Spring Cleaning

woman_spring_cleaning1Time to do a bit of spring cleaning. I keep finding far more things that would make good posts than I ever have time to write about, so here are some of them.

You and your monkey brain.

Our friend, and our enemy: Time, itself.

Why is productivity so low?

Why Apple is so annoying.

Do we want high-paying manufacturing job? Maybe we should learn from Indiana.

How the way we teach American History got so screwed up, and how to fix it.

What made Ronald Reagan great.

Mr. Lincoln goes to London, or does he?

David Cameron loses the plot, or did he ever know it?

Love Game of Thrones? Then you must love history whether you know it or not.

Suzannah Lipscomb tells you how it is recycled British history, mostly!

And the Irish, sensible folk that they are, are building a statue of the Duke, and Maureen O’Hara, as they appeared in our favorite movie: The Quiet Man.

And finally, quit whining, nobody owes you a job or anything else!

 

Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia, and the fiery planet of Mustafar, from "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." (Credit: Michael Lionstar/Salon)

Camille Paglia, and the fiery planet of Mustafar, from “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” (Credit: Michael Lionstar/Salon)

Ella Whelan recently interviewed Camille Paglia for Spiked. As always, a huge amount of common sense is on display.

But turn your brain to high, because there is several hours worth of information here, in a bit over a half hour. Her classes must be fascinating, and also very tiring, but never tiresome.

Her views on Feminism, Lena Dunham, and Hillary Clinton are worth your time, not even to start with campus culture, or lack thereof.

I don’t see how she get to where she goes with her politics, but her premises are almost always correct.

Enjoy!

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

42-76175484There’s an excellent article over at First Things this month. Nothing at all unusual about that, of course, but this one speaks to a fair number of our problems.

The problem with ­science is that so much of it simply isn’t. Last summer, the Open Science Collaboration announced that it had tried to replicate one hundred published psychology experiments sampled from three of the most prestigious journals in the field. Scientific claims rest on the idea that experiments repeated under nearly identical conditions ought to yield approximately the same results, but until very recently, very few had bothered to check in a systematic way whether this was actually the case. The OSC was the biggest attempt yet to check a field’s results, and the most shocking. In many cases, they had used original experimental materials, and sometimes even performed the experiments under the guidance of the original researchers. Of the studies that had originally reported positive results, an astonishing 65 percent failed to show statistical significance on replication, and many of the remainder showed greatly reduced effect sizes.

Their findings made the news, and quickly became a club with which to bash the social sciences. But the problem isn’t just with psychology. There’s an ­unspoken rule in the pharmaceutical industry that half of all academic biomedical research will ultimately prove false, and in 2011 a group of researchers at Bayer decided to test it. Looking at sixty-seven recent drug discovery projects based on preclinical cancer biology research, they found that in more than 75 percent of cases the published data did not match up with their in-house attempts to replicate. These were not studies published in fly-by-night oncology journals, but blockbuster research featured in Science, Nature, Cell, and the like. The Bayer researchers were drowning in bad studies, and it was to this, in part, that they attributed the mysteriously declining yields of drug pipelines. Perhaps so many of these new drugs fail to have an effect because the basic research on which their development was based isn’t valid.

When a study fails to replicate, there are two possible interpretations. The first is that, unbeknownst to the investigators, there was a real difference in experimental setup between the original investigation and the failed replication. These are colloquially referred to as “wallpaper effects,” the joke being that the experiment was affected by the color of the wallpaper in the room. This is the happiest possible explanation for failure to reproduce: It means that both experiments have revealed facts about the universe, and we now have the opportunity to learn what the difference was between them and to incorporate a new and subtler distinction into our theories.

The other interpretation is that the original finding was false. Unfortunately, an ingenious statistical argument shows that this second interpretation is far more likely. First articulated by John Ioannidis, a professor at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, this argument proceeds by a simple application of Bayesian statistics. Suppose that there are a hundred and one stones in a certain field. One of them has a diamond inside it, and, luckily, you have a diamond-detecting device that advertises 99 percent accuracy. After an hour or so of moving the device around, examining each stone in turn, suddenly alarms flash and sirens wail while the device is pointed at a promising-looking stone. What is the probability that the stone contains a diamond?[…]

[Speaking of the scientific method] If peer review is good at anything, it appears to be keeping unpopular ideas from being published. Consider the finding of another (yes, another) of these replicability studies, this time from a group of cancer researchers. In addition to reaching the now unsurprising conclusion that only a dismal 11 percent of the preclinical cancer research they examined could be validated after the fact, the authors identified another horrifying pattern: The “bad” papers that failed to replicate were, on average, cited far more often than the papers that did! As the authors put it, “some non-reproducible preclinical papers had spawned an entire field, with hundreds of secondary publications that expanded on elements of the original observation, but did not actually seek to confirm or falsify its fundamental basis.”

What they do not mention is that once an entire field has been created—with careers, funding, appointments, and prestige all premised upon an experimental result which was utterly false due either to fraud or to plain bad luck—pointing this fact out is not likely to be very popular. Peer review switches from merely useless to actively harmful. It may be ineffective at keeping papers with analytic or methodological flaws from being published, but it can be deadly effective at suppressing criticism of a dominant research paradigm. Even if a critic is able to get his work published, pointing out that the house you’ve built together is situated over a chasm will not endear him to his colleagues or, more importantly, to his mentors and patrons.

via Scientific Regress by William A. Wilson | Articles | First Things

We see this all the time, don’t we? From climate science, to sugar in our diets, to low fat diets, to almost everything else, we have far more information available than any generation before us. That’s likely a good thing, except it all means this. We have far more false information available than any generation before us.

Maybe it wouldn’t matter but, as George Canning once observed:

I can prove anything by statistics except the truth.

And here’s another part that we must never forget, from Josiah Stamp:

The government are very keen on amassing statistics. They collect them, add them, raise them to the nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But you must never forget that every one of these figures comes in the first instance from the village watchman, who just puts down what he damn pleases.

See also: The Week: Big Science is Broken

Character is Crumbling in Leadership

Ebctnb5Dale R. Wilson, who publishes Command Performance Leadership, is one of my oldest blogfriends. He doesn’t publish as often as he used to, which is a shame, but when he does, his posts are always incisive, and important. This is no exception.

In military and civilian academic institutions around the world, above and beyond their core curriculum, character is taught and inspired.  In each of the military academies in the United States, as well as college Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, the purpose and responsibility is to produce leaders of character.  To accomplish this, they incorporate the values of integrity, respect, responsibility, compassion, and gratitude into the daily life of cadets and midshipmen who aspire to become tomorrow’s leaders. […]

At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point character development strategy promotes living honorably and building trust.  West Point believes that their approach not only develops character, but modifies behavior over the course of the 47-month cadet experience.  Ultimately, the desire is for cadets and rotating faculty members to depart West Point with the character, competence, and commitment to build and lead resilient teams that thrive in complex security environments.  Most importantly, everyone commits to living honorably and building trust, on and off duty.

The Cadet Honor Code at West Point:

A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.[iv]

Recommended Reading: Duty, Honor, Country [Go there, if you haven’t read this lately you owe it to yourself, to see what built our country! Neo] […]

No matter what our challenges happen to be, either driven by stress or human urges, we must strive to reach deep within ourselves to overcome the temptation to make poor decisions; no matter if we are in uniform downrange, or in daily life with our family or friends.  Our country, society, superiors, peers, subordinates, family, and friends are relying on our steady and consistent moral courage to translate into professional decorum and behavior; always.

Many respected military leaders of the past espoused the vitally important qualities of a leader.  Lieutenant General John A. Lejeune, the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps said, “Leadership is the sum of those qualities of intellect, human understanding, and moral character that enables a person to inspire and control a group of people successfully.”  Among General Douglas MacArthur’s 17 Principles of Leadership, which essentially acts as a leader’s self-assessment questionnaire, there is this question: “Am I a constant example to my subordinates in character, dress, deportment and courtesy?”

via Character is Crumbling in Leadership | Command Performance Leadership

Well, are you? Frankly this isn’t something just for the military, nor is it just something for Americans. This is the essence of leadership, and servant leadership, at that. It is the ideal,the pinnacle of leadership. None of us succeed all the time, but if we wish to have a free society, we must try, and even more to the point, so must those we appoint to lead us.

Frankly, I learned this early, my dad, showed this, almost as strongly as General Marshal did, but even so, ROTC codified it for me in the saying.

First: the Mission

Second: the Men

Last: yourself

That is what I’ve always strived for, and in whatever measure I’ve been successful, it is that striving that is responsible. But, in business today, like our military, I see little of this. What I see is a selfish, uncaring of anybody but oneself attitude, that assumes that everybody is looking out for themselves. They may be right, to a point, but they (and their companies) will not find long term success, using this rubric, nor will America. Because much too often they’ll not lead, but manage, and bring that down to the level of the next quarterly bottom line. In every case that I have seen, that has led to losing the best people, and the ruination of the reputation of the brand, and often the demise of the company.

Not a good recommendation, for our companies, nor, especially, for our churches, and our military, and, emphatically not for our country.

Christ is offensive and outrageous

maxresdefaultIt doesn’t get much better than this. One of my favorite writers, Laura Perrins,  Co-Editor of The Conservative Woman, interviewing one of my favorite writers, Tim Stanley, a historian, leader writer for The Daily Telegraph, and contributing editor for the Catholic Herald.

Yes, most Americans have little interest in Brexit, after all, we have no vote, but like the British interest in our presidential election, it matters. It will affect us.

But keep going they discuss several issues that have direct applicability to us as well.

It’s an outstanding interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Laura Perrins: Why should Britain leave the EU?

Tim Stanley: There are logical reasons and then there are emotional reasons. Logically, the EU is turning into something that we don’t belong in. The only way to make the single market work is to integrate politically. Not only do we not want to do that but we’ve also made it clear – by staying out of Schengen and the Eurozone – that we’re not going to change. Hence, the British future within the EU is actually a future on the fringes of the EU. We’d have to suffer all the consequences of European decisions without full democratic control over the decision making. We’ve reached a point where the UK and the EU have to part company.

But I also have “sentimental” reasons for favouring Brexit. Culturally, legally, economically – we’re a very different place to the rest of Europe. Our future lies within the Anglosphere, trading globally. I’m tired of our Parliament being undermined. I don’t like pooling sovereignty, especially when the benefits are unclear.

LP: You support Brexit but many in the Catholic Church and hierarchy believe the EU is a force for good. Arguably the Union has stabilised the Continent twice ravaged by war in the last century. It has also brought huge economic benefits to the people of Europe. The idea of solidarity is essentially a secularist version of Christian charity. Surely, it is unchristian to want to leave?

TS: Yes, we Christians are universalists – and that should logically make us favour of political unions. But if they lead, as the EU has led, to economic chaos in constituent countries then the case for them collapses.

The Union has done nothing to defend the Continent or bring peace. If it had, that would imply that it has a political or military dimension to it – something Cameron denies and wouldn’t be desirable anyway (another natural conclusion to integration is a single army, and few actually want that). The Cold War only brought a veneer of stability to Europe: nuclear deadlock prevented war but not terrorism or post-colonial conflict overseas. After 1989, the Continent suffered genocide in the Balkans and now chaos in Ukraine. The EU isn’t a guarantor of democracy either. It has cut a new integration deal with Turkey, despite its government’s war on the press.

And, yes, solidarity is a secularist version of Christian charity and, therefore, inadequate. To stand with someone is not the same as to suffer with them – a literal translation of compassion. Christian action is best expressed through charity, aid, giving. Not regulations about the correct shape of bananas.

LP: In a recent piece in the Catholic Herald you discuss the dilemma facing American Catholics who might have to choose between Trump or Hilary Clinton for President.

via The Laura Perrins Interview: Christians have to fight back, says the Telegraph’s Tim Stanley – The Conservative Woman

Inquisition Against ‘Climate Change Disbelievers’: and More

Harvey-Proctor-George-BellSomething here that we, and the Brits, had best start thinking about, read the articles, and then we’ll talk.

Beginning in 1478, the Spanish Inquisition systematically silenced any citizen who held views that did not align with the king’s. Using the powerful arm of the government, the grand inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada, and his henchmen sought out all those who held religious, scientific, or moral views that conflicted with the monarch’s, punishing the “heretics” with jail sentences; property confiscation; fines; and in severe cases, torture and execution.

One of the lasting results of the Spanish Inquisition was a stifling of speech, thought, and scientific debate throughout Spain. By treating one set of scientific views as absolute, infallible, and above critique, Spain silenced many brilliant individuals and stopped the development of new ideas and technological innovations. Spain became a scientific backwater.

As an old adage says, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. So we now have a new inquisition underway in America in the 21st century—something that would have seemed unimaginable not too long ago.

Treating climate change as an absolute, unassailable fact, instead of what it is—an unproven, controversial scientific theory—a group of state attorneys general have announced that they will be targeting any companies that challenge the catastrophic climate change religion.

Speaking at a press conference on March 29, New York Attorney General EricSchneiderman said, “The bottom line is simple: Climate change is real.” He went on to say that if companies are committing fraud by “lying” about the dangers of climate change, they will “pursue them to the fullest extent of the law.”

The coalition of 17 inquisitors are calling themselves “AGs United for Clean Power.” The coalition consists of 15 state attorneys general (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington State), as well as the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Sixteen of the seventeen members are Democrats, while the attorney general for the Virgin Islands, Claude Walker, is an independent.

The inquisitors are threatening legal action and huge fines against anyone who declines to believe in an unproven scientific theory.

The inquisitors are threatening legal action and huge fines against anyone who declines to believe in an unproven scientific theory.

Schneiderman and Kamala Harris, representing New York and California, respectively, have already launched investigations into ExxonMobil for allegedly funding research that questioned climate change. Exxon emphatically denounced the accusations as false, pointing out that the investigation that “uncovered” this research was funded by advocacy foundations that publicly support climate change activism.

via 16 Democrat AGs Begin Inquisition Against ‘Climate Change Disbelievers’

Also this morning:

“Credible and true” is how the police described the evidence against former Tory MP Harvey Proctor. He had been taken in and questioned under the aegis of ‘Operation Midland’ – Scotland Yard’s investigation into allegations of a historic Westminster paedophile ring which serviced the needs of gay politicians throughout the 1970s and 80s, and then apparently kept their sordid assignations secret by murdering some of the boys who did the servicing. To be accused of being a serial child-murder and of the sexual abuse of children is a serious thing. You would expect the police to act on such an allegation, especially if they judged the evidence to be not only sufficiently credible to pass the file to the CPS, but true enough to secure a conviction.

But the investigation was halted, and the case against Harvey Proctor has been dropped. Having trashed the man’s name and splashed it about all over the media on the strength of one solitary, anonymous and uncorroborated allegation from decades ago, the Met told Harvey Proctor that he was no longer a suspected serial child-murderer and paedophile, and that everything was now just fine and dandy, thank you very much. The evidence that was once deemed to be both credible and true is now seemingly neither.

Harvey Proctor’s accuser was a man called ‘Nick’ (his real identity has not been disclosed). As a result of these allegations, Harvey Proctor has lost his livelihood and home. “I have been pilloried and the Metropolitan Police Service has enabled and allowed me to be wrongly depicted as a paedophile, child abuser and child murderer on the back of a liar,” he said. “Nothing the police do or say, no weasel words of regret, can remove that indelible stain. I hope they are proud of themselves for irreparably ruining my life.” Whatever he now does; however he proceeds; whichever way he turns, Harvey Proctor’s name will be forever associated with the whiff of paedophilia.

via Archbishop Cranmer

And again this morning

George Bell was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 to 1958. I first came across him when working on Churchill, who clearly found the good bishop a great trial. On one level this might seem odd, since Bell was one of the earliest opponents of Nazism, and at a time when public policy in the UK was one of trying to find accommodation with Hitler, Bell’s view was that his system was so evil that that would be impossible. He worked closely with ‘confessing churches’ in Germany which refused to join the official Reichkirche, and he worked tirelessly to help Jewish refugees, especially those who were Christian converts who were often not helped by anyone else. Bell also supported those in Germany who wanted to overthrow Hitler, and the last letter the great Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote was to Bell. One might, therefore, have imagine that the great anti-appeaser, Churchill, would have admired Bell, and perhaps even have recommended him for the See of Canterbury upon William Temple’s sudden death in 1944; he didn’t and he didn’t. Why?

T.S. Eliot described Bell as a man of ‘dauntless integrity’ – and that was his undoing in Churchill’s eyes. Bell detested Nazism with every fibre of his being, but he did not think barbarism should be fought with barbarism. He was an early, consistent and vocal opponent of area bombing – which brought him public opprobrium and the hostility of Churchill – and lost him the chance of Canterbury.

via All along the Watchtower

The thing is, in all cases, these are witch hunts, staged for political purposes. In the last two cases, the allegations, although they strike me as very unlikely, could be true. But so what? The defendants are dead, they are no longer in human jurisdiction, and we (British or American) have no extradition treaty with either God nor Devil.

Find Law tells us:

The 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution sets out many rights for defendants during a criminal prosecution, including the right of the accused to confront their accusers. The relevant text of the Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment reads as follows: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.

The 14th Amendment has made the 6th Amendment’s right to confrontation applicable to state court as well as federal court.

The confrontation clause guarantees criminal defendants the opportunity to face the prosecution’s witnesses in the case against them and dispute the witnesses’ testimony. This guarantee applies to both statements made in court and statements made outside of court that are offered as evidence during trial.

How does that work out when you are dead? Here, in a PDF we may also read this:

The right of an accused to face one’s accusers is regarded as an old and venerable tradition. The history of the right to confrontation can be traced back to Roman law. The Roman Governor Festus is reported to have made the following comments regarding a prisoner: ?It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man up to die before the accused has met his accusers face to face, and has been given a chance to defend himself against the charges.”1 Thus, early Roman law recognised that the law does not convict a man before he is given an opportunity to defend himself face-to-face with his accusers.2 For centuries, the English also practised a form of confrontation that required an open and face-toface system, described as ?altercation”.3 Indeed, the justice of bringing accusing witnesses before the accused has been acknowledged for at least 1,500 years.4 Therefore, the right to confrontation has a lineage that can be traced back to the beginnings of Western legal culture.

It seems to me, that what connects all these cases, and many more, it firstly: to deny people the right to a fair trial, by publically denouncing them even before indicted, and sometimes, as in Bishop Bell’s case by the denouncing done by the police themselves, even though they had essentially no case. Where else do we see this type of misbehavior? Yes, you have it one, on our college campuses, where to be innocent of (especially) sex crimes is not enough, because one is guilty unless one can prove otherwise, which is completely antithetical to the rule of law, not to mention polite society. It is the war of all on all.

Thomas Hobbes said:

“To this war of every man against every man, this also in consequent; that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have there no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice. Force, and fraud, are in war the cardinal virtues.

“No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

That is the course we are, increasingly, on.

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