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

An object lesson in PR from David Cameron and Justin Welby

From Getty

This strikes me as a great lesson for all of us, about how things are perceived. Yes, it comes from the UK, but the lesson is timeless. From The Spectator

I don’t think there is a Royal College of Public Relations, but if there were, it should teach a course based on a comparison between two stories last week. One concerned the Prime Minister and the other the Archbishop of Canterbury. Both arose from the paternity of the principals and, in both cases, the principals had not done anything wrong. Yet there the similarities end. David Cameron, and those working for him, spent the best part of a week fending off and then changing a story they found embarrassing. Justin Welby, and his much smaller staff, confirmed the truth of a potentially much more painful story in one go, bravely and clearly. Mr Cameron emerged from fundamentally minor questions about what money his father might have passed him (and by what means) with what looked like — though it isn’t — a stain on his character. Mr Welby came through a revelation of the sort that can provoke a nervous breakdown — that the man you thought was your father was not — with his character enhanced. Prime Minister looked cross and shifty; archbishop looked strong and honest. Why the difference? It is not as if Mr Cameron is a bad man. He is moderate, patriotic, decent, family-minded, sane and humorous. Could it be something to do with the power of conviction? What seems to nag at the Prime Minister is a sense of his inauthenticity. He condemns tax avoidance not because he really thinks it automatically wrong, but because he is frightened about being thought posh and rich. Then he gets hoist by his own petard, so people laugh at him. The Archbishop of Canterbury, on the other hand, found his unshakeable faith through the extreme difficulties of his early life. When it turns out even more difficult, he knows instinctively how to deal with this. People respect him the more.

It feels strange to write ‘Mr Welby’ when previous Archbishops have been Dr. But it is correct. Because he was an oil executive, not a theologian, Justin Welby was not in line for a doctorate. It is a tiny indicator that he is different from the normal run.

After I had confirmed for certain that the late Sir Anthony Montague Browne was the father of the archbishop, and reported it in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, I reflected on the potency of his pair of ivory-backed, monogrammed hairbrushes. It was they — or rather, his hair on them — that provided his DNA. Not only did they therefore play a key role in the investigation, rather like the lead piping in a game of Cluedo; they also spoke so clearly of the period and milieu of their owner. I do not know any men under the age of 80 who have a pair of such hairbrushes, unless inherited. They are redolent of an age where men had special dressing-rooms for such things — stiff collars, stud-boxes, shoe trees, clothes brushes, cut-throat razors. Sir Anthony’s widow, Shelagh, tells me he was most possessive of these hairbrushes and refused to let her wash them. He may have feared that washing would make the bristles part from the ivory. But it was this decision that incriminated him.

A Middle Eastern friend put to me the other day a point so big that I felt silly for not having thought of it. Why are so many people fleeing from Syria and Iraq, and other parts of the region, beyond the huge, obvious reason that they fear for their lives? Because they believe that the Shias have gained the whip hand over the Sunnis. George Bush’s mishandling of Iraq after he conquered it opened the way for Iranian power. Barack Obama’s abandonment of Saudi Arabia, his refusal to restore order in Syria and his nuclear deal with Iran have erected this mistake into a policy. So one of this policy’s victims is the EU.

Continue reading An object lesson in PR from David Cameron and Justin Welby » The Spectator

But that’s the thing, isn’t it. It’s almost never the act itself (barring actual criminal acts, anyway), it’s always the cover-up.

Frankly, neither story is any of our business, but given how prominent they are, once two people knew it, it was going to come out, in a big way. And you see how the difference in handling it, changed the whole story. The PM hurt himself, how badly, I don’t know, but the Archbishop, made himself look like what he is, a good Christian man, trying to do his best.

A lesson for us all, I think.

Newman Lectures

Francis CampbellThose of you who were here last year at this time will remember that we carried, the audio of and some pictures (videos when the speaker agreed) from the Newman Lectures, sponsored by the University of East Anglia, and the Diocese of East Anglia. We are again going to carry them, as they become available, barring technical glitches, which do happen, as we all know.

This year has a very distinguished group of presenters

  • 4 April:   Francis Campbell, Vice-Chancellor, St Mary’s University, Twickenham
  • 11 April: Dr. Graham James, The Bishop of Norwich
  • 18 April: Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Former Archbishop of Westminster
  • 25 April: Bishop Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth

I’m very excited about this lineup, and also again working with John, Andrew, and Siobhan. So if you can’t make it to Norwich, don’t miss out completely.


 

THE CHURCH IN SOCIETY AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO THE STATE

The first Newman lecture this spring was by Francis Campbell. His CV is most impressive:

Currently Vice-Chancellor of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, Francis has had a long and distinguished career, working as – amongst other things – Policy Advisor and Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Senior Policy Director with Amnesty International, and British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2005 to 2011.

Probably wouldn’t hurt to add for us Americans, a British Vice-Chancellor is an American university president.

Enjoy, a most interesting lecture.

These lectures are sponsored by:

UEADiocese of East Anglia

 

 

 

Next will be: Dr. Graham James, The Bishop of Norwich

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.

Provide for the Common Defense

CT57UEaXIAEpS78I want to pick up on some of Jess’ points which she made so well, yesterday. She’s right, very few of the refugees had much of anything to do with causing the problems in Middle East. But there is also this, the highest duty of our secular governments, is to ‘provide for the common defense’.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a duty to help them, but it does mean we have the right to control who we allow into our countries, and we should not allow those who seek to destroy them. That is plain common sense. it is also one of the reasons, we set up governments, in the first place.

She’s also right, that America, not least because of the calumny directed at her for the last few decades (and other reasons) does appear to be returning to our historical outlook. We are remembering John Quincy Adams words:

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.

And that is much of what we are seeing happen, and we don’t like it. And so if Europe is to be defended, it will likely be up to Europe to do so. Mostly we have decided that three times in the last century is enough. And it is, it has dislocated our economy and our theory of government, but those ogres were so big, that we knew Europe would succumb.

It it succumbs to radical Islam though, it will be from essentially suicide. Andrew Bolt wrote recently in the Melbourne Herald Sun:

Why Brussels? Why have Muslim terrorists in Brussels this week slaughtered 34 civilians in the city’s airport and underground?

Why did Muslim terrorists from Brussels earlier join the Islamic State attack in Paris that killed 130 people?

Why did a Muslim terrorist in Brussels kill four people at the city’s Jewish museum? Why did Muslim terrorists from Brussels have a deadly shootout with police last year and again last week? Why have an astonishing 450 Belgian Muslims–the vast majority from Brussels–served with Islamic State?

The answer? There are now 300,000 Muslims in Brussels. That’s why.

Brussels is Europe’s biggest Muslim city, home to a virtual colony large enough to sustain its own culture and hide entire networks of terrorists from the police. What’s more, the huge Muslim enclave is in a European country already torn between its Flemish and Walloon halves, making newcomers in this militantly multicultural land more likely to take refuge in their own ethnic identity, too.

But maybe it’s already too late.

The vast demographic experiment of the West–importing largely unskilled immigrants from an essentially hostile culture–has failed and cannot be undone.

Europe is now paying the deadly price. There have been mass murders by Muslim extremists in Madrid, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Brussels and Toulouse.

There have been attacks on cartoonists in Denmark, riots against Jews in Paris, a rape epidemic in Scandinavia, pack attacks on women in Cologne and the assassination in Amsterdam of a film director who mocked Islam.

And more every week.

Leslie Loftus wrote in The Federalist after the attacks on France last fall:

The hashtags might fly. The city skylines will glow in thick stripes of red, white, and blue. The politicians and so many others will publicly claim a prayer to a God that many of them don’t believe in. We will put on a good show of caring, but the harsh truth is, we aren’t coming.

We remain at heart as our sixth president had described. Unless we elect one of the Cuban senators, Americans will not come to Europe’s aid until they are in chains or on their knees and we feel the threat on our own shores. Perhaps that will happen faster than in the past, but students of history know that is how this story goes.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).

And that is, as always, true.

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