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Monday, December 14, 2009

Intelligent design and elite culture: These are the people who invented silk stockings for men, so what should I expect?

Trust the French to turn efforts to "control" Internet communications into a cruel comedy.
PARIS — Dominique Broueilh is an unlikely cyberdelinquent, much less a political dissident. But earlier this year, Ms. Broueilh, 50, a homemaker and mother of three, found herself the target of a police investigation and a lawsuit from a French cabinet official because of a comment she had posted online.

Ms. Broueilh had come upon a video of the official, Nadine Morano, the secretary of state for the family, caught in a seeming untruth regarding her presence at a 2007 conference. “Oh, the liar,” Ms. Broueilh wrote, under a pseudonym, in comments below the clip.

The judicial police called in May on a weekday afternoon.

“I said to myself, ‘This must be a joke, it’s not possible,’ ” Ms. Broueilh recounted in a telephone interview from her home in St.-Paul-lès-Dax, south of Bordeaux. “It’s ridiculous, after all.”

The police said Ms. Morano, a combative politician and one of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s closest allies, had subpoenaed Ms. Broueilh’s Internet protocol address, obtained her identity and brought suit against her for “public insult toward a member of the ministry,” an offense punishable by a fine of up to $18,000.

- Scott Sayare, "As Web challenges French leaders, they push back" (New York Times, December 12, 2009)
Couldn't make this stuff up.

First, this is fascism reborn. Second, a politician who can't deal with edgy comments should be a docent in The Museum of Typewriters somewhere. So why isn't she?

You really must read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:

“The Internet is a danger for democracy,” said Jean-François Copé, parliamentary chief for the governing party, the Union for a Popular Movement, in a recent radio interview.

“I find we’re entering a strange society,” said Henri Guaino, one of Mr. Sarkozy’s closest counselors, speaking on French radio in September. “We can no longer say anything, we can no longer do anything. It’s absolute transparency — it’s the beginnings of totalitarianism!”

Beginnings of totalitarianism? I would say that the bright, sterilizing light of transparency is the end of totalitarianism. But read the rest yourself, and weep for France, a once great nation, and the progenitor of our French Canadian culture.

The main problem isn't that these elite French twits think as they do, but that a majority votes for them. They could be returned to fashionable idleness in one single fair election.

As a Canuck free speech journalist, I say to the French generally: Get yer faces out of the buttered escargots and tell those upper crusts, You are not smart enough to tell me how to live.

Actually, I am at a loss to think of a better demonstrated proposition anywhere.

One friend has asked me whether this trend will affect the intelligent design controversy. That is, might the idea that such elites are above criticism via the Internet spread to North America, leading to big time controls on communications?

Depends on the Escargot Index, right? The bureaucratic elite tried it recently in Canada, and they are now getting their butts whacked all across the country.*

Different culture here across the Pond? Maybe. Most Canadians are within four generations of immigrants. People didn't choose Canada in order to have our lives run by upper class twits. In fact, we are mostly here because ... (no prizes for guessing right).

(*See Shakedown, Lights Out, and Tyranny of Nice for details, alternatively Ezra Levant or Post-Darwinist updates.)

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy anyway:


This is not a coffee moment: Canadian columnist advocates worldwide one-child policy - fast back to the Stone Age

A friend writes, shocked, that a premier columnist, Diane Francis, at Canada's National Post, recently wrote a column advocating a worldwide mandatory one child policy. She got plenty of attention. I replied,

In fairness, that is only columnist Diane Francis's opinion. I have not heard that it was endorsed by the paper's editorial board and doubt that it will be.

Hers would, of course, be a disastrous policy because there would not be nearly enough people to fulfill all the roles in society that make for modern progress, comfort, and longevity.

Population bombers have always failed to grasp this fact: If there were only 2 million people in the world, the pace of innovation would be very slow.

So population bomb-ism will, among other things, slow the pace of innovation.

Is that not a key reason that the pace of innovation in the Stone Age was in fact so slow?

The problem I see is this:

With a low population, you don't have enough people to draw from a large pool of highly specific attributes.

Lots of guys can wield a club, but who can invent trigonometry? Only a few guys could do that, and your chances of drawing one from the pool are higher if the pool is bigger - because the bell curve of achievement has a bigger right hand tail, as well as a bigger left hand tail (but that matters less, because an advanced society can afford to support minimal achievers).

So Stone Age people went from one millennium to the next with few advances.

By contrast today, there must be tens of thousands of nerds in India alone. Advances are so swift, I can't figure out what the kids are doing with those new devices they stare at or yak into on the transit.

Also, a slow pace of advancement feeds on itself.

If nothing has changed since Grandma's day, Grandma can be the authority even if she doesn't know very much beyond the subsistence survival skills she passes on - but does not add to.

So lore becomes doctrine, and the response to potential advances is, "Our people do not do things that way."

No. But maybe they should. Still, it would be impossible to discuss. People caught in this bind feel they are desecrating Grandma's grave when they move ahead.

No wonder an executive, frustrated with a similar problem in a moribund corporate culture, once shouted: "If it's not broken, BREAK it!!"
Out of consideration for my friend, I didn't mention other obvious points, like forced sterilizations, forced abortions, or predominance of boys due to selectively aborting girls. The latter situation leads to trafficking in women, prostitution, and forced marriage.

Also, later on, an unsustainable proportion of the economy mustbe given over to senior care or, alternatively, euthanasia - official or otherwise - becomes mandatory

The interesting thing is that Francis fancies herself a free enterpriser. I guess that applies to money, but not to what matters most - life. Not a recipe for better house and planet, I would say.


More coffee!! Your doctor needs to know what would have worked for someone's hypothetical reconstruction of Stone Age man before she can treat you ef

Apparently, evolutionary biologists/psychologists (if there is any difference, I would be glad to know*) are trying to get jobs adding to the cost burden of medical schools, fronting their speculations to doctors in training, a friend advises. See this story by Daniel Cressey ("Groups say med school training must evolve," Nature Medicine 15, 1338 (2009) doi:10.1038/nm1209-1338a, paywall, of course):
Medical training must adapt to include coursework covering evolutionary biology, according to a group of leading researchers.Momentum for such change seems to be building.
I bet. In an age of skepticism about all the nonsense evolutionary biologists front, they need to attach themselves to a system that people are still willing to fund.
"The case for ensuring that physicians and medical researchers are able to use evolutionary biology just as fully as other basic sciences is compelling," says Randolph Nesse, of the University of Michigan, lead author of the paper. "The constraints that inhibit change are severe, however. Most medical schools do not have a single evolutionary biologist on the faculty."

Nesse's paper cites examples of where evolutionary knowledge can benefit those working in medicine. An awareness of why humans have evolved the fever response, for example, could help doctors understand when it is safe to use drugs to block fever.
Rubbish. Pharmaceutical studies on living patients in real time do that. No one proposes to give the drugs to Old Stone Age Man, but rather to a toddler, an overworked near-retirement executive, or a frail older senior. The latter two would not even have been alive in the Old Stone Age.

As I have written to friends,
... Joe Roofer shows up in the family doctor's office griping about his arthritis.

Who cares if Stone Age man had arthritis? Joe Roofer is paying, one way or another, for what helps him now. He must get back to work and supervise his men ...

Sure, speculations about Old Stone Age Man are interesting.

But "interesting" doesn't cut it in medicine - and I have plenty of relatives in medicine who can tell me so.

What works for Joe Roofer today cuts it. So Joe can hop back on a ladder, supervise his men, please his clients, and meet his payroll Friday.

Medicine is real time. So what use is Darwinism when we are dealing with people over 60 years of age - a lifespan rarely attained in practice in ancient times, and irrelevant to natural selection?

Bioethics is the major concern now because most people who need significant medical care are old.

Oldsters take longer to heal than youngsters but if they stick it out, they often live many more years than expected, under modern conditions. But they are on pension, so ...

This story owes nothing to Darwinism and no Darwinist was abused in making it. But anyone who cannot see where all this is going is half asleep, in my view. Remember eugenics? We are now seeing it at the back end, rather than the front end.
One friend noted in response to my mug-waving, "Two words. Downright ridiculous." Someone she knows is in medical school and is busy enough without learning atheist culture's creation myth.

*Actually, I suspect there isn't really any difference between evolutionary biology and "evolutionary psychology", which is why the evolutionary biologist is forever linked to his idiot siamese twin, the "evolutionary psychologist" (= "Why women love shopping," "Why men are big spenders," etc.)

If evolutionary biologists wanted to denounce the nonsense, they could sever the skin tie, but then they'd be expected to address the nonsense they front themselves. How many months has it been since the "Ida" fossil rolled through pop culture?

Don't tell me science is "self-correcting." Ida shouldn't have got anywhere near the traction it did. In this area, science is about as self-correcting as a driverless car heading off a cliff.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Coffee!!: Should we reject Darwinism due to its obvious support for new atheism?

Recently, a group of friends was mulling over coffee whether one should reject Darwinism in principle because it is the creation story of atheism. One friend argued that we should not reject it just because its staunchest proponents are mostly atheists.

I am not so sure. Consider this: Approximately 80 percent of evolutionary biologists (= Darwinists) are pure naturalists (no God and no free will, according to William Provine’s recent study). Welcome to the world of Minority Report, where social engineering seems completely reasonable, even "humane." As in the "Humane Society."

Now let me put a case to you:

Assume that 80% of the members of a social group also hold memberships in a Communist or other type of Fascist political party. But I, as it happens, am a free speech journalist who supports an open society. Should I continue to hang around with them, or distance myself from them, repent, and then feel free to denounce them when they eventually perpetrate some fraud or evil?

In my humble opinion, it is NOT irrelevant that the new atheists are overwhelmingly Darwinists. That guides the way they interpret data, and the way they behave toward scientists who dissent from their orthodoxy, based on failure to replicate their results or legitimate suspicion as to how they were obtained.

The Darwinists' certainty that they are right is based on occult knowledge (= natural selection, in reality an important conservative force in nature, has unbelievable creative powers.) They need to believe that, so they do.

Madam Xerxa, our local psychic, is just as certain that she is right, based on occult knowledge, but on a much humbler level. In her dirty, ramshackle walkup, she can predict only the future, not the past. But, hey, she doesn’t charge as much for her nonsense.*

Classic unbelievable beliefs, both. But unbelievable beliefs have consequences. So I would argue that a high level of acceptance by atheists is a good reason for a high level of suspicion on the part of others.

The new atheists have the right to be atheists on their own time, but not to front a system dedicated to that purpose at tax expense - and call it science.

* The Darwinist claims to know what Stone Age man was thinking about religion or about shopping. Madam Xerxa can merely inform you that you will soon meet a tall, dark, and attractive-looking stranger.

Yes, of course, that traffic plod who caught you doing 50 km in a 40 km zone! $120 later in fines, Madam Xerxa is still right.

If either of these propositions is science, I am an apple pie.

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