A world less divided by religious intolerance

Pakistan Flirts with a Strong Israel:

According to an op-ed in Haaretz this week, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his military supporters are allowing a highly-censored media unprecedented freedom to discuss the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.

This may go well beyond my enemy’s enemy and into the territory of mutual respect and accommodation in a less religiously divided world – that is, a world less divided by religious belief. The Enlightenment may yet become universal. These are only the first seeds, but this is how the world must go if we are all to live in peace and in prosperity.

Intelligent design and the true nature of reality

Venus Flytrap Takes a Bite Out of Darwinism. Watch only if you can bear a true horror story direct from nature. No modern film would go to this kind of story since for the fly, there is no happy ending, even if some do get away. Not to mention that Darwinian theory cannot possibly provide a mechanism through which the Venus Fly Trap could have evolved since the necessary combination of the fly trap along with the ability to gain nutrition from flies defies explanation. Each half is purposeless without the other, and the independent but simultaneous evolution of each is impossible.

On a new episode of ID the Future, Brazilian Scotsman Andrew McDiarmid reads from Scottish Brazilian chemist Marcos Eberlin’s recent book Foresight: How the Chemistry of Life Reveals Planning and Purpose. In this excerpt, the distinguished scientist highlights the challenge the Venus flytrap poses for evolutionary theory. Download the podcast or listen to it here.

Dr. Eberlin, the former president of the International Mass Spectrometry Association, describes the problem: The Venus flytrap, like all carnivorous plants, had no use for its insect-trapping function unless it also had an insect-digesting function. And vice versa. Did they really both evolve together? And how, when there would be no functional advantage along much of the evolutionary pathway to the sophisticated finished system? Finally, how did this “evolutionary miracle” also happen in four other carnivorous plant genera?

If you watched the video, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Too smart for their own good

This post got me thinking about something I have noticed for quite some time: Why the smartest people can make the dumbest mistakes. Before going on let me take you to the heart of it. As you will see, the author of this report, ironically, exactly demonstrate personally the case he is trying to make out.

Consider people’s beliefs about issues such as climate change. Among Democrats, the pattern is exactly as you would hope [?????]: the more educated someone is, the more likely they are to endorse the scientific evidence that carbon emissions generated by humans are leading to global warming. Among Republicans, however, the exact opposite is true: the more educated someone is, the less likely they are to accept the scientific evidence…. When it comes to certain tightly held beliefs, higher intelligence and knowledge is a tool for propaganda rather than truth seeking, amplifying our errors.

The unfortunate conclusion is that, even if you happen to be rational in general, it’s possible that you may still be prone to flawed reasoning on certain questions that matter most to you.

Universities are filled with people who really do believe global warming is an issue needing deep consideration and urgent action. They are also places filled with socialists, who because they hunger for someone else to pay their bills, and hate it when someone gets rich running a business, want the government to run the economy. The media the same. Talking to these people leave you aware how precarious our future is. The more we breed ignorant elites who think they are smarter than everyone else while knowing nothing about politics, history and economics, the more in danger we become.

What really needs teaching is the imperative that whatever you may believe, you should be able to make the strongest possible case for the other side of the argument. The smug insufferable ignorance of the global-warming set, or these full-on clueless imbecilic socialists, is a continuous astonishment to me. They’ll tell you about some phone call from a Nigerian scammer as they head off to some demo on behalf of some group who would if they could rob and murder them in their sleep, and who even say so everywhere else but to their face. And sometimes even to their face.

The American election is still a toss up. Trump is by no means the certainty he ought to be. And you know what? Given the profile of the man who wrote this article –

David Robson is a senior journalist at the BBC –

there would not the the slightest doubt that he is worried about global warming, favours socialism, votes far left and hates PDT.

CPAC Australia first day

The first day of Australia’s first Conservative Political Action Conference was an astonishing success. I cannot tell you what a satisfying day it was, full of interest and surprise, even where I didn’t expect to be surprised. I will only hit what stood out for me, so if I leave out The Reunion of the Outsiders, for example, it’s only because they were precisely as insightful and entertaining as I thought they would be. It really is irritating to be reminded how cowardly Australian television was in not being able to keep all three together for a nothing bit of TV of a Sunday morning once a week.

Tony Abbott came next, who reminded me once more how the most philosophical and potentially among the great Prime Ministers of this country was sandbagged by a narcissistic incompetent without any of the ability of the man he replaced. He discusses what he saw as the essence of conservative leadership, “pragmatism, based on values”. I also thought the advice he gave his daughter when she took up a post in the Australian embassy in China was exceptional. Don’t spend your time learning about China. There are lots of experts on that. Learn about Australia: “You must know about us.” He fears, and I think rightly, that the traditions of the West “are no longer holding their grip”. And he repeated John Howard’s definition of a conservative: “people who do not believe themselves morally superior to their grandparents.”

Warren Mundine and Jacinta Price provided an Indigenous perspective, similar in their outlook but very different in their focus. Both, as I heard them, provided the same lesson: Indigenous Australians need stop dwelling on whatever wrongs may have been done to their ancestors since nothing from the past can be changed, but should instead look to creating the kind of future that can be made for themselves embedded as they are within a Western nation from whom they have a lot to learn given the people with whom they share this continent with.

We also heard from the founder of CPAC in the United States who discussed PDT and American politics generally with a Republican Congressman from Tennessee. An hour of back and forth with among my favourite bits the discussion of “The Trump Whisper”. This is when someone would ask him to come close because they wanted to say something to them – usually, he would think, because they wanted to complain about something in private – but then would say to him, in this very quiet voice, “I really like Trump.” Easy to believe, given how viscious the left is, but, as he noted, it is a problem all the same.

They were followed by Judge Jeanine who was even more entertaining live than she is on Fox. Spellbinding. Terrifying.

Not last nor least, but the surprise feature speaker was Raheem Kassam, whose prominence was brought to the front when Kristine Kenealy tried to get his entry-visa denied. A very impressive speaker, filled with insight, humour and philosophical detail about an issue of the greatest importance – radical Islam – of which he had much of interest and value to say. He also said this, which was an interesting perspective on how times change, that Enoch Powell, yes that Enoch Powell, had taught classics at the University of Sydney when he had been 24 years old, and amongst his students had been Gough Whitlam. No problem getting a visa then, and GW studied classics!

Congratulations to Andrew Cooper for pulling this off. Then tomorrow there is still Nigel Farage to start off the day.

Religious freedom is what every religious group concedes to every other religious group, not just what they receive in return

Below is a link to Dr Augusto Zimmerman’s latest article in The Spectator Australia.

The Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, is calling on the Prime Minister to push for new laws to greater protect Muslims against so-called “Islamophobia”; that is, the strong criticism of the Islamic religion. He notoriously states that Section 18C should be amended so as to allow Muslims to receive the same level of legal protection afforded to ethnic groups.

If such an appalling demand were to be attended, then the final outcome would be to outlaw our constitutional freedom of political communication if such communication may be displeasing to the inflated sensitivities of radical religionists. As Fairfax journalist David Crowe points out in the Sydney Morning Herald, “The obvious danger is a blasphemy law – if not in name, then in effect. At what point does speaking out against a religion turn into a form of discrimination that should be stopped?”

Just to remind, this is the same Muslim leader who has criticised a secular judge (Justice Fagan of the NSW Supreme Court) for daring to ask why these leaders often fail to disavow the “belligerent” verses of the Koran, thus weakening the convictions of Islamic terrorists. Dr Mohammed was adamant that Koranic verses can never be criticised by whoever the person might be, including the verses in the Koran that objectively promote anti-Semitism and religious violence.

The rest of Dr Zimmermann’s article is here.

What is the legal and ethical answer?

Let me see if I can put my point in reply this way.

Suppose I start up a blog on some platform and it runs for a few years.

Then suppose whoever runs the blog’s platform decides that they do not like the contents of the blog.

Is it permissible, either legally or ethically, for the platform host to close down the blog and trash all of the blog’s history?

Whether it is or it isn’t, should it be?

Illiteracy and the modern student

Via Instapundit: DISPATCHES FROM THE SOCIAL MEDIA VIRUS: Minds Destroyed By The Internet.

My students are unable to analyze, follow and understand written text. To be more specific, they are unable to decipher compound sentences, understand relationship between subordinate and main clauses. They can’t grasp the logical relationship between sentences, let alone paragraphs, which are totally opaque to them.

When I started to teach (only 2 years ago), I prepared material written in normal, rational, technical prose — for adults, or as I understood they would be. Immediately, it became apparent that there was zero comprehension. Well, thought I, let’s make it a bit simpler. So I reduced the paragraphs to bullet point lists.

Still nothing? Hmm.

I started to write step by step, basically cut-and-paste instructions, highlighted the important points, wrote in notes and cross references (like NOTE: you did this in step #2 please refer to #2). Abject failure.

So, especially in the exams, I started to write in answers in the follow up questions, like so: “If you correctly answered #1 as ABC what is the cause of …?”. Basically I give them the answers in followup questions, plus cut and paste documents. My exams are open book, open notes, Internet access.

95% of them fail.

It’s too bad that, despite winning that minor bit of unpleasantness called World War II, Churchill has become an unperson in the academy due to doubleplus ungood badthink on issues of colonialism. There’s much to be learned from how he crafted his speeches, as his latest successor at No. 10 Downing Street points out in this 2014 video:

It is possible women who live in capitalist economies really do prefer socialism

Even more certain is that women who live in socialist economies prefer capitalism. It may take a year or two after the socialists have taken over, but eventually they figure it out, as do men as well. So let us begin with this: A MAJORITY of American women age 18-54 would prefer living in a socialist country to living in a capitalist country. That story was replied to here: 55% Of Women Prefer Socialism To Capitalism. Here’s Why They’re Wrong.

What is of particular interest is the list of attributes being sought in the socialist system these women are seeking to have introduced. The list is shown in descending order of approval, from 76% for the first through to 52% for the tenth.

  1. Universal healthcare (76 percent)
  2. Tuition-free education (72 percent)
  3. Living wage (68 percent)
  4. State-controlled economy (66 percent)
  5. State control and regulation of private property (61 percent)
  6. High taxes for the rich (60 percent)
  7. State-controlled media and communication (57 percent)
  8. Strong environmental regulations (56 percent)
  9. High public spending (55 percent)
  10. Government “democratizes” private businesses—that is, gives workers control over them—to the greatest extent possible (52 percent)

“State-controlled economy” pretty well defines socialism with 66 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 54 signing up for whatever it might mean in practice. These attitudes go very neatly with the 57% who seek “State-controlled media and communication”. With this as to provide the groundwork, let me continue with this: Can we risk nominating a man for president? Here is the point she is making:

Men have had their chance. Let us not risk four more years of this. After the past 230, we have been warned.

Yes, let women take over running our communities with no involvement of men where they can introduce exactly what they are looking for (see above). And following from that, let me continue with this: How Feminism Breeds Marital Resentment. I am sure it does with consequences all of their own. There is then this, where again both sides of the story are told. First this.

I’m sure this is wrong. Here is the other side.

Well, I’m not going to be around to know how it finally turns out when and if this has all played itself out. But I have to say, a complete take-over of our societies by Islam seems a more likely prospect than a society run by feminists.

Defining socialism in the modern world

Here is the original story: Socialism is losing its stigma thanks to Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez as a MAJORITY of American women age 18-54 would prefer living in a socialist country to living in a capitalist country. That story was replied to here: 55% Of Women Prefer Socialism To Capitalism. Here’s Why They’re Wrong. But what is of particular interest is the list of attributes being sought in the socialist system these women are seeking to have introduced, in descending order of approval, from 76% for the first through to 52% for the tenth.

  1. Universal healthcare (76 percent)
  2. Tuition-free education (72 percent)
  3. Living wage (68 percent)
  4. State-controlled economy (66 percent)
  5. State control and regulation of private property (61 percent)
  6. High taxes for the rich (60 percent)
  7. State-controlled media and communication (57 percent)
  8. Strong environmental regulations (56 percent)
  9. High public spending (55 percent)
  10. Government “democratizes” private businesses—that is, gives workers control over them—to the greatest extent possible (52 percent)

“State-controlled economy” pretty well defines socialism with 66 percent signing up for whatever it might mean in practice. Goes very neatly with “State-controlled media and communication”. The full socialist box and dice.