How the world would be better without police.

The Babylon Bee deftly skewers the ever-expanding moron population as usual:

7. All problems in the black community will go away – Everything wrong in the inner city is the cops’ fault. If the cops go, everything will be solved. It’s just that simple!

Check out the other six ways here.

FLASH! Breaking News!

     The super-secret investigators of Liberty’s Torch have made a shocking discovery. Anthony Fauci, for more than a year the federal government’s most recognizable face as regards all things COVID-19, has been revealed as a high executive of the Umbrella Corporation:

     RACCOON CITY: Earlier today, Anthony Fauci was overheard deep in conversation with Albert Wesker, CEO of the Umbrella Corporation. He was heard to apologize for producing “this feeble piece of shit,” by which he apparently meant the COVID-19 virus, rather than succeeding in producing the hypothesized T-virus through which Umbrella had hoped to gain complete control of the world.

     Wesker made passing reference to a “Dr. Isaacs,” who is apparently continuing research into the refinement of the virus under strict security standards. However he did not say anything that would indicate the degree of progress made to date. At that point a security executive whom Wesker addressed as “Alice” appeared and spirited them out of range of our directional microphones. Men in black suits and aviator sunglasses then descended upon our investigators and led them away for “sanitizing.” The home office hasn’t heard from them since, but we continue to monitor the environs.

     We here at Liberty’s Torch regard this story as “developing.”

Transitions In Thought

     The history of human thought has not been one of monotonic advance. There have been times and places where material rationality — i.e., the use of the methods of the physical sciences to investigate the properties of the physical world – has attempted to supplant aspects of thought that those methods cannot address. One such period was the European Enlightenment, which for a while broke free from its Christian origins and threatened to destroy the connection between reason and faith.

     That last sentence probably has a few Gentle Readers scratching their heads. What possible connection could there be between reason, which plumbs the causes of the events we observe in our temporal universe, and faith, which adopts propositions without conclusive proof? To the modern, “scientific” mind, there appears a deep gulf between them. Yet that is a relatively new attitude: about three hundred fifty years old.

     The following is from Diane Moczar’s book The Church Under Attack: an incisive look at such attacks and the myths that have been perpetuated about them:

     One other point must be stressed if we are to appreciate some of the truly revolutionary consequences of the changes that began in the seventeenth century, and it has to do with the very definition of science. For the Greeks and their Western cultural heirs, science meant “certain knowledge through causes” and included all types of investigation that produce certitude. Ancient and medieval thinkers took as the object of their study all of reality; not just the study of nature, but theology, philosophy, ethics, politics, and many other disciplines were called sciences. The sciences were arranged in a hierarchy according to their objects. Natural science was the lowest of the sciences because it dealt only with material things, while the sciences dealing with man, such as psychology and ethics, were higher. All these disciplines, however, deal with things that change. There were other sciences, higher still in the classical hierarchy, that deal with things that do not change: with being itself and with God. We call these sciences metaphysics and theology. Different methods were used for each discipline, but all were considered sciences, and they were approached through their causes.

     This question of causality may seem a bit difficult, but it is crucial to understanding the gulf that opened in the Western mind, beginning in the seventeenth century, between how earlier thinkers had approached reality and how modern man looks at it. The Greeks and their intellectual descendants approached anything they wanted to know through four causes: material, formal, efficient, and final. They used the example of a statue to illustrate the operation of the causes. The material cause of a statue of Zeus is the marble from which it is made; its formal cause is the shape it takes, as an image of the god; the efficient cause is the sculptor who imposes the form on the marble; the final cause — the ultimate one, governing all the rest — is the purpose for which the statue is made: to be set up in a temple, for instance. In analyzing the operation of these causes in the objects they studied, the ancients accepted the fact that for most of the things they observed they would be able to determine only the first three causes; physics, biology, and astronomy, for instance, are incapable of providing information about final causality — their ultimate origin and purpose. For answers to those questions, the scientist turned to the higher sciences of metaphysics and theology.

     Now how does the thinking of a modern scientist differ from what I have just described? It would seem to diverge in almost every way. To begin with, only the study of material things is now considered science, and it is generally much more highly esteemed than philosophy, theology, or any other field that the Greeks would have put at the top of their list. No modern thinker would consider philosophy or theology sciences or think of them as productive of any type of certitude whatever. In fact, a major consequence of the Scientific Revolution was the divorce of natural science from philosophy and theology and its eventual increase in status to the most highly valued field of study.

     What about the four causes? Modern scientists still consider the matter and form of the things they investigate, as well as the proximate causes that affect them. What they repudiate, out of a sort of unspoken agnosticism, is final causality. It is ironic that what most interested Greek and Christian scholars was the true purpose of things — the ultimate Why — while contemporary thinkers are either totally uninterested in such questions or think that qua scientists they have no business thinking about them. The modern scientific mind, in fact, denies the reality of any nonmaterial cause and is thus reduced, should it be interested in final causality at all, to the futile exercise of looking for ultimate explanations in matter itself. I recall a modern textbook author who described how Roger Bacon accurately diagrammed the workings of the human eye and discovered the details of its operation. He remarked disparagingly, however, on Bacon’s comment that the seven parts of the eye were like the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, allowing supernatural light into the soul as natural light enters the body. For the modern writer, Bacon was dragging religion into what should have been a religion-proof scientific discussion; for Bacon, the delight of his discoveries included seeing the glory of the Creator reflected in the details of his creation.

     We must not ignore the real breakthroughs that resulted from the Scientific Revolution, such as the development of the experimental method, the use of mathematics to formulate scientific propositions, and the invention and use of new scientific instruments. All this made possible enormous strides in modern science and technology. It could have occurred, however, without the rupture with the past and the radical change in mentality that accompanied the progress of the revolution. To sum up its long-term consequences, we can observe that the old worldview that saw distinction but not conflict between faith and reason, or between theology and biology, and that took all of reality, material and immaterial, as the object of its study, was destroyed. Science and philosophy parted company, and the work of old-fashioned thinkers such as Aristotle and Aquinas, who had harmonized the many disciplines, was rejected. The emphasis on final causality, the answer to the ultimate Why, was abandoned in favor of the descriptive how — how it operates, not why it is there in the first place. This shift has been described as a denial of the concept “that the world has a purpose more profound than its description.” Natural science in the seventeenth century rose from the humblest area of research to its current position as standard for all others: science (narrowly defined) became the measure of all things, the final arbiter of truth, so that we now say, “Scientists tell us . . .” or “A scientific study has shown . . .” when we really want to clinch an argument. This new science is defined so as to exclude all causality that is not material. The scientist is the new high priest of arcane knowledge (and if he is a rocket scientist — well, you can’t get wiser than that, can you?).

     And it all started with Galileo.

     The hard-materialist / atheist resolve to eliminate all considerations of final causes, and the metaphysical / theological explorations they inspire, has given rise to something C. S. Lewis touched upon in That Hideous Strength, in this passage about the Satanic N.I.C.E. – supposedly a purely “scientific” institute – hoping to enlist the resurrected Merlin in its army:

     The old Druid would inevitably cast in his lot with the new planners. A junction would be effected between two kinds of power which between them would determine the fate of our planet. Doubtless that had been the will of the Dark-Eldils for centuries. The sciences, good and innocent in themselves, had even in Ransom’s own time begun to be subtly manoeuvred in a certain direction. Despair of objective truth had been increasingly insinuated into the scientists’ indifference to it, and a concentration upon power had been the result. Babble about the élan vital and flirtations with pan-psychism were bidding fair to restore the Anima Mundi of the magicians. Dreams of the far future destiny of man were dragging up from its shallow and unquiet grave the old dream of Man as God. The very experiences of the pathological laboratory were breeding a conviction that the stifling of deep set repugnances was the first essential for progress. And now all this had reached the stage at which its dark contrivers thought they could safely begin to bend it back so that it would meet that other and earlier kind of power. Indeed, they were choosing the first moment at which this could have been done. You could not have done it with nineteenth-century scientists. Their firm objective materialism would have excluded it from their minds; and their inherited morality would have kept them from touching dirt. MacPhee was a survivor from that tradition. It was different now. Perhaps few or none at Belbury knew what was happening: but once it happened, they would be like straw in fire. What should they find incredible, since they believed no longer in a rational universe? What should they regard as too obscene, since they held that all morality was a mere subjective by-product of the physical and economic situations of men? From the point of view which is accepted in hell, the whole history of our Earth had led to this moment. There was now at last a real chance for fallen Man to shake off that limitation of his powers which mercy had imposed upon him as a protection from the full results of his fall. If this succeeded, hell would be at last incarnate.

     Think about vivisection.
     Think about the sale of organs from aborted late-term fetuses.
     Think about the “euthanasia” of the mentally ill, and the harvesting of their organs.
     Think about the torments that have been inflicted from time to time on prisoners, in the name of Rehabilitation.

     Think about all of it…and pray. We don’t have much time left.

Gazing Into The Abyss

     If you’re not aware of Catholic moral theory – and even many Catholics aren’t fully aware of it – you might not have become acquainted with the “five non-negotiables” of the Catholic Church: i.e., the five subjects on which no alteration in doctrine will ever be contemplated:

  1. Abortion;
  2. Same-sex marriage;
  3. Embryonic stem-cell research;
  4. Euthanasia;
  5. Human cloning.

     The piece just below this one concerned euthanasia, and the “unthinkable horror” of conjoining it with organ harvesting for later transplantation. Increasing the availability of transplantable organs is the nominal motivator behind many ugly ideas in the medical arts and biological sciences. Human cloning – the production of a human being by the manipulation of cells from an already living “edition” of that human being – has been attempted but, as far as I know, has never succeeded.

     Pray that that record of failure remains unbroken. Here’s how characters in one of my novels approached the moral aspects of the matter:

     “It would be the technological miracle of the century, you know,” Amanda said.
     The flat look swerved to settle on Amanda Hallstrom.
     “To be used for what?” Sokoloff said.
     The dean of Athene Academy opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. Sokoloff’s gaze weighed upon her.
     That’s his don’t-mess-with-me face.
     Sokoloff nodded.
     “I’ve been turning it over in my head,” he murmured after a moment, “and I can’t think of one morally acceptable reason to clone someone. Living or dead doesn’t matter.” He swept his gaze around the group. “Can anyone else?”
     No one spoke.
     “The people who did this,” he said, “did it to turn out a sex slave. Probably by request and to specification, and I’d bet my house that if they haven’t done it before, they’re trying to do it again right now. For that I’m going to send them all to hell. But think about it. Let’s say they were to clone me—produce a baby version of me. That baby would have no parents or other relatives. The people who produced him would have no reason to care for him, or about him, and only they would know he existed. He would be a product for sale. Why would anyone make that product? Why would anyone want that product? Apart from pure altruism?”
     “Altruism?” Trish said.
     “Yeah,” he said. “The kind that makes people take in stray dogs and cats. Think that’s likely?”
     Well, you did it.
     “The only reason to clone someone, other than the motives Fountain’s creators had, would be to replace him,” he said. “Or parts of him. And that means either murder, or enslavement, or cannibalism by surgeon. It’s evil no matter how you slice it.”
     “That’s if clones were granted the status and rights of people born the…regular way,” Juliette said. “What if they weren’t?”
     Sokoloff gestured at Fountain. Six pairs of eyes swung toward her. She remained still and silent.
     “That’s worse, isn’t it?” he said.
     Trish slid over next to Fountain and took her hand.
     “A lot worse,” she said.
     “Yeah,” Juliette said.

     [From Innocents]

     But human cloning is viewed by many as the potential Fountain of Youth and Immortality. Researchers on all the continents of the world are attempting it even now. Do you think they’ve thought through the matter as starkly as Larry Sokoloff? Or is their hunger for fortune and glory in the way? Or perhaps their fear of death?

     Either human life is sacred and not to be sacrificed for any lesser value, or we are all merely awaiting the butcher’s knife. “Take your choice – there is no other – and your time is running out.”

At The Entrance To Hell

     America is in a bad way, largely because we’ve neither acknowledged previous public-policy mistakes nor responded firmly to lawlessness and public disorder. The bill mounts with each passing day. Whether we or any successor generation will pay it is uncertain.

     But there are some horrors we have not yet embraced…at least, not all of us. CBD at Ace of Spades HQ reports on one today:

     As usual, Europe leads the way when it comes to genocide, but this time they are channeling a particularly vile brand of utilitarianism…kill the crazies, but let’s harvest their organs too!

     Euthanizing the Mentally Ill:

     Belgium and the Netherlands legally permit euthanasia based on mental illness alone. Meanwhile, Canada’s Parliament just legalized lethal jabs of the mentally ill after a waiting period to permit bureaucratic death protocols to be worked out. This is particularly worrisome for the United States as Canada is our closest cultural cousin.

     And here’s an insidious twist: Euthanasia for mental illnesses has become conjoined with organ donation in both the Netherlands and Belgium, Such kill-and-harvest procedures have even been written up approvingly—or, at least without criticism—in notable international organ transplant medical journals.

     Fifty-six years ago, Larry Niven conceived of such a horror, albeit in a legal rather than medical setting. His chilling story “The Jigsaw Man,” which first appeared in Harlan Ellison’s anthology Dangerous Visions, is an acknowledged classic of science fiction. But most horrifying of all, it’s steadily becoming true.

     When I wrote this piece:

     Boomers grant the discussibility of euthanasia for the lowest of all reasons: it would save us money. We’d no longer have to worry about how to foot the bills for Gramps, or for the spouse with terminal multiple sclerosis, or for the child with severe cerebral palsy or Down’s Syndrome. Beyond the money, it would save us having to labor over those wretches, or endure their complaints and their lack of gratitude. Away with them! If the State won’t take them off our hands, maybe God will! More time and money for us, that’s the ticket!

     Of course, we hedge our selfishness and cowardice with the nicest of stringencies. There must be consultations and deliberations. Family, physicians, psychiatrists, bureaucrats — everyone must have a say. There must be nothing that could possibly be done for the sufferer to elevate his “quality of life” near to that of an actual person. And of course, when we inevitably decide upon the inevitable Quietus, it must be painless — not for the sake of the guest of honor, but as a balm for our own consciences.

     …I already feared that the death cults had gotten the upper hand and were closing in for the kill – on all of us. You can only cheapen human life so far before just about anything else will appear more valuable, and therefore worth the sacrifice of a few lives to attain or obtain. Europe, which has descended much further into amorality than have we, is ahead of us in this, but there’s no guarantee that America won’t follow.

     It’s not necessarily the case that the will to mass slaughter is animated by malice. Sometimes it arises from false notions of mercy. Somewhat more often, it derives from venality. Finally we have cowardice: the unwillingness to accept our human mortality: human death as the price for human life.

     No man is damned until the instant of his death. The same is true for nations…but Belgium, Holland, and the other states that have embraced the horrors of medicalized cannibalism teeter at the edge of the abyss. Whether they’ll recover their senses in time to avert the verdict from which there is no appeal, we can only hope…and pray.

A New Kind Of “Mistake”

     I think we’ll be seeing this more often:

     Sunday’s fatal shooting in a Minneapolis suburb was the 18th time in the past 20 years that police officers used a gun when they said they intended to use a Taser, according to a use-of-force researcher.

     By comparison, police kill about 1,000 people each year in incidents including shootings, according to Campaign Zero, an organization focused on ending police violence.

     Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter resigned Tuesday after a second night of unrest followed her shooting of Daunte Wright, a Black motorist she and police had pulled over. Tim Gannon, the chief of police, also resigned.

     Researchers and law-enforcement veterans say it is difficult to confuse the two weapons because Tasers are generally bright yellow in color and lighter than handguns and because most officers wear them on opposite sides of their belts to avoid confusion.

     Body-camera video of the encounter shows Mr. Wright exiting the car and then getting back in, as police try to pull him back out. Ms. Potter can be seen pointing a gun at Mr. Wright and saying repeatedly that she is going to use her Taser.

     Mistake, eh? Well, maybe. Even probably. But then, there was an outstanding warrant on Wright, and it wasn’t for jaywalking:

     Daunte Wright choked a woman and threatened to shoot her if she did not hand over $820 she had stuffed in her bra, court papers obtained by DailyMail.com allege.

     Wright was due to face trial on a charge of attempted aggravated robbery – with a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

     Charging papers say he and a second man, Emajay Driver went to a home shared by two women in Osseo, Minnesota ‘to party’ in December 2019. At the time, Wright was 19 and Driver was 18.

     The women asked them to leave around 2.30 am on December 1, but they said they didn’t have a ride and the women – who are not identified in the court documents – allowed them to sleep on the floor.

     In the morning, one of the women went to the bank to get her $820 rent money which she gave to the other woman and then left for work. As Wright, Driver and the second woman were leaving, Wright allegedly tried to hold up the woman.

     ‘The three of them were walking to the door to exit the apartment and defendant Wright turned around and blocked the door preventing victim from leaving,’ says the report, written by Osseo Police Officer Shane Mikkelson.

     ‘Defendant Wright then pulled a black handgun with silver trim out from either his right waistband or his right coat pocket and pointed it at victim and demanded the rent money,’ continued Mikkelson.

     ‘Victim said “Are you serious?” Defendant Wright replied: “Give me the f**king money, I know you have it.”

     Given all that, had I been in the situation that Officer Potter confronted, I might have made the same “mistake.” But as Officer Potter is white and Daunte Wright was black, she will be pilloried for administering justice to a violent felon. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota is being ripped apart by rioters — black rioters.

     I can’t help but agree with Ragin’ Dave’s approach to the problem:

     I say let it burn. Those areas don’t have what it takes to enforce the law. They don’t have the will, they don’t have the political fortitude, they don’t have the mental ability to stop people from rioting and burning and looting. So let it burn, baby. Not one single fucking cent to Minneapolis. Burn it to the ground, and then laugh at the people who remain….

     Let it burn. Let it all burn, and then mock the idiots who burned their town down around their ears while they sit in embers and ashes. Maybe, just maybe, if it’s painful enough, people will learn that you don’t allow rioters to control everything and everyone.

     It’s that or one of two even more painful solutions:

  • Cordon off the afflicted cities to prevent the violence and vandalism from spreading;
  • Police and National Guardsmen go to live ammo and free-fire rules for those cities.

     But there are good people doing their level best to defend their portions of those cities, aren’t there? And so far, they’re having considerable success, just as did the famous “rooftop Koreans” of the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. Mike Hendrix comments on the matter:

     Don’t start none, won’t be none, bitches. However, be aware: if you DO start some, there are folks around who’ll be more than happy to finish it for ya.

     But as far as I’m aware, Kyle Rittenhouse excepted, none of those armed defenders of their own properties has yet had to fire a shot at a rioter. What will happen to the first man the rioters elect to challenge? The police have notoriously sided against private citizens who’ve wielded firearms in defense of their rights and properties, and the rioters know it. Remember the McCloskeys of Saint Louis, Missouri?

     I’m not hopeful. I think things are likely to get much worse before people generally decide they’ve had enough. Their first act will be to demand the enforcement of the law…a demand which will receive lip service and little more. But after that, decent people will become genuinely enraged. They’ll go to the “We’re going to take care of this ourselves, police and prosecutors be damned” stage.

     Should we get to that point, it will make black Americans wish for the “Two Doors” scenario. But by then it will be much too late.

The Political Strategy Of The Usurper Regime…

     …is to lie. Continuously. About everything.

     Two examples follow – and believe me, I could have produced more without any exertion.

     First comes a scathing article from John Lott and Thomas Massie:

     There were so many lies in Vice President Kamala Harris’ and President Joe Biden’s presentations on guns Thursday that it is hard to know where to start. One thing is certain, though: The media fact-checkers won’t question their claims. Here are just a few of the false ones….

     Six egregious whoppers follow, straight from the Biden-Harris puppets’ mouths. Lott and Massie refute each of them in turn. Their conclusion?

     No, the rules for buying guns at gun shows are no different than buying them anywhere else. And no, when guns are unavailable neither the suicides nor the suicide attempts drop. Unfortunately, the liberal fact-checkers—as usual—are nowhere to be found.

     Next up, there’s a minor matter affecting illegal immigration:

     One of the very first things Joe Biden did when he came into office was to cancel the Remain in Mexico policy and the Trump agreement with the Central American nations of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Then the invasion began. At least 350,000 strangers, adults, and children, blew in and traveled throughout our country, some criminals and terrorists too, others with COVID. And they are here to stay.

     Well, now Biden wants to slow the migration since public opinion is turning against the administration. Our border guru Kamala Harris is missing in action. We are told she is studying the causes of the mass migration and we are supposed to believe that.

     So, what he decided to do is go back to Trump’s agreement with Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala and pretend it’s his agreement.

     No joke.

     CNN reports that the Biden administration has secured agreements for Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala to tighten their borders and stem the flow of migration, Special Assistant to the President for Immigration for the Domestic Policy Council Tyler Moran told MSNBC Monday.

     “We’ve secured agreements for them to put more troops on their own border. Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala have all agreed to do this. That not only is going to prevent the traffickers, and the smugglers, and cartels that take advantage of the kids on their way here, but also to protect those children,” Moran said.

     As Maura Dowling notes above, those agreements were hashed out by the Trump Administration and were already in place when Biden took office. Once again, the liberal fact-checkers are silent. “Liberal fact-checkers” will someday have a high place among the Orwellian phrases of our time. But then, why bother about the facts when there’s a Narrative to be maintained?

     The rioters were out in force last night looting and destroying their community after police shot and killed wanted gangbanger Daunte Wright.

     The rioters looted several businesses including a liquor store, a computer store, and a hair supply store.

     During the press conference on Monday leftist reporters tried to lecture Police Chief Tim Gannon on the situation on Sunday night.

     One reporter told Chief Gannon that the riot was not a riot!

     That’s when Chief Gannon set them straight.

     Brooklyn Center [Minnesota] Police Chief Gannon: “I was front and center… at the riot.”

     Reporter: “There was no riot.”

     Gannon: “There was… the officers that were putting themselves in harm’s way were being pelted with frozen cans of pop, they were being pelted with concrete blocks.”

     Large numbers of persons committing acts of violence and vandalism is a riot both legally and colloquially. The “reporter” was probably under instructions to minimize the event. Chief Gannon, God bless him, would not permit it. Meanwhile, the media freely use the words riot and insurrection to describe the events in Washington D.C. on January 6. Yet in that event, the only interpersonal violence was perpetrated by the Capitol police and the damage to the Capitol building was trivial.

     There’s no more effective technique for paralyzing a country than the ubiquitous lie – especially when the truth is plain to see. The inescapable cognitive dissonance that results leaves the victim feeling helpless, unsure of his own perceptions and unable to act with confidence. Ursula Le Guin gave us a fictional depiction of the technique in her early novel City of Illusions:

     “What do we really know of the time of our greatness? A few names of worlds and heroes, a ragtag of facts we’ve tried to patch into a history. The Shing law forbids killing, but they killed knowledge, they burned books, and what may be worse, they falsified what was left. They slipped in the Lie, as always.”

     For a summing-up, we have the great T. L. Davis:

     America is right where the left wants it, mired in the quicksand of trying to distinguish the truth while new lies are invented every hour. The stolen election cannot be countered by the right, because that would require massive voter fraud on the right to counter that on the left. There is no equilibrium. The left is fighting for what it wants and the right, it seems, is tired of having what it has always had, bored with it, too lazy to maintain it. Granted, there is a lot more motivation to achieve something one has not had than to defend what is common. Until, at least, it is no longer common, but something to be obtained.

     But make no mistake, the lies told today are about everything. Every commercial represents a popular lie as if the people have chosen to be deceived rather than to face the truth or deal with facts. It’s dangerous. It’s how whole nations dissolve into nothingness. If I thought that my countrymen, who recognize all that I have said, would stand with me, I would have no fear for the future of this nation and the human beings being raised into this soup of self-deception. We could turn it around, but as we have seen, any congregation quickly becomes a means of our own destruction by the society of lies in which we live, so we contemplate our own isolated destruction by the machine of lies.

     History teaches me that in the darkest moments, when all seemed lost, a spark has ignited the world against its own destruction. At one time, that was America. But communism is the pernicious lie that consumes all. It is ingenious in its simplicity, lie until the truth cannot be known, destroying all truth, leaving only propaganda. That it always leads to destitution and an annihilation of the human impulse toward charity and righteousness seems not to bother those who claim to be too principled to fight it.

     Until we destroy the machine of lies, we cannot be free.

     Have a nice day.

Life Update

Posted here.

A Couple Of Catholic Conundrums

     An old tickler from many years ago is about the day a gaggle of theologians were confronted by a layman with a simple question: “Did Adam and Eve have navels?” The initial consensus answer was no. But, the layman objected, that doesn’t square with the notion that the first man and woman were the models for the rest of us. Surely God would not have created parents for Mankind who differ from their children in such an obvious way! The uproar over the question lasted for the rest of the meeting.

     You can get really dizzy over stuff like that. Here’s another: Before the Fall, did Adam and Eve have sex? Or functioning reproductive systems? The story of the Fall has sexual implications. Also, wasn’t death one of the consequences of the Fall?

     “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” [Genesis 2:17]

     We also have the reference to “the tree of life,” which, if Adam and Eve were to eat of it, would enable them to live forever:

     And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. [Genesis 3:22-24]

     There are a few inconsistencies in the above. However, they needn’t give you agita unless you regard the whole of the Bible, Genesis included, as factually exact and accurate in all particulars. The inconsistencies make it far more likely that Genesis is allegorical in nature. The same is true for certain other passages in the Old Testament.

     But if Genesis is allegorical, whence cometh this notion of original sin? Wasn’t that a bequest from Adam and Eve? If Adam and Eve are merely figures in an allegory about the origin of life on Earth, including human life, then original sin must have some other meaning. Once again, if we recur to allegory as an explanation for the tension here, a solution can be found. However, it continues to give Old Testament literalists a severe headache.

***

     Many questions of the sort above are put to Christian believers by those who scoff at our faith. Among my reasons for writing my particular brand of fiction is to explore tensions of this sort through the eyes and voice of a priest – my character Father Raymond Altomare, pastor of Onteora County – who is both deeply devout and an unusually intelligent, critical thinker. Regardless of what atheists may think, there are many such persons in the Catholic clergy – far more of them than many an outsider would credit.

     A church of any sort is perforce a conservative institution. It exists to conserve and promulgate a set of doctrines. If some doctrines formed early in the church’s existence are later shown to be incorrect, the church will undergo stress. While admitting to error is often necessary, no one actually likes having to do so, and churches are at the extreme end of that preference.

     One consequence of that special tension is a decades or centuries-long process of de-emphasizing the disproven teachings of previous eras. If sufficiently protracted, this allows older believers to fade away with their original catechesis intact, while younger believers arise and accept the doctrines as modified by more recent discoveries. Again, the atheist hardliner will often present this as evidence against religious belief as such. (Not that atheists are ever wrong about anything, mind you!) In truth, it’s both protection for the church and an act of mercy toward those who were incorrectly instructed.

     A church is a human institution. Yes, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, too. It was founded by the Son of God, but He left it in human hands. Therefore, it can be wrong about some things, and on occasion, it has been. That’s Mankind for you.

     The Catholic Church has indulged in that protracted-deemphasis process about a few subjects. As it has happened before, it could happen again. The sole exclusions are the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the four canonical Gospels. The Gospel records are magnificently well confirmed by several thousand discovered and verified copies, plus accounts from secular sources. No other ancient document has been as extensively researched and verified. But the teachings of fallible mortal men are a quite different matter. That’s why we’re equipped with individual consciences: the facility by which we acquire direct knowledge of good and evil, unmoderated and unmodified by other human voices.

     Herewith, a snippet from my current novel-under-construction:

     “Good evening, Father,” Larry murmured.
     Ray smiled. “Come on in, folks.” He ushered them into the sitting room and waved them toward the little sofa while he went to fetch coffee.
     Now we’ll see if I’m really fit to teach the Faith.
     “Tonight’s lesson will be a little different from the previous ones,” Ray said as he arrayed mugs and a carafe on the coffee table. “Fountain, have you been thinking about the Commandments?”
     Fountain’s demeanor was expectant. “I have, Father.”
     “Have they got you wondering about anything? Something that God maybe didn’t mention when He gave them to Moses?”
     “I have, Father.”
     Ray cocked an eyebrow. “Well?”
     “Aren’t there more bad things people can do to one another than just the ones God listed on the tablets?”
     Ray nodded. “Yes,” he said. “There are. But Moses and the Hebrews were at the beginning of many things. They’d just come out of captivity, and they had just begun a long journey. They would spend many years thinking and discussing the Commandments and why they’re the right rules for Mankind. Some of what was on them, they already knew and understood from their own history. Some, God wanted them to think hard about, for a long time.” He grinned. “He might have meant it as a kind of learning exercise, like what you and I have been doing.”
     Her face clouded. “But a lord should fully disclose his will to his slaves. How else are they to know how he wishes to be served?”
     Ray glanced at Larry. The security specialist’s gaze was intense. He was plainly as eager for the answer as his ward.
     “That, dear one, is the big question, the one that keeps people like me up at night reading, and thinking, and wondering.” Ray sat back and steepled his hands against his chest. “I think I know the answer, but I want you to try to find it for yourself. Here’s a starter question, the one that got me started: when the Hebrews finally reached Judea, their promised land, did their lives change?”
     “Yes…”
     “Well, did they become more complicated, or less?”
     Fountain didn’t answer at once. Larry became maximally attentive.
     “They became more complicated, did they not?” Fountain said at last.
     Ray nodded. “They did. They had homes to build, land to cultivate, roads to chart through the wilderness, cities and towns to establish and markets where they could trade with one another, a whole new society to construct. It meant more ways for people to deal with one another. A lot more ways they could do one another good…or evil.
     “God knew that ten Commandments wouldn’t cover all of it,” he said. “But there are commandments behind the Ten Commandments. Ultimate rules that unite the Commandments and all the other rules that people must live by, if we’re to live in obedience to God and in peace with one another. Even though He didn’t include them on Moses’s tablets, He sort of whispered them through the Ten Commandments themselves.
     “We call those big rules the Great Commandments. There are only two of them, and they seem really simple. But they imply everything else that we have to know to get along well with one another…to have peaceful lives and a peaceful, happy society. All we have to do is think about them…but with a special part of our minds.”
     Ray propped his chin upon his steepled fingers and smiled.
     Now we’ll see if I really have what it takes to do this.
     Larry was looking at him curiously. Fountain’s face had filled with excitement and the anticipation of discovery.
     “Father,” she said after a moment’s silence, “will you tell me the Great Commandments?”
     Ray turned pointedly to Larry. “I’m sure your lord can tell us.”
     This is your moment to shine, big guy.
     “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and your whole soul, and your whole mind,” he said hoarsely, “and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
     Ray smiled and nodded. “Jesus’s very words. And which special part of our minds do we use to apply the Great Commandments?”
     “The conscience,” Larry croaked.
     “Exactly.” Ray said. He returned his gaze to Fountain.
     The young futa’s attention seemed to be elsewhere. Her eyes were unfocused, and her lips were slightly parted. Yet she was plainly in no discomfort.
     Theologians of fifty years’ experience still contemplate the Great Commandments and what they require of us. A twenty year old girl deserves a few moments of silence to kickstart the process.
     Larry’s hand moved toward Fountain’s and clasped it. Fountain returned the clasp. The grip looked very tight.
     “Father,” Fountain said, “who is my neighbor?”
     Thank You, God.
     “Anyone who comes near you, dear. Anyone who comes into your life. That’s what the word means.”
     Her gaze sharpened. “How do I love my neighbor as myself? And what does it mean to think with my conscience?”
     “Neither one is hard,” Ray said, “You turn your attention inside you, and you ask yourself some questions. Suppose you were thinking of doing something to your lord. The first question to ask yourself is ‘Would this hurt him?’ The second one is ‘Would he want me not to do this?’ And the third, which might be the most important of all, is ‘Am I being selfish?’”
     “I could never hurt my lord,” the futa whispered.
     Ray nodded. “I know you wouldn’t do so intentionally, dear. He knows too. But there are things you might do that could upset him. Especially if you were to do them without asking him first.”
     He hunched forward. “You, Fountain, are unique. I know there are other futanari, even some who were trained as you were, but there are none exactly like you, with powers like yours, a lord as special as yours, or a home and family as special as yours. That will make loving your neighbor as you love yourself a special challenge. You must practice using your conscience, carefully and consistently. After a while you’ll find it easier to remember to do so, but it will never be automatic.”
     Larry emitted a long sigh. Some hidden tension seemed to have released him from its grip.
     “Do you understand, Fountain?” Ray said.
     “I do, Father.” She smiled. “You were right. It’s not hard.”

     And it is not.

     May God bless and keep you all.

Because spouting the Democrat line is job number one.

Feckless, feeble, useless “Republicanism” at its best. The one, the only, Liz Cheney!!!

H/t: The Gateway Pundit, described by Wikipedia as an “American far-right fake news website.” Now you know.

A Far Cry From Women and Children First

Upon spotting this story Only Vaccinated Persons Can Board Evacuation Vessels to Leave Island Volcano: St. Vincent PM, I reflected upon the striking difference in attitude of the ruling class world-wide since the sinking of the Titanic. Hence the above title.

Of course that thought was accompanied by the news of the savagery of the ruling class that struck Fran when he posted this yesterday.

May all these authoritarians be swallowed violently by their own schemes. It would be fitting were this PM’s escape vehicle struck by a VBP — volcanic ballistic projectile.

Damn It All, I Was Just Getting Down To Work…

     …when this came along.

     (Thank you, Adrienne.)

     The whole article is worth your attention – your careful attention. Don’t accept it uncritically. Think about it, ask yourself (and others) why governments would want to depopulate their own jurisdictions, and whether the means proposed by Dr. Yeadon is a plausible method. Ask also whether there might be other motivations that don’t involve mass death: for instance, the imposition of a scheme of total control and monitoring over all movement and interaction of all humans everywhere, in perpetuity.

     In that connection, the bit that intrigues me most comes here:

     “I think the end game is going to be, ‘everyone receives a vaccine’… Everyone on the planet is going to find themselves persuaded, cajoled, not quite mandated, hemmed-in to take a jab.

     “When they do that every single individual on the planet will have a name, or unique digital ID and a health status flag which will be ‘vaccinated,’ or not … and whoever possesses that, sort of single database, operable centrally, applicable everywhere to control, to provide as it were, a privilege, you can either cross this particular threshold or conduct this particular transaction or not depending on [what] the controllers of that one human population database decide. And I think that’s what this is all about because once you’ve got that, we become playthings and the world can be as the controllers of that database want it.

     “For example, you might find that after a banking reset that you can only spend through using an app that actually feeds off this [database], your ID, your name, [and] your health status flag.”

     “And, yes, certainly crossing an international border is the most obvious use for these vaccine passports, as they are called, but I’ve heard talk of them already that they could be necessary for you to get into public spaces, enclosed public spaces. I expect that if they wanted to, you would not be able to leave your house in the future without the appropriate privilege on your app.

     The combination of coercion with fear and habituation could produce that outcome. When I correlate it with other recent developments – “smart” thermostats, electric power meters, and water meters; highway cameras that record license plates; facial recognition systems tied to ever more common CCTV systems; cellphones that continuously “check in” with the nearby cell towers; even “smart” face masks — a highly unpleasant picture begins to form.

     Could it all be paranoiac hallucination, with no coordinated intent whatsoever behind all these separate developments? Of course. But could it be something much closer to reality? Something that’s been encroaching upon us for several decades? I shan’t speak for anyone else, but my policy is to assume and prepare for the worst. That way all my surprises will be pleasant ones.

     My sincere apologies for disturbing your breakfast, but the possibilities deserve to be hauled out of the shadows and examined in the light. If those possibilities strike you as remotely plausible, a bit of resistance is called for, wouldn’t you say? Or would you prefer to sit back and assume that “the experts know best” and “the government only has our well-being in mind?”

     [See also Ira Levin’s somewhat neglected novel This Perfect Day.]

Some kind of an agenda here.

Reassurance from central banks is only emboldening investors to add to their risks. When Powell attempts to explain his continued actions, many of us who pay attention to such things cry “Bullshit.” Not only is the current Fed policy uncalled for but it does little to strengthen the economy or address our problems. What it will do is continue to prop up asset prices and encourage risk-taking and malinvestment.

Much of the carnage taking place on Main Street is being ignored. Add to this the fact that much of bitcoin’s surge is attributed to growing inflation expectations based on the debasement of currencies. The economy we are witnessing is constructed on a foundation of growing debt. More on this subject in the article below.

Fed Driven Bubble Destined To End Badly.[1]

The destruction wrought by the draconian lockdown was in no way warranted by the “threat” of the pandemic whose dimensions and mortality were initially anything but clear and only marginally more so now. (Ever wonder what happened to the garden-variety flu?) The approach was identical to saying “highway automobile fatalities therefore bicycles, shanks mare, and public transportation.” No discussion was tolerated — and I do mean NO discussion — that related to such obviously useful alternatives as hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and vitamin D, mortality risks, the efficacy of masks, or what might be a rational civilizational approach to risks versus benefits of any courses of action. I’ve seen more insightful and principled discussions of astrology.

Instead we ended up with NO national exercise in gathering and organizing data so that there could be a focused, coherent statement of what exactly we were facing and what alternatives there were. At SOME point the data started to come in but good luck finding any kind of an scoreboard. What we had instead was the enshrinement of the headless chicken approach adopted on day one of “the crisis.”

The arbiter of our “approach” was one Anthony Fauci whose understanding and expertise are not all that clear at this point. Certainly, it is not clear that he should have commanded the heights of the national “conversation” (spit) on Charlie one niner. But there he was.

So the conclusion is inescapable that there was no honest search for understanding and selection from identified alternatives but rather the pursuit of an agenda of destruction. Sherlock Holmes to the rescue on this disturbing point. Namely, when you eliminate the notion that what was done was an honest attempt to pursue the best policy possible that rationally balanced risk and reward, what you have left, no matter how unlikely or implausible, is The Truth. And that inescapable truth is that there was no honest attempt to devise a salutary approach to this odd viral invasion and the approach chosen was to designed to devastate the United States, throw millions out of work, destroy millions of small businesses, increase citizen dependency, wreak economic havoc, and make a mockery of the Bill of Rights. Add in the fiscal and monetary lunacy, the destruction of one-third of our industrial base from off-shoring, and the ludicrous pursuit of foreign wars and the chimera of “leader of all the world” and the agenda of malevolence is clear.

If it’s still not clear, ask yourself if you wanted to maximize the destruction resulting from this phenomenon loosely described as a “pandemic,” what exactly would you do differently from what ended up being official policy?

Notes
Comment by Let It Go on [1] “Global Billionaires’ Wealth Increase By $4 Trillion During The Pandemic.” By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 4/11/21.

Asymmetries

     Some things, it seems, must be said so bluntly that no one can mistake or “reinterpret” them. However, when the subjects fall within a certain realm, most persons, including many who are outspoken on other matters will dance around the subject hoping to avert a tide of defamation. The deficit of courage this suggests is detrimental to the entire country.

     Herewith, in the hope of cracking open the relevant subjects and evoking honest discussion of what might be done about them, follow blows with a few blunt chisels. If you dislike what you read from this point forward and feel yourself moved to invective, feel free to leave and not return. I will not tolerate insults, slanders, and baseless accusations in place of reasoned argument.

     You have been warned.

***

1. Race.

     The recognized races differ in ways that are contextually significant. Statistically speaking, they are distributed differently as regards several physical, intellectual, and emotional characteristics. Some of those differences have caused immense social and political problems, as anyone aware of the burning of American cities last year will be aware. This has been confirmed so many ways that to dismiss it as a kind of bias or bigotry is a form of purposeful insanity.

     While the members of all three races possess the same individual rights – i.e., those enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and protected by various provisions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights – that does not somehow obviate the need to be cautious in matters that touch upon race. This has become supremely important now that one race is demanding – and in some cases, openly being granted – special, preferential treatment under the law.

     Perhaps the best compact approach to the problems racial asymmetries cause, as matters currently stand, was penned by John Derbyshire. Of course, he was roundly vilified for it, but that’s what you get from ideologues determined, for one reason or another, to deny the evidence – including the evidence of our senses.

***

2. Creed.

     The uncritical worship of “freedom of religion” (see what I did there?) has been exploited by some of the foulest beings on Earth to do damage to the rest of us and to the United States. The core of the thing is the refusal to ask the question “What constitutes a religion?” Today, virtually any creed that calls itself a religion and demands to be respected as such is accommodated, regardless of its content and intentions.

     I’ve previously made a comparison between Hitler’s National Socialism (a.k.a. Nazism) and Islam:

     Christianity and Judaism aren’t the only games in town, are they? There’s another player that’s been much in the news, that’s had an enormous impact on world history and, if the reports from Europe are reliable, is bidding to return to hegemony there. Let’s have a look at some of the principal tenets of that creed:

  • It orders its adherents to spread the creed by force, and to compel all non-believers to submit to it as second-class citizens.
  • It demands that any heresy, apostasy, or blasphemy against it be punished by death.
  • It demands total political power over the entire world, and explicitly denies the legitimacy of any political structure based on any principles other than its own.
  • It prescribes a minutely elaborate code of behavior for all men, not just for its adherents, which is to be enforced by political means.
  • It sanctifies any deed, however violent or deceitful, done to spread its hegemony over the world, and promises great glory to those who die doing such service.
  • It particularly excoriates the Jews as its enemies, and prescribes their elimination from the face of the Earth.

     Quickly, now: Name the creed your Curmudgeon has in mind. One guess only.

     Wrong! Your Curmudgeon was describing Nazism, the creed developed by Adolf Hitler. But it was a natural mistake.

     [This originally appeared at the old Palace of Reason.]

     As you can see from the above, the similarities between Islam and Nazism outweigh the differences. Most important of all, both demand absolute faith from the adherent. Yet one is accorded the status and protections of a religion; the other is not. Why? What are the substantive differences that militate toward that legal distinction? Given that Hitler was made into a figure to be worshipped, that the Nazi regime made common cause with Islam during the Thirties, and that the Nazis did their level best to eliminate all other religions from the lands they conquered, can any such distinction be rationally defended?

***

3. Firearms.

     After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. — William S. Burroughs.

     Play any of a number of video games – I have Diablo III in mind at the moment – and the difference between melee weapons and ranged weapons will be pressed upon you. Simply put: a melee weapon requires that you get much closer to your target than a ranged weapon. Thus, certain dangers afflict the user of melee weapons that don’t afflict the user of ranged weapons.

     Firearms are ranged weapons: weapons that have an effect at a distance greater than the length of the arm-plus-sword-or-cudgel. That’s one of the reasons they’re called “equalizers.” But in a land where only criminals and agents of the State are permitted to have them, one may be sure of two things:

  • Rampant criminal predation;
  • Rampant governmental predation.

     For very few of us will go into “melee range” with a gun-toting thug, whether or not he sports a government credential. Those who have done so in the past have a rather spotty record of survival.

***

4. Laws.

     While there have been functioning anarchisms in previous eras, the anarchic model is inherently unstable. Over time – usually a fairly brief time – it gives way to a State. Franz Oppenheimer described the pattern and the reasons for it in his book The State, a remarkably clear-eyed look at the genesis of Mankind’s worst self-imposed curse. (I wrote three novels on the subject, as well.)

     Where there is a State, there will be laws. Even in the very best imaginable State – Robert Nozick’s classical-liberal “night watchman” State – some of those laws will have nothing to do with the protection of individual rights. Some of them will literally invade or infringe on those rights. And so, there will be some who will rail against them and want to see them repealed.

     It’s hard to argue against such efforts. I wouldn’t have argued against Cobden and Bright’s campaign against England’s “corn laws.” Nor would I argue against the efforts to repeal contemporary laws against the use of so-called “recreational drugs,” even though I hold those who use them in contempt. But I would counsel those who seek massive changes in the law to ponder what Saint Thomas Aquinas said about stability in the law: that it has a value apart from that of the laws themselves. Gradual change is almost always preferable to radical, “thrown-switch” change; it gives people time to plan and adapt.

***

5. Tyrants.

     The labels can be confusing: communism, socialism, national socialism, fascism, Ba’athism, Maoism, and so forth. Each of them indicates a form of window dressing applied to totalitarianism. That, of course, is the assertion that “the State is all” – that the individual possesses no rights, as understood in Enlightenment terms, that the State need respect.

     Perhaps some aspiring tyrants sincerely believe the claptrap they spout about “the greater good” or “the national destiny,” or whatever their preferred window dressing proclaims. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that the will to power is unbounded and absolute: i.e., over all matters whatsoever, and eternally proof against defiance.

     Monarchy? Autocracy? Oligarchy? Aristocracy? Take your pick. All of them assert that Some Chosen One or Few will rule The Rest, and The Rest shall have neither any rights nor any means with which to protest, much less rebel. (Ponder the segment above on firearms in this connection.)

     Measure the Usurper Regime against that standard.

***

     I have a full schedule for the remainder of the day and for the coming week, so don’t expect to see much from me here for a while. I’m sure Linda, the Colonel, and our other Co-Conspirators will keep you amused. Be well.

Authority Versus Evidence Part 2: When Authorities Collide

     Those without expertise who nevertheless posture as authorities do so for a range of reasons, but most common among them is the desire to promulgate a falsehood. The causal logic behind this is unfortunately quite compelling. If you want people to believe a thesis that is untrue, when there are sources of information that contradict that thesis, what are your tactical choices?

  1. You could marshal political power – force – to censor the alternative sources;
  2. You could mount a campaign of defamation against the alternative sources;
  3. You could posture as a source of superior wisdom: i.e., an authority.

     Tactics #1 and #2 aren’t always available to the falsehood-promoter. Even when they are, they involve heavy costs and the possibility of a powerful adverse reaction. Tactic #3 is almost always the preferred choice, at least at first.

     However, the pseudo-authority stands at risk of being opposed by someone with true expertise. (Let’s leave aside the existence of contrary evidence for the moment, since that has nothing to do with authority.) Such a dueling-authorities situation is evident in many avenues of American public-policy discourse today. All of them excite high emotions – not the least from the authorities themselves.

     Consider the subject of lethal violence and the role of certain classes of firearms therein. “Authorities” associated with the anti-firearms-rights forces have repeatedly claimed that “assault weapons” (a category they staunchly refuse to define) are the tools of choice for innumerable shootings and deaths. Other authorities claim this is the reverse of the truth. John Q. Public, assuming he’s not capable of gathering the “ground truth” data for himself, must decide which of these authorities to believe. When the subject is as emotionally laden as public violence and death by gunshot, it can tax him badly.

     One of the possible responses – and it may be the most common one – is to throw up a barrier of denial to the whole subject: “Make it go away.” In effect, this invalidates both authorities, regardless of which one is nearer to the truth. When a sufficient fraction of the public does this, one consequence is an increase in the de facto power and latitude of governments. Any field left unwatched tempts those who wield political authority…and those folks are legendarily weak before such temptations.

     Other responses include the emergence of “discourse warfare,” in which each set of authorities acquires some degree of public support. after which the authorities and their adherents then “duke it out” in available public fora. Such public disagreements often become vitriolic in the extreme. Only the arrival of indisputable evidence sufficient to settle the core question can put an end to such wrangling.

     However, “indisputable evidence” is often bitterly disputed by the losing side. After all, its “authority” is at stake. That’s when we see tactics #1 and #2 deployed. In such cases, the most powerful elements of the media are importuned to take a position – again, usually on the strength of some “authority” – and to support that position both editorially and in their reportage.

     Ironically, those same media could settle many such clashes simply by unearthing and publicizing facts sufficient to answer the core questions. That this has become exceptional behavior is one of the principal reasons for the bitter divisions that afflict us at this time.

     Most of this is “of course” material: i.e., you’re likely to nod and say “of course…after you’ve read it. But it indicates the importance, to the analyst of public disputes and the campaigns and combats they feature, of “reasoning backwards:”

  • From tactics,
  • To strategy,
  • To objectives,
  • To motives.

     For only when you know your opponent’s motives do you have a decent chance of defeating him:

     “You must move heaven and earth, if necessary, to discover your opponent’s motives. His tactics will be determined by them. If his motives change, his tactics will follow. There lies your opportunity, if you can get him to adopt tactics unsuitable to the conflict. Of course, he could try to do the same to you.”
     “What’s the countermeasure?”
     “Constancy. Refusal to let yourself be diverted. Of course, that can be a trap, too. Motive is partly determined by objectives. If your adversary’s situation changes but his objectives remain the same, he could find himself committed to paying an exorbitant price for something that’s become worthless.”
     “And that’s the time to stop playing with his head?”
     His grin was ice-cold. “You have a gift.”

     [From On Broken Wings]

     More anon.

Authority Versus Evidence

     It’s risky to reflexively attribute actual knowledge to persons who represent themselves as “authorities.” More Americans have been led badly astray by such “authorities” than have contracted the Wuhan Virus. Speaking of which, courtesy of Ragin’ Dave at Peace or Freedom, here’s a contemporary example:

     Last month, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott axed the state’s mask mandate and other COVID-related restrictions on businesses and people, Dr. Anthony Fauci called it “risky” and “potentially dangerous.”

     “When you pull back on all mitigation methods on all public health guidelines, that’s when you get into trouble and history has proven that,” Fauci told Chris Wallace of Fox News. “This isn’t just some kind of a theoretical, a point that I’m trying to make. It’s not theoretical. It actually happens.”

     But, there’s been no surge. In fact, cases have continued to decline.

     And Fauci, proven wrong, struggled to explain how Texas has defied his own predictions during an appearance on MSNBC on Tuesday, and tried to suggest that there might be a “lag.”

     “It can be confusing because you may see a lag and a delay because often you have to wait a few weeks before you see the effect of what you’re doing right now,” Dr. Fauci claimed.

     According to the CDC, COVID “symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.” It’s been 26 days since Texas reopened, which means that Fauci’s “lag” excuse doesn’t hold up.

     At the very least, Texas’s experiences call Fauci’s assertion into question. While asymptomatic infection by the WuFlu is not unknown (note the periphrasis), we would reasonably expect it to be proportional to symptomatic and therefore diagnosed infections. This has not been the case.

     Knowledge, or expertise if you prefer, should be attributed only to to those with a record of successful predictions:

     Expertise in any of the realms of knowledge that don’t involve problem-solving – e.g., physics, chemistry, astronomy, et alii — is founded on prediction. To establish oneself as an expert requires a series of successful predictions: the use of the knowledge one has claimed to create a demonstrable connection:

  1. From a specified context;
  2. Affected by a specified stimulus;
  3. To a consequence that arrives at a specified time.

     Once again, I have the pleasure of citing the late Sir Fred Hoyle’s novel The Black Cloud:

     “It looks to me as if those perturbations of the rockets must have been deliberately engineered,” began Weichart.
     “Why do you say that, Dave?” asked Marlowe.
     “Well, the probability of three cities being hit by a hundred-odd rockets moving at random is obviously very small. Therefore I conclude that the rockets were not perturbed at random. I think they must have been deliberately guided to give direct hits.”
     “There’s something of an objection to that,” argued McNeil. “If the rockets were deliberately guided, how is it that only three of ’em found their targets?”
     “Maybe only three were guided, or maybe the guiding wasn’t all that good. I wouldn’t know.”
     There was a derisive laugh from Alexandrov.
     “Bloody argument,” he asserted.
     “What d’you mean, ‘bloody’ argument?”
     “Invent bloody argument, like this. Golfer hits ball. Ball lands on tuft of grass — so. Probability ball landed on tuft very small, very very small. Million other tufts for ball to land on. Probability very small, very, very very small. So golfer did not hit ball, ball deliberately guided onto tuft. Is bloody argument, yes? Like Weichart’s argument….Must say what damn target is before shoot, not after shoot. Put shirt on before, not after event.”

     The prediction must come before the consequence to be predicted! Anyone can say “Just as I predicted!” after the event occurs. That doesn’t take knowledge, only a lot of gall.

     From that standpoint, Fauci is the reverse of an expert. His predictions have almost all failed. At this point, he’s been wrong so many times that his usefulness as a source of knowledge and guidance has dropped to zero. In truth, that was the case well before today. But he appears to want to be considered an Authority Beyond Criticism:

     There’s a reason why journalists should always keep their distance from priesthoods in any field. It’s particularly in the nature of insular communities of subject matter experts to coalesce around orthodoxies that blind the very people in the loop who should be the most knowledgeable.

     “Experts” get things wrong for reasons that are innocent (they’ve all been taught the same incorrect thing in school) and less so (they have a financial or professional interest in denying the truth)….

     “Authorities” by their nature are untrustworthy. Sometimes they have an interest in denying truths, and sometimes they actually try to define truth as being whatever they say it is. “Elevating authoritative content” over independent or less well-known sources is an algorithmic take on the journalistic obsession with credentialing that has been slowly destroying our business for decades.

     Of course, there’s worse than the single-subject Authority Beyond Criticism. There’s the Anything Authority… and the political version thereof:

     It might not be perfectly obvious (a break from tradition here at Liberty’s Torch), but any man who bids for a high political office must present himself to the public as a sort of Anything Authority: i.e., one who “has the answers” to a wide range of questions concerning the issues most prominent in political discourse. As distasteful as it sounds, arrogance is therefore a qualification for office. He who lacks the glibness and certitude required will be dismissed by a large fraction of the voting public. Seldom does the less glib, less arrogant of two candidates prevail in an electoral showdown.

     Be warned – and beware.

Distinctions That Fail To Matter

     Anyone familiar with the fusillades over race and racial differences these past few decades will be aware that there are some subjects generally regarded as “too hot to touch.” The confrontation-averse are well advised to avoid such subjects, as those on one side are prone to hurling insults rather than reasoned arguments with evidentiary support. Men’s lives have been ruined by subsequent campaigns of defamation, entirely because of differences of opinion or perspective. This essay and the comments to it constitute a demonstration of the emotional power of the topic.

     Mind you, on racial subjects just as on any other, anyone, however well-meaning, can be wrong. Moreover, being above all legitimate accusation is no defense against a storm of slander. Ask James Watson.

     Nevertheless, subjects that touch upon racial differences will be studied, even if covertly. People will form their own opinions, even if unexpressed. Should arguments arise, emotions will run high and tactics inappropriate to rational examination will appear.

     One of those subjects is intelligence. The distribution of intellectual metrics and achievements among the recognized races is perhaps the hottest button in anthropology. In part, this is because of the desires of many that the data not exist. That moves them to attack those who gather the data, accusing them of everything from willfully using invalid methods of measurement to the most evil motives imaginable.

     Psychometricians are agreed on what is meant by general intelligence. They design tests intended to probe for it, and study the distributions that result. Those distributions, which have been consistent for many years, imply statistical differences among the races that are intriguing…and for many, upsetting.

     The upset persons are unwilling to accept the inferences many draw from those distributions – and furious that anyone else might accept them. That powers many a campaign of calumny. It also animates the intrusion, into discussions of intelligence and its measurement, of matters that might not seem to be on point.

     One such intruder is a motif I’ll call can’t versus won’t.

     When attempting to intelligence-test particular populations, the testers are often confronted by behavioral variations that seemingly cross-cut the test and the potential relevance of its results. One simple one is the willingness of the testees to sit quietly and take the test. Let’s call this a problem of focus. It can arise from several causes, including disbelief in the importance of the test.

     Consider: in First World nations, children are routinely subjected to a regime of schooling that requires them to sit quietly, pay attention to an instructor, and take what he says and directs seriously. They’re taught, one way or another, that it matters — that some aspect of their futures will be seriously affected by the way they behave at this moment. If the demand for quiet attention is repeated sufficiently and reinforced by subsequent events, the children internalize the importance of focus. (This is also the case in those nations hagridden by Communist regimes. Indeed, the “reinforcements” there can be far harsher than what American parents and schoolteachers are permitted to administer.)

     One consequence is a relatively strong belief in the accuracy and relevance of test results. Another is the readiness of many to dismiss the relevance of weak results among testees who fail to focus on the test. This, too, correlates strongly with race.

     Can you see the can’t-versus-won’t problem here, Gentle Reader? Is it possible to perform a conventional psychometric measurement on a testee who can’t or won’t take the test seriously? Is it possible to separate his behavior from his capacities? More to the point, apart from the most immediate of consequences – e.g., a low score, being left back a grade, being thought “slow” — does it matter to his future?

     A commentator once said that he who will not read has no advantage over one who cannot read. The same is true for intelligence-related tests, at least in an environment in which intelligence is a survival-and-flourishing factor. He who is unwilling to be tested, whatever the reason, has no advantage over one who is unable to be tested. Whether he is well or poorly adapted to his particular environment is irrelevant to the assessment of his intelligence, as psychometricians understand the term.

     As I observed in this piece, intelligence tests designed specifically for populations in sub-Saharan Africa reveal a mean average – i.e., the axis of symmetry of the “bell curve” or “normal” distribution of scores on those tests – that falls around 70. This result has been confirmed more than once. What does it mean?

     At the rawest level, it means the testees’ scores averaged about 70. Those most determined to avert any further inferences will insist that it means no more than that – and will viciously attack anyone who dares to suggest otherwise. They’ll allege all sorts of problems with the test, contributing factors, and “root causes.” In effect, they demand that the test’s results be deemed irrelevant.

     Are they irrelevant, or do they indicate something that subsequent events might confirm? In that question lies the whole controversy over race, intelligence, and the persistent correlations among them.

     This is where the can’t-versus-won’t conundrum rises to peak importance. Let’s imagine for the sake of argument that those sub-Saharan testees possess huge reserves of abstract reasoning power that no method imaginable to psychometricians could reveal, much less measure. Could those reserves make a significant difference to their futures – i.e., to their survival, their flourishing, the prosperity and harmony of their societies, and so on?

     In theory, yes. In practice…let’s just say the evidence is against the notion. But to note this in public will get you called “everything but white.”

     It’s unfortunate that so many good-hearted people refuse to consider the matter calmly and objectively. There are massive lessons to be learned here. Perhaps the most important of them is that despite all the feedback reality provides, a great many of us are determined to see only what we wish to see, reason and evidence be damned.

     Comments are closed for this essay.

Some Common-Sense Thinking on Privilege…

…and Deprivation.

I’m as guilty of stereotyping as anyone. I have carelessly and automatically characterized badly-behaved children – or, even, adults – as the product of Single Parents. Such a judgement doesn’t account for the many terrific people who were raised in such households.

But, that really is unfair – it’s not the Marriage/Not status of a parent that is the sole reason for a kid ending up with a bad life. It’s the combination of all the bad decisions/breaks in that kid’s life that lead to it.

That isn’t to say that – MOST of the time – having two biological parents in the house is a decided plus. It just makes some sense:

  • If a kid is difficult – high activity level, health problems, special ed issues – it sure does help that there is another parent to take some of the work off the shoulders of the mom.
  • Why biologic parents? Because, sometimes, the only thing that keeps that kid alive is that you have blood invested in that kid. Not mentioning any names, but the kids know what I’m talking about. If you kill that kid, there goes your investment to that point. You leave teens alive, because – aside from little considerations like jail – eventually they may provide you with grandchildren – a delightful thing called Payback.
  • Two parents, two paychecks – or, at least, childcare and household help without further cost.

But, there are many other factors involved in raising children. And, for example, if the ‘village’ in which you are raising your children is bad one, that factor, alone, may tip the scales to “Oh-Oh!”.

Not often pointed out.

Today we’re being fed justifications for escalating hostilities against Russia, China and Iran: they’re bad actors, they defy our ‘rules-based’ global utopia, they have a bad human rights record, they’re communists or undemocratic or anti-LGBT or whatever else might work to generate consent for another big war. However, the fact that one nation initiated more than 80% of all wars in the last seventy years does require an explanation, which I submit below (originally published in 2011): . . . .

Deflationary gap and the West’s war addiction.” By Akrainer, ZeroHedge, 4/7/21.

When Smart People Write Dumb Things

     “We’re all fools, most of our lives. It’s unavoidable.” –Jean Valjean in Les Miserables

     Everyone, at some point in his life, says or does something he later regrets. It’s part and parcel of human fallibility. It’s also a solid foundation for one of the Redeemer’s least-appreciated sayings:

     Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. [Matthew 7:1-5]

     Neverthess, we humans are an argumentative species – and as long as we do it properly, that is essential for our betterment. What’s tripped my trigger this morning is a statement from F&SF writer Sarah Hoyt:

     Because you know, the stupid theories — and some of them are very stupid indeed, like the idea that…the fact that sub-Saharan tribal populations score worse on IQ tests means they’re dumber…

     Sarah’s reasonably bright. She also writes decently. But the above is about as uninformed a statement as you can find anywhere. I doubt she could defend it without either dismissing all the contrary evidence as “biased” or redefining the very quality IQ tests are designed to assess: general intelligence, the ability to perform the operations of abstract reasoning.

     Every test aims to evaluate some specific characteristic. Every test embeds assumptions about what responses to what stimuli will cause that characteristic to appear…or not. The discipline that studies abstract reasoning, its efficacy, and its reliability labors ceaselessly to discover what questions most reliably probe for those things, and what answers will demonstrate them. Aware that environment is critical to the development of general intelligence, and that language and its mastery can reveal or conceal that quality, they design specific tests for specific populations.

     And far more often than not, they get it right. The demonstration is simple: IQ scores correlate strongly with success in occupations that require abstract reasoning and the manipulation of symbols for that purpose. Thomas Sowell, among others, has said that unambiguously.

     Sub-Saharan populations native to those regions test low on the IQ tests designed for their environments and languages. In numerical terms, the mean among such testees – in other words, the axis of symmetry of their bell curve – falls at about 70. This result has been reproduced by several researchers.

     If we trust the design and composition of the tests – and as I said above, they are custom-designed for the testee populations – then we would conclude that the great majority of those testees would be unsuited to occupations that require abstract reasoning, particularly at a high level. In colloquial terms, they’re not smart enough for those jobs. Whether the reason is nature, nurture, or some combination of the two, the results are what matter.

     What Sarah appears to dislike about this is that it provides a basis for that ultimate horror of the bien-pensants, discrimination. In point of fact, it does — which is a good thing. We routinely discriminate when choosing our spouses, our friends and associates, our service vendors, and our employees. It’s both logical and constructive, as long as the discriminant (no, not that discriminant ) is genuinely related to the purpose to be served.

     Selecting for intelligence adequate to the purpose to be served is essential to dealing with individuals on their merits. A genius inventor who seeks associates for the following three categories:

  1. Employees,
  2. Friends,
  3. A wife,

     …will select for characteristics that differ among the three categories, including different levels of general intelligence. As an illustration, genius tends to correlate with a dominant personality, which makes it unlikely that geniuses will marry one another…or if they do, that they’ll be happy with the match. However, geniuses can and do make friends with other geniuses…as long as they’re all willing to argue abstruse points of various kinds without drawing their guns.

     In short: while Sub-Saharan Africans may be superbly adapted to their environment, that does not mean that they’re intelligent by the meaning of the word as it has always been used. Redefining intelligence away from abstract reasoning power merely introduces confusion into the discussion – and such confusion is perfect grist for the mills of those who seek to foment discord.

     Remain firm about the meanings of words. Without fixed meanings on which we agree ab initio, discussion is impossible, arguments cannot be settled, and divisions among us become immutable. That’s the case even when the facts strike one as unpleasant, or (God help us all) “unfair.”

Load more