Ardnassac

This is a book recommendation. Sadly, it’s out of print, and I can find none in any of the used book sites I have used. The good news is it’s cheap on Kindle.

I found out about it here if you want a short opinion second to the one that follows.

I can’t believe I’d never heard of the book, either.

The flying car topic of the title is used to weave a sort of ‘back to the future’ look at at technology, American ingenuity/entrepreneurialism, and government regulation. There is a strong science fiction presence used to ask “Why did, or did not, the predictions of 1930-1960 SF come to pass?” It’s a good summary of my contention that much of that literature should have been required reading.

Appearances, among many others, by H. G. Wells, Issac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke.

The brilliant Dr. Richard Feynman also takes a bow in a discussion of Heinlein’s novellas Waldo and Magic Inc..

I cut my teeth on SF with Tom Swift, and my strong technological optimism arguably started with that series. (I wonder if there is anything comparable now for 10 year olds?)

The author, J Storrs Hall, is a techno-optimist, too, and he suggests that after the 1960’s America became a much less “can do” polity than we had any reason to expect. We went from the Wright brothers to 747s in 50 years, from Goddard (1926) to the moon in 43. Now we’re mired in CAFE standards and cronyism.

Hall does spend a fair bit of time discussing the history of ‘flying cars’ and that alone is fascinating. There’s much more. He also makes very intriguing points about nanotech, nuclear power, AI, cybernetics, economics, city planning, and other topics.

One major consideration is envirostatism (my term), where he contends that the GREEN point isn’t CO2, pollution, or any of the other excuses offered. It is essentially anti-human nihilism.

For example,

“Green ideas have become inextricably intertwined with a perfectly reasonable desire to live in a clean, healthy environment and enjoy the natural world. The difference is of course that in the latter case, the human enjoying the natural world is a good thing, but to the fundamentalist Green he and all his works are a bad thing.”

Lest you think this is hyperbole, he supplies some words from the mouths of the horses-asses:

The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.
-Jeremy Rifkin

Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.
-Paul Ehrlich

It would be little short of disastrous for us for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it.
-Amory Lovins

The title of this piece is Cassandra backwards. I closely paraphrase J Storrs Hall,

“There seems to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days “experts” speak awful falsehoods, and they are believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seems to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.”

We hear California wildfires are caused by global warming climate change, when it’s actually envirostatist mismanagement, and the conscious intent to build windmills rather than maintain power lines. The California satraps agree with Rifkin, Ehrlich, and Lovins. In order to cripple the supply of energy, what have their like told us that wasn’t true?

California wildfires are caused by climate change. Gavin Newsom – yesterday
Four billion people will die between 1980 and 1989 from climate change. Paul Ehrlich – 1970
The polar ice cap will disappear by 2014. Al Gore – 2007
The planet will warm by 3 full degrees (0.1, actually). James Hansen – 1988
We will see the ‘end of snow.’ Untrue, no matter how many times it’s been predicted. various – 2000, 2015, 2017, 2020
Air pollution will reduce the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half. – Various – 1970

Amusingly, we also didn’t see an ice age by the year 2000. Kenneth Watt – 1970

Meanwhile, we see the very people who want zero CO2 emissions steadfastly oppose nuclear energy. Which is zero emission, safe, and causes immensely less environmental damage than windmills or solar panels. They are not protecting the environment, they are attacking the very idea of human well-being. This antipathy is in the spirit of Rifkin, Ehrlich, and Lovins. It is about authoritarian power in the way Critical Theorists describe it: There are no objective truths. Human history and culture are merely examples of a struggle in relative political power dynamics.

They don’t mean power as in horsepower, they mean justifying the political power of Antifa and BLM riots.

And don’t get me started on Critical Theorists’ “science” on “individuals with a cervix,” or what 2+2 equals.

Anyway. I recommend the book.

Magnanimous millennial males

I don’t recommend this link, so it’s deliberately broken. It’s included for completeness, and if you want to check it, copy the link and paste it into your browser, removing the ‘xxx’ at the beginning.
Millennial Men Prioritise Altruism and Good Health over Physical Strength
“They care more about openness and empathy than independence and competitiveness”

I clicked on that link because it smacked to me as abuse of the scientific method, and I wondered how such conclusions were reached by Men’s Health Research at the University of British Columbia’s Nursing School.

I could give you a dozen other links citing this study, but here’s just one:
The researchers surveyed 630 young men ages 15-29 in Western Canada and found that the most strongly endorsed masculine value is selflessness.

Really? For what definition of selflessness? How did they arrive at that conclusion? Do millennials actually behave that way?  Were these males asked if they felt they’d be social lepers if they didn’t espouse selflessness?

I tracked down the abstract. It doesn’t provide much help beyond describing the research methodology: Mixed Methods Research Designs.

Given that the study was done by a Canadian University, in Progressive BC, and necessarily required a slew of judgments to integrate the mixed method data, I anticipated there would be more focus on the evils of toxic masculinity than men’s actual health. Getting rid of your own toxicity can only be healthy, right?  Openness and empathy would be signs of that, right?

A skimming of the website contradicted my expectation. Mostly, they seem to be concerned about suicide, “gaming addiction,” PTSD among Canadian veterans, and prostate health. Overtly, at least, they seem seriously interested in helping men.

Why am I suspicious?  Well, poorly written internet references to this study are plentiful, and it is a long term contention of feminists that the maleness ‘problem’ needs to be ‘solved.’ Is the solution is coming to fruition in millennial males?  In extensive quoting below, I’ll try to show you why my suspicions persist. At least as to the click bait headlines.

The worst I can say about UBC’s Men’s Health Research is that they are silent on the effect of long-running reflexive attacks on men for being men. Though I think that’s saying quite a bit if you’re worried about male suicide rates (75% of Canadian suicides).

When analyzing male suicide, one might wonder about that; if one didn’t already accept the cause to be masculinity itself.  It does fit with the study contention that mens’ idea of what it means to be male is changing among millennials, for several reasons.  From one perspective it’s progress: Masculinity as inherently toxic is not a new Feminist meme.

Of course, millennial males say empathy and openness are more important than independence and competitiveness. That’s what they’ve been taught using participation trophies and ritalin: Competitiveness and risk taking are bad. So is acting too much (we’ll define that, thank you) like a boy. We’ll drug you if you do.  These ideas were promoted contemporaneously with millennials’ experience of the public education system.

When you conduct a multi-decadal War Against Boys, (RTWT) you might not be surprised if male suicide increases. Eighteen years ago, Christina Hoff Summers described a causus belli: The scientifically suspect theorizing of Carol Gilligan, Harvard University’s first professor of gender studies:

“Journalists routinely cite her [Gilligan’s] research on the distinctive moral psychology of women. She was Ms. magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1984, and Time put her on its short list of most-influential Americans in 1996. In 1997 she received the $250,000 Heinz Award for “transform[ing] the paradigm for what it means to be human.””…

Gilligan found that women tend to be more caring, less competitive, and less abstract than men; they speak “in a different voice.” Women approach moral questions by applying an “ethic of care.” In contrast, men approach moral issues by applying rules and abstract principles; theirs is an “ethic of justice.”..

[Gilligan’s thesis] is based on three studies Gilligan conducted: the “college student study,” the “abortion decision study,” and the “rights and responsibilities study.” Here is how Gilligan described the last.

This study involved a sample of males and females matched for age, intelligence, education, occupation, and social class at nine points across the life cycle: ages 6-9, 11, 15, 19, 22, 25-27, 35, 45, and 60. From a total sample of 144 (8 males and 8 females at each age), including a more intensively interviewed subsample of 36 (2 males and 2 females at each age), data were collected on conceptions of self and morality, experiences of moral conflicts and choice, and judgments of hypothetical moral dilemmas.

This description is all we ever learn about the mechanics of the study, which seems to have no proper name; it was never published, never peer-reviewed. It was, in any case, very small in scope and in number of subjects. And the data are tantalizingly inaccessible. In September of 1998 my research assistant, Elizabeth Bowen, called Gilligan’s office and asked where she could find copies of the three studies that were the basis for In a Different Voice. Gilligan’s assistant, Tatiana Bertsch, told her that they were unavailable, and not in the public domain; because of the sensitivity of the data (especially the abortion study), the information had been kept confidential…

He sent an e-mail message directly to Gilligan, but Bertsch sent back the reply.

None of the In a Different Voice studies have been published. We are in the process of donating the college student study to the Murray Research Center at Radcliffe, but that will not be completed for another year, probably. At this point Professor Gilligan has no immediate plans of donating the abortion or the rights and responsibilities studies. Sorry that none of what you are interested in is available.

Brendan Maher is a professor emeritus at Harvard University and a former chairman of the psychology department. I told him about the inaccessibility of Gilligan’s data and the explanation that their sensitive nature precluded public dissemination. He laughed and said, “It would be extraordinary to say [that one’s data] are too sensitive for others to see.” He pointed out that there are standard methods for handling confidential materials in research. Names are left out but raw scores are reported, “so others can see if they can replicate your study.” A researcher must also disclose how subjects were chosen, how interviews were recorded, and the method by which meaning was derived from the data…

In 1995 she [Gilligan] and her colleagues at the Harvard University School of Education inaugurated “The Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology, Boys’ Development and the Culture of Manhood.” Within a year Gilligan was announcing the existence of a crisis among boys that was as bad as or worse than the one afflicting girls. “Girls’ psychological development in patriarchy involves a process of eclipse that is even more total for boys,”she wrote in a 1996 article titled “The Centrality of Relationship in Human Development.

Gilligan claimed to have discovered “a startling pattern of developmental asymmetry”: girls undergo trauma as they enter adolescence, whereas for boys the period of crisis is early childhood. Boys aged three to seven are pressured to “take into themselves the structure or moral order of a patriarchal civilization: to internalize a patriarchal voice.” This masculinizing process is traumatic and damaging. “At this age,” Gilligan told The Boston Globe in 1996, “boys show a high incidence of depression, out-of-control behavior, learning disorders, even allergies and stuttering.”

One can welcome Gilligan’s acceptance of the fact that boys, too, have problems while remaining deeply skeptical of her ideas about their source. Gilligan’s theory about boys’ development includes three hypothetical claims: 1) Boys are being deformed and made sick by a traumatic, forced separation from their mothers. 2) Seemingly healthy boys are cut off from their own feelings and damaged in their capacity to develop healthy relationships. 3) The well-being of society may depend on freeing boys from “cultures that value or valorize heroism, honor, war, and competition—the culture of warriors, the economy of capitalism.”…

She [Gilligan] does not seem to feel that her assertions need empirical confirmation. She is confident that boys need to be protected from the culture—a culture in which manhood valorizes war and the economy of capitalism, a culture that desensitizes boys and, by submerging their humanity, is the root cause of “out-of-control and out-of-touch behavior” and is the ultimate source of war and other violence committed by men…

Oblivious of all the factual evidence that paternal separation causes aberrant behavior in boys, Carol Gilligan calls for a fundamental change in child rearing that would keep boys in a more sensitive relationship with their feminine side. We need to free young men from a destructive culture of manhood that “impedes their capacity to feel their own and other people’s hurt, to know their own and other’s sadness,” she writes. Since the pathology, as she has diagnosed it, is presumably universal, the cure must be radical. We must change the very nature of childhood: we must find ways to keep boys bonded to their mothers. We must undercut the system of socialization that is so “essential to the perpetuation of patriarchal societies.”…

On a less academic plane Gilligan’s proposed reformation seems to challenge common sense. It is obvious that a boy wants his father to help him become a young man, and belonging to the culture of manhood is important to almost every boy. To impugn his desire to become “one of the boys” is to deny that a boy’s biology determines much of what he prefers and is attracted to. Unfortunately, by denying the nature of boys, education theorists can cause them much misery.

Gilligan talks of radically reforming “the fundamental structure of authority” by making changes that will free boys from the stereotypes that bind them… In practice, getting boys to be more like girls means getting them to stop segregating themselves into all-male groups. That’s the darker, coercive side of the project to “free” boys from their masculine straitjackets…

Every society confronts the problem of civilizing its young males. The traditional approach is through character education: Develop the young man’s sense of honor. Help him become a considerate, conscientious human being. Turn him into a gentleman. This approach respects boys’ masculine nature; it is time-tested, and it works. Even today, despite several decades of moral confusion, most young men understand the term “gentleman”and approve of the ideals it connotes.  [The UBC study suggests this may be changing since Sommers wrote.]

What Gilligan and her followers are proposing is quite different: civilize boys by diminishing their masculinity. “Raise boys like we raise girls” is Gloria Steinem’s advice. This approach is deeply disrespectful of boys. It is meddlesome, abusive, and quite beyond what educators in a free society are mandated to do…

A boy today, through no fault of his own, [remember, this is being written in 2000] finds himself implicated in the social crime of shortchanging girls. Yet the allegedly silenced and neglected girl sitting next to him is likely to be the superior student. She is probably more articulate, more mature, more engaged, and more well-balanced. The boy may be aware that she is more likely to go on to college. He may believe that teachers prefer to be around girls and pay more attention to them. At the same time, he is uncomfortably aware that he is considered to be a member of the favored and dominant gender.

The widening gender gap in academic achievement is real. It threatens the future of millions of American boys. Boys do not need to be rescued from their masculinity. But they are not getting the help they need. In the climate of disapproval in which boys now exist, programs designed to aid them have a very low priority. This must change… That means we can no longer allow the partisans of girls to write the rules.

For Gilligan acceptable human values are womens’ values. Millennial males have learned that. If not much else: “Adulting” classes teach millennials basic skills like sewing, cooking and changing a tire

Coming soon, a class in how to be masculine: Already designed by the Wymyns Studies Department at your local university.

The UBC study that prompted this post apparently takes no position (I didn’t pay to download the entire thing) on the relative values of the various virtues described; and, face it, they are all virtues. But Feminism, as dogmatized, devalues physical strength and male independence – and along with that, risk taking, capitalism, and the “rules and abstract principles” of the scientific method. Those tend not to be emphasized as female virtues, while openness and empathy are. It can be argued there are evolutionary biological reasons for that, but that is another post.

As Camille Paglia says:

“Men have sacrificed and crippled themselves physically and emotionally to feed, house, and protect women and children. None of their pain or achievement is registered in feminist rhetoric, which portrays men as oppressive and callous exploiters.”…

“If civilization had been left in female hands we would still be living in grass huts.”

Without traditional masculinity civilization would be poorer, as would women.

Redefining "The Right Stuff"

Maybe we’ll have to redefine STEM as Sanctimonious Tyrannical Extortion of Mediocrity.

How Identity Politics Is Harming the Sciences

“All across the country the big question now in STEM is: how can we promote more women and minorities by ‘changing’ (i.e., lowering) the requirements we had previously set for graduate level study?”

Diversity, determined solely by skin color and/or “gender orientation,” is becoming the most important characteristic for designing bridges, spacecraft, and medical devices.

Expect slower innovation, more engineering failures, and greater risk from surgeries.

Science Contemptists

A few examples of those who have attracted Progressive contempt because they point out uncontroversial scientific facts Social Justice Warriors don’t want you to hear:
Dr. Charles Murray. Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers. Dr. Judith Curry. Dr. Jordan Peterson. James Damore. Dr. Amy Wax. Dr. Bret Weinstein. Lindsay Shepherd.

Dr. David Reich bravely makes a bid to join them. RTWT: How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’, but here’s a short excerpt.

What makes genetic racial stereotyping,

[S]o insidious is that [these claims] start with the accurate observation that many academics are implausibly denying the possibility of average genetic differences among human populations, and then end with a claim — backed by no evidence — that they know what those differences are and that they correspond to racist stereotypes. They use the reluctance of the academic community to openly discuss these fraught issues to provide rhetorical cover for hateful ideas and old racist canards.

This is why knowledgeable scientists must speak out. If we abstain from laying out a rational framework for discussing differences among populations, we risk losing the trust of the public and we actively contribute to the distrust of expertise that is now so prevalent. We leave a vacuum that gets filled by pseudoscience, an outcome that is far worse than anything we could achieve by talking openly…

…a natural response to the challenge is to learn from the example of the biological differences that exist between males and females. The differences between the sexes are far more profound than those that exist among human populations, reflecting more than 100 million years of evolution and adaptation. Males and females differ by huge tracts of genetic material — a Y chromosome that males have and that females don’t, and a second X chromosome that females have and males don’t.

Most everyone accepts that the biological differences between males and females are profound. In addition to anatomical differences, men and women exhibit average differences in size and physical strength. (There are also average differences in temperament and behavior, though there are important unresolved questions about the extent to which these differences are influenced by social expectations and upbringing.)

How do we accommodate the biological differences between men and women? I think the answer is obvious: We should both recognize that genetic differences between males and females exist and we should accord each sex the same freedoms and opportunities regardless of those differences.

A few thoughts.

“[R]eluctance of the academic community to openly discuss,” is a serious misunderestimation. Try, “The academic community openly and actively suppresses.”

“If we abstain from laying out a rational framework for discussing…”, well anything the SJWs don’t like discussed, we avoid censure and unemployment.

“[T]here are important unresolved questions.” Not for the Left. Not about sex, gender, climate change or race.

As populations go, “most everyone” is far less likely to be true if the population is university professors of Sociology, English, Education, or anything ending in “Studies.” The denial of biological difference between men and women, for example, is seriously advanced by many credentialed academics. To present the case, we have Dr. Nicholas Matte, professor of gender studies at University of Toronto:

Dr. Matte is but one academiot forced by postmodernist dogma to make such assertions, because to allow discussion of an inconvenient scientific fact threatens his life’s work. Better to impugn the scientific method. Better to equate speech you don’t like with violence. Better to be a laughingstock.

No one sane

Not the NRA; not people who voted for Donald Trump; not people who own guns, who like country music or pickup trucks: No one* wants it to be possible for a Stephen Paddock to murder even one person with a gun. However, none of the political policies put forward to ban or restrict weapons and ammunition actually address the problem. No one proposing them is able to say what set of laws could have prevented the Las Vegas massacre. They appeal to magical thinking.**

There’s a good reason for that. From the Washington Post:
I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.

Leah Libresco is a person who dislikes guns, but she follows the evidence instead of the cynical talking points.

By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.

I don’t expect this article will change the calculations of politicians and anti-Second Amendment types who can’t bear wasting any fundraising crisis, but any reasonable person – especially including those who dislike firearms – will gain from reading it.

Thank you, Leah Libresco, for your courage and honesty.

Read the whole thing, and the links there are also worth checking out.

Update, 1:25PM
*Maybe I spoke too soon, but I did say “sane”:

**Democrats Have No Idea How To Prevent Mass Shootings