URLs du Jour

2019-05-13

[Amazon Link]

  • Hey, ignore the Amazon Product du Jour. At the Claremont Review of Books, David Gelernter announces that he's Giving Up Darwin.

    Darwinian evolution is a brilliant and beautiful scientific theory. Once it was a daring guess. Today it is basic to the credo that defines the modern worldview. Accepting the theory as settled truth—no more subject to debate than the earth being round or the sky blue or force being mass times acceleration—certifies that you are devoutly orthodox in your scientific views; which in turn is an essential first step towards being taken seriously in any part of modern intellectual life. But what if Darwin was wrong?

    Like so many others, I grew up with Darwin’s theory, and had always believed it was true. I had heard doubts over the years from well-informed, sometimes brilliant people, but I had my hands full cultivating my garden, and it was easier to let biology take care of itself. But in recent years, reading and discussion have shut that road down for good.

    This is sad. It is no victory of any sort for religion. It is a defeat for human ingenuity. It means one less beautiful idea in our world, and one more hugely difficult and important problem back on mankind’s to-do list. But we each need to make our peace with the facts, and not try to make life on earth simpler than it really is.

    Disclaimer: I'm not an evolutionary scientist, I'm not even a dilettante. But I took a biochemistry course back in the day, and when we got to exploring the citric acid cycle, I got real skeptical that the Blind Watchmaker could have come up with something so beautiful.

    But maybe.

    But maybe not.


  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson explores Our Own Private Singapore. Yes, it's Facebook. But not just Facebook:

    The government of Singapore is, in fact, not so different in its thinking from Facebook. It is just a little ahead of the curve. Facebook insists (sometimes laughably) that its speech restrictions are not directed at unpopular political ideas but exist to serve the “safety” of the public. Singapore, too, cites safety as it prohibits certain unwelcome political activism and cultural innovation. “Public safety” is, like “national security,” an almost infinitely plastic criterion in the hands of an entrepreneurial politician: In March, President Donald Trump blocked the acquisition of Qualcomm by Singapore-based Broadcom, offering only the vague explanation that the company “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.” Senator Marco Rubio has argued that corporate welfare for Florida sugar barons is a matter of national security, while others make the same argument for their favorite commodities; Democratic party officials have suggested that Second Amendment activists be investigated or suppressed as terrorists; the sniveling cowards who run the University of California at Berkeley cited “public safety” when they forbade conservative polemicist Ann Coulter to speak on campus. Et cetera ad nauseam.

    In Singapore, “public safety” is the rationale for a remarkably thorough program of official censorship, much of which is directed at the worthy goal of keeping the peace among the city-state’s unamalgamated ethnic and religious groups. For example, if a crime has a potentially inflammatory ethnic or religious component, that fact generally will be omitted from media coverage as part of an unspoken agreement between the state and the newspapers. Films or books that are deemed to denigrate an ethnic or religious group are prohibited. The sale of Malaysian newspapers is prohibited. And in the same way that U.S. progressives seek to suppress political speech as a matter of “campaign finance,” the authorities in Singapore have prohibited the unlicensed showing of “party political films,” which may be the of “any person and directed towards any political end in Singapore.” Such films are permitted only if the government considers them objective; the irony of demanding a subjective ruling about objectivity seems to have been lost on Singapore’s rulers, who are not famous for their sense of humor.

    Which brings us to…


  • … the latest nod to safety from our Silicon Valley nannies: Twitter Blocked Ray Blanchard, a Ph.D. Psychologist Who Helped Write the DSM V Rules on Gender Dysphoria, for ‘Hateful Conduct’ in Expressing His Clinical Views on Transgender Identity.

    In the early hours of Sunday morning, an expert Ph.D. psychologist who helped write the official psychological position on transgender identity was blocked on Twitter for expressing his opinion informed by clinical experience. His well-reasoned position was flagged for "hateful conduct."

    On Saturday, Ray Blanchard — the Ph.D. psychologist and adjunct professor at the University of Toronto who served on the working work for gender dysphoria (the persistent condition of identifying with the gender opposite your biological sex) for the DSM V, the gold standard of definitions helping psychologists diagnose disorders for patients — tweeted out his clinically-informed opinion on transgender identity.

    Don't worry. It was (yet another) "mistake". From the man himself:

    As always, it's unknown if Twitter would have acknowledged an "error" if the perpetrator were not quite as famous.


  • [Amazon Link]

    At Reason, Matt Welch has sage advice: Don’t Be Like the Rainbow Fish.

    Like so many of the best socialist products, Marcus Pfister's The Rainbow Fish has been a runaway capitalist success. The children's classic, in which the most brightly colored fish in the ocean finds happiness only after handing over all but one of his glittering scales under duress to the gray grumps around him, has sold since its 1992 debut more than 30 million copies worldwide.

    Whereas Rainbow Fish achieves transcendence through literally becoming colorless, the exact opposite was the case for The Rainbow Fish. Using an expensive and novel combination of holographic foil stamping and watercolor, the Swiss-born Pfister and his publisher, NorthSouth Books, produced a striking visual package that proved irresistible.

    Matt is normally easygoing, but in this case he "took the rare step of expelling" the book from his home.

    If only Ayn Rand were alive to give us her review…


  • And the Google LFOD alert rang for an article from a site called News Intervention. Its interviewer, Scott Douglas Jacobsen, had a Conversation with Md. Sazzadul Hoque.

    Who is that? Well:

    Md. Sazzadul Hoque is an exiled Bangladeshi secularist blogger, human rights activist, and atheist activist. His writing covers a wide range of issues, including religious superstition, critical thinking, feminism, gender equality, homosexuality, and female empowerment. He’s protested against blogger killings and past/present atrocities against Bangladeshi minorities by the dominant Muslim political establishment. He’s also written about government-sponsored abductions and the squashing of free speech; the systematic corruption in everyday life of Bangladeshis; and the denial of the pursuit of happiness.

    In 2017, after receiving numerous threats, he was forced to leave Bangladesh out of safety concerns.

    OK, but I also hear you asking: what's the deal with "Md."? That's answered here.

    And how about LFOD? Ah, here it is, right up front:

    Scott Douglas Jacobsen: We can see the development of ex-Muslim councils around the world. Council of Ex-Muslims of Bangladesh is a new one. Why found one amongst the most dangerous regions, and countries, for ex-Muslims?

    Md. Sazzadul Hoque: We do things not because it is easy, but because it is hard (JFK). either we confront the evil now or later, regardless the cost is high relative to the time when it is fought. We must live free or die trying. We must stir and start the process of contradiction in the subjugated mind of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the ground zero to kill this evil.  Historically Bangladesh was Shanatan then Buddhist then turned to Shanatan (Hindu) then to Muslim. If we can change Bangladesh, it will change the surrounding country.  Majority of Bangladesh population is growing population, if we can have the right kind of message to these people, they will bring about the change Bangladesh had seen historically. If Bangladeshi changes India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iran will follow. Just these mentioned countries combined over a billion people.

    Um. Well, good luck with that.