Senior educated white male.

Senior educated white male.

Roger Scruton, giant, dead at 75

Sir Roger and family

Roger Scruton said the job of the conservative intellectual was to give reasons why ordinary people should not have to give reasons for their habits, thoughts, and beliefs. I would love him for that idea alone, but he had so many more.

His discussion of the “French nonsense machine” in “Fools. Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left” makes one grateful that he had the industry and fortitude to go through all the immense crap that constitutes French leftist thought and show precisely why it is crap. I can admire but not imitate his devotion to explicating tedious nonsense, but I am the beneficiary of his plumbing the depth of French intellectual sewage.

His output was tremendous. Go to Amazon or any book site and see for yourself. His discussion of Wagner was deeply informed by musical knowledge. His discussion of wine, well, I look forward to it. The drink upon which civilization has been founded, he said.

A summary of quotes is found here, in the Guardian, of all places.

Scruton was a man who wore his greatness humbly.

About half of scientific articles false; more scientific decline expected

I was reminded of the finding by Dr. Richard Horton of Britain’s Lancet magazine that roughly half of articles in science publications are false, only to discover that the article was about five years old. {I am sure that things have improved since then}.

Horton wrote:

“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

Dr. Marcia Angell, a physician and longtime Editor in Chief of the New England Medical Journal (NEMJ), which is considered to another one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals in the world, makes her view of the subject quite plain:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine” 

For an eminent scientist writing against fake science, in its myriad forms, you may profitably add William S. Briggs Statistician to the Stars, to your list of favourites.

Briggs exposes the “diversity in science education” scam here. The statements required of candidates for academic jobs are called Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (DIE) statements. [He cites an article by a mathematician in the Wall Street Journal and various other sources, so who says what in the paragraphs below is too confused to sort.]

These statements are intended to ensure that “applicants for faculty positions profess their commitment to these social goals, have become required on eight UC campuses and at colleges across the country. These requirements are promoted as fulfilling worthy goals: to help redress the historic exclusion of underrepresented groups, to ensure that candidates from all backgrounds apply for and are given fair consideration for faculty jobs, and to make sure faculty respect and support all students in their teaching and mentoring. “

“A document from the University of California tells us how the system worked in six searches in the life sciences, and I find it a bit disturbing—disturbing because the ideology and social engineering is clear, because candidates, however good in scholarship, were eliminated if their diversity statements fell below a specified cutoff, and disturbing because the only kind of diversity involved was racial and gender diversity. But we know that that is what people mean when they talk about “diversity”. Ideological, class, and background diversity are irrelevant.”

Only 214 of the 893 candidates (24%) passed muster here as having adequate diversity statements. These 214 were then passed on to the appropriate departmental search committees to create a short list for interviewing candidates (these are typically 3-6 candidates per job). In this search and the second one below, candidates were also asked to explain their ideas about diversity during the interviews. The diversity interviews also served to weed out candidates:…

So even at the two last stages of the process, candidates were eliminated because of a perceived insufficient commitment to diversity.

“Coyne rightly points out that the quality of the applicants’ work nowhere was important in this filtering process: only their ability to DIE.”

Thus I conclude that, apart from all the other reasons cited for bad science above, we may expect a wholesale decline of science caused by ethnic, sexual and racial sorting.

Is it any wonder that universities will have to be dis-established?


Issues that don’t matter

Disputes within the Royal family Prince Harry wants another job. Megan Markle wants to live closer to her mother. Vancouver is a habitable compromise. Meh.

The Democratic Party opponent to Donald Trump in the next election (as matters stand today). Loooooser.

String theory. An employment program for physicists.

Who will succeed that weirdo Labour leader in the UK: looooser

The fate of the NDP under Jagmeet Singh: looooser

Anthropogenic global warming – see chart

Image result for ice ages timeline"

A time of social contest

I was talking with my friend Oban last. He is a never-Trumper, a subject we do not actually discuss so much as to check in on our state of disagreement from time to time.

I asked him whether we are living in normal times, or whether we are living in a time of social contest. His reply was well-considered. Oban said that we have not lived in a time where everything – everything – was so contested. The last time we faced so much social friction was the 1930s, when society was faced with choices among fascism, parliamentary democracy, and communism. Those options concerned who (which social class, which race) would run government and society, or whether the tried methods of parliamentary government would prevail. To the surprise of many, parliamentary government emerged the victor from World War 2, along with communism. The latter took another 50 years to collapse.

Today the zones of social contestation seem to be about everything. Economic class is less important to this fissures than it used to be. By contrast, modes of self-identification seems to have generated a large and expanding class of differences about which people are demanding respect and recognition.

Francis Fukuyama has a good deal to say about the issue in his book Identity: the demand for dignity and the politics of resentment. On a smaller range of issues, it is also worthwhile to read Douglas Murray’s The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity

Fukuyama: “By taking on political correctness so frontally, Trump has played a critical role in moving the focus of identity politics from the left, where it was born, to the right, where it is now taking root.” [p119]

“What is notable, however, is that the right has adopted the language and framing of identity from the left: the idea that my particular group is being victimized,that its situation and sufferings are invisible to the rest of society, and that the whole of the social and political structure responsible for this situation (read: the media and the political elites)needs to be smashed. Identity politics is the lens through which most social issues are now seen across the ideological spectrum” [p122]

It is the nation that gives birth to rights, to identity, and to systems of political accountability. No one has found a way to make international institutions accountable or democratic. No one is proposing a return to religion as the basis of the polity. So we are stuck with the nation. Who belongs to it? who may belong to it?

In Canada the French-English divide obscures the issue of national belonging. The French are assured that they are a nation. The English are scolded that they should not think of themselves as a nation, but they manifestly are a nation. However multinational in origin English speaking Canadians have become one in beliefs and aspirations.

I would love to hear a political conservative in Canada talk a language of nationhood and identification with the nation, rather than intersectionality, which is the analysis of everything on the basis of a myriad lesser and divisive self-identifications. Intersectionality, I need hardly state, is the official doctrine that the Liberal government of Canada has imposed on the federal government,

January 7, 2020


  1. Farmers are looking for twenty and thirty year old tractors: simpler, repairable and effective. The curse of computerization is the inability to repair what you own, because you are only leasing software, and you cannot fix it. A tractor free from software is a tractor the farmer can fix.

2. The Gervais Principle: How organizations really operate. This is actually more realistic than the illustration might have you think.


“Back then, Whyte … saw signs that in the struggle for dominance between the Sociopaths (whom he admired as the ones actually making the organization effective despite itself) and the middle-management Organization Man, the latter was winning. He was wrong, but not in the way you’d think. The Sociopaths defeated the Organization Men and turned them into The Clueless not by reforming the organization, but by creating a meta-culture of Darwinism in the economy: one based on job-hopping, mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, cataclysmic reorganizations, outsourcing, unforgiving start-up ecosystems, and brutal corporate raiding. In this terrifying meta-world of the Titans, the Organization Man became the Clueless Man. Today, any time an organization grows too brittle, bureaucratic and disconnected from reality, it is simply killed, torn apart and cannibalized, rather than reformed. The result is the modern creative-destructive life cycle of the firm, which I’ll call the MacLeod Life Cycle.

3. Slate Star Codex – a fascinating blog written by Scott Alexander, a psychiatrist on the US West Coast.  I do not know what to make of it. There is so much to absorb.

4. The nomenklatura takes care of its own. Barry Diller ensures that Chelsea Clinton is well set up. Just short of $900,000 a year. Some keep wondering why Trump won the election.

Gertrude Himmelfarb 1922-2019

I have for a long time been an admirer of the American historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, who died on December 30, 2019 at the age of 97.

A tribute by David Brooks is found in the Atlantic Magazine here.

“Himmelfarb was a great historian, and reported fairly on all sides, but it was always clear which side her heart was on. She grew up working-class and preferred the prosaic bourgeois values that fueled her family’s rise: work, thrift, temperance, self-discipline, cleanliness, moderation, respect for tradition. These are not aristocratic virtues, such as honor, genius, and heroism, but they are sensible virtues available to everyone. In its original definition, a neoconservative was a leftist who broke with the left when, in the 1960s, its leaders rejected bourgeois values for the counterculture. By this definition, she was a neoconservative.

“Himmelfarb shared the Victorian awareness of sin. She detested the snobbery of cultural elites and narcissism in all its forms. She quoted George Eliot with approval: “We are all of us born in moral stupidity, taking the world as an udder to feed our supreme selves.”

From the eulogy in the New York Times-

“In more than a dozen books and many articles and essays, Ms. Himmelfarb melded scholarship of Victorian Britain with barbed reflection on contemporary affairs. Her subjects ranged from the pitfalls of modern approaches to history and philosophy to the moral relativism she perceived, with dismay, in the public’s attitude about the conduct of President Bill Clinton — his lying about a sexual affair — that led to his impeachment in the 1990s.

“Her cause was to imbue today’s social policies with a Victorian moral sense. Conservative politicians cheered. Newt Gingrich, the Republican speaker of the House, cited her in his book “To Renew America” (1995), writing that the time had “come to re-establish shame as a means of enforcing proper behavior.”

Political correctness and the French Class System

A fascinating article in City Journal about the writings of Christophe Guilluy, the French geographer whose observations of French society are equivalent to those of Charles Murray. The article is by the American journalist and author Christopher Caldwell.

“In France, political correctness is more than a ridiculous set of opinions; it’s also—and primarily—a tool of government coercion. Not only does it tilt any political discussion in favor of one set of arguments; it also gives the ruling class a doubt-expelling myth that provides a constant boost to morale and esprit de corps, much as class systems did in the days before democracy. People tend to snicker when the question of political correctness is raised: its practitioners because no one wants to be thought politically correct; and its targets because no one wants to admit to being coerced. But it determines the current polarity in French politics. Where you stand depends largely on whether you believe that antiracism is a sincere response to a genuine upsurge of public hatred or an opportunistic posture for elites seeking to justify their rule.

Guilluy is ambivalent on the question. He sees deep historical and economic processes at work behind the evolution of France’s residential spaces. “There has been no plan to ‘expel the poor,’ no conspiracy,” he writes. “Just a strict application of market principles.” But he is moving toward a more politically engaged view that the rhetoric of an “open society” is “a smokescreen meant to hide the emergence of a closed society, walled off for the benefit of the upper classes.”

I am struck often by how the French get themselves absolutely stuck, where only violence gets attention, and revolution seems the most effective way of changing governments. I see this particularly in the different outcomes in Great Britain and France: how Boris Johnson was able to break through the Brexit impasse, while week after week the French yellow-vests riot and disrupt, to no particular effect.

The link between the riots of the gilets-jaunes and the tight grip the French upper classes hold over dissenting expression was clearly seen in an article in the Guardian by Jon Henley on the work of Christophe Guilluy. Henley writes:

“Guilluy argued that peripheral France should be seen as a bigger concern than the country’s troubled, immigration-heavy banlieues, traditionally seen as its major social problem, because of the sheer numbers of people struggling to make ends meet and their relative isolation from dynamic economic centres. If nothing changed, he warned, the French Socialist party, the historical defender of the underprivileged, would collapse, Le Pen’s far-right Front National – now renamed Rassemblement National (National Rally) – would soar, and France risked a popular uprising the likes of which it had not witnessed in decades, if not centuries….

“It is not so much “big capital” that is to blame for the divide, Guilluy writes, as when “previous generations of the bourgeoisie lusted nakedly after power or money”, but the “laid-back, unostentatious dominance … without hatred or violence” of the “bobo-ised upper classes” in what he calls the “new citadels”. They have “supported the economic policies of the upper class for 30 years now” (policies which only really work for them) and developed “a single way of talking and thinking … that allows the dominant classes to substitute for the reality of a nation subject to severe stress and strain the fable of a kind and welcoming society”. Because hipsters are also hypocrites, Guilluy argues: they denounce globalisation, but never challenge it because it serves them so well; they preach diversity, but send their children to private schools; they love the “authenticity” of living in working-class areas, but contribute to their destruction through rising property prices.

“The revolution is coming, he warns: “The existing order will finally break down not as the result of some decisive event, but as the result of a slow process of social and cultural disaffiliation of the working class.” It has already brought us Brexit in Britain and Trump in the US; “a new form of class conflict” is upon us, and a “modern slave rebellion” is on its way.

A modern slave rebellion?!

Totalitarianism from below.

Totalitarianism from below. In the West we are too inclined to see Communism as something imposed from outside, from on top, by Bolsheviks and their goons, by foreign conquest. But Communism is also imposed from below, by people empowered by envy, spite and malice, who hate distinction, independence, and anything that does not smell of themselves. But it can also occur from efforts to be nice, to respect newly invented rights not to be offended. Enforced speech is everywhere.

Chris Taylor writes in “2010s = 1984: the Decade we finally understood Orwell” that

“The Party doesn’t get its power from spying on its citizens, or turning them into snitches, or punishing sex crimes. All were presented as mere tools of the state. How did it come to wield that control in the first place? 

“Orwell, aka Eric Blair, a socialist freedom fighter and a repentant former colonial officer who had a lifelong fascination with language and politics, knew that no control could be total until you colonized people’s heads too. A state like his could only exist with loud, constant, and obvious lies.”

” To be a totalitarian, he knew from his contemporary totalitarians, you had to seize control of truth itself. You had to redefine truth as “whatever we say it is.” You had to falsify memories and photos and rewrite documents. Your people could be aware that all this was going on, so long as they kept that awareness to themselves and carried on (which is what doublethink is all about).”

A tax accountant, Maya Forstater, a woman, in England was fired for saying that people cannot change their sex. The Court ruled that such views were not acceptable and “unprotected”. This from the Guardian:

“A researcher who lost her job at a thinktank after tweeting that transgender women cannot change their biological sex has lost a test case because her opinions were deemed to be “absolutist”.

“In a keenly anticipated judgment that will stir up fresh debate over transgender issues, Judge James Tayler, an employment judge, ruled that Maya Forstater’s views did “not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief”. (skip)

“But in a 26-page judgment released late on Wednesday, Tayler dismissed her claim. “I conclude from … the totality of the evidence, that [Forstater] is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”Advertisement

“In response to the ruling, Forstater said: “I struggle to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgment, which I think will be shared by the vast majority of people who are familiar with my case.

“My belief … is that sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female. Men and boys are male. Women and girls are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life by almost everyone.”

This is the aspect that is so disturbing, as Douglas Murray has observed, that truths which everyone held since conscious thought began are declared by some pompous ass dressed in robes as “unprotected”, and worse, that one can be mobbed, harassed, fired with impunity, and subject to disgrace on social media for insisting the obvious fact that a person born with XY chromosomes is a genetic male, no matter what surgeries he undergoes and costumes he dons.

While it may be polite to address a person by their desired gender, this does not abolish biology.

The core of the case for the judgment was that

“A number of commentators have viewed this case as being about the claimant’s freedom of speech. Employment Judge Tayler acknowledged that there is nothing to stop the claimant campaigning against the proposed revisions to the Gender Recognition Act or, expressing her opinion that there should be some spaces that are restricted to women assigned female at birth. However, she can do so without insisting on calling transwomen men. It is the fact that her belief necessarily involves violating the dignity of others which means it is not protected under the Equality Act 2010.”

Transwomen are men. There, I said it. I have now committed thoughtcrime. And notice how this totalitarian lie is achieved: by excessive niceness. It has become a firing offence to insist that a transwoman is still a man. My feelings are hurt. The tyranny of hurt feelings is the origin of the social compulsion being enforced by courts. Many of my beliefs necessarily involve violating the dignity of others, and so do yours. But if I have made my dignity depend on your addressing me as a woman, or as a Duke, or anything I can imagine – and the rules change every day – am I obliged to treat you as you claim, or as a preposterous mountebank?

Maya Forstater attends the employment tribunal in November
Maya Forstater insisted upon the right to call a transwoman not a woman, but a male. Heresy!

Trump’s policies are rational

Trump has a three point program, on which he and his regime are executing (as the business guys so love to say).

  • raise American working wages by controlling trade, hence managed trade deals with all trading partners;
  • raise American working class wages by restricting unskilled and illegal immigration from any source, especially central America;
  • No wars, so no expenditure on fixing a world that refuses to be fixed.

It is a program so simple you can remember it. Three points. So what are the results? Have working class wages been raised?

The poorest fourth of US wage earners garnered 4.5% wage growth, better than the other income quartiles.

When I listen to all my bien-pensant haters of Trump, and they are legion, I have to remind them that Trump is acting rationally to defend the interest of Americans, as he conceives the problem. His policies are to me utterly transparent. That he fights bare knuckled against the Democrats, the media, and the pretensions of both to govern us, is an entertainment. That he succeeds is a source of happiness. Yet it will be those working class people whose newly improved wages can be felt in their pockets who will put him back for a second term. Why is this not obvious?