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Shrinks brains from birth

11.04.2015. Studies show that children from low-income families have smaller brains and lower cognitive abilities. Thus writes Sara Reardon in her article Poverty shrinks brains from birth, concluding as follows:

Neither study explains the cause of the cognitive differences. Although the authors of both studies admit that genetic factors could be involved, they suspect that environmental exposures such as stress and nutrition are more important and begin even before the babies are born.

"It does make us think the focus should be redirected at gestation and stresses like nutrition and exposure to toxins," says Hallam Hurt, a neonatologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who led the infant research study.

Older children may be affected in different ways. For instance, poorer parents who work multiple jobs to make ends meet may have less time to spend with their children, and less money to buy toys to stimulate their children's minds as they grow, says Laura Betancourt, a paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who authored the infant study.

And Hanson suggests that epigenetics — modifications to DNA caused by environmental factors such as stress — could also be playing an important role, and can be passed down through generations.

Still, the researchers are hopeful that the impacts could be reversible through interventions such as providing better child care and nutrition. Research in humans and in other animals suggests that is the case: a study in Mexico, for instance, showed that supplementing poor families' income improved their children's cognitive and language skills within 18 months.

“It’s important for the message not to be that if you're poor your brain is smaller and will be smaller forever,” Sowell says.

Read the entire article in Nature.

 


Adressing the 'cultural' problem among some Asian Muslim men

08.04.2015. Sajid Javid, the culture secretary, says Muslim communities in parts of Britain have a 'cultural' problem that allows women to be viewed as commodities. Continue reading in The Telegraph.

 


Should be discussed, Trevor Phillips (UK) says

19.03.2015 (updated 20.03.2015). Former Equalities and Human Rights Commission head Trevor Phillips has warned about "not being able to have a straight conversation" about people's "racial or religious differences", according to BBC:

Trevor Phillips said the "cost" of not discussing the subject could be seen in the authorities' approach to child abuse cases in Rotherham and Rochdale.

He also criticised remarks made by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, calling for race discrimination laws to be scrapped.

Mr Phillips said the laws were needed.

The UKIP leader's comments came in an interview for Mr Phillips' documentary, Things We Won't Say About Race That Are True, to be shown on Channel 4 later.

Continue reading at BBC. Se also The Daily Mail.

As well as Allison Pearson in The Telegraph: We must listen to Trevor Phillips and his inconvenient truths about race. Britain is indebted to the former equalities head for highlighting the mess in which multiculturalism has left us all:

If you want to understand the full loopiness and intellectual dishonesty of multiculturalism, just talk to my friend Adam, who lectures in African history.

“At least that’s progress,” I said to Adam about one notably dysfunctional African country. “Getting more girls into school is progress, isn’t it?”

“I’m not allowed to use the word ‘progress’,” he said. “I’d be sacked if I called it ‘progress’.”

“Why?”

“Because it would imply that the culture that was there already needed improvement.”

“But it does. If you keep a girl in education, she won’t be married off at 12, which means her chances of getting Aids and dying young are reduced. Her country will become more civilised once it has more educated women. That’s what I call progress.”

“Obviously, that’s true,” winced the professor, “it’s just not OK to say so.”

To find inconvenient facts suppressed in one leading university may be regarded as censorship. To have an entire society silenced looks like something worse, and far more sinister.

Read the entire article in The Telegraph.

 


«Headed toward a cliff»

19.03.2015. «Sweden is headed towards a cliff, thanks to a crazy, unsustainable immigration policy.» These are Interview excerpts with Swedish economic researcher Tino Sanandaji, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is a contributor to National Review. He is also a research fellow at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics in Stockholm. His family is Kurdish and came to Sweden from Iran. The interview was conducted in November, 2014.

HonestThinking comments: Yesterday Sweden got yet another wake-up call, which I suspect they will ignore just like all the other ones: Swedish PM to visit mourning Gothenburg. Stefan Löfven has said his thoughts are with the people of Gothenburg and plans to visit Sweden's second largest city on Friday, after two men were killed in a shooting at a restaurant there on Wednesday night.

 


«Like so many liberals, I have started to self-censor to avoid the wrath of my politically purist friends»

19.03.2015. If leftwingers like me are condemned as rightwing, then what’s left?, asks Tim Lott in an article in The Guardian. His article ends as follows (emphasis and link in original):

My stance on these issues makes some people in my “tribe” very angry. It is the anger of the pure believer towards the apostate. However, I can find echoes of my populist worldview in one strand of the left – that represented by the Spiked web magazine, which grew out of the ashes of Living Marxism and the Revolutionary Communist party, once known as the libertarian or anti-Stalinist left. Describing their philosophy as radical humanism, they poke and prod at the sacred cows of the left but from a socialist rather than a rightwing populist position. The fact that I enjoy Spiked – although I by no means agree with all of it – feels like dirty little secret. But that’s what the mainstream left specialises in: generating shame.

This shame comes from the phenomenon of what I call assumption creep – the assumption that if you believe one thing you probably believe another thing, which you are hiding. If you believe women behave differently in the real world from men, whether for cultural or biological reasons, you also (secretly) believe women are more suited for domestic life than careers.

That if you believe religion, including Islam, is the source of much conflict in the world you also (secretly) believe all Muslims are potential terrorists and you (secretly) dislike immigrants to boot. That if you have a particular attachment to your country, defined as England rather than Britain, you keep a St George’s flag and a knuckle-duster in the back of your drawer. These supposed secret assumptions are the primary source of censure from leftwing critics of the “paradoxical voice” – which is the term I use to describe the thinking of “non-pure” leftwing thinkers.

Assumption creep may be accurate in some cases. We all know about the “I’m not a racist, but … ” arguments. But more often than not, it simply isn’t true. To insist otherwise is lazy. It’s just a way of making sure people who have opinions contrary to your own stay safely in their boxes – the boxes marked “bad people”. To actually address the issues is thus avoided, because who needs to debate with a bad person? It’s enough just to condemn them.

One very key element of the liberal left has long been under threat: its liberalism – that is, its willingness to debate with anything outside a narrow range of opinions within its own walls. And the more scary and incomprehensible the world becomes, the more debate is replaced by edict and prejudice: literally pre-judging. Identity politics is one of the most significant developments of the last 50 years, but it has led to nerves being exposed in a way they rarely were by economic issues. Because identity is less about politics and more about that most sensitive of human constructions, the protection of the self – both group and individual.

And the more it becomes about the protection of self, the less it becomes about the back and forth of rational argument. All the beliefs, opinions and doubts I hold are just that: they are ideas, not ironclad convictions. I am not certain about any of them, and am quite willing to change my mind, as I have done many times in the past. But I will not alter them if I am faced with invective rather than debate; in fact, they will become more entrenched.

Nick Cohen, Christopher Hitchens, David Aaronovich, Julie Burchill, Julie Bindel and others have often been at the rough end of this debate, for daring to voice opinions of their own that do not fit the overarching narrative. David Mamet’s admittedly provocative essay, Why I Am No Longer a “Brain-Dead Liberal”, published in the Village Voice, must have cost him a fair few dinner party invitations. This marginalisation is invidious, not only because it violates the principles of free debate – we cannot suppress awkward questions lest it “give succour to the enemy” – but because it is bound to alienate the wider public.

Those who identify with the “paradoxical voice” self-censor because they know they are going to get rocks thrown at them – not by their enemies but by their friends. That’s not only a bad feeling; it’s a tendency that’s bad for democracy, for politics, and the wider movement we call the left. And the left – in its compassion, freedom and concern for social justice – is the only hope for the future of this country.

Read the entire article in The Guardian. Hat tip Document.no.

 


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HonestThinking is dedicated and committed to the art of thinking honestly. Yet honest thinking is not the same as true thinking, for it is possible to think honestly, but be mistaken. For the same reason, honest thinking is not identical with objective thinking either. Honest thinking is striving to get things right. This involves being truthful about whatever one publishes, but just as importantly, it involves an uncompromising dedication never to suppress relevant data, even when data collides with dearly held prejudices. Such an approach may sometimes cause hurtful revisions in one’s belief system. That’s what HonestThinking is all about! Read the entire manifesto.



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Please send e-mail to postmaster at honestThinking.org (replacing ' at ' with '@') if you would like to tip us about a web resource that we should link to, or if you wish to submit an article for publication here. Quality contributions are welcome from anyone.

 



 

The current European immigration and integration policy is profoundly disrespectful of both Muslims and Islam, because it is built on the tacit assumption that the Muslims will become like us. One claims to have respect for Islam and for Muslims, but one also expects Muslims to give up their orthodox faith when they come here. At the same time one is assuming that Islam will be reformed and modernized as soon as the Muslims become integrated and understand and appreciate how superior our Western culture is compared to their own. This is cultural shauvinism and arrogance indeed! The unspoken premise for this scenario is that Western socities are superior to Islam. Read more.

 


 

 

Human rights and democracy are under pressure. One threat comes from the Western world, in the form of lack of or dishonest thinking. There exists a peculiar Western "tolerance" which is so "tolerant" that it even tolerates totalitarian or anti-democratic ideologies. A tacit assumption underlying such an attitude is that all cultures, world views, and religions are really equally good. As a consequence of this assumption one is cut off from the possibility of critically examining the above mentioned ideologies. Read more.