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Light Redux

Postings will remain light for August, but should return to normal next month.

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Diversity

Diversity Includes Intellectual Diversity by Glenn Geher.

Diversity Includes Intellectual Diversity.

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Related: The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond by Quillette Magazine. See here.

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Philosopher

Freud the Philosopher by David Livingstone Smith.

Before fathering psychoanalysis, Freud first slayed the dominant Cartesian intellectual tradition of mind-body dualism.

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Prepare

Okay, Google: How Do You Prepare A Country For Totalitarianism? by Robert Tracinski.

To be ready for dictatorship, people have to embrace its habits and practices voluntarily, or at least show little resistance. Google is doing its part.

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Dark

Scientists Unveil a New Inventory of the Universe’s Dark Contents by Natalie Wolchover.

The first major results from the Dark Energy Survey signal the start of a new era of cosmology.

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Destroyed?

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? by Jean M. Twenge.

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

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Solve?

Why the Left Can’t Solve Global Warming by Shikha Dalmia.

Greens are more interested on assigning blame than looking for fixes.

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MacLean

More on Nancy MacLean by Marian L. Tupy.

I realize that I am a bit late to this party and that many of Nancy MacLean’s strange claims and factual errors have already been exposed and debunked by people much more familiar with her work, the intellectual history of libertarianism and the Nobel Prize-winning economist James Buchanan, than I am. However, there is one aspect of MacLean’s conspiracy theorizing in Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (i.e., “the attempt by the billionaire-backed radical right to undo democratic governance” in America) that, I think, needs further comment.

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WEL

A Song of Ice and Fire by Eric Kurlander.

World Ice Theory and the supernatural imaginary of the Third Reich.

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Bully

A Demagogic Bully by Mark Pulliam.

The Southern Poverty Law Center demonizes respectable political opponents as “hate groups”—and keeps its coffers bulging.

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Undoing?

German Philosophy Has Finally Gone Viral. Will That Be Its Undoing? by Stuart Jeffries.

A new generation of rockstar philosophers are taking the discipline to the masses. But their TED Talks, TV shows, and best-sellers might be ruining it forever.

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Censorship

Silicon Valley Censorship by Sam Westrop.

Google’s latest project is an application called Perspective, which, as Wired reports, brings the tech company “a step closer to its goal of helping to foster troll-free discussion online, and filtering out the abusive comments that silence vulnerable voices.” In other words, Google is teaching computers how to censor.

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Support

First Support for a Physics Theory of Life by Natalie Wolchover.

Take chemistry, add energy, get life. The first tests of Jeremy England’s provocative origin-of-life hypothesis are in, and they appear to show how order can arise from nothing.

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Future

The Future of American Civil Religion by Daniel Strand.

Whatever you think of American civil religion, Protestantism was the fuel that made it go. When you lose the fuel, you lose the benefits that have accrued to American society because of it. And the benefits were substantial, even as we are now appreciating the costs, too. One of the most significant and underappreciated benefits was the unity it generated. It provided a shared set of morals and duties that had broad tacit support and adherence. Cicero often wrote about the civic “bonds” (vinculum) that held Rome together, and for America our civic glue was Protestantism. Tocqueville, insightful as ever, described the Protestant consensus this way: “all differ in respect to the worship which is due to the Creator; but they all agree in respect to the duties which are due from man to man.”

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Culture

2017 Index of Culture and Opportunity: The Social and Economic Trends that Shape America by The Heritage Foundation.

The 2017 Index of Culture and Opportunity evaluates a range of factors needed to sustain freedom and opportunity in America. Through charts that track social and economic changes and expert commentary that explains the trends, the Index reports on important indicators in American society and analyzes what they mean for our future.

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Gutting

Gutting of Oversight Bill Puts Kibosh on Police Reform in California by Steven Greenhut.

Assembly Bill 284 had little chance of passage because it dealt with an actual problem and was getting pushback from some muscular lobbies.

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Pseudoscience

The New Astrology by Alan Jay Levinovitz.

By fetishising mathematical models, economists turned economics into a highly paid pseudoscience.

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Science?

Is Linguistics a Science? by Arika Okrent.

Much of linguistic theory is so abstract and dependent on theoretical apparatus that it might be impossible to explain.

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Corruption

The Corruption of Biblical Studies by Joshua Berman.

Academic scrutiny of scripture, a discipline prey to intellectual fashion since its inception, is today pursued by many in the service of secular liberal positions.

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Downward

The American Left’s Downward Spiral by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

I have returned. From Europe, that is, and I hope I met with no Russian undercover agents while there. The soi-disant liberals are in a snit about the Russians. Supposedly, Donald Trump Jr. and the mysterious Jared Kushner met with an undercover agent of the Kremlin in June of last year, and they did not report their meeting to The Powers That Be. Who are The Powers That Be? Actually, I have no idea, but Messrs. Trump and Kushner should have reported their exchange, which had something to do with adoption or adaption, or possibly Hillary’s unwashed socks. You figure it out.

The stalwarts of American left (we no longer call them liberals — it is inappropriate) are in another of their tense moments with the Trumps and, of course, it has something to do with the Trumps and the Russians. The left has developed an irrational fear of the Russians, about whom they are positively obsessive. I am not sure why this is. Perhaps it is because today the Russians are no longer communists, and the erstwhile liberals had long admired certain aspects of the communist system. As I recall, they admired the Marxist-Leninist tax code, and its attendant slow-growth economy. Remember their great economists such as John Kenneth Galbraith and Lester Thurow, oohing and aahing over how prosperous Russia was in the 1980s, just before the crash of communism?

How did that crash come about, comrades? Was it caused by something Ronald Reagan did? Reagan was the Donald Trump of his era. Are our friends to the left still perplexed as to how a grade-B movie actor contributed to the fall of communism? Now what can they be expecting from a billionaire businessman?

The morbid preoccupations of the American left continue apace. Of course, there is their aforementioned paranoia over post-communist Russia. And there is the environment that is increasingly sickening them; and the civil rights of public toilet users in certain red states; and civil rights in general. The KKK is making a comeback and they are aided and abetted by the increasingly popular alt-right movement and the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy who object to the expurgation of five years of American history back in the 19th century. Then there is the Resistance Movement that has been a theme with the American left ever since Hillary Clinton had her meltdown on election night.

As David Gelernter pointed out last week in The Wall Street Journal, the American left has adopted “resistance” in response to Mr. Trump’s election in a free and democratic election. As Mr. Gelernter wrote: “Democrats, in their role as opponents of President Trump, have taken to calling themselves ‘the resistance.’ ” They are co-opting the term “resistance” from the free French who in World War II were opposing, as Mr. Gelernter says, “the Nazis in occupied France.” In their delusions the members of the American left are modern-day freedom fighters and the Trumps are Nazis. Continuing the left’s fantasy, the American Army and its allies will eventually be called in to liberate “the resistance.” And who will march down our Champs-Elysees, Hillary?

I saw my first member of the resistance at Brussels airport wearing his black T-shirt with “Resistance” boldly emblazoned across our hero’s chest. He was asleep. I did not want to awaken him with troubling news. His fly was halfway down. Since then I have seen black T-shirts everywhere in Washington bearing variations on the Resistance theme: “The Resistance,” or simply “Resist,” or, harkening back to Hillary, “She Persists, You Resist.” Nowhere is it reported that Donald Trump has taken any notice, to say nothing of ordering out his Brown Shirts.

Is it possible that we shall endure such childishness into 2018? I believe it is. Comparing oneself to freedom fighters who faced torture and death while one lounges in the Brussels airport may seem like a leap into fantasy to normal Americans, but it is nothing to the American left. They have been inhabiting a fantasy world since the first Clinton administration. Those were the years in which they beheld Bill Clinton as the Virgin President and Monica Lewinsky as The Stalker. Ever since then, the left’s condition has worsened.