URLs du Jour

2021-05-19

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  • Least Surprising News du Jour. Robby Soave says … well, for some reason the title of an old Elton John song is stuck in my head: Catherine Lhamon, Obama’s Title IX Enforcer, Just Got Her Old Job Back.

    From 2013 to 2017, the task of enforcing Title IX—the federal statute that prohibits sex and gender-based discrimination in public education—fell to Catherine Lhamon, who served as assistant secretary for civil rights within President Barack Obama's Education Department.

    Continuing the work of her predecessors, Lhamon's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) compelled colleges and universities to adopt sexual misconduct procedures that violated the due process and free speech rights of accused students and professors. Under her authority, the federal government pressured schools to adopt the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, discourage attorneys from becoming involved, and move toward an adjudication model that relied upon the testimony of a single campus bureaucrat vested with investigative powers. When Betsy DeVos became secretary of education under President Donald Trump, she swiftly moved to reverse the agency's Title IX guidance and restore basic fairness to these proceedings.

    Biden was one of the driving forces behind that dreadful policy, in fact he came to the University Near Here in 2011 to announce its imposition.


  • A Well-Deserved Victory Lap taken by Jim Geraghty: The Taboo On the Coronavirus Lab-Leak Theory Lifts.

    Some of us are COVID-origin hipsters, I guess; we were into the lab-leak theory before it went mainstream.

    I’m glad Donald G. McNeil Jr., the prize-winning former science reporter for the New York Times, has concluded that, “the argument that [SARS-CoV-2] could have leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology or a sister lab in Wuhan has become considerably stronger than it was a year ago, when the screaming was so loud that it drowned out serious discussion.”

    I’m glad that 18 scientists have written to Science magazine that, “We must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data.”

    I’m glad that the Washington Post editorial board declared yesterday, “If the laboratory leak theory is wrong, China could easily clarify the situation by being more open and transparent. Instead, it acts as if there is something to hide.”

    I’m even sort of glad that Matt Yglesias saluted New York magazine, declaring that publication “brought the lab leak hypothesis into the mainstream,” because he acknowledges “the insta-consensus on Twitter and among media fact-check columnists never reflected a real consensus among practicing scientists who seem to me to mostly just really not know.”

    The only question is why did it take so long. Hypothesis: acknowledging the lab-leak hypothesis would be seen as aiding Xenophobic Team Orange. With that factor gone,…

    Here's another bit to keep in mind when you have the urge to trust the young-adult website Vox:

    Finally, let’s observe how conventional wisdom gets stealth-edited. Back on April 6, 2020, I noticed that Vox assured us, “The emergence of the virus in the same city as China’s only level 4 biosafety lab, it turns out, is pure coincidence.”

    Sometime in the past year, that sentence was changed to “The emergence of the virus in the same city as China’s only level 4 biosafety lab, it turns out, appears to be pure coincidence.”

    Someone’s hedging their bets.

    I pinged around the Internet Wayback Machine and verified that (indeed) the language was changed without notice, probably by Winston Smith. Don't trust Vox.


  • If Not More So. John McWhorter claims Today's Elect Left Is As Anti-science As Today's Right.

    Watching the ouster of Liz Cheney, many of us marvel that so many of those serious adults in the Republican Party sincerely believe that the last Presidential election was stolen, or at least are willing to put up such a cast-iron front of pretending to.

    The mendacity, the numbness to truth, is especially appalling coming along with the denial of science in their positions on climate change and so much else. The Republicans embrace The Big Lie, and to many it’s symptomatic of their being America’s main civic problem.

    However, future historians will not see it that way. We live in an era of flabbergasting, shameless lie-mongering on both sides of the political aisle. On the left, this is especially clear in how baldly antiscientific the Elect left is, which is part of why their penchant for labelling their opponents “racists” is so dire – they make the rest of us pretend not to value science along with them.

    It isn’t always clear how antithetical to scientific reasoning this fashionable “antiracist” thinking is. Its adherents express themselves with a handy kit of 20 or so fancy words, often with very particular meanings (equity, social justice), often have PhDs, and are culturally associated with enclaves of the educated such as universities, college towns, and cafes.

    Read The Whole Thing, of course.


  • For Example. Illustrating the previous item is John Tierney at the NYPost, who describes How Facebook uses 'fact-checking' to suppress scientific truth.

    At the end of a recent 800-meter race in Oregon, a high-school runner named Maggie Williams got dizzy, passed out and landed face-first just beyond the finish line. She and her coach blamed her collapse on a deficit of oxygen due to the mask she’d been forced to wear, and state officials responded to the public outcry by easing their requirements for masks during athletic events.

    But long before the pandemic began, scientists had repeatedly found that wearing a mask could lead to oxygen deprivation. Why had this risk been ignored?

    One reason is that a new breed of censors has been stifling scientific debate about masks on social-media platforms. When Scott Atlas, a member of the Trump White House’s coronavirus task force, questioned the efficacy of masks last year, Twitter removed his tweet. When eminent scientists from Stanford and Harvard recently told Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that children should not be forced to wear masks, YouTube removed their video discussion from its platform. These acts of censorship were widely denounced, but the social-media science police remain undeterred, as I discovered when I recently wrote about the harms to children from wearing masks.

    Facebook promptly slapped a label on the article: “Partly False Information. Checked by independent fact-checkers.” City Journal appealed the ruling, a process that turned out to be both futile and revealing. Facebook refused to remove the label, which still appears whenever the article is shared, but at least we got an inside look at the tactics that social-media companies and progressive groups use to distort science and public policy.

    To repeat: I don't think the hipster antitrusters should break up Facebook into a million tiny pieces and bury them in the desert.

    On a scale of 1 to 10 of sadness, I'd be at approximately a "2" if that happened.


Last Modified 2021-06-03 9:18 AM EST