political relevance. Some of the items may touch on what are still current issues but the aggressive way they are expressed will not be supported by either conservatives or Leftists -- e.g. items supporting oppression of homosexuals would be generally rejected by both sides.
So the RWA scale measures an old-fashioned form of LEFTISM but not anything of current political relevance. Which is why the scale does not correlate with current political preferences in (for example) American Presidential elections. A lot of high scorers would have voted for Mr. Obama.
And it also explains why high RWA scorers in Russia today tend to be members or former members of the Communist party. In Russia today, Communism IS old-fashioned Leftism
Pflaum, J. (1964) Development and evaluation of equivalent forms of the F scale. "Psychol. Reports" 15, 663-669.
EPA announces plan to limit cancer-linked chemicals, critics say it’s not enough
The old PFOS scare again.
That the chemical concerned gets into people and animals one way or another has been known for decades. But the concentrations found are extremely minute -- measured in a few parts per billion. So how toxic is it? It certainly seems to be seriously toxic to a range of animals but evidence of toxicity to people is slight. And don't forget that this has been under investigation for a long time.
Additionally, it has been estimated that there is by now some PFOS in every American, so bad effects should be pretty evident by now. But they are not.
Note that the controversy is about PFOS in general use -- as part of domestic items. People who are for one reason or another exposed to exceptionally high levels of it could well have problems. And there do appear to have been some instances of that.
But the scare has been sufficient for American manufacturers to stop production of the stuff (as from 2002) and the levels in people have gone into steady decline. So if it is a problem, it has been dealt with. It is only residues that are claimed as the problem
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday said it will start work by the end of the year on a long-awaited plan to set national drinking-water limits for two harmful chemicals linked to cancer, low infant birth weight, and other health issues.
But environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers criticized the plan, saying it in effect delayed desperately needed regulation on a clear public health threat from chemicals that are commonly used in cookware, pizza boxes, stain repellents, and fire retardants.
EPA officials described their proposal as the “first-ever nationwide action plan” to address the health effects of human-made chemicals known as poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs. There are currently no federal regulations on the production or monitoring of that class of about 5,000 chemicals, which are manufactured and used in a wide variety of industries and products. Studies have shown that they can linger in the human body for years, causing harmful health effects.
“The PFAS action plan is the most comprehensive action plan for a chemical of concern ever undertaken by the agency,” said Dave Ross, EPA’s assistant administrator for water, in a telephone call with reporters Thursday. Andrew Wheeler, the EPA’s acting administrator, who is now President Trump’s nominee to head the agency, called the plan a “pivotal moment in the history of the agency.”
The American Chemistry Council, an industry lobbying group, voiced support for the plan. “We continue to support strong national leadership in addressing PFAS and firmly believe that EPA is best positioned to provide the public with a comprehensive strategy informed by a full understanding of the safety and benefits of different PFAS chemistries,” it said in a statement.
Critics called on the agency to move more quickly, citing 2016 action by the Obama administration on two of the chemicals that suggested the urgency of the risk.
“While EPA acts with the utmost urgency to repeal regulations, the agency ambles with complacency when it comes to taking real steps to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe,” said Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment Committee.
After a public outcry over tests showing dangerous levels of PFASs in communities around the United States, particularly around military bases and fire stations, the EPA under the Obama administration in 2016 proposed creating a national standard for limiting the levels in drinking water of two of the most prevalent varieties of PFAS chemicals, known as PFOA and PFOS.
It also issued a health advisory recommending that water utilities and public health officials monitor levels of the two chemicals in public water supplies and notify the public if the combined levels of those chemicals reached 70 parts per trillion. A draft report released last year by the Department of Health and Human Services recommended that the “minimal risk level” for exposure to those two chemicals should be less than half that amount.
Given the available data on the effect of PFAS chemicals, environmentalists criticized the EPA’s response as inadequate to the threat.
Scott Faber, an expert on chemical policy with the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization, called it a “drinking water crisis facing millions of Americans.” But the EPA, he said, is “just not treating the crisis the way it deserves.”
In particular, critics of the EPA have sited the role of Nancy Beck, a former lobbyist with the American Chemistry Council, in a slowdown of the agency’s response to addressing PFASs.
But Wheeler did not offer a clear timeline of when such a standard might be completed. Such regulatory processes can often take years.
Some members of a football team made up of Australian Aborigines refused to sing the Australian national anthem before a match against a New Zealand Maori team
The Australian national anthem was deliberately scrubbed of anything that might offend at the time of its adoption but whiners will always find something to whine about.
One wonders why it matters what Aboriginal sportspeople do. Aborigines are undoubtedly losers in Australian society so it is perfectly reasonable for them not to feel part of our national community. Let them sing something else.
There is a deliberately inclusive and quite popular Australian song called "We are Australians". That should be a reasonable alternative to the national anthem if one is needed
I don't think much of that song myself. It treats white settlement as a continuation of Aboriginal occupancy, which is both very poor history and very poor ethnography
NRL legend Mal Meninga has backed the Indigenous players who refused to sing the Australian national anthem in the lead up to the NRL All Stars game.
As 'Advance Australia Fair' was played during the pre-game at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday night, more than half the of the side snubbed the anthem.
Meninga has since taken the controversy up a notch and put out a call for the anthem to be changed.
'We've had the national Sorry Day so Australians — all Australians — are very aware of our national history, maybe more aware than they were before. So we can have a national debate and let the people of Australia have their say.
'If we have a national anthem that offends our Indigenous people, let's see what all of Australia thinks.'
The NRL also copped criticism for choosing to play the national anthem in the lead up to the match in light of heavy criticism from NRL great Anthony Mundine.
'The anthem was written in late 1700s where blackfullas (sic) were considered fauna (animals) Advance Australia Fair as in white not fair as in fair go,' Mundine wrote on Facebook.
'All players aboriginal & non aboriginal should boycott the anthem & start changing Australia's ignorant mentality … lets move forward together yo.'
Indigenous skipper Cody Walker said post-match that he wasn't comfortable with a version of the Australian anthem being played at the game.
'To be honest no (it shouldn't be played) – it just brings back so many memories from what's happened and I think everyone in Australia needs to get together and work something out,' he said. 'It doesn't represent me and my family.'
The strong opposition to the national anthem divided those watching on TV at home, with plenty taking to social media to have their say on the stance.
'Reconciliation is a two way street... (but) I didn't see one aboriginal sing the national anthem,' one man commented.
'Pretty disappointed to see most of the Australian Indigenous team not sing our national anthem. The Maori boys sang theirs,' another said.
But while some disagreed with the stance, others claimed it was inappropriate to be playing the national anthem at a game involving two indigenous sides.
'Why on earth would you sing the commonwealth-based Aussie anthem in an Indigenous game?' one woman wrote on Twitter.
But just minutes after more than half the team had refused to sing the anthem, they united on the AAMI Stadium turf for a war dance.
Led by their 21-year-old star Mitchell, the players performed the impressive dance to cheers from the local crowd.
By contrast the majority of the Maori All Stars team sung the whole of New Zealand's national anthem, which includes a Maori verse.
The Indigenous All Stars defeated the Maori All Stars 34-14 in front of 18,000 fans.
Universal income study finds money for nothing won’t make us work less
This was originally one of Milton Friedman's ideas so should not be immediately dismissed. Friedman, however, saw it as a replacement for ALL government support of the individual so his idea has not really been tried yet.
A major reservation about the study below is that the target people were ALREADY unemployed at the beginning of the study so that they did not work less is not very meaningful. One has to laugh
But the big problem with such schemes is cost. Even the most optimistic analyses from Leftist jurisdictions end up showing them as being unaffordable for large numbers
For the last two years the Finnish government has been giving 2000 unemployed people a guaranteed, no-strings-attached payment each month. It is the world’s most robust test of universal basic income, and the preliminary results, released this morning, seem to dispel some of the doubts about the policy’s negative impacts.
Universal basic income comes in different flavours, but the essence of the idea is to give everyone a guaranteed income that covers their basic needs, like housing and food. Crucially, the income is the same for everyone all the time – it does not get reduced if, for example, a person gets a job or a salary increase.
The Finnish results were hotly anticipated because the experiment’s careful design promised robust evidence on UBI. “This is an exceptional experiment, both socially and globally,” said Pirkko Mattila, Finland’s minister of social affairs and health, at a press conference.
The experiment began in December 2016. Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, randomly selected 2000 people aged between 25 and 58 from across the country who were on unemployment benefits.
It then replaced those people’s benefits with a guaranteed payment of €560 a month. They would continue receiving the payments whether they got a job or not.
The experiment ended on 31 December 2018 and preliminary results were published this morning. It compared the income, employment status and general wellbeing of those who received the UBI with a control group of 5000 who carried on receiving benefits.
There was no difference between the two groups in terms of the number of days in employment in 2017 – both groups worked on average 49 days. The UBI trial group only earned €21 less on average than the control group during 2017.
The surveys also showed that the UBI group perceived their health and stress levels to be significantly better than in the control group.
“This is early data but nonetheless a significant moment as global interest gathers in basic income,” says Anthony Painter at the RSA think tank, which is working with the Scottish government to scope out a possible trial of UBI in Fife.
Supporters of UBI say that it frees people’s time for social goods like looking after children or serving their community, although this wasn’t measured in the Finnish trial. Additionally, requiring unemployed people to continually prove they are looking for work creates a lot of stress for them, which is bad for their health and may mean they are less likely to be able to find work. It also creates bureaucracy for the state.
On the other hand, basic income is expensive, even if it replaces existing benefits. And some say it could encourage people to work less.
“The criticism levelled at basic income that it would disincentivise work is not supported by [the Finnish] data,” says Painter.
An old idea
UBI is a concept that originated at least 200 years ago. But over the past few years it has become a fashionable policy idea, with many countries exploring pilot studies.
One reason for the increased interest is the fear that automation might displace large numbers of people from employment – essentially robots taking our jobs.
There have been several other trials of the idea, but none were definitive. Take for example the Mincome experiment, in which the 10,000 citizens of Dauphin in Manitoba, Canada, were guaranteed a basic level of financial security in 1975.
Recent analysis of public records from the time showed that it was only young men and young women who spent less time in work during the trial, and this because they were either in college or looking after babies.
Yet there was no control group. And it wasn’t a true basic income, because the money wasn’t given unconditionally — people’s earnings were topped up when they dropped below a threshold.
There is still more to find out about UBI that has not been revealed in experiments as yet. “What we have been able to find out so far is not the whole truth,” said Olli Kangas at the University of Turku, who led the Finnish study in partnership with Kela. “That is much more sophisticated.”
For example, Painter points out that, because the experiment chose people randomly from across Finland, it can’t tell us about any regional differences in the effects of UBI. “There is a strong case for further experiments,” says Painter. “It would be good to see ‘saturation’ pilots where everyone in an entire area receives a basic income.”
An Investing Prophet Takes on Climate Change
The guy above and below is good evidence that a stockmarket guru can be a bit of a nit. And his ideas about population control reveal him as a great steaming nit. He is aware of the drastic decline in fertility in developed countries but still thinks "we" have a problem of overpopulation. How does he square that circle?
He even repeats the old Malthus/Ehrlich scare about running out of food. That the whole trajectory of history is towards greater and greater abundance of food obviously does not move him. And he clearly knows nothing about agricultural economics or agricultural science generally if he thinks that the soil will one day stop growing things.
To be less colloquial about it, he is yet another example of the perils of hubris. Icarus lives! Hubris is very common among people who are good in some area of intellectual endeavour. Because they know a lot about one thing, they tend to think they know it all. They ovegeneralize. Understanding stockmarkets is a long way from understanding climate statistics.
And there is nothing in the article to show that he knows anything about detailed climate statistics. He would be pretty rattled if he did. The long hiatus is a pretty comprehensive refutation of the whole global warming theory. He relies, no doubt, on the profitable musings of a small group of climate scientists in influential positions. He bases his beliefs on an appeal to authority, one of the informal fallacies of logic and something which history would warn anyone about
In the end, I suppose he is just another virtue signaller. He uses his money to buy praise: He is getting old (80) and wants to fix his image as a humanitarian before he dies.
I reproduce just the first half of the article below. That tells you plenty. The whole article is available at the link, if you have got time to waste
Terrifying an audience is one of Jeremy Grantham’s specialties. The legendary investor, co-founder of Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo (GMO), is famous for predicting doom. And he’s famous for being right, with a remarkable record of spotting investment bubbles before they pop, notably the 2000 tech crash and 2008 financial crisis.
These days, the topic of Grantham’s warnings is not financial markets but the environment. At universities and investor conferences, gardening clubs and local environmental groups, he gives a talk titled “Race of Our Lives” —the one between the Earth’s rapidly warming temperature and the human beings coming up with ways to fight and adapt to climate change.
Green technologies, like batteries and solar and wind power, are improving far faster than many realize, he says. Decarbonizing the economy will be an investing bonanza for those who know it’s coming—“the biggest reshuffling of the economy since the Industrial Revolution.” Despite these gains, people are losing the race: Climate change is also accelerating, with consequences so dire that they’re almost impossible to imagine.
Grantham says he’ll devote 98 percent of his net worth, or about $1 billion, to help humans win the race. Currently he and his wife, Hanne, are giving more than $30 million a year to eight large nonprofits and about 30 smaller ones. Beneficiaries include three academic institutes in the U.K. named after him, at Imperial College London, the London School of Economics, and his alma mater, the University of Sheffield.
While the donations fund a variety of climate research and policy projects, Grantham focuses his presentations on overpopulation. Forget the flooding of oceanfront cities such as Miami or his adopted hometown of Boston. “Agriculture is in fact the real underlying problem produced by climate change,” he says. With topsoil disappearing at a rate of 1 percent a year and “only 30 to 70 good harvest years left depending on your location,” he says, farmers will struggle to feed the planet. Higher sea levels will inundate the world’s great rice-producing river deltas.
“Even without climate change,” he says, “it would be somewhere between hard and impossible to feed 11.2 billion” people, the United Nations’ median population estimate for 2100. Every other animal species on Earth lives with “recurrent waves of famine,” Grantham says, with population rising and falling based on their food supply. Why not us? He brings up a chart showing the tripling of the world’s population since he was born, more than 80 years ago. “If that’s the curve in the stock market,” he says, “you know what to do: panic and go short.” Translation: When something goes up that far for that long, it’s almost certain to plummet. The only question is when. The next bubble, he seems to be implying, is humans. “The presentation is so severe and raw,” says Morningstar Inc. Chief Marketing Officer Rob Pinkerton, who watched almost 1,300 financial advisers take in Grantham’s keynote speech at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago in May. “It really rattled them.”
Grantham’s discussion of overpopulation makes some people uneasy. “Population is a delicate issue,” says Jonathan Foley, a climate scientist who focuses on agriculture and is executive director of Project Drawdown, a group working on responses to climate change. On the one hand, the decision to have children is “one of the most fundamental of human rights,” he says. “Naturally it’s a sensitive topic to bring up, especially coming from the West.” Still, Foley agrees the issue needs to be discussed. “We can’t pretend there are no limits to the planet,” he says. “You need to address the seriousness of this without triggering people to become fatalistic.”
Grantham delights in being provocative, making statements that seem especially outrageous considering the source, a longtime denizen of Wall Street. The investment business is a “vastly overpaid industry,” he tells a roomful of financial advisers. He lambastes economists, the Federal Reserve, and the flaws of capitalism. “On income inequality, I am left of Karl Marx,” he declares. A father of three and grandfather of six, he applauds the falling fertility rate in most of the developed world. “We have discovered at long last that children are both expensive and incredibly inconvenient,” he says. And as for his perceived adversaries—climate skeptics, oil and chemical company executives, and politicians who fail to take climate change seriously—“perhaps they hate their grandchildren.”
Born north of London in 1938, Grantham never met his father, a major in the Royal Engineers who fought in World War II and died in North Africa in 1941. Grantham and his three older sisters were abruptly sent north to Yorkshire to live with their grandparents after a bomb landed, unexploded, dangerously near their home. After graduating from the University of Sheffield, he was frustrated to find Oxford and Cambridge graduates—“the typical, upper-class chinless wonders” —dominating the best jobs in London. Nonetheless, he says, he “talked his way” into a position at the oil company Royal Dutch Shell, then won admission to Harvard Business School.
For a billionaire, he’s comically thrifty. He and Hanne have lived in the same Beacon Hill townhouse since 1974. A rare bit of self-indulgence is his recently arrived Tesla Model 3. Colleagues tell stories of Grantham insisting on flying coach and of helping him carry luggage down into the London Tube because he didn’t want to pay for a car out to the airport. “He’s cheap, and he’s funny about it,” says Peg McGetrick, a longtime friend and a director at GMO. “He really wants to put every dime into this foundation.”
At first, Grantham and his wife were relatively conventional environmentalists. Their philanthropy was inspired by their travel, including a family trip deep into the jungles of Borneo when their children were young. By 2011, though, Grantham was protesting the Keystone XL pipeline outside the White House. His daughter was among dozens of climate change activists taken to jail. Earlier he had been “apolitical,” or, if anything, an “old, late-lamented liberal Republican,” he says. The 2000 U.S. election was a turning point. “Suddenly, politics and climate became mixed up,” he says. “I began to realize that there were major-league deficiencies in capitalism which had not been on my radar screen.” And “I had no idea how deeply the propaganda machine of the right wing went and how well-funded it was, how smart it was, and how far ahead of the curve it was. The left were ignorant in comparison.”
Climate change, politics, and capitalism became frequent topics of Grantham’s quarterly letters. In his view, the U.S. has been pushed into the grip of an unhealthy version of capitalism, one in which corporations put profits way ahead of all other considerations. “The social contract of 1964, when I arrived here, has been totally torn up,” he says. “Anything that happens to a corporation over 25 years out doesn’t exist for them. Therefore, grandchildren have no value.”
While capitalism “does a million things better than any other system,” he says, it fails completely on long-term threats such as climate change. “You must not expect unnecessary good behavior from capitalists,” he says. The answer, he adds, is strong regulations: “I’m sorry, libertarians, it is the only way.”
The election of Donald Trump was, he hopes, the “final flowering of corporatism. It seems that every conceivable advantage that you could give to corporations has been given, and every conceivable advantage has been taken away from the man in the street.” He laments that the Republican administration has led to a “lopsided” tax law, more pressure on unions and workers, and a rollback of environmental regulations. Especially galling is Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, a move that he says makes the U.S. a “rogue state.”
Joe Hildebrand writes: The death of truth, how facts have been replaced with feelings
Australia's Joe Hildebrand normally writes in a notably good humoured and even jocular way but he is not laughing over the response to his Australia Day writings. Australia day is a patriotic celebration, celebrating the arrival in Australia of the first British settlers. The Left hate it. The settlers were WHITE! How awful!
Hildebrand was savaged by irrational comments from the hate-driven Left. As Kerri-Anne Kennerley also found out, the Left are quick to allege hate and racism when it is they who are the haters and they are the ones obsessed by race. White Leftists even manage to hate whites in some weird way
Facts have been replaced with blind emotion, usually driving a huge backlash if you dare dive into contentious issues like Australia Day.
A little over a week ago one of my beloved editors at news.com.au asked me if I’d like to write a piece about the Australia Day race debate, which is a bit like a Roman asking a Christian if he’d like to be fed to the lions.
Of course, I said. What could possibly go wrong?
Needless to say I had a fair idea and so I set about writing a lengthy, three-part, background and opinion piece on Australia’s colonisation and our relationship with our first peoples today.
I made every possible effort to provide global and historical context, to be measured, to note the differing perspectives of indigenous and non-indigenous people and carefully distinguish between the impact of events and the intent behind them.
I noted many of the crimes and contradictions of colonisation and clearly and categorically stressed that we needed to acknowledge the atrocities of the past. I had hoped to establish some common ground and a common goal in ending indigenous suffering and disadvantage.
Instead, within 24 hours I was being called a white supremacist and an apologist for racial genocide.
This was hardly unforeseen. Online outrage is as utterly predictable as it is utterly pointless. Nor, before the next predictable accusation starts, am I appealing for pity.
No, the truly disturbing part was not how angry or abusive so many of the responses were, but that they appeared to be responding to things I had not said. Indeed, in many cases they were accusing me of saying things I had in fact said the opposite of.
I do not wish to reopen these old historical arguments here but instead demonstrate the disconnect.
One common refrain was that I was denying massacres or atrocities were committed and attempting to whitewash history. In fact, I said this: “It is vital that non-indigenous Australians are made acutely aware of the sorrows and stains on our history; the suffering that Aboriginal people have gone through and the atrocities that have been perpetrated by many of our ancestors.”
Another was that I was wearing rose-coloured glasses or downplaying the suffering of Aboriginal people. In fact, I said this: “Yes, there were unspeakable atrocities committed by some settlers, and yes, disease and grog had a catastrophic effect on the indigenous population. Indeed, there can be no denying that the effect of European colonisation has been devastating for huge swathes of the indigenous population — especially in Tasmania.”
I also presented the view, based on well-known historical evidence, that colonists such as Cook and Phillip did not come to Australia with the intention of wiping out indigenous people — which is apparently how I became an apologist for genocide.
At first I just assumed that these people hadn’t bothered to read the piece they were angry about — which is usually the case in social media debates — but then I realised something more worrying was at play. People had read it — or at least looked at it — but seen only what they wanted to see.
The same was true of many of the supposed sources they produced. Some were as crude as internet memes; others were highlighted passages from various books or documents, when merely reading even the rest of the page would have supported the arguments they were railing against.
But credit to them for at least engaging with some of the facts. Sometimes there is so much outrage over so few facts that people actually need to invent things for their enemies to say just so they can be outraged by them.
One case was when someone said there was “evidence based scholarly research” to prove I was wrong and then accused me of being “ … a bloke from News Corp, with no qualifications …”
I humbly responded that I had in fact majored in history at university and been accepted into history honours before I left to take up my journalism cadetship. This then prompted outrage that I was suddenly now either A) the product of a racist colonial education; or B) not educated enough.
Another was when one of several people dared me to compare colonial Australia to the Holocaust and I replied that colonial Australia was nothing like the Holocaust. Naturally, the response was: I CAN’T BELIEVE HE COMPARED IT TO THE HOLOCAUST!!!!
Thus the new definition of proof in online debate is to say something untrue of a person and then when the person says it’s untrue cite that as proof of them saying it. It’s just like Monty Python’s “Jehovah” sketch from Life of Brian except without the intelligence or humour.
And then there is the third and laziest response, which is to simply ignore all facts both real and imagined and dismiss the argument based on the colour of the person making it. Thus whatever a white man says about history is inherently racist and wrong and if such an argument is championed by a brave indigenous woman like Jacinta Nampijinpa Price she is dismissed as a racist enabler.
And of course if you are accused of being a racist you cannot deny being a racist because racists don’t get to decide whether they are racist or not. This logic is straight from the Salem Witch Trials, although again without the intelligence or humour.
And of course if none of that works anyone the hard left disagrees is simply told to “shut the f*** up”.
And so this is the world we have become. A world where people comb through texts for something to be outraged about or try to force people to say things that they can be outraged about or just call people racist and then get outraged by how racist they are.
The facts don’t matter in public debate anymore. All that matters is whether something fits within a pre-constructed “correct” narrative; if not it is deemed offensive. If something upsets somebody then it cannot be true.
Is this really the new standard of public discourse in Australia? Is this really what we are now going to call scholarly debate? Is this really what activists think is the most pressing issue facing Australia?
Apparently so. This is the death of truth. History has been replaced by ideology. Facts have been replaced by feelings.
And maybe there is more than one truth. It’s true there were a great many atrocities in our history and it’s true there are a great many atrocities happening now.
There are also different “truths” for indigenous women and children. When domestic violence happens in the rest of the country it is described by activists as a “national emergency”. When it is highlighted in Aboriginal communities it is dismissed as a “distraction” or “whataboutism” or cloaked by bulls**t academic buzzwords like “intersectionality”.
I believe in clear words and clear truths. We must confront and acknowledge the sins of the past but we must also fight for the future of those who are suffering today. People say we can do both but I don’t see many marches or Twitter hashtags for the indigenous women being assaulted at a rate dozens of times higher than everyone else.
And there’s no escaping the truth confronting them.
The latest parenting advice: “It makes no difference how you treat your kids”
She is of course right. Many well balanced adults emerge from difficult childhoods and many disastrous kids emerge from good families. She appears not to know why, however.
There is now an extensive genetics literature that tells us most traits are inherited. If you have the genes for emotional stability, for instance, you will mostly be stable even while in the care of a ratty mother. And if you are lucky enough to be born with a high IQ, that will solve most of your problems. Such people can come from very humble backgrounds and reach rare heights with little effort.
You actually have very little control over how your kids turn out. The genetics literature is replete with research reports that show family background to be a totally trivial influence compared to the genetic given. Your kids will turn out how their genetics dictate regardless of what you do. So perhaps the best advice is simply to be kind to them. You can at least make their childhood more or less happy
But while there is little you can do to help your kids psychologically, there are some social advantages you can give them: A good accent, manners, proficiency in social sports (tennis, golf, cricket) etc. But the chief good thing you can do to benefit your kid is undoubtedly to send him/her to a private school. In Britain that opens all doors. One young woman whom her middle-class parents sent to a private school is now set to be Queen of England. Beat that!
Modern parenting literature portrays raising a child as difficult business. Make your own baby food or you risk raising a sugar addict. Letting a bored child play with your phone rather than sustainably sourced wooden blocks is an invitation to delinquency. Such advice is often premised on helping parents raise children “naturally,” perhaps as children were parented at some ideal time in the past. But, notes Jennifer Traig—a book author, humorist and mother of two—in “Act Natural,” the word “parenting” itself “only came into common usage about forty years ago, which I guess means parenting was invented after I was.”
As a frazzled new mother dealing with such deep questions as “Why is there yogurt on the TV?,” Ms. Traig decided to investigate the history of child-rearing practices and advice from around the globe. She discovered that “people have done crazy, crazy things to their children throughout history.” They have convinced themselves that vegetables are dangerous but beer is great. They have let children play with knives or sleep out in the cold, or told fairy tales involving dismemberment.
Her key takeaway is this: “Why do we think any of this matters? The best research indicates that little of it actually does. Above a certain threshold, it makes no difference how you treat your kids.”
In “Act Natural,” Ms. Traig mocks contemporary and historical parenting advice with usually spot-on dark humor. For starters, much of this advice has been written by people—such as monks and clergymen—who weren’t parents (or at least weren’t supposed to be). “It’s easy to think you know what to do when you’ve never actually spent any time with a toddler,” Ms. Traig observes.
Other “experts” had offspring but were terrible parents; Jean- Jacques Rousseau’s romantic conceptions of childhood have garnered fans for centuries despite the fact that he abandoned his own children to a foundling hospital.
Much has been based on pure speculation rather than research. We can laugh about this in historical writings, such as this early-1800s nonsense that Ms. Traig digs up: “In all cases of dwarfishness or deformity, ninety-nine out of a hundred are owing to the folly, misconduct or neglect of mothers.” But we somehow take it seriously when modern writers suggest that day care will ruin a child for life.
Ideally, modern parents surveying history with Ms. Traig will reach this conclusion: You should just relax. Feeling guilty because you only pumped breast milk twice a day at work, instead of three times, seems silly in light of a finding that “out of the 21,000 infants born in Paris in 1780, a full 17,000 were put out to country wet nurses.”
Ms. Traig wagers that modern parental neuroses have created problems where they did not exist before. “A lot of parenting’s thorniest issues—sleep resistance, picky eating—began when we started trying to fix something that wasn’t particularly broken in the first place.” When there’s one pot of gruel, you all eat it, or don’t, but there’s little point in feeling angsty about it. When there’s one bed for the whole family, you sleep when you sleep. The virtues of a strict 7:30 p.m. bedtime are less clear when the clock in the next town says something entirely different from your own. Somehow, the species survived.
How should you raise your children? Long ago, experts offered falsehood, myth and speculation. Modern parenting advice isn’t much better.
Ms. Traig, thank goodness, takes pains not to portray herself as an expert anyone should emulate. She confesses to handling one particular dilemma—that of needing to work but being unable to afford full-time child care—with the time-honored solution of turning on the television. “In our home we do not emphasize attachment parenting but connection of another kind: the entertaining tether of premium cable.”
It is expensive, Ms. Traig notes, “but given how much our children watch, it’s far less than the hourly rate we would pay a human to keep them occupied.” She notes that her children sleep terrifically, but rather than tout her own sleep methods she writes that in parenting “you win some, you lose some.” Her son survives on pizza and revolting sweets. Parenting philosophies probably matter less than genetics and the luck of the draw.
The one flaw of “Act Natural” is that Ms. Traig is so taken with the silliness of her historical material that she starts to repeat herself. The practice of swaddling babies for up to 24 hours at a time, partly so they don’t go anywhere— and perhaps partly to limit the frequency of pre-Pampers diapering to once a day—comes up a lot. Almost every other page has a footnote taking the reader off on a tangent that doesn’t quite fit in the narrative. (A paragraph on how famous teachers disciplined students leads to this: “Still, they got off easier than Beethoven’s cook, at whom he threw eggs,” followed by a discussion of adults biting children in the hopes of teaching them not to.) This can make for a disjointed reading experience. Her dark comedy is occasionally very dark, such as this observation on obstetric innovation: “The invention of the Chamberlens’ forceps meant that a stuck child could be guided out gently, with spoons, rather than piecemeal, with knives.”
The upside of reading “Act Natural” is that you feel better about whatever nonsense your children have committed, which is the point. “That is what the good advice books do,” Ms. Traig writes. “They make you feel like you’re doing a good job, even if it’s simply by reassuring you that someone else is doing a worse one.” So your kid ate Cheez-Its for breakfast. Most of us, at least, do change diapers more frequently than once every 24 hours.
Michael Moore: 'Americans Have Always Supported ‘Socialist’ Ideas'
There is an element of truth in what Moore says. Libertarians too think modern-day America is thoroughly Fascist. And the founding fathers were such devout Communists that a third of them had to die before they went back to private property. I will not revisit it here but I did put up a few years ago a discussion of the Leftist influence in American history. See here, here and here.
And Trump is almost single-handedly waging a war on the Leftism that has become deeply embedded in American life. Even SCOTUS and the Republican Senate obstruct him at times. And the two years of Republican dominance of both houses gave him precisely nothing towards his chief goal of immigration reform. He seems to be the last barrier against a wave of Leftism that has been sweeping across America for a long time now. When he goes will the Leftist creep resume? One hopes not but it is only a hope. The Donks have swung so far Left that the prospect of them replacing Trump is very disquieting indeed.
But Moore does the typical Leftist trick of speaking in all or none terms. Like lots else, Leftism can come in various strengths. And America is not as heavily regulated as the EU, though Obama was working on that. And America's health care system has much more scope for private medicine than Britain does.
So, taking Trump in context, what he was saying is that America will resist any further encroachment of socialism. One hopes he is right
“Ha!,” activist filmmaker Michael Moore reacted after President Donald Trump promised in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that the U.S. will never become a socialist nation.
On Wednesday, Moore tweeted that it was a “great victory” that a “scared Trump” made the claim, given that Americans always favored socialist principles:
“A great victory for the majority of Americans when a scared Trump declared: "America will never be a socialist country!” Ha! The last gasp of The Greed Class! The truth: from social security to Medicare to libraries & pub schools, Americans have always supported "socialist" ideas”
In his tweet, Moore posted a video arguing that America is already a socialist country that supports things like abortion, homosexuality, drug use, universal health care and “free” goods and services:
In his State of the Union address, Trump said, "Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country" - which drew cheers of "U.S.A!" from the audience.
A transcript of Moore's video appears below:
“Let me share with you a fact that has never been stated in the press, or reported on the nightly news, or even spoken amongst ourselves: the United States of America is a leftist country.
“That’s right: we are one rocking, sh*t-kicking, gay-loving, gun-rejecting, race-mixing, pot-smoking, tree-hugging, hip-hopping, anywhere breast-feeding, quinoa-cooking, left-leaning liberal nation.
“Here are the facts: the vast majority of Americans are pro-choice. They want equal pay for women, stronger environmental laws, legalized marijuana, a raise in the minimum wage, Medicare for all, tuition-free college, free child care, support for labor unions, a cut in the military budget, breakup of big banks. Most Americans don’t even own a gun. And, seventy-five percent believe immigration is good for the U.S. And, on and on and on.
“Heck, Texas isn’t even white, anymore. Houston had a lesbian mayor. When you think Texas, you need to think lesbian.
“The values they stood for in the 60’s and 70’s are now the beliefs of this great land.
“Those crazy mother-f**kers have won. And, I love the smell of essential oils in the morning.”
Education is NOT the great leveller
This is a fairly iconoclastic article. That the author is of Hungarian origin may explain that. She is able to take an outside view.
But she is of course right -- though she doesn't really spell out why. Social class continua are heavily correlated with IQ -- which is genetically inherited -- and education can do nothing to increase IQ. Rich people are mostly smarter and have mostly smarter kids. So their kids inherit their class position both socially and genetically. There are of course exceptions but most people end up in a social position matched to their IQ. Smart kids do at times emerge from poor backgrounds and provision to advance them is well warranted. Grammar schools do that.
The push for more and more education for everyone, however, is fundamentally misguided. The years out of the workforce impoverish the country, if anything
Britain is unusual in having what could be seen as two status hierarchies -- a wealth hierarchy and a nobility hierarchy. Some members of the nobility (titled hereditary aristocracy) can even be poor. But the two have a long history of melding into one another. Poor aristocratic males -- and some not so poor -- have a historic habit of marrying rich American heiresses, for instance. Winston Churchill was one of the results of such a union. The American family buys prestige and the British family has its fortunes refreshed. And as the progeny of often self-made men, the ladies concerned will be bright.
More broadly, noble titles are still much valued and respected in Britain so an aristocratic male will have a wide choice of potential partners. He is able in fact to get a woman with it all -- brains and beauty. And so it often happens. So there has long been a steady influx of brains into the nobility -- so even in Britain, prestigious persons generally tend to be bright
For two decades, social mobility has been a central concern in British politics. Increasing equality of opportunity, in the context of rising inequalities between people’s lives, has been a shared goal across the party political spectrum. Politicians have also agreed that educational policy is crucial to achieving this goal. This has made the thrust of speeches on social mobility given over the years by politicians including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Theresa May interchangeable.
Yet, new research I’ve published with my colleague John Goldthorpe, which brings together results from extensive British birth cohort studies, points to a serious disconnect between the discussion of social mobility in political and policy circles and the findings of sociological research.
In our analysis, we treat social mobility in terms of social class, and make a clear distinction between absolute and relative mobility rates. Absolute rates simply refer to the proportions of individuals who have moved to different class positions to those of their parents, whether in an upward or downward direction. Relative rates compare the chances of individuals from different class origins ending up in a different class “destination”.
Contrary to what has become widely claimed in the media, mainly as a result of – often misunderstood – research by economists, social mobility in Britain is not in decline.
Absolute rates of class mobility between generations have been stable at least over the period since World War II. Men and women today are just as likely to be found in different class positions to those of their parents as they were in the 1950s.
The important change is, however, that rates of upward mobility are falling and rates of downward mobility are rising, as our research and the graph above shows. In this sense, young people now face less favourable mobility prospects than their parents or grandparents did. This is the result of the slowdown in the steady growth of managerial and professional employment that drove increasing upward mobility in the “golden age” from the 1950s up to the 1980s.
Relative rates of social mobility are also essentially stable: the inherent “stickiness” between the class positions of parents and children has altered little over at least the last half century. And in the case of “long-range” mobility – between, say, the lower stratum of the working class and those in managerial and professional jobs – quite extreme inequalities in relative chances exist.
Our findings show that the children of parents in higher managerial and professional positions are 20 times more likely to end up in such positions, rather than in working class positions, than children of working class parents are.
Not a low mobility society
Education plays an important role in determining whether a person is class mobile or immobile. But it does not follow that more education means more mobility at a societal level. For education to promote mobility at a societal level, the association between a person’s class origins and their educational attainment must weaken, while the association between their educational attainment and their class destinations must strengthen. But as our research shows, neither of these changes is in fact apparent. And that’s especially the case if education is considered in relative terms: for example if account is taken of the fact that a degree is worth far more in the labour market if only 10% of a birth cohort have one than if 40% do.
Again, contrary to what is widely claimed in the reports such as those by the Social Mobility Commission, Britain is not a distinctively low mobility society. Across European countries, rates of absolute class mobility are very similar. And as regards relative rates, Britain is one of a group of West-Nordic countries that show – comparatively – high fluidity within their class structures.
One reason for this is that, in Britain, education is not class destiny to the same extent as it is in a country such as Germany. In Germany, and several other Western-Central European countries, the educational system is highly stratified, with early selection for different types of school. Because there is then a tight link between formal educational qualifications and employment opportunities, educational inequalities are rather systematically translated into labour market inequalities. Where such “credentialism” prevails, education can in fact prove a barrier to, as much as a source of, social mobility.
No great leveller
Education is not “the great leveller” that can break the link between inequality in the conditions under which people live and inequality of opportunity. Parents with superior resources – economic, as well as social and cultural ones – will use their resources as necessary to give their children a competitive edge. Those wealthy enough can resort to the private sector, but for others the “commercialisation of opportunity” occurs by buying houses in the catchment areas of high-performing state schools, engaging private tutors for their children, and providing them with extensive out-of-school activities and experiences designed to improve their academic performance.
In addition, further education, or lifelong learning, turns out to promote immobility rather than mobility. As my research shows, it mainly gives “second chances” to those from more advantaged backgrounds whose performance in mainstream education gave them insufficient assurance that they would be able to maintain their parents’ position. It primarily serves to prevent downward mobility.
So far as absolute mobility is concerned, the most effective way of increasing upward mobility would be through economic and social policies that could renew the expansion of managerial and professional employment, so as to bring back the conditions of the golden age. One way of equalising relative rates of social mobility would be for employers to develop internal promotion and training policies to take full advantage of the educationally “wasted talent” that exists among their workforces and to remove requirements for formal qualifications of an irrelevant kind.
But in all societies with a capitalist market economy, a conjugal family system and liberal-democratic policies, a limit may exist on the extent that mobility chances can be equalised. As this limit is approached, policies aimed at further equalisation will become increasingly contested, and social mobility will cease to be a matter on which political consensus prevails.
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