Culture, politics, science, philosophy.
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The deep Crisis of the West
Critique of Kevin MacDonald
24.02.2011 (updated 28.02.2011). Excerpts from a recent article by Byron Roth:
I have long considered Kevin MacDonald’s work on anti-Semitism to be an important contribution to the social science literature, and I have so stated in my latest book, The Perils of Diversity. His work on the subject bore the marks of serious scholarship when dealing with social issues, among which are a reliance on evidence, full coverage of differing views on that evidence, and a keen eye for the context in which social events play out.
I was therefore dismayed by his intemperate and gratuitous slur in his recent piece at The Occidental Observer (which was re-posted at Alternate Right), “Attack of the "Jew-Hating Stormtroopers"” claiming that “Israel is an apartheid state bent on ethnic cleansing and oppression of the Palestinians.” The vicious attack by David Horowitz on Ron Paul was completely out of line and should be answered; however, MacDonald’s skewed depiction of the Israel-Palestinian conflict didn’t help his cause.
Read the entire article at AltRight.
Se also reply to Roth from Ellison Lodge.
Worth less than hamsters?
15.02.2011. Excerpts from Fjordman's latest essay at EuropeNews:
In January 2011, the EU Observer stated that France stands to lose a case at the European Court of Justice over its neglect of the Great Hamster of Alsace, a species facing extinction. Sweden was about to be taken to court by the European Commission for allowing wolf hunting. Paris stands to be slapped with a multi-million euro fine for not protecting hamsters.
Notice how the EU worries more about hamsters than about the native peoples of an entire continent, the cradle of the most creative and innovative civilization in the history of mankind. We are worth less than dust. I cannot recall having seen a single report from the European Union, or for that matter the US Government, about the wave of racist violence against whites in major cities caused by the mass immigration of alien peoples that is actively promoted by Western authorities. Yet we now have one about hamsters. Does this mean that Western authorities care more about hamsters than about Europeans? It probably does, yes.
If the EU cared half as much about preserving the Swedes, Italians, Danes, Dutch, English, Germans, French or Poles as they do about animals then we might be getting somewhere.
White Westerners have given other peoples, including actively hostile tribes, the tools needed to multiply beyond their native capacity, the transportation needed to travel to our countries, the human rights legislation needed to settle here and the welfare states needed to exploit us.
My personal opinion is that this situation is so unnatural that it cannot go on for much longer, nor will it. For one thing, the Western world simply no longer possesses the physical capacity to fund all of this madness even if it wanted to. I strongly suspect that the current Western-created international political order will soon implode and may take many of the networks it created down with it. Most likely, the global population will be nowhere near the 10-12 billion people many demographers now predict by the year 2100. The simple fact is that the planet cannot support such numbers. Much of Africa can barely feed itself today and will collapse without continued external aid. Human numbers have become artificially inflated because of the technological civilization created by Europeans and could plummet within the coming one hundred years due to wars, epidemics, natural disasters and ecological collapse.
Personally, I can live with China being the world’s largest economy. I cannot and will not accept, however, not having a single major Western city where my daughter can go without being verbally, physically and perhaps sexually harassed because of the color of her skin, eyes and hair. We simply have no other choice than to establish, or re-establish, countries that are exclusively or overwhelmingly for people of European origins. It’s the single greatest challenge we will face over the coming one hundred years. We will do that or we will perish.
Read the entire essay at EuropeNews.
An old gem about his mismeasures
15.02.2011. In the academic journal Personality and Individual Differences (vol. 23, pp. 169-180), Professor J. Philippe Rushton published a scathing review of Stephen Jay Gould's infamous Mismeasure. An adapted version of this article was published in National Review on 15 September 1997, and then republished electronically by Vdare in 2008.
A provocative talk at Society for Personality and Social Psychology
15.02.2011. On January 27th, moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt gave a provocative talk at the annual convention of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology which is already making waves. The following are excerpts from a transcript of his talk published by Edge:
In recent years moral psychology has become a convergence zone for research in many fields. I have summarized the state of the art in moral psychology with these 4 principles. Whenever you want to understand what’s going on in a complex social system, these principles can help. As we think about the future of social psychology, and where we might be in 2020, I think that this 4th one is particularly helpful. Morality binds and blinds. This principle can reveal a rut we've gotten ourselves into, and it will show us a way out.
The biggest question of all time has sometimes been said to be this: Why is there something, rather than nothing? Why is there a universe at all, and why did it begin so rapidly 14 billion years ago? The question is usually asked of astronomers and other natural scientists, but it is just as puzzling, and just as grand, when addressed to social scientists. Why are there large cooperative societies at all, and why did they emerge so rapidly in the last 10,000 years? How did humans become ultrasocial?
Many animals are social. That's not hard to explain from an evolutionary point of view. But only a few are ultrasocial. That is, they live together in very large groups of hundreds or thousands, with a massive division of labor, and a willingness to sacrifice for the group. This trick was first discovered over 100 million years ago by the hymenoptera, that is bees, wasps, and ants. But it was discovered completely independently by some cockroaches who became ultrasocial; we now know them as termites. And it was also discovered completely independently by one species of mammal, the naked mole rat. In all of these cases, though, the trick is the same, that is, they are all first degree relatives. They're all sisters, or sisters and brothers, and they concentrate breeding in a queen. The queen is not the ruler; she's simply the ovary, and in all of these species it's one for all, all for one. If they keep the queen alive to reproduce, they reproduce.
There's just one ultrasocial species on Earth that doesn't use this trick, and that's us. We humans qualify as being ultrasocial. We live together in very large groups of hundreds or thousands or millions, with a massive division of labor and a willingness to sacrifice for the group. But how do we do it? What's our trick? Clearly we don't suppress breeding and concentrate it in one queen or one breeding couple.
Our trick is very different, Our evolved trick is our ability to forge a team by circling around sacred objects & principles. This is a photograph of Muslims circling the Ka'ba, at Mecca. People of all faiths are brought together by their shared devotion to sacred objects, people, and principles. This ability is crucial in war. And in politics. We’re just really good at binding ourselves together into teams, mostly when we’re competing with other teams.
Sacredness is a central and subtle concept in sociology and anthropology, but we can get a simple working definition of it from Phil Tetlock [a social psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania]. Tetlock defines a sacred values as "any value that a moral community implicitly or explicitly treats as possessing infinite or transcendental significance …” If something is a sacred value, you can’t make utilitarian tradeoffs; you can't think in a utilitarian way. You can’t sell a little piece of it for a lot of money, for example. Sacredness precludes tradeoffs. When sacred values are threatened, we turn into “intuitive theologians.” That is, we use our reasoning not to find the truth, but to find ways to defend what we hold sacred.
You can see sacredness at work most clearly in religion, of course. In Christianity, as in Hinduism and many other religions, there's a very explicit vertical dimension running from God at the top to the Devil at the bottom. Religious Christians generally see the bible as holy; it's not a book like any other book; it has to be protected from threats to its holiness. Those threats can be physical, as when somebody spits on or burns a bible. Or those threats can be threats to its veracity and authority, as arose when Darwin's ideas began to spread. There’s a direct contradiction between Darwin and the book of Genesis, so something's gotta give. Some Christians started reading Adam and Eve as metaphor. But those who really sacralized the bible were not able to make such a compromise. They went the other way. They became even more literalist, more fundamentalist. The bible goes up, Darwin goes down.
Of course, this makes it harder for them to understand the biological world around them, and they are then forced into a lot of bad biology, such as intelligent design. Sacralizing distorts thinking. These distortions are easy for outsiders to see, but they are invisible to those inside the force field.
And I really mean force field. Sacred values act like a powerful electromagnet, generating moral flux lines. Everyone and everything must fall into place along those lines. Here's an image of a magnet under a piece of glass, with iron ore shavings spread on top. The shavings all fall into line. Within a moral force field, deviance is deeply disturbing. Apostates and heretics must be banished or executed.
But moral force fields are not only found in religious communities. They can operate in academic fields as well. Let's look at the 3 very liberal social sciences: anthropology, sociology, and psychology. These 3 fields have always leaned left, but things really changed in the 1960s. The civil rights struggle, the brutality inflicted upon peaceful marchers, the Viet Nam war, the assassinations of black leaders... Racial injustice in America was overwhelming, highly visible, and for many people, revolting. The generation that came of age in the 1960s and 1970s was profoundly shaped by these experiences.
A vertical dimension formed, I believe, along the axis of race and racism. Martin Luther King was martyred and sacralized, and the fight for civil rights--the fight against racism--became the sacred cause unifying the left throughout American society, and in universities. Racists and oppressors were at the bottom. Victims of racism and opponents of oppression were at the top.
Social science research often bears on policy issues, and so many of those issues got caught up in the moral flux lines. Just look what happened when Pat Moynihan, a liberal sociologist and public policy expert, wrote a report, for president Johnson's war on poverty, titled "The Negro Family: The Case For National Action." Moynihan desperately wanted government action to help African Americans. But his report included a chapter called “the tangle of pathology” which was his term for the interconnected problems of unmarried motherhood and welfare dependency. Moynihan used the term "culture of poverty." Even though he was very clear that the ultimate cause of this pathology was racism, he still committed the cardinal sin: He criticized African American culture, which means that in a way, he blamed the victims.
The moral electro magnet turned on, tradeoffs were prohibited. Victims had to be blameless. Moynihan went down and was shunned by many of his colleagues at Harvard as a racist. Conversely, the policies went up. They became articles of faith; if your research cast doubt on their efficacy or ethics, you were in violation of the moral force field, and you were a traitor to the team.
Morality binds and blinds, and so, open-minded inquiry into the problems of the Black family was shut down for decades, precisely the decades in which it was most urgently needed. Only in the last few years have sociologists begun to acknowledge that Moynihan was right all along. Sacralizing distorts thinking. Sacred values bind teams together, and then blind them to the truth. That’s fine if you are a religious community. I follow Emile Durkheim in believing that the social function of religion is group binding. But this is not fine for scientists, who ought to value truth above group cohesion.
In closing, I hope I’ve convinced you that we are in fact a tribal moral community, and that our science will improve if we can shut off our moral electromagnet. Here are 3 things you can do to make that happen. First, be careful about “locker room” talk. Be careful when there are students around about creating a hostile climate. Don’t say things like “I’m a good liberal democrat, just like every other social psychologist I know.”
Second, expose yourself to other perspectives. I have a project along with Ravi Iyer and Matt Motyl, at CivilPolitics.org, where we bring together materials to help people understand the other side. I also suggest that you read a book by Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions. And consider subscribing to National Review. I read about 8 magazines every month. Seven of them lean left. I get more new ideas from reading National Review than from any of the others.
Third, advocate for moral diversity, in admissions and hiring. It may perhaps be possible to shut off our magnet without finding any actual conservatives. But I think we should take our own rhetoric about the benefits of diversity seriously, and apply it to ourselves. I think we should make it a priority to find, nurture, and welcome a few dozen conservatives into our ranks. We are the world’s experts in this sort of challenge. We know how to do this.
Here is a screen shot from the SPSP webpage describing our diversity initiatives. It states as an explicit goal fostering “the career development of students who come from underrepresented groups, i.e., ethnic or racial minorities, first generation college students, individuals with a physical disability, and or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered students.”
I'd like to make 3 specific suggestions, which I issue as challenges to our incoming president, and to the SPSP executive board. First, can we change “i.e.” to “e.g.?” Why should it be i.e.? Do we really want to say to the public that this is the official list of groups that get benefits? Second, can we tack on a phrase like: “or who bring helpful and underrepresented perspectives in other ways?” And third, I'd like us to set a goal for SPSP that we become 10% conservative by 2020. Yes, I am actually recommending affirmative action for conservatives. Set aside any moral arguments; my claim is that it would be good for us.
Just Imagine if we had a true diversity of perspectives in social psychology. Imagine if conservative students felt free enough to challenge our dominant ideas, and bold enough to pull us out of our deepest ideological ruts. That is my vision for our bright post-partisan future.
Read the entire transcript of Haidt's talk at Edge.
An empty gun?
12.02.2011. Richard Smith, for thirteen years editor of the highly regarded British Medical Journal (BMJ), has come to the conclusion that the peer review system of scholarly journals does not function as expected. Here are some quotes from his recent article in (the presumably peer reviewed) Breast Cancer Research 2010, 12 (Suppl 4):S13:
If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed onto the market,' says Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal Of the American Medical Association and intellectual father of the international congresses of peer review that have been held every four years since 1989. Peer review would not get onto the market because we have no convincing evidence of its benefits but a lot of evidence of its flaws.
Yet, to my continuing surprise, almost no scientists know anything about the evidence on peer review. It is a process that is central to science - deciding which grant proposals will be funded, which papers will be published, who will be promoted, and who will receive a Nobel prize. We might thus expect that scientists, people who are trained to believe nothing until presented with evidence, would want to know all the evidence available on this important process. Yet not only do scientists know little about the evidence on peer review but most continue to believe in peer review, thinking it essential for the progress of science. Ironically, a faith based rather than an evidence based process lies at the heart of science.
What is peer review?
Peer review is not easily defined, and every grant giving body and journal will have a process that is unique in some way. It is clearly something to do with an external, third party reviewing a grant proposal or manuscript. But how many external reviewers should there be? And under what conditions should they review? Should they be anonymous or identified to authors and readers? And who is a peer? Somebody who also researches on the subject of the proposal or manuscript or somebody who is simply in the same discipline? Should reviewers be trained? Different answers to these questions and many others lead to wide variation in systems of peer review.
One useful way of classifying peer review of completed studies is into 'pre-publication' and 'post-publication.' When people speak and write about peer review they usually mean pre-publication review, the process that takes place before a study is published. But what happens after publication can also be called peer review, and that, I believe, is the peer review that really matters - the process whereby the world decides the importance and place of a piece of research. Arthur Balfour, a British prime minister, might have been speaking of science when he famously said that 'nothing matters much and few things matter at all.' Many studies are never cited once, most disappear within a few years, and very few have real, continuing importance.
And the correlation between what is judged important in pre-publication peer review and what has lasting value seems to be small. Fabio Casati, professor of computer science at the University of Trento, the holder of 20 patents, and the founder of a 'liquid journal' that had dispensed with prepublication peer review, says: 'We've....found that peer review doesn't work, in the sense that there seems to be very little correlation between the judgement of peer reviewers and the fate of a paper after publication. Many papers get very high marks from their peer reviewers but have little effect on the field. And on the other hand, many papers get average ratings but have a big impact'.
Improving peer review
Peer review is often compared with democracy in being the least bad system available, and attempts have been made to improve peer review - by blinding reviewers to the identity of authors, opening up the process so that authors and possibly even readers know the identity of the reviewers, and training reviewers. In summary, none of these methods have made much difference.
Alternatives to pre-publication peer review
For journal peer review the alternative is to publish everything and then let the world decide what is important. This is possible because of the internet, and Charles Leadbeater has illustrated how we have moved from a world of 'filter then publish' to one of 'publish then filter' and a world of 'I think' to one of 'We think' . The problem with filtering before publishing, peer review, is that it is an ineffective, slow, expensive, biased, inefficient, anti-innovatory, and easily abused lottery: the important is just as likely to be filtered out as the unimportant. The sooner we can let the 'real' peer review of post-publication peer review get to work the better.
Fabio Casati puts it thus: 'If you and I include this paper in our journals [our personal collections], we are giving it value....When this is done by hundreds of people like us, we're using the selection power of the entire community to value the contribution. Interesting papers will rise above the noise.' This is 'we think' rather than what a few arbitrarily selected reviewers think.
The problem of finding an alternative to peer review of grants is more difficult - because clearly there are not the resources to fund every grant proposal. But it may be more important to try and find an alternative - such as giving highly successful scientists funds to pursue what they want - because the anti-innovatory nature of peer review may mean that important science does not get done.
Barriers to change
I recently debated peer review in front of around 80 people from the Association of Learned and Scholarly Publishers. Unsurprisingly, I was arguing against peer review. Nobody agreed with my position before my talk - and nobody agreed with me afterwards. These editors and publishers were 100% in favour of peer review. The majority of scientists are also strongly in favour of peer review, although it is less than 100%.
Why are people so strongly in favour of peer review? One argument is that we have to have a mechanism, albeit an imperfect one, to sort science - otherwise people will be overwhelmed with information, much of it poor. My responses are this is the case already and that far from sorting studies into the important and un-important the present system delivers misleading signals by giving excessive prominence to the 'scientifically sexy' . I am in favour of sorting, but I think that this works better after publication when hundreds of minds and publications rather than just one or two decide what they think important.
Another argument in favour of peer review, particularly in medicine, is that it stops people being misled. Unfortunately, it does not, as I have illustrated. Furthermore, many results are made available first through conferences and the mass media - so that even if peer review was effective it could not prevent the dissemination of misleading results and conclusions.
My fear is that the real barrier to change is vested interest. That £1.9 billion cost of peer review is a great many jobs, and, more importantly, it is seen as an essential part of the £24 billion industry of publishing, distributing, and accessing journal articles, which itself is 14% of the costs of undertaking, communicating, and reading the results of research. This is not only a great many jobs but also considerable revenue and profits for commercial publishers and scientific societies that own journals.
But just think what might be done if we were to liberate the nearly £2 billion spent on peer review.
RS was the editor of the British Medical Journal and the chief executive of the BMJ Publishing Group. He is now a member of the board of the Public Library of Science and the editor of Cases Journal, which uses a minimal peer review system. Richard Smith is the director of the United Health Chronic Disease Initiative.
Read the entire article at the website of Breast Cancer Research.
"Jihad is the way"
10.02.2011. From Palestinian Media Watch (PMW): One of the results of the turmoil in Egypt is the rise in influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. In order to understand the implications, Palestinian Media Watch has translated the book Jihad is the way by Mustafa Mashhur, who was the official leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt 1996-2002. The book is the fifth volume of his full work called The Laws of Da'wa (Islamic missionary activity).
In his book, Jihad is the way, Mashhur explains the fundamental concepts of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology. Mashhur's teachings encompass subjects such as the Muslim Brotherhood's goal of establishing an Islamic state, world domination under Islam, the public and personal religious duty of military Jihad, and the warning not to rush to Jihad until it is prepared and timed for maximum benefit. Click to view full translation in PDF.
PMW has selected the following quotes from Jihad is the way to illustrate central ideas of Muslim Brotherhood ideology:
National goal: Islamic world domination
- "...the Islamic Ummah [nation]... can regain its power and be liberated and assume its rightful position which was intended by Allah, as the most exalted nation among men , as the leaders of humanity..."
- "...know your status, and believe firmly that you are the masters of the world, even if your enemies desire your degradation..."
- "It should be known that Jihad and preparation towards Jihad are not only for the purpose of fending-off assaults and attacks of Allah's enemies from Muslims, but are also for the purpose of realizing the great task of establishing an Islamic state and strengthening the religion and spreading it around the world..."
- "...Jihad for Allah is not limited to the specific region of the Islamic countries, since the Muslim homeland is one and is not divided, and the banner of Jihad has already been raised in some of its parts, and it shall continue to be raised, with the help of Allah, until every inch of the land of Islam will be liberated, the State of Islam will be established,..."
Means: Jihad - a mandatory religious duty
-"Then comes the power of arms and weapons,... and this is the role of Jihad."
- "Jihad is a religious public duty... incumbent upon the Islamic nation, and is a personal duty to fend off the infidels' attack on the nation..."
- "And the youth should know that the problems of the Islamic world, such as Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, or the Philippines, are not issues of territories and nations, but of faith and religion. They are problems of Islam and all Muslims, and their resolution cannot be negotiated and bargained by recognizing the enemy's right to the Islamic land he stole, therefore, there is no other option but Jihad for Allah, and this is why Jihad is the way."
- "The symbol of the [Muslim] Brotherhood is the book of Allah [the Quran] between two swords. The swords symbolize Jihad and the force that protects the truth represented in Allah's book."
- "...that is, go out to battle, oh believers, young and old, by foot or with animal, under all circumstances and conditions..."
Timing: Don't rush, prepare carefully for Jihad
- "... despite this, the [Muslim] Brotherhood is not rushed by youth's enthusiasm into immature and unplanned action which will not alter the bad reality and may even harm the Islamic activity, and will benefit the people of falsehood..."
- "... one should know that it is not necessary that the Muslims will repel every attack or damage caused by the enemies of Allah immediately, but [only] when ability and the circumstances are fit to it."
- "Prepare yourself and train in the art of warfare, and embrace the causes of power. You must learn the ways and manners and laws of war. You must learn them and embrace them and adhere to them, so that your Jihad will be the one accepted by Allah."
- "... there exists an unavoidable personal duty for every Muslim to equip himself and prepare and gear-up towards Jihad..."
Personal goal: Aspire to Shahada - Death for Allah
- "Allah is our goal, the Prophet is our leader, the Quran is our constitution, the Jihad is our way, and the Death for Allah is our most exalted wish."
- "The Jihad is our way and death for Allah is our most lofty wish", this is the call which we have always called,... Many of our beloved ones have already achieved this wish,... We ask Allah to accept all of them,... and may He join us with them, ..."
Jihad against Israel:
- "Honorable brothers have achieved Shahada (Martyrdom) on the soil of beloved Palestine, during the years 47' and 48', [while] in their Jihad against the criminal, thieving, gangs of Zion. The Imam and Shahid (Martyr) Hassan Al-Banna is considered as a Shahid (Martyr) of Palestine, even if he was not killed on its soil."
Continue reading at PMW.
Blaming 'racist US bankers'
08.02.2011 (updated 24.02.2011). The failure of racist American bankers to provide black home owners with fair mortgages fuelled the financial crisis, Trevor Phillips, the equalities chief, will claim in a major speech this week, according to The Telegraph:
Addressing the Policy Exchange think tank, he will argue that the phenomenon of subprime home loans, which led to the 2008 banking collapse, emerged because even wealthy black families could not obtain regular mortgages.
A number of banks involved in the crash, including Lehman Brothers and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), were over reliant on toxic subprime loans to customers who could not afford to maintain repayments.
Mr Phillips will say: “I know it's not a thing that the bankers and economists like to talk about, but the American financial crisis was precipitated at least in part by racial prejudice.
“Why were so many minority families taking these expensive loans? Because discrimination left them with no choice.
“The rapid growth of the sub-prime market in the past decade probably owed more to the history of racial discrimination than any other factor."
Mr Phillips said before the crash that black families in the US were more likely than white people to be charged higher interest rates and have a subprime loan.
Continue reading in The Telegraph.
HonestThinking comments: The claims brought forward by Phillips are almost unbelievable. Perhaps he should read the following articles by Steve Sailer:
Here's another comment that I found: Talk About Getting it Backwards.
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