Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Scientifically Literate People Are More Skeptical of Global Warming

Liberals love to believe that conservatives are anti-science, and that they (the liberals) embody objective scientific enlightenment.

This tendency is, of course, quite selectively observed. Liberals entirely ignore the economic science that says that minimum wage laws are harmful. And liberals are more likely to believe that astrology is somehow scientific. Indeed, among voters in the 2004 presidential election, more Kerry voters than Bush voters said astrology was “very scientific” or “sort of” scientific.

But where supposed global warming is concerned, liberals wrap themselves in the mantle of “science” and proclaim that skeptics are flat-earthers.

But now comes a study, from a mainstream academic journal, financed by the National Science Foundation, showing that the more somebody knows about science and math, the more likely they are to be skeptical of the supposed risks of global warming.

When asked “How much risk to you believe climate change poses to human health, safety or prosperity?” those with a higher level of science literacy/numeracy saw less risk. The difference is not large, but it runs in entirely the “wrong” direction. It is also statistically significant: greater than could be accounted for by mere chance.

The most straightforward interpretation of the results is that the more people know about science, the more sophisticated and skeptical they tend to be. They know that ideology, careerism and group think affects scientists as much as anybody else, and they know about Piltdown Man, Lysenko and cold fusion. Scientists will claim that science is “self correcting,” and therefore we should believe whatever science says. But sophisticated people know that science can take a long time to correct, especially when powerful interests and/or ideological biases are in play (as with Piltdown Man and Lysenko).

The authors of the study, who seem to be true-blue (or perhaps true-green would be better) believers, don’t draw this obvious conclusion, but rather invoke social conformity. They say:
For the ordinary individual, the most consequential effect of his beliefs about climate change is likely to be on his relations with his peers. A hierarchical individualist who expresses anxiety about climate change might well be shunned by his co-workers at an oil refinery in Oklahoma City. A similar fate will probably befall the egalitarian communitarian English professor who reveals to colleagues in Boston that she thinks the scientific consensus on climate change is a hoax.
The problem with this argument, of course, is that it works equally well for climate scientists, who are as sensitive to the opinions of their subculture as anybody else. Indeed, more so, since to prosper (and even to get tenure) they need to be within the acceptable range of opinion.

This tendency to demean — and indeed to threaten and intimidate — those who are skeptical about global warming seems to suggest one of two things. Either those who support that view are at some level insecure about their position, and not willing to see an open and free-wheeling debate, or they are part of such a narrow little subculture that they really can’t understand how anybody can disagree with them.

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Liberal Derangement Syndrome

It seems a couple of Republican student activists were out doing a “lit drop” (dropping off pro-Scott Fitzgerald flyers), and a rather irate Fitzgerald opponent verbally assaulted them.

Warning: Extremely vulgar language

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Liberal Methodist Elites Demean African Methodists

The United Methodist Church is one of those “mainstream Protestant” denominations that are controlled (in the U.S.) by liberal, fundamentally secular elites.

But Methodism has a long history of evangelism in Africa, and these U.S. elites have made the mistake of allowing African Methodists the right to participate in the affairs of the denomination on an equal basis. The result: there is a majority in decision-making bodies against the gay agenda.

That’s what happens when you give people from Africa equal treatment.

So what do the U.S. Methodist elites do? They demean Africans.

From Juicy Ecumenism:
Recently United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcano of Phoenix chastised the just concluded governing General Conference of her church for failing to overturn United Methodism’s biblical teachings about marriage and sexual ethics.

“Our homophobia was blatant as we heard delegates compare homosexuality to bestiality, and voice other dehumanizing expressions against our LGBT brothers and sisters,” she complained in a column. She targeted the African delegates specifically.
“Delegates from Africa once again proclaimed that their anti-homosexual stand was what U.S. missionaries taught them. I sat there wondering when our African delegates will grow up. It has been 200 years since U.S. Methodist missionaries began their work of evangelization on the continent of Africa; long enough for African Methodists to do their own thinking about this concern and others. Our conservative U.S. United Methodists continue to depend on the conservative vote of African and Filipino delegates to maintain our exclusionary position on homosexuality, a position I believe would be changed for the inclusion of our LGBT sisters and brothers if a U.S. vote for a U.S. context were taken. The manner in which we deal with the concern of homosexuality affects all of ministry in the U.S., and we are the poorer for it. It is time for us to let go of our wrong position and be the church of Christ Jesus, a church that excludes no one.”
As to the “bestiality” allusion, Carcano was echoing the New York Times report on General Conference, which said:
Several Americans begged delegates to ‘hear the pain’ of gay church members. Moments later, a delegate from Africa said in Swahili that saying that a homosexual person was created by God was like saying “that God created me to live with animals.”
The New York Times then quoted a gay advocacy caucus spokesman:
The Rev. Troy Plummer, executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, which advocates full inclusion of gay people, said in an interview: ‘I’m tired of being compared to beasts in our church. Even if our world understandings differ, it’s just horrendous. That our perspectives differ is the truth, and we just voted 61 to 39 percent that we can’t tell that truth.’
The ostensible beastiality quote that Carcano and Plummer cited is based on a Congolese delegate who said:
“I rise to stand against this reasoning for the following reasons. First, the theme of our general conference is to make disciples for the transformation of the world. If we accept homosexuality, it means that the world transforms the church on homosexuality. You say a homosexual person is created by God the way he is or she is. I stand to say that that is not true. If we say that this is the way that God created them I refuse to accept that when they say ‘I am homosexual, I was created like this.’ Because God is a loving God, He cannot create a person with something that makes him or her suffer. If another person would come to the church and say, ‘God created me to live with animals,’ if we say ‘No’ it doesn’t mean we don’t love that person. I stand to say that the grace of God is for all people, but the grace of God does not allow us to sin. I ask to not accept this petition.”
The African delegate was not comparing homosexuality to beastiality, as Bishop Carcano claimed. Nor was he comparing homosexuals to “beasts,” as the caucus group spokesman claimed. Instead, the Congolese was saying the church’s mission is to “make disciples for the transformation of the world.” He noted that affirming homosexual behavior would be to allow the world to transform the church.

Allowing the world to transform the church has been the seeming mission for liberal bishops in America for many decades. The result is 3.5 million lost members in America. Carcano’s own Desert Southwest Conference is now down to under 39,000, having lost nearly 17 percent in the last 10 years alone. Meanwhile, there are over 2.2 million United Methodists under the 3 bishops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The African churches are growing because they believe in transformation through the Gospel. Their success sadly earns them condemnation from some liberal, declining areas in the U.S. that are making their churches irrelevant by endlessly seeking accommodation with American secular culture.
One of the commenters on the Juicy Ecumenism website noted that the U.S. Methodist elites are engaged in “cultural colonialism.” That’s a good assessment.

But also note that these liberal elites always claim to be on the side of “people of color,” on the side of poor people and on the side of “oppressed” people of the Third World.

But what happens when those people get uppity, and fail to serve the agenda of their First World patrons? They get demeaned and derided.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

The Liberal Cocoon

From Michael Barone on Real Clear Politics:
It’s comfortable living in a cocoon — associating only with those who share your views, reading journalism and watching news that only reinforces them, avoiding those on the other side of the cultural divide.

Liberals have been doing this for a long time. In 1972, the movie critic Pauline Kael said it was odd that Richard Nixon was winning the election, because everyone she knew was for George McGovern.

Kael wasn’t clueless about the rest of America. She was just observing that her own social circle was politically parochial.

The rest of us have increasingly sought out comfortable cocoons, too. Journalist Bill Bishop, who lives in an Austin, Texas, neighborhood whose politics resemble Kael’s, started looking at national data.

It inspired him to write his 2009 book “The Big Sort,” which describes how Americans since the 1970s have increasingly sorted themselves out, moving to places where almost everybody shares their cultural orientation and political preference — and the others keep quiet about theirs.

Thus professionals with a choice of where to make their livings head for the San Francisco Bay Area if they’re liberal and for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (they really do call it that) if they’re conservative. Over the years the Bay Area becomes more liberal and the Metroplex more conservative.

But cocooning has an asymmetrical effect on liberals and conservatives. Even in a cocoon, conservatives cannot avoid liberal mainstream media, liberal Hollywood entertainment and, these days, the liberal Obama administration.

They’re made uncomfortably aware of the arguments of those on the other side. Which gives them an advantage in fashioning their own responses.

Liberals can protect themselves better against assaults from outside their cocoon. They can stay out of megachurches and make sure their remote controls never click on Fox News. They can stay off the AM radio dial so they will never hear Rush Limbaugh.

The problem is that this leaves them unprepared to make the best case for their side in public debate. They are too often not aware of holes in arguments that sound plausible when bandied between confreres entirely disposed to agree.

We have seen how this works on some issues this year.

Take the arguments developed by professor Randy Barnett of Georgetown Law that Obamacare’s mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. Some liberal scholars like Jack Balkin of Yale have addressed them with counterarguments of their own.

But liberal politicians and Eric Holder’s Justice Department remained clueless about them. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked whether Obamacare was unconstitutional, could only gasp: “Are you serious? Are you serious?”

In March, after the Supreme Court heard extended oral argument on the case, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin was clearly flabbergasted that a majority of justices seemed to take the case against Obamacare’s constitutionality very seriously indeed.

Liberals better informed about the other side’s case might have drafted the legislation in a way to avoid this controversy. But nothing they heard in their cocoon alerted them to the danger.

Another case in point is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s law restricting the bargaining powers of public employee unions. The unions and the crowds in Madison, which is both the state capital and a university town and which with surrounding Dane County voted 73 to 26 percent for Barack Obama, egged each other on with cries that this would destroy the working class. No one they knew found this implausible.

The unions had an economic motive to oppose the laws and seek to recall first Republican legislators and then Walker himself. The law ended the automatic checkoff of union dues, which operated as an involuntary transfer of money from taxpayers to union leaders.

But voters declined to recall enough Republicans to give Democrats a majority in the Senate, and Walker currently leads Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in polls on the June 5 recall election.

The Madison mob seemed unaware that there were attractive arguments on Walker’s side.

Why should public employee union members pay less for health insurance and get fatter pensions than the taxpayers who pay their salaries? Why is it a bad thing for property taxes to be held down and for school districts to cut perks for union members enough to hire more teachers?

Beyond the Madison cocoon, in Wisconsin’s other 71 counties, which voted 55 to 44 percent for Walker in 2010, such arguments are evidently proving persuasive. Maybe liberals should listen to Rush every so often.
This kind of liberal cocooning explains how a bunch of Marquette professors can sign a letter attacking Paul Ryan’s budget. The problem with the letter is not that they disagree with Ryan. It’s that they simply can’t argue the case. Their letter entirely refuses to discuss specifics, and assumes that the concept of “solidarity” requires one to believe in ever increasing government spending, ever more generous welfare programs, and ever increasing dependency on government. Views at odds with this simply aren’t heard, and therefore are never contemplated.

We’ve run across this kind of insularity among our own political science colleagues — and political scientists are very far from being the biggest yahoos in academia. Compared to psychology, sociology and the humanities, the discipline is a refuge of sanity.

But during the 2008 election season, we had a colleague going on about how Sarah Palin had supposedly labeled the Iraq War a “mission from God.” This was, he believed, a terrible thing to say, although we wonder why Julia Ward Howe is never condemned for writing a song declaring that another war in American history was a mission from God. Anyway, our colleague did not seem to know who Julia Ward Howe was.

Having seen this debunked on Fox News, we corrected him and send a YouTube link putting the Palin remark in context. He relented on this issue, and we advised him that he needed to look at a broader range of media. He was offended, and demanded an apology. We, of course, will never apologize for giving somebody good advice, and didn’t in this case.

We likewise have a colleague who apologized to a class of students for showing them an interview that was broadcast on Fox News. It was an interview with an important policy maker, and it actually mattered little what outlet broadcast it. But he felt he needed to be apologetic for showing an interview on a channel that liberal academics consider to be outside the pale.

If this sort of thing happens in political science, imagine how bad things are in the humanities. But actually, we don’t have to imagine. We have blogged on multiple cases.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Marquette Campus Leftists Attack Paul Ryan Budget

Not news: a bunch of mostly leftist faculty recently signed a letter attacking Paul Ryan’s budget plan. The Journal-Sentinel puffed the story as though college faculty being liberal and opposed to Republicans really was news.

Now what is news: a majority of those faculty who signed the letter also signed petitions to recall Scott Walker, according to Entitlement Mentality Monitor.

In spite of the use of the language of Catholic social justice teaching, the impetus behind the letter was merely your standard liberal-let politics.

Although there were some exceptions (one person whose name was on the letter opposed the hiring of lesbian dean candidate Jodi O’Brien, and was attacked for it) the list of signers is laced with people who oppose Catholic teaching on abortion, oppose Catholic teaching on homosexuality, favor gay marriage, and only use the phrase “social justice” to promote a liberal political agenda.

One piece of evidence of this can be seen by comparing the list of people who signed the letter attacking Ryan with a letter signed by dozens of Marquette faculty in the wake of the refusal of Marquette to hire an outspoken lesbian (and opponent of Church teaching) as Dean of Arts and Sciences. Signing this letter were twenty of the same people who signed the anti-Ryan letter.

Indeed, the anti-Ryan letter was signed by faculty who are at the forefront of the gay lobby on campus, including Nancy Snow and Ed de St. Aubin. Indeed, if one omits eleven faculty in Theology who signed the anti-Ryan letter but not the pro-lesbian dean letter, almost half (20 of 41) of the faculty who signed the anti-Ryan letter also signed the pro-lesbian dean letter.

Add to this the fact that some Theology faculty who did not sign the lesbian dean letter are quite leftist and politically correct. Brian Massingale, for example, is a promoter of the notion of “white privilege,” a concept designed to guilt or intimidate whites into accepting a whole array of leftist policies — on pain of being labeled a defender of “white privilege.” Robert L. Masson likewise uses the same strategy in his classes to promote a narrow leftist policy agenda. In fact, Masson uses Massingale’s book in his class.

Which puts into perspective the claim of the anti-Ryan letter to be reflecting Catholic social teaching. At a place like Marquette, Catholic teaching is virtually always invoked to support a liberal agenda — more government programs, more social spending, more income redistribution — and virtually never to support a ban on abortion, or upholding heterosexual marriage.

The people who sign such letters, in other words, are (with a few exceptions) merely liberals or leftists. The “Catholic” stuff is just window dressing.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Wonderful World of Abortion

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Friday, May 18, 2012

George Zimmerman: Another Political Prosecution?

A column by Alan Dershowitz in the New York Daily News:
A medical report by George Zimmerman’s doctor has disclosed that Zimmerman had a fractured nose, two black eyes, two lacerations on the back of his head and a back injury on the day after the fatal shooting. If this evidence turns out to be valid, the prosecutor will have no choice but to drop the second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman — if she wants to act ethically, lawfully and professionally.

There is, of course, no assurance that the special prosecutor handling the case, State Attorney Angela Corey, will do the right thing. Because until now, her actions have been anything but ethical, lawful and professional.

She was aware when she submitted an affidavit that it did not contain the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. She deliberately withheld evidence that supported Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. The New York Times has reported that the police had “a full face picture” of Zimmerman, before paramedics treated him, that showed “a bloodied nose.” The prosecutor also had photographic evidence of bruises to the back of his head.

But none of this was included in any affidavit.

Now there is much more extensive medical evidence that would tend to support Zimmerman’s version of events. This version, if true, would establish self-defense even if Zimmerman had improperly followed, harassed and provoked Martin.

A defendant, under Florida law, loses his “stand your ground” defense if he provoked the encounter — but he retains traditional self-defense if he reasonably believed his life was in danger and his only recourse was to employ deadly force.

Thus, if Zimmerman verbally provoked Martin, but Martin then got on top of Zimmerman and banged his head into the ground, broke his nose, bloodied his eyes and persisted in attacking Zimmerman — and if Zimmerman couldn’t protect himself from further attack except by shooting Martin — he would have the right to do that. (The prosecution has already admitted that it has no evidence that Zimmerman started the actual fight.)

This is a fact-specific case, in which much turns on what the jury believes beyond a reasonable doubt. It must resolve all such doubts in favor of the defendant, because our system of justice insists that it is better for 10 guilty defendants to go free than for even one innocent to be wrongfully convicted.

You wouldn’t know that from listening to Corey, who announced that her jobs was “to do justice for Trayvon Martin” — not for George Zimmerman.

As many see it, her additional job is to prevent riots of the sort that followed the acquittal of the policemen who beat Rodney King.

Indeed, Mansfield Frazier, a columnist for the Daily Beast, has suggested that it is the responsibility of the legal system to “avert a large scale racial calamity.” He has urged Zimmerman’s defense lawyer to become a “savior” by brokering a deal to plead his client guilty to a crime that “has him back on the streets within this decade.”

But it is not the role of a defense lawyer to save the world or the country. His job — his only job — is to get the best result for his client, by all legal and ethical means.
So the argument is that Zimmerman needs to go to jail to keep black people from rioting. Or maybe to keep black gangs from beating up whites in retaliation.

This thus begins to look a bit like the Duke rape case, where an elected prosecutor, needing the votes of the local black community, brought charges against white Lacrosse players. The entire case collapsed.

The argument, of course, is demeaning to the majority of black people who — while understandably sensitive about racial injustice — don’t embrace a lynch mob mentality, and will accept the verdict of a fair legal process.

As for the minority of blacks who don’t think this way: they are what cops and riot police (and concealed carry) are for.

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Tom Barrett Supports Gay Marriage

You can find his name here.

Not a surprise, really, since he is a liberal. But when Wisconsin got to vote on the issue, it decisively voted against gay marriage.

With Barrett, as with Obama, this has to be seen as an appeal to the socially liberal base of the Democratic Party. The political calculation, obviously, is that the increased intensity of support from gay activists and their liberal allies will outweigh the loss of social conservatives who might otherwise be inclined to vote for the Democrat.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Marquette Center for Peacemaking: Demonstrate at NATO Meeting

Marquette’s Center for Peacemaking has never pretended to be any sort of academic enterprise. Rather, it has simply been a center for left-wing activism.

Nothing illustrates this better than an e-mail from the Center, received today.
Peace Action Organizing Bus to Chicago

The NATO Summit is just days away! Fifty heads of state will be meeting in Chicago to potentially pledge billions in funding to the ongoing war in Afghanistan as well as to make important decisions that will affect the peace and stability of our entire planet. In response to the NATO Summit, Peace Action-WI is organizing a bus from Milwaukee to the Counter Summit in Chicago.

Bus pick-up is Sunday, May 20, 8:00 a.m, outside Peace Action (1001 E. Keefe Ave.) Tickets are $20 roundtrip.

Call Peace Action 414-964-5158 or stop in their office to purchase your tickets and more information.

Among those scheduled to appear at the rally...

Reiner Braun - ICC No to War - No to NATO, Germany
Malik Mujahid - Muslim Peace Council
Kathy Kelly - Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Vijay Prashad - author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter
Leah Bolger - President, Veterans For Peace
Carlos Montes - Committee Stop FBI Repression
Kari Fulton - Environmental Justice Network
Larry Holmes - International Action Center


Center for Peacemaking

The Marquette University Center for Peacemaking strives to empower the University and the wider community to explore together the necessary skills to become informed, spiritually-centered, nonviolent peacemakers. Rooted in the Ignatian charism, the Center works with a spirit of confidence and joy to achieve an awakening to the complementary relationship of scholarship, spirituality, non-violent living, and the active struggle for peace and justice.
Of course, there is plenty of room to debate the war in Afghanistan. But the Center for Peacemaking isn’t interested in debate. Their assumption is that any U.S. military action is evil and imperialistic, and that demonstrating against it is the obvious response.

The Center is, in other words, anti-intellectual. They don’t believe there are any intellectually challenging policy questions to be addressed, rather there is only the “struggle for peace and justice” with it always being obvious that peace and justice are on the left side of any issue.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Yet Another Way Affirmative Action Hurts

From Yahoo News:
Black and Latino students may be getting less critical, but helpful, feedback from teachers than their white counterparts, a new educational study indicates.

“The social implications of these results are important; many minority students might not be getting input from instructors that stimulates intellectual growth and fosters achievement,” study researcher Kent Harber, a Rutgers-Newark psychology professor, said in a press release.

This positive bias in feedback to minority students may be contributing to the achievement gap between white and minority students, a stubborn national problem, Harber said.

The study “tested” 113 white middle-school and high-school teachers in two public school districts, one middle class and white, and the other working class and racially mixed. Both are located in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tri-state area.

Harber and colleagues developed a poorly written essay that they gave to the teachers to grade, under the pretense that it was the work of a student. In some cases, the teachers believed the student was white, in others black and in others Latino.

The teachers believed their feedback would go directly to the student.

The researchers found that, indeed, the teachers were prone to give more praise and less criticism if they believed a minority student had written the paper, as opposed to a white student.

The researchers also considered the support the teacher received from colleagues and administration. This turned out to be an important factor if the teachers believed the student was black, with only teachers who lacked support showing the bias. However, when teachers thought the student was Latino, they showed the bias toward positive feedback regardless.

“These results indicate that the positive feedback bias may contribute to the insufficient challenge that undermines minority students’ academic achievement,” the researchers conclude.

The study appeared online April 30 in the Journal of Educational Psychology.
Of course, the teachers may believe that minority students have had a tougher time in life, and that a poor essay represents a reasonable effort for them. But this pervasive belief that minority students are not “up to” the intellectual demands that white students can handle has more bad consequences than we can count.

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Lefties: Then and Now

From Tom McMahon’s Four Block World.

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Saturday, May 05, 2012

Shouting Down a Speaker: Left Wing Fascism at the University of New Mexico



You can read an account of the event here.

The interesting thing here is that audience members, clearly sympathetic to the speaker, rushed the demonstrators and forced them out of the hall. Were they justified in doing that?

In this instance, yes.

Either you have the rule of law, or you have the state of nature. Had cops been present to quell the disruption and arrest the disruptors, then audience members would have been obligated to stand by and let the cops do their job. But no cops (apparently) were present.

In a state of nature, people have a right to use force if necessary to protect their rights. It is important that they not use more force than necessary, and in this case all that happened was that the disruptors were pushed or shoved out of the room, and there was a minor scrap over the page of slogans one demonstrator held.

Universities ought to maintain the rule of law. But often they do not, especially when the lawless are on the political left. That’s why we would like to see more cases where the audience uses the force necessary to eject people who have assaulted free speech.

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Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Tolerant, Compassionate Left: Facebook Death Threat Against Vicki McKenna

Here is the story about it, and below is the screen capture of a nasty threat made against conservative talk show host Vicki McKenna.

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