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Too Much Progress

This evening I want to think about climate, covid and racism. Nothing too controversial then. In fact, let me generalise two and narrow the third. I wish to look at progress, real and perceived, in three key areas: environmentalism, public health and racial discrimination in the USA.

My thesis is pretty simple. In 1 and 3, I aver, there’s been too much progress for the liking of powerful vested interests, who’ve managed to persuade those with more emotion than sense that things are far worse than they really are. Whereas in public health we were being too optimistic, about viruses at least, until Covid-19 hit. Rational Optimist Matt Ridley being a key voice who admits he made that mistake. Though I think he might now say that we also got lucky.

Kid’s play

Good answer to something of which Willis Eschenbach said pretty fairly Could you possibly be more ugly, vindictive, or condescending?

But Amy wasn’t the only one. Fresh from his triumph at the box-office in Planet of the Humans, Bill McKibben also sought to combine the same two of my three and got a fine answer on the US racism front:

That piece by Andrew McCarthy happens to be the best summary I’ve seen of the stats that convince me the ‘institutional racism’ story in the United States, about which we’ve been hearing so much, is by 2020 a myth. It wasn’t always a myth of course. Massive progress has been made.

Interestingly, unlike Amy and Bill, Jesse Jackson has been sticking to the fake news he knows and caring less about faux environmentalism. So two cheers, at least, for that.

I could say more but I want to see the anger and disappointment!

Thoughts?

86 thoughts on “Too Much Progress

  1. Interesting parallels between climate and Covid sciences and attribution have been made on Unthreaded (over at Bishop Hill) by Golf Charlie (Jun 7, 2020 at 11:22 PM ).

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  2. That terribly detailed Venn diagram must ultimately be a product of Lewandowsky’s inner thinking. Why wasn’t he given credit (and monetary remuneration)?

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  3. Anyone stating that, in the matter of race relations, “it”’s worse than we thought” is bound to be given a sympathetic hearing, especially if it’s based on first hand experience. So it’s not surprising that others wanting to propagate a similar pessimism will latch on to the race issue. Hence the Venn diagram above.

    My bugbear is stupid people. There seem to be more and more of them; they’re taking over, and soon they’ll be wanting to marry my sister. I tend to lump them together with climate worriers in the same Venn diagram, and am forced to say to ecolo-minded friends: “Not you, you’re different.”

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  4. Richard: “…powerful vested interests, who’ve managed to persuade those with more emotion than sense that things are far worse than they really are…”

    In the climate case, and notwithstanding various vested interests tend to align to every big / ‘successful’ cultural movement (e.g. look at the history of the Church), the root cause is not vested interests, however powerful. And nor are adherents consciously ‘persuading’ folks in the vast majority of cases, because they truly believe the fairy-tale narratives themselves and hence are subconscious propagators. This is very likely more true than not for this racism wave too, despite facts such as you point to per McCarthy have been available for many years. Again, notwithstanding those making a killing off the back of it (e.g. looters in the US), the vast majority of those supporting the protests, including UK hordes too, are not ‘stupid’ (per Geoff) and not really lacking in sense (you), or subject to some kind of direct consciously applied persuasion by powerful vested interests. They are indeed as you say emotive, which is to say just human; it’s design feature not a flaw. A cultural wave operates at all levels at once; e.g. look at all the CEOs and PR departments of companies and authorities suddenly scrambling to express their support. They were not ‘persuaded’ as such, they’re both afraid (of what will happen if they don’t) and seizing an opportunity to virtue-signal; both of which make it very easy for them to ‘believe’ (as opposed to rationally understanding). But the act of signalling so en-masse, will spread the fairy-tale narratives still further and deeper via the virtue of their reach and authority – so now they are *apparently* persuading, but they were never actually persuaded themselves. This is the famous madness of crowds, and you are spot on that it works via *emotion*, which tells us much; for instance that it’s little to do with how much progress has or hasn’t been made within a particular domain. Essentially knowledge-free mechanisms, means this has no opportunity to matter, and such waves do and have passed endlessly through humanity regarding very many subjects, most now faded into the depths of history. Ironically, if far less progress had been made, practical focus on the *real* problems would keep likely a realism lid on emotive waves. In any case, it matters only that the facts were sufficiently uncertain at one point in time for the cultural wave to rise above a self-sustaining threshold, after which *it* will control the knowledge, not the other way around, because adherents (as we well know from the climate domain) will all individually help to blind each other to any knowledge that comes from ‘deniers’ of the ‘obvious’ situation. And even if you literally place the info in front of a strong adherent, will they see it through the snow-blindness that strong emotive belief creates. This wave is much less well defined than the climate domain, entangled will all sorts of other issues and drawing authority (and guilt) from a past history when it was more true than not (nor is any current population likely to be entirely free of race bias), plus much less connected to infra-structure issues too, but this doesn’t necessarily make it less dangerous.

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  5. I agree with Geoff. Idiocracy is a thing – the village idiot went global and there’s probably no going back. You see, Green policies/politics, social justice, anti-capitalism, anarchy, anti-racism etc. have become ‘intersectional’ (trendy, liberal left lingo for irrationally linked by village idiot mentalities) and Britain (the founder of the Industrial Revolution which has lifted billions out of extreme poverty) – with America a close second – has become the root of all evil and injustice in the world today and, because of capitalism and fossil fuels, is still institutionally racist and socially unjust. So it’s all got to be torn down, as Greta suggests (demands). Boris is the man to do it, because he’s not a Conservative, he’s a Green globalist socialist, much like Labour’s idiotic, prejudiced Richard Burgon. Peas in a pod they are.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/06/07/boris-johnson-considers-giving-drivers-6000-diesel-petrol-car/

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  6. P.S. assuming a cabal of ‘powerful vested interests’ leads to having to assume a critical interest that they are consciously pursuing, i.e. your assumption of ‘too much progress’ in this case. That there is a global (or at least in the racial case, Western) cabal of vested interests consciously having decided there’s been ‘too much progress’ against racism, or too much for environmental issues, to which end they are deliberately driving all this just in order to redress that situation, is essentially a conspiracy theory 0: Unless of course, you can present hard evidence of conscious efforts by said powerful cabal. Emotive belief, which you do indeed finger too, needs no such coordinated top-down effort because it works through humanity’s much more powerful coordinating mechanism (colloquially, tribalism), which is subconscious, yet still allows believing priests / elites to empower themselves over others if they can catch or rise up from cold on the wave.

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  7. Here’s a pertinent, disturbing read: The Cult Dynamics of Wokeness June 6, 2020 James Lindsay

    “Another clear sign that one is dealing with a cult indoctrination rather than something healthier is making the mark live up to contradictory demands. You must understand racism and admit that you cannot understand racism. You must admit to your complicity in racism and pledge to do better knowing that it is impossible to do better. You must be an ally but accept that you will always do your allyship wrong. Impossible demands would scare off a potential cult initiate at the beginning, but once a sufficient level of commitment to the cause has taken place, the effect is the opposite. Rather than making the mark reject the cult, these impossible and paradoxical demands dramatically deepen commitment to the cult. They do this by re-invoking and massively inflaming the feeling of vulnerability at the core, making the mark burn with a desire to “do better” to resolve the emotional dissonance and white-hot feeling of inadequacy (as judged against the cult’s impossible standards). Outsiders see through this emotionally abusive tactic immediately. Cult initiates see it as a kind of ritual hazing and demand to prove the faith, very much like an abused child or spouse always trying to do better to live up to the unmet demands of their abuser.”

    https://newdiscourses.com/2020/06/cult-dynamics-wokeness/

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  8. “Idiocracy is a thing”

    If you executed an IQ test on a random stripe of say a few thousand UK BLM protest supporters, it is extremely unlikely you would find any difference whatsoever to a random stripe of a few thousand non-BLM protest supporters. While no-one is likely to actually do this, even the thought experiment suggests ‘idiocy’ has nothing at all to do with what’s going on. Something like this has been done in the climate domain, in the US. Not only are the sides symmetrical, the more knowledgeable / cognitively capable people were *more* polarised on the issue, not *less*. Meaning that the less capable people had less strong feelings about the issue one way or the other. If we don’t get the cause right, we will never be able to address why so many people think that this…

    “…and Britain (the founder of the Industrial Revolution which has lifted billions out of extreme poverty) – with America a close second – has become the root of all evil and injustice in the world today and, because of capitalism and fossil fuels, is still institutionally racist and socially unjust.”

    …is true, while clearly very many (highly likely a big majority), do not. Which in turn means that we won’t be able to figure out how the expression of the opposing majority might be expressed through existing political structures or whatever other legitimate means. The problem is not the numbers, but how they might express themselves without being passively cowed or actively repressed. Calling all the supporters idiots, just plays straight into the hands of those riding the wave. I understand the frustration, for sure, but this is rowing backwards.

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  9. Ron: great quote. Classic strong cultural characteristics. It’s an in-group / out-group behavioural mechanism that goes back to before we were even human, and as such subverts our rationality. To achieve purpose the core narratives *have* to be false, generally blatantly so, because only a fairy-tale is capable of uniting everyone in the face of the unknown (and once, essentially everything was unknown, and most still is regarding navigating our social future). The contradictory forms of the fairy tales and the structure of our brains have co-evolved, such that the former trigger deep emotive reactions in the latter.

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  10. Ron, it’s a good article, and emphasises the generic, with religion as the obvious / familiar base-case for comparisons. In practice, ‘cults’ are very distilled forms and I’d say this was ‘cultish’ but too broad to label as a true cult. However, these are grey boundaries anyhow, and this only means somewhat different variations on the subset / strength of behaviours. And indeed right at the end Lindsay says: “It might even be, in its broadest functions, a proper religion at this point with a describable and fanatic cult element within it and protected by the relative reasonability of the broader faith”. With which not only would I agree, but I’d add that it is cross-linked / allied to other issues (plus still ‘new’) and hence its faith is still less well-bounded than say a traditional religion, or even the climate domain, though for sure all the same mechanisms are still in train. And even at the cult end of the spectrum, those inculcating new believers are themselves typically believers, i.e. not operating cynically (though there can be some near the top), which might have been emphasised more. For broader cultures, this is almost exclusively so.

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  11. ANDY WEST
    I did not at all mean to suggest that the anti-racist protestors are stupid people; my point was that my personal bugbear is not racists or mysogynists but a much larger group which overlaps in interesting ways with the more subtly defined ones. I’d guess a priori (and the evidence of twitter filmlets bears me out) that the anti-racist marchers comprise some of the best and some of the worst of humanity, which is what you’d expect.

    Otherwise, your comment contains exactly the sharp analysis we’ve come to expect from you. If you could condense it so it would fit on a placard, I’d happily carry it on a demo.

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  12. Geoff, thanks. “If you could condense it so it would fit on a placard, I’d happily carry it on a demo.”

    Hmm… challenging 0:

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  13. Andy, I did not say that all or even a majority of BLM supporters or leftists in general are idiots, but it’s clear to me that a large and significant proportion are, i.e. they are incapable of rationally processing facts and they consistently assemble facts in such a way that it reinforces their ideological bias (yes, I know, we all do that, to a certain extent). An IQ test would not necessarily correlate with this mental deficiency. It exists, nonetheless and from the outside looking in, it sure does strongly resemble idiocy. Take Burgon’s comment for instance. It is most obviously NOT primarily an issue of not acknowledging Britain’s past; the issue is that leftists want us to atone, apologise, beg forgiveness, destroy the social and economic fabric of our once proud nation, tear down our culture, allow alien, inferior cultures to dominate our society, in order to make amends for the heinous sins of our forebears. To expect that from a sane, rational, non-racist, generally very tolerant society, to label them intolerant and racist if they do not comply, is stupid in the extreme. The thinking which leads to those crazy demands is deeply stupid and deeply dangerous. To imply that racism is ongoing in the British state now, simply because a statue of a philanthropist in Bristol who was also a slaver has not been taken down, simply because Churchill’s statue still stands proudly in Westminster, simply because we have built our wealth on a system of capitalism and industry, is idiotic and far, far from the truth. Burgon is not alone in his thinking. Many ‘intelligent’ academics share his views and many less intelligent, brainwashed rioters dimly appreciate and rigidly fixate on his way of thinking, without actually understanding much about what any of it means

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  14. The idiocy is very simply stated: You cannot fight racism with racism, and win.

    You are merely pouring petrol on the fire while claiming the opposite, making an utter mockery of all the moral and logical reasons why racism is bad in the first place. I cannot imagine what the academics who conceived of such illogical nonsense and worked so hard to push it into the mainstream were thinking, but making mischief rates highly.

    For decades it has argued that stereotypes are bad (they still do when it’s convenient to do so). That assuming that a person who looks a certain way must act and think a certain way is stupid. They were right. It is stupid. However, modern “anti-racism” seeks to do the exact opposite. They have a nice stereotypical box they want to put you in and throw away the key. You are not allowed to step outside.

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  15. Jaime, so yes: “they consistently assemble facts in such a way that it reinforces their ideological bias”. But the issue with ‘Idiocracy’ or similar is that it is far too easily misunderstood, especially when coupled with ‘is stupid in the extreme’. Admittedly, we don’t really have good terminology for this (despite it’s so common), but ‘ideologically misled’ in the extreme is more appropriate. An element making all the difference is that largely, the pressure is subconsciously and not consciously applied. If it was largely conscious and rational, it would indeed be stupid. The problem with cultural belief is always how to dispel the bias so that facts, or even pertinent questions about facts, are properly perceived by the adherents.

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  16. Geoff, placard anti-meme memes notoriously difficult, and have a tendency to evolve just like other memes eventually, which usually means not in a good direction. Probably too challenging for me, I can’t see below cutting much ice but best I can do for now…

    Doom Fears Doom Sense
    Tribalism Terrorises
    Did Identity Eat YOUR Reason?
    Ignoble Action BETRAYS Noble Cause
    Did CAUSE capture your head?
    You Thought, or just Chanted?
    Are you Helping, or Raging?
    YOUR Voice, or THEIR Shout?
    Blind support brews blind hate

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  17. Geoff:

    Anyone stating that, in the matter of race relations, “it”’s worse than we thought” is bound to be given a sympathetic hearing, especially if it’s based on first hand experience. So it’s not surprising that others wanting to propagate a similar pessimism will latch on to the race issue.

    The first part I had been very mindful of as I penned my little piece.

    The second – pessimisms seeking each other out, in effect – is made much more interesting for me by the fact that none of the assembled doomsters seem to have been banging on about the risks of a pandemic. For the last thirty years, say, as the IPCC got its feet under the table.

    Wasn’t that useful?

    By contrast, Hans Rosling, the great optimist about human progress, based on facts, put a pandemic as the top risk we should be concerned about. Where was that? Factfulness?

    But more importantly, why was that?

    My explanation, though tentative, has vested interests as a crucial part. More in due course.

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  18. From the Sierra club:

    “Racism is killing the planet”

    And, of course, by racism, they mean:

    “The ideology of white supremacy leads the way toward disposable people and a disposable natural world.”

    Who are these “white supremacists” who hold such power? Do the Chinese follow the “ideology of white supremacy”?

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  19. RICHARD DRAKE
    That Rosling (and Bill Gates) should be proven decent prophets is not surprising. They were merely repeating the best scientific advice, which is not always false.

    That the ecolo-doomsters haven’t emphasised the risk of a pandemic doesn’t surprise me either. Immediate reactions to immediate threats is not their thing, despite all their rhetoric about the urgency of the climate crisis. The Gramscian long march through the institutions is so much less effort. They’re more David Brent than Dave Spart.

    While admitting the relevance of your comparisons between three “movements,” I would separate out comments on the reactions to the race thing, given the delicacy of the subject. Here in France the demonstrations, mostly dignified and peaceful, have linked the Floyd case with that of a young black Frenchman dead in police custody four years ago, whose case has still not been dealt with. He died face down on the ground with his hands handcuffed behind his back. Imagine how that position must feel like torture after a short period, and how any movement to alleviate the pain might be interpreted as resistance…

    The French authorities have just announced that “étranglement” (strangling) is no longer to be authorised as a legitimate method of overcoming a resisting suspect. I’ve met decent policemen here, but I’ve encountered regulations that would shock an Englishman or American..

    At least here in France no-one has defaced a statue of Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln…

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  20. ANDY WEST 8 JUNE 4.44pm

    I’m afraid copywriting isn’t one of your talents.

    Years ago I used to conduct focus groups for a living. Occasionally someone would appear in a group who had original ideas to express, even on the usually banal subjects of discussion proposed. He’d quickly be put in his place by the other members of the group, luckily for us researchers, who had to copy out the group opinions by hand, and who weren’t interested in serving up a Socratic dialogue to our clients..

    The medium is the message, according to the neglected prophet of the information age Marshall MacLuhan. One day you or one of your acolytes will develop a format somewhere between the slogan and the full Monty Climate Etc. exposition. Then we’ll be getting somewhere.

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  21. “But more importantly, why was that?”

    Because cultural narratives in order to serve their purpose, *must* avoid reality at all costs, at least where it has any chance of contradicting said narratives. And they also vie to be ‘the most important thing’, which means not acknowledging or indeed squishing anything else that might steal some limelight (or resources, or critically, adherents) away. If among other things that happens to mean investment / awareness about pandemic risks, so be it. Cultures are both blind and irrational. As you’ve noted before, climate change culture has stolen hugely from pandemic preparedness, as exemplified by the risk priorities of the WHO.

    Rosling’s information and priorities do not come from a cultural movement, so these are not subject to the above issues (which doesn’t automatically make it right, yet it has some actual chance of being right). “The Doomster’s” info / priorities, for whatever specific doom, *do* come from a cultural movement, and so by definition they are wrong (because all strong cultural narratives are wrong). This doesn’t stop the cultures from trying to adapt to new scenarios that inconveniently interrupt their trajectory (and indeed turn disadvantage into advantage), e.g. “climate change causes pandemics”.

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  22. Geoff: But how did Rosling and Gates discern that in *this* area the best scientific advice was a good deal more important to listen to than the faux-scientific proponents of total renewable energy? There are two kinds of pessimism here and one is deadly.

    It’s really interesting to hear your reports on France on the racism front. I’d felt it was a different kettle of fish just from a few tweets I saw from black Frenchmen.

    Meanwhile, yesterday, as I was thinking of doing this post, I switched on to the main BBC news around 7pm, knowing that it would be followed by the South West version, which was bound to show the Bristol statue of Edward Colston going for a dip in the harbour. To my amusement the two top stories in the main news were that and Matt Hancock praising my local hospital, Weston general to its friends, for the effectiveness of its local lockdown after it’d become clear it was a major source of covid infection into the area! Talk about finding the positive when another take (a la Richard North) was decidedly possible!

    On Colston, I’m glad the statue has been removed, though I wish that had come through the petition process and he had ended up in a museum, with a balanced explanation of the fraught debate. The history is bleak. Black lives do matter as we tell it.

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  23. Ron (11:48am): Thank you for mentioning and quoting James Lindsay on the horrors – and I don’t use the word lightly – of critical race theory. Those three – Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian – all count themselves leftists but have, more than anyone, as far as I can see, faced up to and exposed the darkness that has been emerging from academia on various interlinked fronts. For instance I began to watch Is Intersectionality a Religion? the other day, where Lindsay, Pluckrose and Boghossian were the guests of a grateful Turning Point USA, a conservative student movement. I have no problem anyone seeing that nexus of ideas as religious in nature, by the way, particularly as Lindsay, a mathematician by background, studied religion in its many forms before getting into these strange offshoots of postmodernism. (Note his better use of a Venn diagram in the early part of the discussion than our friend Amy in my main post.)

    When Turning Point tried to start up in the UK in December 2018 the BBC interviewed the two main spokespeople and they reported that the Beeb wouldn’t ask them about anything except their views on climate change. One of those spokespeople was Candace Owens and it was Willis Eschenbach pointing to a video by Owens on the George Floyd protests late last week, and subsequent interactions I had about it on Twitter, that kicked off this post, in effect. I won’t explain the whole process for now but leave you with this excellent suggestion from the unmistakeable Fartel Engelbert in response to Steve Mc:

    It is time for radical action and I haven’t seen better than that.

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  24. On there having been “too much progress” with environmentalism for many of the vested interests involved I was no doubt influenced from an early age (when I was mere toddler under 50!) by Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, particularly what he said in Martin Durkin’s The Great Global Warming Swindle, which I watched excitedly with a friend on its release by Channel 4 (yes really) in March 2007. Here’s the exact segment I’m thinking of, courtesy of YouTube and a nifty little website called YouTube Time:

    Only about three minutes worth but brilliantly put together by Durkin, featuring Nigel Calder, Fred Singer, Philip Stott, Patrick Moore, Nigel Lawson and then Calder again, who describes a strange alliance between Margaret Thatcher and very left-wing forces coming together to back a “loony idea”. (I think that’s a bit unfair on Maggie but it sure gets the attention!)

    It’s Moore who makes the point eloquently that environmentalism’s problem by the mid 80s was that its main demands had been met and everyone agreed with them! Where did they go from there as an anti-establishment force? I think it’s impossible to understand the loony ideas of net zero and the rest in 2020 without taking this in.

    Next up, why I feel it’s the same syndrome for US racial discrimination and my somewhat different take on public health. Because I think it helps to understand.

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  25. On racism, this is why I emphasise stupidity, i.e. the inability to reason and process facts. You’ll find plenty of ‘evidence’ on the internet that US cops are far more likely to kill black people than white people, ergo this must be institutionalised racism. BLM and others grasp at these ‘facts’ and throw them in the face of ‘white supremacist’ society to claim that their institutions must be torn down – and replaced with ‘what’ exactly? They seem to be less clear on that. The truth is far more nuanced:

    “But a new study that was just dropped in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences absolutely destroys the Democratic narrative regarding race and police shootings. It completely rejects the argument that white officers are engaged in an epidemic of racially biased shootings of black men.

    Turns out, according to the study, that white officers are no more likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot black civilians.

    And as we’ve long known, it reinforces the fact that it is a racial group’s rate of violent crime that determines police shootings, not the race of the officer.

    Here’s what it comes down to – the more frequently officers encounter violent suspects – no matter what that racial group is – the greater the chances that members of that racial group will be shot by a police officer.

    It gets even more interesting. The study found if there is a bias in police shootings after crime rates are taken into account, it is against white civilians.

    So what’s causing the belief that we’re living through an epidemic of racially biased police shootings?

    Simple – selective reporting.”

    https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/study-destroys-argument-that-white-cops-are-shooting-black-men/

    I’m not saying this study is the final word on so-called “racist” killings by police, but it’s surely worthy of consideration if you’re hoping to take a balanced view based on actual facts. But no, the dominant cultural narrative, reinforced intentionally by the media, is that blacks are victims of the state, disproportionately victims of state brutality, that the state is predominantly a ‘white supremacist’ institution, therefore blacks are victims of state-endorsed racist violence. Stupid in the extreme, dangerous in the extreme. Such thinking leads to anarchy and riots of the kind we have seen in the States and here in Britain. I am not at all sure that it is unconsciously directed simply by a dominant cultural narrative either.

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  26. Is this closer to the truth than ‘Western society is killing black people and Western society has to be locked down in order to prevent a deadly virus which kills more black people, on average, than white people’?

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  27. Jaime. As I’m sure you know the conclusions of the recent report upon police killing of black men in the USA are not new and are still not acceptable to those using the racist card. I still vividly recall listening to a radio talk show in 1981? when driving from Miami Airport down the Keys. I listened enthralled because I had never heard the like – a talk show host defending a report that concluded that more black men were arrested and/or killed by police because black men committed more crime. This guy defended these conclusions for at least three hours during my drive. I didn’t hear the beginning nor the end of the talk show, but the host had to withstand a stream of abuse and taunts of being a racist.
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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  28. Thanks Jaime and Alan. (And sorry to others, before you, that I didn’t have the chance to read comments till yesterday evening. I was quite surprised by how many there were!)

    I feel I’ve read enough on the stats in my short life (shorter than Alan’s anyway!) to discount massive racism in the police or indeed in the whole of US society, at least in recent years. But of course that doesn’t mean there’s none. The policeman who killed George Floyd may indeed have been racist or perhaps just needlessly violent to anyone difficult. All I’m saying in the main post is that substantial progress has been made. Though it’s an interesting sub-debate as to when the main gains took place. Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele I think have slightly different takes on that. But Steele says from the 1960s and I’m happy to run with that, as a non-expert, as he was the scholar whom Candace Owens particularly singled out in her video, in what I found a really moving way.

    I’d be interested in what Jaime meant by “I am not at all sure that it is unconsciously directed simply by a dominant cultural narrative either.” I’m very into vested interests on this one, as I’ve been open about!

    There’s also “One virus was taken and blown out of proportion to achieve a goal.” I’m not sure the virus and the murder were quite the same. But I’m trying to lay some groundwork here so I won’t argue the toss with an anonymous tweep for now!

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  29. Richard, there’s *probably* a dark subtext (or series of subtexts) to all that’s happening at the moment. It stretches credibility to its limit to imagine that it’s all random and not connected in any way. Is there an ultimate ‘goal’ as OutDammit suggests? I don’t know, but the scenes being played out at the moment and those which have been playing out for several decades now appear to be converging on a commonality. Is that consciously directed or coincidental? I don’t know. All I know is that this government is destroying the socio-economic fabric of this nation to ‘beat’ a disease which is nowhere near as dangerous as we were led to believe, which is on its way out anyway and which also idly sits by as anarchists tear down and deface historical monuments (and dig up historic lawns etc.), aided and abetted by the police. We’ve definitely shifted from fake news territory to bad news territory.

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  30. Richard, re vested interests:

    Your clip above explicitly lays out that this is far more about cultural beliefs than ‘vested interests’. E.g. ‘suite of myths’. E.g. ‘pure propaganda’ and policing of the correct narrative. E.g. ‘political ideology’. All of these are classic descriptions of major *cultural* operation. For sure vested interests often align to large / ‘successful’ cultural movements, and way back when the beast was smaller, grants to scientists no doubt considerably increased their willingness to believe. But some grants to scientists don’t make for a massive global movement with hundreds of millions of (unpaid!) believers and associated with trillions in infra-structure plus a complete change of how everyone thinks about life / society (or at least this would be the case if the culture completely got its way, for sure it’s made big inroads already). ‘Vested interests’ is usually meant within the context of conscious and deliberate planning for the direct obtainment of said interests; so who across the last three decades+ plus are the conscious coordinators of world domination via climate change policy? With an *intentional* global plan projected for this timescale? And where is the evidence of the massive deliberate lying to the public that would be needed by reams of authorities and underlings world-wide across this huge time-span? And where is the evidence of their direct benefits received for said efforts and world-wide conspiracy. If cited as main cause, this does indeed amount to a conspiracy theory, unless you have the hard evidence. I happened to watch both Inconvenient Truth and Global Warming Swindle at about the same time in the week the latter came out. These are what first alerted me to the fact that a culture was responsible, because IT was a classic propaganda style work filled with emotive forms, and while I didn’t know a thing about the science, the GWS does not show big signs of being a cultural output, and indeed per above even pointed at the obvious cultural aspects of the climate movement.

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  31. Jaime, ‘On racism, this is why I emphasise stupidity, i.e. the inability to reason and process facts. You’ll find plenty of ‘evidence’ on the internet that…’

    But it isn’t ‘stupidity’. It’s bias, albeit very powerful bias. And this is exactly the same issue as in the climate domain, where evidence that there is not a certain imminent global catastrophe is just as available. Stupid behaviours largely in the absence of bias, are due to stupidity. Stupid behaviours in the context of powerful bias, are due to beliefs. Outside of that context, those folks will be no more or less stupid than any of us. The issue here is one of misunderstanding; you may know what you mean, and indeed have demonstrated so at various times. But most others will not have a clue, including the ‘other side’ whom you are essentially addressing. And you just (wrongly) insulted their intelligence, which is not conducive to persuasion apart from anything else. Plus, given the exact same system operates in all of us, we may also not know when we are being ‘stupid’, as in actually, biased.

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  32. “It stretches credibility to its limit to imagine that it’s all random and not connected in any way”

    To speculate connections, and *conscious* / planned connections, are entirely different things.

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  33. Andy, I think we are just arguing about the use of language here – again. I label the behaviour, you look for the possible underlying reasons for the behaviour to justify using less ‘offensive’ and hopefully more constructive language. In my view, stupid is as stupid does, whether it is under a cultural spell, cult influence or not and, as I said, it does not correlate that well with educational level or even formal measures of IQ. Furthermore, none of us are immune to acting really stupidly at times (myself very much included), but mostly we try not to make it a lifestyle choice.

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  34. Agreed Jaime. I’m not interested in use of language here. (Well, beyond censoring wholly offensive use of language, which hasn’t happened for a long time on one of my threads on Cliscep.) Hence my lack of replies to AW. He can call me Humpty Dumpty for all I care – but what would he mean by that? 🙂 I want to get my thoughts out that came to me, strongly, over the weekend. I know doing so stretches my powers of articulation. I also probably disagree with your take, in detail. But I respect it. We’ll get there I’m sure.

    [stupidity] does not correlate that well with educational level or even formal measures of IQ.

    That part I strongly agree with. More from me this evening, hopefully.

    (I also wanted us to be able to talk about critical race theory and things less extreme than that in the racism thought-space, which is very topical. Thanks again to Ron. And to DaveJR for that striking example of what the Sierra Club is now saying in search of the new wokeness. And to talk about these things keeping climate and covid in view.)

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  35. And I just saw this, as I was briefly on Twitter looking for something else.

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  36. Ben highlights the hypocrisy of the Sierra club and the Greens in general.

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  37. Jaime, “Andy, I think we are just arguing about the use of language here – again.”

    No. Unless you are arguing that language which doesn’t at all represent what you actually mean is what you really want. I presume not.

    “I label the behaviour, you look for the possible underlying reasons for the behaviour to justify using less ‘offensive’ and hopefully more constructive language. In my view, stupid is as stupid does, whether it is under a cultural spell, cult influence or not and, as I said, it does not correlate that well with educational level or even formal measures of IQ.”

    But if you say this: “In my view, stupid is as stupid does…” or similar as you’ve done before, without all the caveats as you actually add just above, *everyone* on any side is going to completely misunderstand you. Because this says something fundamentally different to what you apparently really mean, i.e. they will take away that those you’re labelling lack intelligence, which is how everyone interprets the meaning of ‘stupid’. And given the list of caveats is highly likely to be missed off when you’re in a hurry, or indeed sliced off either inadvertently or purposefully by a quoter depending upon how clear the whole text is, or how near the caveats are to the ‘stupid’ word, or the motivation of the quoter, then your real meaning is pretty much never going to be be understood. So why say what you actually mean? In normal parlance, people just *don’t separate* the external behaviour and the internal reasons for ‘stupidity’; there is pretty much always the assumption of lack of intelligence.

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  38. Richard: “I’m not interested in use of language here. (Well, beyond censoring wholly offensive use of language, which hasn’t happened for a long time on one of my threads on Cliscep.) Hence my lack of replies to AW.”

    My comments to your points are not primarily about language, unless you have a completely different meaning for ‘vested interests’. They’re about the latter being root cause or not. Or are you saying that you are *not* proposing vested interests as largely the main root cause for the climate catastrophism?

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  39. Richard: “Science has completed the transformation into pure politics. ”

    Fortunately it is far from complete, albeit has corrupted some domains more than others. Now, what do you think has been the primary force in doing this so widely? Here’s a clue. It’s not the money. Here’s another, it’s happened before.

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  40. What is the new definition of “white supremacy” supposed to be anyway? Has anyone bothered to define it somewhere?

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  41. Andy, the wonderful English language is a lot more malleable and inclusive than you suggest, so I would argue that it is indeed about language.

    1a : slow of mind : obtuse
    b : given to unintelligent decisions or acts : acting in an unintelligent or careless manner
    c : lacking intelligence or reason : brutish
    2 : dulled in feeling or sensation : torpid still stupid from the sedative
    3 : marked by or resulting from unreasoned thinking or acting : senseless a stupid decision
    4a : lacking interest or point a stupid event
    b : vexatious, exasperating the stupid car won’t start

    Your definition implies 1a, b, c
    My definition was meant to imply both 1 and 3.

    Neither of our definitions encompasses the full range of possible meanings of the word as commonly used in speech or writing. I used the language to represent what I meant – some of these progressive liberals are genuinely thick as a brick; others are not unintelligent but totally lacking in reasoned judgement. Many Labour MPs/Green MPs fall into the former category. The philosophy/ideology they perpetuate and support is Stupid with a capital S, Idiotic in the extreme, with a capital I.

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  42. “Andy, the wonderful English language is a lot more malleable and inclusive than you suggest”

    Jaime, I’ve suggested no such thing.

    “some of these progressive liberals are genuinely thick as a brick”

    Some of every (large enough) group is so. Some of every (large enough) group is very intelligent.

    Shorn of your caveats, the implication is that lack of intelligence is causal. The reason you need the caveats, is that you know this is not so, which is all fine and good. But all strong cultural narratives / ideologies defy reality in ways that appear, objectively, bizarre. And until recently, essentially the whole planet was religious, for instance; does that mean the whole planet are stupid? The fact that you can stretch a definition to technically address your meaning with the caveats, does not mean you will achieve understanding to a generic audience, and very much so without them.

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  43. Andy, I lost patience with you when I saw your first comment. Sometimes you’re a mixed bag, sometimes simply a windbag. You quoted only part of a crucial sentence in order to grasp completely the wrong end of the stick.

    My thesis is pretty simple. In 1 and 3, I aver, there’s been too much progress for the liking of powerful vested interests …

    I was explaining my strange title. A lot of ordinary people are deeply grateful for the progress with the environment and US racism. Some people aren’t, though, and I’m calling them vested interests. They often call themselves progressives and that was a big part of the joke.

    Enough already.

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  44. DaveJR:

    What is the new definition of “white supremacy” supposed to be anyway? Has anyone bothered to define it somewhere?

    That’s where critical race theory comes in Dave. A really horrible email thread I experienced under the auspices of LRUG, the London Ruby User Group, (for coders in the Ruby language but often wider than London) in February 2015 showed me how deeply this has become embedded in the mindset of younger people (with some in their 40s also having strongly imbibed the coolaid). The worst moment being where a young Aussie programmer who’d very sensibly encouraged people to lighten up rather than pile in against the person new to the group taken to to have offended some very entitled Asians was led in a public act of confession and contrition for his horrific error. Many coders explicitly backed the persecutors simply because they knew they had white privilege and could not in any way dispute claims of racism against the original perpetrator from PoCs (people of colour), however overblown. (The original poster had a Slavic name but that’s white enough so who cares?) I was the only person who stood up for moderation and the accusers were none too pleased, nor was the mob. I’ve taken an interest in James Lindsay’s work partly because of this experience.

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  45. “Andy, I lost patience with you when I saw your first comment.”

    Goodness, that soon. When the whole purpose of the blog is discussion, robust or otherwise. From which better understanding emerges. I applaud some of your ideas, and challenge others. I may well have the wrong end of the stick, but that’s nothing to do with whatever I quoted; the entire text reads the same to me. If I don’t get it, maybe others won’t. Even if I’m alone in my misunderstanding, ‘Hence my lack of replies to AW’, is not likely to help. Nor is insult; it implies you have made no attempt to navigate my misunderstanding or challenge, plus you are better than that.

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  46. This from Lindsay, quoted by Ron earlier, exactly hits the nail on the head:

    Another clear sign that one is dealing with a cult indoctrination rather than something healthier is making the mark live up to contradictory demands. You must understand racism and admit that you cannot understand racism. You must admit to your complicity in racism and pledge to do better knowing that it is impossible to do better. You must be an ally but accept that you will always do your allyship wrong. Impossible demands would scare off a potential cult initiate at the beginning, but once a sufficient level of commitment to the cause has taken place, the effect is the opposite. Rather than making the mark reject the cult, these impossible and paradoxical demands dramatically deepen commitment to the cult.

    This person with the Slavic name, who was trying to do a job advert for his startup, had made an awkward joke in what probably wasn’t his first language and was at once accused of racism by a prominent English-Pakistani member of the group who often answers questions on technical matters. As a native speaker of English I thought the accusation was ridiculous. But my knowledge of my own language had nothing to do with it. I must avoid all such errors in the future but I didn’t know my own language well enough to discern what was or wasn’t racist. And the moment one questioned the matter the offence was upgraded to ‘horrific racism’. It was a game I didn’t remotely understand at the time but at least I stood my ground and didn’t apologise.

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  47. Winding the clock back from 2015 to 1976, I was in New Zealand on my gap year before going up to Cambridge when I read a very short column in the main Auckland newspaper, maybe three sentences, on the situation in Cambodia. People had been cleared from the main cities into the countryside and religion had been abolished. I was only eighteen but I knew at once that awful atrocities were being committed if this report was true. I’d stumbled into the nightmare world of Pol Pot and I did the only thing I could – I prayed for the people of Cambodia. When I arrived in Cambridge all I heard about from student activists were the terrible atrocities in South Africa. Even after the Sunday Times Insight team did their breakthrough, very harrowing account of the reality in Cambodia, with first-hand testimony of the half-alive in the refugee camps of Thailand, it was the same. The suffering of the blacks under apartheid was all these priviledged white kids could see.

    I may have become prejudiced at this point. Who knows.

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  48. So, with that as a tiny bit of background, on Thursday I saw this tweet from Willis:

    I’d already seen that Candace Owens was trending on Twitter so I listened. Then, given what she’d said about Shelby Steele I watched all of this video:

    I was really deeply impressed and moved by both Owens and Steele, who’d experienced the real evil of segregation in his first school. So I began to raise awareness of what Candace was saying and I ran into some really nasty smearing, even for someone used to the climate debate. And that’s what got me thinking about vested interests in the US race relations scene, those who cannot admit that there’s been great progress since 1960s.

    It was all very raw on Sunday night but I found a way to abstract a little. I didn’t expect many comments but I got some!

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  49. I’m sorry my use of the word “stupid” has led the discussion of Richard’s article off-course.

    Jaime’s and my use of the word “stupid” in its widest sense had a purpose I think, which of course I wasn’t conscious of at the time, namely to highlight the fact that some arguments are too empty to be worth discussing. My heavy-handed joke about “Not you of course, you’re different,” was meant to highlight a cliché of racist discourse, which always has an exception, and the same stretching of the Venn diagram occurs on any other subject. “Some of my best friends are environmentalists.” Have you never felt like saying that? (Maybe not.)

    The only way you can make the Venn diagram work is to reduce your definitions to the lowest level of generality, and you end up saying no more than “thick people are stupid.” Andy, when he points out that some environmentalists/racists are intelligent, is of course correct. But he then simply raises the level of our “denial” to a higher level of abstraction by making them victims of an irrational cultural force of which they are unconscious. His explanation has the advantage of showing how non-stupid people may be prey to irrational ideas, but it’s not really relevant to Jaime’s and my desire to express our anger and disgust in crude terms.

    Meanwhile, if there was any doubt that high IQ people may be thick as bricks, read Tony Thomas.

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  50. I agree Geoff and continuing to argue would be stupid, but not as stupid as, say, academics at top universities dragging down the academic reputations of the Universities which employ them – and from which institutions they often borrow their unearned prestige and influence as ‘experts’ on, e.g. feminist queer anticolonialism – in order to propagate and promote their destructive ideology to wider society.

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  51. Jaime, well I agree whole-heartedly on the Universities front. Seems to me that many are becoming more like devout Madrasas than places to encourage questioning about knowledge.

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  52. I’m so glad that when I went to university there was none of this woke nonsense to deal with. Then you could concentrate on what academia and studying the ‘hard’ sciences was really about: endless conversations with fellow nerds in Tolkein’s runes, getting drunk, and levels of self-abuse that come with taking a course generally shunned by the opposite sex.

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  53. It’s quite sad to see once world-leading British Universities decline and to be overtaken by competitors in Asia who have not subscribed to all this woke nonsense. It does feel like Western civilisation itself is in terminal decline – and it’s happening so quickly now. The government is busily depriving youngsters of a year of education, so that will no doubt accelerate the general decline in educational standards and affect the brightest pupils the most, who need continuity to realise their maximum potential.

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  54. At Spiked, an author claims that the current wave of mass hysteria over racism is a symptom of lockdown. I disagree. Lockdown – and its acceptance by the public – and now the mass outbreak of deeply unedifying submission to the demands of BLM activists – is a symptom of a much wider malaise in Western society, which has lost the courage to pursue its own future and preserve its unique identity. Both have come to the fore simultaneusly and now are reinforcing one another dangerously. It really is a failure of moral conviction and courage. Western society is now rudderless and is being blown from its course by a hurricane generated by the forces of mass hysteria and group psychosis allied with cowardice.

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/06/09/why-did-the-protests-over-george-floyd-turn-into-mass-hysteria/#.XuCumB7lKEk.twitter

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  55. JAIME JESSOP
    Frank Furedi at Spiked! Would surely agree with you that the mass hysteria surrounding the Floyd death is a symptom of a wider malaise. I’m surprised no-one has noted the similarity with the Thunberg-inspired Friday school strikes. Richard’s insight in opening this discussion could be taken further, though I don’t feel like it at the moment, given the circumstance and the number of people who are genuinely upset and genuinely suffering from racism. Also, given the inevitable economic catastrophe facing us, I wouldn’t be surprised if the BLM protests are forgotten in a few weeks as the protest moves to other problems closer to home.

    The government has a whole panel of social scientists advising it on the social aspects of the crisis. Did none of them point out that if you lock people up they’re going to break out? The incompetence at every stage of this crisis is bewildering.

    Among the announcements that went by with hardly a comment in the media that I saw was the one by Cambridge University that they’re abolishing lectures until October 2021. Given that our top universities are one of the few things Britain can be proud of, this is getting more and more like the Xosa tribe that killed its cattle and burned its crops in the face of British military might. What else do we do well? Aero engines and rock concerts. Are they next on the list?

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  56. Geoff,

    “Given that our top universities are one of the few things Britain can be proud of, this is getting more and more like the Xosa tribe that killed its cattle and burned its crops in the face of British military might.”

    I compared in detail the Xosa case with the catastrophist climate case (and so Greta with Nongqawuse) here: https://judithcurry.com/2019/07/29/child-prophets-and-proselytizers-of-climate-catastrophe/

    It simply didn’t occur to me that a wider comparison may be appropriate, but you’ve made me wonder…

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  57. That’s some good discussion, taken together with Tony’s transectional masterpiece.

    I think Geoff was dead right to mention the role of hombre estúpido. (I so like the Spanish version.) Without this the vested interests have no power, in my own putative framework. Andy’s piece at Climate Etc. introduces me to Nongqawuse. Fascinating. But I continue to be interested in the darkness that can only emanate from the grownups, potentially in all three areas.

    The reaction to the virus, both the known reality and the deep uncertainties, at some point no doubt became estúpido. And evil people close to the centres of power, who are not stupid in the normal sense, may of course wish to destroy wealth, livelihoods, future prospects and perhaps the whole of capitalism through this. But I was hoping (though not mandating) that this would be off-topic for this thread. (There have been other opportunities!) I was struck rather on the weekend by the contrasts in public health, which I think is in better shape than the other two areas. LancetGate having such a speedy and humiliating impact on the august journal, triggered partly by The Guardian, no less, is a key marker for me, compared to Climategate, where the slaps on the wrist administered by officialdom after many turgid months were at the soft end of negligible. That’s not to say that I trust Big Pharma going into the future, with HCQ or anything else. Just that the system protecting civilisation in one of its most important manifestations is less broken than in the other two. The reader is of course free to disagree.

    It was almost four areas and Tony’s brilliant post (how does he keep an almost-straight face?) emboldens me. James Kirkup’s The NHS has quietly changed its trans guidance to reflect reality in The Spectator last Thursday lands nicely in the overlap between areas 2 and 4 – and important it is too in marking a successful fightback against wokeness, if a limited one. And in their summaries today of their pessimism about our future both Sarah Vine and Pete North (an unlikely power couple on the right but there you have it) mention in addition to toppling statues the howling persecution of JK Rowling over the same matter.

    As for JK, as she’s known to her previously devoted fans – and many of them remain so, which presents a problem for the vested interests – she is herself a writer. She knew exactly what she was letting herself in for when she came out in support of Maya Forstater, she says. Forgive me a windback on this one:

    (Dr Stock pointing to J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues there.) Two female writers of genuine courage. Jaime was so right about cowardice. So how encouraging is that.

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  58. Richard, ” The NHS has quietly changed its trans guidance to reflect reality…”

    I had missed this, thanks. A modest step maybe (I see it’s not yet clear whether the Tavistock Gender Identity Service will agree or fully take onboard), but a very useful step nevertheless. Maybe some sanity will prevail.

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  59. Trans extremism didn’t quite fit my ‘too much progress’ frame for the original post Andy but it is an area where much of academia has had a baleful influence, like climate and race theory, as has some of the legal profession and the civil service. And in which there have been really hopeful signs. Here’s a black lesbian barrister – we just don’t have enough of those in our regular commenter list I feel – and response just eleven days ago:

    “The wheels are falling off” was said due to a number of developments but it did strike me that the “panicking [and] lashing out” was also going to be true in increased demonisation of climate sceptics, as budget cuts begin to hit, as well as those arguing from facts in the race debate. It’s that kind of time. On the legal front one of the standout events was the apology the fanatical trans activist and GP, Adrian Harrop, was forced to make to JK Rowling under threat of being sued:

    See the explanation in blog form called It was misinterpretation m’lud.

    And this evening the philosophy professor Kathleen Stock, who was at Oxford in the same year and college as Dominic Cummings, has had a good dig at the academic rot providing faux intellectual cover for the persecution of gender dissenters:

    At a much more personal level, Stock also retweets this:

    It is a really impressive piece by Rowling, only taking the form it does because of her receiving permission from her daughter to do so. As a result the wheels are falling off for people like Owen Jones – and as they do they will lash out all the more, with ‘climate deniers’ one of the easiest set of scapegoats. Hold tight.

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  60. I presume that the root of the “Capitalocene” (never encountered the term before) is capitalism. I am not sure how sedimentary rocks will record an economic system, nor what it’s index fossil will be (a plastic credit card perhaps?).
    I see your Capitalocene and raise you with the Wokeocene.

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  61. Alan: I believe you to be right on the intended meaning of the neologism but perhaps in the wrong thread to talk about it!

    I just got into my car after a early visit to the supermarket and realised Kathleen Stock (mentioned in my last two comments) was being interviewed on Radio 5 Live by Rachel Burden and Nicky Campbell:

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  62. Alan, being a Lockdown Denier, I’ve been lamenting the demise of the Capitalocene and fretting over the emergence of the Wokeocene by engaging with some real geological strata (and blades of grass – and rain!) out here on the Jurassic Oolitic limestone uplands of South Kesteven and I’m pleased to report that I’ve actually found a couple of rare Ammonite fragments.

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  63. Richard indeed and I apologize. I’ll transfer it, if you could perhaps expunge it like an unwanted refugee on a foreign shore?

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  64. No no, we’ll keep it here, as Jaime and I replied. But feel free on the other thread, possibly with a new, improved version 🙂

    It is a ridiculous term. But aren’t they all by now.

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  65. Ridiculous ideas demand ridiculous ad hoc post dictionary definitions. It’s all intersectional anyway. Even our posts here at Cliscep, one of the last bastions of anti-wokeness, are becoming involuntarily intersectional. It’s hard to focus in a world that’s gone mad. The real focus will only come when it’s a matter of survival. Surviving real economic hardship. Surviving anarchy and lawlessness. Surviving the ‘climate crisis’ and the ‘Covid crisis’ will not soon be high on the list of the average person’s priorities if this madness continues.

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  66. Jaime your most recent icon suggests you have taken the weightwatchers mantrae much too seriously.

    [BTW ammonites from the Inferior Oolite limestones are not uncommon, whereas those from the overlying Great Oolite (not present as limestones in your area I believe) are indeed exceedingly rare]

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  67. Alan, my unscientific definition of rare came via searching through many limestone blocks at a local quarry and picking up numerous limestones whilst walking and finding nothing. Eventually, I found something!

    PS It’s the park bench and the image of death. It’s symbolic. All this nonsense started with park benches.

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  68. Having given a brief account of my stay in New Zealand in 1976 at a time the Cambodian genocide was at its height, but nobody seemed to realise or care, here’s where Steve McIntyre talked about his visit to the same country in 1968 – on Climate Audit in March 2012. Among other things Steve advised Michael Mann to eschew war metaphors. And I told that part of my story in public for the first time.

    It seemed a strange connection between the two of us. I didn’t (and don’t) know anyone else who visited Cambodia so close to the Pol Pot takeover. And I don’t know anyone personally to this day who was taking events there seriously in 1976. Noam Chomsky certainly wasn’t, to give one notorious example. His devoted follower, UK academic Malcolm Caldwell, thought things were going so well in 1978 he’d take a visit. Quite how Caldwell perished is still unknown. Hopefully, for his sake, not in the Tuol Sleng torture centre.

    I say this partly because there are probably worse mistakes than lockdown. Such excesses do go back to ideology and in critical race theory and its many adjunct fields I feel we have something in academia to rival Caldwell’s stupidity and perhaps Pol Pot’s deadliness. And since 1976 I’ve decided to take care when I have such feelings.

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  69. We disagreed on the phrase “trans women are women” but I am indebted to Jamie for this

    More on this part of the “too much progress” puzzle in due course.

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  70. May I recommend most strongly that all here should read the e-mail from an anonymous history professor mentioned above by Richard. It gathers steam particularly at the end and says many important things that need saying. The writer is brave and risks his academic position. Yet I believe he should be lauded for speaking out as he has. Are there any social scientists in British universities who are brave enough to speak up as this American academic has? All seem to be hunkering down.

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  71. Thanks Alan. And, as I was saying earlier, in one area of the battle against woke totalitarianism there now seems to be significant progress in the UK:

    The Baroness being thanked being Nicholson, Tory peer and more recently passionate ally of the radical feminists who’ve been blowing the whistle ahead of almost anyone on trans activist excesses. Here she thanks some of the major feminists involved, plus Graham Linehan!

    And here’s one of the prominent gay men who ‘came out’ as gender critical (ie supportive of those same feminists) a couple of years ago, commenting on how much more there is still to do, notably in disbanding Stonewall altogether, or at least reducing its influence in government to zero:

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  72. With Richard linking to ZeroHedge I feel I can do the same. This article
    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/language-and-defund-police
    starts predictably enough, but ends on a most interesting note.

    “Defund the police” is quite the rallying cry. It’s a policy statement in five syllables. The language is clear and meaning is impossible to miss. The next steps after defunding the police, however, do require explanation. To whom does a community turn for its security needs when a police force is defunded and therefore eliminated?…

    During the riots that tore apart communities across America, the media excused the mob’s behavior because they agreed with the mob’s anger. Now the media misrepresents the mob’s demands because the media agrees, to an extent, with the mob’s politics… defunding the police becomes “shifting police responsibilities.” Riots become “an uprising.” AP guidance replaces looters with “protesters who stole whatever was on the shelves.”
    The departure from objectivity (or at least the appearance of objectivity) is no longer just being defended on moral grounds. It is now claimed to be an existential necessity. The existential movements – global warming, Black Lives Matter, systemic racism – are now claimed to be objective truths, and so all reporting and all opinions on those topics must express one point of view. Objectivity has become that which advances the just social cause.

    It isn’t difficult to see against what – or whom – this media movement turns next. If climate change poses a fundamental threat to the earth, then dissension against the prevailing climate views must be stopped. If our institutions are systemically racist, then they’ll use all available options to defeat the instruments of oppression. And if you dare stray from the new “consensus”? Good luck.

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  73. “The existential movements”

    Interesting. Existential (emotive) narrative and consensus policing, are standard components of cultural movements. Slowly, I think more folks are realising what they are facing. With several happening at once, I guess it’s easier to see (albeit they have rather different ingredients / flavours). And there’s been plenty of historic examples, once people have enough awareness to actually make the comparisons.

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  74. The disappearance of objectivity from global warming ‘science’ is bothering even the scientists now, who complain that it’s not so much the anti-science ‘deniers’ that are the problem, but the catastrophists for whom objective science has increasingly become an inconvenience when it is not certain enough that catastrophe is imminent or catastrophic enough to suit their political narrative. Which is ironic, because it is precisely these scientists’ toleration of the exaggerators and their intolerance of sceptics which has largely contributed to the climate of fear and hysteria which now exists.

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  75. “Which is ironic, because it is precisely these scientists’ toleration of the exaggerators and their intolerance of sceptics which has largely contributed to the climate of fear and hysteria which now exists.”

    Yes, the evil genie has long since escaped the bottle, but in years past scientists speaking up against unjustified doom could have kept the cork in.

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  76. More crossover ruminations.

    I assume the HCQ study being described is as bad as implied by Steve’s analogy.

    But I’ve not checked

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  77. Ron mentioned Greta Thunberg’s contribution in the first comment. The BBC has now released details of a thirty minute interview with the precocious teenager – though at the moment I can’t find any working copy of the audio. But the headline for the summary story by the interviewer, Justin Rowlatt, linked to prominently from the main BBC News page, says this: Greta Thunberg: Climate change 'as urgent' as coronavirus. And here are the first few lines:

    Greta Thunberg says the world needs to learn the lessons of coronavirus and treat climate change with similar urgency.

    That means the world acting “with necessary force”, the Swedish climate activist says in an exclusive interview with BBC News.

    She doesn’t think any “green recovery plan” will solve the crisis alone.

    And she says the world is now passing a “social tipping point” on climate and issues such as Black Lives Matter.

    “People are starting to realise that we cannot keep looking away from these things”, says Ms Thunberg, “we cannot keep sweeping these injustices under the carpet”.

    So Greta, it seems, has spotted the same three areas that I did, in my simplistic way, almost two weeks ago.

    I’d like to do at least two comments on this, maybe more. The most crucial issue for me is that use of the word urgent. Are we really meant to take that seriously? Is climate change as urgent as coronavirus? If so, was this true in February and March 2020?

    Here’s Jaime Jessop on 19th April (how time flies when you’re in lockdown), having also just quoted the Swede:

    So said Greta, at Davos, 3 months ago, even as another crisis was rapidly emerging, a new, real, more imminent crisis which would grip the world and force governments to act – largely, in retrospect, out of fear, not knowledge, not masses of data, not hope.

    At first, UK scientists said don’t panic, then they said PANIC in big, bold capital letters. They got it wrong – twice.

    Whatever the size and impact of the second wrongness I don’t think any of us, or anyone in the world, pretty much, think coronavirus wasn’t an urgent concern in March. At absolute mininum in the UK we needed to be told to wash our hands more, and for longer, and the NHS and care homes needed to get properly ready. And that was really urgent.

    There is a tremendous weakness here in the “consensus view” that is trying to tie the two areas together and say they’re really the same. Was climate change (AGW, Greta and the BBC should of course say) urgent in 1988? UNEP, senator Al Gore and climate scientist James Hansen were all saying it was and that this was already the consensus of all the experts that mattered. (And when Richard Lindzen heard reports of this outrageous claim from Gore he and a few others began to push back.) It’s now 32 years later and it’s truly amazing how the urgency has never let up even for one single second. Spot any difference there with covid? Fact 13, the amount being spent purportedly to tackle the urgent thingummy, had reached £1.5 trillion a year by 2015. Yet in 2019 and 2020 Greta has said repeatedly we’ve done nothing. And that presumably is why it’s so urgent now, as urgent as the coronavirus was for the world in February and March 2020. And will remain so till 2052 and beyond?

    I think a lot of people – vested interests if you like – get that this is a moment of maximum weakness for the climate crisis and all who sail in her. We need to drill down on the urgent. Compared to so much of the climate debate (like the precise relevance of volcanos in Antarctica) it’s so simple. But I do like open goals.

    Liked by 1 person

  78. Ben Pile’s Environmentalism: a racist ideology today in Spiked is well worth a look.

    Like

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