Category Archives: Jordan Peterson

Self IMPROVment on the beach at the Reif – Herald Review

Posted: January 18, 2020 at 10:34 am

Self IMPROVment is teaming up with the Reif Performing Arts Center to bring you Winter is a Beach, a night of improv and sketch comedy Thursday, January 23. Warm up on a cold winter night when the Ives studio theater becomes Sunova Beach.

Self IMPROVment has grown during the last year, performing regularly at Klockow Brewing, and other venues throughout the Grand Rapids Area, and they will bring some of their best games like guess what? and blind date to the beach, along with a few other favorites. Expect energetic interaction as they use audience suggestions to bring scenes to life.

Along with improv, the night will feature sketches written by Nate Pace, Rachelle Randle, and Andy Mattfield, all set on Sunova Beach. Theres a cooking show, a magical transformation, and a mermaid. There is a witch, an interpretive dance, and kumquats.

These are sketches written by people in and around the Self IMPROVment family explained Aaron Jordan Peterson, we want to showcase the incredible talent in the Grand Rapids area. We are grateful to Shantel Dow and the Reif Center for supporting local artists, and giving us this opportunity.

Self IMPROVment regulars Aaron Jordan-Peterson, Jessie Siiter, Marie Sippola, Nate Pace,Tim Oxborough, Jeremy Anderson, Shannon Seeba, Josh Cagle, Mike McLaughlin, are joined by Janelle Benson, Anna Eastman, Rachelle Randle, and Nora Pederson, for this night of fun on the beach.

So, come out Thursday, January 23, pretend its summer, and share some warm laughter during the cold winter. Tickets are $10 and are available at the box office, or online at reifcenter.org.

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Anti-Jordan Peterson professor accused of abuse of power by former colleague, students – The Post Millennial

Posted: at 10:34 am

You have 10 free articles left today, enjoy reading.

On January 7th, The Post Millennial reported that a Professor at the University of Calgary tweeted about failing students if they cited Jordan Peterson. Ted McCoy, chair of the Law and Society program at the UoC, apologized shortly after his tweet went viral, asserting that the flippant comment was a joke and insisting that he did take seriously students right to free expression.

In wake of the social media fallout, sources from within the University of Calgary have come forward to The Post Millennial to assert that McCoys comments were anything but a joke. The identities of those who spoke out are being protected for their safety due to their proximity to McCoy.

He absolutely was not kidding. He absolutely does penalize students for holding divergent views. Said one source, a former professor at the University of Calgary and current professor at another institution.

He literally tells students to not read Quillette, the source revealed, drawing from discussions had with McCoys students, Hes walked into class and expressed how disappointed he was in the amount of conservative ideas being expressed.

The source noted that students often came to her with complaints about McCoys in-class political proselytizing, fearing poor grades because of their ideological differences.

Students have just learned to shut-up and parrot whatever he wants to hear. The source revealed that McCoy was the only professor teaching a mandatory capstone exit course required for some students successful degree completion in the Law and Society program.

Being the coordinator for the Law and Society program, McCoy is also responsible for hiring new faculty members. Noting that a great deal of faculty has abruptly ceased teaching in the program, the source claimed that all of the new hires have been people who share [McCoys] ideological perspective and have no qualifications whatsoever to teach Law and Society.

A student who took McCoys class corroborated the faculty members comments.

I have actually told other students to not enroll in the Law and Society program because of McCoy, he said, noting a number of distressing interactions with his former Professor.

The first day of class, within the first fifteen minutes, he explicitly states the goal of this course is to radicalize you. Before you leave University, I want to radicalize you. The former student, who identifies as left-wing politically, says McCoy immediately introduced the class to a bizarre coding system by which participation was noted for grades.

[McCoy told students] that he will make a mark beside your name when you contribute to the class discussion. He told us he has a symbol system for if a student made an insightful comment, all the way up to what you said was batshit crazy. The former student says the class was immediately politicized, with students fearing to vocalize their opinions if it contradicted McCoys ideological perspective.

The former student also revealed that McCoy assigned his own writings as well as books written by his Ph.D. supervisor as mandatory readings for the class, leaving students fearful to express criticism. When one student did, noting the lack of objectivity in one of the readings, McCoy berated him.

Recalling another class, the former student says that McCoy blasted Jordan Peterson to the class.

He came into class with his head in his hands and looked upset. He was shaking his head and sighing. When a student asked what was bothering the Professor, McCoy went on to complain about Jordan Peterson. He said he had been reading a lot of Jordan Peterson, and said he cannot believe how Peterson thinks he knows everything.

After a student defended Peterson, McCoy reportedly went on a tangent.

He said Peterson is basically espousing hate speech and he ought to be deplatformed in the strongest sense. the former student said.

I was distressed that a Professor would take such an obvious political stance in his teaching, the former student said, going on to reveal he felt unsafe with McCoys control over his grade. Because of this students concerns about entering graduate school, he said he learned to stop challenging McCoy.

I basically kowtowed in my papers. I would just tell him what he wanted to hear. Going on to note that conservative students never spoke in class out of fear of angering McCoy.

Since graduating, the former student says his friends who have entered McCoys class have texted him for help navigating the Professors extreme ideology.

[McCoy] was unequivocally one of the worst professors Ive ever had, and it was because the class was more about politics than it was critical thinking.

On January 9th, McCoy tweeted and quickly deleted a post suggesting he had only apologized at the advice of administration.

The Post Millennial has reached out to Dr. Ted McCoy, the Law and Society program, and Sociology department head Dr. Fiona Nelson at the University of Calgary, but have not received a response by the time of publication.

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Atheism’s second thoughts – WORLD News Group

Posted: at 10:34 am

In a satirical epilogue to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis imagines his venerable old demon rising to propose a toast after the annual Tempters Training College dinner. While commending his hosts, Screwtape cant refrain from genteel complaints about the disappointing dinnerthat is, the poor quality of the sinners it comprised. That Municipal Authority with Graft Sauce was barely palatable, much less the lukewarm Casserole of Adulterers. It wasnt the fault of the kitchen staff, for it could only do so much with what it had. But goodness me, whats become of the brazen sinners and brawny atheists of yesteryear?

If Lewis had been around in the first decade ofthis century, he might have had Screwtape hopefully appraising the four horsemen of take-no-prisoners atheism. But where are they now? Christopher Hitchens has passed into eternity, Daniel Dennett into obscurity, Sam Harris is still waiting to see his dream of a rational society emerge, and Richard Dawkins is thinking that dream may be DOA.

Dawkins has been, in many ways, the scourge of what he understands as traditional Christianity. Only a few years ago he was agreeing with Dennett that it might be wise to separate children from their fundamentalist parents. But lately he seems to be doubting whether the eradication of Christianity would be an unvarnished good. His latest book, Outgrowing God, makes a confession that should be obvious: Whether irrational or not, it does, unfortunately, seem plausible that, if somebody sincerely believes God is watching his every move, he might be more likely to be good.

That is not something Dawkins likes to admit: I hate that idea. I want to believe that humans are better than that. But he may be running smack into the notion of original sin, which Chesterton described as the most verifiable fact of human history. Other well-known atheist/agnostics, such as Douglas Murray and Jordan Peterson, are even less sanguine about the basic goodness of humanity. Talk-show host Bill Maher, who thinks Christianity is ridiculous, nevertheless believes that it wouldnt be wise to ditch it right away, as a relatively benign faith might be the best defense against an explicitly violent one, meaning radical Islam.

The British comedy team Mitchell and Webb produced a popular skit featuring two SS officers retreating from Russia during World War II. One of them has just noticed that the most prominent feature of their insignia is a skull. It makes him wonder, Are we the baddies?

Some atheists like to see themselves as heroes in the story of mankinds relentless march toward freedom in the bright dawn of unbelief. Psychologist Steven Pinkers latest book, Enlightenment Now, makes that very point. The world is richer, life spans are longer, and wars are shorter because, sometime in the mid-18th century, mankind began building an intellectual framework that excluded God. (The 20th century must have been an unfortunate glitch.) And because humans are fundamentally decent, things can only get better from here.

Yes, about that, Dawkins and others seem to be wondering: What if we humans are the baddies?

Or, if only a few of us are really bad, how will the rest of us gin up the moral certainty and courage to stop them? Pinker celebrates better quality of life through technology, but in China a totalitarian government has begun to use technology to bring the behavior and thoughts of an entire population under its control. Technological carrots and sticks are cleaner than bloody massacres, and more effective besideswhos to say thats wrong?

Screwtape concluded his toast by looking on the bright side: Yes, half-baked sin is barely palatable, but thank Our Father Below, unrepentant sinners abound these days. Their atheism owes nothing to intellectual rigor; its more a default setting that removes all barriers. To their credit, serious atheists are beginning to question whether thats desirable. But they should have questioned earlier.

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Natalie Wynn’s critique of cancel culture (as someone in the midst of being canceled) – Hot Air

Posted: at 10:34 am

Since I just wrote about a trans person behaving like a nut, I thought Id close out this Friday by sharing a video from a trans person who, in my opinion, is just the opposite. Natalie Wynn makes long, thoughtful videos about contemporary social issues. Back in 2018 I wrote about a video she made about Jordan Peterson. Even though I ultimately disagreed with the argument she made in that video I thought her presentation of the issues was pretty balanced and fair-minded. As you may have noticed, those are qualities that seem to be in short supply these days.

Recently, Wynn released a new video about cancel culture which is not only reasonable and thoughtful but which I happen to agree with completely. Wynn critcizes both the left and right in this clip but the core of her argument is a response to a specific (and popular) progressive idea, i.e. theres no such thing as cancel culture, just accountability for people in power.

Wynn argues that cancel culture is actually a distinct phenomenon, though not necessarily a new one. The distinction she arrives at is fairly simple: Cancel culture isnt aimed at disagreement with ideas or changing minds, its aimed at isolating and punishing people whove been judged the enemy. As Wynn says early on in the clip, We do have a teensy bit of a reign-of-terror situation on our hands.

Wynn focuses on two distinct cancellations in the clip: James Charles and herself. Even if you dont know who James Charles is or dont care, the points she makes by looking at his case seem universal. In short, cancellation operates using a series of tropes or tactics:

If all of this sounds familiar it may be because youve seen progressive activists use these same tactics against conservatives. If someone says something the left doesnt like or can construe uncharitably, they are judged to be racist/sexist/homophobic persons and their sins (both real and imagined) are brought up forever, regardless of how they respond. To be clear, I dont know if Wynn would agree on that point but its something Ive seen dozens if not hundreds of times.

Most of this clip is really about Wynns own experience of being canceled over having a controversial figure read a single line of dialogue in her previous video. She has a lot of first hand experience being cancelled and points out its not so easy to shrug off the experience if youre a relatively minor YouTube figure and not JK Rowling or Dave Chappelle.

Anyway, you may not agree with all of this or care about all of it but its a relief to see someone coming from a very different perspective who nevertheless concludes that cancel culture is a) real and b) a plague, especially on people who arent rich and famous. Note that there is a lot of NSFW language in this clip, especially when Wynn is reading the tweets from people trying to cancel her:

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Professor Loses Position for Committing a Grave Sin: Telling the Truth – The New American

Posted: at 10:34 am

Theres one thing thatll get you in more trouble today than telling a big lie.

Voicing a simple truth.

Professor Stuart Reges found this out the hard way. He was demoted and put on probation by his employer, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering in Seattle, after addressing the issue of why so few women enter his field. His striking conclusion?

The computer scientist didnt claim that women were only happy barefoot and pregnant, though you wouldnt know it by the uproar following what he actually did say: Women dont frequently enter computer science because wait for it they dont want to.

The professors problems started after penning the 2018 Quillette article Why Women Dont Code. I believe that women are less likely than men to want to major in computer science and less likely to pursue a career as a software engineer, he wrote, and that this difference between men and women accounts for most of the gender gap we see in computer science degree programs and in Silicon Valley companies.

Reges piece, replete with data and logical argumentation, was one of the 10 most read on Quillette in 2018 and was even shared by famed Canadian psychology professor Jordan Peterson. It wasnt, however, too popular among the pseudo-elites within and without the University of Washington (of which the Allen School is a part).

As Reges related Saturday at Quillette, My position is not tenured and when my current three-year appointment came up for review in December, I was stripped of my primary teaching duties and given a highly unusual one-year probationary appointment.

Not surprisingly, the cowardly Allen School academics and administrators deny that Reges is being persecuted for his beliefs, but a colleague revealed to him privately that an angry mob has been targeting him every since his articles publication. In the same craven vein, a blogger published an article impugning Reges, anonymously, and disseminated it widely around the school via e-mail.

In reality, the professors assertion about women in tech is vindicated by both experience and scientific studies. As to the latter, the Norwegian documentary The Gender Equality Paradox (which I often cite), presented below, illustrates how the truth is the precise opposite of what the gender theorists predicted: The more freedom women have to choose career paths, the less likely they are to select traditionally masculine fields. For freedom means women can follow their hearts which lead to things feminine.

Reges original article was actually quite politically correct, and he thought his job would be safe. Jordan Peterson warned him otherwise (tweet below), citing as a cautionary tale the fate of James Damore, a Google employee who was fired in 2017 for expressing views similar to Reges.

Yet both professors are wrong about the precedent. Speaking of unfashionable group differences has long been a third rail of American social commentary. Just consider how Larry Summers was forced out of the Harvard University presidency in 2005 for voicing views akin to Reges (though he focused more on intrinsic aptitude than inclination).

Reflecting the same pc phenomenon, toy company Mattel took heat in 1992 for creating a talking Barbie doll that, among other things, said Math class is tough! Ah, the patriarchy stigmatizing the lasses again, huh? Hardly. Mattel actually heard the sentiment from girls themselves during market research, finding it common among them.

But it doesnt matter what girls say about girls or what science does; the social engineers have their story (ideology, really) and theyre stickin to it. One indication of this is that a working group formed in response to Reges article (Create a serious crisis where there is none, is the principle and then never let it go to waste), issued recommendations largely as relevant to computing as a cupcake recipe. One calls for a relaxation of grading on coding style, meaning, an affirmative-action inspired dumbing down of standards. Then there are the following, Reges relates:

The addition of an indigenous land acknowledgement to the syllabus. (In other words, the school will state that Europeans stole all the land in this country from the native Americans.)

The use of gender-neutral names such as Alex and Jun instead of Alice and Bob.

The use of names that reflect a variety of cultural backgrounds: Xin, Sergey, Naveena, Tuan, Esteban, Sasha.

An avoidance of references that depend on cultural knowledge of sports, pop culture, theater, literature, or games.

The replacement of phrases like you guys with folks or yall.

A declaration of instructors pronouns and a request for students pronoun preferences.

Then theres the rampant contradiction. For example, Reges points out that the social engineers claim women are underrepresented in computer tech because men have created a culture that matches their values and interests. Yet how is that possible if men and women dont differ in fundamental ways? he asks.

And how could people acknowledge that men have different interests, but then hiss at the claim that they just may be more interested in computer tech? Its simple, and this is something conservatives ignore at their own peril: The ideologues known as leftists couldnt care less what the Truth is.

People oriented toward it dont fall into such obvious and frequent contradiction, because Truth doesnt contradict itself. But those governed by emotion do because it changes with the wind.

This is why I so often warn about the relativism (the denial of Truth) prevalent in our time. It explains much. Relevant here is that when a Truth-oriented person finds that his ideological platform conflicts with Truth, hell alter the platform. But deniers of Truth elevate something else often their ideology into its position. Then, when that conflict occurs, they rationalize away the Truth. Its a matter of worshiping the wrong god.

Speaking of which, Reges himself worships the spirit of the age, paying homage to diversity and equality. But the fundamental question here is never asked: How is the world somehow better, and women in any way happier, when more females enter computer science? Is this the secret to contentment? Aside from Joe Biden, are we now going to hear Learn to code from the pulpit and self-help gurus?

In fact, an even greater sex imbalance exists among oil rig workers, bricklayers, and garbage collectors and in workplace fatalities, 92 percent of which involve men. Will the world be better if male-female parity is achieved in these areas? Will the woke social engineers even notice these disparities?

The truth is that equality tells us nothing about quality (as explained here). Its wholly irrelevant.

The truth also is that leftists couldnt care less. Theyll enforce their will for the same reason why free women choose their careers: They want to.

Photo: IvelinRadkov / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Selwyn Duke (@SelwynDuke) has written for The New American for more than a decade. He has also written forThe Hill,Observer,The American Conservative,WorldNetDaily, American Thinker, and many other print and online publications. In addition, he has contributed to college textbooks published by Gale-Cengage Learning, has appeared on television, and is a frequent guest on radio.

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The Decline of the Intellectual Dark Web – Merion West

Posted: December 30, 2019 at 12:47 pm

(George Skidmore / Wikimedia)

if one truly believes that the better argument can and should win the day, more formidable ammunition will be needed on the part of the Intellectual Dark Web.

Introduction

Few movements were as interesting and culturally impactful in 2018 as the Intellectual Dark Web (IDW). Profiled in a much debated May, 2018article in The New York Times,many saw the IDW as a cohesive and fresh movement that was pushing against stale political correctness and puritanism on behalf of free speech, open debate, and other liberal virtues. Of course, this interpretation produced a great deal of criticism, with many damning the dark web for its perceived ties to the far-right; however, later commentators defended it as a fundamentally neutral or even a mostly progressive group of intellectuals who were simply pushing back against a dangerous but trendy variant ofpost-modern leftism. But as 2018 gave way to 2019, the criticisms became fiercer, and the tensions became more prominent. Sympathetic outlets such as Quillette began running pieces criticizing major IDW figures for not taking the Left and its arguments sufficiently seriously. Conservative outlets like The Federalist described the IDW as collapsing under its contradictions. Then came several embarrassing revelations and take downs, from Jordan Petersons quasi-admission thatdespite being a consistent critic of some vague position called post-modern neo-Marxismhe had not read Marx for a very long time, a revelation notably explored by writers such asBen Burgis. Then, there was Ben Shapiros disastrous interview with Andrew Neil. Finally, there were a number of studies and articles released, which suggested thatcontrary to the IDWs professions of ideological neutralitymany of its members served as gateways to far-right literature. This is, of course, not necessarily their fault; IDW members, after all, have no direct control over algorithms moving viewers and readers from Dave Rubin to Stefan Molyneux. Heterodox Academyanother IDW-friendly outletexplainedthis phenomenon, while unpacking its own study on how Jordan Petersons viewers often gravitate to more extreme positions:

For instance, Peterson wants us to remember the horrors of the communist regimes of Stalin and Mao in order to prevent us from repeating said horrors. He worries that many popular strains of leftist ideology predispose adherents, whether they recognize it or not, towards forcibly imposing their will on others via the state, suppressing dissent, etc. These are defensible arguments to make. Yet there is probably a way to do that without directly analogizing those one disagrees with to Stalin or Mao (which is also a popular tactic on the alt-right). Peterson et al. might similarly consider avoiding dismissive and derogatory labels like SJW or regressive left. This kind of language is extremely common on the alt-right. Indeed, opposition to social justice warriors seems to be one of the main associations people in that arena draw between themselves and Jordan PetersonGranted, Petersons opponents readily brand himand his colleaguesas racist, sexist transphobic, etc. It can be difficult not to villainize or caricature them in turn. Yet Peterson et al.explicitlyaspire towards a higher level of discourse and rationality than they perceive among many of their interlocutors. Embodying and modeling these alternative forms of discourse, even in the face of such attacks, may help Peterson be more successful in his aim of pulling people away from the fringes instead of towards them.

The consequence of these varied developments is impossible to predict, but there is little doubt it has not proven beneficial to the IDW. While claims by some commentators that interest in the IDW is declining should be greeted with skepticism until further research is conducted, the deepening criticism even from sympathetic analysts suggests it is worth looking at where things have gone wrong with the IDW. In this short article, I will present a few of the ways I believe the IDW undermined itselfor strayed from having the sort of impact many of its members aspired to.

1. Narrowness of Focus

Many have struggled to define the IDW and specify who belongs in it. One of the reasons for this difficulty is the lack of a shared political or philosophical program among its members. Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro tend to support more social conservative policies, while Sam Harris, Stephen Hicks, and Christina Hoff Sommers tend to support deepening liberalization and even anti-traditionalism. There are post-modern conservatives like Dave Rubin (analyzed by me here) whose pastiche-like set of beliefs seems to evolve from interview to interview. And there are even self-professed progressives like Bret Weinstein. As has been expertly observed by Nate Hochman inNational Review,about the only thing that unites the various members of the IDW is an opposition to a certain strand of leftism. This is often vaguely defined at the theoretical levelbeing variously described as the post-modern, intersectional, radical feminists, Marxist, cultural Marxist, or even post-modern neo-Marxist. But it is highly specified concretely, with all members of the IDW taking issue with all forms ofpolitical correctness and perceived (and real) threats to freedom of speech.

The problem with this lack of theoretical precisioncombined with a hyper-attentiveness to concrete sinsis that it seriously narrows the shared focus of the IDW. About the only thing all members of the IDW agree on is that a certain species of college activism is annoying and (apparently) constitutes a major threat to liberal freedoms in the 21st century. This may be of continual fascination to a certain type of conservative personality who, as David Frenchput it, is embedded in the right-wing outrage machine. But for everyone else, there is a limit to how informative the hundredth story mocking 20-somethings at elite campuses marching for Womyns rights and so on is. This might not be a problem if these one-sided anecdotes were complemented by a more sustained and rigorous analysis of the philosophies or cultural conditions engendering political correctness and wokeness. But what one tends to get is often highly superficial: from books that skim over immensely challenging philosophical controversies in a few scantly referenced paragraphs tototalizing accounts that ignore all the diversity and serious conflicts within liberal leftists and radical circles. This brings me to my next point.

2. Neutrality and Freedom of Speech

Another problem is a claim made by the movements defenders that the IDW is somehow a politically neutral movement of concerned intellectuals who simply want to defendfree speech. First, this ignores the fact that disputes over free speech have never been purely neutral. Indeed as Jordan Peterson himself wisely points out, it took millennia of agitation and cultural change to merely establish the political conditions where freedom of speech was thinkable on a mass scale. For much of human history, the working assumption was that considerable restrictions on speech were permissible to prevent immoral, disruptive, or anti-dogmatic behavior. Even in liberal societies today, there are serious restrictions imposed on freedom of speech. Many of these are uncontroversial such as prohibitions on the spread of child pornography or slander and libel laws. Then, there are more complex cases going back through the 20th century. Is it permissible to place restrictions on the spread of Communist ideas, such as during the McCarthy era? Should pornography produced by consenting adults be restricted, as both social conservatives and radical feminists like Catharine MacKinnon have argued from very different political standpoints? Should women be allowed to publicly accuse men of sexual harassment in online forums without going through legal channels? There is no easy answer to some of these questions, and different communities will come up with different solutions. But there remains no context where limitless speech was ever permitted, so the claim that the neutral position is somehow to support freedom for all forms of speech is simply wrong.

More to the point, though, the IDW can be accused of focusing relentlessly on threats to freedom of speech from one end of the political spectrum. This relates to the narrowness of focus I discussed above. As an engaged leftist (described by me here), I emphatically agree with the IDWs insistence that our freedom to say and criticize whomever we wish must be defended and even expanded. If members of the political left pose a threat to that freedom, it should be criticized even by other leftists. But the Left hardly holds a monopoly on that front. Various post-modern conservatives such as Viktor Orbnand Polands Law and Justice partyhave gone well beyond a little campus activism, and they are actively using the states power to restrict speech rights. Donald Trump has of course threatened to sue journalists and other critics repeatedly, while his allies have insisted that forms of religious and political speech from unwelcome minorities can be quashed. Some have even pointed out, ironically, how campus speech is under threat from the Right. These are serious concerns about powerful figures using their authority to quash freedom of speech, and the IDW has paid relatively little attention to them. There are some admirable exceptions to this, which are to be commended. But a failure to take note of these issues from both sides of the political spectrum seriously undermines the claim that the IDW is simply a neutral movement of concerned citizens.

3. Intellectual Pretensions and a Failure to take the Other Side Seriously

The last and most varied point is that the IDW often has pretensions towards academic seriousness but falls short of the standards required. As I have already discussed this pointelsewhere, I will just briefly summarize here. Some members of the IDW are highly intelligent and accomplished scholars and deserve to be taken seriously; Jordan Peterson, the subject of our forthcoming book, comes to mind. Others mostly seem to be winging it and may feel that if they appeal to complex-sounding but mostly empty neologisms like post-modern neo-Marxism or cultural Marxism that these terms can stand in for serious analysis. But a common problem with both the serious intellectuals and the pretentious wannabes is that they do not engage with the arguments of their opponents very effectively. Oftentimes, their claims consist of anecdotal appeals, broad generalizations about nuanced theoretical and historical traditions, or specious arguments that the Lefts claims are having a devastating effect on society. The last is an especially common trope and was well-deconstructed by the Spanish Christian philosopher Miguel de Unamuno in his classic book The Tragic Sense of Life. A common IDW argument against so called post-modern or Marxist theory runs that it has a damaging effect on society and its moral certainties. Ignoring the fact that post-moderns and Marxists are often badly misinterpreted by the IDW, let us say that this was accurate. Even if these arguments are morally and socially damaging, it says nothing about whether the claims of post-modern or Marxists theorists are right or wrong. An argument may be morally devastating to our most cherished convictions and, nevertheless, be true. Actually showcasing why Derrida, Foucault and so on are incorrect would mean going well beyond just highlighting their influence on a bunch of cynical campus activists. Instead, it would be necessary to demonstrate why their claims about language, power, existence, and so on are flawed. If it turns out that Derrida, Foucault, and Judith Butler actually make compelling arguments against our convictions, then we really only have two options with any integrity. Either retreat into dogma or come up with a better set of convictions.

This is not to say that the arguments of the IDW all fall into this category. Some of their claims about the need for meaning in life, social stability, and order have currency and warrant being taken seriously. There are even some leftists, such as ContraPoints, who have taken up the call for an engaged left that argues systematically against the positions of conservative and classical liberal thinkers. But the IDWs influence on broader cultural debates will always be limited if it does not up its game intellectually, especially when it comes to political and theoretical arguments operating at a high level of sophistication and precision. The thinkers of the IDW may be convincing a few people who are already predisposed to support their positions, but so far that is about it. So if one truly believes that the better argument can and should win the day, more formidable ammunition will be needed on the part of the Intellectual Dark Web.

Matt McManus is Professor of Politics and International Relations at Tec de Monterrey, and the author of Making Human Dignity Central to International Human Rights Law and The Rise of Post-Modern Conservatism. His new projects include co-authoring a critical monograph on Jordan Peterson and a book on liberal rights for Palgrave MacMillan. Matt can be reached atmattmcmanus300@gmail.comor added on twitter vie@mattpolprof

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I thought to raise a feminist daughter I needed to raise a tomboy. But now we both love Frozen – The Guardian

Posted: at 12:47 pm

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I naively imagined that I would soon have a small person I could completely mould. I imagined us having all the same interests and being able to guide her in choosing fun and interesting hobbies.

And then I gave birth to this tiny person who, from the minute she was born three weeks earlier than expected, had her own ideas about when and how she would do things. Eventually I came to realise that as much as I believed I would hold this incredible sway over her tastes and interests, many times she is the one influencing me.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with the Disney phenomenon Frozen. When my daughter was younger, I smugly judged other parents at playgrounds as their daughters struggled to climb up the stairs to the slide, tripping on the hem of their Elsa dresses. I proudly told everyone that we had never seen Frozen, that my daughter didnt even know who Olaf the snowman was.

But Frozen is so much a part of the collective consciousness of todays children that slowly she started coming home from childcare with snippets of knowledge about Elsa and Anna until, before I knew it, Frozen was intimately woven into the fabric of our lives.

First there was a snowflake-shaped dinner plate, then a colouring book, closely followed by pyjamas. And then a neighbour brought over a hand-me-down Elsa dress and the whole, terrible thing was complete. We were as good as citizens of Arendelle, and Queen Elsa was our benevolent dictator.

Falling in love with Frozen was a journey that I didnt even realise I was undertaking. It crept up on me slowly, but when I discovered I was willing to spend an entire three-hour car trip between Sydney and Canberra listening to the soundtrack on repeat, and when I hit play on the movie for the 46th time and didnt start screaming, I realised if this isnt love, what is?

With the sequel having just come out Ive found myself seeking out new trailers and watching them even when my daughter isnt around. I madly refreshed the page to get us tickets to the Broadway musical adaptation of the movie when it comes to town next year. And as much as I tell myself that this is all about connecting with my daughter, the truth is that it has become part of who I am too.

I realised my initial resistance had been this innate belief that to raise a feminist daughter, I had to raise a tomboy who eschewed the traditionally feminine notions of princesses in flowing ball gowns. Ive since come to understand the power in femininity.

When Elsa reaches the North Mountain, she can finally stop bottling up all the powers that she is too afraid to use for fear of hurting someone. So she builds herself a giant ice castle thats a bit of an engineering marvel in itself, but she also makes a brand new sparkly dress. Cynics may tell us thats as much about merchandising opportunities as it is about displaying powerful femininity, but Im choosing to see it my way.

At a time when society celebrates little girls who play with trucks and women are told to lean in, theres the old ingrained belief that traditionally masculine interests and pursuits are inherently more serious and noteworthy than traditionally feminine things.

For a long time, I didnt get it, but my daughter did. She feels powerful in a tutu because no one has ever told her that people who wear tutus arent powerful. She runs faster in sparkly ballet flats than she does in Nikes because she feels cool and unstoppable.

Theres a moment in the original movie when Queen Elsa tells her more impulsive younger sister You cant marry a man you just met! Unprompted, my daughter will now come out with this line every time she encounters a traditional fairytale where there is love (and marriage) at first sight. Its not groundbreaking activism, but it has taught her to look at stories more critically and challenge traditions.

Naturally no Disney movie is without its problematic elements. From removing female characters from source material The Snow Queen in the adaptation to the fact that its protagonists are white, thin and royal, its hardly breaking down great societal barriers. On the other hand, Jordan Peterson thinks its deeply propagandistic, so its at least doing something right.

I never expected to fall in love with Frozen, but in doing so Ive learnt a lot about myself. While Im not about to let it become a guidebook for life for me or my daughter, it has taught me, among other things, that sometimes you just need to let it go.

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I thought to raise a feminist daughter I needed to raise a tomboy. But now we both love Frozen - The Guardian

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My Friend the Gay Humanist | Esther O’Reilly – Patheos

Posted: at 12:47 pm

The other week, I had the distinct pleasure of recording a radio dialogue with Justin Brierley and best-selling British author/journalist Douglas Murray for the Unbelievable? program. We were very fortunate to catch Douglas and pin him down, coming off one of his routinely long legs of travel (we last found him in Mexico, I think) and still juggling a nightmarish schedule that kept us on our toes up to the early morning of recording. Thankfully, all was well in the end, and with Douglas adequately tanked up on coffee, followed by more coffee and then another cup of coffee, we enjoyed a very fast-paced 75-90 minutes together. Our goodbyes were warm but of necessity brief, to all our regret. While my readers wait for the program to air on January 3rd, here are some after-thoughts as a preview of coming attractions.

I first discovered Douglas in the summer of 2018 when preparing to write what would become a viral hit piece about Jordan Petersons dialogues with Sam Harris,Sam Harris Asks Questions Jordan Peterson Cant Answer.It was only the second or third thing I wrote after joining Patheos, but it would take on a life of its own and launch me into the circle of commentary on Jordan Peterson and the wider phenomenon known as the Intellectual Dark Web. Primarily famous in the UK and European pond, Douglas Murrays name rang no bells when I first saw that he would be moderating/joining the UK leg of the dialogues. By the time I came to write the piece, I had already familiarized myself enough with Douglas to know that he was far more than a third wheel in the debate and devote some space to his contributions.

Douglass body of work and thought quickly proved a much richer mine of material than I expected, on an impressively wide array of topics political and non-political. In fact, while he is best known for the former, it was some of the latter that interested me most. And among his areas of political focus, it was not necessarily his signature issues of immigration and Islam that drew and kept my strongest interest. Rather, what struck me most in getting to know Douglas through his various books, articles, speeches, etc., was the sense that I had stumbled onto one of the worlds last old humanists. (Well, that plus the sense that this guy and I would have been thick as thieves in high schoolbook thieves, natch. Any man who self-confessedly upgrades his favorite books from soft to hard-back, only to be stuck with two copies because he made notes in the soft copy so he cant get rid of that now, is a man after my own heart.)

Anyhow, humanism is a word now fraught with baggage in Christian circles, with some good reason. Many self-identified humanists proudly associate it with an aggressive rejection of the Christian faith. Nevertheless, it is a word I have argued Christians should be stealing back for themselves. I steal it back unblushingly on my own profile with the description Christian humanist. Ive developed my own philosophy of Christian humanism at some length in my contribution to the forthcoming anthology Myth & Meaning in Jordan Peterson (Lexham, March 2020the essay is entitled The Image of Christ: Peterson as Humanist). But if someone were to ask me for the short version, my new favorite short version is a riff on something Roger Scruton once said: I see the world, and the individual people in it, as lovable.

In context, Scruton was originally criticizing post-modern culture, specifically the way it desecrates the human person through art deliberately made orthogonal to beauty. This kind of art typifies a loveless culture, a culture that does not see the world as lovable. It is fundamentally anti-human. Thus, the task of the true humanist, to be a lover of mankind, is essentially counter-cultural. I would assert that it is also essentially Christian.

Why, then, do I find such a kindred spirit in Douglas Murray, who, despite my best efforts, didnt leave our conversation rushing to reaffirm the lost Anglican faith of his youth? (He was, in fact, rushing to meet his publisher for a last-minute late lunch, with humblest apologies for causing such a nuisance.) Its because I believe we each in our own way have taken up the humanists task. In a recent interview with Scotlands The Herald, he says that he doesnt love nations in the abstractEngland in the abstract, Scotland in the abstract. Rather, I love people. I love things about the people.

We both of us also recognize the Christian essence of the humanists task, even though Douglas still does so as a self-described Christian atheist. He takes this moniker both as a recognition of his abiding love for Christian language/liturgy/culture and a recognition of the Judeo-Christian bedrock that makes him wonder out loud whether human life would still be sacred in an atheist world. Douglas recognizes that he cant escape this bedrock underlying his basic instinct that while human beings are manifestly not equal in a host of outward characteristics, they are still equal in value.

As he discusses in this dialogue with Jordan Peterson (transcript here), it is this instinct that leads him to back away slowly when the odd fan asks him why he never talks about the IQ question. He urges anyone who shows an unhealthy curiosity in this area to join him. Agreeing together, both he and Peterson broadly condemn the pernicious conflation of difference in economic worth with difference in intrinsic worth. Here Douglas borrows a line from novelist Iain McEwan that hes used more than once, which is that we most of us eventually come to realize the nicest person we know may never have read a book. (Theres something about the fondness with which Douglas always lingers on this line that makes me wonder whether perhaps, for him, it might be more than hypothetical.) He wonders uneasily whether, best-selling books by Steven Pinker notwithstanding, we havent really progressed so very far beyond the 20th centurys blood-stained pages.

Douglas also has an instinct which he described to me as not just an instinct, but a drive to affirm the essential meaningfulness of life. Like Whitman, he replies to the question Oh me, oh life of the questions of these recurring, what good amid these oh me, oh life? with the answer That you are here. That life exists. Or, to quote one of his favorite lines from Rainer Maria Rilke in translation, Being here means so much. In a testy, must-read Easter debate about euthanasia with a far more calloused colleague at The Spectator, Douglas unapologetically embraces and repeats that simplest, least ironic of catch-phrases: Choose life.

I highlighted a case study from his latest book,The Madness of Crowds, about a young Belgian woman who first mutilated and then killed herself as she tried to become a man and only found that she had unlocked new depths of misery. The Belgian state was by her side the whole way, holding her hand even to the grave. Its impossible to read Murrays account of this case and not sense from him a deep sadness, an instinctive protective motion of the heart towards a soul who needed help to live and found only help to die. Its an instinct that quietly suffuses much of his commentary, inspiring me to give him the honorary title equal opportunity humanist in my review of the book. When we talked, he shared his particular burden for the listless and depressed, whom he constantly wants to encourage like Edgar encourages his blind father Gloucester in King Learas the old man falls to what he thinks is his death. Despite the fact that he has only a few more minutes of life, it is in those last few minutes that, as Douglas puts it, he discovers everything. If Douglas could leave people with one message, it would be the message that thats worth hanging around for, if you would only just hold onfor a few minutes more, hold on.

What, then, does it mean, this instinct, this drive? Douglas sees and accepts it by the natural light, like Auden in Precious Five accepts that he must bless what there is for being. What else are we made for, agreeing or disagreeing? But the question remains, to what might this point? To what, to be Augustinian about things, might this tend?

I had far too little time to discuss with Douglas where I think it tends. (For this dialogue at least, though he has graciously left his door open for more in the future.) The final third of our conversation turned to questions around Christianity, as he briefly reviewed his archetypally Victorian crisis of faith while I briefly encapsulated how I was raised to view faith and reasonas dancing partners, not enemies. When our host asked Douglas what it would take for him to make his way back, he told us only half-jokingly that he would need to hear a voice.

This challenge was a left turn, to say the least. But Douglas took pains to explain that he doesnt intend to trap Christians with it. He is quite serious: If youhave heard a voice, he would very much like to know about it. To the milquetoast politically correct Anglican who responds to the challenge with a Come come, my dear fellow, dont tell me youre actually asking about an actual voice from heaven, Douglas would say Why not? He would like to know. He would like to listen. Even if you honestly cant fake it and say youve heard a voice, at least putsomethingdown on the table. At least put some damn skin in the game, like the persecuted Christians in Africa and the Middle East, or the Christians in the American black church who dare to forgive their killers, whom Douglas regards with reverent awe. Otherwise, whats the point of it all?

There was limited time to convey that I understand what he means. I understand, I think, what hes looking for. I hope I began to nudge him towards it. I had the foresight to bring along a few of my dead friends in glorious 19th-century binding and briefly wave them at Douglas as we said our goodbyes, and to remind him of C. S. Lewiss warning that a young atheist cant be too careful of his reading material. (It amused me to realize that Ive been a Christian for over 20 years, longer than Douglas has been an atheist.) He seemed quite touched.

I have called Douglas the gay humanist in the title of this piece for purposes of clickbait (you did click, didnt you?) but Im afraid now that Ive got you all to click and read to the end I have no great reward in store. This is because it turns out I actually dont particularly care, and neither does Douglas. This was a source of some slight hilarity at one point in our dialogue, in which I waved about the woman card I never use while Douglas reflected on The Guardians mysterious reluctance to say Hey, lets give Douglas a good write-up, hes gay!

In fact, I do like to think of Douglas as a gay humanist in another and older sensethat is, the sense of men who go gayly in the dark. With such men, I will gladly walk arms linked, for only by such men is darkness pushed back one day more.

The week I recorded our dialogue, I went with a few friends to sing carols at an out-of-the-way country nursing home where an old neighbor friend of ours is spending her last days. I still had Douglass voice in my head as we walked around with our tidings of comfort and joy while the residents listened, some more responsive than others. A friends daughter walked around distributing candy canes. At one point, she came to one woman lost in Limbo. The girl wasnt sure what to do, so my father helped her. The woman eventually did take the candy.

Douglas, of course, was not there in person. Still, I shouldnt have thought it strange to turn and find him smiling over my shoulder, leaning forward to whisper, Thats worth hanging around for.

C. S. Lewis said that friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another What? You too? I thought I was the only one! Like Rick Blaine at the end of Casablanca, I believe this is only the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Health and wellness fads 2019: What were the trends and what’s to come in 2020? – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: at 12:47 pm

2019 saw collagen powder, hemp, and perineum sunningedge into collective consciousness. What other fads did we endure this year, and what are experts predicting for the year to come?

We're all aspiring toward wellness - we download apps to help us breathe and meditate, more of us are opting for plant-based diets, and we're sticking all sorts of needles into our faces all in the name of beauty.

Social media has becomea never-ending stream of revolving trends, with some things in-and-out of favourso quickly it can give you whiplash.

We revisit some of the most popular health and wellness trends of 2019, and anticipate what might come next.

PERINEUM SUNNING

In November, a self-described Instagram "healer"uploaded a series of photos exposing her bum to the sun as part of her "daily rising routine".

Metaphysical Meganclaimed thatby sunning her perenium (the area between the anus and vulva)for five minutes a day, shehad better sleepand increased energy, libido and creativity.

Touted as an ancient Taoist practice, perineum sunning went viral in the final weeks of the year, much to the dismay of medical professionals, who rubbished the claims.Will it endure into 2020? Who knows!

Supplied

Collagen additives for coffee and breakfast foods became popular this year.

COLLAGEN

If you're a woman between 18 and 100 years old, it's likely you've come across an influencer flogging collagen online in recent months.

Collagen itself is nothing new - it's the most abundant protein in your body - but this year saw an influx of collagen products hit shelves, including coffee creamers, capsules and powders.

If nothing else, collagen-lovers will be seeing in the new year with strong hair and nails.

MICRONEEDLING

Skincare and appearance industry insiders at Caci Clinic say 2019 was all about microneedling, which improves texture and skin elasticity, reducing signs of aging or acne.

It works by using tiny microneedles to penetrate the skin, triggering the body's wound-healing response. This is said to boost collagen production, making skin stronger and firmer than before.

Caci insiders expectthe next big things in beauty will be retinol and vitamin-based skincare, as well as customised skin health.

Supplied

Turns out milk doesn't just come from a cow, a soy bean or an almond.

PLANT-BASED MILKS

If you've gone out for brunch this year it's likely you've been inundated with obscure, trendy alternative milk options - oat, hazelnut, cashew, quinoa, flax - you name it.

Plant-based milks are really having a moment, havingcome a long way since soy milk was for'hippies' only. Demand for non-dairy milks is increasing, and more creative options are popping up as a result.

Keep your eyes peeled for chia and hemp milks, which experts suggestcould be the next big thing.

HEMP

While much of the rest of the worldopened its arms to CBD oil in many different shapes and forms this year,New Zealand law has so far prevented the same happening here.

However, that hasn't stopped cannabis sativa'strendy cousin hemp from popping up all over the show.

Once only a nichehealth-store find, 2019 saw hemp nowin the milk aisle, in pancakes and cookies, and dusted on lattes in the shapes of hearts.

STUFF

Have an ailment or issue? There's an app out there for you.

VIRTUAL WELLNESS

From Headspace, meditation and mindfulness made easy, to period-tracking apps such asClue or MyFlo and WaterMinder, trackingyour H2O intake,wellness apps were everywhere this year.

Most of us can admit to living largely sedentary, stressed-out lifestyles. We work too hard fortoo long and move, sleepand relax too little.

Fortunately, there's no shortage of wellness apps to help us get our lives on track. We predict meditation apps will continue to reign supreme into the new year.

REFORMER PILATES

Performed on what looks like a torture device, reformer pilates has been a fond celebrity favourite for some time, but is still relatively new to New Zealand.

The rowing machine-like contraption, built from a "carriage"uses weighted arm straps and springs to toneandstrengthenmuscles, and even correctposture.

With classes popping up all over the country, you're sure to be able to find one - or its newer,slightly scarier cousin the Megaformer - near you.

PETER MEECHAM/STUFF

All meat or no meat - both were popular this year.

THE CARNIVORE DIET

This year, the Carnivore Diet- a close relative to keto - took the world by storm. Instead of keto, where you eat very few carbs, the Carnivore diet is zero-carb,consisting of only meat and high-fat animal products.

Last year, controversial academic Jordan Peterson raved about the diet on Joe Rogan's popular podcast, claiming it helped him lose 50 pounds, stop snoring and even cured his auto-immune diseases.

2019 also sawthemono diet (limiting food intake to one group or individual food per day), charcoal detoxes (fasting or consuming tea or juices containing charcoal) and time-restricted diets (a period in the day when you're 'allowed' to eat), have their moment in the sun.

THE RISE OF THE RTD

Gone are the days where the thought ofReady To Drink (RTD) alcoholic drinksconjures up nothing but (best forgotten) memories of our youth.

2019 ushered in a kind of RTD renaissance, with Kiwi companies like Part Times Rangersand Master of Ceremonies' Pals entering the market and taking Instagram by storm.

Spirits mixed with sparkling water and cannedrosspritzers areset to only become more popular as the days get longer. Watch this space.

Supplied

Lash lifts saw a modern version of the perm come back in style, just not for the hairs on your head.

GROUP AND RECOVERY-FOCUSSED EXERCISE

Forget just shredding, cutting or getting gains, fitness this year was all holistic "wellness",according to Les Mill's head of fitness Ish Cheyne.

While exercise is often centred around high-intensity interval training, trainers were alsostarting to play with the "recovery wellness space",such as introducing stretch classes,he said.

Cheyne predicts trainers will move into more "wellness-centred coaching spaces" next year, with a special emphasis on life outside of the gym - particularly sleep.

On the other hand, the rise of group fitness - such asF45 - is likely to continue in popularity, he said.

Supplied

Recovery - such as stretch classes - are set to become a bigger part of our approach to fitness next year, experts say.

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Health and wellness fads 2019: What were the trends and what's to come in 2020? - Stuff.co.nz

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