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Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Barrel Strength - Over-Proof Opinion, Smoothly Aged Insight

Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance” has been published

The most important book of social science since The Bell Curve has been published this week. It is called “A Troublesome Inheritance” by the science writer Nicholas Wade. You should read it.

Here is an excerpt from the review of Wade’s book by Charles Murray, co-author with Richard Hernnstein, of the Bell Curve.


Before they have even opened “A Troublesome Inheritance,” some reviewers will be determined not just to refute it but to discredit it utterly—to make people embarrassed to be seen purchasing it or reading it. These chapters will be their primary target because Mr. Wade chose to expose his readers to a broad range of speculative analyses, some of which are brilliant and some of which are weak. If I had been out to trash the book, I would have focused on the weak ones, associated their flaws with the book as a whole and dismissed “A Troublesome Inheritance” as sloppy and inaccurate. The orthodoxy’s clerisy will take that route, ransacking these chapters for material to accuse Mr. Wade of racism, pseudoscience, reliance on tainted sources, incompetence and evil intent. You can bet on it….

“A Troublesome Inheritance” poses a different order of threat to the orthodoxy. The evidence in “The Bell Curve,” “Male/Female” and “A Blank Slate” was confined to the phenotype—the observed characteristics of human beings—and was therefore vulnerable to attack or at least obfuscation. The discoveries Mr. Wade reports, that genetic variation clusters along racial and ethnic lines and that extensive evolution has continued ever since the exodus from Africa, are based on the genotype, and no one has any scientific reason to doubt their validity.

And yet, as of 2014, true believers in the orthodoxy still dominate the social science departments of the nation’s universities. I expect that their resistance to “A Troublesome Inheritance” will be fanatical, because accepting its account will be seen, correctly, as a cataclysmic surrender on some core premises of political correctness. There is no scientific reason for the orthodoxy to win. But it might nonetheless.

So one way or another, “A Troublesome Inheritance” will be historic. Its proper reception would mean enduring fame as the book that marked a turning point in social scientists’ willingness to explore the way the world really works. But there is a depressing alternative: that social scientists will continue to predict planetary movements using Ptolemaic equations, as it were, and that their refusal to come to grips with “A Troublesome Inheritance” will be seen a century from now as proof of this era’s intellectual corruption.

It is my conviction, based on observation, that the tenured university social scientist is one of the least curious, least fact-driven, least analytical of people. He and she is the hierophant of a dogmatic revelation that asserts that race is a social construct, that human evolution stopped 30,000 years ago and that man is inherently equal but for an evil existing “system” which promotes inequality. In all important respects humans are the same, except of course, as regards our position for or against “the system”, which position acts as the sole relevant criterion of moral worth. Their ability to internalize and spout the religion of social science got them their jobs. They are priests of an ideology, which has the force and status of an established church. Do not ask them to understand what they are paid not to understand.


Doug Saunders’ Alternative Universe – 2

Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail provoked fresh astonishment this past weekend when he asserted that the Reagan military build-up of the 1980s actually prolonged Communism, rather than brought it down.This is what he wrote:

They were wrong the last time around. The Cold War Hawks have been interred in cold earth for decades because they were wrong about the Cold War itself….


In the 1980s, the hawks blew our chance to end the Cold War. When the USSR was about to collapse politically and economically, the hawks persuaded NATO to respond to Moscow’s gestures with military confrontation. The 1983 stationing of missiles along the Iron Curtain did nothing to reduce the size or scope of the Soviet empire, but forced Moscow to keep the charade going for years after it would have quit. We should have known: Decades of such hawkish threats had done nothing to prevent tanks from wheeling into capitals and democratic movements from being overthrown under Moscow’s orders in Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, or Poland in 1981.

“Strength” didn’t end that conflict. It cemented it in place and rendered it irresolvable. What finally ended it was something that remains our best hope to end this one: strong economic sanctions, tough but constant dialogue and sensible exploitation of Moscow’s weakness.

Is this fantasy or mendacity? This interpretation is so wholly perverse it staggers me: not even wrong, I am tempted to say.

  • The Soviet Union collapsed because it was economically wrecked.
  • It was economically wrecked because its economy could not maintain the huge level of military expenditures it had ramped up from the 1960s forward.
  • The Soviet Union was spending about 50% of state income on the military by the 1980s, and possibly much mor4e than that.
  • The Reagan presidency (January 1981-January 1989), confronted the Soviet Union with a military build-up it could not match. Instances include: deployment of the Pershing nuclear missile in Europe, to match the Soviet Union’s SS20s, the expansion of the US Navy to 600 ships, the beefing up the military presence in Europe with new fighters, tanks and general improvement of morale, and finally, the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which threatened the USSR’s first strike capability with space-based weapons.
  • This build-up was achieved essentially by a decision to raise US interest rates, which caused the world to put its money into US dollars, so that the US Government was able to afford the debt, cut inflation, and lowered Soviet commodity prices.

Essentially the US snapped its fingers and engaged in an arms race that drove the Soviet regime into despair and sped its impending collapse. The Soviets were placing new and expensive SS20s aimed at European cities in  the late 1970s, during the Presidencies of Gerald Ford (1974-1977) and  of Jimmy Carter (1977-1981). The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the post-Soviet Russian regime signed the Treaty of Paris in 1990, formally renouncing Russia’s abandonment of the comity of nations which the Bolsheviks started in 1917, and settling World War 2 once and for all by reuniting the Germanies

So Doug, when did this arms build-up, arranged by Cold Warriors, delay the Soviet collapse? For what years – and be specific – was the Soviet Union propped up by the Cold Warriors?

Was the Soviet Union ready to crack under the pressure of President Jimmy Carter’s regime (1976-1980)? Hardly. The Russians invaded Afghanistan on Carter’s watch, and the Shah of Iran was overthrown when the Americans threw him to the wolves. As soon as Reagan came in, the Iranians announced the release of the American hostages that had been held since the fall of the Shah, another consequence of Jimmy Carter’s weakness. And all during Carter’s Presidency, the Soviet Union engaged in massive build up of its armed forces, particularly nuclear weapons.

So for what period of years was the Soviet Union kept propped up by Reagan’s anti-communism? If the Soviets were still placing SS20s in the early 1980s,  and had cried uncle by 1989, by what period of years, Doug, did Reagan’s arms race prolong Russian Communism? To ask the question is to explode its ridiculous premise.

As to his point that “hawkishness” did not prevent the Soviet Union from repressing the Hungarians 1956), the Czechs (1968), the Poles (1981) – he forgets the bloody repression of the East Germans in 1947 – he completely inverts the causal relationship between Communism and anti-Communism.

“Hawkishness” was the Western reaction to Soviet repression. Anti-communism was a reaction to Stalin’s imposition of the Soviet regime in Eastern Europe, and his violation at every turn of the Yalta Accords. (See Ann Applebaum’s excellent book on how the Soviets crushed Eastern Europe from 1944-1956 ).

That Doug Saunders holds a significant position at a major Canadian newspaper is a disgrace to the Globe. If people were more historically informed, they would be embarrassed that such a turd passes smoothly out of the anus of Canada’s establishment newspaper.

Yet there is more. Saunders’ attempt to misconstrue the struggle against Communism is part of a gigantic and ongoing attempt of the Left to snatch away the West’s unequivocal  victory against this demonic system.

After National Socialism was laid in its grave in 1945, two systems of political legitimacy confronted each other around the world: international socialism and parliamentary democracy. Our domestic left was very often blind and squishy on the subject of Communism. It professed greater concern for South African apartheid than for communist regimes, which exterminated hundreds of millions of people, and kept the rest enslaved.

Why? You will have to ask them. I do not know. But in the course of life I have noticed that the left-wing mind (mis-labelled the “liberal”) is not concerned with outcomes, only with self-congratulation for its noble intentions. The ongoing civil wars and massacres in Syria are of no concern, but Palestinian irredentism must be supported by disinvesting in Israel.

Why? My theory is that there is an implicit and never-consciously stated hierarchy of race, religion and class in the Left. It is as racist and elitist as anything they imagine conservatives think like. The hierarchy of moral concern goes like this. White is worse than brown is worse than black. Jewish is worse than Christian is worse than Islamic. Man bad, woman good, lesbian woman best. Zimbabwe can go to utter ruin but that’s okay, as long as that nasty old Ian Smith is not in charge. South-African protestant whites, suppressing blacks, that is the ultimate evil, except for – wait for it – Jews suppressing Muslims. Even worse!!

The Western Left was wrong about Communism as it is wrong about Islam, and for much the same reasons.

Both ideologies are conveniently anti-western, anti-white, anti-Christian, and anti-Jewish, and anti-conservative. So why attack then tool that works for you?

Doug Saunders is just the fresh smooth face of anti-westernism – anti-us-ism, as I like to call it, the voice of self-hatred, made safe for the Globe and Mail’s readership. A smooth turd indeed.

Silly campus speech rules

I cannot say much more than Eugene Volokh does on this subject, but when you read this story about the University of Hawaii, Hilo campus, please notice that the university administrators say that there is a special “free speech zone” where student organizations may hand out pamphlets.

It is between the theater and the new student services building, like a tolerated smoking zone where obnoxious social habits may be freely practiced, before they are finally expunged from the University.


Hilo Hawaii

A friend who had lived in Honolulu for three years said that the political culture of Hawaii was a blend of Huey Long Democrat and Imperial Japan. I guess the University there reflects the general conformist and obedient brainlessness. Trouble is, has the brainlessness spread to Hilo from Harvard?

Political correctness and Islam are the same thing

All the instances of suppression of speech are the same story: the Left has gotten into the habit of suppressing speech and cannot stop at any point; since habits are habit-forming. Says Mark Steyn:

 If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all. So screw that.

After recounting all the recent instances of people suppressed or punished for being out of line with the Cathedral, Steyn adds:

 A generation ago, progressive opinion at least felt obliged to pay lip service to the Voltaire shtick. These days, nobody’s asking you to defend yourself to the death: a mildly supportive retweet would do. But even that’s further than most of those in the academy, the arts, the media are prepared to go. As Erin Ching, a student at 60-grand-a-year Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, put it in her college newspaper the other day: ‘What really bothered me is the whole idea that at a liberal arts college we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.’ Yeah, who needs that? There speaks the voice of a generation: celebrate diversity by enforcing conformity.

Once again, Steyn ties it all together in a way I can only envy.

As it happens, the biggest ‘safe space’ on the planet is the Muslim world. For a millennium, Islamic scholars have insisted, as firmly as a climate scientist or an American sophomore, that there’s nothing to debate. And what happened? As the United Nations Human Development Programme’s famous 2002 report blandly noted, more books are translated in Spain in a single year than have been translated into Arabic in the last 1,000 years. Free speech and a dynamic, innovative society are intimately connected: a culture that can’t bear a dissenting word on race or religion or gender fluidity or carbon offsets is a society that will cease to innovate, and then stagnate, and then decline, very fast.

It is the concern of every thinking person that the we are rapidly heading to the same dismal state of inquiry as we find in Islam. We arrive at it by the same process as political correctness enforces: the suppression of free “unbalanced” debate.

And just as it was with Islam, it is a lack of confidence that underlies the suppression of free inquiry. In both cases, the lack of confidence is justified.

Compare that insecurity to the robust confidence of Christians trained in the Greek classical tradition, who are ready to take on philosophical attacks from any direction. Why are they so confident? Because they believe that human reason grasps reality and that, while some things are mysteries, we do actually apprehend with our minds what is real.

That is why Christianity gave rise to universities, science, and the modern age, and that is why political correctness and Islam are so weak, while appearing so strong. Their weakness causes them to suppress, and what each suppresses is – for the moment – different. Soon, however, political correctness will be Islam, and Islam will be political correctness. What is essentially alike will recognize its underlying likeness in the other, and will assimilate. Borg will absorb Borg.

If these forces prevail, just put a black flag on top of Parliament, shut it down and refer all political issues to the jurists at human rights commissions whose judges, naturally, will be Islamized political apparatchiks. All inquiry and discussion will become subject to  jurisprudence, since everything important has been decided anyway. No one will question anything, and inquiry will rapidly atrophy. That, at least, is their hope.

Why do Islam and political correctness resemble one another? Because they know they are artificial constructs that cannot withstand the scrutiny of reason, and must rely on the enforcement of conformity in thought, word and deed to hide from themselves their emptiness.

Am I wrong?


The liberal view of tolerance

Shannon Gormley of the Citizen  provides us today with a particularly mendacious view of liberal tolerance: “Liberal tolerance means being intolerant of intolerance”.

The way she slips in the false arguments is quite breathtaking in its audacity. Getting to the heart of it, she writes:

Liberals aren’t being hypocritical by vehemently opposing prejudice in all its forms: on the contrary, opposition to prejudice is entirely consistent with the liberal belief that every individual’s human rights have to be treated with respect, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, age, race or religion.

and after saying liberals have a right to drown out intolerance, she adds:

Moreover, don’t be surprised if other peoples’ charges of prejudice “drown out” your opinions. That’s just what happens when people who voice hateful opinions are outnumbered by people who voice the opinion that hatefulness is hateful.

In short, all opinions having the tendency to cause one to be intolerant of something are “hateful”, and of course, hatefulness is wrong, and should be drowned out.

Now every cell in our bodies does not tolerate invasion by chemicals that do not belong there. Are they being intolerant? Every person does not tolerate unwanted intrusion into their living space. Is that intolerant? Yes of course it is.

We are intolerant of drivers going at high speed along residential streets, particularly where children may be playing. Is that intolerant? Of course it is.

So, Shannon Gormley, in the course of assuming what needs to be proven, that all intolerance is bad, and therefore hateful (another conflation of issues) manages to justify Brandeis University refusing to award Ayaan Hirsi Ali a doctorate because she proposes that Islam is at war with us, and that is intolerant, and therefore hateful, and deserving of being drowned out.

As Gormley writes:

The idea of “liberal intolerance” is being framed as a hatred of dissenting opinions. But for the most part, liberals aren’t taking issue with the fact that a hateful opinion is being voiced. They’re taking issue with the opinion itself. And they’re winning some of the arguments.

That is precisely what is not happening. They are taking issue with the possibility of even hearing reasoned discussion of things they do not like, such as that Islam is a menace to liberal society, and to liberals themselves.And they are not winning the arguments, they are preventing the discussion from happening, and they are not even denying it.

Shannon Gormley is recounting untruths and she ought to know it.





When I hear of oppression, this is what I think of

I was listening to CBC radio, a while back, to young articulate Canadian Indians (aboriginals) talking about how incredibly hurt they had been by aboriginal schools and how angry angry angry they were about their oppressed existence.

Aboriginal schools of a certain era were Edwardian light-security concentration camps for youth, such as the one I went to in the 1950s and 60s at great expense to my parents. You could be beaten by teachers for failing to know rules you had never been taught ( I will kill you, Roger Reynolds, if I ever find you). You were instructed in grammar and maths and expected to know subjects, conjugate irregular french verbs, learn Shakespeare, write clearly, and be imbued with patriotic fervour for the British Empire, the Dominion, and Victorian ideals. The food was bad but we were allowed home.

The Indian residential schools probably taught less French and more Christianity than we were. Nevertheless, I am skeptical that residential schools of the 1920s or 1950s were any tougher than what white people were undergoing in the 1920s and 1950s: regimentation, obedience, education, hierarchy, and a very strong inculcation into the idea that the world did not centre on you. It was not child-centred learning.

For me, words like “racism” connote picking up a machete and massacring your neighbours if they belong to the wrong tribe.  Never hiring a man of proven worth because he is of the wrong tribe, that would count to as real racism. Forget “microaggressions”. I find myself micro-aggressed by people who are badly dressed; by people who whine on public radio, by slovenly thought, by pompous know-betters, by cross-country skiers who complain about trails being used by snow-shoers: name your pet hates; you have them too. A sensitivity to Micro-aggressions are the sign of how nice everything is becoming.

You want to read about real oppression, practised by the experts of a police-state? Read this narrative about growing up in Ceausescu’s Romania as the child of a dissident. (“How the Secret Police Tracked my Childhood”) Then talk to me about residential schools, if you dare.



Kay debates Drache about suppression of speech on campus

The MacDonald-Laurier Institute held its debate last night at the War Museum on the state of repression of speech on Canadian universities. The contestants were Barbara Kay of the National Post and Daniel Drache, a retired professor of York University. Both debaters had gone to high school with each other in Toronto ages ago.

I need not summarize the arguments: the hyperlinks take you to the main positions.

You have to hand it to Drache: given a weak hand he played as well as he could, essentially saying, yes, there have been negative incidents, but on the whole, the curriculum has never been broader, the kinds of people attending university have never been more diverse, and  the discussion takes place on the Internet anyway.

In short, everyone cool your jets, nothing to look at here, the university is not really the centre of intellectual engagement anyway, and accept the fact that the university has moved on from the 1960s when, during the teach-ins against the VietNam war, free speech was at its apogee.

This was not so much a defence as a capitulation. Says Drache:

In the last decade, a handful of universities such as Concordia, York and Ottawa have revoked invitations of high-profile controversial speakers to appear on campus for reasons of their personal security, including Coulter’s famously aborted talk at the University of Ottawa in 2010. Clearly, universities need to look at their principles and practices and come up with better answers. But these few security-related incidents don’t amount to an existential threat to freedom of speech on campus.

A couple of riots by leftists against conservative speakers is not an existential threat to fee speech.

In the age of the Internet, the voices of dissent and contrarians are everywhere. Free-speech is alive and robust, but it has largely decamped from the university to social media.

So, really, the argument of Barbara Kay is true, there is no free speech in universities, but it does not matter anyway, because the university is irrelevant.

Having surrendered to the position of Barbara Kay, there was nothing left for Drache to do but say “it doesn’t matter”.

Accordingly, if the Drache position is right, why not abolish public subsidies to selected parts of the university?

Suppose,  as a thought experiment, all power were handed to me, the Grand Inquisitor, to decide whether to fund universities at all. Now, suppose further, as a Grand Inquisitor I am the inheritor of a confident tradition of intellectual inquiry founded in faith that the universe is comprehensible, and that knowledge is possible. Just for the sake of convenience let us call this the Aristotelian-Thomistic intellectual inheritance of Europe, which until the mid-20th century animated most of the universities of North America.

What then would I do with the modern university, which proclaims from every lectern in the arts faculty that knowledge is specific to narratives, and that narratives are confined to specific races, classes or sexes, so that universal knowledge or standards are impossible, and, to the extent they are proclaimed to exist, that this is hegemonic male-white-sexist-racist thinking?

I would abolish the arts faculties, of course, and hand over philosophy, history, and the arts to private  academies. Not one drop of public subsidy to the organs of marxist-feminist-nihilist indoctrination. They will never be missed.

A massive reduction of  indoctrinated illiterates would ensue. The university would be decoupled from its principal power: to assign credentials that someone has learned something, when all they have learned is an attitude.

If the university is irrelevant to free speech and free inquiry, why are we subsidizing these metastasizing cancers of political indoctrination? Why, it would take a university president to justify this. I have just the man for the job.

What the other side in this debate really needed was an Allan Rock, former Justice Minister under the Liberals, creator of the gun registry, head of the University of Ottawa, a man who manifestly does not believe in free speech; who, during the Ann Coulter affair a couple of years ago, nailed his colours to the mast of political correctness. (Rock had pre-approved the letter from the vice-President to Ann Coulter, the American controversialist, warning her that she could be subject to Canada’s hate speech laws. I read that letter: it was one of the smarmiest, most-condescending, fatuous pieces of ill-bred rudeness I have ever had the occasion to read.)

From a CBC report on the event:

She was unhappy with a note she had received from the university’s provost, François Houle, prior to her appearance. The letter mentioned the Charter of Rights and Canada’s free speech laws and invited Coulter to “educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada.” Coulter earlier said she took that as a threat to “criminally prosecute” her.

Yes, what we need to defend the modern university is an Allan Rock, one who will be shameless in his defence of the suppression of all forms of conservative thought, and strong in his assertions that society ought to subsidize this ongoing effort with billions of dollars.

He is one among many such university administrators.




Wood stoves menaced by EPA rules

New rules from the American federal Environmental Protection Agency threaten to render most stoves made before 1990 unusable. This from Obama’s regime, friend to the poor, right?

How do the rural poor heat their homes? With wood. Some twelve percent of American households heat primarily with wood.

The Census Bureau reports that 2.4 million American families (12 percent of homes) use wood as their primary heating source — seven percent depend on fuel oil to heat their homes.

From another source:

According to the EPA, there are about 12 million wood stoves in the US, and about nine million of those are less than half as efficient as the newest models. The EPA says that current wood stove owners would not be affected (a claim disputed by Forbes and other media) and it would only affect the sale of new wood stoves. Manufactures would have five to eight years to comply.

Most will see it for what it is: an attack by the Volvo-driver class upon the rights of the self-employed, the rural poor, and the independent.

In case you need to be reminded who these people are, you should watch a terrific movie, set in Missouri, called Winter’s Bone, about  rural, largely Scotch-Irish meth-producing rednecks, who live with twenty cars and trucks in their pasture, of which three or four function. Don’t mess with these people. Okay, go ahead and enforce your ban, you poncey bureaucrats. Just wait for the rural reaction.

A good review of Winter’s Bone is found here.

I do not think the US Government wants to mess with its rural poor. They are close to the point of explosion against the regime which drowns them in Mexican immigrants, despise their values, and keeps them unemployed. Somewhere in Taleb’s Anti-Fragile I read that, while bankers have, since 2007, lost some $3 trillion (3 thousand billion) of US pensioners’ savings, cororate executives of companies on the stock market have awarded themselves $400 billion in bonuses. Thus for every $30 they have lost they have been rewarded with $4 of private profit. Socializing losses and privatizing gains; and this is going on in a Democratic administration.

So I figure coming for the wood stoves of the rural poor is going to get some official shot by an enraged old redneck. I hope so.

Pat Condell, Ezra Levant, and Christie Blatchford

Boldly offending Islam  since God knows when. The situation Condell describes in England since the Rushdie fatwa is the end state of what we in Canada will face, and Ezra Levant’s struggle is our struggle. It is that simple. Send him money.

I am disappointed in Christie Blatchford, who is normally a rock on issues like this. The issue, Miss Blatchford, is not whether Ezra Levant was mean to an old crone Jennifer Lynch, the late head of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. He was. The issue is whether Islamic supremacism will be supported in Canadian law, with the effect of suppressing honest public discussion of what this totalitarian political ideology consists of.

A visit to Ezra’s site will show you how to send him money. Every time I see Levant I have to shell out two or three hundred bucks. Now I urge us all, me included, to send some money without the pleasure of hearing him rant.