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A cautious retreat

The article below was headed "Expect more 'complete surprises' from climate change: NASA's Schmidt". And that is surprisingly honest.  The article starts out with a re-run of the old pine beetle scare -- which I have dealt with previously -- and from then on consists of a whole litany of things that Warmists don't know or don't understand.  Most refreshing!  They seem to be gradually getting around to admitting that they don't know whether the globe will warm up or not

A very amusing bit occurs at the end of the article below.  Schmidt is quoted to say that the ozone layer is also being surprising.  But the journalist "forgets" to say exactly what the surprise is.  It is that the "Ozone layer NOT recovering" the way the Greenies said it would.  Much fun!


The eruption of pine bark beetles that has devastated millions of hectares of forests in North America is an example of the surprises yet to come as the planet warms, says Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The tiny beetles, which have infested forests from Colorado to Alaska, develop a type of anti-freeze as winter arrives. With fewer cold snaps before the insects are "cold hardened", more of them are making it through to spring.

“We just don’t understand ecosystems to the extent we understand the physical climate systems," Dr Schmidt told Fairfax Media during a visit to Sydney. “We will see over the next few decades more and more thresholds being crossed.”

However, that's not to say the physical climate is fully understood either.

Carbon dioxide levels are now the highest in about three and a million years when the Earth had a "very, very different climate", Dr Schmidt said, adding it was inevitable more "unknown unknowns" would emerge.

The southern hemisphere, especially Antarctica, is of particular interest to NASA and other global organisations trying to understand how the build-up of additional heat will affect planetary processes, he said.

“There’s a tonne of extra energy that’s going into the south - in fact there’s more energy going into the sourthern ocean than the north," Dr Schmidt said. "But that isn’t necessarily being seen at the surface."

Scientists' understanding of Antarctica continues to be limited by the short observational record, with much of the data compiled only since the late 1950s.

Satellites and argo floats are also not very helpful in gauging changes under the sea ice and ice shelves.

The region is already throwing up surprises. Dr Schmidt cited the Mertz Glacier Tongue, which used to protrude about 80 kilometres into the Southern Ocean until it was cut in two by an iceberg in 2010. “It seemed very, very stable...but the whole thing got taken out by an iceberg and now it’s totally disappeared," he said.

Research is focused on places such as the Totten ice sheet "where people think there is the greatest amount of potential change in the East Antarctic ice shelf", Dr Schmidt said.

A study out last year in Science Advances estimated Totten itself had the potential to lift global sea levels by 3.5 metres if it melted entirely.

The east Antarctic ice shelves, though thought to be mostly stable, "are big enough that should anything start to happen there, these will be noticeable increases to the rate of sea level rise," Dr Schmidt said. "So that makes them interesting.”

Sea ice cover around Antarctica is close to record low levels - set just a year earlier - as the region approaches its summer minimum extent.

Antarctica is also home to another scientific surprise: the ozone hole that was detected over the contenent in the mid-1980s.

While the class of chemicals - mostly chlorofluoro carbons - were relatively well known, their potential to destroy the crucial ozone layer that helps keep out cancer-causing ultraviolet light was not.

"It was a massive shock to the system - it hadn't been predicted by anyone," Dr Schmidt told a public talk last week.

SOURCE

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For global water crisis, climate may be the last straw

The usual rubbish about drought below.  It lists a whole lot of population factors that threaten the water supplies in many countries.  The recent big increase in the population of India, for instance, is putting big pressure on water supplies there.  So far, all very well and good.

But then comes an attempt to link the water shortage to global warming.  A link is just asserted, however, with no facts or reasoning to support it other than quotes from the ethically challenged Peter Gleick and his ilk.

The fact is of course that warming would produce more rain, which would ALLEVIATE the problem, not magnify it

A lot of Africa is certainly in drought at the moment but that is one consequence of El Nino. It shifts rain around from one place to another.  If a good La Nina gets going, that should bring back the rain.

The interesting thing is that in many countries in Africa and elsewhere, it is well known that water shortage is a recurrent fact of life.  So do you do anything about that?  You can't build any new dams because the Greenies will make such a fuss that the poliicians will cave in.  Greenies would rather have people die of thirst than build a dam.

But there is one country that HAS moved out of being water-deprived and into water riches.  That is Israel.  They have super-efficient desalination plants on the coast that get all the water Israel needs from the sea.  So the problem is solvable but it takes brains and effort.  Australia has very variable rainfall so it also has big desalination plants in most of its major cities -- but it hasn't had to turn them on yet, thanks mainly to El Nino.


Before man-made climate change kicked in – and well before “Day Zero” in Cape Town, where taps may run dry in early May – the global water crisis was upon us.

Freshwater resources were already badly stressed before heat-trapping carbon emissions from fossil fuels began to warm Earth’s surface and affect rainfall.

In some countries, major rivers – diverted, dammed or over-exploited – no longer reach the sea. Aquifers millennia in the making are being sucked dry. Pollution in many forms is tainting water above ground and below.

Cape Town, though, was not especially beset by any of these problems. Indeed, in 2014 the half-dozen reservoirs that served the South African city’s four million people brimmed with rainwater.

But that was before a record-breaking, three-year, once-every-three-centuries drought reduced them to a quarter capacity or less.

Today, Capetonians are restricted to 50 litres a day – less than runs down the drain when the average American takes a shower.

Climate scientists foretold trouble, but it arrived ahead of schedule, said Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape province. “Climate change was to have hit us in 2025,” she told a local news outlet.

“The South Africa Weather Services have told me that their models don’t work any more.”

Worldwide, the water crises hydra has been quietly growing for decades.

Since 2015, the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risk Report has consistently ranked “water crises” as among the global threats with the greatest potential impact – above natural disasters, mass migration and cyberattacks.

Borrowed time

“Across the densely-populated Indo-Gangetic Plain” – home to more than 600-million people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – “groundwater is being pumped out at an unsustainable and terrifying rate,” said Graham Cogley, a professor emeritus at Trent University in Ontario Canada.

More than half the water in the same basin is undrinkable and unusable for irrigation due to elevated salt and arsenic levels, according to a recent study.

Groundwater provides drinking water to at least half of humanity, and accounts for more than 40% of water used for irrigation.

But underground aquifers do not fill up swiftly, as a reservoir does after a heavy rain. Their spongy rock can take centuries to fully recharge, which makes them a non-renewable resource on a human timescale.

As a result, many of the world’s regions have passed the threshold that Peter Gleick, president-emeritus of the Pacific Institute and author of “The World’s Water,” has called “peak water”.

“Today people live in places where we are effectively using all the available renewable water, or, even worse, living on borrowed time by overpumping non-renewable ground water,” he told AFP.

Exhausted groundwater supplies also cause land to subside, and allow – in coastal regions – saltwater to seep into the water table.

Dozens of mega-cities, rich and poor, are sinking: Jakarta, Mexico City, Tokyo and dozens of cities in China, including Tianjin, Beijing and Shanghai have all dropped by a couple of metres over the last century.

“Half a billion people in the world face severe scarcity all year round,” said Arjen Hoekstra, a water management expert at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

More than one in three live in India, with another 73-million in Pakistan, 27-million in Egypt, 20-million in Mexico, 20-million in Saudi Arabia and 18-million in war-torn Yemen, he calculated in a recent study.

Enter climate change

“Global warming comes on top of all this,” said Hoekstra.

For each degree of global warming, about seven percent of the world’s population – half-a-billion people – will have 20% less freshwater, the UN’s climate science panel has concluded.

By 2030, the world will face a 40% water deficit if climate change continues unchecked.

Glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes upon which half-a-billion people depend are rapidly retreating.

At the same time, global water demand is projected to increase 55% by mid-century, mainly driven by the growth of cities in developing countries.

For Gleick, global warming is already a threat multiplier.

So far, Earth’s surface temperature has risen by one degree Celsius, and the odds of meeting the UN goal of capping the rise at “well under” 2 C lengthen each year. Global warming alters wind and humidity, in turn affecting rainfall patterns.

“Climate changes caused by humans are driving changes in our water resources and demands,” Gleick told AFP. “As climate change worsens, impacts on water resources will also worsen.”

The prospect of empty water pipes haunts other urban areas in climate hot spots.

California has just emerged from a five-year drought, the worst on record. In 2014-15, Sao Paulo’s 12-million souls came close to its own “Day Zero”. Beijing, New Delhi, Mexico City and Las Vegas are among other cities that have been facing “huge water supply risks for more than a decade”, noted Hoekstra.

When climate change really kicks in, large swathes of Africa – the Sahel, along with its southern and western regions – will be especially vulnerable.

Currently, only five% of the continent’s agriculture is irrigated, leaving its population highly vulnerable to shifting weather patterns.

Two-thirds of Africans could be living under water stress within a decade, according to the World Water Council.

For Cape Town, drought conditions may be a taste of things to come. 

“Our new normal, at least when it comes to rainfall, is that the chance of dry years increases as we go forward toward the end of the century, and the chance of wet years decreases,” said Piotr Wolski, a hydro-climatologist at the University of Cape Town who had compiled data going back more than a century.

More HERE

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All phobias are not equal

As an academic psychologist with extensive publications on clinical psychology topics, I think I am in a good position to comment on phobias. In psychiatry and psychology, a phobia is a mental state, a strong fear, that manifests in an extreme and irrational avoidance of certain objects or people.  In politics, "phobia" is simply a term of abuse.  It is used in politics however as a pretense that the accused "phobic" person is mentally defective. So let us look at HOW deranged the alleged phobics are.

"Homophobia" is a complete misnomer.  I can find distasteful the thought of a man sticking his dick into another man's anus without fearing anything from the deviants concerned.  And most normal men DO find the idea distasteful.  It is because of that general distaste that the behavior concerned was for so long illegal.  I cannot see that there is anything to fear from the acts of two unfortunates in their bedroom.  So there may be a few cases around of true homophobia but most people who are critical or unacceptant of homosexuality are not that way because they fear it.  They may simply think the act is distasteful or they might accept Bible teachings about it or have some other reason -- thinking that it is inimical to family formation etc.

So what about Islamophobia?  It is a term commonly applied by the Left to people who are critical of Muslim behavior.  And there is much to be critical of in that murderous religion.  The big sufferers from Muslim savagery are other Muslims of a different Muslim sect  but aggression seems to be lurking just under the surface wherever there are Muslims.  People who want peace -- most Westerners -- can quite reasonably be critical of people who are inimical to peace.  I personally think it is none of my business how Muslims treat one another but when they inflict random savagery on peaceful law-abiding people in my own community, I  think I have every right to be critical. But whether that criticism rises to the status of a phobia I cannot see.  Don't forget that a phobia is an IRRATIONAL fear whereas I think that fear of what Muslims do and might do is perfectly rational.

And there is another attitude that could be called a phobia:  A tendency to avoid blacks, seen most clearly in white flight.  Such attitudes are not normally called phobias because Leftists have another handy-dandy term that is even more accusatory:  "Racism".  But the same considerations apply.  Avoidance behavior is not per se racism.  The rate of violent crime among people of African ancestry is stratospheric wherever they are to be found.  Among American blacks, the rate of  violent crime is 9 times the white average.  And a wish to avoid being victimized by that is neither racist nor phobic.  It is self preservation.  Anti-discrimination laws have made such avoidance difficult but ways can be found

And the term 'racism" denotes more than avoidance behavior.  The example of "racism" that springs to everybody's mind is the policies and deeds of Adolf Hitler.  Yet Hitler is not at all representative of racial consciousness.  In Hitler's day just about EVERYBODY, was antisemitic. But racially discriminatory attitudes did not normally translate to physical harm towards Jews.  A good example is 19th century Britain. Brits of that era thought that THEY were the master race and they were very suspicious of Jews. To get much social acceptance, a Jew had to convert to the Church of England -- a dismal fate but not a life-threatening one.

So when a brilliant conservative political politician came along who was Jewish, what did the "racist" Englishmen do?  Did they send him to the gas ovens or otherwise harm or restrict him?  No.  They made Benjamin Disraeli their prime minister.  And he was quite outspoken about his Jewishness -- right down to his surname,  which means "Of Israel".  So calling racial consciousness "racist" calls on irrelevant history.  A German socialist like Hitler was atrocious indeed in what he did but the example of racial consciousness that people of British descent or culture should look to is the Conservative British politicians who gave a Jew the highest political distinction that they could.  Their "racism" was innocuous.

Incidentally, the British political leader who declared war on Hitler was Neville Chamberlain (Yes.  Neville, not Winston) and Chamberlain was known to have antisemitic views. So racial consciousness and beliefs can coexist with very benign behavior.  They are not automatically wrong in any sense and  should not be condemned of themselves.

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Who are Jordan Peterson’s followers?

Justin Murphy is a self-described Left-libertarian who has collected some statistics from Reddit which enable him to see who are the supporters of Peterson.  He does some analyses which I don't entirely agree with but it is clear that the most popular politician among Peterson supporters is Donald Trump, followed by Gary Johnson, the libertarian party candidate who many other libertarians dismissed as too Leftist (on gun control etc.)



So Murphy shows that there is a large silenced population and that Peterson has picked up the ones who are put off by Trump's very simplistic approach.  He sees both Peterson and Trump as having similar messages but with Peterson being the intellectual and impeccably scholarly representative of the same basic ideas.  And from Murphy's eigenvector analysis it seems clear that the suppressed ideas are on the whole simply traditional conservative ones

I wrote a book in 1974 under the title "Conservatism as heresy".  It seems that not much has changed since.  Excerpt only below


In many educated circles, support for Donald Trump is seen as somewhere between insane and evil, quite seriously. Yet, about 50% of the Americans who voted did so for him, so we know at least a non-trivial number of educated people voted for him. But who are they? I haven’t really had strong intuitions about this, and my sense is you just don’t really see or hear from educated and highly thoughtful Trump supporters. I’m aware this could definitely be “my bubble,” but I don’t think it’s just that. I think there exist thoughtful educated Trump supporters, but I think they are systematically unlikely to appear in mainstream culture.

But I have been watching closely the explosion of popularity enjoyed by academic psychologist Jordan Peterson, and it has seemed to me that his constituency might just be some of the educated Trumpians. It is also consistent with my “long-term mass suppression” thesis, because this helps to explain how a random academic psychologist achieved genuinely extraordinary, anomolous levels of fame, all of a sudden. It’s the same pattern with Trump (though I’m not, at all, equating the two individuals): a massive unexpected and rise-to-power indicating a massive reservoir of public interest in something that has hitherto been systematically under-supplied by the status quo.

As an ultralefty who is also 90% on board with Peterson’s key messages, I honestly did not expect this many of the Peterson disciples to be Trump supporters. I was thinking I’d find a sizable minority and say “Aha! A little evidence for my hypothesis.” But Trump is far and away the most favored candidate.

The reason this is important, in my view, is that Trump and Trump supporters are genuinely seen as unworthy of intellectually serious debate in progressive educated circles. But Peterson is an undeniable intellectual master of the most authentic kind. What this means is that genuinely educated progressives who are opposed to Trump need (if they are serious and sincere) to go through Peterson and his intellectual community. In other words, educated progressives cannot pretend there are no serious intellectual forces associated with Trump. There is at least one, and it’s the cluster of ideas Peterson has been working on for decades.

To be clear, I am not saying Peterson has caused support for Trump and I’m not saying Peterson himself supports Trump (I don’t know, but he generally avoids naïve blanket identifications.) I am just saying that, as far as I can tell, his perspective represents a major, public intellectual force that coincides with at least some vectors of support for Trump.

And the sizable minority of left libertarians makes sense to me (because that’s me, basically). So it’s interesting that left-libertarians are communicating thoughtfully in a community with many Trump supporters. I want to show this to all the left libertarian activists I know (who are very different than left libertarian people in general). To show them there is serious intellectual content in the new seeming “right-wing” ecology of ideas and figures

More HERE

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Australian churches and their institutions are generally legally free to hire and fire on religious grounds regardless of anti-discrimination law

The article below by Brian Morris deplores that. It is said to be based on a Religious Freedom Review submission by NSW barrister, Dean Stretton. Something has got lost along the way, however, as the article is founded on a belief that is wrong at law. He says "the constitution was framed on secular principles, with the foundational concept of separation between Church and State."

That is utter rubbish.  The separation of church and State is not even in the American constitution, though it has been read into the anti-establishment clause of the 1st amendment.  But nothing like that exists in the Australian case because our head of State, the Queen, is also head of the Church of England.  In her person, the Queen embodies both the church and the State. Try to split that up! So the claim that Australia should be wholly secular is without legal foundation.  It is just the preference  of the writer

And in the end it all comes down to politics.  The churches believe that their mission requires certain freedoms from restrictions and they have the political heft to ensure that they get those freedoms from the politicians.  Enough people believe in freedom of religion to ensure that the politicians go along with it.

Australians are for the greatest part happily secular but they are not dogmatic about it.  They are happy for AustrAlia to be only partly secular.  "One size fits all" is a great Leftist prescription in the simple-minded tradition of Procrustes but not everybody is trapped in that rigid mindset.  They can allow exceptions to even a generally good rule where circumstances seem to warrant it.


Quite remarkably, a public majority will be unaware of the likely impact of Prime Minister Turnbull’s decision to empower the Religious Freedom Review. Few will grasp its social implications. Some may recall the PM appointing Philip Ruddock to head an ‘expert panel’ to take public submissions on ‘religious freedom’ — and to identify freedoms believed “lost” when same-sex marriage was legalised.

On 31st March, Ruddock will recommend to parliament measures to restore those “lost” freedoms.

For most, this rather solemn-sounding review will be seen simply as one more political committee — with Ruddock sifting through a few submissions to appease Christians, Muslims, and other faiths who continue to feel aggrieved about gay marriage.

But fundamentalists of all faiths see this as a rare opportunity to win new concessions. One has only to view the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) website, with its 15-point rallying cry for devout Christians to swamp the Review with submissions.

Indisputably, religion asserts its current raft of freedoms through exclusive exemptions from Australian law. They are privileges not accessible to the 78 per cent of citizens who believe the constitution was framed on secular principles, with the foundational concept of separation between Church and State.

Under federal law, protection of ‘religious freedom’ and legal exemptions include: the Fair Work Act; Migration Act; Age Discrimination Act; Sex Discrimination Act; Evidence Act; and Section 116 of the Constitution. And religions pay no tax under the Charities Act and Tax Act — based on the sole criterion of “Advancing Religion.” International and State laws double this list of entitlements to all faiths!

Here’s the problem. Religion is now, collectively, one of the largest employers in the nation. Private religious schools currently enrol close to 40 per cent of all children — that alone is a huge workforce. Include, too, all the private hospitals, aged care facilities, employment agencies, charities, shelters, and a raft of commercial enterprises, and the total number of religious employees is staggering.

Church institutions are already free to “hire and fire” on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and marital status. Without question, submissions to the Ruddock Review will call for further entitlements to discriminate in employment in favour of the faithful — the Australian Christian Lobby website makes that clear. The truth is that most of the duties performed are not religious in nature — they are secular.

Ironically, these religious institutions will argue vigorously that it should be illegal to discriminate against them — because of their religious beliefs — but in the same breath insist they should be given further employment entitlements to discriminate against people who do not share those beliefs!

Certainly, it is fair to say many roles within private religious enterprises require training suitable to their ‘mission’. Those engaged in overt religious practice, in pastoral care, theological positions, and for advocacy, will need to meet church criteria. But for the majority of ‘secular’ positions, employment opportunities should not be barred to those who do not meet their strict standards of biblical faith.

It would be wrong for the Religious Freedom Review to extend faith-based exemptions for secular positions in education, health or social services. In fact, exemptions should be wound back for all ‘public services’ run by religious organisations.

These exemptions are not a matter of genuine religious freedom, because there is no religious law or doctrine that requires its followers to run education, health or social service facilities! Our constitution rejects a ‘religious test’ for public office; why not also for secular roles in ‘publicly funded’ religious enterprises?

If religious adherents cannot follow laws that apply to all other citizens — and without privileged legal exemptions — they should consider withdrawing from those activities and focus solely on their beliefs and religious worship. One clear example is private religious schools which are free to discriminate against secular employees, while the institutions are publicly funded to the tune of $12.8b.

Religious exemptions undermine our secular constitution; they weaken the basic rule of law that must apply to all people; and they deny the non-religious the right to their own beliefs. Why do we give exclusive entitlements to people of faith when all religion is purely a matter choice? Believers are not compelled to believe — particularly when “doubt” is uppermost in the minds of many. Every religion cannot, by pure logic, be equally true. It raises questions for people of faith to contemplate.

Special entitlements, based on arbitrary faith, are necessarily problematic. Such privileges should be equal to all — or to none. However, there seems little doubt the Ruddock Review will make a number of recommendations to parliament, to rectify the perception of “lost” freedoms.

We can only trust parliament does not acquiesce to further religious entitlements. Indeed, the process needs to be reversed — specifically for non-theological positions in faith-based institutions funded by taxpayers. The level of religious privilege and authority is already inappropriately high — in a nation that claims to be a secular democracy.

SOURCE


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Townsville is NOT dry because of global warming

Townsville is always pretty dry because of where it is.  Why was Townsville founded?  It has a negligible natural harbour, can't grow much, has no natural resources and only service industries.

Townsville was founded for one reason and one reason only.  There is immediately behind it a gap in the Great Dividing Range and the gap is close to the coast.  There are some small hills around the place -- who can miss the pink granite monolith of Castle hill? -- but nothing like the behemoths of the great Dividing Range elsewhere, like Mt. Bartle Frere and Bellenden Ker.

So Townsville was an ideal place to run bullock teams and later a railway from the coast through to some pretty good country inland, including the Charters Towers goldfields and the rich silver, lead and zinc mines of Mt Isa. Both trains and bullock teams are very bad at handling mountains but by starting out at Townsville, severe gradients could be avoided (maxing at 2%).

But the Great Dividing Range is the reason why the East coast strip of Queensland is generally so wet.  When trade winds blow inland from the Pacific, they are heavily laden with moisture from ocean evaporation.  They hit the mountains of the Great Divide and drop the moisture as rain.  So a couple of hours drive to the North of Townsville are two of the highest mountains in the State -- Bartle Frere and Bellenden Ker.  And guess what lies in their foothills?  The town of Innisfail, one of the wettest places in the world.

So Townsville's reason for existence, a break in the Great Divide there is also the main reason why it is dry.  You can't have your cake and eat it too.  So the guff below is total nonsense. There's NO "invisible barrier that stops rain".  It's the lack of a barrier that stops rain.  Townsville will always be dry.  It would not exist otherwise.

Townsville pipes in water from Mt Spec and Lake Paluma. And the Ross river has a dam on it which  also supplies some water. So, with irrigation, Townville does grow crops and life is comfortable, even without much rain.


TOWNSVILLE could go from being the driest city in North Queensland to the wettest place in the state due to a quirk of global warming, a leading professor says.

Professor Ray Wills spoke to the Bulletin after a recent article which stated geography in Townsville could be to blame for the notorious “dome” — an invisible barrier that stops rain — and instead blames climate change.

Prof Wills is a commentator and adviser on sustainability and technology and responded to comments made by Thomas Hinterdorfer, a forecaster from weather group Higgins Storm Chasing.

Mr Hinterdorfer said the geography of Mount Stuart and other smaller surrounding hills were forming a barrier against rain.

Prof Wills noted Townsville had historically experienced wet periods and argued climate change was the real driver of the long dry period and failed wet seasons.

“Mount Stuart hasn’t changed in height, however the climate has and it is changing as a result of global warming,” he said.

Prof Wills said the phenomenon was linked to atmospheric circulation, temperature and rainfall.

He said Townsville temperatures were up and rainfall was down, especially in summer.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s 2017 Annual Climate Survey showed Townsville was the driest of the coastal cities in North Queensland last year and had 30 per cent less rain than the long-term average.

Townsville received just 791mm in 2017, against the long-term average of 1128mm. It is the fifth consecutive year of below-average rainfall in Townsville. The city’s residents also endured a year of hotter-than-average temperatures. But it might not stay dry for long.

Prof Wills said climate change was moving the “climate belt” — areas with distinct climates — south.  “What Townsville could well be experiencing is what would have been a dry area further north that is being pushed southward,” he said.

With places such as Tully to the north of Townsville — where average annual rainfall is more than 4000mm — that could mean a wet future for Townsville.

“That’s a possible scenario,” Prof Wills said, but it could take decades. He also said mountains surrounding Townsville complicated forecasts, as did oceanic currents and atmospheric circulation.

Prof Wills said although some areas could benefit from climate change, overall it should be treated as a concerning phenomenon.

SOURCE

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Capitol Hill GOP Spending Like Obama Is Still President

I was not going to comment on this until I see what actually gets enacted but all the comments I have seen from others miss an important point. Obama and the Donks made an amazing discovery:  At least for the USA, you can spend all you like without raising taxes and nothing bad happens!  According to conventional economic theory, Obama & Co. should caused a roaring inflation that made the greenback as worthless as the Venezuelan Bolivar.  It didn't happen.  Inflation remained within normal low bounds.

Why did it not happen?  There has been much scratching of heads about it among economists of both the Right and the Left and various theories have been put up.  I have put up attempted explanations myself.  But basically no-one knows.  It's a mystery on a par with the Holy Trinity.

And Trump has pushed the mystery even further. He is betting that you can actually CUT taxes and still spend as much as you like.  On form, he will almost certainly get away with it, if only because his spending will increase employment and hence tax revenue.

So, basically, while we seem to be in this happy state of suspension from reality, Trump and the GOP are saying "Let the good times roll.  Why should Obama have all the fun?  Let US get credit for looking after all sorts of special interests with all of this magic money".

Unless there's a whole new economic truth somewhere that we have not yet discovered, the whole show has got to come down to earth some time but when that will be nobody knows.  But Trump and the GOP are right to take advantage of our strange new fiscal state while they can.


In the aftermath of the 2010 Tea Party wave that returned Republicans to the majority in the House conservatives proposed a plan to reduce spending and balance the budget called “Cut, Cap and Balance.”

The plan would have cut and capped spending and brought the budget into balance after a period of time, and it federal debtwould have worked – except the Republican leaders in the House and Senate never gave it their support or a vote.

Instead they championed a plan worked out between Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid and Barack Obama that put spending caps in place through a process known as “sequestration” that placed most of the spending cuts on the defense budget.

Fast forward to 2018 and the three-day government shutdown over amnesty for illegal aliens that was a PR disaster for the Democrats.

Claiming to want to avoid another government shutdown, the Senate’s Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer announced a bipartisan deal to increase defense and domestic spending by roughly $300 billion over two years, according to administration and congressional sources quoted by Politico's Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan. The deal will also lift the debt ceiling through the election and include tens of billions of dollars in disaster aid.

Everett and Bresnahan report the agreement would increase defense spending this year by $80 billion and domestic spending by $63 billion beyond strict budget caps, according to a summary of the deal they obtained for POLITICO. Next year, defense spending would increase by $85 billion and domestic funding by $68 billion beyond the caps. The deal also includes $140 billion for defense and $20 billion for domestic in emergency spending over two years.

President Trump quickly announced his support tweeting, "The Budget Agreement today is so important for our great Military," he wrote. "It ends the dangerous sequester and gives Secretary Mattis what he needs to keep America Great. Republicans and Democrats must support our troops and support this Bill!" However, conservatives were equally quick to pan the Schumer – McConnel deal.

Our friends at The Club for Growth issued a statement saying, “…now that the BCA spending caps are busted under this deal yet again, it’s clear that McConnell and the GOP establishment want to speed up the big government freight train with the help of big spending liberals on the other side of the aisle. As if that’s not bad enough, this deal also includes $80+ billion in so-called disaster relief spending, cronyist tax extenders, an expansion of farm subsidies, and another suspension in the debt ceiling, conveniently timed to expire after the mid-term elections.”

Nowhere in this deal, the Club for Growth noted, are the $54 billion in spending cuts outlined in President Trump’s budget. Instead, the big government freight train is running out of control.

The deal ends sequestration caps on the Pentagon without acceding to Democratic demands for equal boosts to domestic spending, but it still raises spending by nearly $300 billion over the next two fiscal years.

That was a bridge too far for the Freedom Caucus reported Victor Morton of The Washington Times.

The principled limited government constitutional conservatives of the House Freedom Caucus tweeted Wednesday night that they officially oppose the budget deal struck by McConnell and Schumer earlier in the day.

“Official position: HFC opposes the caps deal. We support funding our troops, but growing the size of government by 13 percent is not what the voters sent us here to do,” the conservative group posted on Twitter.

The loss of the Caucus, which is believed to have a membership of almost 40 representatives, basically ensures the Senate deal cannot pass the House without significant support from House Democrats.

SOURCE

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Even psychologists are now beginning to notice Leftist authoritarianism

With Antifa and many students marching in the footsteps of Hitler's brownshirts, it had become hard not to notice.After the summary and abstract below I add a few notes designed to recontextualize the article below

New research provides evidence that left-wing authoritarian attitudes exist in the United States. The preliminary findings, published in the scientific journal Political Psychology, suggest liberals could be just as likely to be authoritarians as conservatives.

“Political ideology in general is one of the most important and predictive variables in human psychology,” said study author Lucian Gideon Conway, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Montana.

“I became interested in left-wing authoritarianism in particular because some people have said it isn’t a very real or likely phenomenon — and yet I know people I would describe as left-wing authoritarians. So I was curious to figure that out.”

Conway and his colleagues developed a measure of left-wing authoritarianism, which was adapted from the right-wing authoritarianism scale developed by psychologist Bob Altemeyer.

The RWA scale asks participants how much they agree with statements such as: “It’s always better to trust the judgment of the proper authorities in government and religion than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubts in people’s minds” and “Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.”

The new LWA scale, on the other hand, asks questions such as: “It’s always better to trust the judgment of the proper authorities in science with respect to issues like global warming and evolution than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubts in people’s minds” and “Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.”

Both scales were tested on a group of 475 undergraduates at the University of Montana and a group of 305 U.S. adults who were recruited online from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

The researchers found that left-wing authoritarianism was associated with liberal views, dogmatism, and prejudice among both samples of participants, suggesting it is a valid concept.

“Our data suggest that average Americans on the political left are just as likely to be dogmatic authoritarians as those on the political right. And those left-wing authoritarians can be just as prejudiced, dogmatic, and extremist as right-wing authoritarians,” Conway told PsyPost.

SOURCE

Finding the Loch Ness Monster: Left-Wing Authoritarianism in the United States

Lucian Gideon Conway III et al.

Abstract

Although past research suggests authoritarianism may be a uniquely right-wing phenomenon, the present two studies tested the hypothesis that authoritarianism exists in both right-wing and left-wing contexts in essentially equal degrees. Across two studies, university (n = 475) and Mechanical Turk (n = 298) participants completed either the RWA (right-wing authoritarianism) scale or a newly developed (and parallel) LWA (left-wing authoritarianism) scale. Participants further completed measurements of ideology and three domain-specific scales: prejudice, dogmatism, and attitude strength. Findings from both studies lend support to an authoritarianism symmetry hypothesis: Significant positive correlations emerged between LWA and measurements of liberalism, prejudice, dogmatism, and attitude strength. These results largely paralleled those correlating RWA with identical conservative-focused measurements, and an overall effect-size measurement showed LWA was similarly related to those constructs (compared to RWA) in both Study 1 and Study 2. Taken together, these studies provide evidence that LWA may be a viable construct in ordinary U.S. samples.

SOURCE

COMMENT: This article was written from within the tight bubble of leftist political psychology so it is unusual only in that context.

Readers of history or observers of contemporary politics would know that ALL Leftism is authoritarian. Barack Obama was the chosen delegate of the Democratic party so when in his first campaign he said to wild cheers from his supporters that his aim was to "fundamentally transform" America he was presenting an ideology that was just about as authoritarian as you could get. And Leftism in general is about imposed change.

And in the French revolution and the Communist regimes of the 20th century we saw how brutally Leftists impose change when they get their hands of the levers of power. Fortunately, Congress was too big a block on change for Mr Obama to accomplish much of his aims.

But let us temporarily abandon reality and dive into the bubble of Leftist thinking about political psychology.

Leftist political psychology principally originated to meet a desperate need of the American Left immediately after the defeat of Hitler. Hitler had become a huge embarrassment. Anybody who knew well the Americam "Progressive" politics of the 1930's would be aware Hitler's ideas and what was preached by Americam "Progressives" were basically the same -- including the antisemitism and the eugenics. Hitler just applied German thoroughness to 1930s socialism.

But Hitler was now the great political failure so there was a desperate need to prevent any connections with him and his ideas. You could abandon some of your policies that you shared with hin -- such as eugenics -- but other policies -- such as hostility to business and a desire to control it -- were too basic to let go.

So where was a way out of that dilemma? One way out was to adopt the Communist claim that Hitler was "Rightist". And the Marxists were partly right about that. Hitler was less disruptive to the existing order than the Communists in Russia were so he was clearly to the right of Communism, but Leftist otherwise. But that in fact made him MORE like the American Progressives than less so that was not much of a solution.

But help was at hand. Some mostly German academics led by prominent Marxist theoretician, Theodor Wiesengrund (AKA Adorno) had a solution. They would use the methods of psychological research to show that it was really conservatives, not Leftists who threatened America with authoritarian rule. Reality could be flipped on its head and conservatives could be presented as the true heirs of Hitler.

One would have thought that such an absurdly counter-factual proposition would be laughed to death but the opposite happened. The whole American Left celebrated the revelation with gladsome hearts. They built an intellectual bubble wherein only conservatives could be authoritarian. And they never strayed from that bubble. The highpoint of that folly was probably when Robert Altemeyer claimed that he couldn't find a single Authoritarian Leftist in the whole of Canada! So you can see what brave skeptics Conway and his co-authors above are. It will be interesting to see if he has any influence.

Just a methodological note to conclude: Conway et al. used as their measure of authoritarianism the ludicrous Altemeyer RWA scale. That scale allegedly measures Right-wing authoritarianism. But the highest scores found on it were from Russian Communists. But if Communists are Right-swing, we would seem to be in a state of definitional collapse. If Communists are Right-wing, who are the Leftists? The RWA scale clearly does not measure what it claims to measure.

Altemeyer himself has backed down in response to that revelation and defined his RWA scale as measuring "submission to the perceived established authorities in one's life". It now measures neither authoritarianism nor anything Right wing! Looking at its items, I would say that it just measures political hostility but who knows what it measures, if anything?

In his future research Conway should clearly pay much more attention to the validity of the instruments he uses. As it stands, I doubt that he has proved anything

My academic publications on authoritarianism are here. A comment on Altemeyer's more recent capers is here


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The EQ dream

The whole idea of IQ is poison to the "all men are equal" crowd because it demonstrates that they are not. So the game is on to show that IQ differences may exist but those differences are unimportant. And the prime way of doing that has been to promote the idea of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), which can be trained.  In any activity taking part among a group EQ is said to be very important.  It's an attractive dream but it is at variance with reality.  Because it is so attractive it has been much researched and the Wikipedia entry on it summarizes the findings pretty well.

Chief among the problems with EQ, is that there are a variety of things which are called Emotional Intelligence but they correlate poorly with one another  So which is the "true" emotional intelligence?  The concept is fine but going out there among the population and assessing it is very difficult.  One could argue that if it can be measured, nobody so far has achieved that.  Different tests will pick out different groups of people as emotionally intelligent.  Does it exist at all in reality?

The second problem is predictive power.  No matter which version of EQ that you use does it predict success (however defined) any better than IQ?  And it does not in general.  All the enthusiasm for it is misplaced.  It is a unicorn concept.  It sounds attractive but it does not exist out there in the world.

So why on earth is Ezekiel Emanuel pushing that old barrow of rubbish below? Easy. He is a far Leftist and the chief architect of Obamacare. His brother is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. His ideology makes him WANT to believe in EQ. The editors of JAMA were very incautious to let his blatherings into the pages of their journal. Obviously, they knew nothing about the psychological research into EQ


Does Medicine Overemphasize IQ?

Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD; Emily Gudbranson, BA

Everyone wants the best physician. Patients want their physician to know medical information by heart, to possess diagnostic acumen, and to be well-versed in the latest tests and treatments. Finding the best physicians often involves looking for resumes with stellar attributes, such as having graduated at the top of a collegiate class, attended the best medical schools, completed internships and residency training at the nation’s most prestigious hospitals, and been awarded the most competitive fellowships. Many medical schools, likewise, want only the smartest students, as assessed by the highest grade point averages and MCAT scores.

This selection process has persisted for decades. But is it misguided? Do the smartest students, as measured by science grades and standardized test results, truly make the best physicians?

Overemphasizing IQ

By prioritizing academic pedigree, the medical profession has traditionally overemphasized general intelligence and underemphasized—if not totally ignored—emotional intelligence. With “objective” assessments and little grade inflation, performance in hard science courses and on the MCAT have been the primary determinants of medical school admissions.1,2 Although good test scores and grades in calculus, physics, or organic chemistry may signal one kind of intelligence, reliance solely on those metrics results in an incomplete and inaccurate assessment of a student’s potential to be an excellent, caring physician.

Medical schools often conflate high MCAT scores and grades in the hard sciences with actual intelligence. For instance, good test takers can score extremely high on multiple-choice examinations but may lack real analytic ability, problem-solving skills, and common sense. Scoring well on these metrics reveals nothing about other types of intelligences, especially emotional intelligence, that are critical to being an excellent physician. Knowing how to calculate the speed of a ball rolling down an inclined plane or recalling the Bamford-Stevens reaction are totally irrelevant to being an astute diagnostician, much less an oncologist sensitively discussing end-of-life care preferences with a patient who has developed metastatic cancer.

The prioritization of student grades and test scores in the US News & World Report rankings of medical schools fuels a vicious cycle. Medical schools have placed more emphasis on these criteria, ultimately striving to select students with higher scores to maintain their ranking. From 2000 to 2016, the grade point averages of students admitted to US medical schools have actually increased from 3.60 to 3.70,3 and MCAT scores in both biological and physical sciences have also increased by 5% to 10%.4 European universities may emphasize IQ even more in medical student selection, because they rely on standardized tests at the end of high school, such as A-level examinations in England.

Providing high-quality care certainly requires intelligence. A high IQ may help a physician diagnose congestive heart failure and select the right medications and interventions, but it is still no guarantee that the physician can lead a multidisciplinary team or effectively help patients change their behaviors in ways that tangibly improve their health outcomes.

The Ubiquitous Importance of Emotional Intelligence
A certain threshold of intelligence is absolutely necessary to succeed in any field. In medicine, IQ is necessary to master and critically assess the volume and complexity of information integral to contemporary medical education. But past this threshold, success in medicine is ultimately more about emotional intelligence.

Psychologists have identified 9 distinct kinds of intelligence, ranging from mathematical and linguistic to musical and the capacity to observe and understand the natural world.5 Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to manage emotions and interact effectively with others. People with high EQs are sensitive to the moods and temperaments of others, display empathy, and appreciate multiple perspectives when approaching situations.

Is EQ really necessary for success? A major part of what distinguishes human brain functions from those of primates is a larger prefrontal cortex and extensive intrabrain connections, which endow humans with significantly greater ability to navigate social interactions and collaborate. It makes sense, then, that humans should use this unique ability to its greatest extent.

Consider a simple negotiation session. Participants—executives, physicians, and others—are grouped into teams and given the exact same starting scenario and facts. When told to come to the best possible deal, as measured in a hard outcome such as the most money, results vary 4-fold or more. The best deals are reached by teams that exhibit mutual trust, an understanding of the interests of the other side, and the ability to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement. These variations are not the result of differences in brain power but rather differences in EQ. According to Diamond, “[In negotiations] emotions and perceptions are far more important than power and logic in dealing with others. [EQ] produces four times as much value as conventional tools like leverage and ‘win-win’ because (a) you have a better starting point for persuasion, (b) people are more willing to do things for you when you value them, no matter who they are, and (c) the world is mostly about emotions, not the logic of ‘win-win.’”6

EQ in Medicine

Vitally important to the success of 21st-century clinicians are 3 capabilities: to (1) effectively lead teams, (2) coordinate care, and (3) engender behavior change in patients and colleagues. (Both 1 and 3 require negotiating skills.) Thus, effective physicians need both an adequate IQ and a high EQ.

For the 10% of chronically ill patients who consume nearly two-thirds of all health care spending,7 the primary challenge is not solving diagnostic conundrums, unraveling complex genetic mutations, or administering specially designed therapeutic regimens. Rather, physicians caring for chronically ill patients with several comorbidities must lead multidisciplinary teams that emphasize educating patients, ensuring medication adherence, diagnosing and treating concomitant mental health issues, anticipating potential illness exacerbations, and explicitly discussing treatment preferences.

These activities depend on listening, building trust, empathy, and delineating mutual goals. Chronic care management, in addition to sufficient intelligence, therefore primarily requires a high EQ. As Goleman suggested, “Analytics and technical skills do matter, but mainly as ‘threshold capabilities’—that is, they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions… [But] emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it a person can have the best training in the world; an incisive analytical mind; and an endless supply of smart ideas; but he still won’t make a great leader.”8

Minimizing or ignoring EQ when selecting and training medical students may partially explain why US medical professionals fare so poorly in assembling well-functioning teams to care for chronically and terminally ill patients.

SOURCE

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Polluted air may pollute our morality

The study below took a lot of trouble to get things right but was defeated by reality, rather hilariously at times. Studies showing bad effects of air pollution are a dime a dozen and usually fail through failures of control, control for income particularly. In study I below, for instance, they controlled for a blizzard of potential confounds, including the biggies, education and income.

You get a shock about something being badly wrong with their conclusions when you look at their table of intercorrelations. With one minor exception, the correlations (Table 1) between pollution (composite) and crime are all less than .10.  Their sample size is so large that statistical significance is irrelevant but such very low correlations would normally be dismissed as having no significance in any sense.  They are effectively zero.  Putting it another way, pollution explained only 5 thousandths of criminality -- not 5 percent, 5 thousandths.  It was really rather unethical to report such negligible correlations as showing anything.  They in fact showed that pollution has NOTHING to do with crime.

Their other studies used Mechanical Turk to get respondents and the population who take internet surveys is known to be biased in various ways and is probably also biased in ways unknown.  It seems fairly clear, for instance that there is a strong liberal bias in that population, with all the unrealism and defensiveness that that implies.  In any event it is not a representative sample of any specifiable population so allows no generalizations towards any population.  It may not even be a representative sample of Mechanical Turk users, for all we know. Mechanical Turk users presumably pick and choose which surveys they will answer. So once again, the authors have proved nothing.

If they want to make any valid generalizations, they have to use a representative sample of some known population.  I did in my research career.  It is harder to do that than all the shortcut ways but otherwise you are just playing.  Their conclusion that "The current findings have important implications for policymakers" is quite simply wrong and false.  They prove nothing.  The authors are all business school people. Does business school teach no sociology?  They would have learnt some very needful lessons about sampling if it did


Exposure to air pollution, even imagining exposure to air pollution, may lead to unethical behavior, according to findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. A combination of archival and experimental studies indicates that exposure to air pollution, either physically or mentally, is linked with unethical behavior such as crime and cheating. The experimental findings suggest that this association may be due, at least in part, to increased anxiety.

"This research reveals that air pollution may have potential ethical costs that go beyond its well-known toll on health and the environment," says behavioral scientist Jackson G. Lu of Columbia Business School, the first author of the research. "This is important because air pollution is a serious global issue that affects billions of people—even in the United States, about 142 million people still reside in counties with dangerously polluted air."

Previous studies have indicated that exposure to air pollution elevates individuals' feelings of anxiety. Anxiety is known to correlate with a range of unethical behaviors. Lu and colleagues hypothesized that pollution may ultimately increase criminal activity and unethical behavior by increasing anxiety.

In one study, the researchers examined air pollution and crime data for 9,360 US cities collected over a 9-year period. The air pollution data, maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, included information about six major pollutants, including particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. The crime data, maintained by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, included information about offenses in seven major categories, including murder, aggravated assault, and robbery.

The researchers found that cities with higher levels of air pollution also tended to have higher levels of crime. This association held even after the researchers accounted for other potential factors, including total population, number of law enforcement employees, median age, gender distribution, race distribution, poverty rate, unemployment rate, unobserved heterogeneity among cities (e.g., city area, legal system), and unobserved time-varying effects (e.g., macroeconomic conditions).

To establish a direct, causal link between the experience of air pollution and unethical behavior, the researchers also conducted a series of experiments. Because they could not randomly assign participants to physically experience different levels of air pollution, the researchers manipulated whether participants imagined experiencing air pollution.

In one experiment, 256 participants saw a photo featuring either a polluted scene or a clean scene. They imagined living in that location and reflected on how they would feel as they walked around and breathed the air.

On a supposedly unrelated task, they saw a set of cue words (e.g., sore, shoulder, sweat) and had to identify another word that was linked with each of the cue words (e.g., cold); each correct answer earned them $0.50. Due to a supposed computer glitch, the correct answer popped up if the participants hovered their mouse over the answer box, which the researchers asked them not to do. Unbeknownst to the participants, the researchers recorded how many times the participants peeked at the answer.

 Polluted air may pollute our morality
Participants assigned to the "nonpolluted" condition saw a collage of photos showing nonpolluted scenes taken in Beijing, China. They saw this collage as they wrote a diary entry describing what it would be like to live in the location …more
The results showed that participants who thought about living in a polluted area cheated more often than did those who thought about living in a clean area.

In two additional experiments, participants saw photos of either polluted or clean scenes taken in the exact same locations in Beijing, and they wrote about what it would be like to live there. Independent coders rated the essays according to how much anxiety the participants expressed.

In one of the experiments conducted with university students in the US, the researchers measured how often participants cheated in reporting the outcome of a die roll; in the other experiment with adults in India, they measured participants' willingness to use unethical negotiation strategies.

Again, participants who wrote about living in a polluted location engaged in more unethical behavior than did those who wrote about living in a clean location; they also expressed more anxiety in their writing. As the researchers hypothesized, anxiety level mediated the link between imagining exposure to air pollution and unethical behavior.

Together, the archival and experimental findings suggest that exposure to air pollution, whether physical or mental, is linked with transgressive behavior through increased levels of anxiety.

Lu and colleagues note that there may be other mechanisms besides anxiety that link air pollution and unethical behavior. They also acknowledge that imagining experiencing air pollution is not equivalent to experiencing actual air pollution. They highlight these limitations as avenues for further research.

Ultimately, the research reveals another pathway through which a person's surroundings can affect his or her behavior:

"Our findings suggest that air pollution not only corrupts people's health, but also can contaminate their morality," Lu concludes.

SOURCE

Journal abstract:

Polluted Morality: Air Pollution Predicts Criminal Activity and Unethical Behavior

Jackson G. Lu, Julia J. Lee, Francesca Gino, ...

Abstract

Air pollution is a serious problem that affects billions of people globally. Although the environmental and health costs of air pollution are well known, the present research investigates its ethical costs. We propose that air pollution can increase criminal and unethical behavior by increasing anxiety. Analyses of a 9-year panel of 9,360 U.S. cities found that air pollution predicted six major categories of crime; these analyses accounted for a comprehensive set of control variables (e.g., city and year fixed effects, population, law enforcement) and survived various robustness checks (e.g., balanced panel, nonparametric bootstrapped standard errors). Three subsequent experiments involving American and Indian participants established the causal effect of psychologically experiencing a polluted (vs. clean) environment on unethical behavior. Consistent with our theoretical perspective, results revealed that anxiety mediated this effect. Air pollution not only corrupts people’s health, but also can contaminate their morality.
Keywords

SOURCE

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‘Larry’s Letter’ is muddle-headed

Corporate social responsibility has been a leftist demand for a long time but it is very pernicious.  If companies lose focus on their business challenges, they will make themselves and everybody else poorer.  A company's only responsibility is to deliver a good product at the lowest possible price.  And that's not easy.  Introducing other considerations will undermine the whole mission of the company.

And the argument below does not focus entirely on corporate social responsibility. The aim of having "a strategy for long-term value creation and financial performance" is entirely laudable. And that seems to be the aspect that business leaders have rightly endorsed.

I note use of the tiresome Leftist term "stakeholders", which is used to assign unearned power and influence to outsiders of some sort. The term appears to come from card games, where several people may have money on the outcome of a game, but how many people are stakeholders in a business?  Only the shareholders and employees, it seems to me.  Customers may be observers but they are not stakeholders. If a company goes broke they will normally just choose a new supplier for their needs.

And what's this rot about "reimagining" capitalism?  Capitalism is not the product of anybody's imagination.  Soviet Russia was that and we know where it led.  What we see as capitalism today is simply the balancing of many forces and interests -- an "invisible hand" if you like.  Is Larry Fink going senile or is he just wilting under the weight of Leftist disapproval?


A growing movement of senior business figures, economists, and powerful investors from across the globe is calling for capitalism to be reimagined so that companies everywhere serve a social purpose.

The charge is being led by Larry Fink, the founder and chief executive of the world’s biggest asset manager, Blackrock. The investment house has $6.3 trillion (£4.5 trillion) under management, making Fink arguably the single most influential investor on the planet.

Fink detonated a bomb in boardrooms everywhere earlier this month with a letter to the bosses of all the companies it owns shares in, saying they could no longer afford to focus simply on profit.

In what is being referred to as “Larry’s Letter”, Fink said that they would need to start demonstrating a strategy for long-term value creation and financial performance. Understanding a company’s effect on the wider world was also vital, he said.

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” Fink wrote. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate,” the letter said.

The thrust of Larry Fink's letter was backed by major corporate bosses, including Pepsi's chief executive Indra Nooyi
The call was backed by several big names at Davos including Indra Nooyi, boss of PepsiCo, and Carlos Ghosn, chairman of car giant Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.

Mrs Nooyi lamented the emphasis on short-term financial performance. “If you focus on the long-term, investors accuse you of being impatient and are highly critical.” Mrs. Nooyi said. “If you are doing something truly strategic, it invokes criticism. You are accused of being Mother Teresa.”

Mr Ghosn agreed. “Young companies don’t have to worry about short-term results, but if we had negative quarterly results, we would be crucified,” he said.

Mrs Nooyi said: “Finance and accounting has trumped strategy excessively. The whole world is ratio and accounting driven.” Shareholders “blindly look at numbers”. She added: “A bunch of number crunchers put out a spreadsheet and think that is strategy.”

Mr Ghosn added: “Every day we see CEOs fired because shares didn’t move in the last year. Short tenure is a big problem.” However, he predicted that Fink’s letter will “spark change in the financial community”.

Theresa Whitmarsh, of the Washington State Investment Board, one of America’s biggest institutional investors, claimed “companies with a myopic focus on short-term earnings are sowing the seeds of their own destruction”. Long-term investment would boost returns, she said.

SOURCE

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Presidents Club: 'The easy moral outrage of the online mob'

I agree with Brendan O'Neill, below, that there has been a recent explosion of intolerance for a type of sexual behaviour that has long been seen as fairly normal.  So he sees the much publicized activities at the President's Club dinner as undeserving of the condemnation they have received.

He seems to have missed an important point nonetheless.  The waitresses hired for the occasion were ordered to wear fairly titillating garb -- short skirts, black high heels and corset-like belts etc.  So the men can hardly be blamed for taking that as a cue. 

Nonetheless the behaviour was ungentlemanly and discourteous in some instances so I deplore that


Another week, another explosion of moral outrage.

Another moralistic hissy fit online, as the Twitterati, commentariat and other new-fangled guardians of decency once again fume against people for behaving badly or thinking differently.

This time the target of their long fingers and seemingly inexhaustible fury has been the Presidents Club.

For those Brits who live under a rock — lucky you — the Presidents Club is an annual get-together of rich and well-meaning men to raise money for charity.

It is in its 33rd year. It takes place in plush, posh venues like the Dorchester in Park Lane. And as befits a coming together of the filthy rich and exclusively blokeish it is not, shall we say, PC.

Yes, surprise, surprise, these moneyed men full of expensive plonk get a little debauched.

Worst of all, at least in the prudish eyes of the media class, young women are employed at these events to serve drinks and flatter the men's fat egos.

The Financial Times, taking a break from blaming Brexit for literally everything that has gone wrong in Britain over the past 18 months, sent some undercover reporters to the Presidents Club.

They fed back that the men sometimes say untoward things to the young women and even proposition them. Perhaps next week these reporters will stake out a forest in Canada and confirm to the world that, yes, bears really do defecate in woods.

The fallout from the FT's pearl-clutching exposure of the utterly unsurprising and completely legal behaviour at this charity-friendly event has been bonkers.

Twitter went into meltdown. Labour MP Jess Phillips talked about the Presidents Club as if it were a 21st-century form of slavery. Great Ormond Street Hospital gave back the money it got from the event.

And now, the Presidents Club has announced that it is folding.

The morally outraged, the weirdly prim and angry mob that lives online and loves nothing better than to rage against people or institutions that don't share it values, will be delighted.

Yet as a result of their rage, less money will be raised for charity. Well done, guys. What does money for kids' medical equipment matter in comparison with your sense of self-satisfaction at having toppled another thing that displeases you?

What comes next? Surely all the men who ever attended this event — yes, including you, David Walliams — must now be paraded through the streets so that we can hurl rotten tomatoes, or at least angry tweets, in their repulsive direction.

This destruction of a charity event by gangs of the easily offended tells us a depressing story about modern Britain.

It confirms how empowered online mobs are. Through pooling their individual anger into a mass conformist cry of 'NOT OK' — the 21st-century equivalent of crying 'blasphemy!' 500 years ago — they can extract apologies from politicians, shame celebs out of public life, and bring charity do's crashing down.

These often time-rich, well-connected people are chilling public life, making it clear to everyone that if we say or do anything they find offensive, they will hunt us down.

It also confirms the ascendancy of a stiff, middle-class moralism on sexual matters.

First we had well-to-do female journalists making a national scandal of the fact that some male politician once put his hand on their knee.

Now we have the well-educated ladies of the FT expressing horror that young, largely working-class women sometimes use their looks to make money.

But why should the cushioned, increasingly sex-fearing smart set get to define what is acceptable in public life? Believe it or not, there are people out there — many people — who don’t think come-ons are harassment or that hands on knees are on a spectrum with sexual assault.

Finally, and perhaps worst of all, the Presidents Club scandal shows that modern feminism is very often anti-women.

The way the media are talking about the working women who served booze and massaged egos at these events is nothing short of disgraceful.

These women have been infantilised, treated as poor, pathetic, brainwashed creatures in need of rescue by their more switched-on sisters.

Even as some of the women who worked at the Presidents Club say they didn't feel abused, still the saviour feminists insist they were.

In other words, these working women don't really know what’s in their best interests. They are overgrown children, to be chastised or improved by FT reporters, Guardian columnists, and Labour politicians.

SOURCE


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Limits on Australian political donations

Crackdown on donations would destroy activist groups, GetUp says. The article below is from the Left so is unlikely to be the whole story but if it is right, it would seem that the government is on the right track.  Political agitators often support destructive policies and spoil the scene for people with real grievances and problems.

And the idea that an attack on them is an attack on "democracy" is another example of Leftist Newspeak (in Orwell's terms).  The whole point of these groups, particularly when they take to the streets, is to rule from the streets, not the ballot box.  The recent homosexual marriage "debate" in Australia showed how coercive and thuggish  these groups can be

And it is clearly the Left who abuse the opportunity to demonstrate.  The "Occupy Wall St" demonstrations of 2011 in NYC were very aggressive and trashed the location whereas the conservative "Tea Party" demonstrations were polite, civil and picked up their rubbish after themselves.

In my home State of Queensland under the Bjelke-Peterson administration of the '60s, Leftist demonstrations were heavily limited by the police, resulting in quite civil Leftist behaviour, when a demonstration was allowed.  I know.  I was there.  I think that should be the general pattern.  Leftist hate-fests should be carefully monitored and cancelled when they become aggressive

Leftists are rarely content with free speech. They want freedom to coerce and intimidate as well.  Non-coercive, non-obstructive, non-abusive demonstrations should of course always be allowed but a Leftist demonstration rarely even starts out that way, let alone ending that way


The activist group GetUp has criticised the Turnbull government’s proposed crackdown on foreign political donations, saying its legislation will destroy the revenue streams of grassroots groups and minor parties.

In a submission to the joint standing committee on electoral matters, which is holding an inquiry into election funding and disclosure, GetUp says the government’s bill contains an extraordinary requirement for not-for-profit organisations to obtain a statutory declaration from donors who give just $4.80 a week to political campaign organisations such as GetUp.
Fear 'rushed' foreign influence bill will harm freedom of speech
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It says according to Sections 302L and 302P of the bill’s explanatory memorandum, buried on pages 43 and 45, the government makes it clear that if individuals want to donate $250 or more annually to an organisation they will have to declare they are an “allowable donor” and have a justice of the peace or a police officer witness their declaration.

GetUp says that would require organisations to monitor cumulative small donations in real time and, once the annual $250 ceiling is met, to refuse further donations until a statutory declaration is obtained.

Failure to comply with the law would result in 10 years’ imprisonment or a fine of $210,000.

“This hidden clause reveals the federal government’s true intention is to shut down anyone it doesn’t agree with,” Paul Oosting, GetUp national director, told Guardian Australia. “This will destroy grassroots groups’ and minor parties’ revenue streams.

“If brought into law, this would starve GetUp of more than half of our people-powered funding, essentially halting our ability to call on the government to save the Great Barrier Reef, demand corporations contribute a fair share to our local schools and hospitals and treat people seeking asylum in Australia humanely.

“You can get a passport or buy a house without a stat dec but now if you want to stand up for a cause you believe in you’ve got to line up at a police station and get a formal document signed and witnessed. It’s absurd.

“This bill serves the interests of the Turnbull government and no one else. It doesn’t stop the likes of Gina Rinehart or the Adani Corporation from cutting huge cheques to their favourite politicians but it forces everyday people to jump through absurd hoops just to have their say in our democracy.”

GetUp’s submission says the government’s bill is ostensibly a response to a series of scandals surrounding foreign funding of politicians and political parties, and the potential for undue foreign influence, but those scandals would not have played out any differently if the bill were enacted into law.

“The ‘foreign donors; namechecked in the media – Chau Chak Wing and Huang Xiang Mo – both hold or held Australian citizenship or residency at the time the donations were made and therefore would be allowable donors under the provisions of the bill,” GetUp’s submission says.

“Meanwhile, the bill not only prohibits many not-for-profits from receiving international philanthropy entirely, but imposes a large administrative burden for them to confirm the identity of all donors – as opposed to, for example, simply determining whether the donation came from a foreign bank account.

“This represents a near-impossible feat for community organisations that depend on the small donations of thousands of everyday people.

“There is also a reasonable concern that banning donations by reference to a person’s identity in the way currently drafted is unconstitutional. It is clear the Bill is not serving the interests of the Australian public, concerned about the recent slew of foreign donations scandals – which raises the question, what or whose interests does it serve?

“One clue is in what the bill omits. It misses by far the biggest risk for ‘foreign influence’ in Australia’s democracy: large multinational corporations.”

The Minerals Council of Australia, one of Australia’s biggest corporate lobby groups, has conceded that it makes political donations and pays to attend fundraisers to gain access to members of parliament.

In a submission to a separate Senate inquiry, the MCA said it made donations amounting to $33,250 in 2015-16 and $57,345 in 2016-17, which were declared to the Australian Electoral Commission. The majority in both years went to the Liberal or National parties and associated entities.

The frank admission – which reflects a commonly held belief about the role of money in politics – stuck out because major corporations and lobby groups by and large say they make donations to support democracy.


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Air pollution delays the age girls start their periods and makes their menstrual cycles more irregular, according to a study

Greenies have been pumping out studies like this for decades.  Car exhaust has got to be bad for you!  It's got those evil microparticles in it.  It does.  But are they harmful and at what concentration are they harmful? The study below does not allow those basic questions to be answered.

It did not in fact measure anybody's exposure to the particles. The researchers just looked at where people lived during their childhood. And if that area had a lot of pollution they theorized that people brought up there should have bad health.  And they found it was so.

But correlation is not causation and they failed to look at WHY some people lived in more polluted areas. But we know why.  Because they were poor. Leafy areas are for rich people.  The poor live where they can afford it, beside major roads, industrial areas etc.

So what we are most likely seeing here is that it is the poor who  have worse health, which has been known for years.

If the researchers had controlled for income they might have had a story but there seems to be no indication that they did.  And the effects they observed were tiny anyway, making it highly likely that any control would wipe them out.

Control for income would only be a first step, however.  I set out some other problems with this sort of study a month ago

Journal abstract follows the summary below


Air pollution delays the age girls start their periods, according to the first study of its kind.

Exposure to total suspended particulate (TSP), which are particles circulating in the air that measure 0.05mm, during girls' teenage years also makes their menstrual cycles less regular, a trial found.

TSP, which is largely made up of vehicle exhaust and coal combustion fumes, is thought to disrupt hormone production in people's bodies.

In females, this can cause excessive amounts of male sex hormones, such as testosterone, which the researchers believe could delay or disrupt girls' periods.

Study author Dr Shruthi Mahalingaiah from Boston University, said: 'While air pollution exposures have been linked to cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, this study suggests there may be other systems, such as the reproductive endocrine system, that are affected as well.' 

Women exposed to air pollution before getting pregnant are nearly 20 percent more likely to have babies with birth defects, research suggested in January 2018.

Living within 5km of a highly-polluted area one month before conceiving makes women more likely to give birth to babies with defects such as cleft palates or lips, a study by University of Cincinnati found.

For every 0.01mg/m3 increase in fine air particles, birth defects rise by 19 percent, the research adds.

Fine air particles, which weigh less than 0.0025mg, are given out in vehicle exhaust fumes and, when breathed in, become deposited in the lungs where they enter the circulation.

Previous research suggests this causes birth defects as a result of women suffering inflammation and 'internal stress'.

Physicians Committee figures reveal birth defects affect three percent of all babies born in the US.

Around six percent of infants suffer in the UK, according to a report from the British Isles Network of Congenital Anomaly Registers

The researchers analyzed 290,000 babies living in Ohio between 2006 and 2010.

Monthly fine air particle levels were matched to the home addresses of pregnant women before and after they conceived.

How the research was carried out

The researchers analyzed 34,832 women aged between 25 and 42 who were enrolled in the 1989 Nurses' Health Study 2.

They investigated the TSP levels in the air surrounding the study's participants' homes they lived in during high school. This information was obtained from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The women were asked how old they were when they started their period and how long it took for their cycles to become regular.

Air pollution increases period irregularity 

Results further reveal that for every 45 μg/m3 increase in TSP exposure during high school, girls have an eight percent higher risk of suffering moderate or persistent irregularity.

The researchers defined moderate irregularity as periods that were always erratic during high school or between the ages of 18 and 22.

Persistent irregularity is an inconsistent menstrual cycle both at high school and the ages 18-to-22.

The findings also show that for every 45 μg/m3 rise in TSP exposure, a girl's risk of producing excessive male hormones increases by up to 11 percent.

Dr Mahalingaiah said: 'While air pollution exposures have been linked to cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, this study suggests there may be other systems, such as the reproductive endocrine system, that are affected as well.'

The findings were published in the journal Human Reproduction.

SOURCE

Perimenarchal air pollution exposure and menstrual disorders

S Mahalingaiah et al

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION

What is the association between perimenarchal exposure to total suspended particulate (TSP) in air, menstrual irregularity phenotypes and time to menstrual cycle regularity?

SUMMARY ANSWER

Exposures to TSP during high school are associated with slightly increased odds of menstrual irregularity and longer time to regularity in high school and early adulthood.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY

The menstrual cycle is responsive to hormonal regulation. Particulate matter air pollution has demonstrated hormonal activity. However, it is not known if air pollution is associated with menstrual cycle regularity.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION

Cross sectional study of 34 832 of the original 116 430 women (29.91%) enrolled in 1989 from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII). The follow-up rate for this analytic sample was 97.76% at the 1991 survey.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS

Annual averages of TSP were available for each year of high school attendance. We created three case definitions including high school menstrual irregularity and androgen excess. The time to menstrual cycle regularity was reported by participants as <1 year, 1–2 years, 3–4 years, 5 years or longer, or never on the baseline questionnaire. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for 45 μg/m3 increases in TSP exposure, adjusted for risk factors for menstrual irregularity.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

In multivariable adjusted models, we observed that for every 45 μg/m3 increase in average high school TSP there was an increased odds (95%CI) of 1.08 (1.03–1.14), 1.08 (1.02–1.15) and 1.10 (0.98–1.25) for moderate, persistent, and persistent with androgen excess irregularity phenotypes, respectively. TSP was also associated with a longer time to cycle regularity, with stronger results among women with older ages at menarche and those living in the Northeast or the West.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

The outcomes of menstrual regularity and time to cycle regularity were retrospectively assessed outcomes and may be susceptible to recall bias. There is also the potential for selection bias, as women had to live until 2011 to provide addresses.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

Temporal exposure to air pollution in the adolescent and early adulthood window may be especially important, given its association with phenotypes of menstrual irregularity. The data from this study agrees with existing literature regarding air pollution and reproductive tract diseases.

SOURCE


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A rebuttal to a conservative critique of Peterson

David Marcus below makes some criticisms that I should probably leave for Peterson himself to answer but Peterson is a very busy man so maybe it might be useful for me to say a few words on the matter.

Where Marcus is tendentious is that he is quite uncritical of the common Leftist claim that American blacks have been damaged by their history of slavery.  It allegedly takes away from blacks any responsibility for any disadvantage they may have and demonizes "whitey".

The claim has often been systematically debunked over the years so I will make only some desultory remarks about it.  The basic claim is that blacks have been demoralized and cowed by their history. They lack the will to fight an oppressive system.  But There is a large psychological research literature on self esteem and all the studies of black self-esteem show it to be very high.  They are TOO self-confident if anything.  They are NOT psychologically oppressed.

At this point I could perhaps mention that I myself am descended from two people who were transported across the ocean chained up in the holds of rickety wooden ships. They were convicts transported from Britain to help found the colony that later became Australia.  They were used as slave labour to do the work of setting up the new colony.  So are their descendents crippled psychologically by their origins?  Far from it.  To have convict ancestry these days in Australia is in fact rather prestigious.  Claims about damage passed down from how our ancestors were treated are founded on speculation rather than real life.

Secondly, blacks were in many ways better off in the near aftermath of slavery than they are now.  In the 19th and early 20th centuries, most black children grew up in mother & father families and the husband had a job that supported them.  That is not remotely so now.  So if slavery created irresponsible and feckless attitudes, they were not transmitted.   The psychological chain between slavery and now was broken long ago.

Thirdly, when do we allow changed circumstances to have any effect?  Affirmative action has been around for decades now has made blacks privileged rather than discriminated against.  Should that not have lifted them up?  There is little sign of it.  So that too undermines discrimination as a cause of black disadvantage.

And fourthly, we have to live in the world we have got. And in that world just about all have the opportunity to make of ourselves what we can.  The key to economic and social success is undoubtedly education and education to High School standard is provided for all.  If you wreck your educational chances by being disruptive or dropping out, you will have a very low-quality life regardless of your skin colour.

But black schools are dreck, someone might say.  They are.  You are not going to get much of an education if you do just about anything rather than sit and listen to the teacher.  As it happens, the children of Chinese migrants often go to the same schools.  They learn and do well.  They think their schools are dreck too but they just keep their heads down and study their books.

So you do largely create your own privilege.  There is of course some unearned privilege.  Inheriting a lot of money can open many doors.  But such privilege may be a lot less than it seems. The heirs of John D. Rockefeller have not all had happy lives despite the vast riches that John D. left when he died.

And the silliest claim of inborn privilege is "white privilege".  Tell that to the white guy in the trailer park who has trouble with paying his utility bills and has to put up with feral neighbors close by. Where is his privilege? Whites who seem privileged will mostly be that way because they seized the privilege of working hard first at their studies and then at a productive job.

And let me point out that white privilege is a Nazi concept. It is as race-obsessed as Hitler was. Hitler thought that there was an unfairly privileged race in Germany, the Jews. They sat at the top of every pyramid in Germany. They were not only prominent in politics but were also the bankers, businessmen, professionals and artists. That seemed wrong to Hitler, just as white privilege seems wrong to American Leftists. Hitler did not at all consider that prominent Jews earned their privilege by spending a long time in the educational system and then working hard subsequently. So racial theories of privilege are clearly evil, whether it is Jews or whites who are the hate-object.

But what about white privilege in encounters with the cops?  The privilege is great but it is again earned.  I have had several encounters with traffic police during which I was calm, polite  and co-operative. On all occasions the politeness was returned and I was shortly thereafter back on my way. Most whites are like that.

With blacks, however, it can be very different.  Blacks often abuse the police, may fight or shoot at the police and make strenuous efforts to evade arrest, including running from the police.  Police don't like that. Their very safety is at risk.  So they approach blacks on hairtrigger alert. They would be mad to do otherwise.  And in those circumstances some possibly innocent move by a black can be misinterpreted and the trigger will be pulled -- killing a possibly innocent man. That is inherited privilege too -- negative privilege.

And I can't see any cure for it.  Police have to be expert at judging risks but even so they will sometimes get it wrong.  And, with the help of Mr Obama, black attitudes to the police seem to have worsened rather than improved in recent times.  There is no way that is going to end well.


Dr. Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has been gaining celebrity. He first emerged in refusing to accept his university’s dictate to use transgendered students’ preferred pronouns and a broader fight against Canadian legislation to demand such usage. Since then, in a series of wildly popular YouTube videos ranging from studies of the Bible to anti-postmodernist lectures, his star has risen. This year, his book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos,” came out and is selling well.

Towards the end of a recent lecture, Peterson tackled the issue of white privilege. The 10-minute segment went viral, praised by many as refutation of the idea that white privilege even exists. Frankly, it was not his best work. It’s a bit sloppy on the concept itself, and utterly failed to take into account the broad context of racial issues that led to the idea in the first place.

It’s useful to look at what Peterson gets wrong here, and what he gets right. He is venturing into very dangerous territory with a cavalier attitude, and this could undermine the important counter-cultural ideas he is using to challenge, not just the academy, but our culture at large.

What Jordan Peterson Gets Wrong

Peterson’s main argument against white privilege is that race is but one of many possibly infinite differentials in human beings that may accrue benefits. He cites attractiveness and intelligence as two examples that could give individuals unearned advantages. But in the American context (Peterson is Canadian) these are somewhat strange comparisons. This is because ugly, dumb people were not subjected to centuries of slavery and a further century of debilitating Jim Crow laws.

History doesn’t begin in 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, or in 2009 when Barack Obama became president. While smarts and looks are unfair gifts of natural selection, the advantages of being white in America are a manmade phenomenon based on centuries of bigotry and irrational bias. To compare these things is facile and badly misses the point.

Peterson makes things worse with a bizarre analogy between American and Chinese culture. He claims that white privilege is really “majority privilege.” Tackling the classic examples of white people being more represented in media and education, less suspected of potential theft in stores, and having freer options in housing, among others, he says:

Is that white privilege, or is that, like majority privilege? Is the same true if you go to China, you’re Chinese, is the same true if you’re Chinese? Is it majority privilege, and if its majority privilege, isn’t that just part of living within your culture? So let’s say you live in your culture, you’re privileged in that culture, well obviously. That’s what the culture is for. That’s what it’s for. Why would you bother building the d-mn thing if it didn’t accrue benefits to you? Well, you might say one of the consequences is that it accrues fewer benefits to those who aren’t in the culture. Yeah, but you can’t immediately associate that with race.

In the United States of America we can absolutely, without question, associate that with race. This is because black people have been here since well before the American founding. There is no American culture that doesn’t involve black people. They were not interlopers in some society built by whites. They literally built the White House. They picked the cotton and tobacco, they were the unpaid economic engine that made America great, and they were infamously mistreated for centuries. It is a cringe-worthy moment, and one can’t help but feel that Peterson hasn’t thought it the whole way through.

What He Gets Right

Although he doesn’t quite manage to say it, what Peterson is rightfully rejecting is not the idea that white people in America have privilege. In fact, above he confirms it. He is arguing that, as a pedagogical tool, this fact is extremely limited and potentially dangerous. He is rejecting the idea that white people today have a reason to feel guilty about their skin color, and the idea that accepting such guilt will lead to some kind of good end.

Furthermore, he rightfully criticizes the lack of serious scholarship surrounding privilege theory. It is a concept almost always backed up anecdotally and rarely subjected to serious empirical investigation. When it is, the evidence of bias is often sketchy at best. But once we admit, as Peterson does, that white people do accrue unearned advantages, either by science or storytelling we have a responsibility to examine this and try to make sure that people are not subject to denigrating treatment based on their skin color.

We Need Peterson to Be Careful

Peterson is an enormously important, even vital voice in an academic, governmental, and media environment that often seeks to crush dissenting voices. In his book, “The War Against Free Speech,” he says the following about his refusal to be compelled to use certain pronouns: “Many of the doctrines that underlie the legislation that I’ve been objecting to share structural similarities with the Marxist ideas that drove Soviet Communism. The thing I object to the most was the insistence that people use these made up words like ‘xe’ and ‘xer’ that are the construction of authoritarians. There isn’t a hope in h-ll that I’m going to use their language, because I know where that leads.”

This is a message that needs to be heard. And it is important to understand that Peterson is not trying to convince postmodern progressives to change their ways, a task Sisyphus would look at and say, “Boy, I’m glad I don’t have to do that.” His targeted audience is different. Part of it is people who simply shrug at things like compelled speech and wonder why it’s their business. He does a great job of explaining why it is their business and why it is a threat.

Another important target of Peterson’s program is disaffected young men. These are men who feel beaten down by the world and women’s success, the attacks on masculinity. Who feel they are being told their very instincts are toxic. These men are prime targets for the alt-right, the men’s rights movement, and a whole host of antisocial behaviors, because what’s the difference anyway? He tells these young men that they can be men, but that means more than expressing their anger, it means taking responsibility, being productive. Getting in the game.

In trying to reach these young men, Peterson has appeared with some questionable figures. Eyebrows were raised when he was interviewed by the controversial, alleged alt-rightist Stefan Molyneux, for example. If you want to help sinners, you have to go where the sin is, but there is a danger here. Peterson is poised to hit the mainstream, something that would accrue a lot of benefits for those who believe in a freer society. These kinds of appearances and awkward attacks on privilege theory put such mainstream acceptance in jeopardy.

Welcome to the big leagues, Dr. Peterson. The balls are going to come at you fast and hard. You have to judiciously pick and choose which you swing at.

SOURCE