Category Archives: Education

What Might be Missing in the Muslim World? by Denis MacEoin

Religious fanaticism, Islamic or otherwise, does not coexist well with scientific inquiry and innovation. From Denis MacEoin at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • Recently, Chinese, Japanese and other educators have found that rote learning and endless drills produce high achievers without creativity, originality, or the ability to think for themselves. Western academic standards of rationality and objectivity have been behind most of the West’s achievements.
  • “The campus has three mosques with a fourth one planned, but no bookstore. No Pakistani university, including QAU, allowed Abdus Salam to set foot on its campus, although he had received the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his role in formulating the standard model of particle physics.” — Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, commenting on Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, the second-best university among the 57 Muslim states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
  • The very thought that “Islamic science” has to be different from “Western science” suggests the need for a radically different way of thinking. Scientific method is scientific method and rationality is rationality, regardless of the religion practiced by individual scientists.

In April this year, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh ‘Ali Gomaa, told an interviewer what he meant as a flat statement of fact: that there are no female heart surgeons, as such work required strength and other capabilities that no woman possesses. He put it this way:

“You may have noticed that there is not a single female heart surgeon in the world… It’s amazing. It’s peculiar. Why do you think that there are none? Because it requires great physical effort — beyond what a woman is capable of. That’s in general. Along comes a woman who challenges this, and she succeeds in becoming a surgeon. But she is one woman among several million male surgeons.”

Now even a child could have carried out a simple Google search and realized that there are countless female surgeons and many female heart surgeons. It would not have taken long to find, for example, the US Association of Women Surgeons, which includes heart surgeons — and that would have settled his hash. But apparently deep-seated, pre-formed judgements about women’s abilities prevented Gomaa from using whatever powers of reasoning and intelligence he may possess.

Sadly, there often seems a profound absence of scientific probing within the Muslim world.

It seems reasonable to assume that levels of intelligence are pretty well the same around the world, regardless of race, gender, or religious affiliation. As human beings, we share the same brainpower, just as we share all other physical functions. Mercifully, earlier views of racial inequality have in most places been replaced by a more fact-based understanding of human characteristics. Today, theories put forward in the last two centuries of a supposed “racial supremacy” of white people have been happily discarded. In democratic societies, white supremacists are universally loathed.

To continue reading: What Might be Missing in the Muslim World?

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Edward Snowden: “Knowledge Has To Originate From Somewhere, And That Can’t Be A Classroom.” by Arjun Walia

Modern classrooms don’t produce alert, active, questioning minds; they produce the exact opposite. From Arjun Walia at lewrockwell.com:

In September 2015, Neil deGrasse Tyson interviewed Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who revealed the mass spying program(s) used across the globe by multiple intelligence agencies, private governments, and more. His revelations had broad and immediate consequences for both the elite they exposed and the now-informed public, who, prior to the leaks, considered government surveillance a conspiracy theory. Leaks continue to expose government surveillance and the tools/technology they use via Snowden and other whistleblowers, document platforms like Wikileaks, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As a result, distrust in our governments is at an-all time high, and on a global scale.

All of these leaks have brought the existence of Special Access Programs (SAPs) and Unacknowledged SAPs into the public consciousness. These are programs run by what’s become known as “The Deep State,” or a government within the government, which has also been discussed by multiple political insiders and academics,.

Here is one out of many examples we’ve used many times:

Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people.

From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare, they have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.

To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day. (source)

To see more quotes like this, you can check out this article. And to learn more about the Black Budget, you can read this one that goes more in-depth.

To continue reading: Edward Snowden: “Knowledge Has To Originate From Somewhere, And That Can’t Be A Classroom.”

My Response to the Common Question: What Can I Do to Help? by Michael Krieger

Are we turning our kids into authority-worshipping conformists? From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.

– Mahatma Gandhi

Over the years, many people have asked me, “what can I do to help?” and I never really had a good answer. After five years of consistent writing and thinking, I finally have something concrete to say, but it might not be what you expect. The answer is to work on yourself. Be a better person. It’s something I need to do, and it’s something all of us can strive for every day of our lives since every one of us is flawed.

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, or what your individual circumstances are, we’re all presented with a variety of choices on a consistent basis. We are all constantly faced with the opportunity to be kind, apathetic or downright mean to someone else, and it doesn’t matter how small the gesture is, every single act is meaningful. I have become convinced that the choices we make in seemingly minor situations resonate and impact the world. It seems clear to me that if everyone acted even a little bit kinder to their fellow humans the world would improve dramatically.

If we all become better people, we would simply not put up with the rampant violent and unethical behavior coming from politicians/oligarchs and things would eventually change. I believe the rot at the top of society influences the bottom, and vice versa. The best way to break the cycle is for each of us to take responsibility for ourselves and our own minds. At that point, consciousness can truly take a leap forward. Being kind, is in fact, a revolutionary act.

Trying to be a decent, rational and informed adult in a world increasingly filled with madness, childish dialogue and violence is hard enough. Being a parent compounds these challenges significantly. You suddenly become endowed with the truly awesome responsibility of guiding children into adulthood and helping them find their way in the world. In this day and age, accepting this challenge has become increasingly difficult.

To continue reading: My Response to the Common Question: What Can I Do to Help?

In Praise of Facts, by Robert Gore

Facts rush towards us like an oncoming train, and facts tie us to the track.

Your car won’t start. That’s a fact. You think the battery is dead. That’s a hypothesis. Your neighbor has jumper cables and you start the car off of her car’s battery. That’s an experiment that yields data supporting your hypothesis. Maybe you drive around for a while and your battery either recharges or it doesn’t. Either way, that’s another fact, which tends to disprove or support your hypothesis. Perceiving facts, developing hypotheses, experimentation, then revising, when necessary, those hypotheses in light of newly perceived facts are defining processes of the human mind. Humans continuously perceive, hypothesize, experiment, and revise, rarely even aware of the process: call it the empirical loop.

It’s easy to laugh at the academic and student primitives who deride the loop, who even question the concept of facts. Often this rejection stands on the notion that the loop is a package of “constructs” developed by white males to oppress everyone else. Credit for the loop to white males is a compliment, not a condemnation. However, they aren’t responsible for the epistemological process necessary for any human being to deal with reality, although some white males have dealt with reality extraordinarily well. Rejecting the loop, primitives will surely be oppressed…by reality. Let one of them, regardless of race, ethnicity, and gender, step in front of a moving train, rejecting the fact that it’s a train and the hypothesis of imminent impact. Before he splatters on the train’s windshield, he may realize his epistemological errors.

Thus, this anti-epistemology that has permeated the academy is not a laughing matter. It cripples young minds just as they should be launching their first independent forays into reality. Unfortunately, it can not and has not stayed confined to the academy. In the empirical loop, facts are primary; in the anti-empirical loop, perceptions and beliefs reign supreme. The unremarkable observation that beliefs can create facts—people believe Brand A soap cleans better, so they buy more of it than other soaps—has mutated into the mindset that facts either don’t exist or are irrelevant, only perception and belief matter. That precept is inherently collectivist, because the perceptions and beliefs that matter are those of groups. Patron saint of this movement is Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays (1891-1995), who has been called the father of public relations.

SOMETIMES MADE UP FACTS HAVE MORE TRUTH THAN REAL FACTS

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At root, economics is the study of how people deal with certain aspects of reality: scarce resources, producing goods and services, trade, and so on. A plausible hypothesis concerning the 2008-2009 financial crisis was that it was caused by years of mathematically unsustainable debt growth—promoted by central banks’ policies—in excess of economic growth. When the debt-stimulated housing sector—homes, mortgages, and mortgage-backed securities—reversed course and imploded, it took much of the world with it, because the global financial system is inextricably interlinked.

This hypothesis implies that restoration of the economy and financial system requires debt contraction to a point where the economy can support it. However, that hypothesis about the cause was never officially accepted, and neither was any other. To this day, policymakers within governments and central banks profess ignorance about the causes of the crisis. They may be covering their asses, because most hypotheses in some way implicate them. But the fact that none of them saw it coming suggests that perhaps they should be taken at their word. Their solutions—government debt, central bank debt monetization, and low or negative interest rates—suggest the same thing.

Such solutions replace economics with mass psychology. Promoting and increasing debt, policymakers reject the excess debt hypothesis. At the heart of feel-good operations, central banks exchange their fiat debt for governments’ fiat debt at suppressed interest rates. Low interests rates promote borrowing and stabilize falling asset prices, which makes people feel better. Feeling better, they buy goods, services, and financial assets, which, in a virtuous cycle called the wealth effect, make people feel even better, juicing the economy and financial markets even more. Edward Bernays would have been proud: prosperity via PR. One inconvenient fact: the feel-good cure hasn’t worked particularly well.

The aide [Karl Rove] said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” He continued “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” Suskind, Ron, “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” The New York Times Magazine, 10/17/04

Can anything be more arrogantly delusional than a belief that an entity, even an “empire,” can create its “own reality”? Some version of Karl Rove’s triumphal effluvia has been muttered by emperors, and their courtiers and courtesans, since Ozymandias. The US empire has been creating realities since Korea. They certainly haven’t been the realities, the sets of facts, the ruling cabal advertised or promised, although they may have been the realities it wanted. When one creates one’s own reality, facts are clearly superfluous. For the unenlightened remnant, “the reality-based community,” Bush, Rove, and company’s War on Terror is more accurately labeled the War to Promote Terror; terror now being more prevalent than it was when the war was initiated. Similar relabeling is apt for the empire’s other reality-creating wars: the War to Promote Drugs and the War to Promote Poverty.

The reality creators pursue a fact-free revolt against a duly elected president, hoping to, Bernays-like, conjure a perception that will drive him from office. Megyn Kelly’s recent interviews with Vladimir Putin (Link to ABC version; Link to part ABC left out) are instructive: the Witch Doctor versus the empiricist. Kelly incants all the right incantations: “Consensus view,” “Republicans and Democrats,” “17 intelligence agencies,” “experts say,” “reports today in the American press,” “US intelligence has concluded.” However, you can’t argue from authority when the other side doesn’t recognize your authority, which Putin did not. Did Kelly and those who vetted her questions actually think the ex-KGB agent (a fact that Kelly helpfully pointed out…twice) would acknowledge the expertise, accuracy, or integrity, much less the authority, of America’s consensus, Republicans and Democrats, experts, press, or intelligence agencies? Who in their right mind would?

Putin punctured Kelly’s word bubbles with two words—”direct proof,” noting its absence. The closest Kelly got to facts is when she incanted “forensics,” “digital fingerprints,” “IP addresses” (Internet Protocol), “malware,” “encryption keys,” and “specific pieces of code,” all of which, she asserted, pointed to Russian hacking. Unfortunately, beyond briefing her on software lexicon, apparently nobody told Kelly that all her keywords can be faked—until Putin did…twice. He did not—but could have—cited WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 disclosures in March revealing that the CIA can engage in false flag cyberattacks such as the one of which Russia stands accused.

SLL has posited that the great divide in American life is between the useful and the useless. However, the divide is deeper than that. It’s epistemological, between those who deal every day with cars that won’t start and other facts, and those who believe that facts are irrelevant or a construct of their own choosing and construction. Facts can be ignored but not eradicated. The reality-based community will take grim satisfaction when ignored facts finally cascade down upon the heads of the reality-creators, as they assuredly will. Unfortunately, those facts will cascade down upon the rest of us, too, and we’re left hoping for one future fact: that we’ll be around to pick up the pieces.

GREAT NOVEL, GREAT READ, GREAT LITERATURE

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The Sideshow That Never Leaves Town, by Butler Shaffer

Many of us have been trained to serve the state, and the training becomes more ingrained and pervasive with the young. From Butler Shaffer at lewrockwell.com:

“There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance.” 

– Wolfgang von Goethe                

Growing up in Nebraska, I was delighted each September, when the State Fair opened. I enjoyed walking the midway – accompanied by the spirit of P.T. Barnum – listening to sideshow barkers peddling their shows for “just ten cents, one thin dime.” Bearded and tattooed ladies, two-headed calves, and fortune-tellers were among the offerings.

With last week’s closing of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus, a significant part of American culture has disappeared: circuses and carnivals. With the exception of 1950s era network television circuses, these extravaganzas were largely performed at the local level, abetted by the main street circus parades that brought us downtown and enticed us out to the circus grounds. With network television bringing so many of our demands for entertainment to the national level, traveling circuses, carnivals, and fairground midways have largely disappeared; although the sideshows have not. Freak shows have gravitated to television news networks, with anchors tantalizing us with the “breaking news” of assorted cranks and misfits waiting to challenge the suspension of our intelligence. “See the lady who can speak endlessly without saying anything;” or, “see the SUV that will bring the world to an end;” or “see the lady carrying a severed head.” H.L. Mencken was prophetic – as usual – in labeling politics as a “circus”, and a “carnival of buncombe.”

My understanding of history has led me to the view that Western Civilization is in its final stages. The structuring and regulation of life-sustaining processes have proved as fatal to our culture as cutting off a bird’s wings would seal its fate. To forcibly deprive individuals of their self-directed, self-interested nature in order to serve some mythical collective, has brought us to where we are. Beneficiaries of this herd-oriented mindset are institutional interests with a highly-concentrated presence that could not be maintained without the coercive force of the state restraining the development of competitive alternatives that would arise in a free market. Those interested in seeing how the business system has benefitted from this economic structuring, are invited to read my book In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918-1938.

To continue reading: The Sideshow That Never Leaves Town

When The Left Turns On Its Own, by Bari Weiss

Maybe the leftists will just destroy themselves, saving the rest of us the trouble. From Bari Weiss at The New York Times via zerohedge.com:

Bret Weinstein is a biology professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., who supported Bernie Sanders, admiringly retweets Glenn Greenwald and was an outspoken supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Mr. Weinstein, who identifies himself as “deeply progressive,” is just the kind of teacher that students at one of the most left-wing colleges in the country would admire. Instead, he has become a victim of an increasingly widespread campaign by leftist students against anyone who dares challenge ideological orthodoxy on campus.

A bit of background: The “Day of Absence” is an Evergreen tradition that stretches back to the 1970s. As Mr. Weinstein explained on Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, “in previous years students and faculty of color organized a day on which they met off campus — a symbolic act based on the Douglas Turner Ward play in which all the black residents of a Southern town fail to show up one morning.” This year, the script was flipped: “White students, staff and faculty will be invited to leave campus for the day’s activities,” reported the student newspaper on the change. The decision was made after students of color “voiced concern over feeling as if they are unwelcome on campus, following the 2016 election.”

Mr. Weinstein thought this was wrong. The biology professor said as much in a letter to Rashida Love, the school’s Director of First Peoples Multicultural Advising Services. “There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles,” he wrote, “and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away.” The first instance, he argued, “is a forceful call to consciousness.” The second “is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.” In other words, what purported to be a request for white students and professors to leave campus was something more than that. It was an act of moral bullying — to stay on campus as a white person would mean to be tarred as a racist.

To continue reading: When The Left Turns On Its Own

ESPN and the Bursting of the Sports Bubble, by William L. Anderson

This article manages to tie in sports, higher education, and economics in an interesting and provocative fashion. From William L. Anderson at mises.org:

When the cable TV sports giant ESPN announced 100 layoffs recently, including letting go a number of high-profile broadcasters, a lot of people took notice, and well they should: things no longer are business as usual in sports broadcasting, and we are not even at the beginning of the end, and maybe not even the end of the beginning.

Like the slow crashing of the retail sector as online purchase firms like Amazon begin their domination, we are seeing a sea change in sports broadcasting and that is going to mean big changes are down the road not only for ESPN, but for all of the sports entities that depend upon the huge payouts that ESPN provides. To put it mildly, a lot of people are about to see their lives change drastically as consumer choices drive sports broadcasting in a new direction.

Enough with the superlatives. What is happening with ESPN, and why is it important? As Clay Travis of the sports website Outkick the Coverage has been writing for more than a year, the main ESPN business plan, the one that brings in the most revenues to the firm, is doomed to near-extinction, and there is nothing ESPN can do about it. Writes Travis:

In the past five years ESPN has lost 11,346,000 subscribers according to Nielsen data.

If you combine that with ESPN2 and ESPNU subscriber losses this means that ESPN has lost over a billion dollars in cable and satellite revenue just in the past five years, an average of $200 million each year. That total of a billion dollars hits ESPN in the pocketbook not just on a yearly basis, but for every year going forward.

It’s gone forever.

Since it began to grow in popularity in the late 1970s, cable (and later, satellite) television has offered its customers coverage with “bundles,” that is different payments allow cable subscribers to expand their viewership as payments increase. For example, a “basic” cable subscription would allow the customers to view, say, 15 channels including the ABC-CBS-NBC-PBS lineup plus other channels such as CNN or Fox. A higher-tier subscription would add other channels, including ESPN and its associated channels and others such as The Food Channel or assorted movie channels.

To continue reading: ESPN and the Bursting of the Sports Bubble