Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Informed Public

I've been busy again these past few days so I haven't had the time to put up a considered piece. Still, I thought this video by Rick Shenkman was worth putting out there for consideration by those who read my blog.  Shenkman, Associate Professor of History at George Mason University and author of the book, Just How Stupid are We?, gives a good talk outlining the problems of modern democracy. Neoreactionaries may particularly be interested in the last five minutes of his talk.  If pressed for time the good stuff starts at the 15minute mark.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Shifting Universe.

There is currently a revolution underway in our understanding of genetics and biochemistry.  The traditional understanding of human DNA, as being comprised of approximately containing 2% useful information and the rest of it being junk, is rapidly being debunked by research into non-coding RNA.

The junk appears to matter, and matter a lot, especially with regard to our understanding of ourselves. It's my opinion that these findings will lead to the death of Darwinism and pose a serious scientific challenge to the belief of Atheism, not because evolution will be seen to be impossible, but far less probable. It's an Gallileo moment.

Here is a talk by professor John Mattick, whom I've spoken about before. Mattick is not some scientist from Flat Earth Ministries or the like. From what I can gather, Mattick believes in evolution but this talk of his, based upon the latest findings in molecular biology, illustrates just how much contemporary science has under appreciated the enormous complexity of the DNA/RNA transcription mechanism. Furthermore, Mattick explains how contemporary understandings of evolutionary biology are just flat out wrong.

The talk, titled, Most assumptions in molecular biology are wrong,  lasts about an hour and gets pretty technical towards the end but I feel it's worth persisting with.


Intersting titbits. (Mainly at the end.)

It appears that Lamark may have been right all along.
The brain can rewirte its own DNA!
(That is shot accross the bow to the eugenicists and the Hard-HBD crowd.)
Most molecular biologists have a hard time thinking around mainstream paradigms.
The genetic processes in the brain seem to have an analogy with the immune system.
Our favourite idiot, Richard Dawkins, gets an oblique put down.

If you've got the time, get a coffee and sit down and have a listen. Most of it is easy to understand for those with a bit of scientific understanding.

In addition, those who have interested in the subject and like to keep abreast of things, this blog keeps a digest of the latest findings with regard to non coding RNA.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Troublesome Intelligence.


Like everyone else, I've read Wade's book and I thought I would wait till the hullabaloo settled down before I would put my two cents in. I'm not intending for this to be a formal book review rather a collection of my thoughts on it.

From where I sit, it appears that those who believe in HBD are slowly splitting into two camps.  The first group comprises the "Hard HBD" crowd who, whilst acknowledging the role of environment, deny it in practice and effective preach a genetic Calvinism. They have a strong whiff of the eugenics movement about them. They are the intellectual opposite of the blank-slate crowd.

On the other hand, there is the "Soft HBD" faction, of which I count myself as one, who believe that both genetics and environment shape the nature of the individual with the proviso that you can't put in what God's left out. I, for instance, am never going to be a good sprinter; no matter how much I try. I can, however, improve my running performance with some training--but I'm going to hit a practical limit--and that limit is going to be set by my genetics.

It's my belief that most people don't normally operate at their maximum genetic potential unless their environment is conducive to do so. Any any evaluation of human performance therefore, needs to look at both parameters.  The practical problem with my approach, though, is that most people lack the mental machinery to juggle more than one variable at a time and hence the popularity of the one-size-fits-all interpretation of phenomenon. To the strong HBD crowd I'm a blank-slater. Such is life.

The reason why I mention this is that the Strong HBD crowd seem to have enthusiastically embraced Wade's book and seem to have taken to vigorously defending it. This is understandable given the current politically-correct intellectual climate. Unfortunately, this defence seems to be rather non-selective and any criticism of Wade's book is immediately assumed by a few of the Strong HBD crowd to be a defacto advocacy of blank-slatism. As mentioned before, some people can only do one idea at a time.

I must admit that I was left underwhelmed by Wade's book. Not because I'm a theist but because because our understanding of the biochemical basis of behaviour is so poorly understood that it's very difficult to make any definitive claims as a result. Wade acknowledges that the link between genetics and behaviour is poorly understood but nevertheless proceeds to produce a theory with regard to the the rise of the West on the most tenuous of links. Atheists, quite validly,  have for years chided Christian for their reliance on the "God of the gaps", in Wade's book we find its atheist equivalent; the "Darwin of the gaps argument"--"We don't know have behaviour and genes are linked but evolution has done it".  It's intellectually sloppy.

The two best reviews of Wade's book in my opinion were Fred Reed's and Theodore Dalrymple's. Dalyrymple was taken to task by Derbyshire who made a few fair points, but I note the Derb didn't tackle Dalrymple's point about the variation in homicide rates in New Zealand. Nor did he explain the relative increase in frequency in lactose persistence in desert Mediterranean Spain. (Note, for those who are interested. Lactose intolerance doesn't kill or maim you so I don't know how it confers selective disadvantage.) Furthermore there are alternative explanations for some of the modern day genetic signatures which he has failed to countenance.

Like the authors above, I found Wade's evolutionary explanations a bit hard to swallow. For example, his illustration of the domestication of the fox through selective breeding seem to gloss over the fact that it was only achieved through enormous selections pressures which have no analogy in Western History.  How relevant it is to the formation of Western Society is beyond me. His arguments about the persistence of surnames may be less related to good behaviour but due to the luck of being born in a wealthy family. Richer families have lower infant mortality so more survive to become breeders. Furthermore, the economic history of Europe shows that there is no gradual increase of wealth throughout most of history (as would be expected by the "bred behaviour thesis"), rather, wealth levels remain flat until the industrial revolution.

The other problem with Wade's contention is that is can be easily put to the test with common experience. For example, one complex behaviour which has been under strong selection pressure (at least in the Christian West) is that of monogamy. We can quite clearly say that until recently, Western society has strongly promoted marriage and punished its exceptions. Adultery was harshly punished, sometimes with death, bastard children were ostracised and given limited rights especially with regard to inheritance. It would be expected, then, that selection pressures will have have produced a population primed for sexual monogamy. If we looked at the data in 1950 it surely would have proved Wade's point. But the trend has totally reversed over the past fifty years, far too rapidly for genetic effects to be responsible.

Furthermore Wade seems to have serious gaps in his understanding of the biochemistry of DNA and seemed to be in the dark with regard to the  role of non-coding DNA;
Most mutations affect only the copious regions of DNA that lie between the genes and are of little consequence. (Page 73)
It's rapidly being proven that this is not the case. Never mind, as Wade wasn't putting forward his ideas as fact, rather, a theory. But it's hard to form a good theory when you appear to be ignorant of the basic facts.

However what bothers me about Wade's book is the subtle digs he makes at Christianity throughout it. He continually tries to paint Christian religion in a negative light especially with regard to its relationship with science. For example, he mentions Aquinas's condemnation by the Bishop of Paris, but not the Church's overruling of that Condemnation. He tries to paint the advancement of science, especially in medieval times as occurring within "independent institutions" failing to mention that these institutions were Church run. Printing presses were shut down in Muslim lands, not in Christian ones, where Bishops and Cardinals enjoyed enormous prestige and power and could prohibit books from being printed. The telescope was rejected by the Chinese after it had been bought to them by the Jesuits. Someone needs to remind Wade that Newton believed in God.

The closest that Wade comes to giving Christianity some credit is in acknowledging that theological discussions may have habituated men to reason.  It's a rubbish proposition.  Aristotle, which predated Christianity, certainly taught the laws of logic and metaphysics. Men were thinking logically in Europe well before Christ. Not only is he ignorant of the intellectual history of the Church but where he acknowledges it he gets it wrong.

In the end, his explanation for the rise of the West is due to geographic and historical luck; the peculiarities of which shaped evolutionary forces to produce science and Western civilisation. In other words, it just happened. I'm afraid the proposition didn't convince me.  The reason why it doesn't convince me is because, as Wade acknowledges, China and Muslim world were more advanced with regard to Science than the West in the early Middle Ages. If evolution gives rise to behaviours which foster science, then clearly selection pressures favouring science were operating in these cultures as well. Given the continuity of these cultures, why did evolution stop there? Wade provides weak explanations.

What really got me down after reading Wade's book was that was a product of Wade.

Let me explain what I mean. Wade is not your ordinary man. Educated at Eton, an editor of the prestigious journals, Science and Nature and Science Editor for the New York Times, Wade occupied important nodal points in the development of contemporary Western Scientific Culture and indirectly influenced the development of it. One often imagines that the men occupying these positions are broadly educated and cultured. It appears that Wade is not.

Take, for example, his position with regard to the Church. I'm fully aware that there were instances where the Church tried to suppress scientific discovery but these were the rare exceptions and not the rule. It's as if Wade did not know who Mendel was or his occupation. The Church by-and-large encouraged the development of science, and people who've looked at this matter in some detail have noted an intimate connection. It is evident from Wade's writings that he is factually ignorant of the intellectual history of the Church. Now I want to be clear. I'm not faulting Wade for getting specific facts wrong, rather, the general direction of them, Now this wouldn't matter if he were some grunt scientist working in some obscure corner, but he occupied a position of considerable influence and probably influenced policy.

He is, effectively, uneducated with regard to Western Intellectual history and yet has occupied important roles in the shaping of it. To be so ignorant of history and yet to occupy the positions that he has is truly worrying for a whole host of reasons. Wade is a scientist who is ignorant of science's underpinnings. A Church-hostile scientist is likely to end up a science hostile scientist as well. Lysenkoism was the official policy of an avowedly atheist state.

Wade is clearly has a good adequate knowledge of genetics but seems to be ignorant outside his area of expertise. He is typical of many of today's technocrats and an example of Ortega y Gasset's Mass-Man: Specialists who can't see the big picture. The problem is that when these guys advocate social or educational policy they are given an ear because they are thought to be all wise, whereas in reality, they are very ignorant outside their area of particular expertise. The fact that this type of mind is now routinely produced in our best universities and ends up occupy positions of great power is a very troublesome intelligence.

The book may have impressed the plebs but it didn't impress me.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Another Nail in the Coffin.

 
Australian Politics.

And yet another example which exemplifies the utter failure of the Right to tackle the things that matter in West.

Niall Ferguson explains the success of the West as coming about from the development of six "killer apps" which allowed it to overtake the rest of the World. I'll have more to say about Ferguson's thesis in later posts but one of Ferguson's glaring omissions with his "apps" thesis is in failing to recognise the "software" used to write them.

One of the principal pieces of "code" is the notion of "objective truth" and the free pursuit of it, from which is derived the principle of freedom of speech and the scientific method.  Attack the principles of objective truth or that of freedom of speech and you suddenly undermine the whole of European Civilisation. The code has to be protected at all times otherwise the apps fail to function.

The Left has for years attacked these principles in many ways. Philosophically, through a rejection of Aristotelian metaphysics; socially, through political correctness; and legally by shutting down speech which subjectively offends instead of objectively injures.

"Hate speech" legislation, which places the locus of injury in the subjective response of the victim instead of the objective evidence of injury is perhaps the most pernicious "viruses" undermining Western Civilisation.  The problem with this type of legislation is that its most enthusiastic hive-mind advocates pursue its intention with a sense of high minded moral zealotry whilst undermining the very foundations of the society they live in.

All of us know people whom you can't tell certain truths to because they will be offended, and that's the problem with hate speech legislation, It elevates subjective offence of being of greater importance than objective truth. In such societies where the principle of "hate speech" is embraced, the amount of discussion permitted is solely determined by the sensitivity of the victims and the recognition by the courts of the injury.

When this retard said that Christian opposition to homosexuality rested on "hate" rather than religious principal, you already know how the courts are going to rule when the heat is put on the Christians. More importantly, you also know that when it comes to a discussion about Gay issues, the limits of conversation are going to be set by the "sensitivity" of the those who are offended. If you want to shut down debate, find offence in everything your opponent says.

That is why the current backflip by the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott is quite simply a disgrace. The Conservatives went to the election with the promise of a repeal of the more idiotic elements of the hate speech legislation. This was a piece of legislation that would have cost next to nothing to repeal and was seen as unpopular by the average Australian but perhaps not in the crowd that the Prime Minister moves in.

Now, with next to minimal pressure, they've decided to support it.  Furthermore, it's a backflip by a man who is both a genuinely committed Catholic and the leader of the Conservative faction in Australian politics. Furthermore, he was educated at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

Some take home messages from this utterly dismal episode.

1) A prestigious university education does not guarantee you a brain.
2) Being pious does not protect you from metaphysical and moral stupidity.
3) Calling yourself a conservative does not make you one.
4) Political Conservatism in Australia is dead.

Monday, August 04, 2014

The Guns of August. Paragraphs to Ponder.

 
A friend came to see me on one of the evenings of the last week — he thinks it was on Monday, August 3rd. We were standing at a window of my room in the Foreign Office. It was getting dusk, and the lamps were being lit in the space below on which we were looking. My friend recalls that I remarked on this with the words: "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time."

Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary on the Eve of the First World War.

A man need not be a Christian to know all this. But one must be a Christian to give form to this, and then heroically to live and die. In 1912, aboard an English coastal steamer as untroubled a young man as only an innocent son of Wilhelmism could be, I theorized to the only other passenger, an old Chinese intellectual, in the course of an evening promenade on deck, that the whole of Christianity, everywhere in the world, now found itself in a single vast agony.

The venerable old man, a follower of the precepts of Lao-tzu, professor of Asiatic religions at Tsingtao Academy, looked at me with amusement. Then he said quietly that Christianity still had before it its great and decisive task. I was deeply impressed by the way he spoke.

Today, thirty years afterward, bowed as I am under the weight of responsibility for certain major sins, having attained to a certain height on some few occasions and fallen to certain depths on others, I know the thing is not so simple. Certainly, Christianity still has its great work before it. But in the face of the Satanism which now prevails, a second Catacombs will be necessary and a second Nero's burning-of-Rome before the spirit may emerge victorious a second time.


Friedrich Percyval Reck-Malleczewen. Diary of a Man in Despair.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16



Saturday, April 26, 2014

Service Announcement.

Just a brief note to let people know that I'm still around though radio silence is will extend for the next few weeks. Home and profession life has been busy and business is forcing me to take a trip.
I imagine I'll be up and running in the next month or so for those who care.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Purge.


I've been busy the past few weeks so posting has been very light.  This article by William Saletan which I read in Slate today (Hat tip Ray Sawhill), should give all serious Conservatives some pause for concern.


Read it and understand.

I'm a tolerant guy, what people do in their bedrooms is really up to them but I think its pretty obvious where the whole Gay "tolerance" lobby is going.  The whole gay lobby is not at all about tolerance, its about unquestioning enthusiastic endorsement: everything else is to be purged. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Brendan Eich discriminated against any gay employees, his problem was that he wasn't pursing the party line.  Brendan Eich committed thoughtcrime.

If the article is to be believed, most of the push for his firing came from that soft underbelly of masculinity, the IT crowd. In my experience, with a few exceptions, it's a collection of beta nerds and sperg's and it's no surprise that Asimov's emissaries of a Star Trek universe should be pushing so hard for sexual ambiguity. Spock had no heart, they have no balls. Enthusiastic acolytes for their own gelding.

The late Christopher Dawson, taught me a lot about tyranny. Everyone imagines the Soviet Gulags or the Nazi Concentration camps, but Dawson recognised that even tyranny has a certain cultural flavour and Anglo tyranny will be unlike anything else. There will be no slaughters or death camps (though a few notable individuals may be sacrificed as examples) rather, there will the progressive ostracism of any individual who doesn't follow the party line.  Loss of job, loss of status, exclusion from cultural institutions, forced education and so on. Imagine being a Catholic in Georgian Ireland and you'll get the picture. In Nazi Germany it was more extreme version of the same.
It quickly became clear that [Hitler] intended to imprison the Catholics, as it were, in their own churches. They could celebrate mass and retain their rituals as much as they liked, but they could have nothing at all to do with German society otherwise. Catholic schools and newspapers were closed, and a propaganda campaign against the Catholics was launched.
It's gonna get ugly, really ugly.

Conservative Protestants, for years you have pilloried, disenfranchised, persecuted and subordinated us. The smarter ones amongst you can see that now you are about the get the same.

Welcome to the family, my brothers.