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Category Archives: Rationalism

Rationalism Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster

Posted: November 28, 2021 at 10:00 pm

1 : reliance on reason as the basis for establishment of religious truth

2a : a theory that reason is in itself a source of knowledge superior to and independent of sense perceptions

b : a view that reason and experience rather than the nonrational are the fundamental criteria in the solution of problems

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Nine Implications for Investors of the Longer-Term Coronavirus Legacy ShareCafe – ShareCafe

Posted: at 10:00 pm


The magnitude of the coronavirus shock means it will have implications beyond those associated with its short-term economic disruption. Possibly a bit like a world war where the post war period is very different to the pre-war period.

Of course, coronavirus has not yet released its grip as its resurgence in Europe and the US highlights with a very high risk of the same elsewhere. But there is good reason for optimism vaccines are 85-95% effective in preventing serious illness and there are now several effective treatments that are useful for those for whom the vaccines are less effective and for the unvaccinated. Vaccines are less effective though in preventing infection (at 60-80%) and their efficacy fades after about five months so when 70% or less of the population is vaccinated (as in Europe and the US) that still leaves a high proportion of the population who can get sick and overwhelm the hospital system, particularly as colder weather sets in and efficacy wanes resulting in the return of restrictions in some places. And vaccination rates remain low in poor countries running the risk of new waves and mutations. The only way to avoid this is to get vaccination rates to very high levels (with the help of vaccine mandates), quickly roll out booster shots and only remove restrictions gradually. This includes Australia too.

But the key is that vaccines and new treatments provide a path out of the pandemic and long hard lockdowns and as a result its likely that 2022 will be the year we will learn to live with covid and it goes from being an epidemic to being endemic. So it makes sense to have a look at what its longer term legacy may be (beyond of course associated medical advances that have been big). Here are 7 key medium to longer term impacts.

The GFC brought an end to support for economic rationalism and was associated with a leg up in public debt levels. Fading memories of the problems of too much government intervention in the 1970s added to this. The coronavirus crisis has added to support for bigger government intervention in economies and the tolerance of higher levels of public debt. Particularly given that the pandemic has enhanced perceptions of inequality and that governments should do more to boost infrastructure spending & bring production of key goods back onshore. And its now combining with a desire for governments to pick and subsidise climate winners rather than rely on a carbon price to achieve net zero emissions. IMF projections for government spending in advanced countries show it settling 1% of GDP higher in five years time than pre-covid levels.

Source: IMF, AMP Capital

And net public debt is also expected to settle at levels around 15% of GDP higher more so in the US.

Source: IMF, AMP Capital

Implications while increased infrastructure spending is positive for productivity, the trend towards bigger government generally is more of a negative for longer term growth.

The combination of quantitative easing (which saw money injected into economies) along with government spending through the pandemic to support household and corporate income boosted broad money supply measures (like M2 and M3 which include bank deposits) well above their long-term trend. This is evident in excess household savings (savings above their long-term trend built up through the last two years) of $US2.3 trillion in the US (10% of GDP) and $180bn in Australia (8% of Australian GDP). This is radically different to the post GFC period that saw QE boost narrow money (mainly bank reserves) but was offset by fiscal austerity.

Implications the pool of excess saving provides a boost to spending & a potential disincentive to work (until it runs out) and with increased money supply risks an ongoing boost to inflation, beyond the pandemic driven boost currently being seen.

Geopolitical tensions were on the rise prior to the pandemic with the relative decline of the US & faith in liberal democracies waning from the time of the GFC. This has seen various regional powers flex their muscles Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and notably China, which was facilitated by its own economic rise. The pandemic inflamed US/China tensions, particularly over the origin of coronavirus and as the US poor handling of coronavirus reinforced Chinas shift away from economic liberalism. Russia and Iran are now seeking to take advantage of the global energy shortage, which itself is partly pandemic-related. The summit between Presidents Xi and Biden offers hope for a thaw in tensions but its not clear how far that will go.

The pandemic has also arguably inflamed political polarisation with the hard left tending to support lockdowns & vaccines and the hard right against them. This is perhaps more of an issue in the US and parts of Europe than in Australia.

Implications increased geopolitical tensions could act as a negative for growth, work against multinationals and be negative for shares. It also poses a threat to Australia with restrictions on imports of various products into China so far this has been masked by first higher iron ore prices and then higher energy prices. And more political polarisation risks policy gridlock. Fortunately, its not as much of an issue in Australia.

A backlash against globalisation became evident last decade in the rise of Trump, Brexit and populist leaders. The coronavirus disruption has added to this. Worries about the supply of critical items have led to pressure for onshoring of production.

Implications Reduced globalisation risks leading to reduced growth potential for the emerging world generally. Longer term it could reduce productivity if supply chains are managed on other than economic grounds and will remove a key source of disinflationary pressure from the global economy.

Working from home and border closures have dramatically accelerated the move to a digital world. Workers, consumers, businesses, schools, universities, health professionals, young & old have been forced to embrace new online ways of doing things. Many have now embraced on-line retail, working from home & virtual meetings. It may be argued that this fuller embrace of technology beyond Netflix will enable the full productivity enhancing potential of technology to be unleased.

Implications there are big ongoing implications from this: Pressure on traditional retail/retail property has intensified. The decline of the office some sort of happy medium (eg 2 days in and 3 days at home) will likely be arrived at trading the need for collaboration and team building against the need for quiet time and getting things done. But it has huge implications for office space demand and CBDs. An ongoing reinvigoration of economic life in suburbs and regions as work from home continues (albeit not necessarily for five days for all). Virtual meetings may see less demand for business travel.

Its conceivable that the lockdowns have driven many to rethink whats important in life and that pent up saving through the pandemic along with the ability of many to work from home has provided flexibility for some to refocus and a reluctance to the fully return to the old grind. In fact, the term Great Resignation has been coined in the US as labour force participation remains below pre pandemic levels and the proportion of workers quitting their jobs is at record levels. This in turn (and the absence of skilled immigrants and backpackers in Australia) may be contributing to labour shortages (which given the boost the pandemic provided to goods demand has created supply shortages and a surge in inflation). Of course, some of this may fade as excess savings are run down, people return to work as the pandemic fades and there is less evidence to support a Great Resignation in Australia where jobs turnover is normal. And it seems like only yesterday there was talk of automation wiping out lots of jobs so it could all just be another beat up. Then again, its likely some of it will linger as work from home has shown a way to a higher quality lifestyle.

Implications this will provide an ongoing boost to relative demand for lifestyle property, albeit it risks driving higher wages in the short term. And labour supply in some countries may take a while to get back to what it used to be.

Its conceivable that elation once the pandemic is finally over, the spending of pent up demand and excess savings along with the productivity enhancing benefits of new technology unleashed by the lockdowns will drive a re-run of the Roaring Twenties much like occurred after Spanish flu. Time will tell.

Implications growth may turn out stronger than expected.

Each new crisis seems to bring Europe closer together. The ECBs response to the pandemic which has seen it buy more bonds in problem countries and the economic recovery fund where Italy and Spain will receive a disproportionate share highlight that Europe is getting closer and the impending change of government in Germany may add to this. The pressures to keep the Eurozone together (safety in numbers, a high identification as Europeans, support for the Euro, Germany benefitting from the EU & Germanys exposure to Italian bonds via the ECB) remain stronger than the forces pulling it apart.

Implications I still wouldnt bet on the Euro breaking apart.

Given the hit to immigration by 2026 Australia will be 1 million people smaller than expected pre coronavirus. And the Federal Government appears to have rejected the idea of a catch up in immigration levels to make up for lost arrivals.

Implications the hit to immigration if sustained could mean a more balanced housing market in the years ahead with less upwards pressure on prices and reduced potential growth in the economy as a result of skilled shortages and lower population growth. But of course, this could reverse if the Government rapidly ramps up immigration after next years Federal election.

Some of these implications will constrain growth & hence investor returns bigger government, reduced globalisation, lower population in Australia and a possible longer-term threat to labour supply. And increased geopolitical tensions could add to volatility. Against this, the faster embrace of technology boosting productivity and a potential post pandemic boom will work the other way and is positive for growth assets.

The biggest risk is high inflation. Just as World War 2 and expansionary post-war policy ultimately broke the back of 1930s deflation, so to the pandemic and its monetary and fiscal response is likely to have broken the back of the prior disinflationary period. This in turn means the tailwind of falling inflation & interest rates which provided a positive reflation and revaluation boost to growth assets is likely behind us.

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A decolonised approach to tackling community challenges – University World News

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The university of the future is engaged it has no walls. It is committed to social responsibility and encourages students to engage directly with real-world challenges. In doing so, engaged universities prepare students for livelihoods that contribute to a more sustainable future, says Nieves Segovia, president of Camilo Jos Cela University in Madrid, Spain, and Talloires Network steering committee vice-chair for the conference that was hosted from 30 September to 3 October.

As conceived by the 22 founders of the Talloires Network, civic engagement is much more than working a few hours in the community. And, as John Kerry, US President Joe Bidens special presidential envoy for climate, stressed in his keynote address, although being an informed voter is a start, it is not enough.

Rather, civic engagement has two parts. First, as exemplified by The Street Store@UP, a programme founded by Paseka Elcort Gaola, a fourth-year bachelor degree student at the Mamelodi campus of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, civic engagement involves students in the warp and woof of their communities: in this case, distributing food, toiletries and clothing to students in need.

Second, by being enmeshed in their communities, students like Gaola learn about economic realities that are rather different from those covered in the traditional curriculum studied by a commerce and law major.

Vuthlarhi Shirindza, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, who co-founded a company that uses drones to deliver medicines to patients in rural South Africa, is likewise immersed in the practical needs of her community and necessarily has learned about public health problems from the ground up.

The students who presented at the conference have founded a number of organisations, including ones that:

Connect underprivileged Ghanaian youth with higher education opportunities.

Teach underprivileged Ghanaian youth basic computer skills.

Advocate against violence against women in Sudan.

Provide menstrual products to women in Kenya.

Work to remove barriers to education for LGBTQ2S in India.

Advocate for Indigenous land rights in Mexico.

Develop a micro-health insurance system for students in Cameroon.

Mentor youth in the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).

Much as dramatic irony (to borrow a term from theatre studies) dissolves the fourth wall and involves the audience in the production, these organisations dissolve the illusion that the university is a self-contained unit, a view supported in many cases by the campus gates and the enduring trope of the Ivory Tower.

Varied paths

The paths the students in the Civic Engagement Futures session travelled to the Talloires Network conference vary widely.

Gaolas runs through the University of Pretoria and includes a six-week civic engagement scholarship that brought him (and other students) to Washington DC; Memphis, Tennessee and Seattle, Washington. In the American capital, he studied the structure of the American government.

Recalling our emotional reaction when, about a decade ago, my wife and I visited the Lincoln Memorial, I asked Gaola about the impact it made on him. He began by referencing popular culture: For the first time, it felt real. Its one of the places television likes to show.

Then, after a short pause, he added in a reverent tone: It was quite interesting to go up the steps, until you reach the last one and then, [suddenly] you just see it [the seated 19-foot-high Lincoln statue and to his side the famous Gettysburg Address].

Gaolas visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, left him thinking about how the narrative of American history changes when viewed from the African American perspective.

It always depends who is writing the story, he told University World News.

In Memphis, he saw how his and his fellow scholarship students foreign accents shielded them from the racism they also saw around them. This was underlined for them when an African American came up to Gaola and told him: Its not every day that we see white folks communicate to us [black people] the way you are. And they [the white southerners] were quite interested in knowing what we spoke about.

In one exchange, as if on cue, some white southerners expressed surprise that the Africans had iPhones.

Claire McCann, a graduate student from Rhodes University in South Africa, is also trained in economics. Her masters thesis, situated at the intersection of economics and feminist theory, focuses on the caring economy and early childhood development or ECD: A critical analysis of the barriers to an effective ECD rollout in South Africa, and the possibility the social economy offers in this space.

At Rhodes University, McCann has been volunteering to design a short course in community engagement for grades 10, 11 and 12 to be delivered in local private schools. This course serves to equip South African private school students in the discourse of transformation and development. In the modules, we embed reciprocal community development practices and ones that are based on assets instead of needs, she says.

The course is designed to be self-transformational. So, it has its mainly white and well-off students look for privilege and stereotypes, and how to overcome these to build towards a transformative society.

The impact of McCanns discussions with fellow team member Maria Djalma Torres Sanchez, a Peruvian lawyer who claims her indigenous identity and is now studying at University College Cork in Ireland, exemplifies the Talloires Networks belief that the interchange between students from different backgrounds and places can lead them to new insights.

We spoke a lot about indigenous epistemologies, different sources of knowledge and the importance of oral histories, with the last being especially important for McCann for two reasons.

First, she learned when studying history as an undergrad, like so much else in South Africa, that what constitutes history is bifurcated between written (official) history produced mainly by and for white colonial governments and the oral history of the black majority.

The second impact of Torress explanation of indigenous epistemologies and spirituality highlighted for McCann the limitations of rationalism and pragmatism for the [Global] North and West.

The practical effect of these discussions can be seen in the methodology of the qualitative (ie, oral) research McCann is using for her thesis. Not only will her interviews not be extractive, they will be structured so that she and her interviewee are co-producers of the material McCann will use in her thesis.

As well, McCann told University World News, her work will be informed by the idea that spirituality is a legitimate and very powerful source of knowledge.

The day we spoke, Torres, who, in the decade since graduating from law school, has worked on indigenous issues on litigation, advocacy and lately as parliamentary adviser for the Peruvian Congress was a day away from starting work at the Asociacin Intertnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (AIDESEP). AIDESEP is one of the main national indigenous organisations of the Peruvian Amazon.

A born and bred Limea (resident of Lima), Torres was totally unaware of muddy roads like the ones in Ancash, Cajamarca and Yauyos, all in the north central part of Peru, where her grandparents were from; still less was she able to speak her grandmothers native language, Quechua.

She realised that she wanted to specialise in indigenous peoples rights after travelling, as part of a law school course, to the Kandozis ancestral territory. The indigenous people in this area of the Western Amazon suffered from hepatitis B and were abandoned by the state. Her indigeneity became important to her after five years working closely with these peoples.

In 2018, Torres was invited to participate as a speaker and as human rights defender to the Roger Casement Summer School in Dublin, Ireland. Roger Casements journey, from being an official of the British Colonial Service to Irish patriot was, Torres told me, personal for her in two ways.

First, in 1911, Casement wrote a report about the plight of the indigenous people working in the rubber plantations in the Putumayo, a border that Peru and Colombia share. A common form of punishment was the pillory, which men, women and children could be locked to for months at a time.

This report was written six years after his more famous report detailing the abuses including slavery, mutilation and torture of hundreds of thousands of Congolese on the rubber plantations in the Congo, which was the personal fief of Belgiums King Leopold.

Second, Casement served as a model of having, to use Torress words, decolonised himself after realising his nation was suffering under British rule.

Casements example, his discovery that his Irishness was central to his identity, is a model for me. It is why my masters thesis is on indigenous self-identification and its relationship to supporting indigenous peoples demands for self-determination, Torres told University World News.

(In Casements case, he paid for his quest to support self-determination with his life. Early in 1916, he travelled to Germany where he tried to raise a regiment from Irish soldiers who had been captured on the Western Front to fight against British rule in Ireland. He was captured on Banna Strand in Tralee Bay, County Kerry, Ireland, after being put ashore by a German U-boat, and was executed for high treason [ie against the British occupying power] in August 1916.)

Helping indigenous peoples on their land claims and realising self-determination is a central part of Torress work at AIDESEP.

Self-determination in this case doesnt mean we want our own country. It means, respect my territory. Respect my decisions and development priorities. Indigenous peoples dont oppose mining and economic development per se. But we want them done with respect for the indigenous peoples and their territories, Torres says.

Since arriving at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 2020 to begin his bachelor degree, Fadi Marwan Salahedin has involved himself both in his physical surroundings and in the lives of refugees in Lebanon. With partial funding from the Boston-based NGO, Peace First, he organised an initiative that recycles plastic left over from the huge explosion that devastated Beirut on 4 August 2020.

Further, Salahedin has volunteered as a research intern with the AUB Center for Civic Engagement and Community Services Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access (PADILEIA) programme that bridges refugees whose studies have been disrupted.

In addition to helping obtain transcripts and the like, PADILEIA provides upgrading courses in mathematics, English and the sciences. More closely linked to Salahedins field of study, psychology is an often-overlooked area of need: psycho-social support.

Though post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most well-known psycho-social condition refugees have to deal with, it is not the only psycho-social issue facing refugees, Salahedin told University World News.

It would be reductive to narrow it down to just PTSD, although it is an important issue, as are the subcategories of PTSD.

Refugees are subject to the same gamut of psychological issues non-refugees are subject to, underlined the Syrian student who attends the AUB on a scholarship, and who plans to study industrial and business psychology.

Everything a person can go through can cause them to have depression or anxiety, or suicidal ideation can be present. So can undiagnosed ADHD: Because there has been no background knowledge or psychological knowledge [where the refugee came from], no one has ever addressed it and they live in misery for the rest of their lives without ever knowing whats going on.

He added that there are of course other issues such as borderline personality disorders, schizophrenia and the like.

After pointing out that each of the terms he had just used can be found in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and, thus, belong to the Western (especially American) understanding of psycho-social disorders, I asked if there is a gap between this view of psychology and the non-Westernised people that make up some of the refugees in Lebanon? Salahedin said that such a barrier does exist.

However, he quickly added, when you can see that the issues result in distress in the day-to-day lives of the individual, that is something that people can talk about. In collectivist societies like here and in the Middle East in general, the role of the family or the society becomes more important than it is in individualistic communities in the West where an individual might just go to a therapist to address these issues.

This must be taken into consideration when designing programmes or initiatives to support individuals in distress.

What is the university good for?

Drawing on their own experiences and their discussions about them, the students in the Civic Engagement Futures session answered the second of the two questions that Okidi Patrovas Gabriel, a MasterCard Foundation Scholar at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, posed at the beginning of their presentation: What is the university good for?

In asking this question, Gabriel, who is studying statistics, pointed our attention not just toward the future but, more importantly, toward the universitys social function. We realise, he said, that COVID-19 has exposed the social cracks in our society and that it has opened a space for us to engage with this question further.

Telegraphing what the other six participants would say, Gabriel said that their vision implies a paradigm shift about how to overcome the systemic barriers that hinder students from engaging in civic engagement.

The students in the Civic Engagement Futures session called for civic engagement to be recognised as a core element in university education. Showing the influence of the several students who had economics or law training, they spoke the language of registrars when they said that civic engagement must be evidence based and that the goals of both the individual students and the organisation or group they work with must be measured.

When civic engagement involves underprivileged or marginalised communities, the group said that care must be taken to avoid imposing on the community what amounts to a colonial structure.

Put another way, student activists must recognise that as members of a university community they necessarily act from a position of privilege vis--vis underprivileged or marginalised communities. Accordingly, they must ensure that the solutions to the real-world problems that they work towards are defined and arrived at with the community in question.

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Brexit, an unresolved personal issue between London and Paris | International – Market Research Telecast

Posted: at 10:00 pm

When Goscinny and Uderzo published Asterix in Brittany, In 1965, and Oblix kept repeating throughout history that these British are crazy, General de Gaulle had already made every effort to veto the entry of the United Kingdom into the then European Economic Community. The head-on clash between two unrepeatable political personalities, such as Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron, could simply be one more chapter in the eternal tension between the two nations, were it not for the emotional catalytic effect that Brexit has had on that relationship.

The British are sovereign in their decisions, and may well think that [esas decisiones] They are not our business, but the truth is that they are. Because this was a divorce, they divorced us , explained in March to the AFP agency in her Paris apartment Sylvie Bermann, the one who was French ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2014 to 2017. Her book Goodbye Britannia, published months earlier, it was a declaration of love betrayed to the British and a visceral attack on Johnson, whom he defined as a stubborn liar.

Every time Macron has punched the table, and threatened to twist Londons arm, he has resorted to the same argument: the lack of seriousness of his interlocutor in Downing Street. If one does not respect what was negotiated, nothing is worthy of respect. I believe in the soundness of the treaties, and in the need to take matters seriously, the French president said in June, hours before heading to Cornwall, on the British coast, for the G-7 meeting.

Macron, as he has not stopped doing all this time, was once again exercising poly little of the EU, reproached Johnson for his unilateral breach of the Northern Ireland protocol (the cornerstone of the Brexit agreement). And burst, incidentally, the first attempt at the new Great Britain Global dreamed by Eurosceptics of being a relevant international actor. In the new confrontation this week, after the death on Wednesday of 27 people trying to cross the English Channel and reach British shores, Macron has once again questioned the prime ministers disposition.

According to Paris, the attempt to seek avenues of cooperation in the face of the migration crisis had been exploited by the indiscretion of Johnson, who had published on Twitter the letter he had just sent to the French president. Those methods surprise me, they are not very serious. It is not normal for two leaders to communicate with each other through tweets and make their correspondence public, Macron said this Friday.

The troubles between the two politicians have become a constant in international meetings. At the inauguration of the last Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, a cloud of journalists caught the French president in the corridors of the Convention Center. They did not want to ask him about the urgency of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but about the ultimatum, which was going to expire in a few hours, on account of the fishing conflict between London and Paris. A Scottish ship was still held in French port, and the Macron government threatened to block access to the coast of the British fleet and reimpose tight customs controls on the Calais border. London, in return, wielded the warning to invoke the safeguard and arbitration mechanisms of the trade agreement signed with Brussels. An attack from Paris would be considered an attack by the EU.

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There are domestic and international political reasons for the continuing hyperbole that is the relationship between London and Paris. A few months before a presidential election in which Macron feels the breath of the populist right on his neck, the national reaffirmation at the cost of the prfida Albin usually works. And in the midst of a gasoline shortage and queues at service stations, a lack of labor and immigration lack of control, Johnson has found in France the perfect scapegoat to purge his shortages. But in addition, Macron openly detests the British negotiating maneuvers, which represent the opposite of the Cartesian rationalism and Napoleonic positivism on which the negotiating strategy and the legal solidity of the EU are based. Johnson, on the other hand, is convinced that France remains determined to prove that Brexit was a mistake for which the United Kingdom must suffer.

November 2020 marked the 10th anniversary of the last major bilateral agreement between London and Paris: David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy signed the Lancaster House agreements, which expanded and strengthened military and defense cooperation between the two nations. This terrain has been the only one in which, historically, there have never been mutual doubts (with the exception of the confrontation between Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac on account of the Iraq war). Here too everything has been put up for auction, after Paris saw as incomprehensible disloyalty the AUKUS agreement forged last September between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, which took France by surprise from the contract of the century with the country Austral, for the construction and sale of new submarines.

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Ayanna Pressley And The (Un)Logic of Critical Theory – The Claremont Independent

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We dont need any more brown faces that dont want to be a brown voice. We dont need any more black faces that dont want to be a black voice.Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley

Ah, what a quote. But what does it mean, exactly? What are the assumptions about belief and identity implicit in Congresswoman Pressleys words?

First, she assumes that politicians, activists, writersreally anybody, for that mattermust bear two expressions of their identity: an outward, physical expression (the color of their skin, their gender, their socioeconomic statustheir face) and an inward, psychological expression (their values and normstheir voice).

Second, she asserts that these two things are related but disconnected, in that certain outward expressions have values and norms that are typical of them and which they would default to under normal conditions (i.e. the natural-state rich person would be fiscally conservative, the natural-state sexual minority would be socially liberal, the natural-state immigrant would be pro-multicultural, etc.), but these default conditions can be lost via outside interference.

And third, she asserts that in these unnatural instances in which a person (in this case, a brown person or a black person) believes in values and norms that do not belong to their set of default conditions, the person in question has chosen to betray their natural essence (i.e. brownness or blackness), and therefore can no longer serve as an effective and authentic representative for constituents of that identity group.

These are all tenets of a belief system based on Critical Theory, a philosophy of social analysis which is not unique to Congresswoman Pressley but shared by many people across the political spectrum today, and increasingly on the left. This belief system is thoroughly complex, bolstered by the work of many different highly intellectual people, and yet, I believe, both wrong and threatening to the very foundation of modernity.

Lets reexamine our reading of Pressleys statement: first of all, what is this implied interfering force that might corrupt someone to betray their natural essence? What is this impetus that might lead black and brown faces to open their mouths and speak with un-black and un-brown voices? Under the Critical Theory paradigm, this interfering force is whiteness.

See, whiteness in Critical Theory is not simply an identity that one is born into (a face), but rather a social property imbued with certain political, economic, and social privileges. Whiteness and the privileges that it holds are tightly coupled, and social power structures have been built-up to create and sustain both this condition of privilege as well as the white identity itself. Whiteness in this case, does have a face which people can be born with, but it also has a particularly powerful voice, one which all white people have access to, but which is not exclusive to white people and is indeed transmissible across boundaries of identity. See, if someone whose identity is marginalized wants to experience some of those political, economic, and social privileges which come with whiteness, they can obtain some semblance of those privileges by adopting certain values and norms which uphold the status quo, as the status quo systematically advantages white people. In this way, the marginalized individual in question sacrifices their conscience on an altar of social power, further bolstering white social hegemony by allowing whites to proclaim that the status quo is universally beneficial and that everyone can take part in it, when in reality both of these proclamations are lies that simply legitimize oppression. They are able to become less marginalized by co-opting whiteness, and in exchange, the white power structure is able to suppress dissent by co-opting their voice. The individual is now participating in a symbiotic relationship with whiteness, and is said to have taken on the condition of false consciousness.

What are some telltale signs that someone has taken this Faustian bargain of false consciousness and avowed themselves to whiteness? Well, it all comes down to narratives. White power structures are, after all, only maintained because people buy into certain narrative myths that legitimize white hegemony and keep the wheels turning. For example, the narrative that American society is meritocratic (or at least close to meritocratic) is one such myth that advantages white power by invalidating the possibility of systemic racism as a cause for the political, economic, and social disadvantages presented to people of color. Those people of color therefore, who do not believe in systematic forces of racial oppression which pervade multiple levels of society, are quite un-POC in their voices, and have been co-opted by the power structure.

Another telltale sign that someone has assumed false consciousness is that they participate in discourse using the so-called masters tools. Critical Theory lecturers have occasionally passed around this term, referencing a quote from a famous speech given by Audre Lorde at a feminist conference in 1979: [T]he masters tools will never dismantle the masters house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. These masters tools include empiricism, positivism, science, and anything else that seeks to perpetuate epistemic injustice by excluding other ways of knowing (such as the lived experience of marginalized people) from discourse. As Robin DiAngelo states in her book Is Everyone Really Equal?, [The] scientific method (sometimes referred to as positivism) was the dominant contribution of the 18th-century Enlightenment period in Europe. Positivism rested on the importance of reason, principles of rational thought, the infallibility of close observation, and the discovery of natural laws and principles governing life and society. Critical Theory developed in part as a response to this presumed superiority and infallibility of the scientific method, and raised questions about whose rationality and whose presumed objectivity underlies scientific methods. In this conception of science, the rationality and objectivity of the scientific method is undergirded by white masculinist definitions of what it even means to be rational and objective at all. In this way, someone who might reject that the lived experiences of some black and brown folk can be used as evidence to support the existence of a larger system of racial oppression, instead citing data which contradict said lived experiences, is engaging in epistemic violence by denying them their voice, excluding them from the conversation based upon inherently white standards of truth, and thereby perpetuating this very system of oppression. If the dissenter in question is themselves a person of color, then they have taken on the condition of false consciousness for certain. Their voice surely is not a voice of color.

If it isnt clear by now why this framework is ridiculous, then allow me to explain. Forgive me if this is suggesting too much, but the whole idea of false consciousness looks a lot like a convenient way to immediately dismiss anyone who disagrees with you as brainwashed. And lets be mildly charitable to Pressley and DiAngelo herelets say some black and brown voices who support the status quo are brainwashed and self-hatingeven so, not every black person who doesnt believe in Critical Theory is Jesse Lee Peterson. Some, indeed, many conscious objectors to Critical Theory exist among POC intellectuals on both the left and the right, and to dismiss them as all traitors to their communities for simply believing in universality, progress, and rationalism is unfounded, presumptuous, and frankly laughable.

Furthermore, it can be dangerous. The Enlightenment project of liberalism was not a white projectit was a universal project founded upon the notion that through our mutually operable senses of reason and our singular objective reality we could come to peacefully agree upon the values by which a prosperous society should be structured. It is jeopardizing the whole foundation of modernity to suggest that those valuesincluding democracy, human rights, and the rule of laware instead products of a self-sustaining hegemonic social order.

Historically speaking, most successful movements towards further racial equality have explained how the emancipation of racial minorities actually fits the logic of liberalism, and policies of racial exclusion are simply failures to live up to the right ideals. When Frederick Douglass wrote What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July, he explained how slavery was in contradiction with the fundamental principles of natural rights present in the American Constitution. When Ida B. Wells spoke out against the vigilantist lynching of black men in the Jim Crow South, she argued for anti-lynching legislation on the basis that black Americans deserved the same right to fair trial, and that the rule of law is foundational to just democratic governance. When Martin Luther King Jr. marched on the Washington Monument, he proclaimed that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. These great intellectuals of black American history believed that more liberalism and more universality was the solution to an unequal and broken system. None of them argued that liberal epistemology itself was the problemno successful movement for racial equality throughout history ever has. To put it mildly, it is an insult to the legacy of these great peopleand to black intellectual history as a wholeto say that these men and women were using the so-called masters tools or were somehow otherwise guilty of submitting to white power structures.

Finally, I wonder if Critical Theorists are even aware that their claimthat science and rationality are rooted in white conceptions of realityis exactly what white nationalists want people to believe. Its absurdly ironic, in an incredibly dark and slightly humorous sort of way. Both Critical Theorists and white nationalists share in this view that the natural state of black discourse is anti-positivist, except that while Critical Theorists use the terms counterstories, lived experiences, and ways of knowing, white nationalists describe our discourse as relying on myth, ignorance, and superstition. In both cases, the more rigorous form of discourse is relegated to whites and thought inaccessible to someone well-socialized to a black way of life. Legitimizing this way of thinking is deeply perilous. In an interview with Thomas Chatterton Williams, Richard Spencer, an avowed white supremacist and neo-Nazi, said the following with regards to some statements by a critical race theorist, This is the photographic negative of a white supremacist...This is why Im actually very confident, because maybe those leftists will be the easiest ones to flip. The main reason why white nationalists love this narrative is because it renders any possibility of multiracial liberal democracy as essentially doomed to fail. If white and black epistemologies are fundamentally incompatible, then where is the hope that intercultural dialogue will ever be capable of bringing about harmony between them? Why should they even belong to the same state at all? Now more than ever, we must reaffirm the notion that we are absolutely epistemically equivalent. For despite the disharmony, the suffering, and the racial violence, it is only between groups of people who agree on what reality is that change can ever occur.

Black and brown voices are ultimately diverse, and whether positivist or anti-positivist, pro-status quo or anti-status quo, Republican or Democratic, they all merit consideration on the basis of their real intellectual content. So maybe instead of creating a new POC anti-liberal orthodoxy, we should celebrate a wide diversity of black and brown political thought, and welcome well-founded dissent against Critical Theory. After all, when Max Horkheimer wrote Traditional and Critical Theory in 1937, he famously defined the goal of Critical Theory as being, to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them. So if genuine freedom is the goal, then ferociously pigeonholing POC thinkers into expectations of what they ought to believe based upon their identity might actually render us more unfree than we began.

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What is the difference between Rationalism & Empiricism …

Posted: November 25, 2021 at 12:08 pm

With the European Research Council (ERC) the European Commission fosters excellent researchers and innovative research aims. The Technische Universitt Braunschweig welcomes aspiring ERC grantees in one of Europes most active research regions and offers great advisory and mentoring support.Light-weight, fuel-efficient vehicles suitable for serial production, quiet, low-emission aircraft, active agents for combating infectious diseases, personalised medications, metrology for nanotechnology, or strategies for the interlinked city of the future: by focussing our research activities in these four areas, we make significant contributions to the great challenges our society faces today.To reach this goal, we cooperate closely with the internationally renowned research facilities in the Braunschweig region. In your research work you will benefit greatly from this close-knit scientific network. 36,000 people working in research and development, 27 research institutions and 250 companies in the high-tech sector make Braunschweig the most active research region in Europe. With 9,5% of the GDP spend on research and development it is also Europes top investment region, with the highest level of spending on sciences (Eurostat 2018). This is why the region is a driver of innovation attracting a large international scientific community.Young scientists at TU Braunschweig can rely on a broad range of advisory, mentoring and further education offers. Participants benefit from individual career counselling and best practice examples taken from the careers of outstanding TU Braunschweig scientists. Our team in the Research Services and European Office has many years of experience supporting EU funding programmes. Our service is designed to support you in the development, application and management of projects in such a way as to ensure optimum project preparation and implementation.Extra support for highly-qualified external researchers is offered through the Agnes Pockels Fellowship Programme. External junior researchers who would like to come to TU Braunschweig with an ERC Grant can apply for an Agnes-Pockels Fellowship as part of the Early Career Programme and receive up to 40,000 per year for a period of three years.The city of Braunschweig is a middle sized German capital with some 250,000 inhabitants, located between Hanover and Berlin. If you need a break from your research, take a little shopping stroll and discover the lively inner city with its historic centre, the cathedral, and the half-timbered houses. Enjoy the many cultural events offered at the Lion City, with theatre plays, concerts, readings and numerous exhibitions at museums and art galleries. And nature enthusiasts will love Braunschweigs many parks and will particularly enjoy canoeing on the Oker River or strolling through the Harz Mountains.As you see, TU Braunschweig has a lot to offer. But don't just take our word for it come and see for yourself!

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Time for South Korea to abandon the middle power moniker – The Interpreter

Posted: at 12:08 pm

Its time to stop. Please stop writing papers on South Korea as a middle power. For an author who was an early advocate for South Korea to fulfil its role as a middle power in international society, and over the years wrote several papers and op-eds encouraging it to do so, its a hard thing to say. But its really gone too far. Its time to abandon the term.

There are today academic and think-tank papers on South Koreas middle power counterinsurgency capacity, middle power environmental leadership, middle power public diplomacy, and its middle power human security. There are papers on South Koreas rise as a middle power, its identity as a middle power, and its future as a middle power. There are papers on South Koreas status as a middle power, its aspirations as a middle power, and on the ontological realism, epistemological relativism, and judgmental rationalism of calling South Korea a middle power.

A crude Google scholar search shows that as the new millennium dawned, there were a mere 84 works containing the term middle power and Korea. It has grown every year since. In 2019, it surpassed the year-on-year total of Australia and Canada. In 2020, it reached a peak of 782. If current trends continue, the total number of works over all time containing the term middle power and Korea (9680) will soon surpass Australia (10,100) and Canada (11,200).

It may be a source of pride to some that South Korea will soon surpass Australia and Canada. South Korea will be the middle power. Yet, the evolution of these two states shows that abandoning the term is actually a natural progression. After an intense period of middle power activity in the 1990s, both Australia and Canada went through periods when the term fell from grace and replacements were put forward. Entrepreneurial power, pivot power, regional power, great power, innovative power, top-20 nation, or significant power anything but middle power.

Abandoning the term is also backed up by some weighty arguments.

First, there is no clear definition of what constitutes a middle power. Over the last twenty years, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Iran, the Vatican, even Microsoft or its ilk,have all been labelled as middle powers. The jumble of definitions essentially makes any claim meaningless.

Second, the vast majority of research focuses on defining or redefining the concept in the context of one state or another. Thinking about what makes a middle power and providing innovative colourful academic interpretations is all very well, but in the end doesnt help understand policy and policy choices.

Diplomats and savvy politicians have long known that having a catch phrase or coin term opens space for dialogue and sometimes persuasion.

Third, a number of analysts have pointed out that the middle power moment is over. Increased tension between China and the United States makes characteristic middle power initiatives of mediation, facilitation, institution building or norm strengthening substantially more difficult. Its not insignificant that recognised periods of Australian and Canadian middle power activity occurred at the end of the Second World War and the Cold War not as tension was rising.

The middle power concept will never really die. Diplomats and savvy politicians have long known that having a catch phrase or coin term opens space for dialogue and sometimes persuasion. This is how the modern term emerged as Canadian and Australian representatives to the 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organisation in San Francisco sought to secure greater influence in global governance.

South Koreas relationship with Australia is marked by long-term disinterest and underinvestment by both sides. Ministerial dialogues and intermittent sponsored track-1.5 and track-2 dialogues regularly rehash the same basic points. Yet middle power rhetoric, and its utilitarian faade of similarity, understanding, and shared interests, provides the semblance of a much deeper, more meaningful relationship. No politician or diplomat will give up such a useful ploy. Academics and think-tankers who fear abandoning the term can rest reassured, indubitably therell be another Australia-Korea middle power dialogue around the corner.

Its been a whirlwind middle power ride. Under this diplomatic aegis South Korea created the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), secured hosting of the Green Climate Fund, and became a member of the OECD-DAC. It played with a number of initiatives to alleviate regional security risks, played roles in the G20 and G7, and established MIKTA. At the same time, it failed to follow the lead of other middle powers in holding up the rule of law, let its early mover green credentials wane, and let North Korea cloud and distract its middle power propensity. Now, its time to move on. Its time to abandon the middle power term.

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When People Thought the First Thanksgiving Was Too Woke – POLITICO Magazine

Posted: at 11:52 am

As non-controversial as Thanksgiving is today, you might imagine the proclamation met with universal acceptance. It did not.

Reflecting the sharp polarization in national politics, many Democrats and peace proponents refused to acknowledge the presidents proclamation of the new holiday, and some even denounced it as an attempt to impose a particular brand of New England fanaticism on the whole country. Lincolns proclamation unleashed the social resentments of many voters who resisted the growing influence of evangelical churches and the concurrent growth of social reform movements from abolitionism and temperance to Sabbatarianism and womens rights.

To borrow from todays political lexicon, Lincolns opponents nursed an intense dislike of that eras wokeness. Back then, they called it ism referring to the set of religious social reform movements of the day that sought to refashion the nations social and political systems in line with evangelical Protestant sensibilities. These critics recoiled at the pace of social change that these movements represented and resented the suggestion that they think or pray a certain way. Conversely, many Republicans greeted the presidents proclamation as a sign that the government in Washington embraced their worldview. The controversy over the first annual national Thanksgiving is a useful reminder that Americans have long argued over religion and culture, and that topics seemingly disconnected from politics can take on unexpected meaning in moments of rancor and disunity.

We tend to misremember Thanksgiving as a holiday born in Plymouth Colony and celebrated faithfully every November hence. In fact, early colonists frequently declared fast and thanksgiving days, partly in keeping with Puritan practice and partly in appreciation of bountiful harvests or victories in war with local Native American tribes. Presidents George Washington, John Adams and James Madison all proclaimed days of thanksgiving sometimes, but not always, in November (Adams and Madison issued such proclamations in March) and by the late 1840s, some form of harvest thanksgiving celebration was observed in 21 states, though on different days in November. The holiday was generally meant to inspire prayerful reflection and gratitude for Gods beneficence toward us (Washingtons words), reflecting its origins in Puritan New England as a harvest season observance.

But as late as 1863, there was no fixed national holiday.

Throughout the Civil War, both Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis issued multiple calls for national days of thanksgiving and prayerful reflection. Lincolns first such proclamation, in August 1861, came on the heels of the Unions defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run and was intended to calm the peoples nerves and steel their resolve. It was hardly a moment that inspired celebration. The president called on citizens to bow in humble submission to [Gods] chastisements; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It was, for Lincoln, an uncharacteristic display of public religiosity. Referring to the battlefield defeat, he recognized the hand of God in this terrible visitation and pointed to our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals as a sure cause of the Unions loss.

Even before the war, Lincoln told an audience in Wisconsin that holiday celebrations had the potential to bring us together, and thereby make us better acquainted, and better friends than we otherwise would be. He was particularly influenced by Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of the popular magazine Godeys Ladys Book, who had for many years spearheaded a campaign to create a national Thanksgiving holiday on the last Thursday in November. Taking his cue from Hale, who had approached him with a specific proposal, on Oct. 3, 1863, the president issued a proclamation setting aside Thursday, Nov. 26, as a day when Americans, as with one heart and one voice, would thank God for the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies and pray that God heal the wounds of the nation and restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

On the face of it, a unifying and uncontroversial gesture for the time. But in 1863, hardly anything in American life was beyond dispute.

By 1863, the state of Union politics was deeply fractious. On the Republican side, conservative, radical and moderate Republicans largely agreed on the imperative of crushing the Confederacy, but not on the urgency or even the wisdom of either emancipation or arming Black soldiers and sailors. The Democrats, the opposition party, were split down the middle between War Democrats who supported the Lincoln administrations military policy, though not necessarily the Emancipation Proclamation, and Peace Democrats (whom Republicans disparaged as Copperheads) who supported an immediate armistice which would effectively allow the Confederacy to leave the Union on its own terms, with slavery intact.

Particularly in the border states and throughout the Midwest, Republicans and Peace Democrats eyed each other with mounting suspicion and loathing. Republicans viewed Peace Democrats like Ohio Rep. Clement Vallandigham as traitors to the country, while Democrats bitterly opposed the Lincoln administrations high-handed violation of civil liberties. (Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeas corpus throughout vast parts of the country, jailed newspaper editors and pro-secession state and local officials and even banished Vallandigham, who had agitated against military conscription, to the Confederacy.)

But there was more to it. For years, many Southerners and pro-slavery Northerners had pilloried the Republican Party as an organization of religious fanatics bound by a commitment to extreme and even (for the time) zany evangelical reform movements in the words of Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois, the black republican army is an allied army, composed of Know Nothings, Abolitionists, Free Soilers, Maine Liquor Law men, womans rights men, Anti-renters, Anti-Masons, and all the isms that have been sloughed off from all the honest parties in the country. While some of these movements strike the modern reader as incongruous, in the antebellum era, some of the strongest advocates of abolition and womens rights also wanted to restrict immigration and impose sobriety on a nation of heavy drinkers. Race the debate over slavery and abolition was always at the center of the political debate. But it intersected with a broader array of cultural concerns.

In the same way that some Americans today lump their cultural resentments under the banner of wokeness, many conservatives in Lincolns day decried the Republican Partys affinity for isms an abolition conglomerate of all the isms at war with the rights of the States, all the isms combined in the superlative ism, which I denounce as demonism, as Gov. Henry Wise of Virginia stated the case. George Fitzhugh, a leading Southern polemicist before the war, echoed Douglas when he denounced the Bloomers and Womens Rights men, the I vote myself a farm men, the Millerites, and Spiritual Rappers, and Shakers, and Widow Wakemanites, and Agrarians, and Grahamites, and a thousand other superstitious and infidel isms.

While most Americans in Lincolns time identified as evangelical Christians, and while the ranks of War Democrats included many evangelicals, the churches were closely associated with many of the reform movements including abolitionism that Democrats so sharply opposed. Particularly in the Midwest, many Democrats resented the increasingly partisan tone that political priests assumed in their Sunday sermons and, as one newspaper editor wrote, the fanatics [who] have assumed the cloak of religion to carry out schemes entirely at variance with the Almightys commandments.

It became increasingly popular for administration critics to lump the offending religious reform movements under the moniker of Puritanism, given the central role that New England played in organized abolitionism. It made little difference that Puritanism bore nothing in common with evangelical Christianity, either intellectually or theologically. By 1863, the term had become a political descriptor, devoid of its original meaning. The Republican Party, as one Confederate political cartoonist portrayed it, was built on the foundation of PURITANISM, supported by pillars that included WITCH BURNING, SOCIALISM, FREE LOVE, SPIRIT RAPPING, RATIONALISM and NEGRO WORSHIP.

Puritanism, said influential Peace Democrats like Clement Vallandigham and Samuel Cox, was the origin of all the isms that had propelled America to war. Shortly before his Thanksgiving proclamation, Lincoln received a letter from Indianas beleaguered Republican governor, who reported that every democratic newspaper is teeming with abuse of New England and it is the theme of every speech. They allege New England has brought upon us, the War, by a fanatical crusade against Slavery.

Little wonder, then, that many Democrats resented the spirit of Lincolns proclamation, to say nothing of their ministers Thanksgiving sermons the following Sunday morning. Many Democratic newspapers, like the York Gazette in Pennsylvania, scarcely mentioned the holiday, noting simply that shops would be closed, and instead devoted column space to fulminations against political preachers who stoked anti-Southern passions and promoted endless war against the South. Further west, the Indianapolis Star railed against the administrations Puritan abolition game to protract the war till the period of another Presidential election is passed, to be decided not by the people, but by the army.

Little wonder that the label Puritan so easily came to mind. Thanksgiving was, after all, steeped in Pilgrim lore. In response to such criticism of the presidents call, Harpers Weekly ran a satirical Copperhead Editorial that offered Lincolns union Thanksgiving as final damning proof of the utter subserviency of the present imbecile Administration to the rankest Puritan fanaticism. The joke was funny because people had grown quite used to hearing Democrats reduce the term Puritan to a catch-all phrase encompassing a broad swath of Christian reform causes foremost among them, abolition.

To be sure, it didnt help that New England abolitionists homed in on Thanksgivings Puritan roots and rejoiced, in the words of an abolitionist newspaper, in knowledge that it had now gone forth with her children to all the continent.

Lincoln would again declare the last Thursday of November a national day of Thanksgiving in 1864. And again, the Democratic opposition press ignored or disparaged the Puritan nature of the proclamation. Only in subsequent years would the holiday assume its more saccharine and secular character.

Much else has changed in the past 150 years, including the timing of the holiday (it now falls on the fourth Thursday of each November, rather than the last) and its meaning. Few people stop to remember its Civil War origins, or the controversy that surrounded it. Evangelical churches so core to radical reform in the 19th century are now more closely aligned with opponents of social change.

But some things stay the same.

As Americans sit down to their holiday meal this Thursday, we remain steeped in a debate over isms wokeness political correctness. Just as it was with Puritanism in 1863, in todays political landscape, the actual meaning of terms like critical race theory is less important than what such terms symbolize to many people who are unnerved by the pace of social change in American society, and, conversely, to those who welcome it.

Americans might celebrate Thanksgiving very differently than they did in 1863, but one tradition remains the same: We still argue about politics on the holiday.

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JUST PLAIN TALK: Thanksgiving, time to remember things we are thankful for – Walton Sun

Posted: at 11:52 am

Buz Livingston| Walton Sun

Im thankful for the United States Constitution and would be more thankful if people read it. Its a fantastic document that has given our nation a framework for the longest-lasting republic on the planet. When it was completed, a woman asked Ben Franklin, What have you given us? He replied, A republic if you can keep it.

Im thankful my hurricane panels stayed in storage. However, I am not thankful for my windstorm premiums.

While it gives me great joy to see the Georgia Bulldogs win the SEC East, Im more thankful for my diploma. Without it, my life would be vastly different. When your kids come home from college for Thanksgiving, encourage them. A degree doesnt make you more intelligent, but it may open a door somewhere down the road that may not be on your radar today.

Speaking of college, Im glad tuition was reasonable then. It is stunning Congress specifically singled out student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy in 2005. Not to be Debbie Downer around turkey day, but student loans now total over $1.5 trillion, more than automobile or credit card debt.

Im thankful for Spellcheck in Word and Grammarly on the web. But, if someone would invent Dumb Check, I would be set for life.

I am thankful John Bogle decided to market an index fund. It was not an immediate hit; instead, it was closer to a flop. I am glad he stuck to his vision; you should be, too. Remember Woody Allens quote, Ninety percent of success is just showing up. Keep plugging away; something good may happen.

I am thankful for the most expansive infrastructure program in my adult lifetime. Infrastructure jobs pay well and cant be exported.

Let me give another turkey day shout-out to Bill Bernstein, author, neurologist, and investment advisor. In The Birth of Plenty, he points out several necessary conditions for prosperity to blossom.

First, property rights and the rule of law are essential; they are prosperitys foundation. Second, as with property rights and the rule of law, scientific rationalism is essential for economic growth. For centuries, religious dogma and state tyranny thwarted the scientific method. Third, another leg supporting prosperity is easy access to capital markets. Fourth, efficient transportation and communication provide the final boost. Initially, it was river transport followed by steam power, then railroads, and today theinternet. Once, China and the Middle East were more advanced than Western Europe. Both areas stagnated because they discounted property rights and ignored the rule of law while allowing religion and state tyranny to trample the scientific method.

I am so thankful for the girls and boys who make the noise up and down the A; our musical talent mesmerizes me. Thanks to the venues that support them, too.

All my peeps will be here for Thanksgiving and that makes this holiday extra special. And for my wife, Susan, like Hayes Carll I will stay.

You cant always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.

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Thanksgiving and the Frailty of Scientific Atheism – Discovery Institute

Posted: at 11:52 am

Image: The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

For theHumanizepodcast, our bioethicist colleague Wesley Smith had a very interesting and wide-ranging conversation with Stephen Meyer, aboutReturn of the God Hypothesisand much else. They discussed the implications of Darwinian materialism for Smiths own expertise in the subject of human exceptionalism, and threats to scientific integrity from the insistence on a stifling consensus. Meyer observes that you rarely hear people refer to a consensus in science when there actually is one.

Whats needed, he says, and what is increasingly under siege in our culture, is the idea of science as an open form of inquiry, where science advances as scientists argue about how to interpret the evidence. Meyer would like to see more scientific debate, across the board, from climate change to Darwinian evolution to many issues that have arisen in response to the Covid epidemic. I couldnt agree more. I want to offer a thought about something that underlies the impulse to clamp down on debate, and it relates to Thanksgiving.

At the end of the podcast they touch on the fragility, the brittleness of the materialist picture of reality. Materialism is as oppressive as it is because it cant afford one slip-up, not one exception to the iron rule that nothing exists beyond nature. Wesley cites a fascinating interview with two well known proud atheists, Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker and his wife, the philosopher Rebecca Goldstein. She wrote a particularly good book that I read when it came out,Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity. Both are committed to Spinoza-style rationalism. In theinterview withSalon, Pinker and Goldstein make clear how fragile their atheism is:

[SALON:] I know neither of you believes in paranormal experiences like telepathy or clairvoyant dreams or contact with the dead. But hypothetically, suppose even one of these experiences were proven beyond a doubt to be real. Would the materialist position on the mind-brain question collapse in a single stroke?


GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, if there was no other explanation. Wed need to have such clear evidence. I have to tell you, Ive had some uncanny experiences. Once, in fact, I had a very strange experience where I seemed to be getting information from a dead person. I racked my brain trying to figure out how this could be happening. I did come up with an explanation for how I could reason this away. But it was a very powerful experience. If it could truly be demonstrated that there was more to a human being than the physical body, this would have tremendous implications.

In defense of the materialist position, whether on the nature of the mind or anything else, there can be no exceptions, no miracles, no genuine wonders nothing that cannot be fully explained in naturalistic terms. Just one tiny miracle, if genuine, and materialism would collapse in a single stroke. To her husbands admission, Goldstein adds that she has had some uncanny experiences, the most noteworthy being apparently getting information from a dead person. Wesley, who says he has had some interesting experiences of his own, quotes her revealing comment: I did come up with an explanation for how I could reason this away. She had to!

Smith and Meyer also discuss the science censorship in which Darwinists specialize, and I think this frailty can explain that, too. Darwinism cant permit a Divine Foot in the door, in biologist Richard Lewontins famous phrase (a moment of candor which I have no doubt he deeply regretted). One foot, one little toe, and its all over for them.

Which brings me to the phenomenon you probably notice each year when we arrive at the beloved American holiday that falls tomorrow. Thanksgiving, for many vocal atheists, has become increasingly intolerable. Why? Our friend Michael Medved describes the highly providential first Thanksgiving and other marvelous events from the founding of our country as instances of the American Miracle.

This might clarify the impulse, which youll see on full display across the mainstream media, to tear down the holiday as a shameful, racist fraud. If it were a statue, they would have already pulled it down in disgrace. They cant allow a Divine Foot in the door. Happy Thanksgiving!

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